Thursday, July 31, 2008

Baltimore Activist Alert - Part 1

Baltimore Activist Alert July 31, 2008 – April 4, 2009

"I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours.

The initiative to stop it must be ours." -Martin Luther King Jr.

Friends, this list and other email documents which I send out are done under the auspices of the Baltimore Nonviolence Center . Go to If you appreciate this information and would like to make a donation, send contributions to BNC, 325 East 25th Street , Baltimore , MD 21218 . Max Obuszewski can be reached at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski [at]

The Baltimore IndyMedia Center publicizes peace-related events. Go to

1] Books, buttons and stickers

2] Web site for info on federal legislation

3] Join Nonviolent Resistance lists

4] Eyes Wide Open exhibit available

5] Bernie Brown needs housing

6] PROFIT MOTIVE film & Turtle salon – July 31

7] HAROLD & MAUDE at Visionary Art Museum – July 31

8] Protest WYPR management – Aug. 1 - ?

9] WIB Frederick peace vigil – Aug, 1

10] WIB Inner Harbor peace vigil – Aug. 1

11] WIB Roland Park vigil – Aug. 1

12] White House vigil – Aug. 1

13] Silent vigil at Homewood Friends – Aug. 1

14] Eco-Trends – Aug. 1

15] Vigil at Walter Reed – Aug. 1

16] BSO plays the Dead & Zeppelin – Aug. 1-2

17] Ballroom dancing – Aug. 1

18] Donate to Free Store – Aug. 2

19] Peace vigil in Chester , PA – Aug. 2

20] Peace vigil at Capitol – Aug. 2

21] Death penalty meeting – Aug. 2

22] Olney vigil to end the war – Aug. 2


1] – Buttons, bumperstickers and books are available. “God Bless the Whole World, No Exceptions” stickers in stock. Call Max at 410-366-1637.

2] – To obtain information how your federal legislators voted on particular bills, go to Congressional toll-free numbers are 888-818-6641, 888-355-3588 or 800-426-8073.

3] – THE ORGANIZING LIST will be the primary decision-making mechanism of the National Campaign of Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR]. It will be augmented by conference calls and possibly in-person meetings as needed. It will consist of 1 or 2 representatives from each local, regional, or national organization (not coalitions) that wishes to actively work to carry out the NCNR campaign of facilitating and organizing nonviolent resistance to the war in Iraq .

To join the ORGANIZING List, please send your name, group affiliation, city and email address to Different local chapters of a national organization are encouraged to subscribe.

THE NOTICES LIST will include only notices of NCNR actions and related information and is open to any interested person to subscribe. It will be moderated to maintain focus & will include periodic notices about getting involved in NCNR national organizing. To join the NOTICES List, send an email message to . You will get a confirmation message once subscribed. If you have problems, please write to the list manager at

4] – The Baltimore American Friends Service Committee office has assembled an exhibit Maryland Eyes Wide Open which details the Human Cost of the Iraq War and reflects the costs of war to the state of Maryland. The exhibit consists of at least 40 pairs of combat boots, representing the US military deaths from Maryland; civilian shoes, tagged with names and ages of a very small fraction of the tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis who have died; a representative pair of combat boots and 7 red poppies, representing the estimated number of wounded US military personnel (approximately 7 times the number of dead); and signs and literature detailing the human and financial costs of the war on the cities and counties of Maryland.

AFSC will help with logistics and contribute to your planning for auxiliary events or activities presented in conjunction with the exhibit. For information on obtaining and displaying the exhibit, call 410-323-4200, extensions 20 or 21 or e-mail at or Go to

5] – Bernie Brown has been residing at the Progressive Action Center since he lost his housing. However, the PAC is being sold, and it is expected Bernie will have to leave before the end of July. Let me know if you can suggest some temporary or permanent housing for one of Baltimore ’s faihtful peace and justice activists. Bernie is named in the documents from the State Police, which the ACLU released on July 17. Call me if you know of a place where Bernie could live—410-366-1637.

6] – On Thurs., July 31 at 7 PM at 2640 St. Paul St., you are invited to an evening of homage and testament to fallen and breathing radicals, rebels and provocateurs, featuring a special screening of the film PROFIT MOTIVE AND THE WHISPERING WIND by John Gianvito. Filmed across the U.S. over a three-year period, the film is a remarkable and moving visual meditation on the progressive history of the US as seen through its cemeteries, historic markers, and landscape memory. Also to be shown are two shorts: "p.s. beirut , chapter one" by Michael H Shamberg, and "NYC Weights and Measures" by Jem Cohen. The evening will also include readings from "Prayer for the Morning Headlines: On the Sanctity of Life and Death" (poetry by Daniel Berrigan, selections and photographs by Adrianna Amari, introduction by Howard Zinn), words from Liz McAlister of Jonah House, an exhibit of the statuary photography of Ryan Coffman, and more. The evening, hosted by Red Emma's, is presented by Turtle an anarchic salon, "an open and chaotic network of diverse but interconnecting ideas, people, projects, events and venues" started by filmmaker Michael H Shamberg in London in 2006. Go to and

7] – The American Visionary Art Museum, 800 Key Highway, will show HAROLD AND MAUDE on Thurs., July 31 outside on the hill at 9 PM. Call 410-244-1900 or visit

8] – Protest the illegal termination of The Marc Steiner Show from noon to 1 PM Monday through Saturday in front of WYPR, 2216 N. Charles St. You may consider calling the station to complain at 410-235-1395. Contact Max at 410-366-1637 to join Take Back YPR.

9] – WIB Frederick holds a silent vigil mourning all violence, the first Friday of the month, from 12 to 12:30 PM, War Memorial Park, W 2nd St. & N. Bentz in Frederick. The next vigil is Aug. 1. Please dress in black; no additional signs. Men are welcome. Contact: 301 834-7581 or;

10] – Women In Black sponsor a peace stand/vigil on Fri., Aug. 1 from noon-1 PM at the Inner Harbor , corner Pratt and Light. Everyone welcome, wear black if you can. See or write or call 410-467-9114.

11] – There is also a noon vigil on Fri., Aug. 1 at Roland Park Place at 830 W. 40th St . Call 410-467-9114.

12] – A peace vigil takes place every Friday from noon to 1 PM on Pennsylvania Ave., by the press gate to the White House. It is organized by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker. Call 202-882-9649.

13] – There is a silent vigil on Fri., Aug. 1 from 5 to 6 PM outside of Homewood Friends Meeting, 3107 N. Charles St. , in opposition to war with Iraq . Placards say: "War Is Not the Answer." The silent vigil is sponsored by AFSC, Homewood Friends Meeting and Stony Run.

14] – Eco-Trends in Retail: Jewelry and World Gifts that Give Back to the Earth is an informational talk on green trends, as part of First Fridays in Hampden. It takes place on Aug. 1 at 6:30 PM at Earth Alley, 3602 Elm Ave. Call 410-366-2110. Go to

15] – SHED LIGHT ON US WAR CASUALTIES: FROM THE FRONT LINE TO THE BACK DOOR of Walter Reed Army Medical Center (North Gate), every Friday night, from 7 to 9 PM in the middle of the 7100 block of Georgia Ave., NW. Call 202-441-3265. Go to

16] – The BSO will perform the world première of Dead Symphony No. 6, written by Lee Johnson and based on 12 Grateful Dead songs, on Fri., Aug. 1 at 8 PM at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St. On Sat., Aug. 2 at 8 PM at the Pier Six Pavilion, 731 Eastern Ave. , the BSO rocks with the music of led Zeppelin. Tickets for either event are $25 to $45. Call 410-783-8000 or go to

17] – There is an opportunity to participate in ballroom dancing, usually every Friday of the month, in the JHU ROTC Bldg. at 8 PM. Turn south on San Martin Dr. from the intersection of Univ. Parkway and 39th St . Drive on campus by taking the third left turn. The next dance will be Aug. 2. Call Dave Greene at 410-599-3725.

18] – On Sat., Aug. 2, the Baltimore Free Store, 31 N. Haven St. is accepting nice, used items from 10 AM to 3 PM. Call 410-340-9004. Go to

19] – Each Saturday, 11 AM – 1 PM, Chester County Peace Movement holds a peace vigil in West Chester in front of the Chester County Courthouse, High & Market Sts. This vigil has been the target of counter-demonstrators and harassment from the " Chester County Victory Movement" but has grown and persisted. Go to

20] – There will be a peace vigil on the West Lawn of the Capitol at noon on Sat., July 26. Look for the blue banner with the message, "Seek Peace and Pursue It. --Psalms 34:14." The vigil lasts one hour and is silent except when one responds to the occasional questions. Go to or email

21] – The next meeting of the Baltimore Coalition Against the Death Penalty will be Sat., Aug. 2 at noon at AFSC, 4806 York Road. Because of the breaking news that Maryland State Police were spying on peace activists and opponents of the death penalty, the group will review ways of taking advantage of the situation. Also to be discussed will be the hearings held by the commission to study the state’s death penalty. Call 410-488-6767 or 443-838-3221.

22] – Friends House, 17715 Meeting House Rd., Sandy Spring, MD 20860, hosts a peace vigil every Saturday, 3:15 to 4:15 PM, on the corner of Rt. 108 and Georgia Ave. in Olney, MD. The next vigil is Aug. 2. Call 301-774-9792.

To be continued

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center , 325 E. 25th St. , Baltimore , MD 21218 . Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

After Dallas DA's death, 19 convictions are undone;_ylt=ApsbjPcn9Zuxm_EVDa0PG15H2ocA

After Dallas DA's death, 19 convictions are undone

By MICHAEL GRACZYK, Associated Press WriterTue Jul 29, 1:54 PM ET

As district attorney of Dallas for an unprecedented 36 years, Henry Wade was the embodiment of Texas justice.

A strapping 6-footer with a square jaw and a half-chewed cigar clamped between his teeth, The Chief, as he was known, prosecuted Jack Ruby. He was the Wade in Roe v. Wade. And he compiled a conviction rate so impressive that defense attorneys ruefully called themselves the 7 Percent Club.

But now, seven years after Wade's death, The Chief's legacy is taking a beating.

Nineteen convictions — three for murder and the rest involving rape or burglary — won by Wade and two successors who trained under him have been overturned after DNA evidence exonerated the defendants. About 250 more cases are under review.

No other county in America — and almost no state, for that matter — has freed more innocent people from prison in recent years than Dallas County, where Wade was DA from 1951 through 1986.

Current District Attorney Craig Watkins, who in 2006 became the first black elected chief prosecutor in any Texas county, said that more wrongly convicted people will go free.

"There was a cowboy kind of mentality and the reality is that kind of approach is archaic, racist, elitist and arrogant," said Watkins, who is 40 and never worked for Wade or met him.

But some of those who knew Wade say the truth is more complicated than Watkins' summation.

"My father was not a racist. He didn't have a racist bone in his body," said Kim Wade, a lawyer in his own right. "He was very competitive."

Moreover, former colleagues — and even the Innocence Project of Texas, which is spearheading the DNA tests — credit Wade with preserving the evidence in every case, a practice that allowed investigations to be reopened and inmates to be freed. (His critics say, of course, that he kept the evidence for possible use in further prosecutions, not to help defendants.)

The new DA and other Wade detractors say the cases won under Wade were riddled with shoddy investigations, evidence was ignored and defense lawyers were kept in the dark. They note that the promotion system under Wade rewarded prosecutors for high conviction rates.

In the case of James Lee Woodard — released in April after 27 years in prison for a murder DNA showed he didn't commit — Wade's office withheld from defense attorneys photographs of tire tracks at the crime scene that didn't match Woodard's car.

"Now in hindsight, we're finding lots of places where detectives in those cases, they kind of trimmed the corners to just get the case done," said Michelle Moore, a Dallas County public defender and president of the Innocence Project of Texas. "Whether that's the fault of the detectives or the DA's, I don't know."

John Stickels, a University of Texas at Arlington criminology professor and a director of the Innocence Project of Texas, blames a culture of "win at all costs."

"When someone was arrested, it was assumed they were guilty," he said. "I think prosecutors and investigators basically ignored all evidence to the contrary and decided they were going to convict these guys."

A Democrat, Wade was first elected DA at age 35 after three years as an assistant DA, promising to "stem the rising tide of crime." Wade already had spent four years as an FBI agent, served in the Navy during World War II and did a stint as a local prosecutor in nearby Rockwall County, where he grew up on a farm, the son of a lawyer. Wade was one of 11 children; six of the boys went on to become lawyers.

He was elected 10 times in all. He and his cadre of assistant DAs — all of them white men, early on — consistently reported annual conviction rates above 90 percent. In his last 20 years as district attorney, his office won 165,000 convictions, the Dallas Morning News reported when he retired.

In the 1960s, Wade secured a murder conviction against Ruby, the Dallas nightclub owner who shot Lee Harvey Oswald after Oswald's arrest in the assassination of President Kennedy. Ruby's conviction was overturned on appeal, and he died before Wade could retry him.

Wade was also the defendant in the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. The case began three years earlier when Dallas resident Norma McCorvey — using the pseudonym Jane Roe — sued because she couldn't get an abortion in Texas .

Troubling cases surfaced in the 1980s, as Wade's career was winding down.

Lenell Geter, a black engineer, was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to life in prison. After Geter had spent more than a year behind bars, Wade agreed to a new trial, then dropped the charges in 1983 amid reports of shoddy evidence and allegations Geter was singled out because of his race.

In Wade's final year in office, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the death sentence of a black man, Thomas Miller-El, ruling that blacks were excluded from the jury. Cited in Miller-El's appeal was a manual for prosecutors that Wade wrote in 1969 and was used for more than a decade. It gave instructions on how to keep minorities off juries.

A month before Wade died of Parkinson's disease in 2001, DNA evidence was used for the first time to reverse a Dallas County conviction. David Shawn Pope, found guilty of rape in 1986, had spent 15 years in prison.

Watkins, a former defense lawyer, has since put in place a program under which prosecutors, aided by law students, are examining hundreds of old cases where convicted criminals have requested DNA testing.

Of the 19 convictions that have been overturned, all but four were won during Wade's tenure. In two-thirds of the cases, the defendants were black men. None of the convictions that have come under review are death penalty cases.

"I think the number of examples of cases show it's troubling," said Nina Morrison, an attorney with the Innocence Project, a New York-based legal group affiliated with the Texas effort. "Whether it's worse than other jurisdictions, it's hard to say. It would be a mistake to conclude the problems in these cases are limited to Dallas or are unique to Dallas .

Former assistant prosecutor Dan Hagood said The Chief expected his assistants to be prepared, represent the state well and be careful and fair.

"Never once — ever — did I ever get the feeling of anything unethical," Hagood said. He denied there was any pressure exerted from above — "no `wink' deals, no `The boss says we need to get this guy.'"

But Watkins said those who defend The Chief are "protecting a legacy."

"Clearly it was a culture. A lot of folks don't want to admit it. It was there," the new DA said. "We decided to fix it."

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Iraq on the Edge

There are 177 days until Jan. 20, 2009.


Iraq on the Edge

posted by Robert Dreyfuss on 07/27/2008 @ 1:02pm

While everyone's looking at Iraq 's effect on American politics -- and whether or not John McCain and Barack Obama are converging on a policy that combines a flexible timetable with a vague, and long-lasting, residual force -- let's take a look instead at Iraqi politics. The picture isn't pretty.

Despite the Optimism of the Neocons, which has pushed mainstream media coverage to be increasingly flowery about Iraq 's political progress, in fact the country is poised to explode. Even before the November election. And for McCain and Obama, the problem is that Iran has many of the cards in its hands. Depending on its choosing, between now and November Iran can help stabilize the war in Iraq -- mostly by urging the Iraqi Shiites to behave themselves -- or it can make things a lot more violent.

There are at least three flashpoints for an explosion, any or all of which could blow up over the next couple of months. (Way to go, Surgin' Generals!) The first is the brewing crisis over Kirkuk , where the pushy Kurds are demanding control and Iraq 's Arabs are resisting. The second is in the west, and Anbar, where the US-backed Sons of Iraq sahwa ("Awakening") movement is moving to take power against the Iraqi Islamic Party, a fundamentalist Sunni bloc. And third is the restive Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr, which is chafing at gains made by its Iranian-backed rival, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI).

Perhaps the issue of KIrkuk and the Kurds is most dangerous. Last week, the Kurds walked out of parliament to protest a law passed by parliament to govern the provincial elections. The law passed 127-13, but it was vetoed by President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd. Juan Cole, the astute observer, says : "The conflict between Kurds and Arabs over Kirkuk is a crisis waiting to happen." He cites Al-Hayat, an Iraqi newspaper, as claiming that not only do the Kurds want to control Kirkuk , an oil-rich province in Iraq 's north, but they plan to annex three other provinces where Kurds live: Diyala, Salahuddin, and Ninewa. That's not likely, but they do want Kirkuk , and the vetoed election law would have limited the Kurds' ability to press their gains there.

The election law was supported by Sadr's bloc and backed by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and his Iraq National List. Another nationalist party, the National Dialogue Council, has demanded the ouster of President Talabani over his veto of the law. Other Iraqi parties are backing the now-vetoed law, too, which also restricts the use of Islamic religious symbols by political parties seeking to corral illiterate, religious voters.

Because of all this, it now looks like there won't be provincial elections this year at all. The ruling bloc of Shiite religious parties and Kurdish warlords is split over the crisis, weakening Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and members of the ruling coalition are trying to patch things up. I don't think they'll succeed. Many Shiites in the ruling bloc, including ISCI, have criticized the law as divisive, but as Arabs it's hard for them to endorse a Kurdish takeover of Kirkuk . ISCI and the Badr Brigade, its armed wing, are holding parlays to decide what to do. Interestingly, all three members of the ruling presidential council, including Talabani, the IIP's Hashemi, and ISCI's Adel Abdel Mahdi, voted to veto the law, putting ISCI and the IIP on record as supporting the Kurds. Bad for them politically.

The IIP says that it wants to mediate the crisis. But the IIP is in a very, very weak position. Having just rejoined the Maliki government, it is under siege at home in its base in Anbar province, where the Awakening is flexing its muscle. This could be the second explosion. The Sunni Arabs are still seething over the divisive Iraqi Constitution and their continuing exclusion from political power, and the Awakening movement sees the IIP (correctly) as wildly unrepresentative. So the Awakening, representing Sunni tribal powers and former resistance fighters, wants in, at the expense of the IIP. That time bomb is ticking, too.

The final crisis-to-be is the Sadr vs. Badr one. The Times today suggests that Sadr is weakening:

The militia that was once the biggest defender of poor Shiites in Iraq , the Mahdi Army, has been profoundly weakened in a number of neighborhoods across Baghdad , in an important, if tentative, milestone for stability in Iraq .

Don't believe it. Sadr's rivals, ISCI, don't have anything like the popular base that Sadr has. And underneath Sadr is a volatile mix of neighborhood, local and regional militias, mosques, and economic fiefdoms that won't yield easily to ISCI and Maliki. Because Sadr's forces are dependent on Iran , however, for arms and cash, Iran may be in the driver's seat. Just the other day, the commander of Iran 's Revolutionary Guard Corps crowed that the United States has failed to install an anti-Iranian regime in Baghdad , and he's completely right.

So Iraq is still poised to explode, and Iran may be in control. McCain's solution: provoke a showdown with Iran . Obama's solution: try to make a deal with Iran to stabilize Iraq . I'm not sure either "plan" will work. » How Wall Street Wrecked Your Retirement

· » The Suicide Solution

· » Attack of the Global Pirate Bankers

· » The Shadow of His Smile

· » Obama: Filling a Vacuum in Berlin

Issues »

· » The Suicide Solution

· » How Wall Street Wrecked Your Retirement

· » Disaster Capitalism: State of Extortion

· » Woman in the House

· » I Read the News Today... Oh Boy

· » Women's Advocate Is UN's New Human Rights Chief

· » Extreme Water Emergencies

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Copyright © 2008 The Nation

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center , 325 E. 25th St. , Baltimore , MD 21218 . Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Half of Haitians Face Starvation

t r u t h o u t | 07.30

Haiti: Mud Cakes Become Staple Diet as Cost of Food Soars Beyond a Family's Reach

Tuesday 29 July 2008

by: Rory Carroll, The Guardian UK

Port-au-Prince - At first sight the business resembles a thriving pottery. In a dusty courtyard women mould clay and water into hundreds of little platters and lay them out to harden under the Caribbean sun.

The craftsmanship is rough and the finished products are uneven. But customers do not object. This is Citè Soleil , Haiti 's most notorious slum, and these platters are not to hold food. They are food.

Brittle and gritty - and as revolting as they sound - these are "mud cakes". For years they have been consumed by impoverished pregnant women seeking calcium, a risky and medically unproven supplement, but now the cakes have become a staple for entire families.

It is not for the taste and nutrition - smidgins of salt and margarine do not disguise what is essentially dirt, and the Guardian can testify that the aftertaste lingers - but because they are the cheapest and increasingly only way to fill bellies.

"It stops the hunger," said Marie-Carmelle Baptiste, 35, a producer, eyeing up her stock laid out in rows. She did not embroider their appeal. "You eat them when you have to."

These days many people have to. The global food and fuel crisis has hit Haiti harder than perhaps any other country, pushing a population mired in extreme poverty towards starvation and revolt. Hunger burns are called "swallowing Clorox", a brand of bleach.

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation predicts Haiti 's food import bill will leap 80% this year, the fastest in the world. Food riots toppled the prime minister and left five dead in April. Emergency subsidies curbed prices and bought calm but the cash-strapped government is gradually lifting them. Fresh unrest is expected.

According to the UN, two-thirds of Haitians live on less than 50p a day and half are undernourished. "Food is available but people cannot afford to buy it. If the situation gets worse we could have starvation in the next six to 12 months," said Prospery Raymond, country director of the UK-based aid agency Christian Aid.

Until recently this Caribbean nation, which vies with Afghanistan for appalling human development statistics, had been showing signs of recovery: political stability, new roads and infrastructure, less gang warfare. "We had been going in the right direction and this crisis threatens that," said Eloune Doreus, the vice-president of parliament.

As desperation rises so does production of mud cakes, an unofficial misery index. Now even bakers are struggling. Trucked in from a clay-rich area outside the capital, Port-au-Prince , the mud is costlier but cakes still sell for 1.3p each, about the only item immune from inflation. "We need to raise our prices but it's their last resort and people won't tolerate it," lamented Baptiste, the CitÈ Soleil baker.

Vendors of other foods who have increased prices have been left with unsold stock. In the Policard slum, a jumble of broken concrete clinging to a mountainside, the Ducasse family tripled the price of its fritters because of surging flour prices. "Our sales have fallen by half," said Jean Ducasse, 49, poking at his tray of shrivelled wares.

The signs of crisis are everywhere. Aid agency feeding centres reported that the numbers seeking help have tripled. At a centre in the Fort Mercredi slum rail-thin women cradled infants with yellowing hair, a symptom of malnutrition. "Now we're having to feed the mothers as well as the babies," said Antonine Saint-Quitte, a nurse.

In rural areas the situation seems even worse, prompting a continued drift to the slums and their mirage of opportunities. Lillian Guerrick, 56, a subsistence farmer near Cap Haitien, yanked her seven grandchildren from school because there was barely money for food let alone fees. "I've no choice," she said, a touch defensive, amid wizened corn stalks.

Anecdotal evidence suggests school attendance nationwide has dropped and that those who do make it to class are sometimes too hungry to concentrate. "I use jokes to try to stimulate my students, to wake them up," said Smirnoff Eugene, 25, a Port-au-Prince teacher.

Border crossings to the Dominican Republic are jammed with throngs of merchants hunting lower prices in their relatively prosperous neighbour.

"Beep beep, out of the way!" yelled one teenage boy, sweating, veins throbbing, as he heaved a wheelbarrow impossibly overloaded with onions through a crowd at Ouanaminthe's border bridge.

Haiti's woes stem from global economic trends of higher oil and food prices, plus reduced remittances from migrant relatives affected by the US downturn. What makes the country especially vulnerable, however, is its almost total reliance on food imports.

Domestic agriculture is a disaster. The slashing and burning of forests for farming and charcoal has degraded the soil and chronic under-investment has rendered rural infrastructure at best rickety, at worst non-existent.

The woes were compounded by a decision in the 1980s to lift tariffs, when international prices were lower, and flood the country with cheap imported rice and vegetables. Consumers gained and the IMF applauded but domestic farmers went bankrupt and the Artibonite valley, the country's breadbasket, atrophied.

Now that imports are rocketing in price the government has vowed to rebuild the withered agriculture but that is a herculean task given scant resources, degraded soil and land ownership disputes.

There is a hopeful precedent. A growing franchise of localised dairies known as Let Agogo (Creole for Unlimited Milk) has organised small farmers to transport and market milk, generating jobs and income and cutting Haiti 's £20m annual milk import bill.

President Renè Prèval has hailed the scheme as a model but Michel Chancy, a driving force of Veterimed, a non-governmental organisation which backs the dairies, was wary. "For 20 years politicians have been talking about reviving agriculture but didn't actually do anything. If this food crisis forces them to act then it is a big opportunity." That was a big if, he said.

Walk along a beach in the morning and you find Haitians gazing at the azure ocean horizon, dreaming of escape. They are fiercely proud of their history in overthrowing slavery and colonialism but these days the US, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic - anywhere but home - seems the best option.

The only thing stopping an exodus are US coastguard patrols, said Herman Janvier, 30, a fishermen on Cap Haitian, a smuggling point. "People want out of here. It's like we're almost dead people."

The last time Janvier tried to flee he was intercepted and interned at Guantanamo Bay . "I offered to join the American army. I offered to clean their base. They said no. So I am back here, on a boat with no motor, doing what I can to survive."

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Hamdan's admissions thrown out at Guantanamo terrorism trial

Hamdan's admissions thrown out at Guantanamo terrorism trial

Pentagon charges another detainee, frees three others

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2008 | 6:37 PM ET Comments9Recommend5

The Associated Press

A military judge penalized U.S. prosecutors Tuesday by blocking their use of a May 2003 interrogation as they finished presenting evidence against Salim Hamdan, the first suspect to be tried on terrorism charges at Guantanamo Bay.

Judge Keith Allred, a U.S. Navy captain, said the government could not use statements made by Hamdan during his interrogation at Guantanamo as a penalty for not providing his defence team with potentially important documents until after the military trial had started.

Allred had already decided last week to ban evidence obtained from Hamdan by interrogators under "highly coercive" conditions in Afghanistan .

Hamdan underwent dozens of hours of interrogation from more than 40 U.S. agents, and documents have confirmed he was subjected to tactics including sleep deprivation and solitary confinement. Captives held at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay , Cuba , have also been tortured in some instances, according to the Red Cross, Amnesty International and the FBI.

Tuesday's ruling means the prosecution has precious few admissions from Hamdan, who has acknowledged he worked as al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's chauffeur, to use in its case.

Allred said he would reconsider the ruling Wednesday, when the defence is scheduled to begin presenting its evidence.

But the judge said he would only allow prosecutors to submit the interrogation if they can provide "clear and convincing evidence" the statements were not obtained through coercion.

'Gratifying' ruling

The deputy chief defence counsel for the military tribunals, Michael Berrigan, said the ruling was a welcome response to the U.S. government's "inexcusable" delay in providing Hamdan's defence with records that provide new details about his more than six years of confinement at Guantanamo .

"It's gratifying to get this ruling, but it doesn't go far enough," Berrigan said.

Defence lawyers have been sifting through the prison records for material to support Hamdan's allegations that he was subjected to abuse including sexual humiliation. Such evidence could buttress their claims that he was coerced into making incriminating statements to authorities.

Hamdan was captured at a roadblock in Afghanistan in November 2001. At Bagram air base in Afghanistan , the judge found, Hamdan was kept in isolation 24 hours a day with his hands and feet restrained, and armed soldiers prompted him to talk by kneeing him in the back. His captors repeatedly tied him up, put a bag over his head and knocked him to the ground.

The former driver for bin Laden is charged with conspiracy and aiding terrorism. Authorities allege Hamdan delivered weapons for al-Qaeda and helped bin Laden evade U.S. retribution for the Sept. 11, 2001, airplane hijackings.

His lawyers say that he was a minor employee who accepted the chauffeur job because he needed the $200 a month salary and that he played no role in terrorism.

Hamdan faces life in prison if convicted, but he won't necessarily be freed if he's acquitted by the jury of six U.S. military personnel. The U.S. government has asserted it can continue to detain any foreigner it deems an "unlawful enemy combatant" until after it deems its so-called war on terrorism to be over.

New charges against inmate

Hamdan is the first to go on trial of about 265 current Guantanamo Bay prisoners, most of whom have spent up to six years behind bars without being charged. The U.S. says it intends to prosecute 80 other detainees, and on Monday the Pentagon announced it had charged inmate Abdul Ghani with attempted murder, material support for terrorism and conspiracy in relation to accusations he fired rockets and planted bombs aimed at U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002.

Ghani is the 22nd Guantanamo captive to be charged with an offence. The others include Canadian Omar Khadr and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, accused of masterminding the Sept. 11 hijackings.

The Pentagon also said Monday it had released three detainees — one to Afghanistan , one to the United Arab Emirates and one to Qatar . It said 65 more are eligible for transfer or release subject to talks on where they will go.

Only one detainee at the U.S. naval base has ever been convicted of an offence. Australian David Hicks pleaded guilty in 2007 to providing support for terrorism and was sent back to his home country to serve the remaining nine months of a seven-year sentence.

© The Canadian Press, 2008

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