Free Markets, Free People

Haiti


UN: Haiti mission money spent mostly on staff

If, like millions of Americans, you’ve been moved by the plight of the poor Haitians in the wake of the recent and terrible killer earthquake, and want to contribute to their relief, may I make a suggestion?  Don’t send your hard earned money to the UN.  It would most likely not be used to help the Haitians.  Instead, you’ll probably help pay for some UN staffer’s catered lunch.

Yes friends, as usual, the UN’s Haiti mission is redefining “bureaucratic efficiency”.  Charged with relief and “peacekeeping” duties, most of the budget is being spent – on themselves.

The United Nations has quietly upped this year’s peacekeeping budget for earthquake-shattered Haiti to $732.4 million, with two-thirds of that amount going for the salary, perks and upkeep of its own personnel, not residents of the devastated island.

The world organization plans to spend the money on an expanded force of some 12,675 soldiers and police, plus some 479 international staffers, 669 international contract personnel, and 1,300 local workers, just for the 12 months ending June 30, 2010.

Some $495.8 million goes for salaries, benefits, hazard pay, mandatory allowances and upkeep for the peacekeepers and their international staff support. Only about $33.9 million, or 4.6 percent, of that salary total is going to what the U.N. calls “national staff” attached to the peacekeeping effort.

Presumably, the budget also includes at least part of some $10 million that the U.N. has spent on renting two passenger vessels, the Sea Voyager (known to some U.N. staffers as the “Love Boat“) and the Ola Esmeralda, for a minimum of 90 days each, as highly subsidized housing for some of its peacekeepers and humanitarian staff. The tab for the two vessels, which offer catered food, linen service and comfortable staterooms and lounges, is about $112,500 per day.

So in essence, about $235 million of that $732 million dollar budget is actually going to Haitian relief. Certainly everyone recognizes it costs money to put relief workers and peacekeeping troops in to a situation such as that, but imagine, if you will, the outcry if a private charity was found to be only using 22% of its money to actually do the job for which it was donated, and, instead had spent the bulk on the things the UN seems to think take priority over relief for Haitians.

Then remember that in the total scheme of UN things, the US pays 27% of its budget. That means, if we break it down by shares, that the US taxpayer – that’s you – has “contributed” almost $199 million to the UN Haitian boondoggle with $133 million going to the Love boat, et al.

Tell me again why we continue to sponsor this wretched third world debating club?

~McQ


New Technology gives a 360 degree view of devastation in Haiti

I have to admit upfront that I have a conflict of interest on this, but the Immersive Media cameras from my sisters company are amazing. Throw in that it gives some of the best views of the devastation in Haiti and I am kind of speechless. Go ahead and take a trip with them through Port au Prince and drag the view to look around in a full 360 degree view from a moving vehicle.

In addition to taking you into this disaster the potential applications seem rather large to me. Check it out. You can grab the screen while it is still or when playing and drag the view wherever you want.

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The initial commercial applications are kind of obvious, but I am curious about the applications to entertainment. Specifically movies. Like most new ways of filming I expect the initial efforts to be gimmicky, and low in actual value other than the novelty. However, imagine watching movies with an interactive ability for the viewer to shift the camera view from a first person point of view. The directors focus becomes less of an issue, and all of what is happening in view of whoever a character is becomes part of the story. Talk about taking the idea behind something like Vantage Point to a new level. Other interactive technologies could be combined with more impact.

You can view more footage of Haiti and look into the technology at http://www.immersivemedia.com/haiti/

Update: The autoplay was annoying, and the embed for the other footage seems to be having a problem at the moment, so I included a link to a video instead until the flash embed starts working again.


France Claims US Is “Occupying” Haiti

Or at least the French minister in charge of humanitarian relief, Alain Joyandet is making that claim:

“This is about helping Haiti, not about occupying Haiti,” Mr Joyandet said.

Well, yeah, but it’s also about coordinating the flow of traffic in and out of a single runway airport, something which is bound to get a few hackles up. And that’s caused Joyandet’s outburst. He’d apparently been in a scuffle in the control tower of the airfield with the US commander there over a French evacuation flight. It seems he came out on the short end of the confrontation, thus the outburst.

But he’s not the only one complaining:

Geneva-based charity Medecins Sans Frontieres backed his calls saying hundreds of lives were being put at risk as planes carrying vital medical supplies were being turned away by American air traffic controllers.

See previous commentary about the one runway airport. Perhaps a little coordination with those at the airport concerning the arrival of such flights might help integrate them into the landing plan vs. just showing up and demanding a priority for landing?

Just a thought. Of course, my bet is had we relied on the UN, the airport still wouldn’t be functioning. And had the French taken over the aiport, the same criticisms leveled against the US would be leveled against them. In this case, given the situation, they’re just inevitable.

And someone else is having his usual say about the US:

Speaking on his weekly television show, [Hugo] Chavez opined that the U.S. mission in Haiti was a ruse to initiate military occupation.

“I read that 3,000 soldiers are arriving, Marines armed as if they were going to war,” Chavez said. “They are occupying Haiti undercover.”

President Obama signed an executive order to send 7,000 U.S. troops to the ravaged country as aid organizations attempt to distribute food and water to the survivors.

Chavez, a frequent critic of American intervention, praised the humanitarian effort in Haiti but questioned the need for so many troops.

“Doctors, medicine, fuel, field hospitals – that’s what the United States should send,” Chavez said.

Of course the US has sent doctors, medicine, fuel and field hospitals. But there has to be security as you push these assets out into the community to ensure the lawlessness which has been seen in various areas doesn’t effect the efficiency of the rescue operation. 7,000 troops to provide that sort of security is not a large force (about 1 BCT plus).

Haiti, however, has provided Baby Hugo with another opportunity to break out the anti-Amerianism.

I’ve got to tell you, with the reaction of France and Venezuela to a freakin’ humanitarian rescue mission, it doesn’t seem as if the Obama global, bowing, scraping and apologizing tour produced much goodwill. This doesn’t sound any different than the carping heard when that other guy was around.

~McQ


Podcast for 17 Jan 10

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael  and Dale discuss the special election in Massachussetts, the dangers of hyperinflation, and Haiti.  The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


Devil-gate

I’m sorry I couldn’t help myself. We put “-gate” with everything else.    And the only reason that I’m spending anymore time on what Pat Robertson said about Haiti is because of the asinine press release put out by his organization today.  It reads, in part:

On today’s The 700 Club, during a segment about the devastation, suffering and humanitarian effort that is needed in Haiti, Dr. Robertson also spoke about Haiti’s history. His comments were based on the widely-discussed 1791 slave rebellion led by Boukman Dutty at Bois Caiman, where the slaves allegedly made a famous pact with the devil in exchange for victory over the French. This history, combined with the horrible state of the country, has led countless scholars and religious figures over the centuries to believe the country is cursed. Dr. Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God’s wrath

Key words emphasized by me.

History isn’t “alleged”. And “scholars” don’t base their conclusions on rumor or allegations. As for “God’s wrath”, sophisticated listeners are quite able to understand when something is implied. While Robertson may not have stated this was a result of God’s wrath, he did state that the pact with the devil was a “true story”.

And speaking of God’s wrath:

RLTW!

~McQ


Obligatory Haiti Post

I’m not being dismissive when I use that title, it’s just that QandO isn’t a “breaking news” blog, nor are disasters – and that’s what has happened in Haiti – our normal cup of tea.

That said, the tragedy is heartbreaking and, if your moved to do so, please contribute to the relief effort. A word of advice – give only to those organizations you recognize as reputable. As with any disaster, the unscrupulous and despicable will attempt to cash in on the generosity of those who genuinely want to help.

As for some of the side-show going on – was it really necessary for Pat Robertson to claim that Haiti’s problems stem from a “pact with the devil” and tout it as a “true story” when it is, at best, an unproven rumor? And even if it was true, it happened 200 plus years ago – who cares? There is a much more rational explanation to be had – like upwards of 70 different dictators exploiting the people of that nation over those 200 years. That may sound like the result of a pact with the devil, but it is, instead, an unfortunate result of colonialism and slavery creating the conditions in which such authoritarian exploitation was possible.

Haiti is and has been a basket case for quite some time. However, that’s not the immediate concern. Thousands have been killed and millions are suffering. It was an earthquake, not God or the devil’s revenge. Help if you can, it is the humane thing to do.

~McQ