Monday, April 26, 2010

Jets' new O-lineman has fairy-tale story

By Rich Cimini
Special to

 AP Photo/Steven Senne
  Vladimir Ducasse knew nothing about football growing up in Haiti; now he's in the NFL

Vladimir Ducasse
It was like a scene out of "The Blind Side," the man-among-boys lineman -- a football neophyte -- turning heads with a gesture that defied gladiatorial etiquette.
He acted gentlemanly toward an opponent.

Vladimir Ducasse has come a long way from Haiti.
This was back at Stamford (Conn.) High School, Vladimir Ducasse's first game for the varsity, his first football game in … well, ever. The 6-foot-3,      275-pound
 junior pancaked a defender and did something that caused a ripple of laughter among spectators and fellow players.
"He was so raw," Stamford coach Kevin Jones said, "that he knocked a kid over and actually apologized and picked him back up."
Ducasse was new to the game -- new to the United States -- but he learned quickly. He got bigger, stronger, faster and became a dominant left tackle at UMass. On Thursday, he will report to the Jets' rookie minicamp, the next big step in an amazing journey that began in Haiti. He will have an opportunity to replace jettisoned left guard Alan Faneca, one of the decade's most decorated players.
Actually, this story might be too farfetched for Hollywood.
"With what he's been through," GM Mike Tannenbaum said of his second-round draft pick, "you'd never bet against him."
This story was born on the Fourth of July, 2002, when Ducasse and his brother, MacArthur, arrived in Miami from Haiti. Things got so crazy in his homeland, with street violence and civil unrest, that his father, Delinois, sent his two boys to America for better educational opportunities.
Vladimir was only 15, and didn't speak English, but he made his way to an aunt and uncle in Stamford, which became his home. Lezanoro and Virginia Ducasse became his guardians. He showed up at the high school and word spread quickly among the football players.
"Kids ran to my office and said, 'Coach, you have to see this kid who just moved here,'" Jones recalled. "It took me a while to find him, but I got him on the field and he decided to play. Everybody else was going through tryouts. I looked at him and I said, 'You made the team, son.'"
It was Football 101. In Haiti, Ducasse played soccer and basketball. Football was so foreign to him that he needed instructions when he put on his uniform for the first time. As Jones said, "We were starting at zero." Until he arrived in the U.S., Ducasse had never seen football, much less played it. Learning the basics, such as the three-point stance, became an adventure.
But Ducasse fell hard for the game, showing up at his coach's office at 6:30 a.m. every day in the summer to lift weights and study the nuances of the sport. He made it like a job, spending eight hours a day with Jones.
"Once I got the helmet and pads on and started hitting people, I started to like it a lot," Ducasse said.

Ducasse is a man of few words, but he could write a book with everything he has seen in his life. He's still haunted by the image of his father being robbed at gunpoint on a street in Port-Au-Prince. He was 12 when that happened, watching from the car in horror.
It was a hard place to grow up. As a boy, he routinely heard gunfire from his bedroom, the sound of street gangs up to no good. Some children get lullabies when they go to bed; Ducasse got "Boyz n the Hood." His father, an accountant, made the decision to send Vladimir and MacArthur to the U.S. It was hard, yet so easy to make them go.
Fittingly, Delinois was with Vladimir on Friday night when his son was drafted by the Jets. They were at a steakhouse in Connecticut, a long way from earthquake-ravaged Haiti. (No one from Ducasse's family was injured during the devastating quake.) It was quite a draft-night celebration. Jones was there, too, and he choked up as he described the emotions of the night and the past few years.
"It was," he said, his voice cracking, "a good night."
Now the euphoria is over, and Ducasse has to get down to business. The Jets expect big things out of him, hoping he can make a successful jump from the Colonial Athletic Association to the NFL -- a huge leap. He and Matt Slauson, a second-year backup, will compete for Faneca's old job in training camp.
Ducasse is considered an outstanding drive-blocker, but he could struggle in pass protection. At the Senior Bowl, where he was exposed to major-college defensive linemen, he got off to a bad start in the pregame practice sessions. But he settled down, allaying concerns about the jump in competition.
"He's a tough guy," said Joey Clinkscales, the Jets' vice president of college scouting. "He plays with an attitude if you've watched him play."
Here's a safe bet: You probably won't see him apologizing to his next pancake victim.
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Please keep on helping!!!

By Robin Givhan
MEXICO CITY -- First lady Michelle Obama arrived in Haiti on Tuesday morning on an unannounced humanitarian mission.

Accompanied by Jill Biden, wife of the vice president, Obama is making a one-day stop in Port-au-Prince en route to Mexico City, where she is scheduled to launch an international campaign encouraging young people to become actively involved in their communities.

The visit to the Haitian capital, which was virtually destroyed by a magnitude-7.0 earthquake in January, will give the first lady an opportunity to extend a caring hand to the Haitian people and to draw attention to their dire circumstances.

The trip is also intended to emphasize "the enduring U.S. commitment to help Haiti recover and rebuild," according to a White House statement. The two high-profile emissaries will also "thank the women and men across the whole of the U.S. government for their extraordinary efforts in Haiti during the past three months. They will also reach out to the UN and international relief communities in recognition of the truly global effort underway to help Haiti."
Obama and Biden toured the Haitian capital by helicopter, getting a bird's-eye view of the battered landscape where more than a million people are homeless -- many living under tarps and in tents. Obama and Biden also met with Haitian President Rene Preval and his wife, Elisabeth Delatour Preval.
Speaking with Elisabeth Preval, Obama described her first impressions: "It's powerful," she said. "The devastation is definitely powerful."
Obama and Biden arrived in Haiti at a time when aid workers and local officials are particularly concerned about how displaced residents will survive as the rainy season begins and hurricanes become more likely.

Obama follows in a long line of previous first ladies -- Eleanor Roosevelt to Laura Bush -- who have served as goodwill ambassadors and voices of solace to those in need.
The stopover in Haiti was organized in conjunction with Obama's Mexico trip -- which is her first time as a solo act on the world stage. The visit to Haiti was not publicly announced until the last minute for security reasons, in particular, crowd control.
For more photos from Obama's trip, click here.

By Robin Givhan  |  April 13, 2010; 12:05 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Haiti's Declaration of Independence Found in British Archives

 07 April 2010                                                                                                         Jennifer Glasse | London

The only known copy of Haiti's Declaration of Independence has been discovered by a Canadian graduate student in Britain's National Archives. In the 1950s historians tried and failed to find the declaration for Haiti's 150th anniversary.

On January 1, 1804, former slaves proclaimed the independence of their country Saint-Domingue from France, declaring the new nation be named Haïti. Though it was known that documents declaring the country's emancipation were printed, none had ever been found.

That's until a Canadian graduate student tracked it down recently, tucked away in Britain's National Archives.

Duke University graduate student Julia Gaffield was doing research in France and in Haiti, and found reference to a printed declaration in a Jamaican library. Jamaica was then a British Colony, so she came here to London, to search the British archives.

"I didn't quite expect to find it because, you know, obviously there have been no copies anywhere else, but I knew there was a chance and I guess I was just hoping," she said.

When she turned the pages in the bound letter book that held documents from 1804 she found a cover letter from the governor of Jamaica and Haiti's Declaration of Independence.

"I was slightly surprised by what it looked like because it was in pamphlet form rather than a large proclamation that would be posted up in a public space, so you know it's this very grandiose and spectacular document, but the presentation of it was kind of underwhelming I guess," she said.

Historian Alex von Tunzelmann says the discovery is important because it gives a look into the only country in the Western Hemisphere where slaves successfully revolted to gain national independence.

"This was a slave colony that had risen up and defeated the white colonial rule and then become independent, the first real successful really slave revolt in history," he explained.

Gaffield says it set a precedent. "It is the second declaration of independence ever issued and in a way set the standard for what would come," she said. "The American declaration was the first, but since Haiti followed suit it then became the typical thing you do when you become independent, you issue an official declaration of independence."

The seven-page document is in French and starts with the words Liberty or Death, echoing the battle cry of the American Revolution, "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death." It concludes by asking the people of Haiti to take an oath to "live free or die, to uphold the independence of Haiti until their last breaths."

While historians had already known the contents of the document, Gaffield says it was still moving.

"It's an emotional document, it's a poetic document," she stated. "I often think of it as a call to arms and an expression of the fact that the fight for independence was not over yet."

Gaffield says one measure of success of that fight is that Haiti exists today. In the wake of the country's devastating earthquake In January, she says finding this document is even more special.

"So much has been lost in Haiti right now and it's a wonderful feeling to be able give something back," she said. "And to remind Haitians and the world that Haiti has a pretty great history that was very powerful and world changing."

Gaffield is a couple of years from finishing her doctoral dissertation that led her to find Haiti's Declaration of Independence. She says there could still be a lot of documents about the country's history yet to be found.


How warm is it?

Warm temperature, ranging year-round from 70-93° F in the coastal regions, and 50-75 in the mountainous areas; rainy seasons are April-May and August-October.

Enjoy the music!

You might be going through some tough time and you feel like you can not take it anymore. Remember there is a friend who cares and his name is Jesus. He says cast all your care upon him for he caress for you. He will give you rest! The road might be treacherous, nevertheless, don't ever give up!

It is time...

Time does not stand still. So, Make the best use of it!