Monday, January 25, 2010

150,000 Bodies Buried in Haiti; Death Toll Could Top 300,000


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via Main RSS Feed by , Democracy Now! on 1/25/10

Haiti Communications Minister: "Nobody knows how many bodies are buried in the rubble."


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IAEA Sends Much-Needed X-Ray Machines to Haiti


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via (title unknown) by Matthew Cordell on 1/25/10

Beyond acting as the world's nuclear watchdog, the IAEA also fosters "the role of nuclear science and technology in sustainable development" and also, apparently, in emergency assistance. How cool is that?

If that headline strikes you as surprising, you are not alone.  I, for one, thought that the IAEA had enough on its plate acting as the world's nuclear watchdog, but, it turns out, they also run a "Department of Technical Cooperation," which fosters "the role of nuclear science and technology in sustainable development." How cool?

Just a taste of some recent projects:


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The best way nobody’s talking about to help Haitians


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via Aid Watch by Guest Blogger on 1/24/10

The following post is by Michael Clemens, a research fellow at the Center for Global Development in Washington, DC, and an affiliated associate professor of public policy at Georgetown University.

The U.S. coast guard interdicts a boat of Haitians on the high seas, 2004

The earthquake two weeks ago hit Haiti hard because Haiti is poor. The rich U.S. had similar earthquakes with far less carnage. So, what would do the most to lift Haitians out of poverty?

Start here: What has done the most, to date, to lift Haitians out of poverty? That answer is easy. Leaving Haiti brought more Haitians out of poverty than anything else that has ever been tried: any aid project in Haiti, or any trade preference for Haiti. See my note and video posted the day before Haiti's catastrophe.

Of all the Haitians who live either in the United States or Haiti, and who live on more than $10 per day—at U.S. prices, adjusted for the fact that things are cheaper in Haiti—how many live in the U.S.? (That's a barebones poverty standard, just one third of the U.S. "poverty line" for a single adult.)

82 Percent of Haitians above this poverty line are here in the United States. (I calculate this with Lant Pritchett here, ungated version here.) Only the top 1.4 percent of people in Haiti had that living standard even before the quake, and there is no evidence that Haitian emigrants come primarily from the extreme tip-top of the income distribution. So for most of Haitians who left, leaving Haiti was the cause of leaving poverty.

The Obama administration decided that for the next 18 months it will not deport any Haitian. But the U.S. has only been deporting about 1,000 Haitians per year recently. More importantly, the U.S. has forcibly stopped and repatriated about 5,000 Haitians per year for the past 20 years—people who never made it to the U.S. And this policy surely deterred thousands more each year from even trying. When Gallup asked people in Haiti last year if they would leave permanently if given the opportunity, 52 percent said yes. The U.S. is actively blocking the most effective poverty reduction strategy for Haitians.

When I talk about leaving Haiti as a development strategy for Haitians, some thoughtful people argue that this "can't be the solution for Haiti." Compared to what we all wish for in Haiti—rapid emergence from poverty for everyone there, in their homeland—leaving Haiti is a terrible solution. But compared to what is actually likely to happen in Haiti, continued poverty for decades at least, leaving Haiti is the principal solution to poverty. This is the right comparison, not the comparison to a prosperous Haiti that must remain a fantasy for now.

The best thing the United States could do for Haitians would be to let them in, either temporarily or permanently. We are now accepting about 21,000 permanent Haitian immigrants per year, and just a few hundred temporary workers per year. If we really wanted to raise Haitians out of destitution, we could absorb many times more than this. To say that we shouldn't because it wouldn't be the end-all solution is like saying that a lifeboat shouldn't fill its ten empty seats just because there are 100 people in the water.


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Edwidge Danticat: Haiti, the earthquake, and my family.


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via Politics by Edwidge Danticat on 1/24/10

My cousin Maxo has died. The house that I called home during my visits to Haiti collapsed on top of him. Maxo was born on November 4, 1948, after three days of agonizing labor. "I felt," my Aunt Denise used to say, "as though I spent all . . .


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Bill Clinton for President……..of Haiti?


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via Aid Watch by William Easterly on 1/24/10

The Economist leader on Haiti:

 investment {should}  be targeted on infrastructure, basic services and combating soil erosion to make farmers more productive and the country less vulnerable to hurricanes.

The pressing question is who should do it and how. Haiti's government is in no position to take charge, yet the country needs a strong government to put it to rights. Paul Collier, a development economist who worked on the plan, reckons that the answer is to set up a temporary development authority with wide powers to act.

Given the local vacuum of power, this is the best idea around. The authority should be set up under the auspices of the UN or of an ad hoc group (the United States, Canada, the European Union and Brazil, for example). It should be led by a suitable outsider (Bill Clinton, who is the UN's special envoy for Haiti, would be ideal…

If this doesn't strike you as misguided on too many levels to count, then … I give up.


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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Telethon: “We’ve seen the earth quake but the soul of the Haitian people it ...


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via Aid Watch by William Easterly on 1/23/10

You might expect a certain critic of celebrity-aid to make fun of the Haitian telethon last night.

And there were indeed some cringe-inducing moments in this 4-minute video summary I just watched.

But it's a little-known dark secret that crotchety skeptics often have a sentimental streak.  So what's really wrong about some well-meaning gushy-anthem-belting megastars raising money for some currently very needy people?

I just hope that some day we will get to the point where there will also be an anthem about accountability. Here's some lyrics by an anonymous contributor, for which I take no responsibility:

So clear the fogs/Listen to the blogs/Don't just throw dollars out the door/Make sure them reaches the poor.


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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Media Disaster: In Haiti, Words Can Kill


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via Main RSS Feed by Rebecca Solnit, on 1/22/10

Why call the victims of a devastating earthquake looters? How about: "Resourceful survivors salvage the means of sustaining life from the ruins of their world."


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Haiti after the earthquake.


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via Slate Magazine by Michael Deibert on 1/22/10

PETIT-GOÂVE, Haiti—They work all day under the blazing sun, hammers and saws in hand, pulling down the last remnants of a structure that had served as the crowning jewel for this once-picturesque town set along the glittering Caribbean Sea.Numbering about two dozen, the men are tearing down what little remains of the town's storied Église Notre Dame, which once loomed over the city in gleaming blue-and-white relief. Now, only its foundation and the altar remain.Along with the capital, Petit-Goâve, some 45 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, was perhaps the most thoroughly devastated municipality in the country after the Jan. 12 earthquake.As well as the church, the state telephone company building, the mayor's office, a hotel, and scores of houses—all with people still inside—were leveled by the tremor. Dangerous, yawning fissures opened up along the road into town"This church was here for a long time, for 208 years," said 67-year-old Nathan Leger, pausing as hammers echoed in the background and men milled about wearing surgical masks to protect them from particles of dust and human decay. "It's a catastrophe. We will not have something like this again."The church collapsed within seconds, burying market women, passers-by, and people who had paused to rest in its shade. Residents estimate that at least 350 died in the town, which was playing host to three large meetings on the day of the quake.Once, it was known for its particularly fine collection of Haitian "gingerbread" wooden architecture, as well as for its sweet tricolored candy, douce marcosse. Now, Petit-Goâve presents a face of utter destruction, its streets choked with the debris of collapsed buildings. The town was further traumatized by a 6.1 aftershock Wednesday morning, which caused even more damage"We were injured, we were hit hard, and now we are sleeping in the street," says Andre Zanmi, a white-haired woman camped out in the middle of Rue Faustin with a dozen members of her family, some of whom bear deep cuts and gashes that have yet to receive medical attention.Sitting in front of a house with half its roof collapsed, the family has strung a blanket between two trees to provide some cover.Like most people in town, Zanmi said that other than patrols by a Sri Lankan contingent of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti—which itself lost its top command when the organization's Port-au-Prince headquarters was destroyed—they have yet to receive any outside help.By late in the week, though, help appeared to be on its way. In a clearing in the town of Carrefour Dufort, near Petit-Goâve, members of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, based in Camp Lejeune, N.C., were distributing food aid by helicopter."It's just good to be able to be here to help," Sgt. Claude Barthold, who was born in the Haitian capital, told me. "But it's overwhelming what you see here."On Thursday, the Red Cross also announced that it had opened two first-aid posts in Petit-Goâve, staffed by Haitian Red Cross volunteers.The earthquake has been a brutal blow for this historically significant community, which was the birthplace of one of Haiti's most important leaders, Faustin Soulouque. The son of African-born slaves, Soulouque climbed through the ranks of the post-independence military before being elected president by a Senate vote in 1847. (Building up an irregular network of armed partisans called zinglins, Soulouque's modus operandi served as a precursor to the creation of the feared Tonton Macoutes paramilitary force of Haitian dictator Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier a century later, as well as that of the chimères, the armed youth groups with which President Jean-Bertrand Aristide sought, unsuccessfully, to cling to power.)After two unsuccessful invasions of neighboring Dominican Republic in search of loot he could use to pay the onerous 150 million franc "debt" that former colonial power France demanded in exchange for Haiti's hard-won independence, Soulouque was overthrown in 1859 and died in exile, the melancholy fate of so many of Haiti's leaders.In more recent years, Petit-Goâve was the site of one of the first major demonstrations against the Aristide government in December 2001, when the funeral of a local journalist, Brignol Lindor, murdered by Aristide partisans, was fired on by police and flared into a major disturbance.Now, though, residents are literally picking up the pieces of a shattered way of life."Only God knows why this happened," Robert Henry Etienne told me as he walked the dusty streets with a notebook in hand, carefully cataloging every ruined and damaged structure in meticulous handwriting in the hope that they might one day be rebuilt. "But we need the international community to help the Haitian people, who are sleeping on the streets. We need help, from whatever country in the world."

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Haiti - Port-au-Prince - Dominican Republic - Jean-Bertrand Aristide - Tonton Macoute


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How the United States and the United Nations Are Cooperating in Haiti


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via (title unknown) by Mark Leon Goldberg on 1/22/10

UN Dispatch obtains the "Memorandum of Understanding" between the United States and the United Nations regarding Haiti relief efforts.

Earlier today, the United States formally entered into an agreement with the United Nations on a division of responsibilities in Haiti.  The "Memorandum of Understanding," obtained by UN Dispatch, enumerates the tole of a U.S.


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Israeli Military Being Celebrated For Work In Haiti, But What About The Suff...


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via Main RSS Feed by Jerrold Kessel, Pierre Klochendler, IPS News on 1/22/10

Israel's President Shimon Peres recently referred to the Israeli Defense Forces as the "Israeli forces for saving mankind."


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Haiti Earthquake PSA


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via (title unknown) by Mark Leon Goldberg on 1/22/10

A Haiti earthquake PSA from the UN Foundation, "Help the UN Help Haiti."

A Haiti earthquake PSA from the UN Foundation.


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Friday, January 22, 2010

Prices in Haiti on the Rise While the Population Starves


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via Main RSS Feed by Garry Pierre-Pierre, New America Media on 1/22/10

A gallon of cooking oil that cost $10 only days ago now fetches US$20. What will they cost tomorrow? No one knows.


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