Friday, January 15, 2010

Google's relief efforts for Haiti earthquake victims

Free Google Voice Calls to Haiti
To help US families reach relatives in Haiti, for the next two weeks, Google Voice is offering free calls to Haiti.
If you don't have a Google Voice account, you can request an invitation at

George Packer: On rebuilding Haiti.


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via The New Yorker by George Packer on 1/14/10

The night after the earthquake, Haitians who had lost their homes, or who feared that their houses might collapse, slept outdoors, in the streets and parks of Port-au-Prince. In Place Saint-Pierre, across the street from the Kinam Hotel, in the suburb of PĂ©tionville, hundreds of . . .


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David Brooks Wants to Know Why Haiti is Poor


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via (title unknown) by Alanna Shaikh on 1/15/10

David Brooks starts out strong in an NYT article asking why Haiti is so poor. Unfortunately, things go downhill rapidly.

David Brooks starts out strong in a New York Times editorial asking why Haiti is so poor. He makes the very good point that development economics has remarkably few consistent ideas on how to bring about growth. Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worse a couple of paragraphs later. He ends the piece blaming voodoo and Haitian culture for the nation's ongoing poverty and his recommendation for change is "paternalism."



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Another Christian A**Hole Says Haiti Earthquake May Be God's Wrath


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via Main RSS Feed by Tana Ganeva, AlterNet on 1/15/10

We don't use A**hole lightly.


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Fox News Has No Idea How to Cover the Crisis in Haiti


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via Main RSS Feed by Eric Boehlert, Media Matters for America on 1/15/10

Without an RNC, Obama-hating talking point to guide the newsroom, Fox News seems clearly adrift.


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Special Briefing Skipper: Hillary Clinton headed to Haiti


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via The Cable by Josh Rogin on 1/15/10

In which we scour the transcript of the State Department's daily presser so you don't have to. Here are the highlights of Friday's briefing by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

  • Clinton will travel to Haiti with USAID administrator Rajiv Shah Saturday to meet with President Preval, other members of the Haitian government, and leaders of the U.S. government team on the ground
  • "We will also be conveying very       directly and personally to the Haitian people our long-term, unwavering support, solidarity and sympathies, to reinforce President Obama's message yesterday that they are not facing this crisis alone," she said.
  • Clinton will be taking in some supplies and people to leave there and returning with some people who want to be evacuated, she said.
  • She has spoken with a number of foreign ministers and all have pledged to help. There will probably be an international donors conference, organized by the UN, but "We have to get through this first initial period," she said.
  • Clinton expressed appreciation that Cuba decided to open up its airspace to allow relief flights to cross their territory.
  • As part of her effort not to use up relief assets, she won't be leaving the airport area. The Haitains signed a memorandum of understanding granting the U.S. control of the airport area for the time being.           
  • State has raised over $10 million from over $1 million separate donors through its SMS texting Haiti relief campaign. "Please keep texting "HAITI," H-A-I-T-I to 90999, where $10 will be charged to your cellphone," she said.
  • Americans can search for information on family and friends in Haiti by using the new people finder at



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UNICEF responds to Haitian earthquake


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via The Cable by Josh Rogin on 1/15/10

This story was provided to The Cable by UNICEF to accompany the above video, which shows footage of the UNICEF rescue mission there. UNICEF has created a Haiti children's relief fund at

The headquarters of the United Nations (UN) Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) in Port-au-Prince sustained serious damage along with other UN installations, following a 7.0-magnitude quake that struck Haiti yesterday shortly before 5 p.m. local time.

At least 150 UN staff are missing including the mission chief, Hedi Annabi and his deputy special representative Luiz Carlos da Costa.

Troops, mostly from Brazil, serving with the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti ( MINUSTAH ) have been working through the night to reach those trapped under the rubble, and several badly injured people have been rescued and transported to the mission's logistics base which remains intact.

Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, told journalists today that fewer than ten UN staff were pulled out of the collapsed Christopher Hotel, with some of them confirmed to have died.

Buildings and infrastructure in Port-au-Prince suffered extensive damage, while basic services, including water and electricity are near the brink of collapse. The full extent of casualties is still unknown.

MINUSTAH was set up in 2004 and currently has more than 9,000 military and police personnel and nearly 2,000 civilian staff. Some 3,000 of the mission's troops and police are in and around Port-au-Prince, and will help to maintain order and assist in relief efforts. They have also started to clear some of the capital's main roads to allow aid and rescuers to reach those in need.


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Special PSA: Resources for Friends and Family of UN's Haiti Staff


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via (title unknown) by Mark Leon Goldberg on 1/15/10

The United Nations has launched two social networking sites to keep friends, families and colleagues of UN staff in Haiti up to date on the latest news.

The United Nations Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support have launched two social networking sites to keep friends, families and colleagues of UN staff in Haiti up to date on the latest news.

-Facebook page DPKO Support Page for UN Staff in Haiti contains the latest UN announcements, news reports, resource contacts and a capacity to receive questions from those concerned about the welfare of UN staff in Haiti. The site also contains links to all UN recovery efforts underway in Haiti.


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If The World Can Mobilize Like This for Haiti, Why Not for Sexual Violence i...


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via (title unknown) by Peter Daou on 1/15/10

Suffering is suffering. We should act decisively and immediately no matter if the cause if man made or a natural disaster.

On Tuesday evening, I received a short email from Mark.  The message was this:

"massive, 7.0 earthquake in Haiti. really, really devastating"

Mark is an even-tempered and measured guy and I knew that he wouldn't exaggerate the severity of the situation.

In the days since the quake struck, I've tried, like so many millions of people, to do as much as possible to raise awareness, donate money, and help the victims of the Haiti catastrophe.


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Tensions Mount in Devastated Capital as Nations Step Up Aid Pledges to Haiti


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via NYT > United Nations by By MARC LACEY on 1/14/10

Signs of tension and urgency were growing in the devastated capital as the police and government had all but vanished.


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UN will hand out 6,000 tons of food in Haiti immediately, calls reports of looting overblown

UN will hand out 6,000 tons of food in Haiti immediately, calls reports of looting overblown
GENEVA — Some 6,000 tons of food aid will be distributed shortly in Haiti, a U.N. spokeswoman said Friday, adding that reports that U.N. warehouses in Haiti had been looted were overblown.
Officials checked four U.N. food agency warehouses in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince on Friday after receiving reports from local partners of looting, said Emilia Casella, a World Food Program spokeswoman.
"The food is there," Casella told The Associated Press. "They are also working on getting a peacekeeper contingent to secure the locations."
Casella said 6,000 tons of food stored were found in a damaged warehouse near the capital's Cite Soleil slum, and the biscuits, ready-to-eat meals and other supplies would be handed out shortly. That is 40 per cent of the U.N.'s pre-quake food stocks of 15,000 tons in Haiti.
There are six other U.N. warehouses outside the capital, and there were no reports of looting at those, Casella said.
Distributing food and clean water to hungry and thirsty quake survivors is the top challenge of the early relief effort. Looting, bad roads, a ruined port, an overwhelmed Port-au-Prince airport and fears of violence has meant most Haitians have received no help three days after Tuesday's 7.0-magnitude quake.
Casella earlier said regular food stores in the capital "have been cleaned out" by desperate Haitians since the 7-magnitude quake Tuesday killed thousands and left countless more buried under the rubble.
Casella said her agency was working to collect enough ready-to-eat meals to feed 2 million Haitians for a month, and the U.N. was planning to ask governments later Friday for $550 million in humanitarian pledges for the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation.
"The physical destruction is so great that physically getting from point A to B with the supplies is not an easy task," Casella told a news conference. "Pictures can get out instantly ... and that's important because the world needs to know. But getting physically tons and tons of equipment and food and water is not as instant as Twitter or Skype or 24-hour television news."
The international community has already donated hundreds of millions of dollars and sent in the first of hundreds of doctors, engineers, soldiers and aid workers.
But the U.N. and others still hadn't figured out how to deliver assistance through broken roads and crumpled buildings, with little machinery to clear the mess. They are also contending with masses of people gathered in Port-au-Prince's streets, few working phones and a massive influx of goods and personnel without an organized plan.
U.N. humanitarian spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said peacekeepers were maintaining security in Haiti, despite the challenges.
"It's tense but they can cope," Byrs said. "People who have not been eating or drinking for almost 50 hours and are already in a very poor situation, if they see a truck with something ... or if they see a supermarket which has collapsed, they just rush to get something to eat."
Complicating the security situation was the complete destruction of Port-au-Prince's main prison. The International Red Cross said a few inmates died but that the vast majority - 4,000 - had escaped and were freely roaming the capital.
Search-and-rescue operations remained the immediate focus, but Byrs said there was no need for countries and groups to send additional teams or field hospitals. There are 17 such teams on the ground and six more are coming.
"The arrival of others could compromise the work of those who are on the spot and are searching the rubble," she said. "The priority for the moment is for medical teams."
Byrs said 10 per cent of the homes in Port-au-Prince have been destroyed, meaning there are at least 300,000 homeless people.
She also warned that "the issue of corpse collection and disposal" was becoming increasingly critical as dead bodies piled up on the streets.
The World Health Organization said corpses should be treated with chemicals to prevent them from decomposing and buried in open ditches. But mass graves aren't recommended because that would prevent families from identifying lost relatives, said WHO spokesman Paul Garwood.
"The scale of this disaster has overwhelmed all capacities," Garwood said. "There's an urgent need to get more and more body bags into the area so that we can properly handle these bodies."
Associated Press writers Eliane Engeler and Frank Jordans contributed to this report.

U.N. to launch Haiti emergency appeal for $550 mln

U.N. to launch Haiti emergency appeal for $550 mln

Fri Jan 15, 2010 7:30am EST
* Thousands of injured still waiting for help

* Food stocks reported looted in Haiti, WFP says

* WFP may set up collective kitchens in Port-au-Prince

GENEVA, Jan 15 (Reuters) - U.N. aid agencies will launch an emergency appeal for approximately $550 million on Friday to help survivors of the earthquake in Haiti, a U.N. spokeswoman said.

"There will be a U.N. flash appeal later today in New York for about $550 million," U.N. spokeswoman Corinne Momal-Vanian told a briefing in Geneva, the United Nations' humanitarian capital.

Thousands of people injured in Tuesday's massive earthquake in the Caribbean country spent a third night waiting for help, many lying on sidewalks, as their despair turned to anger.

A spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said 17 search and rescue teams were deployed in the capital Port-au-Prince, with six more on their way, but no further teams were needed for now.

"There are pockets of survival, we shouldn't give up hope," spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said. "They are working around the clock."

No further field hospitals were required but medical teams including surgeons and medicines were badly needed, Byrs said.

At least 10 percent of housing in the capital was destroyed, making about 300,000 homeless, but in some areas 50 percent of buildings were destroyed or badly damaged, according to a preliminary assessment by U.N. disaster experts.

Under the U.N. appeal, the World Food Programme will seek to provide life-saving food rations to 2 million destitute people for the next month. A longer-term operation is planned up to July 15.

"We need high-energy biscuits and ready-to-eat meals as quickly as possible," WFP spokeswoman Emilia Casella said.

The WFP had reports from partner aid agencies that its warehouses in Haiti had been looted, but had not been able to reach them yet to verify whether its stocks were gone, she said.

"In an emergency, looting is something that is not unusual. Stores have been cleaned out. People in a desperate situation will do what they can to get food for their loved ones," Casella told reporters in Geneva.

The WFP distributed food to 4,000 people gathered at the prime minister's compound in Port-au-Prince on Thursday following an earlier hand-out in the town of Jacmel.

"We are trying to get the food we do have our hands on to people. What we have been able to do so far is a drop in the bucket," Casella said.

The WFP was also exploring the possibility of setting up some 200 collective kitchens in Port-au-Prince to feed the homeless, she said.

UN Chief Says Half of Haiti's Capital Damaged

January 15, 2010

UN Chief Says Half of Haiti's Capital Damaged

Filed at 12:43 p.m. ET
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says up to 50 percent of the buildings in Haiti's capital and other areas hardest hit by the earthquake have been damaged or destroyed.
The U.N. chief says the United Nations will launch an emergency appeal later Friday for $550 million to provide food, water, shelter and other essentials for millions of Haitians.
Ban says the international community's response has been ''robust.'' He acknowledges ''there is frustration'' among Haitians with the pace of relief efforts and says the U.N. is watching for any signs or unrest.
U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky says 37 U.N. personnel have been confirmed dead and 330 remain missing from about 12,000 people working for all U.N. operations in Haiti.

From Acumen Fund: The Crisis in Haiti: How You Can Help

I've heard from many of you asking for suggestions of where to give and what to do in light of the devastation taking place in Haiti. It is impossible to look at the extraordinary photographs of destruction and despair without feeling your heart twist, wondering what it will take to rebuild and how long that process will require. Right now, of course, the world's focus must be on helping the millions of victims survive.  As soon as that situation is stabilized, however, we need as a world to help Haiti build for a better future. That will take much more than money, but a more determined insistence on establishing the right policies and infrastructure to enable markets to work, better education for all, and investments in entrepreneurs that won't stop until they have solved tough problems or created significant numbers of jobs.

There are many organizations doing good work in Haiti, and Acumen Fund recommends two. Partners In Health <> has been committed to helping Haitians for more than two decades; and supporting them will enable greater focus on both short-term relief as well as longer-term investment. Architecture for Humanity <> will focus on the longer-term by building critically needed housing and community structures.  We are proud to know the entrepreneurs behind the organizations and can vouch for their quality as individuals focused on doing the right things.

I hope this helps in some small way. We stand in solidarity with our Haitian brothers and sisters and with people all around the world who are seeing how much we need one another, how interconnected we are, and how much each of us can do.

In peace,

Jacqueline Novogratz | CEO | Acumen Fund
76 Ninth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10011

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UN Foundation update from Haiti

UN Foundation update from Haiti: Our own Dr. Dan Carucci (VP, Global Health) is delivering medical supplies in Port-au-Prince. Track his photos and updates here:

Friend --

We just received this message from the UN Foundation’s Dr. Daniel Carucci, who traveled to Haiti to deliver medical supplies and assess the situation on the ground in the aftermath of the 7.0 earthquake. I wanted to pass it along right away to give key supporters like you a firsthand look at how relief efforts there are unfolding. His message is a grim reminder of the devastation and urgent needs on the island.

Dan will continue sending updates from the field. We encourage you to follow them at our Haiti Earthquake Response page. Thank you for your support as we assist the UN’s work and help the people of Haiti.

-Kathy Calvin, CEO, UN Foundation

Click here to support the UN Foundation’s critical work by donating to the Central Emergency Response Fund


It was dark as we made our approach into Port-au-Prince. The Haitian aircraft controls had closed the airport to all aircrafts but made an exception for us to land. There was the normal scattering of individual lights from the houses on the hills leading into the capital and an occasional car's headlights on the roads. As we got closer the extent of the damage became clear. There were concrete structures that were completely flattened and houses that were piles of rubble.

We landed and I found a UN security officer who was transporting a small number of relief workers to the UN logistics office. He said many of his colleagues were missing and may have been killed.  He seemed in a mild state of shock. There is no cell phone communication but he said they have satellite and internet. He seemed so happy to meet someone from the UN family that had come to help.

Daniel J. Carucci, MD, PhD
Vice President for Global Health
United Nations Foundation

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First Person Account from Aid Worker Shows Logistical Difficulties Facing Ha...


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via (title unknown) by Mark Leon Goldberg on 1/15/10

A note from a World Food Program specialist offers some insight into the logistical challenges facing rescue workers in Haiti

This note from a World Food Program worker in Haiti, posted to an internal WFP message board (and reprinted with permission), offers some insights into the logistical challenges facing rescue workers.  The author's name is Pierre Petry. He is a World Food Program senior ICT specialist with the Fast Information Technology and Telecommunications Emergency and Support Team. 


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Will Kreyole Speaking American Police Deploy to Haiti? Calling Commissioner ...


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via (title unknown) by Mark Leon Goldberg on 1/15/10

Security will be a concern in the coming days. One expert recommends deploying Hatian-American police officers to support the UN.

Our attention is rightly directed to rescuing people trapped in collapsed buildings.


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Clinton statement on death of Victoria DeLong


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via The Cable by Josh Rogin on 1/15/10

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued this statement Friday morning on the death of U.S. embassy official Victoria DeLong, who was killed in the Haiti earthquake this week:

This morning I spoke with the family of Victoria DeLong, the Cultural Affairs Officer at our Embassy in Port-Au-Prince who lost her life in the earthquake.  I expressed my sincerest condolences on behalf of the men and women of the State Department and the American people.  So many have lost their lives in this tragedy.  The United Nations has suffered grievous losses.  And the Haitian people have endured unimaginable heartbreak.  For the State Department, we have lost one of our own. 

Victoria was a veteran Foreign Service Officer who worked tirelessly to build bridges of understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of Haiti.  She served her country with distinction and honor, and she will be sorely missed.

Victoria's friends and colleagues at the Embassy are working day and night to support vital relief and recovery efforts, and our thoughts, our prayers, and our deepest thanks are with them as well.  Along with the military personnel, the search and rescue teams, and all the aid and relief workers now deploying, they represent the unwavering commitment of the United States to stand with Haiti in its hour of need and in the hard days and years to come.  My heart is with the DeLong family today, and with all those in Haiti and around the world who have lost loved ones and friends in this disaster.



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[Video] Jon Stewart Slams Rachel Maddow For Haiti Coverage


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via Main RSS Feed by Adele Stan, AlterNet on 1/15/10

In a segment mocking Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson for their remarks about Haiti, Stewart also took a swipe at Maddow.


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Haitians in U.S. Need Protection From Deportation


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via Main RSS Feed by Alanna Shaikh, UN Dispatch on 1/15/10

The U.S. has momentarily stopped deporting undocumented Haitians. But that protection needs to be formalized.


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Briefing Skipper: Foreign Service Officer killed in Haiti


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via The Cable by Josh Rogin on 1/14/10

In which we scour the transcript of the State Department's daily presser so you don't have to. Here are the highlights of Tuesday's briefing by acting deputy spokesman P.J. Crowley:

  • Victoria DeLong, a Cultural Affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince, died in the collapse of her home following the earthquake in Haiti. Her next of kin have been notified. DeLong served in Haiti since February 2009 and at the State Department since November 1983.
  • "It's a tragedy for the State Department and for our family in the public diplomacy and public affairs world," said Crowley, "Some of you who are old timers here, she did previously serve in our Bureau of Public Affairs during her career."
  • There are now 8 search and rescue teams on the ground, from the U.S., Spain, Iceland, and Chile. 2 people have been successfully pulled out of the rubble. 30 countries have assistance either in Haiti or on the way. Elements of the 82nd airborne are on the way to supplement the UN force.
  • The airport is running 24/7 but there's only one runway so sometimes flights and landings have to be delayed a couple hours to make room on the ramp. U.S. Air traffic controllers arrived last night and are running the show. Between 300 and 400 people were evacuated out using the airport Thursday and seven injured have been taken to the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for treatment, including the Spanish ambassador.
  • The ports are still unusable but the U.S. Government is developing other options, such as rotary aircraft drops, having ships hover offshore and using small boat transports, and repairing roads to get supplies in. The U.S. Also brought in communications equipment to get the Haitian government functioning again and to allow them to communicate with the Haitian people.
  • The State Department has been in regular contact with the Haitian President Rene Preval and the Haitian embassy in Washington. Ambassador Ken Merten met with Preval and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive Thursday to consult on the ongoing efforts.
  • What about rioting? "There has been some minor looting, but... all things considered, you know, we haven't seen the kind of, you know, civil unrest that you have seen in previous situations like this," Crowley said.
  • What about the refugees? "I think we're getting ahead of the game here."
  • How many dead? "The short answer is, we don't know yet."


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Haiti’s recent troubled past


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via Aid Watch by Laura Freschi on 1/14/10

Everyone knows that Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere.
And everyone knows that it's an hour and thirty minutes from Miami, Florida.
Or most people know that.
So, how in the world can we let this happen?…

I do not think that foreign aid is the solution to the world's problems.
I think it can only do a limited amount, and it doesn't do that very well.
A lot of foreign aid goes into relief.
They wait for the disaster, and then they put the money in…

Why did these hurricanes have this impact this time?
It's not like we don't have a history of it, it's not like we didn't know it was going to happen again, some time.
God forbid the day we get one that hits Port-au-Prince head-on, because it's going to be really disastrous.

This is Anne Hasting, director of Fonkoze, alternative bank of the poor, in fall of 2008, speaking to reporter Ruxandra Guidi about the damage from the latest hurricanes to hit Haiti. That year, four hurricanes and tropical storms hit Haiti in quick succession, causing mudslides and floods that wiped out the coastal town of Gonaives, killing some 800 people and displacing millions.

Take a moment to watch the narrated slide show, produced by journalist Ruxandra Guidi with photographs by Roberto Guerra and a haunting soundtrack by Luis Guerra.

In these next few days, we turn from our initial horror at Haiti's new catastrophe to the dizzying, widening view of a human disaster that will take years to recover from. This eerily prescient video is now an artifact of Haiti's immediate past, when Port-au-Prince, with its houses and markets, slums and palaces, churches and hospitals, was still standing.

Thanks go to reader Luke Seidl for the tip.


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