Haiti: News roundup, one week after earthquake

By Xeni Jardin

haiticat.jpg

(Photo: Two Haitian earthquake survivors at a hospital overseen by MINUSTAH, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti. Photographed by Catherine Lainé of AIDG, who was interviewed in this previous Boing Boing video episode.)

Solar-powered "Proclaimers" (audio Bibles) sent to Haiti. They broadcast the holy scriptures in Creole. Maybe the folks there could use food more than bibles right now?

• But wait, there's more! "People of Haiti, your ordeal is at an end. John Travolta is bringing the healing power of Scientology."

• @baratunde posts an interesting series of text messages from Anil Menon, a doctor currently in Haiti who is a clinical instructor at Stanford School of Medicine (his focus is surgery and emergency medicine). Read: Update from Haiti: "Today was more hopeful."

• Wired Danger Room reports that aa controversial CIA contractor has found new work in Haiti, flying drones over the quake-devastated nation.

Peter Haas, founder of AIDG.org, writes about the broader crises in Haiti: "After 9/11, how much did you have in your pocket? Could you live off of that for a week? What if you lived around LA and it got nuked? The port gone, no airport, no electricity, no cellphones, no atms, no gas, banks closed, dozens of people you know are dead, over a million people making their way into the streets of your home town bit by bit. How would you be feeling? How long till you got desperate? This is the current life in the rest of Haiti, in the big cities and the small towns, unaffected by the earth quake structurally but destroyed, spiritually and bit by bit unraveling at a staggering rate."

• "Haiti.com crowdsources the task of connecting real-time information from Haiti into a graphical information system that first responders use to find and respond to needs on the ground."

• AIDG is also mentioned in this NYT item about smaller, indie nonprofits that take new approaches to rebuilding after disasters like the one that just hit Haiti.

• How NASA satellite images help relief agencies locate landslide risks.

• Leave it to Loren Coleman to find a (sincere) cryptozoology angle in every possible news story (Sasquatch bless him). Behold, the cryptids of Haiti.

Why are the images coming out of Haiti so graphic, as compared to what we see in news from Iraq or Afghanistan?

• "A Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) cargo plane carrying 12 tons of medical equipment, including drugs, surgical supplies and two dialysis machines, was turned away three times from Port-au-Prince airport since Sunday night despite repeated assurances of its ability to land there." And, guess what: apparently, the mighty Twitter played a role in helping the plane land. A related post on the NYT Lede blog, which has been an excellent source of news and updates on this story.

Jeffrey Sachs, in the Washington Post: "To prevent a deepening spiral of death, the United States will have to do things differently than in the past. American relief and development institutions do not function properly, and to believe otherwise would be to condemn Haiti's poor and dying to our own mythology."

• An ABC News story on the evacuation to the US of a Haitian man who works with child slaves. He himself was a survivor of enslavement.

(some links via Ehrich Blackhound, Catherine Lainé, Instapundit, William Gibson, Gawker)

Published 8:21 pm Tue, Jan 19, 2010

About the Author

Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: xeni@boingboing.net.

10 Responses to “Haiti: News roundup, one week after earthquake”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Yes.. they probably could use more food than bibles.

    BUT if it were to give one person hope in a troubled time how can you knock it? I’m sure the intentions were good and true.

  2. Steve says:

    Worse yet, the bibles are inscribed with the actual bible verses, not just the references. What next, tattooing them on their foreheads before they’re given food? Where will these religious nutjobs stop? This is utterly fucking heinous!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    oh i see haiti.com uses usaishidi dashboard which i like, but is any ngo using it?

    so usaidhi uses google maps, so what specific use is the osm maps being added to, maybe more be more use in the long term as its open

  4. Anonymous says:

    ‘”After 9/11, how much did you have in your pocket? Could you live off of that … in the big cities and the small towns, unaffected by the earth quake structurally but destroyed, spiritually and bit by bit unraveling at a staggering rate.”

    ————-

    The American news doesn’t report it, but America was hit by a 9.0 earthquake on November, 2008, and one by one friends are calling to say they’ve been fired, or their company closed its doors and they lost their pensions, or their house is upside down and they’re living with their kids hiding from the collections agency, tapping on the Inbox from business associates growing quieter, days going by, weeks, the smell of a rotting economy spreading across the US, 46 states bankrupt, retail at a 47 year low, major companies announcing stunning losses.

    ‘How long could you last’ should be on everyone’s lips.

  5. Jeremy Hill says:

    Bash the bibles all you want, but they can definitely provide comfort to some. Just because it doesn’t mean anything to you doesn’t mean it can’t mean a world of moral support for someone else.

  6. MisterDarcy says:

    Ditto with Jeremey.

    It is obvious to anyone watching the news in Haiti that by and large Haitians are religious people. If Bibles can help provide moral and psychological support, so let it be part of the international help.

    Take a look at the Salvation Army blog. They’ve been helping out in Haiti since day 1 of the earthquake. Same with other missionaries that have been actively there for years.

    I understand that BoingBoing is a geeky, alternative culture, technology-centric, science-focused and arty blog – but this is not the time or place to belittle a religion that is so much a part of the lives of many Haitians.

    • Cowicide says:

      I understand that BoingBoing is a geeky, alternative culture, technology-centric, science-focused and arty blog – but this is not the time or place to belittle a religion that is so much a part of the lives of many Haitians.

      Yes, but do you understand a thing called a cost/benefit ratio?

      When people are dying by the second.. every second counts. Many Haitians love dance and music too, shall we go ahead and start up a benefit music concert right now in Port-au-Prince? Shall we distribute juke boxes on every street corner?

      How many human lives are worth dying from the deflection of time and resources to distribute and administer these jesus bullhorn radios? They need water, food, shelter and urgent medical care and every second they don’t get it.. they die.

      It’s like your kid accidentally swallows some poisonous cleanser and you immediately get on the horn to hire a motivational speaker to come by the house and a band to play the funeral march when you should be calling emergency services instead. Insane, man… insane.

      You religious nuts are downright dangerous for this world.

  7. Rob Beschizza says:

    Refresh

  8. Rindan says:

    I second the “meh” response to the bible speakers. I imagine that they are small and cheap, and the sort of thing you could just add to a food drop at minimal cost. If disaster struct my hometown of Boston and I was scared and waiting for help, I would be heartened if someone air dropped the Bostonian godless heathen equivalent of the Bible on me. I would totally dig Niven’s Lucifer’s Hammer or Footfall in such a situation.

    I would not count out the value of boosted moral. Despair is as sure of a way to die in such horrific disasters as disease. If some choice Bible quotes inspire desperate people to carry on, who am I to judge?

    As much as everyone is looking for something to criticize in the response to Haiti, I am frankly proud of the world community. The world community has reacted swiftly to provided a nearly limitless supply of material support in these critical first few days of crisis. The US and other neighboring nations responded as rapidly as you could expect to get boots on the ground given that the crisis had zero warning. I don’t think most people realize the logistic nightmare that is being faced in dumping a few thousand people and supplies to tend to a few million people into a devastated nation with no infrastructure… with no warning.

  9. dublinstreams says:

    can anyone point me to a ngo actually using crowdsourced maps

    the Ushahidi system is good but surely any ngo actually putting resources into maps has bought a heavy commerical one.

    ushahidi uses google maps so which ngo is using open street maps?

    maybe they’ll be more use in the long term as open use for haitians

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