Oy. Via TP.
Oy. Via TP.
Jon in fine form.
President Obama is weak. President Obama is a terrorist. President Obama is a Muslim Marxist Kenyan. President Obama is clearly in over his head. President Obama isn’t one of us. President Obama will not get health care passed. President Obama is ruining the country. It’s President Obama’s economy.
President Obama is slow to respond to disasters.
Wrong. Wrongwrongwrong, on all counts. Well, he is the president, that part is true. As for that snail’s pace thing? Phil Bredesen, the governor of Tennessee, where all that horrific flooding is, would disagree:
“FEMA and the White House have been absolutely supportive,” he told reporters on a conference call.
FEMA was quickly on the ground, and on Monday, “the president was on the phone with me before the sun came up,” he said.
Bredesen, who has weathered his share of tornados and storms as a public official, said that he’s “never seen this kind of response.”
Dear Obama haters:
The Senate has passed legislation to give months of continued jobless checks to people who have been out of work for more than half a year and help the unemployed pay for health insurance.
The jobless aid accompanies a host of other provisions that would prevent doctors from absorbing cuts to Medicare payments and help financially strapped states cope with spiraling Medicaid bills.
The bill also extends a variety of tax breaks for businesses and individuals that are popular with senators in both parties.
I’m liveblogging an update call, on the record from officials on the ground in Haiti, regarding the provision of water, food and medical supplies in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti.
The call includes Tim Callaghan, senior regional adviser, Latin America and Caribbean from USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and Col. Buck Elton, Commander, Special Operations Command South Haiti.
They were very late, were in meetings. Understandable, of course.
Tim Callaghan first:
All the work is coordinated w/ Haiti gov’t. and other donors and organizations, met with Pres. yesterday, and Hillary Clinton. Search and rescue still ongoing. Food, water, medical needs…
Urban search and rescue: The teams, as of this a.m., from around the world, rescued 61 individuals. American teams 29 live rescues, including last night from market… 7 year old girl, American female, Haitian male. Dog teams, searches continue. So proud of firefighters from U.S. Doing incredible job.
Food: Over 600K rations, working with UN world food program, providing food immediately. Per UN: 50K served yesterday all over city. Trying to increase areas where people can get food/supplies. Radio stations getting word out. Ship arrived, the Crimson Clover, today, has 57,500 lbs. of food.
Non food: Water containers, hygiene kits, plastic sheeting coming in.
Medical: Disaster Med assist. teams going out to provide services to those in need.
Key is coordination. Govt. meetings with P.M. every a.m. to meet needs. Plus coord. for sanitation, food, etc. Bringing in large amounts of supplies, working w/ military.
Col. Buck Elton:
Wed. we were alerted to deploy a force, first aircraft arrived to open airfield, provide security, Medivac. There was no electricity, support, communications. Within minutes, we controlled airfield.
Since then, we control 600 take offs/landings from 10k foot strip, that usually operates 3 aircraft daily.
Tower/terminal condemned, so we operate on grass via radio control in contact with Haitian approach control w/ no radar to assist arrivals.
We have a communications link to Haitian coord. center to base in Floriday. We stagger arriving aircraft to time arrival w/ departure of another aircraft to maximize relief supplies arriving. But only a single taxiway, so everytime we want to taxi, everything takes longer.
Devastation prevents offload equipment, so offloaded by hand.
Thurs: Contingency response group arrived, more equipment.
Coord. closely with Haitian airport manager. Prioritize, synch. aircraft to have max. input in airfield with no downtime on ramp.
Planned to take 2 hours, takes 7 or 8 hrs. Planes on ground take up space, so we get a stack of aircraft holding till we get space on airfield. Airfield has been full since we started operation.
Working maximum aircraft on ground, one widebody, 5 narrow body aircraft. Have room for 3 smaller aircraft, fit in any others we can that can taxi into grass.
Similar to running major airport with limited terminals w/ no electricity or computers. All via radio. Finally, hard phone lines.. spliced together. For 3 days used Fox mic radios to communicate. Challenging.
Security forces, 25, to help airfield, plus medical teams to prep casualties for evacuation.
# of people treated at airfield clinic: 24 via helicopter. 4 via USAID. Crush injuries. Some Americans, 56. Evacuated 20 Americans, 2 stable waiting to leave. Evacuated over 2000 Americans on every available aircraft we have to leave.
Per UN, tankering of water began yesterday. Distributed, and will continue to get water out asap. 6 additional purification units brought in. 12000 water containers distributed at Port au Prince. Storage is difficult too. Water distrib. points are established. We also use 1000s of small jugs distributed, plus bladders for schools, communities.
Q and A:
CNN: How long window open for rescues v. recovery? Plus, Clinton spoke about joint communique, emergency decree for special U.S. govt. authority… what kind?
A: USAID answers: We’re still in rescue mode thru tomorrow. The further away we get from event, more the challenge. Haiti govt. will determine when recovery phase ends. We’re dedicated to working 24/7 on search and rescue. One rescue lasted more than 24 hrs, people on their stomachs, heroic. We’ll work w/ international teams, getting closer though, to recovery.
Communique: Being finalized, available shortly. Bottom line: As Kim and Buck said, everything we do coord. with UN partners, Haiti. We have appropriate arrangements set up, plus we have good rel’ship with all of our partners, including airfield, and Clinton’s visit with leadership and Brazilian commander… regional heads of state. Specifics coming soon.
Q: Reconstruction… Housing of Urban Dev’ment looking at Katrina/Ike. Any coordination between HUD and working on ground there?
A: Non food items (shelter, hygiene) a priority, esp. hygiene kits for families. Longer term issues, we’ll address later.
Q: NY Daily News: Security for aid distributed. Boxes dropped, people beat the hell out of each other. Military arriving. Will they provide security for food, medicine, water in crisis areas? What are rules of engagement?
A: Many efforts given to partners and world food program, others. Work closely w/ Haiti govt. (from Tim) Buck: We don’t discuss rules of engagement. This is humanitarian effort. They have what they need to ensure it’s done in most secure fashion. Very robust UN presence here. Plus Haitian national police out in critical places. We are focused on security, but we have resources rolling forward. Food assistance offloaded, esp. in last 2 hours. They’ll have security support as needed.
Q: NPR: At airport… planes/hospitals people turned away. Prioritizing working better?
A, Buck: It gets better every day. People were arriving unannounced, we got them in best we could. International support exceeded capacity to get them in and out. We’ve refined the process, s. command with State Dept. prioritized landing times, prioritized important cargo coming in. First couple of days, harder, everything was a priority. Today we only had 2 diverts. Process now is efficient, we cont. to refine. Better communications w/ embassy and Haitian govt. as we go.
About 40% military 60% civilian now, based on size and type of aircraft we can fit on ramp.
Q, CBS: Critics, altho seem petty, complain that US, Washington running whole operation, by French diplomat whose planes got turned away.
A: Not petty. When you deal in life and death, everyone feels strongly. Bottom line: We’re working closely w/ UN. Ambassador Rice working w/ UN Security Council. Close consultation w/ Haitian govt. It’s understandable that tempers would flair, frustrations… all be directed toward improving the process. Seen that every day. We won’t apologize for hard work in relieving Haitian suffering. They have great appreciation for that hard work. The more frustration, the more intent we are to improve process.
Q, Talk Radio News: How many rescues?
A: As of this afternoon 62 individuals have been live rescued throughout country. 29 by urban search and rescue team. I’ll never forget seeing the teams, professionalism, 12-14 hours, one for 24 straight hours, shifting out.
Q, London Times: Functional ability of Haitian govt?
A: Has some ability. Tremendous impact on their own family members. Have had meetings where govt. articulates their priorities. How to get out relief, avoid duplication. Disaster medical assistance teams are being deployed, ministry of health has communicated via ambassador… We’re here at invitation of Haitian govt., working w/ them.
Q: Search and rescue breakdown. Plus, focused more on sites where you find foreigners more than Haitians.
A: Many more Haitians found than foreigners. Search and rescue from Virginia were here w/in 24 hours, did surveys to i.d. where most people would be, mapped out city even in dangerous areas. Most live rescues were from Haiti. No list from other teams, sorry.
Q, BBC: Looking at 2 weeks from now, where these people will end up. Abroad? Posted inside Haiti?
A: Will work with Haitian govt. on this. Helping Haitians right here in Haiti. Once we start recovery, when Haitian govt. says to, we’ll know more. We’ll have shelter experts on ground to make recommendations.
Q: Rioting, looting… how bad is it?
A: Tim: Reports this a.m., one report of looting of food from warehouse. We sent people over, it wasn’t true. Sporadic situations being monitored closely. Buck: We’re focused on this issue. We track reports down, match resources.
Q, Environment News: How 1000s of corpses handled to prevent disease? Is U.S. assisting?
A: We are assisting. Working closely w/ Haiti. We have mortuary teams from military and HHS. Experts working on it with Haiti.
Q, American Forces Press Services: Security… violence increasing. True? 10-12K troops enough?
A: Not sure that’s accurate, but we’re keeping security foremost in our minds. Working with matching up our forces here with assistance delivery teams. MINUSTAH. No issues at airfield involving exit of supplies or entrance of citizens requiring evacuation. All has been orderly. Police force has helped at airfield.
I’ll update if anything else comes up…
Q, FDL: Aid only reaching Port au Prince? Aid beyond, to epicenter?
A: Working w/ govt of Haiti to priortize areas of delivery. Ongoing coordination. Dedicating security and resources, along with MINUSTAH… Bottom line in questions is to see if aid getting to areas most hit: EMPHASIZE, YES, IT IS HAPPENING. Robust distribution of daily rations, 600K distributed. 2500 calorie packages till more traditional assistance is in place.
Tim: We are getting out to other areas. 6500 people were given rations.
Q, WaPo: 82nd Airborne… delay reason? Plus, Buck, issue of airfield. Drs. w/o Borders.
A: Drs without Borders will be arriving at 1500. 82nd delay: We had a successful delivery of Crimson Clover…The pt. is we so rely on the airport, had to balance between cargo and personnel. Robust number of 82nd in on the ground, 100 in first 30 hours, additional 500 today. Minustah providing assistance. Oak, U.S. coast guard cutter, is in, trying to make port passable. Trying to move in a lot of international assistance too, to an airport not used to more than 3 aircraft a day.
Q, Reuters: 3500 troops are assisting UN. Soldiers on streets? When?
A: Not aware. We’ll address better soon.
Q, AP: Challenges of getting heavy equipment.
A: Working with UN to clear roads. Some progress, but still a challenge. Areas still blocked. Doing everything we can. Coast Guard can offload even in difficult ports, same with U.S. Navy. The intensity of the devastation makes it tough.
Q: Orphanages, adoption… plan to support them directly?
A: Working on adoption. We’re getting orphanages resources they need. Info at State.gov/Haitiquake via State Dept. 150 orphans have been taken to U.S. 5 are pending transport to U.S. today.
Wrap: We’ll continue to have briefings. One in a.m., one in afternoon. Thanks to all.
Why Haiti Matters, by Barack Obama
Thank you Jason Leopold!
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Lt. Col Barry Wingard is the lawyer for Gitmo detainee Fayiz Al-Kandari. For their ongoing story + related topics, please click on the link below:
Kuwaiti Citizen Detained at Guantanamo since 2002
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