Hurricane Irene hits the Caribbean, headed for Haiti and US

(AP) -- Hurricane Irene cut power to more than a million people in Puerto Rico, downing trees and flooding streets on Monday, and forecasters warned it could be a major storm as it threatens Florida and South Carolina by the end of the week. There were no reports of deaths or major injuries in Puerto Rico, but Gov. Luis Fortuno declared a state of emergency and urged people to stay indoors to avoid downed power lines, flooded streets and other hazards.

"This isn't the time to go out to find out what happened ... This is the time stay in your homes," Fortuno said at a news conference.

The first hurricane of the Atlantic storm season posed an immediate threat to the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic, though the center of the hurricane was expected to miss neighboring Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola. Nearly 600,000 Haitians are still homeless due to the January 2010 earthquake and that country could still see heavy rain and tropical-storm-force winds, said Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

US makes criminals priority for deportation

Originally published: August 18, 2011
Updated: August 19, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP)- Many illegal immigrants who were facing deportation despite having no criminal record will be allowed to stay in the country and apply for a work permit under new rules from the Homeland Security Department. Republicans are balking at the change.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced Thursday that the department will focus on deporting illegal immigrants who are criminals or pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Napolitano announced the plan in a letter to a group of senators who support revamping the immigration system. Under the change, approximately 300,000 deportation cases pending in immigration court will be reviewed case by case.

Port-au-Prince mayor says he plans to clear huge quake camp

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ Thousands of Haitians living in one of the biggest tent camps created after last year's earthquake could soon have a new home: the mountains north of Port-au-Prince.

City officials plan to relocate the almost 20,000 people living on the 42-acre (17-hectare) Champs de Mars plaza across the street from the crumbled National Palace if the central government approves, Port-au-Prince Mayor Jean Yves Jason said Wednesday.

In Remembrance of Lenord Fortune, “Azor”

Lenord "Azor" Fortune (1965-2011)Lenord "Azor" Fortune (1965-2011)The old saying is Tanbou frappe, Haitien kanpe —or “when the drum’s struck, Haitians stand!” That’s been the case for us throughout the many years that Racine percussionist Lenord Fortune, or “Azor”, used his talents in music to carve a national and international path for Haiti’s roots tradition.

The Island does not lack for talented percussionists but Azor - like his renowned predecessor, “Ti Roro”- could make the drums talk, sing, scream, shout and - sometimes, even whisper. His amazing ability with a hand drum was only matched by his astounding talent as a vocalist.

His videos were celebrations of the sounds, colors and movements of the African in Haitians. He set his scenes on Haiti’s lush mountains and its vibrant waterfalls and sung the trials and tribulations of his native land in plain-worded truths. He was a rarity among his kind – a “tambourineur” who was as comfortable in an “all vocals” acoustic setting and equally at peace with the best of Haiti’s electric music traditions.

Diaspora groups launch national listening tour in Boston

On July 14, a group of leaders from the Haitian diaspora launched a national listening tour in Boston. The Haitian Fund for Innovation and Reconstruction (HFIR) based in New York, Konbit for Haiti out of Florida, the Lambi Fund from Haiti, and Oxfam America headquartered in Boston with offices in DC - collaborated with the Boston Haitian Reporter – to convene a working meeting. The goal was to hear the diaspora perspective on issues that can be addressed through coordinated

Participants engage in brainstorm about advocacy priorities on July 14.Participants engage in brainstorm about advocacy priorities on July 14.

About 25 local community leaders, entrepreneurs,human rights advocates and young professionals gathered to discuss priorities in setting an advocacy agenda. The group eagerly provided their input on the major sectors that need to be bolstered and prioritized, from education and governance to the justice system and infrastructure.

Evictions Report: Government adds insult to injuries of displaced

The Haitian Government is violating the rights of Haitians more seriously than the non-governmental organizations (NGOS). During recent weeks, destroying the camps of the internally displaced people has become something normal. And now the Mayor Jean-Yves Jason of Port-au-Prince has evicted 514 families that were living in the Sylivo Cator soccer stadium, without respect to their rights or their dignity.
A protest by civil society organizations against the presence of MINUSTAH on July 28, 2011.A protest by civil society organizations against the presence of MINUSTAH on July 28, 2011.
This is yet another time that the Haitian Government has violated the International Convention on Human Rights, which recognizes the rights that all victims of natural catastrophes have to live with dignity.Mayor Jason of Port-au-Prince declared: “The government doesn’t owe people anything, the 10,000 gourdes ($500 U.S.) the government gives is charity for them to restart their lives.” That is the kind of declaration we might expect to hear from the mouths of NGOs, not from those who govern - those to whom we have given a mandate to govern us.

Of the 514 families that were living in the stadium, there are 124 (about 600 people) that the Mayor agreed to relocate in another space. However, the other nearly 400 families were left in the streets with only 10,000 gourdes and no other assistance to find an alternative.

Fils-Aime to represent Boston in national poetry slam

August issue on stands now!August issue on stands now!McKendy Fils-Aime first started writing poetry “like any high school kid does” – after being dumped by his high school sweetheart. Now, almost 10 years after his high school debut, he is one of five members of the Boston team at this year’s National Poetry Slam in Cambridge.

Born in New York City to Haitian parents, Fils-Aime moved to New Hampshire when he was young and attended local high school, where he first began exploring the medium of poetry.

“I said to myself, ‘I really like writing poetry, and I think I should start taking this more seriously,’” Fils-Aime said of his first experiences with writing.

During the rest of his high school career, he began to hone the craft of spoken word poetry, concentrating on his delivery and performance style. He then began to enter poetry readings and local “slams,” which he continued doing when he got to the University of New Hampshire.

Since his debut on the slam circuit, Fils-Aime has performed in the last three National Poetry Slams, for the Manchester, NH team in 2008, the Worcester team in 2009, and the Manchester team again in 2010. This year, he decided to take his craft to the bigger Boston slam clubs and made the Boston team, which will compete in Cambridge for the 2011 National Poetry Slam on August 9.

Rachelle Villarson’s commitment to service inspires peers

Rachelle Villarson, at the 2011 Women of Power luncheon in Boston.Rachelle Villarson, at the 2011 Women of Power luncheon in Boston.
Last week’s National Urban League conference in Boston featured many nationally reknown figures from Soledad O’Brien, Henry Louis “Skip” Gates to Rev. Al Sharpton and Bill Gates. Many Bay State officials welcomed conference attendees including Gov Deval Patrick, Mayor Thomas Menino, several state representatives, administration leaders and members of the Boston city council.

However, one key group that helped to ensure the smooth operations of the conference was the hard-working volunteers. And one dynamic leader responsible for recruiting, training, coordination and execution for volunteers for several main events was Rachelle Villarson. Villarson, who was born in Brooklyn and came to Boston as a teen, is a finance supervisor at Partners Healthcare. She was appointed to the board of Young Professionals Network of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts (YPN-ULEM), as co-chair of the community service committee last summer. She hit the ground running.

A Legacy of National Disunity

Patrick SylvainPatrick Sylvain

Fighting for power at the expense of the nation is nothing new in Haiti. A paternalistic state that has thrived on totalitarianism and corruption, Haiti’s history as a cohesive political nation was short lived.

And today, Haiti cannot be fully considered a viable political nation, despite having a constitution, a parliament, a judiciary and an executive. Haiti’s peril is due to not only the refusal of the West to compensate for its carnivorous colonial past and lingering market-driven need for dominance, but also to its own self-imposed post-slavery military culture and the divergent political views linked to the colonial affiliations of our founding fathers.


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