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All People Matter

Our Neighbors in Haiti Have Also Been Strongly Impacted By Hurricane Sandy

As we respond to the impact of Hurricane Sandy and the subsequent inland storm here in the United States, we should also recall our neighbors in Haiti who have also been adversely impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

(Above–Hurricane Sandy over the Caribbean on October 24.)

From The New York Times

“On Monday, the scale of damage in Haiti from Hurricane Sandy became evident. Even though the storm’s center skirted the country, more than 20 inches of rain fell on Haiti’s south and southwest over four days last week, causing at least 52 deaths, tearing out crops and destroying houses…. The government said that the homes of as many as 200,000 people had been damaged — on top of almost 400,000 people still homeless from the January 2010 earthquake. ” 

The Guardian newspaper in England has interviews with leader of international non-profits that are part of the relief efforts in Haiti.

Here is the link to the International Rescue Committee.  This international organization is offering assistance to folks in Haiti.

Here is a BBC overview of Haiti.

October 30, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Flights Of Critically Injured Haitians To U.S. Stopped In Money Dispute

File:Boy receiving treatment after Haiti earthquake.jpg

A dispute over who will pay the bill has stopped the airlift of critically injured Haitian earthquake victims to Florida.

These folks cannot the help they need in Haiti.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist has written a letter asking the federal government to pay some of the costs of treating these patients in Florida.

Other states have also received a smaller number of these patients and those flights have stopped for the moment as well.

This dispute could not have been resolved while the flights continued?

Some say it is the military that is halting the flights. The military says some hospitals are denying the patients.

Governor Crist is running in a Republican primary for the U.S. Senate against a tea party-type. This primary is closer than had been expected.

Is Governor Crist raising this point to protect himself from a charge that he is allowing Florida to spend money on dark-skinned foreigners?

Could nobody in the federal government contact the White House so the President could order flights to continue? I’m sure that in the end something will be worked out to pay for these treatments.

Meanwhile, it is possible that somebody has died already because they could not get airlifted out of Haiti and receive better treatment.

Can’t people get their acts together when lives are on the line?

It really is sickening. It’s all about money.

The relief effort in Haiti is ongoing. Doctors Without Borders is one of a number of groups that is offering needed help.

January 30, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Haiti Earthquake Links

The earthquake in Haiti is a terrible disaster.

This event is being covered from many perspectives.

Here is a comprehensive report from the BBC.

Here is comment on the quake by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The excellent Global Voices has stories and links related to the quake.

The Miami Herald is providing extensive coverage of events in Haiti.

CNN is devoting many resources to this story.

A blog in Haiti writing about the quake is the Livesay (Haiti) Blog.

A blog focused on the Caribbean and writing about the quake is Repeating Islands.

The Reuters news agency has a live blog from Haiti.

Here are basic facts about Haiti from the BBC.

Here is an extensive history of Haiti.

Here is an account from the BBC of what causes earthquakes.

Help is needed for the survivors in Haiti

Many groups are taking donations.

The New York Times has a list of groups taking donations.

In addition to the organizations on the New York Times list, there is the United Way Worldwide Disaster Fund.

Most people in our country have at least some amount of money they can donate for earthquake relief.

January 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Earthquake In Haiti—We As Individuals Have The Resources To Help

Haiti Twitter earthquake picture

(Update–1/14/10–-I’ve compiled a post of links to individuals and news agencies covering the  situation in Haiti.)

A terrible earthquake and strong aftershocks have hit our hemispheric neighbors in Haiti.

Above is a picture from the disaster.

UNICEF has made an emergency appeal for help for Haiti.

A hospital has collapsed and poorly constructed buildings and homes have been destroyed.

The resources do not exist in Haiti to build things up to earthquake-proof standards.

Haiti was already the poorest nation in our hemisphere.

Here is information about earthquakes. We hear about earthquakes, but do we know what they are?

Haiti has often been struck by natural disasters.

Hurricane Ike, which did so much damage in the United States in 2008, was one of four hurricanes to hit Haiti in that year.

A big cloud of dust has been reported over the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. since the earthquake.  This cloud is thought to have been kicked up by structures knocked down by the earthquake.

Here is a link to an extensive history of Haiti.

Haiti was founded in 1804 by black people–former slaves— who won independence from France.

Here is a profile of Haiti from the BBC.

Most of us are able to write a least a small check for earthquake  relief in Haiti. Think of all the things we waste our money on in day-to-day life.

Here is a link to a list of groups taking money for earthquake relief in Haiti.

January 13, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 8 Comments

Houston Mayor Annise Parker Must Have A Broad And Hopeful View Of Who Our Neighbors Are—The Earthquake In Haiti

“The weekend freeze has ended on a good note and city departments reported no major problems. Our city faired well, but it reminds us to check on our neighbors during these times. It makes our city stronger and better prepares us when other weather-related situations occur. – Annise”

What you see above is a Facebook post made yesterday by new Houston Mayor Annise Parker. She was writing about the recent unusually cold weather we have had in Houston.

Mayor Parker addressed the cold weather in Houston as one of the first acts in her term as Mayor. Mayor Parker’s response to the cold was swift and caring.

With the earthquake in Haiti, I wrote what you see below on Mayor Parker’s Facebook page in response to her comments on the cold weather and her view that those put at risk by the cold are our neighbors.

Mayor Parker–Thank you for your attention to the needs of our people during the cold weather. I think the efforts of our city made a difference in saving lives. You addressed this issue right from the start.

With the earthquake in Haiti today, I wonder if Haiti has a consulate in Houston. Is there a formal way we can express our concern as citizens of Houston? These folks in Haiti are our neighbors just as much as our own people that might be out in the cold.

Our strength in Houston comes from welcoming a diverse population. I’m sure there are many people from Haiti in our city.

We can’t accept the benefits of diversity without taking on the obligations. Can just one crew of city workers go to Haiti to provide help? What about an appeal to Haitians in our city and all people in our city to write a check for disaster relief?

This is an international city and all people are our neighbors. Your official duties are here at home. But given what we gain from elsewhere in the world, your obligations and our obligations are extensive. Thank you.

Here is a story reporting that Los Angeles County has sent a fire rescue team to help people in Haiti.

If the good people of Los Angeles county can offer help, so can the City of Houston.

We can all at least make a small effort to help our neighbors in need.

Here is a link discussing groups taking donations for earthquake relief in Haiti.

January 13, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Recovery As An Act Both Of Rebuilding & Imagination —After Hurricane Ike Post #4

It’s evident enough to anybody in Houston that what we will narrowly define as “recovery” is still some weeks away from being completed. The restoration of power, cleaning of debris, and repair of homes and business places will be an involved process. 

( Above–Conditions as they were one week ago)  

For many school kids however, the gig may be up. Houston schools and the large suburban Cypress-Fairbanks school district will at least be partially open on Monday. The snow days I got as a kid were better than hurricane days I’d say. The snow would melt with little enough damage to people’s homes and lives.

In Houston, many traffic lights are still out or blinking red. Conversations I overhear on the street or in restaurants are still about who has power and who does not. Power may be on in a home, but the cable TV might still be out. 

Reports today from the island nation of Haiti show the effects of this year’s tropical storms and hurricanes, including Ike, on this poor part of the world. Floods have washed away much of the crops.

While most in Houston have taken the effects of Hurricane Ike in good stride, I wish we had the ability to better place events and problems in the fullest possible context. I say this about myself as well. We often don’t have much sense at all about what is a real problem and what is just a hassle.

In Galveston, of course, conditions are much worse than just a hassle.

At the top of this post I said we will likely use what I term a “narrow” definition of recovery to describe efforts to help Houston, Galveston, and other communities impacted by Ike. I say this because so much work was already needed in our communities to make the Houston area a more decent place to live.

I can’t place much trust in the same leaders and in the same civic structure, such as it is in Houston, that has so often been nowhere to be found when people need help.  

It would be great to see in upcoming weeks potential candidates for Mayor of Houston in next year’s election, such as Peter Brown and Annise Parker, outline a vision for Houston that helps people move away from being one bad hurricane away from economic and personal disaster. We know that before any hurricane, many in our area lived in what might as well be termed disaster conditions of poverty and hopelessness.

In Galveston, rebuilding must involve all people. It can’t be about just those who can build new and bigger homes more suitable to a weekend community. People are going to need a better Galveston for everyday living.

Recovery is about the needed work to fix things that are broken and blown away. It is also about the imagination required to help make our area better than what it was before the storm.

September 20, 2008 Posted by | Galveston, Houston, Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Picture Of Fishing Boat In Haiti

Here is a picture of a fishing boat in Haiti. It was taken by a Remi Kaupp.

There are so many different ways to live and so many things to see and know about in the world.  

January 8, 2008 Posted by | Sea Life, Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

Do “The People” Exist In A Political Sense?—Questions Spurred By A Low Turnout Election


Despite a number of important ballot issues and at least a few open City Council seats in Houston, voters in Houston and Harris County turned out at only around 10% of registered persons.

Here are some questions I have based on this terrible turnout. They are questions that would apply to any low turnout election— 

1. Does a political entity such as a city or a county exist in the most meaningful regard of a shared sense of citizenship when so few people vote? No wonder conditions in Houston are so awful for so many people.

2. Are candidates elected by so few people legitimately elected? Why should office holders not vote the way large donors and more affluent voters wish them to vote, when little counter pressure is exerted by an involved public?

3. Don’t you imagine elected officials hold the public in contempt over such low turnout?   

4. If you accept Aristotle’s premise that society existed before the individual, to people delegitimize their very existence by failing to take part in politics? Do “the people” truly exist in a political sense when turnout is so bad?

5. If county and city services would be temporarily suspended unless municipal elections generated at least 75% turnout, do you think people would then vote? I bet a 75% threshold would be met if folks were told police, fire and water service would be stopped until enough people decided they were really part of our society.

The above picture is of people voting in Haiti in 2006.  Imagine that people can line up and possibly face violence to vote in a poor place like Haiti, but people in Houston and Harris County and elsewhere in America will not come out and vote.   

November 9, 2007 Posted by | Books, Houston, Houston Council Election '07, Politics | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments