Sunday, December 28, 2008

Corruption Crisis in Illinois

The "corruption crisis" in Illinois probably runs south of I-80.

Here is an article by the Peoria Journal Star emphasizing that what our Governor has touched may be tainted.

See comments that follow.

Corruption crisis creates confusion in Illinois

Associated Press
Posted Dec 27, 2008 @ 03:40 PM

Embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has made a point of regularly going to work at his office in Chicago. He has signed legislation and issued pardons. He has sent out press releases about predatory lending and fighting poverty.

But his arrest on federal corruption charges has clearly complicated his work as the state's chief executive and already cost the state some $20 million. The state is facing a potential $2.5 billion budget deficit and the governor doesn't have the same horsepower — or clout — to address the problem that he had just a month ago.

No one in the state capital trusts Blagojevich enough to give him authority to trim the budget on his own, as he requested in November. Any other idea he advances would probably be rejected out of hand. Yet no other official can take the lead.

"Everything just comes to a halt. You have complete paralysis," said House Republican Leader Tom Cross of Oswego.

Blagojevich, a second-term Democrat, was arrested Dec. 9 on charges accusing him of scheming to swap President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat for profit, shaking down a hospital executive for campaign donations and other wrongdoing.

The governor has defiantly insisted he's done nothing wrong and that he will not resign. His aides say he is going about business as usual.

His chief of staff, who was arrested along with Blagojevich, has resigned and been replaced by a deputy governor. Another deputy, one with a background in budget matters, has resigned and may not be replaced. Plus, a committee is expected to recommend in early January whether the state House should vote to impeach Blagojevich.

"I think it's difficult for him to manage government in the way a governor normally would," said state Rep. Gary Hannig, a Democrat from Litchfield. "This is a time when you need strong leadership from the governor's office."

The state must find a way to eliminate its deficit. If nothing is done, the most likely outcome is that it won't pay its debts to hospitals, pharmacies and nursing homes that care for the poor, forcing more of them out of business.

The problem cropped up two weeks ago when an effort to borrow money to pay overdue bills — one social-service vendor was owed $8 million and garbage collection stopped for 10 days at a state prison last month — was sidelined because the state attorney general's office refused to give immediate consent.

The delay — blamed on the governor's legal woes — cost Illinois $20 million in extra interest, according to Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. Because the short-term borrowing plan was put off for several days after Blagojevich's arrest, the state ended up paying higher interest rates.

Standard & Poor's recently put out a negative "credit watch" on the state's AA bond rating, noting the budget deficit and the governor's legal situation could hamper efforts to find a remedy.

The governor's budget director declined an interview request. Blagojevich spokesman Lucio Guerrero said the governor is expected to soon get an update on the budget deficit — including potential solutions — from his staff.

"I think the governor has shown that he continues to govern the state and is performing his duties," he said.

Critics acknowledge that government will grind on despite Blagojevich's problems. State police will patrol. The Revenue Department will collect taxes. Snowplow crews will clear highways.

But when an emergency hits, Illinois will lack a real leader to solve the problem and smaller problems may pile up in the meantime.

Will Blagojevich be able to find people willing to serve under him on the boards and commissions that help set policy? Would those appointments even be approved? Can he hold on to his current staff and agency directors? If he delivers a State of the State address, will anyone even attend, let alone seriously consider his proposals?

"Everything he touches is tainted," said Jay Stewart, executive director of the Better Government Association in Chicago. "We know his thought process: Legal, personal, political. I don't see public interest anywhere in that."

Blagojevich won't be able to call on federal officials for help, even though Obama and some top officials in his incoming administration are from Illinois and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate.

And though Obama plans a huge public works program next year, Illinois may not be in position to get its share. State officials have failed year after year to approve construction money that would qualify for federal matching funds. That appears unlikely to change.

Some of the governor's critics say his new problems actually won't mean a dramatic change for Illinois because he wasn't trusted or deeply involved in government even before his arrest.

"We've been leaderless for a long time," said Sen. Christine Radogno, R-Lemont. "Consequently, our state is floundering."
Associated Press Writers John O'Connor in Springfield and Deanna Bellandi in Chicago contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2008 GateHouse Media, Inc. Some Rights Reserved.
Original content available for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license, except where noted.



In 2007 the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) under Governor Blagojevich loaned OSF-Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria 460 million dollars for OSF's Milestone Project. This was the second largest loan in IFA history.

I wonder if this loan was tainted?

John A. Carroll, M.D.



Blagojevich is the governor until he is convicted or impeached. If any problems are arising it's from Legislature and the other government officials. Business as usual until this is settled, anyone refusing to work with him should be relieved of duties. At present the Legislature is busy putting back all the cuts despite the fact we can't pay for essentials. That is how we got in this mess and we will remain there as long as the same thieves are in the General Assembly. The governor got caught, but don't think for a minute he is the biggest crook. He had problems with members of legislature because he wouldn't co-operate with their brand of self help. All government is corrupt that is how business is handled. No state has wiped out corruption their elected officials just learned how to be more discrete. Every now and then one gets careless like the stupid move he made using his home phone.

Dr. Carroll..I do agree with you and your view of OSF. I doubt the money is tainted from Blagojevich. That would more come from some back scratching in our local area. The governor may have signed the necessary legislation, the crafting of it probably is closer to home. I thought OSF planned on fleecing the general public out of donations for their huge project. We both know the non-profit hospital is just a feeder for their many for profit enterprises. At least it's a loan, at some point tax payers will get it back unless OSF can figure a way around that. I have nothing but respect for the hard working staff of OSF, their corporate officials have one interest and that is profit at the expense of the patient.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Beyond Belief

Haiti had a bad 2008.

Maybe next year...

Now Katina....

When I was in Haiti last month I examined Katina.

Katina is sick and needs heart surgery again.

OSF in Peoria is rejecting her. She has sickle cell and a large lymph node on the right side of her neck. She needs to come to the United States for a good workup and surgery.

I don't have any place for her. Other medical centers don't want OSF's patients.

Here is a chat I had with Frandy yesterday regarding Katina:

12:22 PM Dejean: Hi dr Carroll
12:23 PM me: frandy,
how is katina? what is her problem??
12:24 PM Dejean: yes i am here and i've a couple of information for you
me: ok
12:25 PM Dejean: i got on the phone with her before yesterday and also this morning
me: good
Dejean: she's not doing well
me: tell me exactly what you mean
Dejean: ok
12:26 PM she's a stomac problem
12:27 PM and she feels it where she was operated on
me: please answer these questions:
Dejean: ok
12:28 PM me: 1. Is she short of breath? Soufle anle?
Dejean: no
me: 2. Does she have pain in her chest or abdomen? Li gen doule nan lestomak oubyen vant la?
Dejean: yes she does
12:29 PM me: 3. Is the boul on her neck still large? In other words, li toujour gen gwo mas la sou kou a?
4. Does she have a fever?
Dejean: yes and it is hurting her
no she does not any fever
12:30 PM she does not have any fever
me: Frandy, please tell her father that she needs a chest xray.
Dejean: ok
me: We have to find out why she has the enlarged lymph node on her neck.
12:31 PM Dejean: ok
me: thank you
Dejean: but do you think an xray would help you to find it out?
me: She can get the chest xray at Grace Children's or in a lab near Champ Mars
12:32 PM Dejean: ok
me: If she has tuberculosis, we could see tuberculosis in her lung (chest xray). Some times people have tuberculosis in their lungs and they have a lump on their neck....
12:33 PM Dejean: ok
me: The chest xray is the most important thing to do STAT...
12:34 PM Frandy, I will go for now, ok?
Dejean: ok i am gonna tell her dad everything
me: thanks
Dejean: see you later
me: many thanks
Dejean: life is important to save!
me: yes
12:36 PM Dejean: you don't have to thanks me, you better thanks God for the way He helped you to save mine and for this great family i have in St louis.

Stupid Deaths, by Paul Farmer

I believe in health care as a human right. I've worked as a doctor in many places, and I've seen where to be poor means to be bereft of rights.

I saw early on, still just a medical student, the panicky dead-end faced by so many of the destitute sick: a young woman dying in childbirth; a child writhing in the spasms of a terrible disease for which a vaccine has existed — for more than a century; a friend whose guts were irreparably shredded by bacteria from impure water; an 8 year old caught in cross-fire. Li mouri bet — what a stupid death, goes one Haitian response.

Fighting such "stupid deaths" is never the work of one, or even of a small group. I've had the privilege of joining many others providing medical care to people who would otherwise not be able to get it. The number of those eager to serve is impressive, and so is the amount that can be accomplished. I believe that stupid deaths can be averted; we've done it again and again. But this hard and painful work has never yet been an urgent global priority.

The fight for health as a human right, a fight with real promise, has so far been plagued by failures. Failure because we are chronically short of resources. Failure because we are too often at the mercy of those with the power and money to decide the fates of hundreds of millions. Failure because ill health, as we have learned again and again, is more often than not a symptom of poverty and violence and inequality — and we do little to fight those when we provide just vaccines, or only treatment for one disease or another. Every premature death, and there are millions of these each year, should be considered a rebuke.

I know it's not enough to attend only to the immediate needs of the patient in front of me. We must also call attention to the failures and inadequacy of our own best efforts. The goal of preventing human suffering must be linked to the task of bringing others, many others, into a movement for basic rights.

The most vulnerable — those whose rights are trampled, those rarely invited to summarize their convictions for a radio audience — still believe in human rights, in spite of — or perhaps because of — their own troubles. Seeing this in Haiti and elsewhere has moved me deeply and taught me a great deal.

I move uneasily between the obligation to intervene and the troubling knowledge that much of the work we do, praised as "humanitarian" or "charitable," does not always lead us closer to our goal. That goal is nothing less than the refashioning of our world into one in which no one starves, drinks impure water, lives in fear of the powerful and violent, or dies ill and unattended.

Of course such a world is a utopia, and most of us know that we live in a dystopia. But all of us carry somewhere within us the belief that moving away from dystopia moves us towards something better and more humane. I still believe this.

(Dr. Paul Farmer is a founding director of Partners In Health, an international organization that provides health care to people living in poverty. Farmer established a health clinic in Hinche, Haiti, and has worked there for many years.)

Photo by John Carroll, Carefour, Haiti. November, 2008.

Independently produced for Weekend Edition Sunday by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman with John Gregory and Viki Merrick.

Christmas 2008, by Joe Zelenka

Christmas 2008

Another year and wondering what the future holds
So much to do and accomplish in so little time
Will I hear God calling me?
Will I stand up for justice?
Touch me Lord, Heal me, Come into my life

Christmas 2008

A newly elected President
A time for change
Putting behind us 8 years of turmoil and violence
Will we come together and create a new tomorrow?
Will we overcome hatred, bitterness and exploitation of others?
Will there be reason to hope?
Touch us Lord, Heal us, Come into our lives

Christmas 2008

Wars continue, racism still exists and hatred escalates into more violence
An economy that threatens our very existence
Our children look to us for hope
Will we give their world reason to believe in goodness?
Will our children inherit a world without war and violence?
We have a challenge
We have time to make this Gospel of nonviolence real
Touch us Lord, Heal us, Come into our lives

Christmas 2008

We have a mandate to feed the hungry and eradicate poverty
Will we make real the Gospel message?
Will our Churches preach the Gospel of nonviolence?
Will we work to make Jesus real in our lives?
Touch us Lord, Heal us, Come into our lives

Christmas 2008

Praise God daily, celebrate life
Pray a lot, laugh a lot, believe in yourself
See in every person you meet the person of God
Forgive, Forgive and Forgive
See everyone as made in the image of God
Make this Christmas a new beginning
And so, touch us Lord, Heal us, Come into our lives.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I Need To Get Over This

Heurese is doing well after her surgery.

As readers of this blog know, Haitian Hearts started on the “Heurese project” in the middle of this past summer.

Please see Maria’s post regarding how Frandy “found” Heurese in Port-au-Prince…a city of 3,000,000 people. The story is almost unbelieveable. And if it didn’t happen in Haiti, I might not believe it.

And readers, please tell me if I should still be disppointed with all of the people of means in Peoria that denied medical care to Heurese. Maybe my disappointment should go away.

Maybe it is my problem.

Am I making too much of a big deal out of the fact that Heurese was repeatedly turned down by the very people that should have been helping her?

And Frandy, one of the poorest kids in the Western Hemisphere is the one that goes the distance for Heurese.

Intuition would not lead me to believe this.

I was not taught this during 14 years of Catholic education. And the priests, Bishops, and their homilies at mass do not say to walk away from people like Heruese. They all say to embrace her.

And OSF, our big Catholic medical center in Peoria, says their mission is to deny no one. But they do. And my Haitian kids are dying in Haiti.

But Frandy gave Heurese some more time that she hadn’t banked on.

I need to be thankful to God for Heurese and Frandy and get over this.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hiding News is Not Good

The Journal Star published this editorial on December 15.

If the Journal cannot send reporters to Darfur, that is understandable. But they shouldn't hide news happening several miles from their front door.

Journal Star
Posted Dec 15, 2008 @ 10:30 PM

PEORIA — Between Barack Obama running his pre-presidency out of the Windy City and bringing all sorts of global movers and shakers into town, and Rod Blagojevich - no further explanation necessary - Chicago is the media hub of the universe these days.

In a news city, arguably there's never been so much news.

Ironic, then, that at the same time so much is happening and people seem to have such a thirst to know more about it, the city's flagship newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. Oh, well, at least the Trib isn't begging for a bailout.

It's a sign of the times, of course. News organizations across the spectrum of print and broadcast are struggling like never before, for a variety of reasons: the dismal economy, certainly; the overwhelming number of choices for fickle and unforgiving consumers, which makes it more difficult to draw sustainable market share; the competition from the Internet; the strain on customers' time; sometimes ownership's lack of appreciation for the unique demands of this business; the cultural changes in reading and spending habits and a sense that all information is equal and ought to be free.

To be sure, newspapers and other media aren't perfect any more than any human endeavor is, and some of their injuries are self-inflicted. But it still takes people and resources to go out and gather the news, organize it so it makes sense and distribute it, no matter the vehicle of delivery. It doesn't just happen spontaneously, effortlessly, without cost. Covering the Peoria City Council or the District 150 School Board or the Illinois Legislature - at least adequately - is not really something you can outsource to Bangalore, India, or do part-time, though some will no doubt try.

The risk of these unprecedented challenges to the industry is that the kind of investigative journalism that for decades has been uncovering the hard to get - the less-than-ethical exploits of an Illinois governor, or the abuses of an Enron, or the crimes of a Nixon administration, or the genocide of a helpless and innocent population far away - will just go away because it doesn't contribute enough to the bottom line, because the payoff isn't guaranteed up-front, because the potential return doesn't justify the commitment of time.

What this means for Americans is that we don't know what we don't know. Governments and institutions that in many cases would prefer to never have the light shine on their affairs will do things to us, and not always in our best interests. The decisions most make will be less informed. And that's dangerous in a democracy.


rjd 2 days ago

The biggest problem with 'news' today is that a lot of it is actually editorial in nature. It's alot of political spin. Case in point, the JS's recent AK47 article. Nothing but a spin. Completely unfactual. A misleading article, to say the very least. People are not going to pay good money for a 'spin' rag. Most of the news media no longer reports the news. Why have a NEWSpaper then?

RealWorld 22 hours ago

I agree RJD. I would care if the newspapers went out of business if they already were not in the pocket of politicians and local money men.

I was personally glad to see the Chicago Trib go under. Really glad. Wouldn't it be funny if a newspaper started that actually gave people the real news, not just the stories that the editors say they can print. Since the reporters are such Private I's, why didn't the tribune know about Blago? Why didn't they report it?

haitianhearts 37 minutes ago

"What this means for Americans is that we don't know what we don't know. Governments and institutions that in many cases would prefer to never have the light shine on their affairs will do things to us, and not always in our best interests. The decisions most make will be less informed. And that's dangerous in a democracy."

Like most newspapers, the Journal Star does hide what they want to hide.

For more than a decade the Journal Star has been against the Peoria Fire Department (PFD) upgrading its services to provide better care for people who call 911 in medical emergencies. Peorias three hospitals did not want the upgrade and the three hospitals advertise a lot in the Journal. This summer when the PFD was finally allowed to upgrade their services for Peorians, the Journal printed not a word of this.

And when OSF stopped Haitian kids from returning with the Haitian Hearts program to OSF for repeat heart surgery, Haitian kids have died. And when surgeries were delayed for Haitian kids in Peoria, Haitian kids in Peoria have suffered. But the Journal did not report these local crimes. The Journal Star reporters knew about these events but were stopped from reporting.

Yes, Journal Star Editors, local institutions will do things to us that our not in our best interest. And for you to hide the light on their affairs only makes sure 'we don't know what we don't know'.

John A. Carroll, M.D.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

OSF Will Pay

OSF will have to pay for their abandonment of Haitian kids.

OSF’s negligence towards Heurese and many others like her is immoral.

The Catholic Bishops and local business leaders will not be the answer here. They are all using each other.

And the poor relatives of the Haitians involved have no say so at all. They don’t have condos in south Florida and can barely feed themselves.

My guess is that the economy will take OSF down. Business deals won’t go as planned and loans will be harder to pay off. OSF’s business friends will leave them and union workers will have preferred providers elsewhere.

Even the Peoria Journal Star will leave OSF's side.

OSF has driven away good physicians to other areas of the country as OSF has controlled our local medical market but forgotten why they were founded. Individual patient care and care for the community are not OSF’s priorities, no matter what OSF says in their advertisements.

OSF is very misleading. I was mislead for two decades.

Power, money, and corruption are driving forces at OSF in Peoria. There is an intricate web of deception in place here.

OSF’s administrators Keith Steffen and Paul Kramer need to go. But will they? Probably not as long as they make money for OSF. But if they make a bad business deal, they are gone. The Catholics have put them up to be their fall guys, and when they fall, they will fall hard.

OSF is managed by hypocrites.

I think the Sisters should sell while they can. They had to sell their HealthPlans to Humana. Time is a wastin'.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Heurese Has Surgery

Dear Reader(s),

Heurese had heart surgery today. Her chest was closed around noon and all went very well.

She is the owner of a new heart valve.

Heurese received state of the art medical treatment by the medical center and state of the art love by her host family.

I will have more on Heurese's courageous struggle that never gave up and lead her to the operating room today.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Will OSF let Katina Die Too?

I examined Katina in Haiti just recently. She needs to return to OSF Children's Hospital for more heart surgery. Katina was operated at OSF in 2002.

OSF has denied all Haitian Hearts' patients that were operated at OSF repeat heart surgery. Two have died.

OSF is in the middle of their hospital expansion that will cost about $500 million. They got a loan from Governor Blagojevich to help out. OSF also had a lobbyist work with Stuart Levine on the Illinois Health Facilities Board to have another OSF project approved. Mr. Levine is in jail now.

OSF is a very busy medical center with alot of its interest at the state level. I doubt they will let Katina back in for heart surgery that she desperately needs. And OSF was founded for people like Katina.

Let me know if you have any ideas what to do to help Katina and many others like her that I am following in Haiti. Other hospitals are not excited about operating on OSF's heart patients from Haiti. They have told me so. (Katina was rejected by a well known medical center in Texas yesterday.)

It is not easy finding another medical center for Katina.

Please help.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Mirterlande Makes It

Well, our young 16 year old girl Mirterlande made it through surgery. She is up and walking and acting like nothing happended. She will be discharged from the hospital today. (See Maria's description of Mirterlande's saga on Live from Haiti.)

The tiny muscles and tendons that support her mitral valve in her heart were all “scrunched up” (medical term) and destroyed from her previous rheumatic fever. As these muscles became distorted over the last few years, the valve leaflets also were injured and the leaflets did not open and close the way they were designed. So with each beat of her heart, blood was regurgitating up into her lung and then, when the heart rests in diastole, too much blood would rush down into her left ventricle which caused it to swell and become weak.

Clinically, because of the above scenario, Mirterlande was barely able to walk because she was in congestive heart failure. When Haitian Hearts first examined her two years ago in Haiti, she was much more robust appearing. She has lost alot of weight due to cardiac cachexia. And she survived a month in the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince earlier this year when she was critically ill and treated for severe heart failure.

Her mother lives in the Artibonite Valley in Haiti and could not provide care for her. The tropical storms washed away her mother's garden in the Valley. So Mirterlande was living in Port-au-Prince with her older sister Karmin who saved her life multiple times during the last couple of years.

Many thoughts rush through my head each time I see one of my Haitian patients asleep on the operating table in the US. I think of all the suffering they have had. I think of what all their families back in Haiti have been through just to keep them alive. When a family member is sick in Haiti, the entire family is stressed. A cow may need to be sold and other family members need to do without.

In the hospital this week, the surgeons and heart surgery team in the operating room worked as a family to save Mirterlande’s life. They have worked for decades together and made a very difficult surgery look routine. The perfusionist, anesthesiologist, and surgeons are constantly talking to each other about the patient’s status during the case. There is no radio playing music, no one is listening to the city council chirp in the background, and there is no idle talk in the operating room.

All eyes and thoughts were on Mirterlande lying in the middle of the cold room.

After surgery, as Mirterlande was wheeled down the hall adjacent to the operating room, in a seamless fashion the cardiovascular intensive care team took control from the operating room team. They are all professionals and know how to troubleshoot any problem that may arise in the early hours after surgery.

This is not the biggest medical center in the world, but it is the best medical center in the world for Mirterlande and many others like her.

In reality, Mirterlande had to wait too long in Haiti for this surgery. And she should have been able to have this surgery in Haiti by Haitian physicians.

And if I really want to be honest, Mirterlande should not have got rheumatic fever in the first place. But poverty breeds diseases like this that steal away young people like this one. However Mirterlande so far has cheated poverty out of another innocent victim.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Young Haitian Women Travel to States for Heart Surgery

Dear Readers,

Both Heureuse and Mirterlande are now being "worked up" for cardiac surgery here in the USA.

Thank you for your support and prayers.

(Heureuse top picture and Mirterlande bottom picture.)

OSF and Peoria Catholic Diocese View Humanae Vitae and Haitians the Same

OSF and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria are hypocritical.

Their actions do not seem to respect life at conception or the lives of Haitian children.

Both OSF Corporate Ethicist Joe Piccione and the former Catholic Diocese Vicar-General Monsignor Steven Rohlfs helped design the OSF contraceptive policy and both men helped destroy Haitian Hearts in Peoria.

Does not sound Catholic to me.

Below is a Peoria Journal Star Forum article written by my brother Tom and me regarding OSF and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria's describing OSF's way of getting around Humanae Vitae.

Forum: OSF Contraceptives Policy is at Odds with Catholic Doctrine

Journal Star
Posted Nov 07, 2008

Re. Oct. 18 story by Gary Panetta, "Catholics & Contraception":

Panetta correctly points out that the Catholic Church's policy regarding artificial contraception is "maligned and misunderstood." Sadly, much of that is due to inconsistent teachings and actions from Catholic leaders.

In the mid 1990s, OSF and Bishop John Myers implemented a policy that allowed OSF physicians to write prescriptions for oral contraceptives on OSF property. This policy, still in place today, was created so OSF could stay competitive in the medical marketplace.

This flies in the face of the church's consistent position that it is a serious sin to prescribe or use contraceptives.

The loopholes used by OSF to justify this policy are known as "Limited Private Practice" and "Third-Party Payer." The idea that OSF physician employees are suddenly transformed into "non-employees" for the few seconds it takes to prescribe an oral contraceptive would be laughable if it were not so obviously wrong. And sorry, but using a "third party payer" to administer payouts for contraceptives doesn't change the fact that OSF HealthPlans covered them. Long before HealthPlans was sold to Humana, contraceptives were listed by brand name on the plan's Web site of preferred drugs.

Perception is very important. What are people to believe about the Catholic doctrine of Humane Vitae when they can go to an OSF office and come out with a prescription for birth control pills?

OSF Corporate Ethicist Joe Piccione stated that the "policies were approved by our local bishops." Therefore, we ask Catholics in the Peoria Diocese to petition Bishop Daniel Jenky to change a policy that is so obviously against the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Tom Carroll

John Carroll, M.D.
West Peoria

Copyright © 2008 GateHouse Media, Inc. Some Rights Reserved.
Original content available for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license, except where noted.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Haiti and Tonya

An article by Tonya Sneed published in the Peoria Journal Star, November 21, 2008.

PEORIA — On Thanksgiving, while Americans raise their cholesterol feasting on hormone-fed turkeys raised in horrendous conditions, another atrocity is taking place. Children in Baie d'Orange, Haiti, are starving.

It's official that at least 26 children have died from severe malnutrition, a direct result of the four tropical storms and hurricanes that ravaged Haiti in August and September.

Their deaths are connected to us in ways too numerous to count. As one of many examples, consider that the U.S. government has in recent years "liberalized" Haiti's trade. Just a few decades ago, almost all the rice purchased and sold in Haiti was grown there. Now more than 80 percent of the rice purchased and sold in Haiti was grown in the U.S. Through the dumping of our heavily subsidized rice into their market, we have destroyed Haiti's food security and have run an untold number of peasant farmers out of business.

In short, we have made Haitians more hungry, not less, and have forced them to rely on the whims of the international markets.

Consider global warming. The experts agree that global warming won't necessarily cause more hurricanes, but the hurricanes themselves will come with greater intensity. That seems to be the case. My friends in Jacmel, near Baie d'Orange, have never seen such devastation. It's a cruel irony that the poorest of the poor, who don't eat much meat and who don't drive cars - things that contribute substantially to global warming - are the ones who are suffering the most as a result of the changes in global temperatures.

Consider the elephant in the room: our despicable use of public funds. We spend more than $1 billion every day on the wars and the Pentagon's budget, and yet give Haiti pennies in aid. If we could take one day off from this insanity, no one would need to starve. A billion dollars would make all the difference in the world to the people of Baie d'Orange and to all of Haiti.

But there isn't any profit for Blackwater, KBR and the other war profiteers in feeding Venecia Lonis, a 4-year-old from Baie d'Orange whose tiny body is so miserably emaciated that even our mainstream media could no longer ignore her. Perhaps the only real hope for Venecia is that this Thanksgiving we Americans open our eyes to the harsh and bitter realities of this world, especially those that are of our government's making, and demand change.

Tonya Sneed


Comments (14)



How much are you sending to the starving Haitians? You can afford to send half your income, right? Maybe they would have a better chance at survival if you joined the Peace Corps and relocated. Is the foreign aid we send them helping or have you twisted that into a negative as well?


Even after years of receiving considerable foreign aid, Haiti remains an impoverished, tremendously fragile state. Over a span of ten years, the United States spent over $4 billion in aid to Haiti, yet the average Haitian still has to survive on one dollar a day. Why has assistance been so ineffectual, and what can we learn from Haitis plight about foreign aid in general? - Brookings Institution

Does the term political corruption account for anything? Whata ya bet their leaders drive Cadys?

Sherman Potter

I don't like to hear of any kids starving or without medical car. But good grief, there are kids and families in dire straits probably less than 10 miles from each of our homes.

Excellent post bornhere.

Let's take care of those in our own backyard first for a change.

Sherm - Let's find a way to make American citizens take care of their own rather than you and I being on the hook. I could only afford 2 children........that's all we had. No one paid me monthly to support them. What the hell is the government doing paying people to have more kids.


Good post bornhere , there's also a doctors program for Haitis children , they get free healthcare yet American children can't get it ..............



Great article. The truth that you document is painful to read.

I am in Haiti now.

The four tropical storms that hit Haiti in August and September did incredible damage to this fragile country.

There is a famine in southern Haiti and people are starving everyday. And we are only 90 minutes by air from Miami.

Over 250 children and their mothers show up at 5 AM for medical clinic. They are suffering from malnutrition and water-borne diseases.

And Haitians still make their way to the collapsed school that fell a few weeks killing about 100 students. They stare down and wonder. A sign hangs above the street in front of the crumbled fragments of cement that says: 'In memory of the teachers and students who fell to the politics of the bourgeois and businessman.'

John A. Carroll, M.D.


Hey Jon - Spend some time in any ER, say around 8:00 P.M. and you will see how the poor, and helpless are turned away......not! If you have health insurance, your fees will be high enough to cover some of these folks who pay nothing.

Sherman Potter

A tragic story indeed, Dr. Carroll. But what about the kids in the good ol USA? Why are they not a priority? We still have families reeling from Hurricane Katrina, do they not deserve food,shelter and healthcare?

The painful part of the article is that Peorians are encouraged to put on the blinders as they drive to the airport for their Haitian flight and ignore those in need RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.

I think it comes down to what will get more media attention, helping a families in the tri-county area, or an international journey?

Think of the $4 BILLION in aid that was sent, and did nothing. If you put half of that here you would already see results. Plus according to Tonya, we blew the Haitian rice farmers out of the water, and have actually made them more hungry. Why in the world would they want us back?

These countries are always thrown in our face as if it's America's problem. I get very tired of that.

Let Americans help Americans FIRST. Call the UN and spread out the tasks accordingly amongst the other countries. I'm tired of Uncle Sam being the food stamp distributor to the world while our own are in need.

Sherman Potter


I'm with ya. No one paid me to support my kids, I GOT A SECOND JOB. And sometimes another one after that.


I'm all for helping haiti, just as soon as they apply for statehood.

Does it have to be 8;00 Pm ?


If you want to see the bulk of the crowd, it always seems to begin around that time. Feel free to check it out anytime.

Some comments on the comments:

1. Yes, the families displaced by Hurricane Katrina deserve food, shelter, and healthcare.

2. The infant mortality rate in Peoria is 7/1000. The infant mortality rate in Haiti is 80/1000.

3. 25% of Haitian children are malnourished. Childhood obesity is a major health concern in Peoria.

4. In the United States we spend $5,267 per person each year for health care. Haiti spends $11 per person each year for health care.

5. The median life expectancy in Peoria is about 80 years. The median life expectancy in Haiti is about 50 years.

John A. Carroll, M.D.


Yes, children in the US have problems accessing health care. And I agree that that is a crime.

But in the US, most of those children live in a house with a roof, a floor and windows. Many children in Haiti have NONE of those things. Let alone a television set, or a car, or aspirin to help with minor pains, or any kind of nutrition (ie garlic or chicken soup) to help fend off minor illnesses. They have, literally, NOTHING.

You cannot spare $5 to help children who eat mud cakes to fill up their bellies when there is no food? Children whose parents cannot get jobs because there are NO jobs. They don't have factories or stores or schools or offices to choose not to work in. There are NONE of those things where they are. They are subsistence farmers, because that's what everyone in their village is. They grow what they eat and do what they can to keep a house around them. That is their life.

But US and Global market influences have gone to Haiti, with rice and grains grown by subsidized farmers, far cheaper than the rice and grain that was grown by Haitian farmers. And the corrupt government bought the cheap grain and put Haitian farmers out of business. The poor of Haiti, who comprise the vast majority of the Haitian population, have, literally, nothing! No where to go, no car to get there, and four serious hurricanes have made that pretty much less than nothing!

Please, this Thanksgiving, take a little time, and maybe send $5 or 10 bucks to Konpay, and appreciate how every single person in the United States has it 10 times better than most Haitian people. And stop whining.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Heureuse Survives

A very well-meaning missionary with tired eyes brought her to me.

When I first met Heureuse in Haiti in the early 2000’s she was the same petite and polite woman that she is today.

With my stethoscope placed over Heureuse’s heart, I could hear a loud gushing noise coming from her diseased aortic valve. A hole in her heart was nestled just below the bad valve.

Heureuse needed heart surgery to stay alive.

Heureuse’s sister Eva had kept her alive while Heureuse’s body was all bloated with fluid. Eva had even made tapes for her. When Eva was in the capital, and Heureuse was lying on her mat in her home in the coastal village of Bainet, Eva’s recorded voice would tell Heureuse to stay alive.

Heureuse did stay alive, got out of Haiti, and survived major heart surgery performed by a large medical center in the United States.

But this year Heureuse has become real sick again and now the large medical center does not want Heureuse back for repeat surgery. It seems they are comfortable letting Heureuse the survivor silently slip away in Haiti.

Incredibly, last week, Heureuse was accepted by another excellent medical center in the United States for surgery.

So what exactly has Heureuse survived?

She survived dark lonely breathless nights in a slum of Port-au-Prince. Her family was far away.

She survived the powerful macrostructures far from Haiti which control her world and influence her misery.

She survived the rich and powerful of her own government and business community that don’t view her as human, let alone a human with dignity.

She survived the kidnapping business in Haiti and the haphazard bullets of the Blue Helmets.

She survived four tropical storms--- Ike, Gustav, Hannah, and Fay. She survived the subsequent brown mud and sewage that ripped down the mountain into her slum and shanty.

She survived the loss of her children’s father as he vomited blood and moaned as he died.

She survived giving away her children this year as she prepared to die.

She survived the disappearance of Eva in the Dominican Republic.

She survived heart failure as the operative repair she had done at the big medical center fell apart.

She survived the painful memory of the United States and all of its rich food and clean water. She survived the memory of the blan that cared for her then…

She survived the silence and abandonment of people at the large medical center that should have said something, should have done something, as she was being led to the gallows.

She survived the silence of the Bishops and Monsignors and Sisters and medical center chaplains who should control and influence the true philosophy of the medical center.

Heureuse has survived total despair.

She needs to survive a few more days.

E Mail to Pekin City Council Member and OSF Foundation Director

Sue Ann Kortkamp is Executive Director of Saint Francis Medical Center Foundation.

She seemed to be an able leader but I think she was caught in a tough spot at OSF.

For example, Paul Kramer, Executive Director of Children's Hospital of Illinois, asked one of Sue Ann's employees at Foundation to divert money from Rotary Club North to Children's Hospital of Illinois. The money that Rotary collected was to go to Haitian Hearts directly---not Children's Hospital.

Sue Ann must have been cringing.

Also, Mr. Kramer did all he could to get his hands on $180,000 dollars raised by Haitian Hearts volunteers when we built and sold a new home in East Peoria in 2002. Mr. Kramer told the the Haitian Hearts people that constructed the house that "there is no such thing as Haitian Hearts". (Mr. Kramer also asked Jim Sullivan of Community Foundation which was holding the house money for Haitian Hearts, to release the money to Children's Hospital. Mr. Sullivan flatly refused. Haitian Hearts donated the entire sum to Children's at the end of 2002, right before Mr. Kramer called the American Consulate in Haiti.)

Again, Sue Ann must have felt bad to see this happen.

And a physician at OSF made very generous contributions to Haitian Hearts that never made it to Foundation (according to Sue Ann and her secretary) and Haitian Hearts was never credited with the physican's gift.

Haitian Hearts received no evidence from Foundation that people had donated significant monies to Haitian Hearts in late 2003. We pressed the issue and asked Foundation many questions...finally, after multiple attempts on our part, at the end of 2003, Keith Steffen signed a check over to Haitian Hearts of donations that had come in for Haitian Hearts patients in 2003. Haitian Hearts doubted that we would have ever received that check from OSF if we had not pressed Foundation to pressure OSF Administration to give us money that was donated to Haitian Hearts.

Sue Ann may have wondered where Caterpillar, Inc. donation to Haitian Hearts went in 2001. Caterpillar Inc. was donating $10,000 dollars a year for Haitian Hearts to go directly to Children's Hospital of Illinois. (Paul Kramer told me in his office that Haitian Hearts was becoming too much competition for Children's Hospital.) However in 2001, the computer printout revealed that Caterpillar Inc. had donated only $500 dollars to Haitian Hearts. In other words, Haitian Hearts would only have been credited with a $500 dollar donation to Children's Hospital of Illinois. I wonder where the other $9,500 dollars of Caterpillar money went?

And during the late 90's and early 2000's Haitian Hearts donated over 1.1 MILLION dollars to Children's Hospital of Illinois. We were honest amidst the dishonesty that was surrounding us at OSF.

A spokesperson for Attorney General Lisa Madigan told me that OSF had "done Haitian Hearts wrong."

Sadly, Sue Ann had to watch as OSF turned their back on dying Haitian Hearts patients in Haiti that had been operated at OSF. She watched as Paul Kramer told the pediatric cardiology group to cancel an important test on one of the Haitian children in Peoria. She watched as Paul Kramer notified the American Consulate in Haiti to stop the kids from attaining non-immigrant visas to come to Peoria for heart surgery.

Sue Ann could not have been happy with OSF at that point. But what could she do? OSF is her boss.

Sue Ann sits on the Pekin City Council. She will vote regarding AMT becoming the exclusive provider of ambulance care in Pekin.

I sent her the following e mail the other day:

Dear Sue,

As a council person in Pekin, you have the most first hand information how OSF "works" in Peoria. You have also seen how OSF has worked against Haitian Hearts patients that needed repeat heart surgery and did not survive. You were obviously unable to change OSF's policy abandoning Haitian kids.

I hope you can use your position in Pekin to protect the people of Pekin.

I read in the Peoria Journal Star that AMT would like to have an exclusive contract with Pekin.

My hope is that the earliest-arriving-best-trained-person is able to provide immediate care for the person that calls 911 in Pekin.

Please see these two links regarding Peoria's EMS situation. They provide a background regarding EMS, the Peoria Fire Department, AMT, and the way the policy regarding EMS care has evolved in Peoria.

Thank you.

John A. Carroll, M.D.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Flash: Haitian AIDS Patients Need Food

There is a website called PlusNews. This website is a global advocate for AIDS/HIV patients.

See this article and this article.

Isn't it incredible that we can supply certain AIDS patients in Haiti with antiretroviral medication but they don't have enough food to eat?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

This is Good News

Haitian Hearts has another patient accepted...Heureuse!!

More to follow....

We Don't Really Know How Bad It Is

One million Haitians homeless after spate of tropical storms

Joseph Guyler Delva

Friday, October 24, 2008

GONAIVES, Haiti (Reuters) - Impoverished Haiti is suffering one of the worst catastrophes in its history after the recent onslaught of tropical storms and hurricanes, the U.N. humanitarian aid chief said on Friday.

Four tropical storms and hurricanes that battered the Caribbean nation in August and September - Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike - killed more than 800 people and left nearly 1 million homeless or in dire need of help.

Following a visit to the storm-ravaged northern city of Gonaives, U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes said more needed to be done immediately to improve conditions while promoting sustainable measures to address Haiti's long-term problems.

"From what I heard before and from what I've seen just now, this is a major catastrophe, one of Haiti's biggest catastrophes probably," Holmes told reporters during a news conference in Gonaives, where storm-triggered floods killed about 500 people.

The storms caused nearly $1 billion damage, according to the World Bank President Robert Zoellick, who made a trip this week to Haiti, where many people living on less than $2 a day.

The poorest country in the Americas, Haiti has struggled with dictatorship, political upheaval and violence since a slave revolt threw off French rule more than two centuries ago.

The damage caused by the storms, coming after deadly riots in April over skyrocketing food prices, has hampered efforts by the current government to build stable democratic institutions and forced emergency appeals for millions of dollars of international aid.

The flooding left thousands of people, including many children, crammed in makeshift shelters and without basics necessities.

"The conditions in some of the shelters are really not good. We need to do more and we need to improve," Holmes said.

During a visit to one of the shelters, Holmes was approached by several flood victims who told him they had not received any food for days and that they wanted help to rebuild their homes or find a decent place to stay.

"The food ration they gave us finished a week ago and we have to go out on the street to beg for something to eat sometimes," Mecitane Cedieu, 50, said.

Many say they are afraid to sleep at night without any sort of security.

"Only God is watching on us at night. It's all dark and mosquitoes keep eating us," Elida Desir, 49, said.

The World Food Program said it had already distributed food to more than 500,000 people, including 280,000 in Gonaives. But many complain they have not received any food.

Many of Gonaives' people were still trying to clean mud out of their homes. Weeks after the floods, residents and their personal belongings could still be seen on rooftops and the city was covered with dust.

"I am working hard cleaning, but I am very hungry and sometimes I feel like I am going to faint," said Pierre Andre Bastien, a shovel in his hands as he worked near the main public square.

© Reuters

Copyright © 2008 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 27, 2008

U.S Role in Haiti's Food Riots...Bill Quigley

April 21, 2008
30 Years Ago Haiti Grew All the Rice It Needed. What Happened?
The U.S. Role in Haiti's Food Riots
(CounterPunch Website)

Riots in Haiti over explosive rises in food costs have claimed the lives of six people. There have also been food riots world-wide in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivorie, Egypt, Guinea, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Senegal, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

The Economist, which calls the current crisis the silent tsunami, reports that last year wheat prices rose 77% and rice 16%, but since January rice prices have risen 141%. The reasons include rising fuel costs, weather problems, increased demand in China and India, as well as the push to create biofuels from cereal crops.

Hermite Joseph, a mother working in the markets of Port au Prince, told journalist Nick Whalen that her two kids are “like toothpicks” they’ re not getting enough nourishment. Before, if you had a dollar twenty-five cents, you could buy vegetables, some rice, 10 cents of charcoal and a little cooking oil. Right now, a little can of rice alone costs 65 cents, and is not good rice at all. Oil is 25 cents. Charcoal is 25 cents. With a dollar twenty-five, you can’t even make a plate of rice for one child.”

The St. Claire’s Church Food program, in the Tiplas Kazo neighborhood of Port au Prince, serves 1000 free meals a day, almost all to hungry children -- five times a week in partnership with the What If Foundation. Children from Cite Soleil have been known to walk the five miles to the church for a meal. The cost of rice, beans, vegetables, a little meat, spices, cooking oil, propane for the stoves, have gone up dramatically. Because of the rise in the cost of food, the portions are now smaller. But hunger is on the rise and more and more children come for the free meal. Hungry adults used to be allowed to eat the leftovers once all the children were fed, but now there are few leftovers.

The New York Times lectured Haiti on April 18 that “Haiti, its agriculture industry in shambles, needs to better feed itself.” Unfortunately, the article did not talk at all about one of the main causes of the shortages -- the fact that the U.S. and other international financial bodies destroyed Haitian rice farmers to create a major market for the heavily subsidized rice from U.S. farmers. This is not the only cause of hunger in Haiti and other poor countries, but it is a major force.

Thirty years ago, Haiti raised nearly all the rice it needed. What happened?

In 1986, after the expulsion of Haitian dictator Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loaned Haiti $24.6 million in desperately needed funds (Baby Doc had raided the treasury on the way out). But, in order to get the IMF loan, Haiti was required to reduce tariff protections for their Haitian rice and other agricultural products and some industries to open up the country’s markets to competition from outside countries. The U.S. has by far the largest voice in decisions of the IMF.

Doctor Paul Farmer was in Haiti then and saw what happened. “Within less than two years, it became impossible for Haitian farmers to compete with what they called ‘Miami rice.’ The whole local rice market in Haiti fell apart as cheap, U.S. subsidized rice, some of it in the form of ‘food aid,’ flooded the market. There was violence, ‘rice wars,’ and lives were lost.”

“American rice invaded the country,” recalled Charles Suffrard, a leading rice grower in Haiti in an interview with the Washington Post in 2000. By 1987 and 1988, there was so much rice coming into the country that many stopped working the land.

Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste, a Haitian priest who has been the pastor at St. Claire and an outspoken human rights advocate, agrees. “In the 1980s, imported rice poured into Haiti, below the cost of what our farmers could produce it. Farmers lost their businesses. People from the countryside started losing their jobs and moving to the cities. After a few years of cheap imported rice, local production went way down.”

Still the international business community was not satisfied. In 1994, as a condition for U.S. assistance in returning to Haiti to resume his elected Presidency, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was forced by the U.S., the IMF, and the World Bank to open up the markets in Haiti even more.

But, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, what reason could the U.S. have in destroying the rice market of this tiny country?

Haiti is definitely poor. The U.S. Agency for International Development reports the annual per capita income is less than $400. The United Nations reports life expectancy in Haiti is 59, while in the US it is 78. Over 78% of Haitians live on less than $2 a day, more than half live on less than $1 a day.

Yet Haiti has become one of the very top importers of rice from the U.S. The U.S. Department of Agriculture 2008 numbers show Haiti is the third largest importer of US rice - at over 240,000 metric tons of rice. (One metric ton is 2200 pounds).

Rice is a heavily subsidized business in the U.S. Rice subsidies in the U.S. totaled $11 billion from 1995 to 2006. One producer alone, Riceland Foods Inc of Stuttgart Arkansas, received over $500 million dollars in rice subsidies between 1995 and 2006.

The Cato Institute recently reported that rice is one of the most heavily supported commodities in the U.S. -- with three different subsidies together averaging over $1 billion a year since 1998 and projected to average over $700 million a year through 2015. The result? “Tens of millions of rice farmers in poor countries find it hard to lift their families out of poverty because of the lower, more volatile prices caused by the interventionist policies of other countries.”

In addition to three different subsidies for rice farmers in the U.S., there are also direct tariff barriers of 3 to 24 percent, reports Daniel Griswold of the Cato Institute -- the exact same type of protections, though much higher, that the U.S. and the IMF required Haiti to eliminate in the 1980s and 1990s.

U.S. protection for rice farmers goes even further. A 2006 story in the Washington Post found that the federal government has paid at least $1.3 billion in subsidies for rice and other crops since 2000 to individuals who do no farming at all; including $490,000 to a Houston surgeon who owned land near Houston that once grew rice.

And it is not only the Haitian rice farmers who have been hurt.

Paul Farmer saw it happen to the sugar growers as well. “Haiti, once the world's largest exporter of sugar and other tropical produce to Europe, began importing even sugar-- from U.S. controlled sugar production in the Dominican Republic and Florida. It was terrible to see Haitian farmers put out of work. All this sped up the downward spiral that led to this month's food riots.”

After the riots and protests, President Rene Preval of Haiti agreed to reduce the price of rice, which was selling for $51 for a 110 pound bag, to $43 dollars for the next month. No one thinks a one month fix will do anything but delay the severe hunger pains a few weeks.

Haiti is far from alone in this crisis. The Economist reports a billion people worldwide live on $1 a day. The US-backed Voice of America reports about 850 million people were suffering from hunger worldwide before the latest round of price increases.

Thirty three countries are at risk of social upheaval because of rising food prices, World Bank President Robert Zoellick told the Wall Street Journal. When countries have many people who spend half to three-quarters of their daily income on food, “there is no margin of survival.”

In the U.S., people are feeling the world-wide problems at the gas pump and in the grocery. Middle class people may cut back on extra trips or on high price cuts of meat. The number of people on food stamps in the US is at an all-time high. But in poor countries, where malnutrition and hunger were widespread before the rise in prices, there is nothing to cut back on except eating. That leads to hunger riots.

In the short term, the world community is sending bags of rice to Haiti. Venezuela sent 350 tons of food. The US just pledged $200 million extra for worldwide hunger relief. The UN is committed to distributing more food.

What can be done in the medium term? The US provides much of the world’s food aid, but does it in such a way that only half of the dollars spent actually reach hungry people. US law requires that food aid be purchased from US farmers, processed and bagged in the US and shipped on US vessels -- which cost 50% of the money allocated. A simple change in US law to allow some local purchase of commodities would feed many more people and support local farm markets.

In the long run, what is to be done? The President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who visited Haiti last week, said “Rich countries need to reduce farms subsidies and trade barriers to allow poor countries to generate income with food exports. Either the world solves the unfair trade system, or every time there's unrest like in Haiti, we adopt emergency measures and send a little bit of food to temporarily ease hunger."

Citizens of the USA know very little about the role of their government in helping create the hunger problems in Haiti or other countries. But there is much that individuals can do. People can donate to help feed individual hungry people and participate with advocacy organizations like Bread for the World or Oxfam to help change the U.S. and global rules which favor the rich countries. This advocacy can help countries have a better chance to feed themselves.

Meanwhile, Merisma Jean-Claudel, a young high school graduate in Port-au-Prince told journalist Wadner Pierre "...people can’t buy food. Gasoline prices are going up. It is very hard for us over here. The cost of living is the biggest worry for us, no peace in stomach means no peace in the mind.¦I wonder if others will be able to survive the days ahead because things are very, very hard."

“On the ground, people are very hungry,” reported Fr. Jean-Juste. “Our country must immediately open emergency canteens to feed the hungry until we can get them jobs. For the long run, we need to invest in irrigation, transportation, and other assistance for our farmers and workers.”

In Port au Prince, some rice arrived in the last few days. A school in Fr. Jean-Juste’s parish received several bags of rice. They had raw rice for 1000 children, but the principal still had to come to Father Jean-Juste asking for help. There was no money for charcoal, or oil.

Jervais Rodman, an unemployed carpenter with three children, stood in a long line Saturday in Port au Prince to get UN donated rice and beans. When Rodman got the small bags, he told Ben Fox of the Associated Press, “The beans might last four days. The rice will be gone as soon as I get home.”

Bill Quigley is a human rights lawyer and law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. His essay on the Echo 9 nuclear launch site protests is featured in Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance from the Heartland, published by AK Press. He can be reached at People interested in donating to feed children in Haiti should go to

People who want to help change U.S. policy on agriculture to help combat world-wide hunger should go to: or

Sunday, October 26, 2008

TPS for Haitians

Haitians rally for protection of immigrants

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Friday, October 24, 2008

WEST PALM BEACH — A crowd of about 3,000 traveled by foot, by taxi, even by bus, to rally in front of the federal courthouse Friday afternoon, demanding that Haitians are no longer returned to a country that is falling apart.

Children cheered from the shoulders of their parents and even the elderly twirled umbrellas in the air like batons, shouting, "Hey, Hey, George Bush, TPS for Haitians."

Decimated by four storms this hurricane season, the already poor and unstable country is in such dire straits that even President René Préval has asked the U.S. to grant Haitians Temporary Protected Status, which means those living here illegally could stay and obtain work authorization until Haiti's atmosphere improved.

TPS is usually granted to nations in the midst of an armed conflict or an environmental disaster. In the past, it has been given to natives of Somalia, Burundi, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Sudan.

Because of Haiti's natural disasters that killed thousands and left hundreds of thousands homeless, many wonder why the country also hasn't been granted TPS.

"They ignore Haitian people," Wisner Toussaint of Coral Springs said of the U.S. government. "We don't know why. We need to be treated fairly."

This summer, the Department of Homeland Security announced a temporary suspension of deportations to Haiti because of massive flooding from the storms, but the government has not gone as far as to call it TPS.

"Little kids, 3 and 4 years old, are on the street asking for food and money," said Bob-Louis Jeune of the Haitian Citizen United Task Force. "The people don't know where to go, what to do. It's very sad. TPS ... we deserve it."

Buses came from as far as Orlando for the four-hour rally, which forced police to shut down a section of Clematis Street because they couldn't contain all of the people on one side of the road.

Local Haitian disc jockey Lesly Jacques directed the crowd to sing the American and Haitian national anthems, then led the supporters in a passionate chant that echoed through the streets. Men and women waved signs displaying words of support, and others held cellphones in the air so relatives from afar could hear.

Although deportations to Haiti are temporarily halted, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are still arresting those living in the U.S. illegally and placing them in detention centers until the suspension is lifted. Immigration advocates are asking ICE to stop the arrests, arguing that many of those arrested do not have criminal backgrounds and contribute to society.

ICE spokeswoman Nicole Navas said they are still breaking the law.

"We are still enforcing immigration laws," Navas said. "Those with final orders of removal will remain in custody."

Representatives from the Haitian Citizen United Task Force, which organized the rally, said their next stop is Washington. They plan to ask, just as they did on Clematis Street, "President Bush, can you hear us?"

Racism and Poverty

Racism and Poverty
John Maxwell

The people of Haiti are as poor as human beings can be.

According to the statisticians of the World Bank and others who speculate about
how many Anglos can dance on the head of a peon, Haiti may either be the
second, third or fourth poorest country in the world.

In Haiti’s case, statistics are irrelevant.

When large numbers of people are reduced to eating dirt – earth, clay – it
is impossible to imagine poverty any more absolute, any more desperate, any
more inhuman and degrading.

The chairman of the World Bank visited Haiti this past week. This man, Robert
Zoellick, is an expert finance-capitalist, a former partner in the investment
bankers Goldman Sachs, whose 22,000 ‘traders” last year averaged bonuses of
more than $600,000 each.

Goldman Sachs paid out over &18 billion in bonuses to its traders last year,
about 50% more than the GDP of Haiti’s 8 million people.

The chairman of Goldman took home more than $70 million and his lieutenants –
as Zoellick once was – $40 million or more, each.

It should be clear that someone like Robert Zoellick is likely to be totally
bemused by Haiti when his entertainment allowance could probably feed the
entire population for a day or two. It is not hard to understand that Mr
Zoellick cannot understand why Haiti needs debt relief.

Haiti is now forced by the World Bank and Its bloodsucking siblings like the
IMF, to pay more than $1 million a week to satisfy debts incurred by the
Duvaliers and the post-Duvalier tyrannies. Haiti must repay this debt to prove
its fitness for ‘help’ from the Multilateral Financial Institutions (MFI).

One million dollars a week would feed everybody in Haiti even if only at a very
basic level – at least they would not have to eat earth patties. Instead the
Haitians export this money to pay the salaries of such as Zoellick
But Zoellick doesn’t see it that way. According to the World Bank’s website
the bank is in the business of eradicating poverty. At the rate it does that in
Haiti the Bank, I estimate, will be in the poverty eradication business for
another 18,000 years.

The reason Haiti is in its present state is pretty simple. Canada, the United
States and France, all of whom consider themselves civilised nations, colluded
in the overthrow of the democratic government of Haiti four years ago. They did
this for several excellent reasons:

• Haiti 200 years ago defeated the world’s then major powers, France
(twice) Britain and Spain, to establish its independence and to abolish
plantation slavery. This was unforgivable.

• Despite being bombed, strafed and occupied by the United States early in
the past century, and despite the American endowment of a tyrannical and brutal
Haitian army designed to keep the natives in their place, the Haitians insisted
on re-establishing their independence. Having overthrown the Duvaliers and
their successors, the Haitians proceeded to elect as president a little black
parish priest who had become their hero by defying the forces of evil and

• The new president of Haiti, Jean Bertrand Aristide refused to sell out
(privatise) the few assets owned by the government (the public utilities

• Aristide also insisted that France owed Haiti more than $25 billion in
repayment of blood money extorted from Haiti in the 19th century, as alleged
compensation for France’s loss of its richest colony and to allow Haiti to
gain admission to world trade;

• Aristide threatened the hegemony of a largely expatriate ruling class of
so-called ‘elites’ whose American connections allowed them to continue the
parasitic exploitation and economic strip mining of Haiti following the
American occupation.

• Haiti, like Cuba, is believed to have in its exclusive economic zone, huge
submarine oil reserves, greater than the present reserves of the United States

• Haiti would make a superb base from which to attack Cuba.

The American attitude to Haiti was historically based on American disapproval
of a free black state just off the coast of their slave-based plantation
economy. This attitude was pithily expressed in Thomas Jefferson’s idea that
a black man was equivalent to three fifths of a white man. It was further
apotheosized by Woodrow Wilson’s Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan
who expostulated to Wilson: “Imagine! Niggers speaking French!”

The Haitians clearly did not know their place. In February 2004, Mr John
McCain’s International Republican Institute, assisted by Secretary of State
Colin Powell, USAID and the CIA, kidnapped Aristide and his wife and
transported them to the Central African Republic as ‘cargo’ in a plane
normally used to ‘render’ terrorists for torture outsourced by the US to
Egypt, Morocco and Uzbekistan.

Before Mr Zoellick went to Haiti last week, the World Bank announced that Mr.
Zoellick’s visit would “emphasize the Bank's strong support for the
country.” Mr. Zoellick added: "Haiti must be given a chance. The
international community needs to step up to the challenge and support the
efforts of the Haitian government and its people."

“If Robert Zoellick wants to give Haiti a chance, he should start by
unconditionally cancelling Haiti’s debt,” says Brian Concannon of the
Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. “Instead the World Bank- which
was established to fight poverty- continues to insist on debt payments when
Haitians are starving to death and literally mired in mud.”

“After four hurricanes in a month and an escalating food crisis it is
outrageous that Haiti is being told it must wait six more months for debt
relief,” said Neil Watkins, National Coordinator of Jubilee USA Network.
“Haiti’s debt is both onerous and odious”, added Dr. Paul Farmer of
Partners In Health. “The payments are literally killing people, as every
dollar sent to Washington is a dollar Haiti could spend on healthcare,
nutrition and feeding programs, desperately needed infrastructure and clean
water. Half of the loans were given to the Duvaliers and other dictatorships,
and spent on Presidential luxuries, not development programs for the poor. Mr.
Zoellick should step up and support the Haitian government by cancelling the
debt now.”

“Unconditional debt cancellation is the first step in addressing the
humanitarian crisis in Haiti,” according to Nicole Lee, Executive Director of
TransAfrica Forum. “There is also an urgent need for U.S. policy towards
Haiti to shift from entrenching the country in future debt to supporting
sustainable, domestic solutions for development.”

The above quotations are taken from an appeal by the organisations represented

Further comment is superfluous.

Poverty and Globalisation
President Jean Bertrand Aristide, now in enforced exile in South Africa, might
be sardonically entertained by a new report just published by the world’s
Club of the Rich, the OECD –Organisation for Economic Cooperation and
This report, titled “Growing Unequal” examines the accelerating trend
toward economic inequality in the societies of the world’s richest countries.

The report contains several mind-blowing discoveries which will, no doubt,
amaze journalists and policy-makers in the Western hemisphere and keep them
entertained for many years.

The major finding is that globalisation and free trade have hurt millions of
people, particularly the poorest.

Another ground-breaking discovery is that “work reduces poverty”.

One of these days Jamaicans and other Caribbean people may decide to find out
whether these theses are true and whether if they are, we should have signed on
to the new EPA with the European Union.

If our ginnigogs were able and willing to read they might become aware of a
phenomenon called the “resource curse’ which appears to condemn developing
countries with enormous mineral wealth to misery, war, corruption and

If our ginnigogs could or would read, they might find it useful to discover
whether an acre of land under citrus or pumpkins is not more productive,
sustainable and valuable than that same acre destroyed for bauxite.

If our ginnigogs could or would read, they might become aware of the fate of
the island of Nauru, ‘discovered’ less than two hundred years ago, mined
for phosphate, returning a per capita national income rivaling Saudi Arabia’s
two and three decades ago and now to be abandoned because the land has been
mined to death and is destined to disappear shortly beneath the waves of global

Softly, softly, catchee monkee

If our ginnigogs were able to read and willing and able to defend the interests
of Jamaica and the Jamaican people they might discover that bauxite mining
will, within a relatively short time, contaminate all the water resources of
Jamaica, destroy our cultural heritage, wipe out our priceless biological
diversity, deprave our landscape and reduce those of us who survive to a state
of penury and hopelessness. Goodbye tourism, goodbye farming, welcome hunger,
welcome clay patties.

According to the experts if you drop a live lobster into a pot of boiling water
the creature will make frenzied efforts to escape. If, on the other hand, you
put him in a pot of cold water and bring it slowly to the boil, the lobster
will perish without a struggle.

Jamaica, on the atlas, is shaped a bit like a lobster.

Bon appetit.

Copyright © 2008 John Maxwell

Friday, October 17, 2008

This is Bad News...

October 15, 2008

Poor to suffer meltdown as well

Associated Press

GENEVA -- The world's poorest people will be hungrier, sicker and have fewer jobs as a result of the global financial crisis, and cash-strapped aid agencies will be less able to help, aid groups are warning.

The charities that provide food, medicine and other relief on the ground say cutbacks have already started, but it will take months or more before the full impact is felt in the poorest countries of Africa, Latin America and Asia.

During global recessions in the 1970s and 1990s, aid spending dropped sharply and took years to recover, said Matt Grainger of the British-based charity Oxfam International.

Aid agencies face more than just the prospect of plummeting donations. Higher food prices and more joblessness are greatly increasing the number of people who need assistance.

Philippe Guiton of World Vision told the Associated Press that his agency plans to cut back hiring, which will have implications for delivering aid to the needy.

"What we are going to do now is to issue an order to reduce spending, to delay recruitment, delay purchases of capital assets, etc., until we can see clearer how much our income has dropped," he said.

Robert Glasser, secretary-general of CARE International, said the agency has "a number of major donors who have invested heavily in the markets and have now seen their portfolios take a big hit."

What that will mean on the ground could take months to gauge and perhaps years for a complete recovery, aid groups said.

In impoverished Haiti, funding for projects to rebuild from tropical storms that killed nearly 800 people and destroyed more than half the nation's agriculture hangs in the balance.

"It's too soon to tell yet because we haven't heard back positively or negatively from our major donors," Greg Elder, deputy head of programming for U.S-based Catholic Relief Services, said by telephone from the battered port of Les Cayes.

The group is waiting for word from the U.S. Agency for International Development on whether it will get $2 million for 10 new food-for-work projects, which provide Haitians with rations in exchange for building roads, irrigation systems and environmental projects.

That means problems across the board, said CARE's Glasser. Wealthy countries will stop investing in developing countries, and cut back on imports from poorer countries, leaving their governments with less money to pay for health care and schools, he said.

In Zimbabwe, a Red Cross food program for 260,000 orphans and HIV-infected people began last month to make sure AIDS victims have sufficient nourishment in a nation where millions are going hungry because of drought and land-seizures that have devastated agriculture.

HIV-infected people are especially vulnerable because without food they cannot tolerate their medicine.

"The farmers' food stores are depleted. There is no food available," said Peter Lundberg, country representative of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

"I spoke to a family a few days ago and I said, 'How are you coping?' Basically this was a poor farmer family. And they said, 'We used to have three, maybe four, meals a day and now we're down to one meal.'"

Medecins Sans Frontieres, which runs AIDS clinics in the Cape Town township of Khayelitsha in South Africa, said it's "far too early" to determine the impact the crisis would have on donations.

"The money we're spending now was collected some time ago," said Henrik Glette, a South Africa-based spokesman for the group.

But Neil Tobin, an employee of UNAIDS in Sierra Leone, warned: "It is well documented that AIDS is a problem compounded by poverty. Thus the concern is that any sharp economic downturn may present increased challenges, particularly for developing nations in responding to the epidemic."

Top scientists meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, said they feared the financial turmoil would curb research into a new AIDS vaccine.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said "the increases in the budget we had hoped for will not be forthcoming."

Alan Bernstein, head of Global Vaccine Enterprise, said the financial meltdown is "not good news for research in general and vaccine research in particular."

Associated Press writers Jonathan M. Katz in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Michelle Faul and Donna Bryson in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Clare Nullis in Cape Town, South Africa contributed to this report.


Haitian Hearts Has Another Patient Accepted

Today was a great day.

Miterlande is a 16 year old girl who lives near Port-au-Prince.

We examined her for the first time two years ago. She has severe mitral valve regurgitation and stenosis. This valve was destroyed because of rheumatic fever.

Miterlande was accepted today into an excellent medical center in the United States with a great cardiovascular team. She will have heart surgery soon!

Work on her visa has already started.

(For the three of you who faithfully read this blog, Heureuse still patiently waits in Carrefour.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Haitian Deportations...Catholic Bishops Say "No"

Posted on Wed, Oct. 15, 2008

U.S. bishops call for halt in Haitian deportations

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, citing humanitarian reasons, has joined the growing call for the Bush administration to designate Temporary Protected Status for undocumented Haitians living in the United States.

The TPS status -- set aside for countries suffering from political tumult and natural disasters -- would allow undocumented Haitians to reside legally in the United States and obtain work permits.

In an Oct. 8 letter to President Bush, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, argued that Haiti qualifies for TPS because of the recent devastation of consecutive storms and an earlier food crisis.

The letter, made public Tuesday, calls for TPS for an 18-month period and also noted that conditions in Haiti are comparable to or worse than those in countries that recently received an extension of TPS, such as El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.


© 2008 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New York Times Editorial

October 13, 2008

New York Times Editorial

Help for Haiti

This year has been especially cruel to Haiti, with four back-to-back storms that killed hundreds of people, uprooted tens of thousands more and obliterated houses, roads and crops. A far richer country would have been left reeling; Haiti is as poor as poor gets in this half of the globe. Those who have seen the damage say it is hard to convey the new depths of misery there.

The Bush administration promised Haiti $10 million in emergency aid and Congress has since authorized $100 million for relief and reconstruction. The United Nations has issued a global appeal for another $100 million. We have no doubt that Haiti will need much more.

There is something the United States can do immediately to help Haitians help themselves. It is to grant “temporary protected status” to undocumented Haitians in the United States, so they can live and work legally as their country struggles back from its latest catastrophe.

This is the same protection that has been given for years, in 18-month increments, to tens of thousands of Nicaraguans, Hondurans, Salvadorans and others whose countries have been afflicted by war, earthquakes and hurricanes.

While the Bush administration has temporarily stopped deporting Haitians since Hurricane Ike last month, it has not been willing to go the next step of officially granting temporary protected status to the undocumented Haitians living here.

Haiti’s president, René Préval, and members of Congress have urged the administration to change its mind. We urge the same.

There is very little that is consistent in the United States’ immigration policies toward its nearest neighbors, except that the rawest deal usually goes to the Haitians. Cubans who make it to dry land here are allowed to stay; those intercepted at sea are not. Hondurans and Nicaraguans who fled Hurricane Mitch 10 years ago have seen their temporary protected status renewed, as have Salvadorans uprooted by earthquakes in 2001.

Haiti, meanwhile, more than meets the conditions that immigration law requires for its citizens here to receive temporary protected status, including ongoing armed conflict and a dire natural or environmental disaster that leaves a country unable to handle the safe return of its migrants.

If Haiti is ever going to find the road to recovery after decades of dictatorship, upheaval and decay, it will take more than post-hurricane shipments of food and water. Haiti desperately needs money, trade, investment and infrastructure repairs.

It also needs the support of Haitians in the United States, who send home more than $1 billion a year. What it does not need, especially right now, is a forced influx of homeless, jobless deportees.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Make Soup in Haiti

“If it’s old and ugly, paint it a bright color. If it’s barren, plant a flower. If it’s broken, glue it together (or make something new) with the pieces. If it’s garbage, make compost. If they’re fighting, sing a song. If they’re sick, sit with them on the bed. If they are hungry, make soup."

Sister of Saint Joseph

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Heureuse Means Happy

This following is an online chat I had with Dejean (Frandy) today regarding Heureuse. Heureuse is the 29 year old Haitian gal that needs heart surgery....Dejean is our 19 year old Haitian young man who helps Haitian Hearts on the ground in PAP when we are not there...please pray we find a medical center for Heureuse very soon.

She was operated at OSF in Peoria in 2002, but OSF will not allow her to return for repeat heart surgery.

From: Dejean Frandy
Date: Sat, Oct 11, 2008 at 1:09 PM
Subject: Chat with Dejean Frandy

12:55 PM me: frandy are you there?
Dejean: yes
how are you doing?
me: talk to me...
12:56 PM Dejean: ok
She's not doing ok for now
she can't breath well
12:57 PM and she's losing weigh seriously
she looks very thin
me: is she taking her medication?
Dejean: her heart is beating so quick
12:58 PM she's taking the same piles
12:59 PM me: ok
Dejean: but they don't do nothing to reduce the pain
1:00 PM she cried when i saw her
me: why did she cry?
where is her pain?
1:01 PM Dejean: because she's surffering
she can't hold her stomac
me: is she able to walk outside her house?
Dejean: when her heart beats
1:02 PM yes
but she's pretty afraid of her health condition
1:03 PM me: tell her to decrease her furosemide to twice each day...not three times each day...she needs to eat bananas also
Dejean: i asked her to save her money food
1:04 PM i don't let her call me
1:05 PM me: frandy, let her call you once each day...
tell her we are working hard to find her a hosptial...are her kids gone?
1:06 PM Dejean: so i am doing my best to visit her everyday
they are gone ok
me: thanks
Dejean: they are in her country side
me: can you take her to dr pilie this week?
is there anyone that can stay with her if she is admitted to the general hospital??
Dejean: ok i will
1:07 PM me: tell her not to give up and to kenbe fem...
Dejean: she wants to do that for now
she just needs your word
me: wants to do what?
1:08 PM Dejean: she wants to be hospitalized over there
me: tell her maria and i have not forgotten her...i sent her medication this will go to gertrude
Dejean: ok
1:09 PM me: tell her not to take enalapril for two days to see if she feels better...
Dejean: ok
i got you
me: see you later, friend...
1:10 PM Dejean: ok
me: also, you are going to get your computer this week from dr ebel...
Dejean: yes he told me that
1:11 PM me: au revoir...
Dejean: you know what? they are very good
me: yes they are...
Dejean: tell them i said "merci beaucoup"
me: dako..
Dejean: they really want to take me out of poverty
1:12 PM with only one thing
i like it
me: dako...
Dejean: thank you very much
thank you
me: du rien...
Dejean: let me write him back
me: dako...