Haiti

Four Years Later

The heartbreaking failure of Haiti's recovery

Four years after an earthquake killed more than 200,000, here's what life in the country looks like today.

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Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American HistoryBy John Fabian Witt (Free Press, 498 pp., $32)   WAR IS ABOUT killing, maiming, and destroying. Yet in its midst men have sought heroism not only in savage acts of bravery but also in observing limits, in finding a way to affirm their and their adversaries’ common humanity, in the concept of honor as a higher expression of morality than is attainable even in peace.

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IN MITT ROMNEY’S 2010 campaign book, No Apology: The Case for National Greatness, the former Massachusetts governor cites twelve countries that the United States has invaded for the “cause of freedom.” Readers expecting to learn about World War II or the downfall of Slobodan Milošević might be surprised by Romney’s list.

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We’ve all gotten used to emails from Michelle, Barack, and Sarah Jessica, but starting soon, it will be our cell phones that we’re checking for those dinner invites. On Monday, the FEC allowed political campaigns, PACs, and super PACs to receive cash donations via text message for the first time. There’s good reason to believe such impulsive texts could be a windfall for political campaigns; a January PEW study on text-message donations to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake found that three-quarters of the gifts were spur-of-the-moment and conducted without much deliberation.

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The demonizing of Israel, dismissing the democratic Jewish state as a right-wing, religious, racist project, continues. The latest storyline describes ultra-Orthodox Israelis—known in Hebrew as haredim—as medieval Neanderthals rapidly converting Israel into an Iran-style theocracy. This popular caricature encourages those liberals seeking excuses to stop supporting Israel.

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Hurricane Katrina is the costliest disaster in U.S. history and among the three costliest in the world ever. As such, New Orleans and the Gulf Coast stand as a lesson about what it takes to rebuild after a major catastrophe. Unfortunately, the demand for such learning seems to only grow.

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Earlier this week, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano announced that the U.S. would extend Temporary Protective Status (TPS) to Haitians living here who have been affected by the earthquake of January, 2010. This extends both the length and the scope of the initial TPS designation to last an additional 18 months and to include Haitians who entered the U.S. after the earthquake (many of whom were evacuated by U.S. forces) and for whom returning to Haiti would endanger their personal safety. TPS allows recipients to live and work legally in the United States.

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Against Despair

Partner to the Poor: A Paul Farmer Reader Edited by Haun Saussy (University of California Press, 660 pp., $27.50) On a hot August afternoon a decade ago, one of my patients collapsed at a café in Boston. She was in her early sixties and had been treated successfully with chemotherapy and radiation for breast cancer, but had suffered side effects from the intensive therapy, with damage to her heart and lungs. Her husband called 911, and EMTs arrived in short order. She was resuscitated and sped by ambulance to the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

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In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake that leveled much of Port-au-Prince last January 12, there was a great deal of talk among the great and the good that this time it was going to be different. Not only would the Haitian capital be rebuilt and its 600,000 homeless housed once more, but at long last the major international donors would not leave once this (in reality, appalling) status quo ante had been restored.

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In the wake of the financial meltdown triggered by the collapse of the investment bank Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2008, and the deep global recession that the Lehman collapse dramatically worsened, the American financial sector is shrinking. Something similar is about to happen to American foreign policy, and partly for the same reason.

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