quinta-feira, 14 de janeiro de 2010
By Betsy Mason
The pictures and video from on-the-ground reports in Haiti following the magnitude 7 earthquake Tuesday are truly heartbreaking. But it is difficult to imagine the full extent of the damage to that country and its capital, Port-au-Prince, in particular. These new satellite images released Wednesday by Google and GeoEye show the devastation from above, giving a new view of the severity of this disaster. We’ve posted some of the images here. You can also scan the entire city with Google Earth as well.
The satellite image above, captured by the GeoEye-1 satellite Wednesday morning, shows the National Palace after the quake. Below is an image from March 2008.
The Stade Sylvio Cator is a 30,000-seat sports arena used for soccer games. Above it is shown surrounded by fallen buildings and rubble Wednesday. People gather on the field, probably camping there after losing their homes or out of fear that their homes could collapse during an aftershock. The stadium is shown below in 2008.
A whole wing of this building that flanks the National Palace appears to have been reduced to rubble by the quake. The intact building is shown below in 2008.
This area near the center of Port-au-Prince has several buildings that appear to have completely collapsed.
People gather in the Champs de Mars plaza adjacent to the National Palace after Tuesday’s earthquake. The plaza contains statues of Haiti’s founding fathers, the French embassy and museums. Below, the area looks serene in 2008.
This building is located in the hills on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.
This field appears to be filled with people who are either homeless or afraid to go back inside buildings that may be unstable and prone to collapse in an aftershock.
Multiple buildings have clearly collapsed in this area of Port-au-Prince, and several more appear ready to crumble. Numerous strong aftershocks of magnitude 5 and up have continued to bring down buildings that were damaged and weakened by the mainshock. Below, the same area is shown in 2008.
Virtually an entire block was leveled in this area.
This building near the National Palace in the city center was completely destroyed.
Despite criticism from farmers who say they are barely scraping by, discount grocery chains and on Thursday announced further markdowns in an ongoing price war.
Some 40 different foods – including vegetable oil, peanuts, corn flakes, cherries, and chocolate bars – will now be even more affordable, according to the retailers.
Other chains generally follow when discount market leader Aldi slashes its prices – which it did 12 times last year.
But farmers have complained repeatedly that their wares are worth more. Ahead of , the world’s largest agricultural trade show beginning on Thursday in Berlin, industry leaders called for a re-examination of the grocery price war.
“The price mess, selling foodstuffs at a loss, must have an end,” head of the national food industry association said on Wednesday.
Meanwhile told daily that lower prices were not just damaging to farmers, but would also “sooner or later reduce the quality and therefore affect consumers”.
The Local | Germany
By David Hughes, Press Association
Further job losses are likely as part of the modernisation of Royal Mail, Business Minister Pat McFadden said today.
Both Royal Mail's management and the unions recognised that fewer people would work for the state-owned company in future, he said.
Union dissatisfaction over the Royal Mail's modernisation programme, pay and job cuts last year led to wildcat strikes followed by a series of official walkouts.
At Commons question time, Mr McFadden said: "During the dispute before Christmas we kept in touch with both sides, encouraging an agreement on modernisation of Royal Mail.
"These talks are continuing and I believe that in the context of falling mail volumes and the greater use of new technology both Royal Mail and representatives of the workforce understand that there are likely to be fewer people working for Royal Mail in the future than there are today".
Labour's John Robertson (Glasgow NW) said he was "disappointed" that Mr McFadden was not taking a more active role in talks between the Royal Mail and the unions.
Mr McFadden said the Government had put a "considerable" amount of money into the Royal Mail.
But the company's multi-billion pound pension deficit was an issue for the Royal Mail to tackle, he said.
The Government was forced to ditch legislation that would have seen the state bail out the pension deficit as part of a package involving the part-privatisation of Royal Mail.
In the face of opposition from Labour MPs and the Communication Workers Union, Business Secretary Lord Mandelson dropped the legislation, claiming that market conditions meant it was not the right time to find a buyer for a share of Royal Mail.
Mr McFadden said the Government had made clear the pension bailout was part of that package and "not something that items can be picked out one by one".
Shadow business minister Jonathan Djanogly said: "Royal Mail requires urgent structural reform if it and its employers are going to move forward.
"However the unions and Labour backbenchers have forced a weak Government to pull the Postal Services Bill.
"So what, other than Conservative government, is going to deliver any action for reform?"
Mr McFadden told him: "We did not proceed with the Postal Services Bill because the market conditions did not allow us to get the best value for money for the taxpayer."
The Tories would privatise the Royal Mail, Mr McFadden said, adding: "That is not our proposal, it wasn't our proposal in the past".
The Royal Mail last month reported an increase in its half-yearly operating profit by £7 million to £184 million despite a continuing decline in the number of letters posted.
Profits were up by 4 per cent in the six months to September, when deliveries in some parts of the country, including London, were hit by unofficial strikes.
The daily postbag averaged 72 million, down by three million from the previous year and 12 million fewer than in 2006.
About 5,000 jobs were cut in the period, bringing the total to 60,000 since 2002 through voluntary redundancy or natural turnover, leaving a workforce of 171,400.
The earthquake left some hillside homes demolished while leaving other buildings seemingly untouched. Outside assistance, and relief efforts, appear nonexistent
By Tina Susman and Joe Mozingo
Reporting from Port-Au-Prince, Haiti - As darkness fell on Haiti's capital Wednesday, crowds sought out the relative safety of the streets and open spaces.
In a hillside neighborhood just above downtown Port-au-Prince, they gathered under a spectacularly starry sky. And they sang. Like a huge school choir, earthquake survivors broke out in loud communal song, a soothing sound in a city with no power, little water and untold numbers of bodies hidden in rubble or strewn along the roadsides.
But the songs turned to screams as a strong aftershock hit, shaking the buildings that survived the magnitude 7.0 earthquake Tuesday and jolting the streets.
In moments, the crowd on the streets grew. Many of those who had risked remaining inside ran from their shaky shelters, away from the walls and ceilings that had caused such destruction a day earlier. People loitered, some looking at nearby buildings or collapsed walls.
Then the singing and chanting continued -- Catholic, Protestant, voodoo. "God, all of our hope is in you!" one man cried.
Across Port-au-Prince, the damage seemed nearly random.
Some homes covering hillsides looked as if they had simply crumbled into the dirt. Major government institutions and businesses were damaged or destroyed. Other buildings, such as the cheerful-looking Rose Restaurant, appeared untouched.
Officials could only guess at the number of dead and injured. Along the city's roadsides, the bodies were neatly lined up, some covered in white sheets and some not.
The corpses included that of a girl, perhaps a teenager, in pink shorts; a couple lying next to each other; a man covered in a sheet save for his horribly swollen feet.
There was virtually no sign of outside assistance other than a few United Nations vehicles passing by. There was little police presence, no water being handed out, no encampments, except those set up by people apparently left homeless by the quake or those too afraid to go back into their ramshackle homes.
Tent and tarp cities sprang up wherever there was shade or open space. Virtually no shops were open, leaving residents in the street with no apparent means of finding food.
Outside the Canape Vert Hospital, a crowd surged toward the entrance. A few bodies covered with sheets lay nearby on the road. From the streets, choked with cars and pedestrians, one could hear a person screaming in the medical facility.
At the St. Esprit Hospital, a knot of people gathered at the gate seeking treatment for the injured.
"They take them out here because they can't pay," said Colas Enelson, 36.
Enelson said his pregnant wife had suffered broken legs. Neighbors had pulled her out of the rubble of their home.
Like other anxious relatives gathered at this spot and in the open around the city, he feared that she might die here, staring up at the stars.
Many of the injured had hideous wounds. Outside a makeshift Doctors Without Borders center a short walk from St. Esprit, one young woman, her foot impaled on a large wooden stake, lay on a refrigerator door being used as a stretcher.
A clearly harried worker in the guarded compound said there was no means to treat severely injured people. Only bandages and other equipment to provide basic care were available, the worker said.
The most formal kind of "triage" in plain sight was on the grounds of the once-lavish Villa Creole hotel, which had been turned into a makeshift outdoor hospital. The grounds were covered with injured: swollen, bloody limbs; crying children; others too weak or injured to make a sound.
"Ask him if he can wiggle his toes," a man who appeared to be a doctor said to a woman as a young boy slumped in one of the hotel's lounge chairs.
Some of the worst damage appeared to be in hillside neighborhoods such as Petionville, a suburb of the capital. People used sledgehammers and their bare hands to dig through a collapsed shopping center, tossing aside mattresses and office supplies, according to news reports. More than a dozen cars were entombed, including a U.N. truck.
Elsewhere in the capital, structures lay collapsed like giant sandwiches, with layer upon layer of concrete and remnants showing through: mattresses, shreds of clothing, chairs.
On the gentle hillside near downtown, two young women lay on mattresses with makeshift IVs supported by sticks and cinder blocks, apparently crafted by a nurse.
The brother of one of the women said a house had fallen on them.
Around the women, as night fell and the stars came out, the fearful and dispossessed settled down to sleep.
Los Angeles Times
By David Kravets
The Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked cameras from a federal civil trial in San Francisco concerning the legality of same-sex marriage.
The decision came two days after the court tentatively sided with same-sex marriage foes who told the court they would be harassed and intimidated if their testimony was disseminated on such a grand scale.
The high court’s opinion suspends a courthouse experiment (.pdf) that could have paved the way for trial testimony to appear on YouTube. The decision also blocks a live feed of the non-jury trial — which began Monday — to be aired at federal courthouses in Seattle, Portland, Pasadena and Brooklyn.
The majority, however, said its decision did not “express any views on the propriety of broadcasting court proceedings generally” and opens the door, however slightly, to potential broadcasts of other trials.
Broadcasts of federal trials are generally prohibited nationwide. The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which allows broadcasts of its appellate sessions, tentatively authorized the gay marriage trial broadcasts as an experiment in transparency.
In the end, however, the justices skirted the issue and said the trial judge violated federal law when he amended its local court rules for media coverage last month without giving the public sufficient time for comment.
“The district court attempted to change its rules at the eleventh hour to treat this case differently than other trials in the district,” the majority wrote. “Not only did it ignore the federal statute that establishes the procedures by which its rules may be amended, its express purpose was to broadcast a high-profile trial that would include witness testimony about a contentious issue”.
Toward that end, the majority agreed with foes of gay marriage who claimed their testimony would be chilled if distributed. Some witnesses, the majority noted, “have already said they would not testify if the trial is broadcast, and they have substantiated their concerns by citing incidents of past harassment”.
Last year, a live nationwide webcast of a file sharing trial brought by the Recording Industry Association of America was also canceled. The RIAA claimed that the webcast would be subject to “editing and manipulation”.
In dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that the court received more than 138,000 comments on the changeover. He said 42 states give judges the discretion to broadcast.
“Neither the applicants nor anyone else has been able to present empirical data sufficient to establish that the mere presence of the broadcast media inherently has an adverse effect on the judicial process,” Breyer wrote.
Joining Breyer were justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.
The majority opinion was unsigned. The majority included Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.
MIAMI – U.S. Southern Command will deploy a team of 30 people to Haiti to support U.S. relief efforts in the aftermath of yesterday’s devastating earthquake.
The team, which includes U.S. military engineers, operational planners, and a command and control group and communication specialists, will arrive in Haiti today on two C-130 Hercules aircraft.
The team will work with U.S. Embassy personnel as well as Haitian, United Nations and international officials to assess the situation and facilitate follow on U.S. military support.
Other immediate response activities include;
- At first light today, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter evacuated four critically injured U.S. Embassy staff to the Naval Station Guantanamo, Cuba, hospital for further treatment.
- Elements of the U.S. Air Force 1st Special Operations Wing are deploying today to the international airport at Port au Prince, Haiti, to provide air traffic control capability and airfield operations. They are expected to arrive in Haiti this afternoon.
- A U.S. Navy P-3 Orion aircraft from the Forward Operating Location at Comalapa, El Salvador, took off early this morning to conduct an aerial reconnaissance of the area affected by the earthquake.
- The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson, is underway and expected to arrive off the coast of Haiti Thursday. Additional U.S. Navy ships are underway to Haiti.
SOUTHCOM is closely monitoring the situation and is working with the U.S. State Department, United States Agency for International Development and the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance and other national and international agencies to determine how to best respond to this crisis.
SOUTHCOM is well versed at providing humanitarian assistance in the region. Since 2005, the command has led U.S. military support to 14 major relief missions, including assistance to Haiti in September 2008. During that mission, U.S. military forces from USS Kearsarge and other units airlifted 3.3 million pounds of aid to communities that were devastated by a succession of major storms.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Haitian people and all those affected by this devastating earthquake,” said U.S. Army Col. James Marshall, command spokesman for SOUTHCOM.
For more information about U.S. Southern Command visit www.southcom.mil. Also connect with us at Facebook andTwitter (SouthComWatch).