Back-to-back temblors have some Haitians sleeping outside
Monday, October 8
PORT-DE-PAIX, Haiti (AP) — For some Haitians fearing new aftershocks, the best place to spend the night is under a tree.
The one-two punch of a magnitude 5.9 earthquake in northern Haiti on Saturday that destroyed houses and killed at least 12 people followed by a strong 5.2 magnitude aftershock on Sunday has residents worried about returning to their cracked cinderblock homes for fear they will collapse.
“I don’t feel safe even inside my house,” said Gary Joseph as he put various mattresses for himself and his two sons to sleep on under a tree outside the house in Port-de-Paix.
He pointed to cracks left by the quake and aftershock in a wall and said: “I have to protect myself and my sons.”
Sunday’s aftershock caused panic on streets where emergency teams were providing relief to victims of Saturday’s quake, which toppled cinderblock homes and rickety buildings in several cities.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the epicenter of the aftershock was located 9.8 miles (15.8 kilometers) north-northwest of Port-de-Paix, the city hard hit by Saturday’s earthquake.
Haiti’s civil protection agency said at least eight people died in the coastal city of Port-de-Paix and three people died in the nearby community of Gros-Morne in Artibonite province. Another person died in Saint-Louis du Nord, Communication Minister Eddy Jackson Alexis tweeted.
Among the dead from Saturday night’s quake were a 5-year-old boy crushed by his collapsing house and a man killed in a falling auditorium. Authorities said 188 people were injured.
Impoverished Haiti, where many live in tenuous circumstances, is vulnerable to earthquakes and hurricanes. A vastly larger magnitude 7.1 quake damaged much of the capital in 2010 and killed an estimated 300,000 people.
“I feel like my life is not safe here,” said nun Maryse Alsaint, director of the San Gabriel National School in Gros-Morne, where several classrooms were severely damaged.
She said that about 500 students would not be able to return to school on Monday.
President Jovenel Moise urged people to donate blood and asked international aid agencies to coordinate with local agencies to avoid duplicated efforts. By Sunday evening the government didn’t provide an estimate of the damages.
The USGS said Saturday’s quake was centered 12 miles (19 kilometers) northwest of Port-de-Paix, which is about 136 miles (219 kilometers) from the capital of Port-au-Prince.
It was felt lightly in the capital, as well as in the neighboring Dominican Republic and in eastern Cuba, where no damage was reported.
In Haiti, officials have struggled to shore up buildings despite the two major fault lines along Hispaniola, which is the island shared with the Dominican Republic.
The damage from the temblors was visible. In Gros-Morne, one bed was covered in rubble, while the exterior walls of some homes were visibly cracked. Others tilted at precarious angles.
Pierre Jacques Baudre, a farmer and father of seven, said he was afraid to return to his home after one wall built with rocks and cement crumbled.
“The house can fall at any time,” he said.
The civil protection agency issued a statement saying that houses were destroyed in Port-de-Paix, Gros-Morne, Chansolme and Turtle Island.
Damage was also reported at the Saint-Michel church in Plaisance and the police station in Port-de-Paix. Parts of a hospital and an auditorium collapsed in Gros-Morne, where parliamentarian Alcide Audne told The Associated Press that two of the deaths occurred.
Columbus believed he would find ‘blemmyes’ and ‘sciapods’ – not people – in the New World
October 5, 2018
Peter C. Mancall
Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities, University of Southern California – Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
Peter C. Mancall does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
University of Southern California — Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
In 1492, when Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic Ocean in search of a fast route to East Asia and the southwest Pacific, he landed in a place that was unknown to him. There he found treasures – extraordinary trees, birds and gold.
But there was one thing that Columbus expected to find that he didn’t.
Upon his return, in his official report, Columbus noted that he had “discovered a great many islands inhabited by people without number.” He praised the natural wonders of the islands.
But, he added, “I have not found any monstrous men in these islands, as many had thought.”
Why, one might ask, had he expected to find monsters?
My research and that of other historians reveal that Columbus’ views were far from abnormal. For centuries, European intellectuals had imagined a world beyond their borders populated by “monstrous races.”
Of course the ‘monstrous races’ exist
One of the earliest accounts of these non-human beings was written by the Roman natural historian Pliny the Elder in 77 A.D. In a massive treatise, he told his readers about dog-headed people, known as cynocephalus, and astoni, creatures with no mouth and no need to eat.
Across medieval Europe, tales of marvelous and inhuman creatures – of cyclops, blemmyes, creatures with heads in their chests, and sciapods, who had a single leg with a giant foot – circulated in manuscripts hand-copied by scribes who often embellished their treatises with illustrations of these fantastic creatures.
Though there were always some skeptics, most Europeans believed that distant lands would be populated by these monsters, and stories of monsters traveled far beyond the rarefied libraries of elite readers.
For example, churchgoers in Fréjus, an ancient market town in the south of France, could wander into the cloister of the Cathédrale Saint-Léonce and study monsters on the more than 1,200 painted wooden ceiling panels. Some panels portrayed scenes of daily life – local monks, a man riding a pig and contorted acrobats. Many others depicted monstrous hybrids, dog-headed people, blemmyes and other fearsome wretches.
Perhaps no one did more to spread news of monsters’ existence than a 14th-century English knight named John Mandeville, who, in his account of his travels to faraway lands, claimed to have seen people with the ears of an elephant, one group of creatures who had flat faces with two holes, and another that had the head of a man and the body of a goat.
Scholars debate whether Mandeville could have ventured far enough to see the places that he described, and whether he was even a real person. But his book was copied time and again, and likely translated into every known European language.
Leonardo da Vinci had a copy. So did Columbus.
Old beliefs die hard
Even though Columbus didn’t see monsters, his report wasn’t enough to dislodge prevailing ideas about the creatures Europeans expected to find in parts unknown.
In 1493 – around the time Columbus’ first report began to circulate – printers of the “Nuremberg Chronicle,” a massive volume of history, included images and descriptions of monsters. And soon after the explorer’s return, an Italian poet offered a verse translation describing Columbus’ journey, which its printer illustrated with monsters, including a sciapod and a blemmye.
Indeed, the belief that monsters lived at the Earth’s edge remained for generations.
In the 1590s, the English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh told readers about the American monsters he heard about in his travels to Guiana, some of which had “their eyes in their shoulders, and their mouths in the middle of their breasts, & that a long train of haire groweth backward between their shoulders.”
Soon after, the English natural historian Edward Topsell translated a mid-16th-century treatise of the various animals of the world, a book that appeared in London in 1607, the same year that colonists established a small community at Jamestown, Virginia. Topsell was eager to integrate descriptions of American animals in his book. But alongside chapters on Old World horses, pigs and beavers, readers learned about the “Norwegian monster” and a “very deformed beast” that Americans called an “haut.” Another, known as a “su,” had “a very deformed shape, and monstrous presence” and was “cruell, untamable, impatient, violent, [and] ravening.”
Of course, in the New World, the gains for Europeans came at a terrifying cost for Native Americans: The newcomers stole their land and treasures, enslaved them, introduced Old World diseases and spurred long-term environmental change.
In the end, perhaps these indigenous Americans saw the invaders of their homelands as a ‘monstrous race’ of its own – creatures who destabilized their communities, took their possessions and threatened their lives.
Opinion: Why I’m Not Celebrating a Lie
By the Rev. Dr. Lauren R. Stanley
“In fourteen hundred ninety two, Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue …”
I learned that little ditty when I was 4 years old, and for many more years, I believed it. I believed that Columbus “discovered” America.
It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I learned that story was a lie.
I know: “Lie” is a strong word. But the whole concept of Columbus “discovering” America? Trust me: It is a lie.
Columbus was looking for a shorter route to India. But he never got there. He landed first in what is now the Bahamas, and then went on to what is now Hispaniola, the island of the nations of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Which is how I know he didn’t “discover” America.
A meme that circulates on Facebook every year at this time corrects that little ditty so many of us memorized:
“In 1492, Natives discovered … a lost Columbus.”
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned the real truth about Columbus: That his so-called discovery led to the Doctrine of Discovery, issued by Pope Alexander VI in 1493, which stated that any land not inhabited by Christians was available to be “discovered,” claimed and exploited by Christian rulers …” (Source: The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History).
I learned about how, even before that horrible edict was issued, Columbus and most of the explorers who followed him across the ocean began massacring the natives they “discovered” — all in the search for riches.
And when I moved to Haiti as a missionary, I learned even more of the truth that is not told in our history books: Columbus was so intent on finding gold that when the original inhabitants — the indigenous Taino, an Arawak-speaking people who began arriving from the Yucatan peninsula as early as 4000 BCE — couldn’t produce any because the island didn’t have gold, he began enslaving and executing them.
What Columbus and his men and those who followed him did in Haiti, they did everywhere: Give us gold and riches or die.
When I moved to the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, the home of the Sicangu Lakota Oyate, the Burnt Thigh Lakota Peoples, I learned even more about the history of Europeans and what they did — and continue to do — to Natives.
How the people who have been here for thousands of years were attacked, wiped out, rounded up, put on reservations as their land was stolen over and over and over again.
How their children were kidnapped and sent to boarding schools in order to “assimilate” to the white man’s ways (even though it is immigrants who are called to assimilate to the native culture).
How many of those children never returned, how they died, and how their remains are still missing, or have been buried far away from their homelands.
How Natives, the original inhabitants of this land, were not allowed to vote in this country until 1924.
How in a country founded in part on religious freedom, Natives did not have the right to celebrate their own traditional religion until the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978.
So, no, I don’t celebrate “Columbus Day.”
How could I? How could I continue to participate in the domination and denigration of the peoples who were here thousands of years before my own people came to this land? How could I continue to participate in a lie?
I am not saying the Columbus was not a brave man for sailing across the ocean blue. I am saying that I refuse to celebrate the lies about him, that I refuse to ignore the truth about him.
Instead, on the second Monday of October each year, I celebrate Native American Day, as we call it in South Dakota. I celebrate Indigenous People’s Day, as it is called in more and more places in the United States.
I celebrate the people who were here in the Americas for thousands of years before any European showed up, the ones who have taught me so much truth, who have helped me to understand on a much deeper level my place in God’s sacred creation, and who have assured me, in every way possible, that you can’t “discover” a land that already is inhabited by millions of people.
Christopher Columbus did not “discover” America. He got lost, and landed in the Caribbean islands.
And we need to stop celebrating that.
ABOUT THE WRITER
The Rev. Dr. Lauren R. Stanley is an Episcopal priest serving on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. She wrote this for InsideSources.com.
South African law needs a zero tolerance approach to racist utterances
October 3, 2018
Senior Lecturer in Criminal Justice, University of Cape Town
Kelly Phelps does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
University of Cape Town provides funding as a partner of The Conversation AFRICA.
A “selfie” video rant has landed a South African man, Kessie Nair, in hot water. Nair faces six counts of crimen injuria and two of incitement to public violence after recording himself spewing racist language at the country’s President Cyril Ramaphosa. He has since apologised to the president.
But what is crimen injuria, and why is it being used in this instance?
Crimen injuria is a supple common law offence that has been applied to a diverse array of conduct. It’s a unique feature of South African criminal law, and focuses on the protection of dignity and privacy, rather than the protection of reputation, which is encompassed by the law of defamation.
It’s defined in South Africa as “unlawfully and intentionally impairing the dignity or privacy of another person”. The early recorded cases tended to involve incidents of private or public indecent exposure and invasions of privacy, especially cases involving what’s colloquially termed “peeping Toms”.
Subsequently, the crime was also applied to demeaning conduct and offending words. This includes the deeply racist and derogatory term “kaffir”, which was central to another recent high profile case of crimen injuria. A woman named Vicki Momberg was sentenced to three years in prison (one of which was suspended) for her racist abuse of black police officers at a crime scene. This was caught on camera.
The severity of Momberg’s sentence caught headlines: it’s believed to be the first case resulting in a substantial prison sentence for racist utterances alone. Critics lauded the magistrate in Momberg’s case for taking a zero tolerance approach to racism. In Nair’s case, too, there has been a swift and loud public outcry for a harsh penalty.
But does a zero tolerance approach necessarily mean harsher penalties? Is it a good precedent to use prison for harmful words alone rather than harmful actions? Momberg’s sentence is being appealed; this is due to be heard in November. The outcome of this appeal is bound to have an impact on Nair’s case, should he be convicted. So what can be learned from previous similar cases?
The costs of prison
Even though the use of the word “kaffir” is currently considered one of the most serious forms of verbal crimen injuria, courts have been reluctant to assign prison sentences to such convictions.
In one instance, a prison sentence for a man who directed the word at a black traffic officer was overturned on appeal. Part of the reason for the appeal judge’s decision was that “neither [the Defence] nor [the State] were able to refer us to any decision of the High Court in which an effective term of imprisonment was imposed or confirmed on review or appeal in a case of crimen iniuria of this nature”.
Arguably there is sound justification for the court’s reluctance to assign prison terms for verbal crimen injuria. Prison is expensive for society. It costs the taxpayers over R100 000 a year to house an inmate in prison. That money could be going to education, employment initiatives and other social services to help prevent offending in the first place.
Prison also costs society in non-monetary terms. In many respects prison contributes to a cycle of offending and desocialisation that causes widespread damage in communities. So, prison should be reserved for the most serious offences and for offenders who pose a risk to society.
Calls to impose harsh prison sentences for verbal crimen injuria are often premised on the need to deter such behaviour. Prison sentences are unlikely to achieve this laudable goal.
There are two aspects to deterrence in criminal justice. The first is called general deterrence. This entails using punishment to deter other would-be offenders from committing similar crimes. The second aspect is called specific deterrence: using the punishment to deter a particular offender from offending again in the future.
Regarding general deterrence, research has shown for many decades that the most important feature in using the criminal justice system to deter would-be offenders is not the severity of punishment. The concepts of “certainty” and “publicity” are far more important. In other words, even if the death penalty could be applied for crimen injuria, if offenders believe they will not be caught it will do little to deter them.
Conversely, a fine that’s believed to be certain, due to the consistency with which it’s applied as well as the publicity of its application, will put far more people off the offensive conduct.
From a specific deterrence perspective, prison is a particularly blunt tool to rid people of racism. Journalist Rebecca Davis’s observations of the Momberg case ring true here:
There are presumably few people who would argue that time in prison will ‘cure’ Momberg of her evidently deeply ingrained racism. A jail term in this case may feel intuitively satisfying to many, but does little to address the wider social problem of racism and its causes.
A smarter approach
The frequency of apparent incidences of verbal crimen injuria involving racism displays that the criminal justice system must adopt a zero tolerance approach. But this approach needs to be a much smarter one than simply throwing these offenders in prison.
It’s too soon to tell if Nair’s case will result in a conviction. Currently it is postponed for him to undergo psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he is mentally fit to stand trial.
If Nair is eventually convicted and punished, the criminal justice system should devise a sentence that has the sophistication, constructiveness and humanity that’s so devoid from his reprehensible behaviour.