Haiti Brings Former Adversaries Together…

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…to work for healing and reconstruction.

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WASHINGTON – JANUARY 16: US President Barack Obama (L) former President Bill Clinton (C) and former President George W. Bush (R) walk to the Rose Garden to speak about relief for Haiti on January 16, 2010 in Washington DC. President Obama spoke about how the American people can help in the recovery and rebuilding effort going forward in Haiti. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

I’m sure Rush, Beck, et al, will find a way to demean this humane gesture.

Cancel Haiti’s Foreign Debt

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From Foreign Policy magazine, a sensible, humane suggestion:

Haiti, as a nation, has suffered violence, unrest, juntas, and natural disasters. One thing it need not suffer anymore, given the earthquake? Its debt obligations. This Times of London article explains how Haiti became so indebted in the first place.

The appalling state of the country is a direct result of having offended a quite different celestial authority — the French. France gained the western third of the island of Hispaniola — the territory that is now Haiti — in 1697. It planted sugar and coffee, supported by an unprecedented increase in the importation of African slaves. Economically, the result was a success, but life as a slave was intolerable. Living conditions were squalid, disease was rife, and beatings and abuses were universal. The slaves’ life expectancy was 21 years. After a dramatic slave uprising that shook the western world, and 12 years of war, Haiti finally defeated Napoleon’s forces in 1804 and declared independence. But France demanded reparations: 150m francs, in gold.

I never knew this.

Maybe the French should give that money back. Just sayin…

There’s more from FP

(H/t @ezraklein)

Praying for Haiti

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From AidWatch:

Today our thoughts go out to those who are suffering from the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti yesterday, and to all those contributing to relief efforts there.

An email we received this morning from Saundra Schimmelpfennig, who has experience coordinating tsunami relief in Thailand and writes the blog Good Intentions Are Not Enough, highlights some of the problems that arise in responding to a large scale disaster such as this one:

Immediately after a disaster is prime fundraising time for NGOs. So they all rush in and put out immediate appeals before there’s any clear idea of what or how much they can actually help. Only fund those that already have an office established in country because of the amount of time and money it takes to get anything more than just search and rescue up and running. If you want to move into anything such as temporary shelters, food distribution, those with an already established presence will know the people and systems better and be able to work more quickly and less expensively.

I prefer for people to try to support small, local CBOs [Community-based organizations] as they are already on the ground responding, and will be helping in the country for a long time.

There’s more. Please follow this link!