Gulf oil spill disaster: ‘Siege’ will last for months, head of federal relief effort says

The ongoing oil disaster will drag on for months - at least - according to the head of the federal relief efforts."This is a siege. It's going to go on for a long time," Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who is leading the national cleanup efforts, said on "Face the Nation" Sunday."We are spread from south-central Louisiana over to Port Saint Joe, Fla. It's not going to end soon, and we need to have our shoulder to the wheel and do everything we can. This is a very, very, very tough problem."BP also signaled yesterday it has no plans to quit and is making incremental progress. The containment cap that's sucking some of the oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico trapped about 441,000 gallons of oil Saturday, BP spokesman Mark Proegler said yesterday. That's up from about 250,000 gallons of oil Friday.That is only a little more than half of the higher estimates of the amount of oil leaking from the well each day. It's also unclear just how much is still escaping. It's estimated that 500,000 to 1 million gallons of crude has been leaking daily since a BP rig exploded on April 20.BP chief executive Tony Hayward told the BBC yesterday that the cap is likely to capture "the majority, probably the vast majority" of the oil gushing from the well.Meanwhile, Mississippi and Florida officials complained that their economies have been hammered by the perception that their states are in as much trouble as Louisiana."People think that there's oil there, and they're canceling their fishing trips," said Sen. Bill Nelson. "They're canceling their hotels. They're not going into the restaurants because they're not coming. They are canceling orders of our fish houses because they're afraid that the seafood is tainted." Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Former President Bill Clinton talks about relief efforts in Haiti in Esquire magazine interview

The venerable William Jefferson Clinton talks about what it will take to rebuild Haiti in the new issue of Esquire magazine, which hits newsstands Sunday.The 42nd President is the central character in an article on what's being done to help Haiti six months after the earthquake struck Port-au-Prince."I wake up every day sick at heart that we aren't doing more," Clinton told writer Tom Chiarella."In the camps, we need more sanitation and protection from blowdown. In the streets, we need more jobs. We need to begin reconstruction. Then do something on the education front."The global icon has spent much of the year in Haiti coordinating relief efforts. And when he's not there, he said, the small island country that's always been close to his heart is always on his mind.Chiarella asked Clinton why the Haitian people like him so much and why they are "so willing to listen to him, above any other leader.""I've tried never to have my words outrun my deeds in Haiti," he said. "You can't forget there are people listening when you say you are going to do things, and I try not to overpromise." Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Jay-Z, U2, and Swizz Beatz create original song for Haiti relief efforts; all-star telethon lineup

A galaxy of pop music stars will lend their voices to Friday's telethon to benefit quake-devastated Haiti.The star-studded list of artists set to perform at "Hope for Haiti: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief" has been released.It includes A-listers Bruce Springsteen, Jay-Z, Coldplay, Alicia Keys, Sting, Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, Shakira, Rihanna, Bono and The Edge, and many more.In addition to participating in the global goodwill gala, airing Jan. 22 at 8 p.m. on many major networks, The Edge has collaborated with U2 bandmates Bono, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr., as well as Jay-Z and music producer Swizz Beats to create an original song to help the relief effort.The Edge announced Wednesday on an Irish radio station that Swizz had called him, saying that he and Jay-Z "wanted to do something for Haiti," reports"So Bono came up with the phrase on the phone and last night we were here, we wrote a song, finished, recorded, and sent it back to them," said Edge. "So that might be the next thing you hear from us."The telethon will be co-hosted by George Clooney in Los Angeles, Anderson Cooper in Haiti and Wyclef Jean in New York City. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

U.S. and Cuba improve relations as both countries aid in relief efforts in Haiti

While international aid continues to pour into earthquake-ravaged Haiti, improved relations between U.S. and Cuba could turn out to be an unintended - if welcome - result of both countries cooperating to save lives in the devastated island nation.In an unusual gesture last week, Cuba opened its airspace to U.S. aircraft involved in emergency relief efforts in Haiti. No less unusual was Secretary of State Clinton thanking the Cuban government and saying the U.S. "would welcome any other actions that the Cuban government could take in furtherance of the international rescue and recovery mission in Haiti."Over half a million people have lost homes since the quake struck Jan. 12. It is estimated that 200,000 people have lost their lives and more than 193,000 have been injured.In a move to aid relief efforts, the State Department said earlier this week that it is prepared to provide medical supplies to Cuban doctors working in Haiti."The United States has communicated its readiness to make medical relief supplies available to Cuban doctors working on the ground in Haiti as part of the international relief effort," said spokesman Darby Holladay.This kind of cooperation to save lives obviously would strengthen Havana's already powerful response to the tragedy, especially by providing supplies to the Cuban doctors and their Haitian counterparts trained in Cuba.Cuban medical teams have treated more than 13,000 patients in Port-au-Prince, performing more than 1,000 operations, including 550 major surgeries, said Gail Reed, international director of the California-based Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba. The nonprofit group works to enhance cooperation among the U.S., Cuban and global health communities.In addition to Cuban teams, Haitian physicians trained in Cuba and 60 Haitian medical students from Cuba's Latin American Medical School are working with relief personnel from other countries in field hospitals, medical posts and public parks - as well as in three Continue Reading

New York Yankees donate $500K to Haiti earthquake relief efforts

The New York Yankees stepped up to the plate for victims of the Haiti earthquake.The reigning World Series champions said Thursday that they were donating $500,000 for relief efforts in the country, which is struggling in the wake of Tuesday’s 7.0 magnitude earthquake. As the desperate search for survivors buried under rubble on the streets of Port au Prince continued, a number of U.S. aid groups and the International Red Cross made public pleas for donations. The death toll is feared to be in the hundreds of thousands."The catastrophic event has devastated an entire nation and will have far-reaching effects in the worldwide Haitian community," a team spokesperson said in a news release. "The Yankees hope their donation will inspire people throughout the United States to do everything they can to aid the people of Haiti in their time of need."The Yankees donated $1 million to the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross in the summer of 2008 for efforts in Louisiana and Texas in the wake of hurricanes Gustav and Ike, according to the team. Three years earlier, the team says it gave the same amount to help that region for relief and recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina.The team also reports it gave $1 million from the proceeds of the Yankees’ 2005 season opener against the Red Sox for victims of the tsunami that devastated 11 countries in Asia. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Take charge in Haiti: Relief effort after this huge disaster needs firm leadership

The U.S. and the world are rushing every imaginable form of aid to Haiti in hopes of sparing the country's 9 million people from ever-deepening devastation. Time is of the essence - as is firm, competent leadership. That means a big dose of American money, American know-how and American power. That means a take-charge mentality with no patience for niceties or fear of offending sensibilities. Not a thing must get in the way of delivering food, medicine, water, sanitation and shelter in a country that had little infrastructure to begin with and now has virtually none. President Obama pledged $100 million to the rescue as he sent 3,500 troops, an aircraft carrier and a hospital ship, while ordering all federal departments to put Haiti at the top of their agendas. With the U.S. Agency for International Development coordinating relief efforts, search and rescue workers were on Port-au-Prince's bleak and battered streets by yesterday morning. The State Department stressed that U.S. troops would take their orders from U.S. commanders, which is as it should be, but a spokesman was at pains to add - unnecessarily - that America isn't "taking over Haiti." As if anyone is suggesting that such is Uncle Sam's nefarious, ulterior motive. "What we're doing is following the priorities that the Haitian government has outlined for us," spokesman P.J. Crowley said. Fine, so long as the U.S. goes about its tragic duties with speedy dispatch, recognizing that Haiti's rulers are not up to the job of directing the multinational undertaking that its people need and need right now. Not even close. Ditto for the United Nations, which has 3,000 troops in and around Port-au-Prince who are providing security, distributing aid and removing corpses. Asked yesterday about the relationship between the American and UN troops, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon made clear that the command structure had not yet been worked out. "The force commander of the UN peacekeeping operations Continue Reading

U.S. forces scaling back relief effort for Haiti earthquake victims

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - The biggest U.S. military surge since Iraq and Afghanistan is scaling back a month after the troops arrived in haste to aid victims of Haiti's catastrophic quake. Great gray ships have been leaving behind Haiti's battered shores as thousands of American troops pack up their tents. The mission, however, is far from over. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the U.S. will be in Haiti for the long haul, although troop strength is down to 13,000 from a Feb. 1 peak of 20,000. Those who remain will accompany Haitians in an arduous struggle toward recovery. Within a broad international relief effort, U.S. forces have provided some of the most visible support to a nation whose government and infrastructure were nearly wiped out in less than a minute on Jan. 12. They have shored up the capital's quake-damaged port to operate at several times its pre-quake tonnage, while acting as a security and logistics mainstay for U.N. food distributions. Military choppers have delivered life-sustaining relief to isolated villages. The flow of injured quake victims to the USNS Comfort hospital ship has eased, but the need for medical facilities remains overwhelming in Port-au-Prince. "We're pretty saturated. This is the chokepoint," said Air Force Maj. John Mansuy of St. Clairsville, Ohio, the operating room nurse in a tented, full-service unit with zipper doors and a positive air flow to keep out choking dust that blankets a landfill in the teeming Cite Soleil slum. His medical team takes in people strapped to stretchers - with fractures, open wounds and other life-threatening maladies - before rushing them offshore to the Comfort. The Haiti aid operation, costing the Pentagon $234 million and counting, has added a new strain to an already overtaxed military. About seven in 10 members of the Cite Soleil's modern-day MASH unit are veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - and many are scheduled to return there. U.S. Southern Command chief Continue Reading

Relief efforts reaching the needy in Haiti

Through the selfless efforts of New Yorkers, relief supplies collected by the Queens-based Haiti Relief Effort are flowing steadily to needy survivors of Tropical Storm Fay and Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike. The next relief shipment is being assembled and donations are welcomed. Community leader and businessman David Duchatellier, of Duch Travel Productions, a travel agency in Cambria Heights, said last week that organizations aiding storm victims in Haitian cities and towns such as Croix-des-Bouquets Mariani, Mirbalais and the capital Port-au-Prince, have received much-needed supplies in the group's most recent shipments. RELATED: AT LEAST 75 DEAD IN HAITIAN SCHOOL COLLAPSEWhen food shortages reached crisis proportions in Haiti last spring, Duchatellier teamed with state Assemblyman Tom Alfano (R-Nassau County), state Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Nassau County), the Haitian-Americans United for Progress and Vertus Financial Services to start a collection drive. But in the wake of the destructive storms, the initiative has turned into a relief effort. The School District of Elmont, L.I.; Public School 181 in Springfield Gardens, Queens; St. Basil Church of Franklin Square, L.I., and St. Boniface of Elmont, L.I. are also staunch supporters of the relief drive. Food and articles of clothing will be collected and shipped in order to arrive by Christmas. Donations of nonperishable food items [especially rice and beans] can be brought to Haiti Relief Effort headquarters at 221-09 Linden Blvd. For a full list of accepted clothing and other items, call (718) 527-8594 or send e-mail to Jonestown revisited A new documentary looking at the Jonestown massacre in Guyana will air next Sunday on the MSNBC cable TV channel at 9 p.m. A debut work from MSNBC Films, "Witness to Jonestown" is a two-hour program coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the disastrous collapse of the Jim Jones-led Peoples Temple cult, in which more than 900 Americans died, including NBC journalists and the Continue Reading

Mathieu Eugene, Wyclef Jean lead local Haitian relief effort

The race is on to aid Haitians suffering in the aftermath of the flooding rains and intense winds of tropical storm Fay and Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike - all striking the Caribbean nation in recent weeks. Last week, the United Nations made a desperate international appeal to get more than $100 million to fund humanitarian relief efforts in Haiti. While here in the city, Brooklyn Councilman Mathieu Eugene and New York-based organizations such as musician Wyclef Jean's Yéle Haiti Foundation and the Batey Relief Alliance are pitching in. In its plea for $108 million to support recovery and relief efforts over the next six months, UN officials reported that hundreds perished and 800,000 people are in need of emergency assistance. Especially in the southern and southeastern portions of the island, the four storms flooded agricultural areas and ruined much-needed crops. - Councilman Eugene called for donations of dry nonperishable foods, medicines, water, flashlights, emergency kits, summer clothing, tarpaulins and tents to help residents of Haiti. For information, call Eugene's district office at (718) 287-8762. - "Haiti is in a State of Emergency" says the Web site of Wyclef Jean's Yéle Haiti Foundation, which includes a moving video of the storms' aftermath to appeal for relief funds. Visit to donate or call (212) 352-0552. - The New York-based Batey Relief Alliance is working to help children and families in Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic-based BRA Dominicana and faith-based groups will deliver medicines, vitamins, food, water and clothes to hurricane victims. To donate, visit www. and click the "Haiti and DR need your help after path of destruction" link on the home page. Call (917) 627-5026 for information. Prime minister Thomas in town Tillman Thomas, the newly elected prime minister of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, is coming to New York on Wednesday Continue Reading

MU, UWM will play basketball exhibition for hurricane relief efforts

The Marquette and UW-Milwaukee men's basketball teams have renewed their intracity rivalry, this time for charity.The Golden Eagles and the Panthers, who haven't met since 2011, will play an exhibition game at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Al McGuire Center on MU's campus.According to the school, MU requested a waiver from the NCAA to play another exhibition game. It was granted provided all the proceeds go to hurricane relief efforts across the country. The schools will work with the American Red Cross.NCAA rules normally allow only exhibitions against non-NCAA Division I four-year schools. The Golden Eagles face Division II Lindenwood in an exhibition game on Nov. 4.Kansas and Missouri, another hoops rivalry that has been on hiatus, will also stage a game for hurricane relief. MU and UWM have met 39 times in regular-season games. The last matchup was a 64-50 victory by the Golden Eagles on Dec. 22, 2011, under head coach Buzz Williams. The Panthers have never won in the series. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for our programs to become involved with the relief efforts currently underway across the country and it’s my hope we can fill the Al to capacity,” MU head coach Steve Wojciechowski said in a statement.  “Many of us have a personal connection to someone directly impacted by the recent hurricanes and being able to partner with the American Red Cross allows us to help people like Marquette legend Butch Lee, who lives in his native Puerto Rico.” Lee, in an interview with the Journal Sentinel last month, said he has plans to help out businesses around his city of San Juan in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.Tickets will be $20 for lower-level seats, $10 for upper level and $5 for MU students. They will go on sale Thursday at 10 a.m. by phone at 414-288-GOMU or online at game will not be televised or streamed on the internet. Fans in attendance can also donate money Continue Reading