Clem’s Chronicles: Haiti

By Clem Lane

Jan 15, 2010 9:07pm

Howdy Clem Lane here. Here's tonight's note…….

HAITI-The numbers don’t get better as the days unfold-the Haitian government said today that some 140 thousand people may have been killed in Tuesday’s temblor. The desperation that we have seen on so many faces in the capital city of Port au Prince today has morphed into anger and lawlessness in some cases. Dan Harris, reporting for WORLD NEWS, notes that “today, in isolated but ominous pockets, the frustration is turning ugly.” Harris continues: “we watch as this building is vigorously looted. People make off with boxes of tee shirts and even office furniture…only gunfire shuts it down.” Day four and the frustration over a lack of relief supplies could be ready to boil over…as Harris says “there’s growing fear that we’re on the cusp of widespread civil unrest”. Harris continues “Fueling the tinder box of resentment…a perception among some Haitians that foreign rescue teams are focusing an enormous amount of energy on saving people in places like the posh Montana Hotel while average Haitians, laboring in vast, post-apocalyptic blightscapes, try to rescue people with their bare hands.” Harris adds though that “it must be said the vast majority of Haitians we’ve met say they don’t see any reason for violence….they say they understand. It was an act of nature.” So let’s take a look at some of the elements we’re facing…
RELIEF SUPPLIES-Well the good news is, aid is getting in. The bad news?Martha Raddatz: “Most of the supplies are simply sitting at the airport.” Raddatz explains the painful waiting process: “First the government of Haiti must choose the distribution points…the World Food program then works up a distribution plan…and then the UN forces in Haiti provides security with the help of the US military to get the food out. Bottom line…it is not going to happen until tomorrow”.
SEARCH AND RESCUE-At the aforementioned Montana Hotel, good news today. Kate Snow was there: “Two men-one Haitian, one American-trapped in separate elevators-kept each other company speaking English thru the walls for two and a half days…and then this morning, Carlos Carrillo, a firefighter in Fairfax, Virginia, pulled them out.” Elsewhere in the city? Snow: “(The Montana rescue effort) is such a stark contrast with what’s happening in most of Port-au-Prince. Tens of thousands are missing and most Haitians have no rescuers to help them dig for survivors.” Snow offers up an example: “Yesterday this man stopped us to complain that no one was helping rescue more than 200 students trapped in a vocational school. When we found the school, they were using a dump truck and chain, all they had. By last night at that same school, Belgian search and rescue teams had moved in but they quit at dark. Today a mix of Mexican and Israeli rescuers worked alongside Jordanian security. They told us 20 students might still be alive.” So international help is there now…in their own defense “U.S. agencies say they send teams where they think there’s potential to save the most lives” Snow reports “and they need local help to find the worst-hit buildings. With every hour, the chances of finding survivors grows dimmer.”
MEDICAL CARE-As we noted last night, a paucity of medical supplies hasn’t stopped caregivers from doing their best. Dr. Richard Besser visited the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince today and notes “they have little to offer but their doors are open.” Dr. Besser examined some of the children housed inside…”so many children here are suffering…from dehydration, open wounds and fractures.” And the danger to children extends beyond those hurt in the earthquake and its’ aftermath. Besser: “After the earthquake, water, food, making sure they have a safe place to be, sanitation. (These things) will determine whether these children who were not injured in the quake become its’ next victims.
U.S. GOVERNMENT-President Obama spoke about Haiti again today, in part to reassure the Haitian public that despite the hiccups, relief aid and the United States will be there for them. "It will take time to establish distribution points so that we can ensure that resources are delivered safely and effectively and in an orderly fashion," Obama said at the White House. "But I want the people of Haiti to know that we will do what it takes to save lives and to help them get back on their feet." At the Pentagon, the top U.S. military officer said up to 10,000 U.S. troops will be in Haiti or off its shores by Monday to help distribute aid and prevent potential rioting among desperate survivors. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Dr. Rajiv Shah, the White House's designated coordinator of the U.S. relief effort in Haiti, will travel to Port-au-Prince tomorrow. Clinton talked with reporters in Washington today. Kirit Radia sent out a note: “Clinton said that she and Shah had several goals for the trip.
– bringing in some aid with her
– bringing some American citizen evacuees back with her
– meeting with US officials (Ambassador etc)
– dropping off some US officials who can help
– meeting with Preval face to face (how to stand up the government again, etc)
– meeting with aid organization leaders on the ground”  

U.S. GOVERNMENT GRANTS TEMPORARY IMMIGRATION STATUS FOR HAITIANS IN AMERICA-The Obama administration said Friday it will allow Haitians who were already in the U.S. illegally to remain because of their country's catastrophic earthquake. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano granted the temporary protected status today and told reporters on a conference call that the protection is only available to Haitians already in the country as of last Tuesday, and allows them to stay and work for 18 months.

MASS SPECIAL ELECTION: The push for health care reform is nearing the finish line. However the cause Ted Kennedy championed could be derailed — because a Republican may capture Kennedy's senate seat. Republican Scott Brown has created huge buzz with the help of conservative groups and tea party activists. He’s raised more than a million dollars every day this week. Brown has tapped into voter anger over the economy. And most importantly, vowed to vote against the president’s health care plan. A Brown victory would give Republicans a magic number 41 seats – enough to kill the health care bill. The Democrats are scrambling to save the senate campaign of Martha Coakley. The President said he will campaign in Massachusetts this weekend — hoping to hang onto a seat that once seemed a sure thing for the Democrats. (thanks to Jason Volack for this entry)

TYLENOL RECALL EXPANDED-Johnson & Johnson expanded a recall of over-the-counter medications Friday, the second time it has done so in less than a month because of a moldy smell that has made users sick. The broadening recall numbers some 60 million bottles and includes some batches of regular and extra-strength Tylenol children's Tylenol, eight-hour Tylenol, Tylenol arthritis, Tylenol PM, children's Motrin, Motrin IB, Benadryl Rolaids, Simply Sleep, and St. Joseph's aspirin. Caplet and geltab products sold in the Americas, the United Arab Emirates, and Fiji were recalled. The FDA slammed the company saying it should have acted faster.

FT. HOOD REVIEW-From WORLD NEWS: “Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said today the military is not prepared to prevent another incident like the shooting at Fort Hood, Texas. A review, commissioned by Gates, found the Army committed quote:  ‘significant’ failures during the career of Major Nidal Hassan, the accused gunman.  As many as 8 Army officers may be disciplined.”

HEALTH CARE REFORM-No agreement yet on a final health care bill. That’s the word this evening from White House spokesman Reid Cherlin who said in part “We’ve worked through the gamut of issues in great depth, but there are no final agreements and no overall package.  The next step in the process is to evaluate the costs and savings associated with the various proposals for each tenet of the legislation.” Tapper reports that “President Obama is not expected to hold or attend any additional health care meetings this weekend.”

U.S. LIST OF DETAINEES IN AFGHANISTAN-The U.S. has released a long-secret list of some 645 detainees held at a military base in Afghanistan, providing the information as part of a lawsuit seeking details of the government's treatment of terror suspects.

BANK CLOSURES- Regulators have shut down two small banks in Illinois and Minnesota, the second and third bank failures of 2010 following 140 closures last year amid the weak economy and mounting loan defaults. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over St. Stephen State Bank of St. Stephen, Minn., with $24.7 million in assets and $23.4 million in deposits, and Town Community Bank and Trust, based in Antioch, Ill., with $69.6 million in assets and $67.4 million in deposits. First State Bank of St. Joseph, Minn., agreed to assume the assets and deposits of St. Stephen State Bank. First American Bank, based in Elk Grove Village, Ill., is buying the deposits and $67.6 million of the assets of Town Community Bank and Trust. The FDIC will retain the rest for sale. (Associated Press)

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