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136 posts categorized "Disaster Focus"

Jan 25, 2010

Haiti, 1915: ...Or, I Have Often Walked Down These Streets Before

US Haiti occupation Corbis.jpg

Given America's 20 year occupation of Haiti starting in 1915; it's hand (not so publicized these past two weeks) -- during Bush I, Clinton and Bush II -- in ushering in and out the various dictatorial, military as well as democratically-elected regimes; and the push now to take a defining role in reshaping Haiti (rationalized by many in order to prevent a mass exodus of immigrants), I keep coming back to this photo published last week in TIME's Haiti "History of Misery" slideshow.

The caption:

America's Backyard: Citing the Monroe Doctrine, President Woodrow Wilson orders U.S. Marines to occupy Haiti in 1915. They favor the biracial élite over black Haitians, deepening long-standing tensions. The U.S. withdraws in 1934.

Of course, scenes of American troops among the bodies in the streets these past two weeks have an opposite resonance to the picture above. But then, the prospects globalization and imperialism hold out to supposedly helpless and incapable third world societies can hurt in far less obvious ways.

Juan Cole: Milne: Haiti's poverty is treated as some baffling quirk of history...when in reality it is the direct consequence of " . . . colonial exploitation

(photo: Bettmann / Corbis)

Jan 23, 2010

Your Turn: Those Haiti Cruises -- The Fun Is Just Beginning

Haiti Cruise Earthquake 4.jpg

Haiti Cruise Earthquake 1.jpg Haiti Cruise Earthquake 2.jpg Haiti Cruise Earthquake 3.jpg

(Click for larger size)

You knew the newswires were bound to publish photos like these soon enough.

The first three pictures capture passenger activity from a Celebrity Cruise ship docked Friday in Labadee, Haiti, a private resort (satellite pic) on the north coast. In the fourth, set on the Labadee beach, the nurse is a hospital volunteer taking a break from ministering to earthquake victims.

I'm interested in your take on any or all of the photos. (Specific captions are below.)

Continue reading "Your Turn: Those Haiti Cruises -- The Fun Is Just Beginning" »

Jan 22, 2010

Seeing the Haitians

Haitian girl aide earthquake.jpg

Now that I'm not as starving and as desperate, who are you? And how does it feel that I'm taking this?

In my crash education on the country, what I'm consistently finding are eloquent descriptions of the Haitians, as evidenced -- as observed last week -- by their incredible patience and dignity in the face of overwhelming trauma and almost complete absence of sustenance.

Of course, what the photo raises, as much as anything, is the uneasy role of aide provision and how much America (expressed through the vector of this soldier's gaze) can actually see the Haitian people at all.

Still, a week out, it's gratifying to see -- given the sensitivity of many fine photographers on the ground, along with the shock starting to wearing off -- how much certain pictures are unfolding the personality of the Haitians and their emotional approach to their predicament.

(photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images: caption: Members of the 2nd brigade of the 82nd Airborne distribute food supplies January 19, 2010 the town of Terra Noire just outside Port-au-Prince, Haiti. One week after a devastating earthquake struck the capital city, residents are still struggling to obtain food, water, shelter and medical treatment.)

Why and How I Lost It Yesterday (Over CNN "Getting Off" On a Haitian Victim Rescue)

I confess. I lost it yesterday.

If you saw my post (Please Stop, Anderson. Just STOP), I appealed for readers to contact CNN and use the Twitterverse to complain about Anderson Cooper's visual exploitation of the Haitian people.

Over the course of the day, I heard from several visually-savvy friends who empathized with my need to vent. At the same time, however, several also wrote some variation of this:

While I applaud your effort, I am curious about why. I haven't lived with a TV for about 8 years so I catch CNN/ cable news pretty infrequently. ... So, I'd like to make an appeal for those of us who don't tune in to CNN: What exactly is the problem? Is Cooper emblematic of contemporary Journalism? Or, has he just gone too too far?

Fair enough. (And yes, too far.)

Without delving into what upset(s) me about the split screen shots I led yesterday's post with, let me explain the next four screen grabs and describe what happens in Tuesday's CNN Haiti rescue video so you'll see what set me off.

****** ********* ******


Anderson Cooper sets up the piece by saying there's a woman who was trapped alive in the rubble near the national cathedral almost a week after the earthquake. Meanwhile Rick Sanchez, the anchor, is bubbling over the fact he got a text message, then a phone call from the son of the trapped women, who told the anchor that his mother had gone to the cathedral before the earthquake.

Anderson Rescue 6.jpg

They then offer up the most callous still image of the woman lying on the ground -- the woman looking to be crying -- someone aiming a video camera at her while the woman lies on the ground like she's an item at a garage sale.

All the while, Sanchez is rattling on about how special it is that CNN could actually produce images of the self-same women in the flesh -- the two men going on to marvel how a Cooper report several days before could have actually spawned the text message and the phone call to Sanchez from the woman's son.

Continue reading "Why and How I Lost It Yesterday (Over CNN "Getting Off" On a Haitian Victim Rescue)" »

Jan 21, 2010

Please Stop, Anderson. Just STOP.

IMG_0990.JPG   Cooper-Haiti-TV.jpg

Anderson-Rescue-7a.jpg Anderson-Rescue-2a.jpg
Anderson-Rescue-3a.jpg Anderson Rescue 6.jpg

(Click for larger sizes + Link to CNN video of elderly woman's rescue.)

This is a message to Anderson Cooper and CNN...

As American citizens concerned about the humanity of the Haitian people, the sensationalist and self-promoting tendencies of American media and the power of pictures, we urge you to: Please stop.  

Please immediately:

-- Stop using the camera to rob people of their dignity when it's the only thing they have left.

-- Stop infantilizing the Haitian people.

-- Stop the pity party.

-- Stop the exploitation of despair to promote your own brand -- especially with those horrible patronizing split-screens.

-- Stop playing savior.

Continue reading "Please Stop, Anderson. Just STOP." »

Jan 20, 2010

Beyond Burning Bodies, High-Impact Mobilization and Those Haitians Down There


by BAGnews contributor Robert Hariman

On the surface, this doesn't seem to have much to do with Haiti. Nothing is collapsed or broken, and there is no blood, no open wounds or stumps instead of hands or feet. The photo itself is banal: crowded, cropped, with the only identifiable person slumped in some kind of torpor, all in some vaguely institutional hallway--the image is too familiar in one sense and yet still not adequately informative. No wonder that it was tucked away in a slide show on the New York region.

But then you read the caption: "Alex Alexis collapsed when he learned that his wife and three children had died in the earthquake in Haiti." His wife and three children. Dead.

Now it is a different photograph, and informative: We are reminded that Haiti is not only a place but also the epicenter of a diasporic community. The catastrophe is being measured not only in the damage done at the original scene but also by the long strands of anxiety, pain, and desolation defining the losses felt by loved ones around the globe. And the coverage of the island's troubles is revealed to contain a provisional quality, as if everything is somehow already tending back towards recovery. But there is no way this loss can ever be restored.

Continue reading "Beyond Burning Bodies, High-Impact Mobilization and Those Haitians Down There" »

Jan 19, 2010

Playing the Palace

US Takes Haiti Prez Palace.jpg

I would love to know how the US military thought this picture would play (in Haiti -- after the first rush; domestically; abroad) in landing American troops at the Haitian Presidential Palace. Was it all gung-ho, or was there an upside/downside consideration?

Notice, in the first report in the NYT, by the way, how Army Col. Gregory Kane is having to "take pains ... to reassure Haitians that the United States was not invading."

A little history: United States occupation of Haiti (Wikipedia)
Heat from the left: US Troops TAKE CONTROL of Haiti Presidential Palace… (KnowTheLies)

(photo: JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images. Port-au-Prince January 19, 2010. US troops descended by helicopter to take control of Haiti's ruined presidential palace Tuesday, as the military earthquake relief operation gathered pace.)

Your Turn: Haiti, On a Not-Insubstantial Level, A Show

Sarla Chand.jpg

For days now, we have been flooded by absolutely horrific, increasingly grisly and often factually confusing or fragmentary images pouring out of Haiti distributed not just via broadcast, but faster and more widely than ever before, through the proliferating and voraciously "page view" hungry on-line media.

If this bombardment raises enough moral and professional red flags to spawn dozens of books, lectures and seminars, perhaps the simplest questions we need to begin with are: what ethical lines can and should be drawn in terms of the acquisition and distribution of these disaster images, and what kind of context and discretion does the situation visually call out for?

Continue reading "Your Turn: Haiti, On a Not-Insubstantial Level, A Show" »

Jan 17, 2010

Haiti: The Great U.S. War Machine

What if President Obama went on TV tomorrow and announced that the entire 70,000 person U.S. military mission in Afghanistan was going 100% humanitarian?

(Click for larger size)

I took one look at this picture, and I thought....

What if President Obama went on TV tomorrow and announced that the entire 70,000 person U.S. military mission in Afghanistan was going 100% humanitarian?

(Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joel Carlson/Released January 17, 2010. U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Nicholas Wentworth hangs an intravenous solution inside an MH-60S Sea Hawk prior to flying an earthquake victim to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). Carl Vinson and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 are conducting humanitarian and disaster relief operations as part of Operation Unified Response after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake cause severe damage near Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, 2010.)

If You're As Tired As I Am From Watching

...the endlessly loops of video on Saturday of Haitians, in isolated incidents, grapple with each other for food; or reading how total mayhem had broken out; or watching reports harping over-and-over (to the consternation of the locals) about how violence must be just around the corner, this U.N. video is a necessary infusion of reality.

From: unitednations | January 16, 2010 |

Food distribution continued today (16 January) in the devastated Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, four days after a massive earthquake killed thousands, left scores homeless and created a dire humanitarian situation.

Continue reading "If You're As Tired As I Am From Watching" »

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