FEATURED PHOTOS AND STORIES

Monday:  October 6, 2014

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

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Entries in Iceland (12)

Tuesday
Mar272012

With US Health Law Debate at Supreme Court, A Look at the State Of Global Health Care (REPORT) 

(Video BNBalenda)

(HN, March 27, 2012) - As the US Supreme Court takes up a controversial healthcare reform bill - the signature campaign issue of President Barack Obama's 2008 election promises - the fate of US citizens healthcare system remains in the hands of just 9 people.  

After two days of hearings at the high court where lawyers on both sides are presenting arguments, the Justices appear closely divided along ideological lines with the majority of questions to the Obama administration's lawyer being about whether Congress had the power to require people to buy medical insurance; the main sticking point of the law.

The court will hear a third and final day of arguments on Wednesday. 26 of the 50 states and a small-business trade group are challenging a law they say would essentially define where the limits would be on US federal power if people opposed to insurance were forced to buy coverage.

The court's ruling on the insurance requirement, which takes effect in 2014 according to current law passed by the US Congress in 2010, could decide the fate of the massive multi-part healthcare overhaul meant to improve access to medical care and extend insurance to more than 30 million Americans.

Outside the venerable Washington, DC courthouse, thousands of people demonstrated for and against the law which many in US politics call "Obamacare".  After the three day presentations, the Court is scheduled to take some time, and release its decision on whether or not the law is constitutional sometime in late summer; making the healthcare issue a central campaign theme again in November 2012 US presidential election

A hard fought US Republican candidate race has been playing out for months between former US state of Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former US House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, former US Senator Rick Santorum, and US Congressman Ron Paul - all of whom have significant professional experience with the healthcare issue.

But for the US public, the physicians community, and the American insurance industry the delay in deciding where the healthcare system is going is troubling and for many, means the - expensive - difference between life and death. 

(GRAPH: NatGeo 2007 table showing relationship between health care costs, life expectancy) The United States spends more on medical care per person than any country, yet life expectancy is shorter than in most other developed nations and many developing ones. Annual U.S. healthcare spending totals $2.6 trillion, about 18% of the annual GDP, or $8,402 per person according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.

A New York Times/CBS News poll showed that a narrow majority of Americans oppose the individual mandate, 51% to 45%, but strongly supported other provisions of the law covering pre-existing medical conditions and allowing young adults to stay on their parents' health insurance plans. Roughly 15% of Americans lack insurance coverage, a factor in life span which contributes to an estimated 45,000 deaths a year.

HEALTHCARE IN OTHER COUNTRIES

In other countries, the decision to create a universal or government supported health care system has been an easier one, long decided upon.

32 of the 33 developed nations of the world have universal health care, with the United States being the lone exception. The following list, compiled from World Health Organization sources, shows the start date and type of  system used to implement universal health care in each developed country; and a `universal health care plan' can mean having both public and private insurance and medical providers.

(GRAPH: Blue countries have a government health system, green going there, orange 2-tier/WHO)These are in order of date of system:  Norway, 1912, Single Payer; New Zealand, 1938, Two Tier; Japan, 1938, Single Payer; Germany, 1941, Insurance Mandate; Belgium, 1945, Insurance Mandate; United Kingdom, 1948, Single Payer; Kuwait, 1950, Single Payer; Sweden, 1955, Single Payer; Bahrain, 1957, Single Payer;  Brunei, 1958, Single Payer; Canada, 1966, Single Payer; Netherlands, 1966, Two-Tier; Austria, 1967, Insurance Mandate; United Arab Emirates, 1971, Single Payer; Finland, 1972, Single Payer; Slovenia, 1972, Single Payer; Denmark, 1973, Two-Tier; Luxembourg, 1973, Insurance Mandate; France, 1974, Two-Tier; Australia, 1975, Two Tier; Ireland, 1977, Two-Tier; Italy, 1978, Single Payer; Portugal, 1979, Single Payer; Cyprus, 1980, Single Payer; Greece, 1983, Insurance Mandate; Spain, 1986, Single Payer; South Korea, 1988, Insurance Mandate; Iceland, 1990, Single Payer; Hong Kong, 1993, Two-Tier; Singapore, 1993, Two-Tier; Switzerland, 1994, Insurance Mandate; Israel, 1995, Two-Tier.

System Types:

Single Payer: The government provides insurance for all residents (or citizens) and pays all health care expenses except for copays and coinsurance. Providers may be public, private, or a combination of both.

Two-Tier: The government provides or mandates catastrophic or minimum insurance coverage for all residents (or citizens), while allowing the purchase of additional voluntary insurance or fee-for service care when desired. In Singapore all residents receive a catastrophic policy from the government coupled with a health savings account that they use to pay for routine care. In other countries like Ireland and Israel, the government provides a core policy which the majority of the population supplement with private insurance.

Insurance Mandate: The government mandates that all citizens purchase insurance, whether from private, public, or non-profit insurers. In some cases the insurer list is quite restrictive, while in others a healthy private market for insurance is simply regulated and standardized by the government. In this kind of system insurers are barred from rejecting sick individuals, and individuals are required to purchase insurance, in order to prevent typical health care market failures from arising.

---HUMNEWS, with research from WHO, Wikipedia, NatGeo.

Tuesday
Jan032012

THE HUM - WORLD HEADLINES - JANUARY 4, 2012

Afghanistan 

Triple bombing targets Kandahar police 

Antarctica 

(PHOTO: British scientists have discovered huge colonies of a new species of yeti crab on the sea floor near Antarctica. OXFORD UNIVERSITY)Yeti Crabs & Ghost Octopus! Unique Life Found at 1st Antarctic Deep-Sea Vents

Argentina 

Leaders' illnesses cloud South America's newfound stability

Mistakes cost dear in Third Stage of Dakar Rally

Australia

Clipper Round the World Race - Geraldton Western Australia takes lead 

Bangladesh

Dhaka calls Kathmandu for power 

Brazil

Brazil buys three BAE Ocean Patrol Vessels

(PHOTO: 'Geraldton Western Australia-Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race'. ONEDITION)Burundi

IRRI Releases Two New Rice Varieties In Burundi

Cameroon

Cameroon Villagers Pin Hopes on Diamond Mine

Cambodia 

Ancient City of Angkor may have been ruined by drought

Canada

More than 700 Canadians ‘brrrrrrave’ the cold for charity

Colombia

Colombian team to be disqualified from Dakar Rally

(PHOTO: Czechs held in Zambia Michal Vébr, Jiří Cetel, Jan Coufal. CZECH TELEVISION)Czech Republic

Czechs detained in Zambia return home (Audio)

El Salvador

El Salvador Murder Rate Highest Since End of Civil War

Ethiopia

Ethiopia discovers largest ever gold reserves 

Shell plans oil pipeline construction from South Sudan to Ethiopia 

France

Latin America leads Gourmand World Cookbook Awards

Gabon

45 challenges to Gabon's poll results

(PHOTO: In Haiti, some of the Hands Across the Sea students returning to school in 2012. HANDS ACROSS THE SEA) Gaza and West Bank

New bid to broker Middle East talks takes place

Guam

Humanities Council to hold film series on the Micronesian experience on Guam

Guatemala

Violent deaths in Guatemala down in 2011 

Guinea

Donor Assistance Will Reduce Contract Non-Payment Risks Despite Continued Risks of Sporadic Violence

Guinea-Bissau

Navy chief held in Guinea-Bissau after alleged coup attempt

Guyana

Guyanese cargo vessel goes missing after leaving T&T

Haiti

Haiti still recovering from deadly 2010 earthquake

(PHOTO: In the UAE new ID cards are being issued online, rather than at centers. UAE GOV) Iceland

Icelandic President decides not to run for re-election

India 

Chennai youth devises a new method to curb movie piracy

Coal India looks to buy coal assets in South Africa 

Detained Indian traders in Chinese hub are “fearing for their lives”

Indonesia

Indonesia sailors detained for killing Taiwan skipper

Indonesia Leads Southeast Asia With 6.5% Expansion In Q4

Indonesia sees 2012 unmilled rice output up

Iran 

Oil prices soar as Iran warns US aircraft carrier away from Persian Gulf

Iranian currency falls against U.S. dollar on fresh sanctions

(PHOTO: Iran's currency falls on fresh sanctions. GANT DAILY)Ireland

'Undocumented' are being forced to live in fear on margins of Irish society

Israel

Israel and Taiwan ink aviation agreement

Taiwan airlines have no immediate plans to run flights to Israel 

Jerusalem Marathon 2012: A race of nations (Press release)

Ivory Coast

Dry, windy weather darkens Ivorian cocoa outlook

Jamaica

OAS Secretary General Congratulates New Prime Minister of Jamaica 

Jordan

RefugeeLives program establishes mobile network in Jordan

Kazakhstan

South Kazakhstan companies pursue CSR policy

(PHOTO: The Communication Commission of Kenya headquarters along Waiyaki way in Nairobi. ANTHONY KAMAU) Kenya

Kenya Trailblazes in Mobile Money Transfer Services

Kenya to miss June date for digital switch over

Kuwait

New, social media ‘the tool’ of 2012 Assembly elections

Kuwait to build first-ever solar power station

Laos

Passenger Services Restored on Mekong River 

Latvia

Referendum to determine the status of Russian language in Latvia

Lebanon

(PHOTO: In Niger, the RAIN foundation is building community gardens. RAIN) aram, Niger.Lebanon to host U.N. conference on reform in Arab world

Libya

Libya seeks to boost tourism industry (Video)  

Malaysia

More flood victims evacuated in Pasir Puteh, Malaysia

LivingSocial enters Malaysia online shopping market

Maldives

Hotels forced to shut down spas across Maldives

Mali

Mali to give 40,000 tonnes of food to drought victims 

Malta

Malta Airport achieves record 3.5 million passengers in 2011

(PHOTO: New Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, (left, in white), is escorted by NTC chairman Mustafa Abdul-Jalil on his arrival at Tripoli International Airport, Libya. TRIPOLI POST) Marshall Islands

Former senator elected Marshall Islands president

Mexico

Mexico tries to rally its expatriates to vote

Mexico, war crimes and a slippery slope  (Perspective)

Mongolia

President talks past, present, and future at honor assembly 

Morocco

Moroccan king unveils Islamist-led government 

Mozambique

Mozambique to take up production of ARVs

New Mayors Sworn in

Myanmar

Burmese company to launch cheap mobile phone service

In Burmese Chanukah celebration, signs of Myanmar’s openness to the West

(PHOTO: In Uruguay, abortion decriminalization passes in Uruguay Senate LIFESITENEWS)Namibia

Tractor Shortage Delays Ploughing

Nepal

Darfur hearing begins

ADB to provide loan for six water projects in Nepal

New Zealand

New Zealand's "Solar Promise" Becomes Solar Policy

Passport checks find surge in fakes

Niger

Niger's anti-corruption files burn

Charitable trust invests in sustainable agriculture in Niger with RAIN

Nigeria

Fuel subsidy protests spread to Lagos

Reversing the Terrorist Tide in Nigeria: The Need for Smart Power (Perspective)

(PHOTO: Omani adventurer Nabil 'Nabs' Al Busaidi became the first Arab to walk to the magnetic North Pole. AL ARABIYA)Northern Mariana Islands

Election Dispute Brewing in Northern Mariana Islands

Norway

Bible becomes 2011 bestseller in Norway

Oman

Sultanate of Oman hosts GCC Health Ministers meeting tomorrow

New civil identity cards

Oman warns over illegal surveys

Seeb project to enhance greenery in Oman

Omani explorer's North Pole trek hits big screen

Pakistan

Pak-Tajik intertwined in bonds of religion says Pakistan National Speaker

Pakistan, India to start power, petro trade

Nimoo-Bazgo project: Pakistan to take dam dispute to world court

An unforgiveable sin (Perspective)

(PHOTO: The North Face of the Jungfrau Mountain in Switzerland, illuminated to celebrate 100 years. JUNGFRAUBAHN)Panama

Panama's president lambasts media owners for publishing about corruption scandals

Paraguay

Paraguay confirms new foot-and-mouth outbreak 

Peru

Peru to celebrate National Chocolate and Cocoa Day every October 1

Controversy in Peru for Possible Junk Food Tax

Peru’s Central Bank: Poverty Rate Could Drop to 17 Percent by 2016

Philippines

Disease Outbreak in Philippines after floods

Hackers attack Philippine vice president's website

Gov't plans to produce Panama disease-free banana seedlings soon

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico: status vote set as crime, unemployment rise

Violence Continues in Puerto Rico After Close of Deadliest Year

Solar energy project in Puerto Rico completes financing, receives modules

(PHOTO: February Vogue 2011, who profiled first lady of Syria Asma al-Assad as a bright light in the Middle East. FROM THE ATLANTIC WIRE) Qatar

Taliban says it will open Qatar office for talks with U.S.

Federer trounces Davydenko in Qatar Open

Romania

Romania catches up on building highways

The number of active operators in Romania's organic farming sector has tripled this year

Romania to Resume Privatization of State-Owned Energy Companies

Rwanda

Rwandan President Visits UAE

A New Kid On the Block Within Telecoms

Innovative Businesses to Instill Entrepreneurship Spirit

Young Motorcyclists Still Cause Most Traffic Accidents

(PHOTO: In Africa kickboxers demonstrate their tactics at their training centre in Nimera Talaata in Juba, South Sudan where the East Africa Kickboxing Championships will take place. GURTONG)Saint Kitts & Nevis 

Solar Power Industries completes new solar installation

Saint Vincent & The Grenadines

Azerbaijani President receives Premier of Saint Vincent and Grenadines (VIDEO) 

Samoa

Samoa begins celebrating 50 years of independence

Samoa paper names PM as Person of Decade

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia arrests foreigner for celebrating New Year’s with balloons

Libya, Saudi Arabia to Restore Full Relations

Saudi Arabia/Islam-Media: 70% of new media related to Youth, according to Saudi Vice Minister of Culture and Information

Saudi healthcare grads snub private sector jobs

Senegal

Africa's 'most famous' singer N'Dour eyes Senegal presidency

Serbia

Serbian Princess to visit Halifax

(PHOTO: In Kremenchug, Ukraine’s new synagogue suffered its 2nd firebombing in as many months. CHABAD.ORG)Singapore

Greying Singapore taps robots, games in rehab

Singapore Press accuses Yahoo of plagiarism in copyright suit

Singapore's counter-terror success (Perspective)  

Slovakia

Slovaks made 12.5 million mobile phone calls and messages on December 31

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IMF head set for South Africa visit

Supercomputing: SA back in top 500

South Africa's holiday road death toll exceeds 1000

Controversy Over S. African Rhino Hunting

South Africa Seed Centre to Provide More, Cheaper Varieties

(PHOTO: In Taiwan, a convenience store every 500 meters. TAIWAN NEWS CHANNEL) South Korea

South Korea Lifts Ban On Travel To The North

South Korea hopes for 'new era' for Koreas

Korean mobile app Kakao Talk now sees 1 billion texts sent every day

South Sudan

South Sudanese 'massacred' after fleeing Pibor say reports

Shell eyes possible South Sudan opportunities

South Sudan To Host East African Kickboxing Championship

Spain

Spain selects site for nuclear waste storage

Spain's house prices 'have fallen significantly'

Spain: New Year brings end to bullfighting in Catalonia

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Sri Lanka

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(PHOTO: To these children in Nghe An, Vietnam, schooling is a risky adventure every day. TUOITRENEWS)Sudan

NHRI Condemns Shutting Down Ray Elsha'b Newspaper and Confiscating Its Assets

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Sweden

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Swaziland

Aggrieved soldiers want to see the king

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Paving Paradise (Perspective)

(PHOTO: Mt Cleveland, Aleutian Islands, Alaska, USA could be a problem in 2012) Switzerland

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Syria

Syria and Iran Discuss Agricultural Cooperation

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Taiwan

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Tanzania

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Turkey

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Tuvalu

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Uganda

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Ukraine

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Vanuatu 

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Vatican City 

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Yemen

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Zambia 

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Zimbabwe

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WORLD

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Maggie Padlewska One-Woman Mission to Document Global Voices(PHOTO: Maggie Padlewska interviews Chief Antillano Flaco of Embera Quera Village, Panama, for the pilot documentary of her "One Year One World" project. (Elvin Flaco) EPOCH TIMES)

Friday
Dec032010

HUMNEWS HEADLINES - December 3, 2010 (North and South Oceans) 

Thursday
Oct282010

HUMNEWS HEADLINES - October 28, 2010 (North and South Oceans)

Tuesday
Oct122010

(REPORT) HAITI – When talking becomes doing – building back better 

(PHOTO: USGS, Red shows 1/12/10 earthquake epicenter) (HN, Oct. 12, 2010) – Nine months ago, on January 12, 2010, the island nation of Haiti experienced a massive earthquake, killing almost 225,000 people and leaving more than a million people homeless. 

Days after the quake struck, just outside of Haiti’s capital city of Port-au-Prince, a journalist covering the devastation was quoted as saying: Haiti will need to be completely rebuilt from the ground up, as even in good times, Haiti is an economic wreck, balancing precariously on the razor's edge of calamity."

And on a recent June 2010 return to the island nation, CNN journalists described Port au Prince as: “It looks like the earthquake happened yesterday.”

HURRY UP AND WAIT:

Within days of the calamity, several international appeals were launched and many countries responded to calls for humanitarian aid help; pledging funds and dispatching rescue and medical teams, engineers and support personnel to the devastated island nation. 

(PHOTO: Relief supplies being unloaded after the 1/12/10 earthquake. Wikipedia) The US, Iceland, China, Qatar, Israel, South Korea, Jordan and many others were among the global neighbors who supplied communication systems, air, land, and sea transport facilities, hospitals, and electrical networks that had been damaged by the earthquake, which hampered rescue and aid efforts. Confusion over who was in charge, air traffic congestion, and problems with cargo transportation further complicated relief work in the early days.

Mass graves containing tens of thousands of bodies were centered outside of cities as morgues and hospitals were quickly overwhelmed with the dead. Getting enough supplies, medical care and sanitation became urgent needs; and a lack of aid distribution led to angry protests from humanitarian workers and survivors with looting and sporadic violence breaking out. 

(PHOTO: Wikipedia, BelAir neighborhood, Port-Au-Prince, Haiti) Just ten days after the 7.2 quake struck, on January 22 the United Nations stated that the emergency phase of the relief operation was subsiding, and the next day the Haitian government called off the search for quake survivors. 

One aspect that made the disaster response unique was the deployment of new technology: the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters provided satellite images of Haiti to be shared with rescue groups along with help from GeoEye; the curation site Ushahidi coordinated texts, messages and reports from multiple sources; social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter aggregated members asking for help; the Red Cross and other organizations set records for text message donations.

Also in the immediate aftermath of the quake US President Barack Obama asked former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to lead a major fundraising effort to help the Haitian people. Together they established the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund (CBHF) - which has raised over $50 million from over 230,000 individuals and organizations, and has disbursed more than $4 million in grants to organizations on the ground in Haiti providing near-term relief and recovery assistance, designed to help the people of Haiti rebuild - and build back better. 

Since the initial round of donations were pledged, on January 25th there was a one-day conference held in Montreal, Canada to assess the relief effort and make further plans.  Haitian Prime Minister Jean Bellerive told the audience from 20 countries that Haiti would “need massive support for its recovery from the international community”.

Another donors' conference, delayed by almost 3 months, took place at UN headquarters in New York in March. The 26-member international Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission, headed by Bill Clinton and the Haitian Prime Minister didn't get together until last June 2010. That committee is set to oversee the $5.3 billion pledged internationally for the first two years of Haiti's reconstruction; but only ten percent of it has been delivered, mostly as forgiven debt to Haiti. The rest is stalled in more than 60 countries and organizations that pledged help.

Still, nine months later, international officials are looking at the long term planning needs of reconstruction while also continuing to deal with the daily task of managing the emergency situation. 

Here’s where things stand at the moment:

(PHOTO: St. Felix Eves refugee camp, Haiti. Readyforanything.org) -   As of October 1, there were over 1 million refugees living in 1300 tent cities throughout the country in what’s been called `treacherous’ humanitarian situation;

-    As much as 98% of the rubble from the quake remains uncleared. An estimated 26 million cubic yards (20 million cubic meters) remain, making most of the capital impassable, and thousands of bodies remained in the rubble.

-   The number of people living in relief camps of tents and tarps since the quake was 1.6 million, with almost no transitional housing had been built. Most of the camps have no electricity, running water, or sewage disposal, and the tents were beginning to fall apart. Crime in the camps was widespread, especially against women and girls.

-   From 23 major charities, $1.1 billion has been collected for Haiti for relief efforts, but only two percent of the money has been released. According to a CBS report, $3.1 billion had been pledged for humanitarian aid and was used to pay for field hospitals, plastic tarps, bandages, and food, plus salaries, transportation and upkeep of relief workers. Incredibly, by May 2010, enough aid had been raised internationally to give each displaced family a check for $37,000.

(PHOTO: Wikipedia, Damaged buildings in Port-Au-Prince) The Haitian government said it was unable to tackle debris clean-up or the resettlement of homeless because it must prepare for hurricane season. Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive has been quoted as saying, "The real priority of the government is to protect the population from the next hurricane season, and most of our effort right now is going right now in that direction."

And if natural disasters weren’t enough to slay the spirit of the Haitian people, a new UN Report out this week states that “Wars, natural disasters and poor government institutions have contributed to a continuous state of undernourishment” in some 22 nations, including Haiti.

The hearty island nation is no stranger to turmoil and chaos: anyone reading its history from the time of the colonial powers would conclude this. Haiti is the world's oldest black republic and the second-oldest republic in the Western Hemisphere, after the United States and did not receive U.S. diplomatic recognition until 1862.  What should also come as no surprise to many is that before the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the nation needed help to survive, and now after the earthquake, the country is even more in need of help. 

But what kind of help does Haiti need?

Refugees International, a U.S.-based non-governmental organization, made some startling claims in its latest field report, called "Haiti: Still Trapped in the Emergency Phase," just one day after former president Bill Clinton toured a Port-au-Prince camp. It says Haitians living in refugee camps set up after a devastating January earthquake are at risk of hunger, gang intimidation and rape.

“People are being threatened by gangs, and women are getting raped," said Refugees International President Michel Gabaudan in a release.  "Practically no one is available to communicate with the people living in these squalid camps and find better ways to protect them."  Refugees International says there are still 1,300 camps in Haiti, mostly run by the International Organization of Migration (IOM).  Melanie Teff said Haitians still living in camps often have "no one to turn to for help."

"Young men come with weapons and rape the women. They haven't reported it, because the hospitals, the police — everything was destroyed in the earthquake," reports Hannah, a nurse who sleeps in a makeshift tent in a volatile camp outside of Port-au-Prince.

Bill Clinton, the co-chair of the commission overseeing Haiti's reconstruction, expressed frustration with the slow delivery of promised funds by donors who have delivered about $732 million of a promised $5.3 billion in funds for 2010-11, along with debt relief.

What’s needed according to Haitian officials, citizens and other experts are communication systems, project management, security, food, jobs, housing, mediation, regulatory easing to doing business, and political stability.  According to Transparency International, an NGO which studies corruption levels worldwide in their annual Corruption Perceptions Index, Haiti has a particularly high level of corruption making the rebuilding job even harder.   

INCREASINGLY, PRIVATE EFFORTS ABOUND: 

As the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation struggles to rise up from one of the most destructive natural catastrophes in recent history, Haiti and the huge international aid operation assisting it are looking to private enterprise and investment to be the powerhouse of reconstruction.

Despite $11 billion pledged by donors, the aid commitments work out at $110 a year for each of Haiti's 10 million people, a per capita sum which paled in comparison with huge needs in housing, infrastructure, health and education, on top of daunting humanitarian costs.

In the 2010 Doing Business report prepared by the World Bank, which ranks business conditions around the world, Haiti already lagged at 151 out of 183 economies.

To help Haiti, companies such as The Timberland Co. says it plans to plant 5 million trees in the next five years in Haiti and in China’s Horqin Desert, two regions “that have long suffered severe and widespread impacts from deforestation.”   And to increase its efforts, the shoe marketer is also launching the Timberland Earthkeepers Virtual Forest Facebook application. Consumers can help Timberland plant additional trees in Haiti (above and beyond the five in five commitments) by creating a virtual forest on Facebook.  The larger the virtual forest, the more real trees planted.  

(PHOTO: NASA, deforestation on Haiti/Dominican Republic border)The environment is one of the most significant factors most experts point to as both a past problem and a future solution for the beleaguered country.   In 1925, Haiti was lush, with 60% of its original forest covering the lands and mountainous regions. Since then, the population has cut down an estimated 98% of its original forest cover for use as fuel for cook stoves, and in the process has destroyed fertile farmland soils, contributing to desertification.

In addition to soil erosion, deforestation has caused periodic flooding, as seen with Hurricane Jeanne in September, 2004. While Jeanne was only a tropical storm at the time with weak winds, the rains caused large mudslides and coastal flooding which killed more than 1,500 people and left 200,000 starving and homeless. The UN and other nations dispatched several hundred troops in addition to those already stationed in Haiti to provide disaster relief assistance. Looting and desperation caused by hunger resulted in turmoil at food distribution centers.

Earlier that year in May, floods killed more than 3,000 people on Haiti's southern border with the Dominican Republic.

Haiti was again pummeled by tropical storms in late August and early September 2008. The storms – Tropical Storm Fay, Hurricane Gustav, Hurricane Hanna and Hurricane Ike – all produced heavy winds and rain in Haiti. Due to weak soil conditions, the country’s mountainous terrain, and the devastating coincidence of four storms within less than four weeks, valley and lowland areas throughout the country experienced massive flooding. A September 10, 2008 source listed 331 dead and 800,000 in need of humanitarian aid in light of the flood. 

And, this, many experts agree, is just where Haiti’s reconstruction effort should begin – and could, in fact become a model for the rest of the world if done well.

(PHOTO: the Haiti Huddle 2010, Douglas Cohen) Last week’s Haiti Huddle 2010 an effort of Helping Hands for a Sustainable Haiti, an organization founded by Lisa McFadin and Thera N. Kalmijn at San Francisco’s Fort Mason, brought together development, humanitarian and investment experts from both the US, Haiti and from other countries tackled several crucial issues.

The groups’ main mission was to work on breaking the logjam of red tape which has seemingly kept 1.3 million people living in refugee camps for the past nine months by focusing on culturally-appropriate solutions for and by Haitians; and working on practical sustainable solution to recreate an environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable Haiti.  

According to John Engle, of Haiti Partners, “Education and community infrastructure are the foundation to get to a meaningful development plan.  The country must recognize what got us here. A lack of investment in education and lack of cultural sensitivity and in fact connectivity and communication is why little to no progress has been made in the emergency of what many Haitians are still dealing with.“ 

Sam Bloch, Country Coordinator in Haiti of Grass Roots United says, "There were literally hundreds of NGO's on the ground before the earthquake focusing on community empowerment, collaboration and providing basic resources. But even before the earthquake the fabric of this community was torn and broken. Starting now it must be re-woven.  The Haitian community in country and in the larger Diaspora must re-unite and mobilize, in collaboration with all the organizations that pushed us aside after the disaster. We need to reconnect the service providers for such services as counseling, education, water, structures, food systems with community leaders.”

In fact one of the most important efforts that must be made according to Douglas Cohen, Founder of the Sustainable Haiti Coalition is, “Massive investments in education for longer term solutions, jobs, building schools, and revamping curriculum that includes wireless transmission for the whole country and which provides educational materials, and increases teachers’ salaries; paving the way to inter-active curricula; films, and video highlighting Haitian success stories, with Haitians implementing their own solutions.”

Other private efforts include electricity generators from E-Power, a $56.7 million Haitian-South Korean private investment that has forged ahead despite the January 12th earthquake; as well as an industrial park and garment manufacturing operation involving Sae-A Trading Company Limited, one of South Korea’s leading textile manufacturers, in a potential investment of between $10 million and $25 million being backed by the IFC and the U.S. State Department.

Last month, an Argentine entrepreneur announced a project with the Haiti-based WIN business group to build a $33 million, 240-room airport hotel in Port-au-Prince and there are government plans to create several special economic zones across the country. These would concentrate private businesses and investments in manufacturing, tourism and services, creating essential jobs and housing and driving development.

ELECTIONS COMING UP IN HAITI:

(PHOTO: Singer, activist Wyclef Jean, VIA Treehugger) In Haiti, campaigning for next month's November 28 presidential elections is well under way. Nineteen candidates are vying to lead the earthquake-ravaged nation; and with Haitian-American musician Wyclef Jean out of the race there's no clear front-runner. It could be a contentious battle for one of the toughest political jobs in the world.

The next president will have to oversee the reconstruction and try to redirect what was already one of the most dysfunctional nations on earth.  Before the quake, roughly 80 percent of the population lived in poverty. Roads, electrical lines, sewers and other infrastructure were in desperate need of repair. Now, they need to be completely rebuilt, along with most of the capital city.

Allegations of fraud in Haitian elections are practically inevitable, but this year's balloting faces additional challenges. The quake destroyed 40 percent of the polling stations in the country, killed tens of thousands of voters and displaced hundreds of thousands of others; and  numerous people lost all their documents and no longer have voting cards.

(PHOTO: Haiti's Presidential Palace, Wikipedia) But whatever happens in Haiti’s elections, and whoever wins the crumbling Presidential palace, will have their hands full, eleven months later with the still critical priority of getting the lives of Haiti’s citizens along with the entire infrastructure of a long and storied nation, back on its feet again.  And this, will certainly take a global village effort – private, NGO, corporate, government, and otherwise. 

--- Written by HUMNEWS staff.

"WE ARE THE WORLD: FOR HAITI"

Monday
Sep272010

HUMNEWS HEADLINES - September 27, 2010 (North and South Oceans)

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Sep172010

HUMNEWS HEADLINES - September 17, 2010 (North and South Oceans) 

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Aug312010

HUMNEWS HEADLINES - August 31, 2010 (North and South Oceans) 

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Aug062010

HUMNEWS HEADLINES - August 6, 2010 (North and South Oceans) 

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Jul272010

HUMNEWS HEADLINES - July 27, 2010 (North and South Oceans) 

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Jul092010

HUMNEWS HEADLINES - July 9, 2010 (North and South Oceans) 

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Jun292010

HUMNEWS HEADLINES - June 29, 2010 (North and South Oceans)