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Posted: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ] - 0 Likes [ Likes ]
Category: Internet

 Paul Owen talks to three charity workers in Port-au-Prince about the Haitian government's response to its third major disaster in two years

A resident of Leogane, Haiti makes her way to her home as the water level continues to rise on 26 October 2012. Photograph: Carl Juste/AP
A resident of Leogane, Haiti, makes her way to her home as the water level continues to rise on 26 October. Photograph: Carl Juste/AP

Haiti's government has learned important lessons about responding to natural disasters, say leading charities in the country, but there is still concern about how the Caribbean nation will cope with the aftermath ofHurricane Sandy.

Haiti has been hardest hit by the disaster so far, with at least 52 people killed and more than 200,000 left homeless as the storm passed by the country at the end of last week before it went on to hit the north-eastern United States last night.

There are fears of severe food shortages due to rotting crops, as well as infrastructure problems after roads were flooded and homes destroyed. The country was still coming to terms with the effects of a major earthquake in 2010 and last year's Hurricane Isaac.

Prime minister Laurent Lamothe has said: "It should not be normal that every time it rains, we have a catastrophe throughout the country." The Guardian spoke to three NGO workers in Haiti about the effects of the storm and the nation's prospects of dealing with the crisis.

Prospery Raymond, country manager for Haiti for Christian Aid

Prospery Raymond of Christian AidProspery Raymond of Christian Aid

Raymond said the areas most seriously affected by Hurricane Sandy were in the south-east of the country, in the Grand'Anse and Nippes departments.

There I think it is still quite wet. The rivers are going down. In general the departments have put down the [threat level]; it was red, now it is normal. They are trying to repair the roads and bridges that collapsed.

He said the most serious impact of the storm had been on agriculture - the loss of crops and livestock. Christian Aid was going out at the moment to see what the state and other organisations would not be able to provide, "and to provide what is missing". They would be helping repair houses, replace livestock and provide seeds.


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Asked about the government's response, Raymond said:

To be honest I think this time they did what they could, because they managed to put more than 20,000 people in temporary shelter, but in total you have 200,000 people that were affected by Sandy. That means there is a huge gap. We think we could provide some support to complement what they are doing.

Asked what the government could do differently, he focused on altering the environment to allow nature to better combat extreme weather events.

Christian Aid [is pushing] the government to take the environment situation more seriously, because if the country had the right trees, the right forests in place, I think that could help. It's really important for them to prioritise this in their future budget, for example. The Ministry of Environment in Haiti has 0.65% of the budget. I don't think it is normal. As a priority sector they need to receive more in order to help Haiti have better cover in terms of trees, and that could help us with all these hurricane storms that will come in here.

Lisa Laumann, Save the Children's country director for Haiti

Lisa Laumann, Save the Children’s country director for HaitiLisa Laumann, Save the Children’s country director for Haiti

Laumann explained what happened when the storm arrived last week.

The eye of the storm didn't even hit the country. It went through Cuba, and we were at quite a distance from it. So when it came through it was still quite strong, although it was just a tropical storm. [It was] followed by days of intensive, intensive rain; that Thursday and Friday of last week were just … I've hardly seen so much rain in a long time.

It really led to a lot of damage in the country. There's been a substantial amount of damage to roads, a substantial amount of flooding in agricultural areas raising serious concerns about crops, and then of course with the standing water and the flow of water the increased concern about diarrhoea and disease, particularly cholera.

But she was reasonably optimistic about the government's ability to deal with these issues.

What we saw during tropical storm Isaac and I think in tropical storm Sandy as well is a government that is challenged by the recurrent disasters that hit the country but also a government that is increasingly able to deal with this type of disaster. By that I mean that the government has a national system for the management of risks and disaster, and in the last two crises that have hit the country it has taken the lead.

Organisations such as her own had "played a role in preparation and response", but increasingly they were working under government leadership. "I don't want to sound like I think the government has infinite capacity to respond … but I think it's important to recognise that the government does have increasing ability to coordinate and manage disaster preparedness and response here."

Why did so many people die, despite the eye of the storm not hitting Haiti directly?

People die because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time or because the infrastructure is not such that it protects them from incidents that occur. I think if the road infrastructure was stronger in this country, if there were better flood control, fewer people would die in emergencies like these.

Laumann was speaking from a high-up area of Port-au-Prince, where there was no standing water, and children were out and off to school. "There certainly has been damage to some buildings, but it looks from here like a fairly normal day."

But in the camps for those made homeless by the storm "it's different":

People lost their few assets that they had. They were flooded out … Life is much more challenging for them. It's hard when you lose most of your possessions or have them destroyed by a storm.

In the south of the country there was a lot of road damage, she said.

The last damage map that I took a look at showed damage in pretty much every department of the southern part of the country, much worse than the north. When you think about the fact that Haiti is already a road-challenged country, that's going to make problems for people who need to move around and for people who need to respond. Bridges have been broken, sections of road have been washed out, there's some land sliding over some of the roads.

Kristie van de Wetering, programme director, Tearfund

Kristie van de Wetering of Tearfund in HaitiKristie van de Wetering of Tearfund in Haiti

Van de Wetering explained why the situation in Haiti was so serious.

Hurricane Sandy has really tipped the scale of an already fragile situation. We had tremendous amounts of water, tremendous amounts of flooding, severe winds, and we're seeing those effects across the country, with damaged homes, flooded homes, people displaced, crops and gardens destroyed and lives lost: 52 lives were lost, and it's extremely heartbreaking.

She had just got off the phone to a friend whose colleague lost his entire family in a landslide that destroyed their home with his family inside.

Van de Wetering said that since the earthquake of 2010 and Hurricane Isaac last year Tearfund had been helping repair homes and "to address some of the agriculture and livelihood issues", especially in the rural mountains. "Now Hurricane Sandy has created even more need and to be sure this response will also be addressing the needs of some of those people who now find themselves in a very difficult situation."

And she explained why Sandy had caused food shortages:

We can look at the context prior to both tropical storm Isaac and Hurricane Sandy with increasing food prices and food insecurity throughout the last several months. With tropical storm Isaac and now Sandy a lot of the crops have been destroyed. There are numerous crops that were ready for harvesting that have now been destroyed. Plantain trees and plantations ripped down, gardens flooded, and so in a country that primarily supports itself agriculturally, this is an extreme hit to the country.

There would now be an increase in food prices and "food insecurity", with families finding it more difficult to harvest or sell their crops, she said. This would make it more difficult for them to send their children to school or repair their homes. Flooding and damaged homes were an immediate problem, "but in the coming months we're going to be looking at a real severe food security situation".

She was less optimistic than Laumann that the government was well-prepared to deal with this disaster, coming as it does so soon after the 2010 earthquake and Isaac in 2011.

The government has been active from the very beginning. The national disaster management system has been mobilised early on, and this is a nationwide system. And the government has also been meeting with international organisations to coordinate the response, and has also allocated an additional $800,000 for initial response actions, so they have been very present and very active, but the reality is that they're stretched in terms of capacity and in terms of ability to respond …

The capacity for the government to respond even prior to these storms was starting to diminish. Funding is drying up for cholera response. So, big concern. There'll need to be a national joint effort with all key stakeholders to respond and to respond swiftly.

Posted: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ] - 0 Likes [ Likes ]

 

 

 

TORONTO – The effects of Tropical Storm Sandy were felt in eastern Canada as well as the U.S. on Monday and into Tuesday. Global News chief meteorologist Anthony Farnell is joined by Global Toronto reporters who are providing updates on how the GTA were affected by the “superstorm.”

Follow along in our live blog below to see the latest graphics, analysis and information on Sandy, and updates on how Toronto is managing the clean-up.

Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ] - 0 Likes [ Likes ]
Category: Business

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Posted: Sunday, October 21, 2012 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ] - 0 Likes [ Likes ]

 

Anniversary of Gaddafi's death: Is Libya better or worse off? Open thread

One year on from the Oct 20 killing of the Libyan leader, Guardian writers and readers debate how the country has fared

LIBYA-BENGHAZI-NATIONAL CONGRESS-VOTE
A Libyan woman shows her election-ink marked finger after casting her ballot at a polling station in Benghazi, Libya, July 7, 2012. The election was hailed as a milestone on the path toward democracy after the toppling of Libyan former leader Muammar Gaddafi Photograph: Li Muzi/ Li Muzi/Xinhua Press/Corbis

Luke Harding, foreign correspondent: "Libya is better than when Gaddafi was alive"

Libya is better than when Gaddafi was alive. The election in July was an extraordinary moment: the first time, after 42 years of dictatorship, that Libyans had an opportunity to vote. This isn't to underestimate the myriad challenges that Libya now faces, shown up most starkly by the murder of the US ambassador in Benghazi. The transitional government is weak, armed militias roam around with impunity, and radical Islamist groups in the east of the country are a potent threat. But Libya is not Syria. (The population is Sunni Muslim; the sectarian element is missing. Plus there is oil.) Most Libyans remain optimistic about the future. They want their country to be a successful unitary state, and perhaps over time it can be.

Ian Black, Middle East editor: "Libya is in state of transition after four decades of dictatorship"

Libya is in state of transition after four decades of dictatorship. I have been visiting the country for more than half that period, including three times during and since the revolution, and it is clear to me that freed of the fear and repression in which they lived under Muammar Gaddafi, ordinary people were largely glad to see the back of him and his family. It will take time before other benefits become apparent.

The recent killing of the US ambassador by an al-Qaida linked group naturally attracted negative attention. But thousands of Libyans came onto the streets in Benghazi and Tripoli to express their disgust at what had happened. It was a painful reminder that the biggest challenge facing the new government is disbanding the most extreme Islamist militia groups and integrating others into the security forces. The legal system needs to be overhauled and human rights abuses from the period of the revolution and before justly redressed. Institutions need to be built from the ground up.

It's also vital that services improve and that there be a far more equitable distribution of the country's oil wealth. Libya has just 6.7 million people, $120bn in reserves and sits on top of the largest oil reserves in Africa. Regional claims will have to be addressed in a new constitution and energy sector and investment laws revisited. Still, the economy is expected to grow 16.5% in 2013 – though it is vital that the security situation stabilizes.

There is a risk that having helped the rebels get rid of Gaddafi, the international community will lose interest. Libyans would not have been free without outside help: they still need it.

Do you think Libya is better or worse off since Gaddafi was killed? Please leave a comment below explaining why.

Posted: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ] - 0 Likes [ Likes ]
Category: web

 

 

The U.S. government is concerned with the heirs of a jeweler in Philadelphia for 10 gold coins.


The fact is that there are any coins: it is that the 1933 Double Eagle $ 20 gold.

The date takes us back in time of the great crash, the depression, with huge financial crises, banking and sociale There was need for gold, as always in difficult times, and the President Roossevelt (Franklin D.) in 1933 took a few acts that made it illegal circulation of gold coins, then those who had would have to sell to the U.S. Treasury.

The Double Eagle designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens was in circulation from 1908 but nearly 500 thousand pieces were minted also in 1933, the year of the formal notice of gold. The Double Eagle of 1933, therefore, were not put into circulation but sent to the merger, the two copies.


Now it happens that in 2004 the heirs of Mr Switt, the jeweler in Philadelphia, find 10 of the Double Eagle of 1933 in a safe deposit box. They send them to the mint for an estimate, but are seized because according to the U.S. government, having never been put into circulation, it is stolen coins and therefore owned by the government.


The daughter of Mr. Switt is there and sues; indetro them wants it. We do not know for a fact if affective or because each of those gold coins $ 20 worth 8 million, we say that has 80 million reasons to sue?


It seems clear that the old Switt with his work as a jeweler had contacts within the mint in Philadelphia and then with these came in possession of 10 coins that should not exist. It will be a federal court and settle the matter

 

Posted: Saturday, September 29, 2012 - 1 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ] - 0 Likes [ Likes ]

A San Francisco hacker says he has cracked the new iPhone 5, less than eight hours after its release to the public. 

Grant Paul, who develops software for Apple's iOS operating system, posted photos on his Twitter page of a 'jailbroken' iPhone 5. 

Apple ships its iPhones and other mobile devices with restrictions that only allow Apple-approved software to be installed. 

 
Tweet heard 'round the world: Hacker Grant Paul posted this screen shot of his iPhone 5 running Cydia, an app available only on hacked devices, as proof he had 'jailbroken' his new phone

Tweet heard 'round the world: Hacker Grant Paul posted this screen shot of his iPhone 5 running Cydia, an app available only on hacked devices, as proof he had 'jailbroken' his new phone

 

However, hackers have worked to 'jailbreak' all previous versions of the operating system by exploiting security flaws.

Instructions for stable 'jailbreaks' are posted online, which allow normal users to free their phones of Apple's restrictions.   

 

 

 

Tech news site The Next Web reports that Mr Paul's hack of the new phone is remarkably fast. 

The iPhone 5 runs on Apple's new iOS 6 operating system, which does not have the same security flaws as previous versions of the software.

Other hackers have also found cracks to jailbreak older devices running the new operating system.

 
Already hacked: Less than eight hours after throngs of fans rushed Apple stores to buy the new iPhone on Friday, Mr Grant hacked the new device

Already hacked: Less than eight hours after throngs of fans rushed Apple stores to buy the new iPhone on Friday, Mr Grant hacked the new device

 

 
Proof: Mr Grant also posted these two photos to quiet skeptics who said he hadn't actually cracked the new phone
The iPhone 5 uses the new iOS 6 operating system
 

Proof: Mr Grant also posted these two photos to quiet skeptics who said he hadn't actually cracked the new phone. Most in the tech community accepted these images as evidence the device had been 'jailbroken'

The development doesn't mean a hack is available for lay-users -- though it does mean one will likely be online much sooner. 

Apple fans lined up around the world to have the first chance at buying the iPhone 5 at 8am on Friday. 

At 3.49pm on Friday, Mr Paul tweeted a photo of an iPhone5 screenshot that included Cydia, the app used to download non-Apple-approved software on jailbroken iPhones.

The implication of the photo was that Mr Paul had been able to download Cydia to his iPhone 5 only because he was successfully able to hack it.

He celebrated the remarkable achievement with an understated tweet: 'Taller screens like Cydia too. :)'

As skeptics weighed in, Mr Paul posted a screenshot of the Cydia home page and then a photo of his phone with Cydia on it. 

The tech community has largely accepted the pictures as proof that the iPhone 5 has successfully been cracked.

Posted: Friday, September 21, 2012 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ] - 0 Likes [ Likes ]
Category: Internet

 

Low memory, thermal shutdown top list of MacBook Air gripes

By: Webedge | Sep 20th, 2012 at 11:30PM
Filed Under: Computers

Macbook Air Top Complaints

Apple (AAPL) owners may love their MacBook Airs but that doesn’t mean they think they’re flawless. FixYa, an online troubleshooting guide for gadgets and computers, has put out a new survey showing the top complaints that ultrabook owners have about their computers and has found that MacBook Air owners complain most about their computers’ low memory and forced shutdowns due to overheating. That said, FixYa says that these complaints are relatively minor and that the MacBook Air overall is “a smooth device with very little to complain about.” As far as other ultrabooks go, top complaints tend revolve around poor battery life and screen quality, neither of which was cited as a major problem for MacBook Air owners.


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