The credit crisis erased $14 trillion (McKeef 2008-12-31) from world stock markets in 2008. Where does $14 trillion in world stock markets go? How can that much capital disappear from the market? The infamous year 2008 will be known in the future as the year that fundamental concepts in the moral mathematics of the market were forever changed. This credit crisis was the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s but its ramifications may be even deeper.

                                                                                                                                                                          
100,000,000 dollars How can we visualize a billion dollars? How much more difficult is it to imagine a trillion dollars?

The most recent wiki entry (2009-01-01) describes how any attempt to visualize numbers higher than a million is complicated because there are too systems of numeric names and the difference between the two scales grows as numbers get larger. Million is the same in both scales, but the long-scale billion is a thousand times larger than the short-scale billion, the long-scale trillion is a million times larger than the short-scale trillion. The short scale system is used in the US and a long scale system is used in the UK. The short scale system of numeric names means every new term greater than million is 1,000 times the previous term: “billion” means “a thousand millions” (109), “trillion” means “a thousand billions” (1012), and so on. Long scale refers to a system of numeric names in which every new term greater than million is 1,000,000 times the previous term: “billion” means “a million millions” (1012), “trillion” means “a million billions” (1018). (wiki).”

6 zeros = 1 million, a thousand thousands or (106)1, 000, 000
8 zeros = a hundred million (108) 100, 000, 000 this image
9 zeros = 1 billion in the short scale system used in the US = a thousand millions or (109) or 1,000,000,000
12 zeros = 1 trillion in the short scale system used in the US = “a thousand billions (1012) or 1,000,000,000,000
12 zeros = 1 billion in the long scale system used in the UK: 1,000,000,000,000
18 zeros = 1 trillion in the long scale system used in the UK is a million billions (1018) or 1,000,000,000,000,000,00


1,000,000 6 zeros = 1 million, a thousand thousands or (106)1, 000, 000

This Adobe Photoshop image posted in my ocean.flynn Flickr account was my attempt to visualize 100,000,000 dollars

 “World stock markets ended on an uptick for the year on Wednesday, after some bourses registered their worst annual losses in history. Global stocks as measured by the MSCI world index ended up 0.76 percent for the day and posted their first monthly gain in seven months, but lost 43.36 percent for the year. About $14 trillion (9.6 trillion pounds) in market capitalisation was erased from world stock markets in 2008 in the wake of the worst credit crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. “It has been a shocking year, hardly anything was spared in the carnage,” said Michael Heffernan, strategist at Austock Group in Australia. U.S. stocks edged up on Wednesday and saw their first monthly gain in five months, but the year has been the worst for Wall Street stocks since the Great Depression (McKeef 2008-12-31).”

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McKeef, Clive. 2008-12-31. “World stocks end up after historic losses.” Business News. Reuters.

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CC 2008 Flynn-Burhoe

“Mortgage Meltdown” a digitage on Flickr

see also related webliography

1965-2005 Between 1965 to 2005 there was no national US real-estate bust as home prices surpassed inflation by a percentage point or two on average. However local reversals have taken place and some cities have never recovered (Christie 2005).

1973-5 US investors in the S&P 500 lost 14% in 1973 and 26% in 1974 but gained 37% in 1975 (Mann 2000).

1970s “The additional grades or risk have arisen from the willingness to underwrite mortgages for more risky borrowers, encouraged by the democratization of credit since the 1970s. Lending to more risky borrowers is, by definition, more risky. More loans to risky borrowers increases the total amount of risk to be sold in the marketplace” (Mason and Rosner 2007).

1980-1990 In Los Angeles real estate was turbocharged for nearly 10 years (Christie 2005).

1985 In Peoria, Ill. a more traditional area the average home price fell from $60,800 in 1981 to $51,400 in 1985 partially because of strikes and lay-offs at Caterpillar, the city’s biggest employer (Christie 2005).

1987 Canadian families saved 20 percent of their take-home pay (Ed 2007).
1987 Stock market crash
1988 In “oil patch” cities like Oklahoma City prices plummeted 26 percent from 1983 to 1988. They only returned to 1983 levels in 2003 fifteen years later. In Oklahoma City, the inflation-adjusted price in 1983 was $196,600. Today, it’s just $135,100 (Christie 2005).

1988 Houston home prices fell 22 percent from $111,000 in 1983 to $86,800 in 1988 rebounded only in 2003. Counting inflation, the average Houston home, which cost just $159,700 in 2004, is actually worth less [in 2005] than it was [in 1983]. When, adjusted for inflation, a home cost about $219,000 in 1983 (Christie 2005).

1988 – 1990s Real estate prices fell in Northern California first followed by the rest of the state “as employers fled, incomes dwindled, quakes rumbled, sales fell and prices slipped. [. . .] Silicon Valley’s housing market crashed into recession along with the state’s economy (Perkins 2001).

1989-90 The notorious price bubble of 1989-90 was linked to central banks specifically the Bank of Japan. “The Japanese economy continued to suffer during the early 1990s, and remained in recession until the end of 1993. Nominal GDP growth rates, which had been around 7 percent during the bubble period, fell beginning in 1990 and by 1991-93 were close to zero. Profits in the manufacturing sector fell 24.5 percent in 1991 and 32.1 percent in 1992. Bankruptcies began to rise starting in the latter half of 1990; by 1992, bankruptcies with debt more than Y10 million totaled 14,569 cases. Failures of real estate firms or of firms engaged in “active fund management” constituted more than half the corporate bankruptcies in 1991 and 1992 (Miller 2001).”

1991 Inflation-adjusted take-home pay in Canada froze to this level (Ed. 2007).”

1992 A new car in Canada cost $20, 000.

1992 – 2000 “Japan remained pretty stagnant in the last eight years, with the majority of the loss coming in the first two, when it eventually fell by more than 60%. There was never a big drop, just a constant and inexorable drift downward. Real estate prices plummeted, almost no Japanese company ended 1992 higher than it started 1990. In the interim, banks have failed (and if it weren’t for the financial props of the Japanese government, many more would have), and companies have had to reassess some of their basic assumptions, such as lifetime employment and large benefit packages” (Mann 2000).

1996 There was a housing market reversal in Los Angeles with average house price dropping from $222,200 in 1990 to $176,300 in 1996, a loss of 20.7 percent. “Furthermore, those are nominal prices, not real values. To calculate the loss more realistically you would have to figure in the cost of inflation: $222,200 in 1990 would have been worth $266,700 in 1996 dollars, which means the actual loss for homeowners buying in 1990 and selling in 1996 was closer to 34 percent (Christie 2005).”

1994- 1996 “In 1994, [Japanese] banks wrote off non-performing assets of Y5.7 trillion, exceeding the previous high of Y4.3 trillion in fiscal year 1993. As yet, no major bank has failed, although a number have reportedly encountered serious difficulties. In December, 1994, the Bank of Japan supervised the takeover of two credit cooperatives, the Tokyo Kyowa Credit Cooperative and the Anzen Credit Cooperative, through the creation of a bridge bank with government support. The Bank’s decision not to let these institutions fail and pay off depositors under the deposit guarantee program was based, largely, on concern for the potential systemic effects of a deposit payoff on public confidence in the banking system in general. The “jusen,” or housing finance banks, suffered the most serious problems; these institutions, which were typically organized and sponsored by major commercial banks and staffed, in part, by former officials from the Ministry of Finance, lost tens of billions of dollars as a result of the collapse of the price bubble, and became one of the most contentious political issues of the day during 1995-86 (Miller 2001)”.

1996 “How do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values, which then become subject to unexpected and prolonged contractions as they have in Japan over the past decade? And how do we factor that assessment into monetary policy? We as central bankers need not be concerned if a collapsing financial asset bubble does not threaten to impair the real economy, its production, jobs, and price stability. Indeed, the sharp stock market break of 1987 had few negative consequences for the economy. But we should not underestimate or become complacent about the complexity of the interactions of asset markets and the economy. Thus, evaluating shifts in balance sheets generally, and in asset prices particularly, must be an integral part of the development of monetary policy.” – Alan Greenspan (December 5, 1996)**

1998 There was a market correction in the United States in October of 1998.
1992 – 2000 “Japan remained pretty stagnant in the last eight years, with the majority of the loss coming in the first two, when it eventually fell by more than 60%. There was never a big drop, just a constant and inexorable drift downward. Real estate prices plummeted, almost no Japanese company ended 1992 higher than it started 1990. In the interim, banks have failed (and if it weren’t for the financial props of the Japanese government, many more would have), and companies have had to reassess some of their basic assumptions, such as lifetime employment and large benefit packages” (Mann 2000).
2004 British Columbia graduates from university have an average debt of $20, 000.
2005 Real-estate investing spiked, pressuring prices upward. In Phoenix, according to Bill Jilbert, president and COO of the Coldwell Banker brokerage there, investors from Nevada and California have invaded the Arizona market, and “affordable housing has been pushed to extremes (Christie 2005).”
2000 In Tampa Bay Florida, high risk adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM) made homes “seem affordable when wages stagnated as prices soared. They were just the ticket for cash-out refinancings and home equity credit lines that bought cars and swimming pools and paid off credit card debt. “What happened in a lot of expensive real estate markets is that first-time home buyers who felt they could not afford a home otherwise, took on a loan that had lower monthly payments than a traditional mortgage would have,” said Allen Fishbein, director of housing policy for the Consumer Federation of America. “They weren’t being underwritten on the basis of the borrower’s reasonable capacity to handle these loans.” The payments started out manageable, especially since many loans offered teaser rates. But borrowers are getting a lesson in what the word “adjustable” means. More than $130-billion in mortgages payments were reset in 2006″ In 2006 nearly a third of Tampa Bay mortgages were the high-risk varieties, up from 10 percent in 2003 (Huntley 2006).
1991- 2005 “[I]ncreased complexity from increased grading of risk can also result in increased opacity. Risk that is more difficult to see, by virtue of complexity, is risk just the same. There are plenty of reasons to believe that the amount of risk in the marketplace has increased. Figure 3 shows that defaults on ABS and residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) increased substantially between 1991 and 2005″ (Mason and Rosner 2007).
2006 Fitch Global Structured Finance 1991-2005 Default Study revealed that, “the overwhelming majority of global structured finance defaults over the 1991-2005 period were from the U.S., accounting for more than 97 percent of the total. While the 1,000 U.S. defaults were mainly concentrated in the Asset-Backed Securities._ (ABS) sector, the 27 international defaults were primarily from the collateralized debt obligations (CDO) sector.” See Mason and Rosner (2007) warn that risk continues to increase, as ratings agencies revise their loss expectations to account for the dynamics of the mortgage meltdown. For instance, on March 27, Standard & Poor’s raised its expectation for losses on
2006 In Florida millions of homeowners were warned of the mortgage meltdown in which they will “face a financial nightmare brought on by a combination of higher interest rates, risky mortgages and a housing market gone cold (Huntley 2006).
2007 Since 1991 inflation-adjusted hourly wages rose only 10 cents (Ed. 2007).”
2007 A new car in Canada cost $32,000 a 60 percent increase from 1992 (Ed. 2007).”
2007Canadians collectively owe three quarters of a trillion dollars in personal debt. Canadian families not only have no savings, they draw on pension savings to make ends meet.

“The result of the easy credit is that an average family now owes far more than it takes in. That means we remain solvent only so long as the book value of our assets — things like our home, pension funds or investments — continue to increase (Ed. 2007).”

2007 British Columbia graduates from university have an average debt of $27, 000.

2007 It is now acceptable for Canadian families to pay 60 percent of income to pay monthly payments of their home mortgages (Ed. 2007).

2007 The British Columbia government will allow home owners who are over 55 to defer property tax payments for as long as they live. The government will claim unpaid taxes after you die or sell effectively placing the tax burden on the children (Ed. 2007).

2007 “The number of corporate failures in Japan rose for the third month in a row totaling 896 cases in December up 18.2%. November flops were up 6.5% and the number of companies going belly up in October were up 7.8%. The amount of debts the insolvent companies left behind were up 30.6% to 463.09 billion yen (Belew 2007).

2007 In March Bob Lawless reported in his blog that, “The folks at Automated Access to Court Electronic Records or AACER regularly collect data from all the bankruptcy courts for creditors and attorneys. They have a wealth of information that does not show up in the mainstream media. Most recently, they tell me that there were 58,640 total U.S. bankruptcy filings in February 2007 as compared to 55,088 total U.S. bankruptcy filings in January 2007. OK, that looks like a slight increase, but looks are deceiving. It’s actually a fairly hefty increase. The February filings were spread over only nineteen business days while the January filings were spread over twenty-one days. On a daily basis, the February filings were up 17.7% as compared to January (Lawless 2007).”

2007 Jayson Seth analysed data in National Association of Realtors (NAR) June 24, 2007 report. Seth argues that “America’s easy-credit, quick-flipping, borrow-now-and-forget-the-consequences lifestyle is coming to an increasingly painful, grinding halt” and the “confidence of homebuilders is at a 16-year low (Seth 2007).”

2007 Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors announced that the real estate market is softening due to psychological factors, tighter credit for subprime borrowers. NAR’s Lawrence Yun explained that since late 2006 housing sales have slowed as buyers double up with family, friends or just mortgage helper units in their homes to be able to pay for higher-priced homes.

2007 Mason and Rosner (2007) warn that risk continues to increase, as ratings agencies revise their loss expectations to account for the dynamics of the mortgage meltdown. For instance, on March 27, Standard & Poor’s raised its expectation for losses on 1. “Residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) market has experienced significant changes [from 1997-2007]” Furthermore they caution that “structural changes in mortgage origination and servicing have interacted with complex RMBS and highly volatile CDO funding structures to place the U.S. housing market at risk. Equally as important, however, is that housing market weaknesses feed back through financial markets to further weaken financial instruments backing today’s CDOs. Decreased housing starts that will result from lower liquidity in the MBS sector will further weaken credit spreads and depress CDO and MBS issuance. This feedback mechanism can create imbalances in the U.S. economy that, if left unchecked, could lead to prolonged domestic economic implications for U.S. standing in the world economic order [. . .] The potential for prolonged economic difficulties that also interfere with home ownership in the United States raises significant public policy concerns. Already we are witnessing restructurings and layoffs at top financial institutions. More importantly, however, is the need to provide stable funding sources for economic growth. The biggest obstacle that we have identified is lack of transparency.” (Mason and Rosner 2007).

2007 In a Marketplace interview Amy Scott asked interviewees about the disturbing consequences of the interconnections between banks, hedge funds, high risk mortgages and pension funds. In June two major hedge funds managed by the investment bank Bear Stearns, who purchased securities that were essentially a “repackaging of all kinds of risky mortgages” to tap into the subprime mortgage market are now verging on collapse as the number of borrowers defaulting on these mortgages increases. Joseph Mason explained that “this isn’t just a Wall Street problem. Your 401k or pension fund may be invested in similar mortgage-related securities.” The investor-base is broad and it is difficult to know who is at risk. “Investment managers don’t have to report their holdings. And unlike stocks, these securities aren’t quoted on an open market.” Mason has been a firm proponent of more transparency in financial dealings (Scott 2007).

2010-05-06 According to a report entitled “The Microstructure of the ‘Flash Crash’: Flow Toxicity, Liquidity Crashes and the Probability of Informed Trading” in The Journal of Portfolio Management, “The ‘flash crash’ of May 6th 2010 was the second largest point swing (1,010.14 points) and the biggest one-day point decline (998.5 points) in the history of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. For a few minutes, $1 trillion in market value vanished.” Report authors argued that the ‘flash crash’ was the result of the new dynamics at play in the current market structure.”

Easley, David, Lopez de Prado, Marcos M. and O’Hara, Maureen, “The Microstructure of the ‘Flash Crash’: Flow Toxicity, Liquidity Crashes and the Probability of Informed Trading.” (November 19, 2010). The Journal of Portfolio Management, Vol. 37, No. 2, pp. 118-128, Winter 2011. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1695041

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1695041

See also article was written by Heather Stewart and Simon Goodley, for The Observer on Sunday 9th October 2011 00.06 Europe/London

Credit crunch, Financial crisis, Financial sector, Banking, Global recession, Stock markets, Business, Lehman Brothers, Margaret Thatcher,

Wordspy describes lifestreaming as a way of aggregating a user’s online content. In two separate ReadWriteWeb articles MacManus (2008-01-14) and Catone (2008-02-29) describe what lifestreaming is and how to stream your on-line life using web apps. “Lifestreaming [applications] generally fall into two categories: those that help you keep track of and display your own lifestream and those that help you keep track of your friend’s lifestreams (or both). For the sake of clarity, we’ve focused mainly on the former for this list (Catone 2008-02-29).”

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Timeline of usage of the noun lifestream and related concepts

2003-07-23 “Much about parenting can be dispiriting. One is when your kids grow up and the fruit of all your stress and toil, all the theme-party torture you endured, is nary a raisin in the sun. That, my child, is why we take pictures. Incessant pictures. And video. Mind-numbing, life-streaming video. We want you to have hard evidence, suitable for a grand jury, that we cared (Young 2003-07-23).

2006-11-07 Jeremy Keith, a web developer living and working in Brighton, England posted a journal entry entitled “Streaming my life away” on his blog Adactio, his on-line home, describing how he had “mocked up my own little life stream, tracking my Twitter, Flickr, Del.icio.us, Last.fm, and blog posts. It’s a quick’n’dirty script that isn’t doing any caching. The important thing is that it’s keeping the context of the permalinks (song, link, photo, or blog post) and displaying them ordered by date and time. … You can also find me scattered across these sites: … Lifestreaming via Jaiku (Keith 2006)”

2007-02-18 Mark Krynsky summarized what was being done in the name of lifestreaming in his blog “Lifestream – Could it be the next big thing?” He included his code and listed his feeds including http://feeds.feedburner.com/Krynskycom, http://www.youtube.com/rss/user/krynsky/videos.rss, http://ws.audioscrobbler.com/1.0/user/krynsky/recenttracks.rss,
http://www.flickr.com/photos/82524306@N00/, http://www.librarything.com/rss/recent/krynsky, http://feeds.delicious.com/rss/krynsky, http://digg.com/rss/krynsky/index2.xml

2007-03-17 Mark Krynsky uploaded his first post his new blog on lifestreaming. In January 2008 he described how he had created it because he had “already felt that Lifestreaming had the right recipe for becoming something big. [He] was so intrigued by this new concept but as is the case in most early web innovation, the information and resources were spread out all over the place. [He] felt it was a great opportunity to create a hub for all this data and so the Lifestream Blog was born (Krynsky 2008-01).” ReadWriteWeb authors referred to his blog in their articles.

2007-07-22Lifestreaming, like the movie Being John Malkovich, will allow you to climb inside the head of someone and experience their day via a digital smorgasboard of public text messages, blog posts, GPS-tagged photos and (thanks to mobile broadband and tiny videocameras) a live video stream of them as they move around their world (Mulley 2007-07-22).”

2007-11-06 Wordspy uploaded their definition for the noun lifestreaming (also lifestreamer n., lifestream v., n.) a “[a]“n online record of a person’s daily activities, either via direct video feed or via aggregating the person’s online content such as blog posts, social network updates, and online photos (McFedries 2007)” based on citations of lifestreaming as used by Young (2003-07-23), Mulley (2007-07-22).” The copyright (1995 – 2008) for Wordspy is held by Paul McFedries and Logophilia Limited.

2008-01-14 Richard MacManus published an article entitled “Lifestreaming: a ReadWriteWeb Primer.” summarizing what was being done in the name of ‘lifestreams’ as defined by Wordspy (2007). ReadWriteWeb.

2008-02-29 ReadWriteWeb published Catone’s article entitled “35 Ways to Stream Your Life” in which Catone listed and reviewed the following lifestreaming [application] that help users keep track of and display their own lifestream:  Tumblr, Onaswarm, Jaiku, Lifestrea.ms, Soup.io,FriendFeed, MyBlogLog, Profilactic, iStalkr, Correlate.us, ProfileFly, Second Brain, Explode.us, liveZuu, OneSwhirl, Socialthing!, iminta, Plaxo Pulse,, Identoo, Escaloop, Hictu, Life2Front, 30Boxes, Readr, Suprglu, Where is me?, Slifeshare, MovableType ActionStreams, SimpleLife, WP Lifestream, RSS Stream, oneConnect, Facebook (?), Socialstream and Jeremy Keith’s Lifestreaming Script.

Webliography

Catone, Josh. 2008. “35 Ways to Stream Your Life.” ReadWriteWeb. February 29. (2008-02-29)

Keith, Jeremy. 2006. “Streaming my life away” Lifestreaming via Jaiku. Adactio. November 7, 2006.

Krynsky, Mark. 2007. “Lifestream – Could it be the next big thing?” >> http://krynsky.com. February 18, 2007. 

McFedries, Paul. 2007. “Lifestreaming.” Wordspy. Uploaded November 6, 2007. (2007-11-06).  

MacManus, Richard. 2008. “Lifestreaming: a ReadWriteWeb Primer.” ReadWriteWeb. Posted January 14, 2008. (2008-01-14)

Lifestreaming Comes to Yahoo! with MyBlogLog Overhaul

Mulley, Damien. 2007. “Being Damien Mulleyvitch,” Sunday Tribune. July 22, 2007.

Young, John. “Mom, Dad: take pictures,” Cox News Service. July 22, 2003.

Notes:

1. Mark Krynsky, an  Independent Internet Professional wrote this entry in “What is a Lifestream? It’s a chronological aggregated view of your life activities both online and offline. It is only limited by the content and sources that you use to define it. Mine is available here. Most people that create them choose a few sources based on sites that track our activities such as Del.icio.us (bookmarking), Last.fm (Music we listen to), Flickr (photos we take) etc…Then you can either find software to host your own, or find sites that provide a platform for you. Many people have been writing about Lifestreams and the potential value they offer for ourselves and others. Some of those people are Jeff Croft, Jeremy Keith, and Emily Chang. It appears to be a concept that is gaining quite a bit of steam. I was inspired to create a blog for the Lifestream concept after doing a little research which I wrote about on my blog. Most of the information I found was pretty scattered and there wasn’t a central repository of resources so I thought I should create one. I feel that beyond the self expression of allowing people to track their actions in a passive manner there will be many more exciting technologies that will surface from the backend data aggregation that can occur from people supplying this information. I plan on providing information on this site as it relates to Lifestreaming and related technologies in general.”

ReadWriteWeb include these categories in their menus: Products, Trends, Digital Media, Web Office, International, Events, Jobs, Archives.

Popular tags for ReadWriteWeb suggested by them are google, facebook, microsoft, amazon, yahoo, social networking, twitter, search, semantic web, mobile web, myspace, video, music, mobile, privacy, blogging, advertising, opensocial, data portability, youtube, innovation, digg, startups, rss, politics, linkedin, health, flickr, dataportability, conferences, apple, social graph, open source, obama, mp3, itunes, iphone, internet, tv, apps, api, social news, social media, OpenID, openid, kindle, ibm, citizen, journalism, web 2.0, viral, marketing, tagging.

Their Digg code is:

http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/35_lifestreamin_apps.php’;
digg_bgcolor = ‘#ffffff’;
digg_skin = ‘compact’;

I would add egostreaming to lifestreaming and other related words suggested by Wordspy which include blog, celeblog, egocasting, lifecasting, microblogging, microchannel, micro-fiction and nanopublishing.

Subject Categories suggested by Wordspy
Computers > Blogging > lifestreaming
Computers > Communications > lifestreaming
Sociology > Lifestyles > lifestreaming

I would add mashup to the list of tags suggested by ReadWriteWeb: products, lifestreaming.


Lifestreaming Comes to Yahoo! with MyBlogLog Overhaul

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Nanuq of the North II: Animal Rights vs Human Rights.” Speechless. Uploaded January 3, 2007.

Finally in December 2006 Bush blinks, but why now? The Bush administration took advantage of the way in which all eyes turn towards Santa’s North Pole, where big-eyed talking polar bears, reindeer and seals live in harmony, to announce that they would save these creatures from Nanook of the North. Is this for the environment or for votes? See story.

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Nanook (nanuq Inuktitut for polar bear) was the name of the Eskimo hunter captured on film in the first documentary ever produced, Robert Flaherty’s (1922?) Nanook of the North, — still shown in film studies survey courses. Nanook the Stone Age-20the century hunter became an international legend as a lively, humourous and skillful hunter of polar bears, seals and white fox who tried to bite into the vinyl record Flaherty had brought with him. (The real “Nanook” died of tuberculosis as did countless Inuit from small communities ravaged by one of the worst epidemic’s of tuberculosis on the planet.)

On August 13, 1942 in Walt Disney studios’ canonical animated film Bambi it was revealed that many animals with cute eyes could actually talk and therefore shared human values. Nanook and his kind became the arch enemy of three generations of urban North Americans and Europeans. Hunters were bad. Cute-eyed animals that could talk were good. Today many animals’ lives have been saved from these allegedly cruel hunters by the billion dollar cute-eyed-talking-animals-industry.

The White House has once again come to the rescue of these vulnerable at-risk animals. (There was an entire West Wing episode in which a gift of moose meat was rejected by all staff since it came from a big-eyed-talking-animal. See Ejesiak and Flynn-Burhoe (2005) for more on how the urban debates pitting animal rights against human rights impacted on the Inuit.) Who would ever have suspected that the Bush administration cared so much about the environment that they would urge an end to the polar bear hunt, already a rare phenomenon to many Inuit since their own quotas protected them?

When I lived in the north the danger for polar bears did not reside in the hearts of hunters. Nanuq the polar bear who could not talk was starving. He hung out around hamlets like Churchill, Baker Lake or Iqaluit, looking for garbage since this natural habitat was unpredicatable as the climate changed. Some people even insisted that there was no danger from the polar bear who had wandered into town since he was ’skinny.’ That did not reassure me! I would have preferred to know that he was fat, fluffly and well-fed. Polar bears die from exhaustion trying to swim along their regular hunting routes as ice floes they used to be able to depend on melted into thin air literally. They die, not because there are not enough seals but because they need platform ice in the right seasons. That platform ice is disappearing. They die with ugly massive tumours in them developed from eating char, seals and other Arctic prey whose bodies are riddled with southern toxins that have invaded the pristine, vulnerable northern ecosystem. Nanuq is dying a slow painful death. Nanuq is drowning. Although he doesn’t sing he is a canary for us all.

Climate change and southern industrial toxins affect the fragile ecosystem of the Arctic first. The Inuit claimed in 2003,“Global warming is killing us too, say Inuit .”This is why Sheila Watt-Cloutier laid a law suit against the administration of the United States of America. Now the handful of Job-like Inuit who managed to survive the seal hunt fiasco of the 1980s and are still able hunt polar bear, will have yet another barrier put between them and the ecosystem they managed and protected for millennia. When I see Baroque art and read of the Enlightenment, I think Hudson’s Bay and the whalers in the north. It wasn’t the Inuit who caused the mighty leviathan to become endangered. Just how enlightened are we, the great grandchildren of the settlers today? Who is taking care of our Other grandparents?

Since the first wave of Inuit activists flooded the Canadian research landscape fueled by their frustrations with academic Fawlty Towers they morphed intergenerational keen observation of details, habits of memory, oral traditions and determination with astute use of artefacts and archives to produce focused and forceful research. When Sheila Watt-Cloutier representing the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) was acknowledged with two awards in one year for work done to protect the environment, I wondered how many cheered her on.

I don’t cheer so much anymore. I am too overwhelmed, too hopeless to speak. I myself feel toxic, perhaps another pollutant from the south — my name is despair. I don’t want to dampen the enthusiasm of those activists who still have courage to continue. For myself, I feel like the last light of the whale-oil-lit kudlik is Flicktering and there is a blizzard outside.

Footnotes:

From wikipedia entry Sheila Watt-Cloutier

In 2002, Watt-Cloutier was elected[1][4] International Chair of ICC, a position she would hold until 2006[1]. Most recently, her work has emphasized the human face of the impacts of global climate change in the Arctic. In addition to maintaining an active speaking and media outreach schedule, she has launched the world’s first international legal action on climate change. On December 7, 2005, based on the findings of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, which projects that Inuit hunting culture may not survive the loss of sea ice and other changes projected over the coming decades, she filed a petition, along with 62 Inuit Hunters and Elders from communities across Canada and Alaska, to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, alleging that unchecked emissions of greenhouse gases from the United States have violated Inuit cultural and environmental human rights as guaranteed by the 1948 American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.[5]

Digitage elements:

Caspar David Friedrich’s (1824) The Sea of Ice
Tujjaat Resolution Island, abandoned, DEW line station DINA Northern Contaminated Sites Program (CSP) web site
My photo of ice floes in Charlottetown harbour, March 2000
A section of my acrylic painting entitled Nukara (2000)

Selected Bibliography

Eilperin, Juliet. (2006). ““U.S. Wants Polar Bears Listed as Threatened.” Washington Post Staff Writer. Wednesday, December 27, 2006; Page A01

Gertz, Emily. 2005. The Snow Must Go On. Inuit fight climate change with human-rights claim against U.S. Grist: Environmental News and Commentary. 26 Jul 2005.

The Guardian. 2003. ““Inuit to launch human rights case against the Bush Administration.”

DEW line contaminated sites in Nunavut.

www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1104241,00….

www.grist.org/news/maindish/2005/07/26/gertz-inuit/index….

This will be updated from EndNote. If you require a specific reference please leave a comment on this page.

Creative Commons Canadian Copyright 2.5 BY-NC-SA.

Benign colonialism for dummies: how to impress OECD while Canada’s First People live in Brazil-like favela. Canadian Public Policy research has been usefully challenged by seasoned journalist Atkinson Fellow Marie Wadden’s recent series which continues her research begun in 1978 in response to the hidden horrors of Canada’s Innu town, Davis Inlet. The True North strong and free has been limping for a long time.

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Neither Left nor Right, just wrong

Decades later, Wadden concerned about the elusive solutions for problems of addiction in Canadian Aboriginal continues her research by visiting remote communities to find stories that will unsettle Canadian complacent apathy, compassion fatigue and worldly-wise jaded perspectives. We just do not want to give up the adventure stories that inspired our youth of Arctic explorers in frozen, isolated, hinterland Hudson Bay posts. Perhaps her shocking series will shake our stubborn pryde in our grandfathers’ mythologies while shamefully neglecting tragic tales from our Other grandparents.
Her passion for the subject earned her the 2005 Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy and led her to a year-long, cross-country trek to look at the causes, effects and potential solutions to the addiction crisis among Aboriginals. Her series of stories — Tragedy or Triumph; Canadian Public Policy and Aboriginal Addictions — is appearing in the Star and online at thestar.com/atkinson. Wadden began her career at CBC television in Newfoundland 27 years ago and has won numerous journalism awards. The St. John’s resident is the 17th winner of the Atkinson Fellowship and the first from east of Montreal. The fellowship, sponsored by The Atkinson Charitable Foundation, the Toronto Star and the Beland Honderich family, aims to further liberal journalism in the tradition of Joseph E. Atkinson, the Star’s founder. The Atkinson Series, Tragedy or Triumph, Canadian Public Policy and Aboriginal Addictions

Seven years in a Third World military dictatorship did not prepare me for the harsh reality of the everyday lives of Canadian Inuit and First Nations. I felt shame, powerlessness and confusion stemming from years of work as insider in cultural institutions devoted to Inuit studies. It took me ten years to build heightened levels of trust so all the stories pored out. The more I learned and accepted without offering bandaid solutions, patent excuses, weak explanations or high-haded social theories, the more stories seemed to come to me. It was as if I had a pair of antennas, an open channel to a stream of unending stories each one corraborating the other. The more I learned the more I questioned so I paralleled the kitchen table accounts with deep research into footnotes of published materials, Hansards, and cross-disciplinary work. I asked more specific questions of Inuit elders and the knowers in communities. (The knowers were often Inuit women of any age who had been chosen to learn more because of their superior abilities to learn languages. Their emotional maturity, discretion and wisdom was daunting. Often stories were shared in whispers. I would never get permission to share them. Potent stories of individual personal strength, survival could not be shared because the surviving members of the perpetrators of violence and injustice were still alive. In small isolated hamlets there are systems of power in everyday life that are as imposing as those on parliament hill. This explains why a convicted sex offender can be chosen to represent a community (where family violence is extremely high — off the charts in terms of the Canadian average) in the political arena. In Third World countries there is always the hope that education and maturity, in civil society and democracy, might provide improved access to human rights for citizens. My despair, my overwhelming sense of hopelessness, became consuming as I realized that this tragedy was taking place in one of the more advanced democracies with a relatively informed civil society. I began to meticulously develop a detailed timeline of the social histories of First Nations, Inuit (and African-Canadians). I would take the stories shared by friends and students and cross-reference them with dates provided by classical ethnographers, anthropologists, art historians, museologists, geographers, geologists, administrators and Hudson Bay Company reports. I reread the entire series of Inuit Studies, Inuit Art Quarterly and realized that it was not bad research on my part that made me so shamefully unaware. The very cultural institutions on whom we depend for insight into our shared communal memories, these institutions have failed us miserably. They continue to perpetrate distorted histories insisting covertly on presenting a benign colonialism. Examine the brilliant RCAP, the most in-depth (and expensive) report, undertaken using a progressive research methodology called Participatory Action Research (PAR). It’s on-line and available for anyone! Read the section on how our institutions of public curricula were specifically called upon to reexamine distorted histories in collaboration with Inuit and First Nations communties. The do as I did and examine what these institutions have done since then. A tourist visiting Canada’s cultural institutions, either virtually or in glass, steel and stone buildings, such as the National Gallery of Canada or the Museum of Civilization, or exploring Cybermuse, will not learn of the depth of despair of First Nations and Inuit communties. They will leave perhaps learning something of the heroic status of the Hudson’s Bay Company, Inuit art cooperatives, the benefits to Inuit of entering the international art market, the exquisite aesthetics of Inuit clothing from the pre-1950s, Inuit legends shortened and deformed for consumer tastes. They will learn about the dynamic Inuit culture as if the best of the culture sank with the Nascopie. Explorers and Hudson Bay Company employees are heroized when their work should now be reviewed through the lens of the informed, intelligent generation born in the 1930s and 1940s. Remove the overt desire to portray colonialism in Canada’s north as benign, to continue to cherish histories of post WWII heroism of southerners who conquered the hinterland to benefit all Canadians. Challenge the assumptions that learning English, the market system and the northern form of Canadian democracy was beneficial in the long-run. Unsettle the assumption that the errors were in the past and we should all move on. The litany of mistakes outlined in this brilliant, moving, informed series can be complemented by a thorough reading of one of Canads’ most-difficult-to-read stories, Mistakes. Let’s ask the communal archives of memory for the answers to the questions about what really happened to Inuit-Scottish, Inuit-Danish and Inuit-Icelandic children abandoned in the 1930s, 1940, 1950s, 1960s by their fathers who returned south and built profitable careers on their heroism, adventures in Canada’s north while ignoring pleas from their former partners, and even own children abandoned to the care of small vulnerable hamlets. We no longer accept that the genetic pool of the Scottish, British, American, Danish and Icelandic improved Inuit and First Nations do we? How can we continue in 2006 to lionize those who felt pryde in their improvement of the gene pool? Is there no way that we can honour our blue eyed grandfathers without simply forgetting. We need serious, committed memory work on the level of what has been done in Post WWII Europe. The situations are in no way the same. But the revamping of our institutions of communal memory is just taking too long. In Post WWII Europe it became evident over the decades that it could not be ignored by national cultural institutions. In Canada it has been politically shrewd to use delaying tactics in our museums just as we have in land claims issues, and the dozens of other recommendations of the RCAP. Read the most recent articles by Canada’s anthropologist and you will find apologies for these institions arguing that great progress has been made. After al we do have an Algonquin canoe floating silently in the Group of Seven section of the National Gallery of Canada. Silently is the word. Speak to renowned Algonquin elder William Commanda and put his voice through a loud speaker in those galleries. Listen to him describe the starvation when tourism trade grew as southerners flocked north to enjoy the Canadian Shield. Hear his gentle, firm voice as he describes in elaborate detail how he built canoes to stave off starvation as the First Nations communities were denied access to their fishing camps which had become the land of the tourists. He speaks without rage. His voice is still powerfully spiritual. He calls for a freeing of the rivers from the damage of the dams. In the room devoted to Canadian art of the 1950s install a Stan Douglas type piece where the voices of Inuit and First Nations whose lives were irrevocably changed by the one of the worst incidence of TB on the planet speak of their grandfathers, camp leaders, fathers, the hunters, trappers and fishers buried in unmarked graves near Moose Factory’s sanitorium.

In the National Gallery of Canada’s Inuit Art section (in the basement) remind visitors that the artists whose works continue to be revered, have suffered starvation in Canada in the 1940s and 1950s, have succumbed to alcoholism, and drugs, that they have met violent deaths through suicides, murders, or in preventable house fires. How many Canadians know the other stories connected to Inuit women artists who made history when they were honoured with the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest award or the Royal Canadian Academy? One died alone in a hospital near Montreal in the 1980s, so depressed because of her linguistic isolation (she could only speak Inuktitut) that she gave away her ulu, the woman’s knife so affectionately mentioned in articles about Inuit art. Another was confused at one time when nortern officials refused food to her family during the peoriod of starvation in the 1950s. What about Canada’s most widely admired Inuit artist whose works are honoured internationally who was now ill, forced to live on city streets and was so badly beaten by police he carried a lump on his forehead for weeks. They and/or their families still live in houses where the entire contents of their fridges are a plastic bottle of ketchup and mustard. The have developed diabetes. A few have become violent and abusive. So many Inuit artists are in the Baffin Correction Centre at any given time that local people suggest a visit as part of the itinerary for Iqaluit, Nunavut’s art scene. Then let’s see some footage of the renowned Inuit elder and activist, as he describes through his son, artist and interpretor, his trip to New York or his interpretation of one of his carvings. Let’s hear him sing with tears in his eyes, the song he wrote for the homeless man on the streets of New York. Where is the strong articulate voice of Sheila Watt-Cloutier in any contemporary site claiming to represent to Inuit culture? If you do not know this name you should. She has made history. What about Paul Okalik, Peter Erniq. These are names all Canadians should know. Let’s begin with something simple: honest, inclusive timelines. Let’s contextualize stories about Inuit culture. Stop funding Inuit studies unless there is a critical component that examines issues, not as tidy sanitized disciplines that claim to be protecting Inuit art and culture from the sordid truths of everyday life. Inuit art and culture are dynamic, alive, robust. The Inuit art and culture market will survive but perhaps not by continuing to enrich southerers or those who live decades in the north, return to the south and continue to become enriched on their insider knowledge. If Inuit benefited fully from their own art production in a sustainable, equitable fashion there would be far less need of so much government intervention. There is more percapita talent in the tiny hamlet of Clyde River waiting for a venue than there is many southern cities. There is also far more youth suicide, violence against women and despair.

Footnotes:

The private Atkinson Foundation, founded in 1942 by former publisher of The Toronto Star, promotes social and economic justice in the tradition Joseph E. Atkinson. This includes the work of Armine Yalnizyan, (2000), “Inequality Rises As More Families Slide To The Bottom Of The Income Scale: Tax cuts don’t address economic reality says new report,” Centre of Social Justice, January 27, 2000 http://www.atkinsonfoundation.ca/publications/The_Great_Divide_Armine_
Yallnizyan.htm

Brazzaville’s, (la republique populaire du Congo) namesake is honoured with a marble statue. His relationship with the Congolese was unlike that of the empire builders who had carved up the African continent in the late 1800s, established concessionaires (similar to the Britain‘s HBC in Canada) plundering resources and manpower while enriching Europe.

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In Loango, R. P. Congo (also known as Congo-Brazzaville) not far from the Catholic mission, where you could still buy fresh eggs in the 1980s, is a post which is a reminder of the millions of Africans who passed by this spot. This is where they were attached before being shipped as human cargo. From the post you can see the hills with rows of trees like endless lines of people remembering, not forgetting.

A selected timeline of social history of Congo-Brazzaville

1954 The last king of the Congo built his castle at Diosso, near Pointe-Noire, now in the R. P. Congo. King Mwe Pwati III died in 1975.

1956 Césaire wrote “La Lettre à Maurice Thorez” (Letter to the Secretary General of the Communist Party) in which he broke with the Communist Party. Césaire believed he could develop a distinctly African socialism.

relationship with the Congolese was unlike that of the empire builders who had carved up the African continent in the late 1800s, established concessionaires (similar to the Britain’s HBC in Canada) plundering resources and manpower while enriching Europe.

read more | digg story

In Loango, R. P. Congo (also known as Congo-Brazzaville) not far from the Catholic mission, where you could still buy fresh eggs in the 1980s, is a post which is a reminder of the millions of Africans who passed by this spot. This is where they were attached before being shipped as human cargo. From the post you can see the hills with rows of trees like endless lines of people remembering, not forgetting.
A selected timeline of social history of Congo-Brazzaville

First inhabited by pygmies, the Congo was later settled by Bantu groups who also occupied parts of present-day Angola, Gabon, and the DRC. Several Bantu kingdoms, notably those of the Kongo, the Loango, and the Teke, built trade links along the Congo River basin. The first European contacts came in the late 15th century, and commercial relationships were quickly established with the kingdoms, trading for slaves captured in the interior. The coastal area was a major source for the transatlantic slave trade, and when that commerce ended in the early 19th century, the power of the Bantu kingdoms eroded. (ediplomat 2005)

A selected timeline of social history of Congo-Brazzaville

First inhabited by pygmies, the Congo was later settled by Bantu groups who also occupied parts of present-day Angola, Gabon, and the DRC. Several Bantu kingdoms, notably those of the Kongo, the Loango, and the Teke, built trade links along the Congo River basin. The first European contacts came in the late 15th century, and commercial relationships were quickly established with the kingdoms, trading for slaves captured in the interior. The coastal area was a major source for the transatlantic slave trade, and when that commerce ended in the early 19th century, the power of the Bantu kingdoms eroded. (ediplomat 2005)

1880s The area now known as Congo-Brazzaville came under French sovereignty .

Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, an empire builder for France, competed with agents of Belgian King Leopold’s International Congo Association (later Zaire) for control of the Congo River basin (ediplomat 2005).

1882 – 1891 France secured treaties were secured with all the main local rulers on the Congo river’s right bank. This laid the path for France to control the natural and human resources of the Congo.

1898-1930 France allowed private companies (Grandes Companies Concessionaires) to extract natural resources from Congo-Brazzaville in this period of private companies similar to the Hudson’s Bay Company in Canada. Due to public protests over the loss of tens of thousands of Congolese working for The Société de construction des Batignolles French artists including Andre Gide were influential in ending the monopoly of these private companies.

1908 France organized French Equatorial African (AEF), which comprised the colonies of Middle Congo (modern Congo), Gabon, Chad, and Oubangui-Chari (modern Central African Republic). Brazzaville was selected as the Federal capital.

1924–34 A private company under the protection of France, The Société de construction des Batignolles, built the Chemin de Fer Congo Ocean (CFCO) at a considerable human cost (over 20, 000 lives).

1927 Andre Gide published Voyage au Congo in which he criticised the French colonial administration for the loss of human lives during the construction of the Chemin de Fer Congo Ocean (1921-1934). Andre Gide described the CFCO as a “fearsome devourer of human lives.”

1928 French forces had to intervene to suppress a workers’ uprising. Up to 20,000 Africans died during the construction of the CFCO .

1940-3 French Equatorial African (AEF), (Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, Chad, Central African Republic) supported General Charles de Gaulle and provided a safe haven of him during the period when France was occupied by the Germans. Brazzaville was the capital of la France libre. The international process of decolonization traces its roots to de Gaulle’s debt to Brazzaville. Colonial empires saw their constituent nations demanding independence.

1944 The Brazzaville Conference of 1944 heralded a period of major reform in French colonial policy, including the abolition of forced labor, granting of French citizenship to colonial subjects, decentralization of certain powers, and election of local advisory assemblies.

1950 postcolonial movement. See De Gaulle in Brazzaville, capital of the France libre.

1880s The area now known as Congo-Brazzaville came under French sovereignty .

Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, an empire builder for France, competed with agents of Belgian King Leopold’s International Congo Association (later Zaire) for control of the Congo River basin (ediplomat 2005).

1882 – 1891 France secured treaties were secured with all the main local rulers on the Congo river’s right bank. This laid the path for France to control the natural and human resources of the Congo.

1898-1930 France allowed private companies (Grandes Companies Concessionaires) to extract natural resources from Congo-Brazzaville in this period of private companies similar to the Hudson’s Bay Company in Canada. Due to public protests over the loss of tens of thousands of Congolese working for The Société de construction des Batignolles French artists including Andre Gide were influential in ending the monopoly of these private companies.

1908 France organized French Equatorial African (AEF), which comprised the colonies of Middle Congo (modern Congo), Gabon, Chad, and Oubangui-Chari (modern Central African Republic). Brazzaville was selected as the Federal capital.

1924–34 A private company under the protection of France, The Société de construction des Batignolles, built the Chemin de Fer Congo Ocean (CFCO) at a considerable human cost (over 20, 000 lives).

1927 Andre Gide published Voyage au Congo in which he criticised the French colonial administration for the loss of human lives during the construction of the Chemin de Fer Congo Ocean (1921-1934). Andre Gide described the CFCO as a “fearsome devourer of human lives.”

1928 French forces had to intervene to suppress a workers’ uprising. Up to 20,000 Africans died during the construction of the CFCO .

1940-3 French Equatorial African (AEF), (Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, Chad, Central African Republic) supported General Charles de Gaulle and provided a safe haven of him during the period when France was occupied by the Germans. Brazzaville was the capital of la France libre. The international process of decolonization traces its roots to de Gaulle’s debt to Brazzaville. Colonial empires saw their constituent nations demanding independence.

1944 The Brazzaville Conference of 1944 heralded a period of major reform in French colonial policy, including the abolition of forced labor, granting of French citizenship to colonial subjects, decentralization of certain powers, and election of local advisory assemblies.

1950 postcolonial movement. See De Gaulle in Brazzaville, capital of the France libre.

1951 The Ecole de Peinture de Poto-Poto emerged in Brazzaville, Congo where artists began to produce paintings described by critics with the unflattering term the ‘Mickeys.’ The black figures they painted resembled the characters in Walt Disney movies.

1956 The Loi Cadre (Framework Law) of 1956 ended dual voting roles and provided for partial self-government for the individual overseas territories. Colonial administration expanded particularly in Congo-Brazzaville, the capital of the French Equatorial African (AEF). Administrative buildings were constructed and French colonial infrastructure grew.

1958 French President de Gaulle returned to Africa and declared, “L’independence, quiconque la voudra pourra la prendre aussitot.”

1960 Decolonisation of Africa began and the criticism of la Négritude began. Congo-Brazzaville was the first African country to gain independence. Political leaders of newly liberated African countries during the postcolonial period accepted modernist development policies that stressed economic growth.

1960 The first President of the newly independent Congo Republic was a former Catholic priest, Fulbert Youlou. The AEF was dissolved in 1958 and its four territories became autonomous members of the French community, and Middle Congo was renamed the Congo Republic. Formal independence was granted to the new country in August 1960. With the exception of Senegal, no country in Africa had a more developed educational system at the time of independence than the Congo.

1963 President Fulbert Youlou was overthrown in a 3-day popular uprising (Les Trois Glorieuses) led by labor elements and joined by rival political parties.

1967-1977 Marion Ngouabi was the President of the R. P. Congo the first African country to adhere to communism. He advocated a scientific socialism. He was assassinated in 1977 and is considered to be a martyr by many Congolese.

1968 Aimé Césaire began to focus on theatre in the 1960s in an effort to reach more people. His plays such as La Tragédie du Roi Christophe (1963), Une Saison au Congo and Une Tempête (1968 ) were more political than his earlier work. He argued that words used creatively could change the world Une Tempête was an original adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

1968 Major Ngouabi assumed the presidency on December 31, 1968 after he and other army officers toppled the government in a coup. One year later President Ngouabi proclaimed the Congo to be Africa’s first “people’s republic” and announced the decision of the National Revolutionary Movement to change its name to the Congolese Labor Party (PCT).

1967-1977 Marion Ngouabi, President of the R. P. Congo the first African country to adhere to communism, a scientific socialism. He was assassinated and is is considered to be a martyr by many Congolese.

1976 The number of refugees in the world was 2.7 million (Doctors Without Borders (MSF) .

1979 Colonel Denis Sassou-Nguesso first became interim President after the assassination of both President Ngouabi and Archbishop Biayenda. Both murders have never been solved. Denis Sassou-Nguesso continued as President until 1991.

1980s United States raised interest rates on national and foreign debt to protect its own economy. The US economy had supposedly suffered because of instabilities in the price of oil. Countries — like Congo-Brazzaville, one of the most heavily indebted countries per capita in the world, found themselves constrained by unmanageable payments of raised interest rates. With its economy paralyzed by the debt burden, Congo like Brazil and many other developing nations were forced to go to the International Monetary Fund for emergency funds. The government has negotiated an Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF insisted on deep, drastic cuts into basic social services, such as health and education, as a condition of the emergency loans. Structural reform conditions also include civil service downsizing, customs and tax reforms, and measures to promote private sector development. Currently the Congo is working hard to meet its obligations to the IMF concerning transparency in the oil sector. Congo-Brazzaville still struggles to qualify for Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) status. French oil company Elf Congo, the Italian oil company AGIP along with Americans made enormous profits during the petroleum boom years in the Congo.

1989 The fall of the Berlin Wall.

1991 Congo’s National Conference called for a multiparty democracy ending the one-party Marxist rule.

1992 Sassou-Nguesso conceded defeat to Professor Pascal Lissouba after multiparty presidential elections.

1993 Nearly a million acres of land in the north of the Republic of Congo became Nouabale-Ndoki National Park—one of the most significant tropical forest preserves in the world.

Structural reform efforts include civil service downsizing, customs and tax reforms, and measures to promote private sector development. The government has negotiated an Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Currently the Congo is working hard to meet its obligations to the IMF concerning transparency in the oil sector. It is also working to qualify for HIPC status.

1996 The number of refugees in the world was 2.7 million Doctors Without Borders (MSF)

1997 President Lissouba used private militia to attack the private militia of former President Sassou in a pre-emptive strike setting off a a highly destructive Civil War. With the support of the Angolan army Sassou was victorious.

1998 In Brazzaville, La republique populaire du Congo rebel fighting between rebel forces and the military-style government army has generated massive and blind atrocities against civilian populations. The resulting widespread violence perpetrated by the parties at war affects the entire civilian population. Arbitrary executions, mutilations, rapes, and disappearances illustrate the arbitrary character of the violence perpetrated against the civilians. In December 1998, more than 250,000 people fled to Brazzzaville because of the fighting, to seek refuge in the tropical forests of the “Pool,” a region south of the city. However, they found themselves caught up in the middle of the fighting, de facto hostages of the “Ninjas” ( the rebel militias). Victims of indiscriminate violence, they have had no access to food or medical care, and could not benefit from any exterior help. Furthermore, the ones who survived and managed to come back to Brazzaville are now the victims of indiscriminate attacks from the government army and militias (the “Cobras”). Doctors Without Borders (MSF), (1999), “Congo Brazzaville: Chronicle of a Forgotten War,” A Special Doctors Without Borders Report, October.

1999 Doctors Without Borders (MSF) witnessed tens of thousands of starving civilians returning to the Brazzaville, La republique populaire du Congo, exhausted after several months spent wandering in the forest. Refugees in Congo-Brazzaville were facing an unprecedented nutritional and medical crisis. No party in the conflict had taken significant steps to prevent the violence against civilians. This lack of action clearly shows their indifference to the fate of the civilian population. Given the gravity of the situation, the silence and indifference of the international community is unbearable. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) volunteers have been present in Brazzaville since April 1999, implementing medical and nutritional programs. Doctors Without Borders (MSF), (1999), “Congo Brazzaville: Chronicle of a Forgotten War” A Special Doctors Without Borders Report, October.

2001 Embassy operations were resumed in 2001, though American staff continue to be assigned officially to Kinshasa and travel to Brazzaville on temporary duty (TDY).

2003 A peace accord was signed with rebel armed forces, called the “Ninjas” based in the Pool region, just west of Brazzaville, and the situation was described by the diplomatic community as calm.

2004 David Morley of Médecins Sans Frontières, Canada wrote this disturbing description of the forgotten Congolese in his “Letters from the field”. Contrast this with the diplomatic report

2005 This report intended for US diplomats planning on work in Brazzaville, Congo was posted as an ediplomat Report.

2006 The World Bank Group posted this press release on August 22, 2006 Congo-Brazzaville: A sensitization campaign brings together parliamentarians and local communities

In the Republic of Congo, the first phase of the sensitization campaign for the upcoming National Program for Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (PNDDR) will soon be complete. Conducted through a series of conferences and debates, the campaign has aimed to increase the knowledge of the program among the government, civil society and the people of Congo. The PNDDR, once it starts, will aim to reintegrate an estimated 30,000 ex-combatants with the support of the Multi-Country Demobilization and Reintegration Program (MDRP).

Selected Bibliography

Brown, ‘Testing the Boundaries’ pp. 62-4 39

Coquerie-Vidrovitch, C., 1972. Le Congo au Temps des Grandes Companies Concessionaires 1898-1930, Mouton, Paris.

ediplomat. 2005 “Congo – Brazzaville The Host Country,” Post Reports ediplomat Report, http://www.ediplomat.com/np/post_reports/pr_cg.htm

Gide, Andre. 1927 Voyage au Congo

Gide, Andre. 1962. Travels in the Congo, University of California Press. Berkeley.

Hochschild, Adam. 1999. King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa, Houghton and Mifflin: Boston.

Morley, David. 2004. “Letters from the field,” International Herald Tribune, February 13, 2004.

NB )( ) ( = technical error in wordpress.com which automatically generates a smiley icon, called firing an icon)

8 ) or (1968) or 8)

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