01/12/2011 archive

Haiti: One Year later

Early in the evening a year ago, I was sitting where I am now writing a diary and browsing the Internet, thinking about dinner. My thoughts were abruptly interrupted by my cell phone’s emergency alert, the house phone ringing and my husband’s cell phone alerts beeping frantically. “Earthquake; Haiti; Lost contact with PauP” were some of the text messages that began flooding the screen of my cell phone. I can’t explain the reactions that this triggers, only to say that it makes me cold and shivery. It passes and what is now an instinctive secondary reaction takes over, check in with “emergency desk”, activate notifications to other “team” members to get their gear,etc. It is a check list I now have memorized.

A few hours later, we were on our way to the airport where we met up with the rest of our “assessment team” and headed for Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. It took another day to get into Port au Prince with what little we carried, thanks to the good will of a news organization that had a large helicopter, the only aircraft able to land at the incapacitated airport. The initial assessment was worse than I had seen in other disaster areas, 95% of the city was severely damaged, much of it leveled. A year later and currently in the midst of a Cholera epidemic that shows little signs of abating, there is some progress but hardly enough to ease the suffering of a devastatingly and chronically impoverished country.

A Look at Haiti, One Year After the Devastating Earthquake

MSF Report on Haiti: Despite Massive Aid Response, Significant Needs Remain One Year After Quake

MSF issues review of emergency response and current gaps in medical care; shelter, water and sanitation, and secondary health care challenges

Port-au-Prince/Geneva/New York, January 10, 2011 While overall access to basic healthcare has improved since the earthquake, the rapid spread of cholera across the country underscores the limits of the international aid system in responding effectively to new emergencies. International agencies must live up to the commitments made to the Haitian people and to donors by turning promises into more concrete actions, said MSF.

Urgent humanitarian needs must be met while long-term reconstruction plans are pursued. The overall health of the population and the ability to contain the risk of disease outbreaks depend on improving water and sanitation and ensuring that the one million people still living in tents have access to sufficient transitional shelter.

Haiti Earthquake Recovery One Year Later

After massive aid, Haitians feel stuck in poverty

By William Booth

Washington Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, January 11, 2011; 12:02 AM

PORT AU PRINCE, HAITI – One of the largest and most costly humanitarian aid efforts in history saved many lives in the aftermath of last January’s earthquake but has done little to ease the suffering of ordinary Haitians since then.

As U.S. officials, donor nations and international aid contractors applaud their efforts – all the latrines, tents and immunizations – the recipients of this unprecedented assistance are weary at the lack of visible progress and doubtful that the billions of dollars promised will make their lives better.

Since the Jan. 12 quake, the roads are worse, electricity spotty and rice costs more. Carnival is being canceled again. There are still few jobs. President Rene Preval is missing from public view. Political paralysis grips the country. The results of the mismanaged, chaotic Nov. 28 presidential elections remain a mystery. After uncovering troubles with the conduct of the vote, a monitoring team from the Organization of American States is set to recommend that the government-backed presidential candidate be eliminated from the second round of voting, the Associated Press reported Monday.

Slave is a job description

The Tucson Shootings, Civility and the New Class War Zone

Real News Networks’ Paul Jay: commentary on the Tucson shootings…

Real News Network – January 12, 2011

The Tucson Shootings, Civility and the New Class War Zone

Instead of using ‘civility’ to cover up reality, how about a people’s civility intended to reveal it

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Dean Baker: The Progressive Case Against Obama’s New Team

Most reports on the selection of William Daley as President Obama’s new chief of staff and Gene Sperling as the head of his National Economic Council included a few lines of criticism from progressives who were unhappy with these picks. Since there was not much space for the argument, these lines probably left many readers wondering why progressives don’t like Daley and Sperling.

To remove this sense of wonder, I will spell out the progressive case against the new team. (I get to do it because this is my column.)

Both Daley and Sperling were major actors in the Clinton administration. At the center of the Clinton administration’s economic policy was the idea that reducing the budget deficit was the key to boosting the economy. He held the view that if the deficit fell, then the private sector could be counted on to provide the demand to fill the gap created by less demand from the public sector.

Eugene Robinson: Guns and responsibility

We may not be sure that the bloodbath in Tucson had anything to do with politics, but we know it had everything to do with our nation’s insane refusal to impose reasonable controls on guns. . . . .

We must recognize the obvious distinction between rifles, shotguns and target pistols used for sport on the one hand, and semiautomatic handguns designed for killing people on the other. We must decide that allowing anyone to carry a concealed weapon, no questions asked, is just crazy. And for heaven’s sake, we must demand that laws designed to keep guns out of the hands of lunatics be enforced.

Giffords is a supporter of responsible gun ownership. If we force our elected officials to act responsibly, the next senseless massacre just might be prevented.

Johann Hari: How Goldman gambled on starvation

Speculators set up a casino where the chips were the stomachs of millions. What does it say about our system that we can so casually inflict so much pain?

By now, you probably think your opinion of Goldman Sachs and its swarm of Wall Street allies has rock-bottomed at raw loathing. You’re wrong. There’s more. It turns out that the most destructive of all their recent acts has barely been discussed at all. Here’s the rest. This is the story of how some of the richest people in the world – Goldman, Deutsche Bank, the traders at Merrill Lynch, and more – have caused the starvation of some of the poorest people in the world.

It starts with an apparent mystery. At the end of 2006, food prices across the world started to rise, suddenly and stratospherically. Within a year, the price of wheat had shot up by 80 per cent, maize by 90 per cent, rice by 320 per cent. In a global jolt of hunger, 200 million people – mostly children – couldn’t afford to get food any more, and sank into malnutrition or starvation. There were riots in more than 30 countries, and at least one government was violently overthrown. Then, in spring 2008, prices just as mysteriously fell back to their previous level. Jean Ziegler, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, calls it “a silent mass murder”, entirely due to “man-made actions.”

On This Day in History January 12

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

January 12 is the 12th day of the year  

On this day in 1932, Hattie Ophelia Wyatt Caraway (February 1, 1878 – December 21, 1950), a Democrat from Arkansas, becomes the first woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate.

Hattie Wyat was born near Bakerville, Tennessee, in Humphreys County, the daughter of William Carroll Wyatt, a farmer and shopkeeper, and Lucy Mildred Burch. At the age of four she moved with her family to Hustburg, Tennessee. After briefly attending Ebenezer College in Hustburg, she transferred to Dickson (Tenn.) Normal College, where she received her B.A. degree in 1896. She taught school for a time before marrying in 1902 Thaddeus Horatius Caraway, whom she had met in college; they had three children, Paul, Forrest, and Robert. The couple moved to Jonesboro, Arkansas where she cared for their children and home and her husband practiced law and started a political career.

The Caraways settled in Jonesboro where he established a legal practice while she cared for the children, tended the household and kitchen garden, and helped to oversee the family’s cotton farm. The family eventually established a second home Riversdale at Riverdale Park, Maryland. Her husband, Thaddeus Caraway, was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1912, and he served in that office until 1921 when he was elected to the United States Senate where he served until he died in office in 1931. Following the precedent of appointing widows to temporarily take their husbands’ places, Arkansas governor Harvey Parnell appointed Hattie Caraway to the vacant seat, and she was sworn into office on December 9. With the Arkansas Democratic party’s backing, she easily won a special election in January 1932 for the remaining months of the term, becoming the first woman elected to the Senate. Although she took an interest in her husband’s political career, Hattie Caraway avoided the capital’s social and political life as well as the campaign for woman suffrage. She recalled that “after equal suffrage I just added voting to cooking and sewing and other household duties.”

n May 1932 Caraway surprised Arkansas politicians by announcing that she would run for a full term in the upcoming election, joining a field already crowded with prominent candidates who had assumed she would step aside. She told reporters, “The time has passed when a woman should be placed in a position and kept there only while someone else is being groomed for the job.” When she was invited by Vice President Charles Curtis to preside over the Senate she took advantage of the situation to announce that she would run for reelection. Populist Louisiana politician Huey Long travelled to Arkansas on a 9-day campaign swing to campaign for her. She was the first female Senator to preside over this body as well as the first to chair a Committee (Senate Committee on Enrolled Bills). Lacking any significant political backing, Caraway accepted the offer of help from Long, whose efforts to limit incomes and increase aid to the poor she had supported. Long was also motivated by sympathy for the widow as well as by his ambition to extend his influence into the home state of his rival, Senator Joseph Robinson. Bringing his colorful and flamboyant campaign style to Arkansas, Long stumped the state with Caraway for a week just before the Democratic primary, helping her amass nearly twice as many votes as her closest opponent. She went on to win the general election in November.


The Arizona Death Panel: Death by Budget Cuts

Last March, the Republican controlled Arizona State Legislature cut $1.4 million from state’s Medicaid program – Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) – cutting off urgent transplant funding that was previously promised to 98 Arizonans. Gov. Jan Brewer (R), who advocated for the cuts, has blamed those cuts on “Obamacare” even though the bill had not even been signed into law at the time the cuts were made. The cuts have attracted the attention of the foreign media. When Brewer was asked by Britain’s Channel 4 News Washington correspondent Sarah Smith “how many people would die” before she restored the funding Brewer quipped, “if people are so worried about the transplant patients, then they should ask the federal government in Washington to send us more money”. Brewer has yet to explain what she did with the $200 million that Arizona received in stimulus funds. Maybe Darrell Issa would like to investigate that.

Since the cuts went into effect two of those patients now have died. The “Brewer Death List” is now down to 96.

In late November, Mark Price, an Arizona father who had been battling leukemia for a year, died due to complications related to chemotherapy treatment he was receiving. Price was awaiting an organ transplant that could’ve saved his life, but he was unable to receive one in time due to Brewer’s budget cuts.

Now, the University of Arizona Medical Center has told the press that another patient passed away in late December because they were unable to get their organ transplant funded. Although the attending physicians declined to release the name of the patient out of respect for the family’s privacy, they confirmed that the patient that passed away was one of the 98 Arizonans cut off from organ transplants by Brewer and the GOP-controlled state legislature. He “was our patient. He was on our list,” said surgery department spokeswoman Jo Marie Gellerman.

Not all Republicans are as heartless as Gov. Brewer and the legislature. An Illinois State GOP Central Committeeman, Steven Daglas, working with others found solutions to restoring the funding, one from a $2 million AIG settlement or transferring $1.2 million from a now defunct plan to build bridges for endangered squirrels (No, I did not make that up) or using a portion of unclaimed lottery player prize winnings, roughly $6 million annually.. However, Daglas has heard nothing but silence from Brewer’s office

Since early last month, Daglas and those with whom he is working have been reaching out to the governor and her staff with the ideas. Among other things, they sent a letter that required a signature confirmation so they knew the information was getting through.

But they haven’t heard back.

“We’re worried that maybe her office is thinking that we’re offering these ideas as a way to attack her or make her look bad, and that isn’t it at all,” Daglas said. “I’m a Republican guy from Illinois. We have plenty of problems up here. We’re just concerned about these transplant patients and want to help. We have provided detailed information about the suggestions, the statutes, the original sources and so on.”

Daglas and five of the families of the patients from the transplant list have launched a web site, Arizona98.com, The website lists 26 possible ways that Arizona can shift funding in order to pay for the transplant procedures without having to raise any additional revenue.

On “Countdown”, Keith Olbermann discussed these cuts and revealed that one those whose life is threatened by these cuts is the great granddaughter of Franklin Roosevelt. As Arizona mourns one senseless tragedy, who will stop another one?

Prime Time

In all the Throwball excitement I feel I may have passed too quickly over the reputed demise of Sarah Palin’s Alaska.  Unlike some I didn’t think it totally unwatchable from a reality TV standpoint.  Better than Dog The Bounty Hunter, not quite so good as Billy The Exterminator.  I’ll be sad to see it leave

V premier.  NCIS x 2 premiers.  Nova Earthquakes; Frontline, Independent Lens Haiti.

We’re gonna bring this party up to a nice respectable level. Don’t worry, we’re not gonna hurt anyone. We’re not even gonna touch ’em. We’re just gonna make ’em cry a little, just by lookin’ at ’em.


Dave hosts Vince Vaughn, Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, and Cage the Elephant.  Jon has Colin Firth, Stephen Chris Hughes.  Conan hosts Javier Bardem, Rashida Jones, and Steel Train.

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