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Ivory Coast’s Cocoa – A Blessing and a Curse – 2

September 30, 2017

Ivory Coast during the Civil War in the early 2000s

Ivory Coast’s Cocoa – A Blessing and a Curse – 2

The $ 300 plus million Catholic Church that Honcho Felix built in the Ivory Coast is described as the biggest Catholic church in the world (by some) with the fewest [worshippers] in the pews

His $ 11 plus a billion fortune- French dealings. Some model in Africa!

The plan to exploit so many, and then build a giant Catholic church.

How French..

Jim Hagood

Houphouët-Boigny – France’s Key Man in West Africa

Although he is dead and gone now for 24 years, the spirit of Félix Houphouët-Boigny (pronounced hoofoo bowanyee) lives on in the Ivory Coast….malheureusement! – as the French would say. At his death in 1993 he had acquired an estimated net worth of somewhere between $7 and $11 billion, much of it from the profits skimmed off from the country’s lucrative (for him anyway) raw cocoa bean industry. Cocoa beans are the main export product of Ivory Coast and dominate the country’s economy, referred to as “l’or brun” – “brown gold” in french. The owner of seventeen villas in Europe, at the time of his death Houphouët-Boigny was considered by some sources to have been the largest property owner in Paris, while the country as a whole has been mired in poverty.

Although Houphouët-Boigny started out his career as an anti-colonial nationalist – in fact he was the leader of the cocoa producers’ union for a while and one of the founders of the Rassemblement démocratique africain (RDA) an assemblage of anti-colonial African radicals – by the early 1950s he had, for all practical purposes switched allegiances. But then it was most useful to have a political turncoat who earned his spurs early on in a radical social movement for then France could cover its continued racist and exploitative policies in Africa under the cover of “moderate” African nationalism, which was by the way, neither moderate nor particularly nationalist at its heart. Read more…

Ivory Coast’s Cocoa – A Blessing and a Curse – 1

September 27, 2017

Cocoa beans piling up at Soubre, railroad transit point north of Abidjan, Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire)

It’s called “Belgian or Swiss” (or French or Dutch) chocolate, but in fact there is no such thing. The main ingredient in chocolate, cocoa beans, does not grow in Belgium, Switzerland, France or Italy and never has. all these countries have ever done is add sugar and a few other ingredients, to make it more palatable to European and North American tastes.  It would be more accurate to refer to the stuff as Ghanaian, Ivory Coastal or Cameroonian Chocolate. Originally a equatorial Latin American product, today it grows largely in West Africa, East Asia and a bit in Mexico and Central America.

“It’s white people who eat chocolate, not us” commented a cocoa farmer from the Ivory Coast.

Read more…

LETTER TO MY FRIEND … a poem by Phil Woods.

August 28, 2017

Aseel Abu Oun, 8 years old, run over by an Israeli settler in Foroush Beit Dajan village, near Nablus, West Bank, Palestine.


“Those who do not advocate a ‘solution’ of the Palestinian problem through dispersion and expulsion promise the native inhabitants a grim future in their ancient homeland . . .. ‘when we have settled the land, all that the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like roaches in a bottle.’”*


Suffering does not automatically

make a people noble, nor

automatically make them Just.


Imagine a Scale. On it

we will determine:

Who has suffered more?

A Peaceful world cannot be

made this way.


Do I recognize the extraordinary

suffering of the Jewish people?

It is inescapable. And every time

I learn more—the pogroms—

it’s always worse than I imagined.


Out of what ashes & pain

can we build justice?

1919, in the same building

in London what do the still

Victorian Brits do? Read more…

Denver City Council “Swallows the Kool Aid” – It Approves a $1.8 Billion Public-Private Partnership Agreement at Denver International Airport With Ferrovial, S. A. – Part Two

August 24, 2017

For decades the failures of water, energy, rail and health privatisations have made clear across the globe that those who promote privatisation offer false promises. Elections have been fought and won on promises to keep public services in public hands. In sectors like health, education, water, energy and transport, community attitudes strongly support public provision.

Rosa Pavanelli General Secretary of Public Services International (PSI)

The Proposed “Office of Public-Private Partnerships” – A Bad Idea For Denver. 

An article in The Denver Possupported the recent agreement between the Denver International Airport (DIA) and the leveraged Spanish firm Ferrovial that was approved by a 10-2 vote on August 14, 2017 (at 1 am – so it was, technically August 15). The same article announced that there would be more agreements like it, public-private-partnership agreements, on PPPs or “P3s,” as they are called. Unless there is public pressure to the contrary, The Post is probably right. Unfortunately.

The DIA – Ferrovial contract is a classic public-private-partnership”. Another piece in The Denverite a few days later elaborated on the city’s plans to do just that. In fact, the city wants formalize P3s, to create an “Office of Public-Private Partnerships” “to vet and coordinate such projects.” The article mentions the National Western Center and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts as two likely candidates “in the near future.” Read more…

Hemingway and Gellhorn and Uncle Ira – Ira Magazine

August 22, 2017

Ira Magazine, 1943. We (my sisters and I) were told that in the late 1930s in order to “Americanize” the family name, Magaziner, that the family had a long discussion that lasted several years, after which, it was resolved to make a great change, to drop the “r” in Magaziner and to exchange that for “Magazine.” This they did.

Hemingway and Gellhorn.

It’s a film about the turbulent, yet professionally productive marriage between Ernest Hemingway and his third wife, Martha Gellhorn, who unceremoniously dumped him after a brief relationship. A close friend and skilled local poet, Phil Woods, loaned it to me. As is well-known, Hemingway became an American literary icon. Other than in journalistic and peace circles, Gellhorn’s contribution has dissolved to obscurity despite the fact that she was one of the finest war correspondents of the twentieth century. The film, panned by many critics, but which I thoroughly enjoyed, knocks Hemingway down more than a few deserved notches – perhaps not so much his writing as the reckless way he lived his life – and resurrects Gellhorn, deservedly so.

After seeing the film, it was high time to read Gellhorn. Plenty of her stuff is available. I chose a little volume: Martha Gellhorn The Face of War – a series of short 5-20 page sketches that start with the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) to the 1980s Central American wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador. A keen observer, fearless – or so it seemed – she gives as human a face to war as anyone I have ever read. Her writing is crisp, clear and to a great degree without illusions. A pleasure to read, even if the subject matter is completely depressing, and it is. Read more…

Jonathan Schell’s The Fate of the Earth, Naomi Klein’s No Is Not Enough. Some Thoughts

August 19, 2017

Hiroshima and Nagasaki, paintings by Denver artist Calvin Lee

The question now before the human species, therefore, is whether life or death will prevail on the earth. This is not metaphorical language but a literal description of the present state of affairs.

Jonathan Schell. The Fate of the Earth. p.113

Late last night I finished Jonathan Schell’s The Fate of the Earth. It had been among a carton of old books to be donated to a local library, but as an afterthought, I removed it and starting re-reading it. I had read it – or parts of it – just after was published, some 35 years past, in 1982. My dear and departed friend, Dr. Dick Ayre from Presque Isle Maine, held it in high esteem. Add to that, when I started my re-read, Hiroshima Day (August 6) and Nagasaki Day (August 9) were just around the corner. With his already legendary “subtlety,” Trumpty-Dumpty had jolted both the country and the world with his threat of a nuclear attack against North Korea. Reading Schell became irresistible.

I thought it might be interesting to read Schell in parallel with Naomi Klein’s recent small volume, No Is Not Enough, the choice of a book club I’ve been in for more than a decade. The Klein book, seemingly put together in a hurry, still, it presents some useful ideas as to how the country and the world got to this surrealistic moment as well as ideas concerning how to respond to the juggernaut of reaction and greed that is the Trumpty-Dumpty presidency. As usual, it is fine little volume. Klein writes with clarity and vision, her understanding of the danger of climate change, her path-breaking analysis of the use of “shock doctrines’ – a term I believe she first proposed – carefully, if briefly sketched out. If the “what to do” section at the end was a bit sketchy, still, the book as a whole contains many important and practical ideas.

Klein writes with clarity and vision, her understanding of the danger of climate change, her path-breaking analysis of the use of “shock doctrines’ – a term I believe she first proposed – carefully, if briefly sketched out. If the “what to do” section at the end was a bit sketchy, still, the book as a whole contains many important and practical ideas.  Read more…

14 Questions From A Local Trade Unionist Concerning the D.I.A. – Ferrovial Deal.

August 17, 2017

Heathrow Airport, December 2010. Airport was closed by Ferrovial 100% owned subsidiary, BAA causing airline delays, complications throughout Europe and beyond. So much for how “efficiently” Ferrovial runs Heathrow. As I recall, Denver does get more than five inches of snow each winter. 

As a trade union friend of mine noted concerning the Denver D.I.A. – Ferrovial contract – just noted “the horse has left the gate…but what the hell?”

A local trade unionist, he posses fourteen questions concerning the deal. Before posting them below, I thought the blog reading public might be interested in one particular article:

The essence of the piece: In December, 2010, the British government had to bring in the troops to clear five inches of snow from Heathrow Airport because Ferrovial, which manages the airport refused to do so, cheap so and so’s. So all this talk at the recent city council meeting in Denver about “how efficiently” Ferrovial subsiduary, BAA, runs Heathrow,  is a bunch of poppy cock?

So BAA didn’t have the will or the wear-with-all to clear five inches of snow from Heathrow…but they are going to all but manage D.I.A. for 34 years? How did all those well-informed politically astute members of the city council miss this? Here is another article on the subject:

Here the questions my trade union friend asked about the deal. Some have been answered, most not.

  1. Is this the largest privatization in the city’s history? (Winter Park?)
  2. Denver developed DIA and controlled its concessions without privatization, why is it necessary to privatize the Great Hall expansion?
  3. What research has been completed on Ferrovial? Was adequate due diligence applied? Who conducted the due diligence?  Were consultants used?  If so, who were they?
  4. Has the administration consulted closely with the three airports in the UK where Ferrovial has similar contracts? Is there a written comparison of the Denver contract with those in the UK? Wasn’t this a critical part of the necessary due diligence?
  5. Was the administration aware of Ferrovial’s complicity in the debacle that occurred at Heathrow airport which caused David Cameron, the UK prime minister to intervene?
  6. Most members of City Council likely have not carefully reviewed the proposed contract and conducted a full review which is understandable given the complexity of the contract, although the 150 page document should have been reviewed by all members.
  7. Does Ferrovial’s record of union busting, payoffs, and operating abusive detention centers, as reported in a recent Amnesty International report, raise concerns by this administration and City Council?

  1. Is the Council aware that Unite, the largest union in the United Kingdom, was forced to conduct a two-year campaign costing over $4 million, to stop Ferrovial’s union busting on a construction contract for the largest public works project in London for many decades.
  2. Our political system operates on the principle of separation of powers. Everything we have learned about the Ferrovial contract has come from the executive branch.  Why hasn’t the president of the City Council asked the city council staff (six member staff) to conduct its own review of the proposed contract in the manner that the Congressional Budget Office provides an independent review separate from the executive branch?
  3. Has Ferrovial agreed to sign a written neutrality agreement to ensure that its operations will not be adverse to the right of workers to unionize as determined by federal labor law and also to hold its concessionaires to it?
  4. The involvement of Saunders, a local construction company, appears to have good relations with construction unions, although questions have been raised about its close relationship to the administration in the awarding of the contract.
  5. What was learned about Ferrovial in the junkets taken to Ferrovial operations in Spain and the UK by both members of DIA, the city administration, and members of City Council?
  6. Was there true transparency in evaluating the various bids? Why hasn’t the City Council or citizenry been fully informed why Ferrovial was awarded the bid with all of its problem?
  7. What are Denver’s legal rights to end the proposed contract if the contact if is not fulfilled?