Lacy MacAuley

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a home for my pen, projects, and passions

fluffed up into news: the royal wedding spectacle

So, two of my family members are certifiably anglophiles. They love all things British. Seriously.

Last night I was having drinks with said family members, which somehow spiraled into a plan to have a slumber party at one of their homes, and wake up at 6:00 AM in order to watch the British Royal Wedding in its entirety on network television. Just a little preface to explain why I am posting about this absurd public event.

ABC News, CBS News, and USA Today all headlined today with the royal wedding. It was hard to think about anything else this afternoon when viewing their news websites, as each site housed dozens of articles, features, videos, and photo slideshows were popping out from all directions. MSNBC at least shared their “above the fold” space with a feature about the storm damage in the southern US. “Faux News” (or Fox, which doesn’t really count since it’s not news,) had the wedding sharing headline space with some favorite right-wing topics: Donald Trump and stem-cell research. The New York Times was among the few news outlets this afternoon in headlining with the storm damage and President Obama’s visit to the US South, forcing the reader to pan down the page to find coverage of British royals.

The absurdity was overwhelming. I think it’s great that two people who like each other a whole lot want to strengthen their commitment. Love is beautiful. However, it’s not news. There is nothing about this wedding to merit so much time and resources of every major news network, yet it was somehow fluffed up into a major television event that had the play-by-play analysis of an event that none of us have any business caring about anyway. It made me think a lot about our news media’s culture of spectacle. Things that aren’t really news become news because the television networks tell us that we should care about them. It is news for news’ sake.

Which is tragic, especially when there are actually very important things happening all around us that actually do matter, and that we should be hearing about. There are hundreds of people dead due to the storms in the southern US, and thousands upon thousands of people displaced. There are people struggling for their independence in Bah’rain and Libya, not to mention Afghanistan and Iraq. Japan’s under-reported nuclear disaster still threatens to disseminate some of the deadliest toxins known to science.

News networks should cover real news. Not puffed up spectacles like the royal wedding.

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Filed under: lacy's life, media, thoughts and philosophies

hey US government, are you serious about promoting US jobs?

If the presidential administration really cared about US jobs, why would they be pushing free trade agreements like the proposed Korea FTA, allowing corporations to close up shop and move to countries where they can more readily exploit the labor force (like these South Korean women in a textile factory)?

Speaking to the worst of the worst capitalist business tycoons yesterday, President Obama tried to appeal to a sense of patriotism among business leaders, telling the Chamber of Commerce to promote American jobs.

But if the presidential administration is serious about increasing US exports, why would they be trying to ram through free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia? In December Obama urged Congress to promote the Korea agreement, saying it was a “landmark trade deal.” Hearings on these agreements were pushed up on the Congressional calendar and took place in January.

These free trade agreements kill US jobs. They only give US corporations easy access to exploited workers (which they call “cheap labor”) in other countries, allowing corporations to close their US factories faster than you can say “sweat shop.”

Obama told the Chamber of Commerce yesterday that:

How do we make sure that everybody’s got a stake in trade, everybody’s got a stake in increasing exports, everybody’s got a stake in rising productivity? Because ordinary folks end up seeing their standards of living rise as well. That’s always been the American promise.

Later in his speech he alluded to growing the manufacturing sector, telling success stories of US-based corporations like GM and Whirlpool opening new factories in the US.

If the presidential administration is taking a stance in support of increasing our manufacturing sector and therefore our exports, why would they be pushing for US job loss through free trade agreements (FTAs) – with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia?

A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that, if we were to implement the Korea FTA, we would actually lose 159,000 jobs in the US within the first seven years. Not exactly very patriotic, then, to promote trade with Korea.

As testified by Global Trade Watch in a hearing on Capitol Hill this past January, Ambassador Kharan Bhatia stated in October 2006 that it was a “myth” that “the US will get the bulk of the benefits of the FTA.” He further stated that:

If history is any judge, it may well not turn out to be true that the US will get the bulk of the benefits, if measured by increased exports… the history of our FTAs is that bilateral trade surpluses of our trading partners go up.”

Even the official US government numbers don’t add up to increased jobs through these free trade agreements. In a report released September 2007, the US International Trade Commission projected that we will run a trade deficit for all goods from textiles to iron ore, from cars to computers. It showed a deficit of between $308 million and $416 million. That’s bad news for workers in the US.

And furthermore, US job loss is just common sense. South Koreans can make everything on the cheap thanks to their low currency. If we care about US jobs, why promote free trade agreements?

Filed under: activism, consumerism, global justice, human welfare, immigrant rights, indigenous rights, international relations, thoughts and philosophies

each word a stone to throw

A poem by Lacy MacAuley

Eliminating laws, opening trade, deregulating the market
has put us in a prison.

Cold austerity, chilling strictures
have ignited us and caused the streets to burn.

The largest sums of money paid by the hugest banks
have only caused more poverty.

The neoliberal world
is one in which the most basic sense is backwards, upside down.
It is as false as a mirror,
turning backwards all that is trusted, reversing that which is true.
A glass world of pomp and doublespeak.

And who is to say that a single strategic brick – red and sure as the hand on the drum, as the red human blood pumping through my raised fist, as red as the veins of the earth scratched raw by their bulldozers – who is to say that a single strategic brick could not bring down this house of mirrors? Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: activism, antiwar, climate justice, environmentalism, immigrant rights, lacy's life, poems, thoughts and philosophies

red moon solstice ~ it’s been quite a year

From the streets of Wall Street, to the mountains of Appalachia, from New Orleans to Pittsburgh to Toronto, the moon has borne witness to an incredible year for me. As I watched this celestial body emerge from the eclipse on a red moon solstice, I saw myself entering a new phase.

I marked the red moon solstice from the top of a snowy mountaintop on the Appalachian Trail, bundled in blankets with three fellow adventurers. As the moon went from a silvery white orb, then passing into the accidental shadow of the earth, growing to the full red of a hawk’s eye, I saw the moon as a grandmother. She watches over the small comings and goings of all of us, from the great deeds we do to the moments we’re not as proud of.

The moon has borne witness to an incredible year for me.

January found me emceeing a rally in the cold streets of New York, just off of Wall Street, calling for a fair, effective carbon tax policy, shoulder to shoulder with the renowned climate scientist James Hansen.

In February I was giving voice to Egyptian workers, rising up against unfair working conditions and a global economy that has left them on the receiving end of unfair trade policy and crippling external debt to institutions like the IMF.

In the early March I was in the mountains of rural Appalachia offering media relations workshops at the movement-building Mountain Justice Spring Break to save the mountains from the harmful practice of mountaintop removal coal mining. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: activism, human welfare, lacy's life, media, thoughts and philosophies

G20 violence against women press conference

I stand with all the women who have been subjected to the violence of the G20, both in Toronto and in all parts of the world. The violence that I experienced at the hands of the police is only a tiny piece of the violence experienced by women who ecosystems are destroyed, whose family members are taken, or whose communities are uprooted by the corrupt policies of the G20. I was thrown into the back of an unmarked van, punched, strangled, and manhandled. How much more suffering have other women incurred at the hands of the G20?

I contributed this video to a press conference happening today in Toronto to address the violence against women that occurred in Toronto during the G2o Summit.

Filed under: activism, antiwar, climate justice, consumerism, environmentalism, g20, g8, g8/g20, global justice, human welfare, international relations, lacy's life, media, thoughts and philosophies

a Sunday stroll on an oily beach, joined by security guards

On Sunday, my last day in the Gulf area, I caught a ride with an environmental law student, Stephen, two hours outside of New Orleans to a beach where the oil had been making landfall at Grand Isle, Louisiana.

As we pulled up to the beach, we began to see handmade signs about the oil spill. One of the signs that wrenched my heart read, “BP, cannot fish or swim. How the hell are we suppose to feed our kids now?”

A heart-wrenching sign on the road as we drove out to Grand Isle, Louisiana.

We pull up to the beach and walk over. There is a strange chemical feel to the air, and it fills our lungs with a noxious sensation. The beach has a giant set of two orange rubber pipelines running side by side, about two feet in diameter. They look like giant sausages stretching on down the beach into the distance. We assume that they are there to provide a barrier to a potential oil slick that approaches the beach. We climb over the barrier to get closer to the water.

The water had a nasty oil sheen and an odd orange froth. Nothing in the frothy part was living.

We casually strolled a few minutes down the beach, and came to what is the largest oil blob that I had seen. And it looks even larger compared to me!

An especially huge oil blob, especially compared to me!

I’m not sure what it means exactly, but I also saw a tiny hermit crab that was crawling up out of the nastier water, sort of desperate-looking and inept, and another larger crab that was near to the toxins, that was not reacting normally to my movements towards it. This probably meant it was dying right there in the water.

A crab appeared to be dying near to the toxic water.

Finally we had had enough of the sadness and the heat. There was polluted water all around us. Here we were on a beach and we were scared to touch the water. Also, the giant orange pipelines running along the beach sort of ruined what could have been a picturesque stroll on the the beach. We were ready to get going.

We walked over to a wooden bridge that seemed to be designed for people to easily access the beach. We climbed it and hopped off of the other side, over the two pipelines. It was then that we were encountered by two sheriff’s officers, each with his own golf cart, steered by thick, reddened, trunk-like forearms. They rolled up and said, in a casual-yet-malevolent way that good ol’ Louisiana boys can effect with great skill, “Aw right. Y’all have to wait here for decon.”

A hermit crab (upper left) makes an escape from the toxins.

“Sorry? We have to wait here for what?” I asked, putting on my most polite cheshire grin. They may be Louisiana boys, but I’m a Washingtonian: I know it’s best to put on a politician smile.

They asked a few questions which betrayed just how confused the whole situation was. Turns out they weren’t exactly sure who they saw jumping over the pipelines. There was one other blonde woman near to the beach, but I wasn’t about to cause problems for her. I told them I was the one who had jumped the barrier.

“Y’all need to stay put and wait for decontamination. They need to clean your shoes and all. You crossed into the hot zone.” As the officer radioed for help, I glanced back at the wooden structure we had just used to get over the pipelines. There was yellow tape on part of it, but that said “Authorized Vehicles Only.” Were Stephen and I vehicles? Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: activism, climate justice, environmentalism, human welfare, lacy's life, media, thoughts and philosophies

day 4, goose chase on the DC to New Orleans bus tour!

One of the boon workers on Orange Beach said he'd protest BP too if he could.

Well, we’ve driven hither and yon today to look for oil. We haven’t found anything more than a few oil blobs and some boon workers, on Orange Beach, Mississippi. The workers were on a crew that was putting up boons, the bright white ones lain on the beach alongside the dark ones that had soaked up oil. We didn’t actually see them handling any boons, though. It seemed we rolled up on them at lunch time. We told them we were protesting BP, and one of them said he might join us if he could.

Nearby there were oil blobs the size of a fist. There were also signs of cleanup crews, picking up the oil blobs with their hands encased in plastic gloves and placing the blobs in large clear plastic bags. None of the bags we saw being collected contained more than, say, a gallon-milk containers’ worth of blobs. I couldn’t help but notice how wasteful this was.

We spotted oil blobs the size of a fist.

We also noticed that the water was full, choc full, of tiny oil blobs about the size of a quarter, washing ashore. These blobs might be too small for human hands to preoccupy themselves with, but they were certainly large enough to matter to fish, crabs, and birds. Perhaps what the most glaring sign of this corrupted beach was what was absent: practically any sign of life, besides busy humans. And this was on a beach with heavy cleanup efforts.

As we went to leave Orange Beach, we encountered two men servicing some of the many porto-johns. “We do all the toilets around here,” said the slim one with the straw hat. “I’m telling y’all – you should go to Fort Morgan. It’s really bad there.”

The second man spoke up. “If they really want to see oil, they should go to the closed area. But they wouldn’t let them in.” Then he gestured to me, with a wide grubby grin, “She can go, I’ll just tell them she’s my girlfriend.” The man had a scruffy brown beard and a belly that reminded me of a sea cow, but that didn’t stop him from smiling wider and saying that he “was about to bust out his thong” to account for the heat. We all got a good laugh and (calling him “sugar,”) I told him that if he could get me onto a closed beach, sure I’d pretend to be his girlfriend. Then we all thought better of it and Flux and I departed to head to Fort Morgan. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: activism, climate justice, environmentalism, human welfare, lacy's life, media, thoughts and philosophies

day 3 of the DC to New Orleans bus tour!

Flux Rostrum protests at a BP gas station in Greenville, Alabama.

I am typing this log, looking over the edge of my laptop, past Flux Rostrum at the driver’s wheel, and looking down at the highway in front of me.  It is Monday, Day 3 of the Washington DC to New Orleans Mobile Broadcast News bus tour, protesting BP all along the way.

Today has been a journey. We started north of Atlanta, Georgia. Last night we were up late driving south, stopping at a BP station in Gastonia, North Carolina. It was closed, since it was so late. We figured we’d like to see more gas stations closed like this, or changed to wind and solar power facilities. Down the road, we stopped at Bastion, South Carolina, where we witnessed someone actually driving through the BP parking lot to go to another gas station across the street. We crossed the road to talk to the guy, and he said that he drove through because he was avoiding BP because they caused the oil spill that devastated the coast.

After waking up in Georgia, we stopped for a quick morning coffee, I wrote a blog rant about l and got on the road. With a massive 90-gallon tank full of vegetable oil, we weren’t expecting to have to stop for gas, unless it was to protest. BP is responsible for the oil disaster that is getting worse and worse in the Gulf. They need to pay reparations and be held accountable. I firmly believe that Tony Hayward should be put in jail.

Rolling the bus into a BP gas station.

Pulling into a gas station in Noonan, Georgia, we boldly pulled up into the BP parking lot. I walked up to the gas pumps, where several people were pumping gas, and asked folks to raise their hands if they wanted to hold BP accountable for the oil spill. With the demure of good Southern belles, they politely ignored this question. I pointed out that if they wanted to hold BP accountable, the best way would be to stop using fossil fuels. Not long after, a woman with shockingly blonde hair and a cordless telephone came out to us, waving the phone and telling us in a lovely Southern accent that she was “goin’ ta call 911.” We told her we had nothing against her or small businesses, just BP, and we scurried back into the bus and took off. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: activism, climate justice, environmentalism, human welfare, lacy's life, media, thoughts and philosophies

ways to ride a bicycle

A poem by Lacy MacAuley

Biking with an umbrella through my neighborhood.

A frame of steel and a couple of wheels
practical, a bit political and ill-fitted in terms of gender
this bicycle suits me just fine
it’s not elegant with clean lines
sort of like my rhymes but I make them anyway
and like this machine they get me from point A to point B
give my soul a little foot rub on the way.

There is more than one way to ride a bicycle.
When I started riding in the city I was, shall we say, anxious
hidden foes abounded like kung fu movie extras in a ravine in China
enemies in the form of car doors and drivers on cell phones
I put on armor and clattered down the street like a woman in defeat
to the broadcast safety warnings that bombast into life when you’re young
weighed down but expected to perform well
like a soldier in the desert trying to defend herself with 60 pounds of gear
but no bullet-proof vest – I used to ride my bicycle that way.

But now, it is just one soft me against a hard reality
how do I avoid injury? I dance
I weave through the cumbersome, clamorous motions
of people in their slick expensive homes on wheels
This misshapen-looking contraption becomes a thing of water
and I am rain on a path of least resistance Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: activism, biking, environmentalism, lacy's life, poems, thoughts and philosophies

bus of stories

A slow packed bus carrying stories.

Mine, of joy.

Hers is one of pain that has simmered slow, steeping in a bitter broth.

His is tired and moving slow, held back by histories and untold dreams, half-realized but not allowed to go all the way.

Hers is one of a heart that loved – that reached out trusting to waiting hands, hands that seemed so soft and honest. Yet they turned hard and cold with some frustration.

She was stricken, she shrunk back. She is now afraid to emerge and step into a new place made glowing.

Let me be the light that shines into these sorrows, now in my happiness.

Filed under: lacy's life, poems, thoughts and philosophies

i loved this thing


A poem by Lacy MacAuley based on a near-death experience.

I don’t know what your perspective is
but it was real, real like bitterness boiled into inevitable medicine
stabbing and alive like broken bone on the nerve,
barely lucid and kicking for survival
rolling frantic like a horse down a hill.

Somehow the closeness to death
illuminates the points of my being
I wasn’t perfect and nothing is – but I was real Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: lacy's life, poems, thoughts and philosophies

my workplace, affinity lab

The wonderful folks at my workplace, Affinity Lab, getting busy with laptops and a hookah.

Wondering where I have my office home? Affinity Lab, where folks smoke hookah in the middle of the day while working on their laptops.

Affinity Lab is a space for creatives, for small and local businesses, small nonprofit organizations, and artists. It’s a space for builders, developers, and people working to follow their dreams. And I’m not just talking pipe dreams.

For a low monthly cost, members of Affinity Lab get either desk space or crash space on the couch. They get a fax machine, copy machine, a professional mailing address, all kept running by at two awesome staff members. There are two Affinity Lab locations. One in the heart of downtown Adams Morgan, in the same building as The Diner, and one right on the U Street strip, across from Velvet Lounge.

I’ve worked at Affinity Lab for two years, and I can tell you that it’s totally invigorating to be in these dynamic places. It helps you create and thrive. The free collaboration and helpful advice that you get when you’re in a room with web developers, news folks, writers, green technology builders, graphic designers, and neighborhood developers is an important way that being at Affinity Lab adds extra value and punch to everything you do. That makes it an excellent place for budget-stretching nonprofit organizations. It really is an amazing effect, and totally not monetized. It’s the barter system at work.

Affinity Lab is looking for new members now. Check us out!

Filed under: lacy's life, thoughts and philosophies

pepco has been “fossil fooled”

The Greenwash Guerillas strike again! On April Fools Day, we played a fun prank on Washington DC’s main energy provider, Pepco.

In the wee hours of the morning on April 1, we stuck fake Pepco customer letters on thousands of doors. The letters said that “Pepco is going green,” and promised that Pepco would switch to 100% wind and solar energy by 2020. It further announced that Pepco would be canceling proposed rate hikes, and instructed customers that they should contact Pepco’s customer service line to see if they qualify for a “renewable energy rate discount.”

Then we sent out a fake press release with the phony URL www.pepco-green.com. (Some very talented folks were able to create a mock-up website that looked almost identical to Pepco’s.) We also had our own “go phone” number listed as the number for the real-world Pepco press contact. Very early yesterday morning, we called TV and radio news desks with the news that “Pepco is going green.” Local Fox figured out our hoax and picked it up with the headline “Pepco Victim of April Fools Day Hoax.” Then we called friends at Washington Post and gave them the exclusive story that listed the group’s name “Greenwash Guerillas” and gave other details that no other outlet had. The Post ran a wonderful story on it that afternoon.

David Fahrentold of the Washington Post writes:

…Pepco put out a statement saying that the letter and the Web site were fake.

“We have been alerted that a bogus Web site and other false communications posing as Pepco were issued today. This bogus Web site is not secure and does not represent Pepco,” Pepco said on its Web site.

“Some folks really did a good job,” Pepco spokesman Clay Anderson said this morning. “But it ain’t us.”

Fahrenthold quoted me in his article as well:

A group called the Greenwash Guerrillas claimed responsibility for the hoax. Lacy MacAuley, a spokeswoman for the group, said the group has about 40 members and is a year old.

MacAuley said that the group had placed about 3,000 letters around Washington and suburban Maryland. She called it “greenwash guerrilla warfare,” against people identified as “perpetrators,” promoting policies that worsen climate change.

What a fun prank. Afterwards we did a victory lap to celebrate, a mobile dance party through Adams Morgan and down U Street with about thirty beautiful dancing people. Then we danced into the distance… but the Greenwash Guerillas will return next April Fools Day to prank the fossil fuel industry, I promise.

Filed under: activism, climate justice, consumerism, environmentalism, global justice, humor, lacy's life, media, thoughts and philosophies

on bringing back social grace

I share office space with a lot of IT professionals, which means I’m around a lot of anxious types who spend most of their lives looking at glowing screens. For, I think, the third time today, a high-pitched, bubbly voice has come floating through the room, singing “awkward” in lilting tones. When that happens, it makes me want to shift in my chair. Parts of my scalp, arm, etc that weren’t itchy before suddenly are.

Declaring that something is “awkward” is not fun or cute. It’s an example of the modern dysfunctionality of my generation to socially cope with situations that might not be one hundred percent straightforward.

The current paradoxically appropriate practice of singing the word “awkward” into a social situation sets a bad tone. It implies distrust. It implies nervousness. It implies a lack of basic trust and a lack of the assumption of good intentions. It expresses an overall unhealthy view of the world.

How much better would it be if our generation could take little moments of misunderstanding or vulnerability and, instead of writing them off as “awkward,” handle them with a little bit of grace that demonstrated a basic love of humanity? How much better would it be if we could just assume people are good and forgiving instead of playing games with each other’s feelings all the time? Much better!

Social grace is a dying art, but we should bring it back. Let’s start by eliminating the practice of declaring things “awkward.”

Filed under: lacy's life, thoughts and philosophies

dreams of a health care social contract

During his health care reform ceremony earlier today at the White House, President Obama stated that the health care reform bill will “help lift a decades-long drag on our economy.” He also stated that the bill helped to create a “social network.” (I don’t think he meant Facebook or Myspace, I think he more meant “social contract.”) I wondered what the long view was that Obama saw. What is the terrain ahead?

Right now the US government pays out huge wads of cash for our military. This helps keep our production capacity high and keeps our economy afloat. If in the long run Obama wants to move toward real universal health care, and if in the long run he wanted to de-militarize our country, wouldn’t it be interesting if he were planning to shrink the government-funded military sector of our economy and grow the government-funded health care sector of our economy? It all comes out of the same bank account anyway, right?

This is the kind of stuff that I dream about.

Filed under: activism, human welfare, lacy's life, thoughts and philosophies

nowhere except right here

I am sexy, I am smart
I’m going to open up my heart
I’m going to foment revolution
Gonna write my own constitution

Gonna plant a garden, build a school
Gonna save the whales, I ain’t no fool

Gonna get my power from the sun
Gonna spread the love, have me some fun
Gonna get my power from the wind
Gonna get us outta the trouble we’re in

I’m going to deconstruct my paradigm
Gonna reach the depths, gonna find the time
I’m going to love and have no fear
Gonna be nowhere except right here

Filed under: activism, lacy's life, poems, thoughts and philosophies

breaking through the ice on valentines day

After forming throughout the winter, this natural ice sculpture collapsed to the ground ten seconds after I snapped a photo of it.

Ice sculptures can be breathtaking. But I’m a heat lover, and on this Valentine’s Day I prefer to meditate on the warm, tender side of life. People can spend their whole lives freezing their hearts, but like an ice sculpture the hardened heart can be melted, or it can break apart in a dramatic flash. That’s why I was moved when, today on Valentine’s Day, about ten seconds after I snapped a little photo of this fascinating sculpture, it slid off of the roof and was gone. It had been forming since the beginning of the winter on the rooftop of my friends Rita and Enrique Peralta, whose house I was visiting on this day for love.

A an ice sculpture on a day for love.

Ten seconds later it has collapsed, gives way to the blue sky.

Filed under: lacy's life, poems, thoughts and philosophies

shaky evidence of military providing real help in Haiti

News reports of the military in Haiti take it as a given that the military is helping in Haiti. But evidence that most soldiers are doing anything to directly help Haitians is very shaky. Most are just providing security. It takes a giant leap of faith to believe that US troops standing around Port-au-Prince, while people all around them are in need of water, food, medical help, and supplies, is “providing aide.” I’m not jumping.

This CBS news report, which features the 82nd airborne division giving water to Haitians, only shows a small number of water bottles, perhaps a few hundred. Only enough for a small number of people to take a drink, this is one example of the unconvincing emergency response by the US military.

There are over 10,000 soldiers in and around Haiti right now. With so many warm bodies, you’d think their relief efforts would be remarkable; instead they’re rather unconvincing.

There’s slim evidence such as this CBS report of the 82nd airborne division, which consists of 50 soldiers in Haiti, flying one helicopter out to deliver water and a bit of temporary medical assistance. The report begins with an exasperated-sounding reporter saying “water water everywhere, and finally it got to the people.” That was earlier this week.

The camera work shows only a few hundred bottles of water being distributed to Haitians. Not a tanker filling five-gallon jugs. Bottles.

And then there’s a Reuters report of the 82nd airborne providing food to “a few hundred” Haitians. It was their first time providing food to people. The report addresses what “lessons” the soldiers had learned from the experience. That was on Friday, ten full days after the earthquake hit, and it was their first time actually delivering food to actual Haitians.

The Carl Vinson provided some medical support. But a BBC reporter aboard the ship only reports on a few isolated cases of people who were helicoptered, one by one, to receive medical attention there. Several days after the earthquake, a Wall Street Journal reporters observed that only seven people were being treated on this ship. The Journal’s description criticizes the naval ship’s operations, quoting a naval doctor who said that he is ready serve thousands of injured people, rather than just seven people. But he has not been given orders to serve more people.

The USS Bataan, a ship that USS Carl Vinson personnel said had more extensive medical facilities than its own, arrived just this past Wednesday (a bit late?) and only took in 19 injured or sick people in its first day of operations.

The much-anticipated USNS Comfort was supposed to provide some meaningful medical support, arriving finally on Haiti’s shores this past Tuesday. By Friday, wrote a reporter in Port-au-Prince for Sphere, the USNS Comfort, the much-celebrated naval ship, had only treated “hundreds of the wounded and evacuated.”

By contrast, the same report also states that, “Hundreds of Haitians in Port-au-Prince have been treated for quake-related injuries at a field hospital set up by the University of Miami medical school.” They did so without guns or a big ship.

I’m not jumping at this bait. The US military purports to be one of the most efficient, best-organized forces in the world. If their real purpose for being in Haiti was to actually help Haitians, they would have done better than this.

Filed under: activism, global justice, human welfare, international relations, lacy's life, media, thoughts and philosophies

News Media Coverage of “Risk of Instability” in Haiti is Letting Politics Slow Aide

Over 10,000 US troops are in Haiti right now. That’s at least one US soldier for every 100 Haitians. If these soldiers were actually distributing food and water, every Haitian could be nourished. But the military didn’t send food and water. It sent soldiers.

After seven days, guards erect a Haitian flag in front of the crumbled presidential palace. US troops are in Haiti acting to protect the presidency from escaped political prisoners in the aftermath of the earthquake. This is the "risk of instability" that the Haitian government is really worried about. (Photo: Carolyn Cole, Los Angeles Times)

That’s because our US troops are not really on a humanitarian mission in Haiti. They are protecting the current US-friendly regime of Haitian President René Préval, and seeking to ensure that supporters of the twice-democratically-elected former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, pro-democracy political prisoners who were freed by the earthquake, do not bring Aristide to power again. That’s the real “risk of instability” that Préval is referring to in his speeches.

The news media is mostly allowing the presence of US troops in Haiti to go unquestioned, implying that gun-wielding soldiers are needed due to incidents of what they call “looting” or due to fighting over resources. But all accounts on the ground seem to indicate that Haitians have been overwhelmingly peaceful. The troops are really there to respond in case there is a pro-democracy political movement that could rattle the US-friendly presidency. The news media is harming Haiti by misrepresenting this security concern, and is allowing politics to get in the way of aide.

The safe streets of Port-au-Prince

“I’m living here in the neighborhood [in Port-au-Prince]… There is no security. The UN is not out. The US is not out. The Haitian police are not able to be out. But there’s also no insecurity… You can hear a pin drop in this city. It’s a peaceful place. There is no war. There is no crisis except the suffering that’s ongoing,” said Dr. Evan Lyon with Partners in Health, a physician working at the main hospital in Haiti who was interviewed by Democracy Now earlier this week. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: activism, antiwar, global justice, human welfare, international relations, lacy's life, media, thoughts and philosophies

no war but snowball war

I was a witness to a DC cop pulling his gun on a snowball fight after his Hummer was hit by snowballs on Saturday. In this video by the Associated Press, I said that I thought that the only thing that could be done to counter more police violence and intimidation is to keep on planning more fun, spontaneous, community-oriented events. I’m a believer of the concept that if you don’t exercise your freedoms, your freedoms will be taken away from you. There are forces around us everyday that work to co-opt and subvert the basic freedom of the people, and if we do not resist those forces, the essence of our livelihood can be stolen from us.

Photo credit: Legba Carrefour

Filed under: activism, antiwar, lacy's life, media, thoughts and philosophies

Lacy MacAuley ~ International Relations ~ Radical Dreamer ~ Justice Lover ~ Thought Dancer ~ Heart Writer ~ Divine Dakini ~ based in Washington DC

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Building a better world starts with just raising your voice.

If you stand for something, then stand up. Join us. You are part of the solution. lacymacauley@gmail.com