Speaker John Boehner : Honoring Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

John Boehner

By : Speaker John Boehner

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YOUTUBE : Speaker Boehner’s Remarks on Resolution Condemning the Attack in Tucson, AZ


Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) gave these remarks Wednesday morning on the House floor :

Washington DC. Jan 12 (KATAKAMI / THE HILL.COM) — Today, we are called here to mourn.  An unspeakable act of violence has taken six innocent lives, and left several more – including our colleague, Gabrielle Giffords – battling for theirs.  These are difficult hours for our country.

Among the fallen is Gabe Zimmerman, a member of Congresswoman Giffords’ staff … a public servant of the highest caliber … one of our own.

Even in our shock, we are composed and determined to fulfill our calling to represent our constituents.  This is the great cause for which Gabe gave his life.  Like us, Gabe swore on oath to uphold and defend the Constitution.  At the time of the attack, he was engaged in the most simple and direct of democratic rituals: listening to the people … to his neighbors.

The brutality that shattered Saturday morning’s calm was devastating, but brief.  Bravery and quick thinking prevented a massacre, turning innocent bystanders into heroes.  The service and skill of first responders and medical professionals saved lives.  Law enforcement officials are working to ensure swift justice.  Look to Tucson right now, and you will be reminded that America’s most plentiful source of wealth and strength is her people.

We are so thankful Gabby is still with us.  We are so thankful that two of her staffers who were also wounded – Ron Barber and Pam Simon – are still with us.  These are days they were not supposed to see, and we can only pray there will be more of them.

In her stead, Gabby’s staff has pressed on, opening for business Monday morning, right on schedule.  The men and women who faithfully serve the people of Arizona’s Eighth Congressional District have signaled that no act – no matter how heinous – will stop us from doing our duty and being among the people we serve.

To all of the dedicated professionals we rely on to make this institution work, to each of you: thank you for what you do.  To Gabby’s staff – and their families: please know that our hearts and prayers go out to you.

This body has yet to fully register the magnitude of this tragedy.  We feel a litany of unwanted emotions no resolution could possibly capture.  We know that we gather here without distinction of party.  The needs of this institution have always risen above partisanship.  And what this institution needs right now is strength – holy, uplifting strength.  The strength to grieve with the families of the fallen, to pray for the wounded, and to chart a way forward, no matter how painful and difficult it may be.

Today it is not ceremony, but tragedy that stirs us to renew our commitment to fulfill our oaths of office.  Let us not let this inhuman act frighten us into doing otherwise.  The free exchange of ideas is the lifeblood of our democracy, as prescribed by the First Amendment, that beacon of free expression Congresswoman Giffords recited in this well just days ago.  These rights have not been handed down by dictate – they have been preserved and protect through generations of hard sacrifice and commitment.  We will continue this unfinished work.

We will do it for Christina Taylor Green, Dorothy Morris, Phyllis Schneck, and Dorwan Stoddard, ordinary citizens who died participating in their democracy.  We will do it for Judge John Roll.  We will do it for Gabe Zimmerman.  And we will do it, God-willing, with Gabrielle Giffords.

Our hearts are broken, but our spirit is not.  This is a time for the House to lock arms, in prayer for those fallen and wounded, and in resolve to carry on the dialogue of democracy.  We may not yet have all the answers, but we already have the answer that matters most: that we are Americans, and together we will make it through this.  We will have the last word.

God bless this House.  God bless this Congress.  God bless America.  (*)

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U.S. Congress Pays Tribute to Arizona Shooting Victims

Members of Congress and staff members observe a moment of silence for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and other shooting victims, Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, on the East Steps of the Capitol on Capitol Hill in Washington. Giffords was shot Saturday in a Tucson shooting rampage that left six people dead. Pictured from ninth left to right: Wilson Livingood, Sergeant at Arms, U.S. House of Representatives; Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.; Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo.; Steve Lawrence, chief of staff to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif.; Barry Jackson chief of staff to House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio; Del. Madeleine Bordallo, D-Guam; Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga.; and Senate Sergeant at Arms Terry Gainer. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

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Washington DC, Jan 12 (KATAKAMI / VOA) — Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have strongly condemned a mass shooting in Arizona that killed six people and wounded a U.S. congresswoman.

House Speaker John Boehner submitted a resolution Wednesday honoring those killed and expressing hope for the recovery of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and others who were wounded.

The resolution pays tribute by name to the six people killed in the attack, including a nine-year-old girl and a federal judge.

Giffords was meeting her constituents outside a grocery store in the city of Tucson when a gunman opened fire. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said it is especially tragic that the shooting took place as people participated in activity that she said “reflects the best of our democratic tradition.”

U.S. President Barack Obama and the first lady travel to Arizona Wednesday to attend a memorial service for the victims.

Twenty-two-year-old Jared Loughner is accused of carrying out the attack.

If convicted he could get life in prison or the death penalty.

Giffords is being treated at an Arizona hospital for a gunshot wound to the head. Doctors say she has shown signs of improvement. She can breathe on her own and continues to respond to simple commands. But they say recovery will take time.

Loughner is charged with one count of attempted assassination of a member of Congress, two counts of killing an employee of the federal government and two counts of attempting to kill a federal employee.

It was the first deadly attack against a U.S. member of Congress since 1978, when California Representative Leo Ryan was killed in Guyana, while visiting the compound of a U.S.-based cult known as Jonestown.

Loughner’s family released a statement Tuesday expressing deep remorse for the shooting, saying they cannot understand why it happened.

Investigators found handwritten notes at Loughner’s home with Giffords’ name, the words “I planned ahead” and “My assassination.” Some of the writings were scrawled on a letter Giffords’ office sent to the suspect in 2007 after he attended one of her political events.  (*)

Photos released from Giffords’ hospital room

The office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has provided the public with the first images from the congresswomans hospital room. (Above, below: Mark Kelly clasps hands with his wife Giffords at her bedside. Photo : YAHOO )

The office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has provided the public with the first images from the congresswoman's hospital room. (Above, below: Mark Kelly clasps hands with his wife Giffords at her bedside. Photo : YAHOO )

Today the House will take up a resolution condemning the attack in Arizona

The US flag flies at half-staff outside the US Capitol on January 9, 2011, in memory of the victims of the January 8 shootings in Tucson, Arizona, which killed a US Judge and gravely wounded a US Congresswoman. In a brief statement Sunday morning, House Speaker John Boehner said flags on the House side of the Capitol in Washington will be flown at half-mast to honor the slain aide of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Gabe Zimmerman. Thirty-year-old Zimmerman was among six killed during a shooting rampage that left the Democratic congresswoman among 13 wounded. AFP PHOTO/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

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Jan 12 (KATAKAMI / SPEAKER.GOV) — On Wednesday morning, beginning at around 10:00 AM, the House will consider a resolution condemning the brutal attack on Representative Gabrielle Giffords as she met with constituents in Tucson, AZ.  Speaker John Boehner says the resolution, which can be found here, will also recognize the bravery of those who “helped subdue the attacker and save lives.”

Says Boehner:

“The House will lock arms tomorrow and – as one body – condemn the brutal attack in Arizona and express our profound condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed and wounded.  We will recognize the bravery of those on scene whose courage helped subdue the attacker and save lives – including that of our friend and colleague, Gabrielle Giffords.  And as the resolution itself reads, we will reaffirm our belief in ‘a democracy in which all can participate and in which intimidation and threats of violence cannot silence the voices of any American.”  (*)

John Boehner opposes gun-free zone measure

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks during a news conference as he reads a statement condemning the attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., at the West Chester Township Hall in West Chester, Ohio, Sunday Jan. 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (KATAKAMI / UPI) — House Speaker John Boehner opposes a gun control bill proposed by a fellow Republicans in response to the Tucson shootings, his spokesman says.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the Homeland Security Committee said Tuesday he would introduce legislation forbidding anyone to carry firearms within 1,000 feet of members of Congress.

King said the legislation is meant to protect the public as well as officials.

“The fact is they do represent the people who elect them, and it’s essential, if we’re going to continue to have contact, that the public who are at these meetings are ensured of their own safety,” he said.

Spokesman Michael Steel told The Hill Boehner, R-Ohio, would not support King’s legislation while the office of Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said he would have to review the measure before taking a position.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., and Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., also are preparing legislation to ban high-capacity ammunition magazines like those used by alleged Arizona gunman Jared Loughner. But Rep. James Moran, D-Va., said: “Anything you can get through the gun lobby is going to have little consequence. I don’t see the likelihood of much progress.”  (*)

Speaker Boehner: No New Gun Control

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) speaks about the shooting in Arizona during a news conference in West Chester, Ohio, January 9, 2011. A gunman shot U.S. congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the head, seriously wounding her, and killed six other people in a shooting rampage at a public meeting in Tucson on Saturday. REUTERS/Jay LaPrete

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Jan 12 (KATAKAMI / FRUMFORUM.COM) — The Hill reports:

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is rejecting gun-control legislation offered by the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee in response to the weekend shootings of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and 19 others in Arizona.

Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) announced plans Tuesday to introduce legislation prohibiting people from carrying guns within 1,000 feet of members of Congress.

King, who has previously called for the removal of illegal guns from the streets, made the announcement alongside New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the nation’s loudest voices for stricter gun laws.

King said the legislation is not intended only for the safety of government officials but also to protect the public. He said elected officials are not necessarily more important than constituents, but by protecting them in this way, they would feel safer in meeting federal officials at public events.

“The fact is they do represent the people who elect them, and it’s essential, if we’re going to continue to have contact, that the public who are at these meetings are ensured of their own safety,” King said.

King’s legislation got the cold shoulder from Boehner and other Republicans after it was announced.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said the Speaker would not support King’s legislation.

The office of Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the majority leader is reserving judgment until the King bill is finalized.

“Mr. Cantor believes it’s appropriate to adequately review and actually read legislation before forming an opinion about it,” Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring stated in an e-mail.

The immediate rejection of King’s legislation by Boehner illustrates the difficulty gun-control advocates will face in moving forward with any legislation.  (*)

Photostream : German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) listens to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi upon his arrival at the Chancellery in Berlin January 12, 2011. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomes Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at the Chancellery (Bundeskanzleramt) on January 12, 2011 in Berlin, Germany. Berlusconi is in Berlin to participate in German-Italian governmental consultations, and a major topic of discussion will be measures for stabilizing the Euro. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi shake hands as they pose for the media after they address a news conference following their bilateral talks at the Chancellery in Berlin January 12, 2011. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi address a news conference following their bilateral talks at the Chancellery in Berlin January 12, 2011. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle arrive for a group photo of the Italian and German government delegations at the Chancellery (Bundeskanzleramt) on January 12, 2011 in Berlin, Germany. Berlusconi is in Berlin to participate in German-Italian governmental consultations, and a major topic of discussion will be measures for stabilizing the Euro. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel takes Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi by the arm in order to allow space for wheelchair-bound German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble prior to a group photo of the two countries' delegations at the Chancellery (Bundeskanzleramt) on January 12, 2011 in Berlin, Germany. Berlusconi is in Berlin to participate in German-Italian governmental consultations, and a major topic of discussion will be measures for stabilizing the Euro. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

President Dmitry Medvedev meets Russian CEO of Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, left, listens to Russian Atomic Energy Chief Sergei Kiriyenko during their meeting in the Gorki residence outside Moscow, Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Vladimir Rodionov, Presidential Press Service)

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Gorki, Jan 12 (KATAKAMI / KREMLIN.RU) — Mr Kiriyenko briefed Dmitry Medvedev on the completion of the ratification process of the 123 Agreement between Russia and the United States, which opens up opportunities for direct cooperation between the two states in nuclear energy.

The Rosatom CEO also informed the President about the agency’s performance in 2010, in particular, on the establishment in Russia of the world’s first guaranteed reserve of nuclear fuel under an agreement with the IAEA.

Sergei Kiriyenko reported to Dmitry Medvedev on the implementation of the programme for the construction of 28 new nuclear reactors in the country, as well as on the state corporation’s international contracts.

* * *

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Mr Kiriyenko, last year I signed a law amending some provisions on ROSATOM’s status. I believe it is an important document because it clarifies some of the details and, hopefully, will better equip ROSATOM to address the tasks that are assigned to the state corporation. What is your opinion?

DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE STATE ATOMIC ENERGY CORPORATION ROSATOM SERGEI KIRIYENKO: Thank you, Mr President, these amendments are extremely important for us. The fact is that when the law on the state corporation was adopted three years ago, many things were different. It was before we launched a large-scale programme of building nuclear power stations, so the law you have signed regulates safety issues more rigorously, especially nuclear and radiation safety during the implementation of the programme for large-scale construction of nuclear power stations.

In addition, the law gives us the authority to tackle the tasks set by you and the Russian Government, in particular, regarding the nuclear icebreaker fleet. When the corporation was created, it was not in charge of the nuclear icebreaker fleet.

The law greatly expands export opportunities. In particular, as per your directive, it gives the state corporation the right to establish representative offices at Russian embassies. We had already coordinated everything with the Foreign Ministry and were just waiting for this law because otherwise we could not implement this programme. Right now we are starting to set up offices at key embassies in countries where we work, because it is crucial to have a permanent presence.

Now, regarding the corporation’s performance in 2010.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Go ahead, please.

SERGEI KIRIYENKO: You have touched on an international issue. Perhaps the most significant feature of last year is a series of large-scale international solutions. And just half an hour ago an exchange of notes took place concluding two years of work on the ratification of the agreement between Russia and the United States on cooperation in nuclear energy.

“The most significant feature of last year is a series of large-scale international solutions. And just half an hour ago an exchange of notes took place concluding two years of work on the ratification of the agreement between Russia and the United States on cooperation in nuclear energy.”

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: The so-called 123 Agreement.

SERGEI KIRIYENKO: That’s right, the 123 Agreement. This was a vestige of the past era that the two key nuclear powers had no direct agreements with each other; for example, we could not deliver anything directly to the Unites States or they to us, everything was done through some intermediaries, through third countries. It was totally absurd. Today the agreement has opened up new opportunities for us, which is very important from an economic point of view, because the United States is a key nuclear market. Today we supply more than 40% of fuel for US nuclear power stations under the famous HEU-LEU Agreement. Last year we concluded contracts well in excess of the agreement, since we have signed a supplementary agreement that allows us to circumvent the antidumping restrictions, worth in total $4.9 billion. We already have assets in the United States, taking into account the purchase of Uranium One, which we reported to you last year. On December 20, we extracted the first tons of uranium in the United States for the first time. Today we own 20% of US reserves.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: That really is good work. What is most important is not to politicise this process, as it happened sometimes in the history of Russian-US relations, but manage it like a business. Strictly speaking, this will also bring the best results.

SERGEI KIRIYENKO: We have excellent new opportunities in the fuel cycle, and, most importantly, on the most promising directions, such as safety, creating conditions for nuclear industry development in third countries, and creating new generation reactors.

Here, too, I would like to report that by December 1 we fulfilled the most important directive issued by the President of Russia, creating the world’s first nuclear fuel reserve bank under IAEA control. It was Russia’s initiative and we implemented it in full. Since December 1 the fuel storage facility in Angarsk, the Irkutsk Region, has been under the control of IAEA inspectors, under IAEA safeguards, and we deposited 120 tons of low enriched uranium there. It is sufficient to completely refuel two large nuclear reactors. This is a unique new situation in the world. Russia has spent more than $300 million, and now the IAEA has the following opportunity: if a country, which is restricted in its efforts to produce nuclear fuel for political reasons, applies to the IAEA Board of Governors, and the Board makes a decision, we immediately open up this fuel bank so that such country can have access to its reserves. Delivery is guaranteed. This is a crucial event for the secure development of the nuclear industry.

Now the Americans are following in our footsteps. Their initiative is just beginning to take shape whereas ours has already been fully implemented.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: That is very good and very useful but we should not forget about domestic efforts either. Your corporation has a number of projects, including construction. How is the situation there?

SERGEI KIRIYENKO: Everything is going well. If I may, I would like to tell you about our key performance indicators. In accordance with your instructions to state corporations, we have identified key performance indicators, which are set by the supervisory board and on which we report at the end of each year.

We have only the preliminary results now and I will submit to you the final figures when the balance is ready, but their accuracy is very high: we have exceeded all the objectives set by the Government last year. The key issue last year was profit indicators, and our net profit increased by more than 50% compared to 2009 and accounted for more than 60 billion rubles [about $2 billion]. Another very important task was to provide consumers with electricity. It was a difficult year, with the wildfires raging in close proximity to nuclear power stations, if you remember, transmission lines were damaged, and the winter has not been the easiest time, either. So for us it is very important that we have successfully tackled the challenges set by the Government, and even slightly exceeded our targets: we supplied 950 million kWh of electricity more than planned, exceeding our 2009 supplies by more than 4%, or 7 billion kWh.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: I see that labour productivity has increased by almost 22%.

SERGEI KIRIYENKO: That’s right. Moreover, this is in comparable prices. That’s a key indicator.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: This is a good indicator.

SERGEI KIRIYENKO: Yes, it is. The supervisory board included labour productivity among basic indicators because the nuclear industry, which was created in the Soviet times, lagged behind our foreign competitors in this area. Labour productivity growth and the creation of political conditions, which you mentioned at the outset, made it possible for us to conclude new international contracts. For us the number of international contracts is a major indicator.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: The export portfolio has increased by 450%.

SERGEI KIRIYENKO: That’s right. Today we already have a portfolio of orders worth more than $20 billion. We are certain that this year we will increase it by a further 50% to total $30 billion. And the most important thing is the contracts for the construction of nuclear power stations. We have a programme for the construction of 28 nuclear power units in Russia, which has been approved. The deadlines had to be moved back because of the economic crisis but none of the projects have been cancelled. The work is in progress at nine sites. In this regard 2010 was a key year for us. We have commissioned the first nuclear power unit from this batch. We are especially proud that we completed construction in March, according to the schedule, and in November the power station was put into operation.

Now we have very strong growth in the volume of orders due to the new international contracts, because 28 nuclear power units in the country is an enormous programme, but it is already at a fairly high degree of readiness, and we estimate our potential international market at 30 more units, so we will build 28 units in Russia and another 30 abroad. The key countries for us are India, which you visited recently, Vietnam, a new partner for us, and Turkey. We have a unique model of ownership contract, signed last year, which gives Russia, or ROSATOM, the ownership of the nuclear power station on the territory of another country. This is certainly a unique case. This means that we have come to Turkey for 100 years, because the contract stipulates construction, 60 to 70 years of operation and fuel supply. This radically increases the scale of the contract.

Today a number of new countries are showing a great interest in this type of contract. They are ready to follow Turkey’s example and offer us the opportunity not only to build nuclear power stations using Russian technology, but also to be co-owners or owners of nuclear power stations. This option is currently under discussion with our colleagues.  (*)

Former spy Anna Chapman to host Russian TV show

Anna Chapman

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Moscow, Jan 12 (KATAKAMI / RIA NOVOSTI) — Former spy Anna Chapman will host a new documentary TV show on Russia’s REN TV channel, the station said on Wednesday.

World’s Secrets with Anna Chapman show starts on January, 21.

Chapman was part of a Russian spy ring that was broken up this summer. She was later freed as part of a spy swap deal with Russia. She subsequently received one of Russia’s highest medals for espionage.

Since returning home, Chapman has appeared on the cover of the Russian edition of Maxim magazine in November issue, sporting nylon and lace and wielding a revolver. She also accepted Playboy magazine’s proposal to feature on the cover of its January issue.

In late December, she joined the ranks of the youth arm of Russia’s ruling United Russia party, Molodaya Gvardia (Young Guard) in an apparent attempt to launch a political career. She was named a member of the group’s public council.

Chapman has also recently accepted a job as an adviser to the president of FondServiceBank and showed up at a launch of a Russian spacecraft.

MOSCOW, January 12

Polish presidential plane crew were 'not informed' of weather conditions

Lech Kaczynski's Tu-154 plane crashed in Smolensk

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Jan 12 (KATAKAMI / Ria Novosti) —The crew of the Polish presidential jet that crashed in Russia last year were not informed of the weather conditions before takeoff, the Interstate Aviation Committee (MAK) said on Wednesday.

Then Polish President Lech Kaczynski and 95 other top officials died in the April 10 crash.

“There were serious flaws where the preparation of the crew, control over the flight and a choice of alternative airports were concerned,” MAK head Tatyana Anodina said.

She said the crew did not have “factual and actual” information about the weather conditions near Smolensk.  (*)

MOSCOW, January 12

Haiti earthquake: After so many promises, why is the country still struggling?

Matthew Price ( BBC) : "Once in a while, you visit a place that you know will forever be lodged in your mind. That place for me is L'Hopital de la Paix, on Delmas 33, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I first went there just about 24 hours after the earthquake on 12 January last year. Now, a year later, walking into the hospital grounds, it all comes back".

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Jan 12 (KATAKAMI / BBC) — It was a clear night, as the stars shone down brightly out of a dark Caribbean sky.

There’s the curb against which I saw a baby’s body lying wrapped and abandoned.

There’s the grass leading up to the main building, where I watched a man lay down to sleep between two dead people.

There are the steps that take me through the entrance, and back into the corridor down which a woman’s wail echoed, where a girl wrapped in bloody sheets lay curled up on a table.

And there’s the corner where Astrel Jacques first introduced me to his daughter.

Telia was lying on the tiled floor, her little legs broken, the dirty bandages on her head barely stopping the bleeding from a large gash.

Now, here we are again, the three of us, at the same corner a year later.

Telia’s hair is in braids, each finished off with a white plastic clip.

The scar across her forehead, running down from hairline to eyebrow, is still vivid. So, too, the scars on her legs. She will always have those. But today at least she can smile, and she has a beautiful smile.

“As I’m walking right here, you had to step on dead bodies. Dead bodies was everywhere,” Astrel recollects in broken English as we head along the now pristine corridors.

“Mothers, daughters, fathers, sons: everybody was just fighting to stay alive.”

Telia's father says she is still traumatised by the events of a year ago

Telia is a quiet girl. Her father says she is still traumatised.

She was injured by falling masonry when the earthquake hit. Her younger sister was killed. So, too, was her grandmother. The scars, physical and mental, will be with her for the rest of her life.

But will Haiti too be scared forever? Twelve months ago, as I walked past the dead, as the smell of decaying bodies grew more pungent day by day, there was not much to be positive about.

There were, however, some signs of encouragement. One was the sheer level of support and help offered from around the world. Compassion fatigue? Hardly. Haiti caught the world’s attention, and benefited from the world’s generosity.

Then there was the resourcefulness of the Haitians themselves. They managed to return to some sort of basic existence pretty quickly.

There were the international promises to re-build a better Haiti – everyone seemed to agree, and the momentum was building to do just that.

Frustration

Today though, back on that hospital corner, Astrel Jacques is no longer encouraged.

“As of right now, Haiti will never rebuild. I mean I don’t see any sign. For something to rebuild you have to see signs. You have to see hands put in. You have to see actions. You have to see talks. I don’t see any of it.”

It is a common refrain, born somewhat out of reality, but also out of frustration.

There have been changes here, but so far they have been limited.

In those days after the earthquake, I visited a supposedly temporary camp Next to it was a patch of empty, stony ground. I wondered how much longer it would be before the tents and tarpaulins spread out from the camp to cover it, too.

Haiti’s 2010 Earthquake

  • Struck 12 January, 2010 at 1653 local time (2153 GMT)
  • Magnitude 7.0, epicentre about 15km (10 miles) south-west of capital Port-au-Prince, near town of Leogane
  • Killed about 230,000 people, injured about 300,000 people
  • More than 50 aftershocks
  • Left about one million people homeless

A month later, when I next saw it, people were indeed beginning to put up rough wooden structures. A few poles and bit of plastic sheeting.

After six months however, as I next passed by, the land was empty, a fence around it. A waste of space it seemed.

Now, there are 350 new homes there. Wooden structures, and temporary, but the people who moved in over the last few days consider themselves lucky. They finally have something more than a tent that they can call home.

‘I can’t rebuild’

The issue many here have is that even this is not a long-term solution. It took the International Red Cross a year to get permission to use the land, to secure it, to get the materials, to move people in.

And yet there are no paved roads in what is Port-au-Prince’s newest neighbourhood, no sewage infrastructure, no electricity. Within a year this may well be Port-au-Prince’s newest slum.

This kind of rebuilding is also the exception. Much rubble is still lying where it fell.

In a crowded district, which sits in the fold between two hills, many of the ruins I climbed over a year ago are still there. As I wind through the tiny alleyways, there are some signs of clearance.

Outside Fabula’s tin shack for instance, the mound we stood on six months ago has been cleared, leaving an empty plot where one day someone will build.

Fabula’s son is now one year old. I met him in the first few minutes of his life. He was born just after the earthquake. His mother, too exhausted to push him out, almost died in labour.

Her life is still immensely hard.

“Nothing has changed,” she says.

“The people who are fortunate have done some small rebuilding, but the unfortunate have not done anything. My mum lives up the hill in a camp. I still can’t rebuild our house.”

Pushed to the limit

Haiti is the kind of place that gets under your skin.

It plays with your emotions.

I have spent much of the past week here feeling angry. Why has seemingly so little been achieved?

You can point fingers in many directions. At the government and its weak leadership – but then 17% of its civil servants died in the earthquake, and it was weak anyway.

At the international community, for failing to live up to their promises, but then all agree this is one of the most complex humanitarian disasters of the modern age, and addressing it is going to take decades.

At the NGOs – of whom there are thousands here – for failing to start longer-term projects, but then they have been pushed to the limit by other challenges, a hurricane and a cholera epidemic. They have kept Haiti alive on life support.

The challenge remains though, to move this country off emergency care, and into long-term rehabilitation.

The big stuff needs to be addressed.

A more able political leadership needs to be established. Infrastructure projects need to be planned – new streets, a sewage system and power grid. Jobs need to be created. Houses built. An entire country needs to be recreated.

How though, do you do that? Let’s hope in a year’s time we’re not still asking the same question.  (*)

British Foreign Secretary meets with Chinese Vice-Premier

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London, Jan 12 (KATAKAMI / FCO.GOV.UK) — Foreign Secretary William Hague met Chinese Vice-Premier Li Keqiang Tuesday evening as part of the Vice-Premier’s four day visit to the UK.

“It was a great pleasure to have welcomed Vice-Premier Li Keqiang to the UK following the Prime Minister’s invitation last year. Our discussions covered the full range of our interests, including trade and investment, the G20, Iran and DPRK. We also discussed human rights.

“This is an important time in the UK’s relationship with China. I am delighted that the Vice-Premier has had the opportunity to see first-hand the UK’s cutting-edge achievements in renewable energy technologies, low carbon solutions, and financial services.  I see this visit as another important step in cementing the UK and China as “Partners for Growth” and continuing to build our trade and investment relationship.”

Earlier in the visit Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg held bilateral talks with Vice-Premier Li and attended a signing ceremony where the two countries signed agreements with an estimated value of £2.6 billion.

Co-operation on conservation and culture were also on the agenda, with China agreeing to gift a breeding pair of giant pandas to Edinburgh Zoo for ten years.

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner Observes National Moment of Silence with Ohio Lawmakers


Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, Ohio Speaker Bill Batchelder and other Ohio lawmakers observe the national moment of silence at 11 a.m. yesterday in the Ohio Statehouse.

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Washington DC, Jan 11 (KATAKAMI / SPEAKER.GOV) — Saturday’s senseless attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) that killed six and wounded more than a dozen has prompted an outpouring of support from across the nation.  On Sunday afternoon Speaker Boehner spoke from West Chester, Ohio, on a bipartisan conference call with members of Congress and staff, saying:

“…an attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve.  This is a time for the House to pull together as an institution — one body, unified in our common purpose of serving the American people and fighting for the freedom and justice guaranteed to all by our Constitution.

“What is critical is that we stand together at this dark time as one body.  We need to rally around our wounded colleague, the families of the fallen, and the people of Arizona’s 8th District.  And, frankly, we need to rally around each other.”

Observances will continue throughout the week in Washington, where House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) postponed Congress’ legislative schedule.  Tomorrow the House will consider a resolution expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with respect to the tragic shooting.

At 1 p.m. Speaker Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will host a bipartisan congressional prayer service for lawmakers in the Capitol Visitors Center.  (*)

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