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November 26th, 2010
09:47 am

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Third-World UN Peacekeepers Spread Cholera to Haiti
In a simple yet horrendously-lethal demonstration of why backwater Third World countries are not technologically equal to leading First World countries, and why contingents from such countries do not magically become technologically equal when they fly a UN flag, we now learn that the Nepalese have spread cholera to Haiti (CBS News, "UN Worried Its Troops Caused Cholera in Haiti," http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/11/19/world/main7072216.shtml).

It began as a rumor that farmers saw waste from a U.N. peacekeeping base flow into a river. Within days of the talk, hundreds downstream had died from cholera.

Pretty direct evidence, isn't it? How did the idealistic and trustworthy United Nations, so much better than the Evil Americans, react to this news?



The UN's Stirring and Decisive Response!
The mounting circumstantial evidence that U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal brought cholera to Haiti was largely dismissed by U.N. officials. Haitians who asked about it were called political or paranoid. Foreigners were accused of playing "the blame game." The World Health Organization said the question was simply "not a priority."

Oh, well, then it wasn't a priority. Pay no attention to all the dead people!

But this week, after anti-U.N. riots and inquiries from health experts, the top U.N. representative in Haiti said he is taking the allegations very seriously.

Good. Problem solved. You dead people, get up and start living again! Oh no, wait, that takes the publicantion of a White Paper or something like that, right?

"It is very important to know if it came from (the Nepalese base) or not, and someday I hope we will find out," U.N. envoy Edmond Mulet told The Associated Press.

Indeed, "someday." Maybe centuries from now, when we perfect the time-viewers needed to see what went wrong, and everyone in the UN involved with the blunder is long since safely dead, eh?

The answer would have implications for U.N. peacekeeping missions around the world, he said.

It would affect the relationship between the U.N. and Haiti: If its peacekeepers misled, it could lose credibility for tasks such as helping oversee next week's election. It could affect the job of U.N. humanitarian workers, who work separately from the peacekeepers.


Oh no, say it isn't so! You mean it could actually affect U.N. personnel? Real people, as distinct from the game-counters which are the Haitians? Now that would truly be a tragedy!




The Mysterious 'Source' of the Cholera

It would help answer scientific questions: Is the source still out there? How does this cholera strain spread? Does it pose a threat to the region, including the southern United States?

"The source?" Edmond Mulet is obviously living in the alternate time line in which the nature and transmission of cholera was not discovered in the 19th century. To wit:

Cholera is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The bacteria releases a toxin that causes increased release of water in the intestines, which produces severe diarrhea.

Cholera occurs in places with poor sanitation, crowding, war, and famine. Common locations for cholera include:

•Africa
•Asia
•India
•Mexico
•South and Central America
•The Mediterranean

People get the infection by ingesting contaminated food or water.


(https://health.google.com/health/ref/Cholera)

... and, no. It's not a threat to the Southern United States of America, unless the UN sends Nepalese peacekeepers there to go poop in the water supply of the people in those States, which seems to me to be a rather unlikely development.

Unless, of course, Mulet means to imply that there are flying saucers or stealth aircraft flying around dropping the bacteria into the Haitian water supply, for some mysterious motive, and they might perhaps also attack the US?




Like a Virgin ...

But no, perhaps it's coming from those nasty filthy Haitians, with their strange voodoo ways and their large debt to shining noble European France? Well, see ...

Before last month, there had never been a confirmed case of cholera in Haiti, and now there are more than 1,100 dead and experts say hundreds of thousands will ultimately fall ill as the disease haunts Haiti for years.

The term for this is "virgin field epidemic." Other examples of virgin field epidemics are the Black Death of the 14th century and the Spanish Influenza of 1918. This might be worse, more like smallpox in the New World, if not even the ancestors of the Haitians have really never encountered any cholera strain.

Virgin field epidemics typically have mortality rates around 25% to 95%, assuming the disease is at all lethal. Haiti, with its lack of water treatment systems, is going to have a lot of difficulty preventing this from spreading. In other words, hundreds of thousands of Haitians could die in consequence of this contagion.


Or, in plain English:

The UN may have managed to kill more people through its humanitarian intervention than would have died had they left the Haitians alone.

Congratulations, tranzis. You've made a difference. Why don't you give yourselves another Nobel Peace Prize and go home, and let competent people clean up the mess you've made, ok?

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From:actonrf
Date:November 26th, 2010 07:10 pm (UTC)
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Nothing new, the "peacekeepers" did a bang up job in Cambodia starting with fueling prostitution and STDs.
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From:melvin_udall
Date:November 26th, 2010 07:53 pm (UTC)
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This might be a slight improvement on their preference for raping the local population before killing them or condemning them to a lifetime of misery.
From:operations
Date:November 27th, 2010 04:22 am (UTC)
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Yeah, I mean, at least there are drugs and treatments for Cholera right?

Wonder who at the UN holds stock in those companies...
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From:rowyn
Date:November 26th, 2010 07:55 pm (UTC)
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D:
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From:squid314
Date:November 26th, 2010 11:59 pm (UTC)
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The UN is a labyrinthine dysfunctional bureaucracy that makes a mistake a minute and every so often has incredible orgies of corruption from its more colorful members. That is not news.

On the other hand, nation-building is somewhere between "hard" and "impossible", and having worked in the country myself I can vouch that doing anything in Haiti is fifty times harder than doing it anywhere else. But there are eight hundred thousand people in the country living in tent-cities with no internal source of food or water. The prospect of what would happen if the UN left Haiti is too horrible to contemplate. I know that that's a typical big-government liberal justification for anything, but I dare you to go to Haiti and then tell me that the idea of the UN leaving the country to its own devices isn't too horrible to contemplate.

The UN didn't fight off the US for the "right" to go into Haiti because they were some wacky group of postmodern liberals who thought America couldn't do anything right. They went into Haiti because no one else would. They've done so on a budget of about a third of what they were told they were gong to get (for example, the US promised them over a billion dollars to the reconstruction effort, then delivered less than a tenth of that) and they've done...well, the best that can be said is they've done what they could.

Are you criticizing the UN because you think you could get one hundred ninety squabbling countries, most of which are insane and evil, to solve a catastrophe on a shoestring budget in the most dysfunctional country in the world without making any mistakes? Or do you think you could convince the United States or some other semi-functional First World county to do the same job and provide all the resources necessary to support eight hundred thousand people until the Haitian government gets its act together (ie forever)?

(if your answer is that the US should invade Haiti, execute the corrupt thugs who call themselves its "government", and then fix the country up, I'd join your army in a second, but the failure to do so is a failure of US popular will, not a failure of the UN to do what it can in the absence of any such offer from Washington.)

(and if your answer is that Haiti is such an awful country that it doesn't deserve anyone's help, I would agree with you, except that the 800,000 people who will die if all help is withdrawn are almost certainly not the segment of the population that has made the country so awful. These people generally drive Cadillacs, live in gated communities, and wouldn't even notice the UN leaving)

There's a trilemma here: either let the UN keep doing what it's doing even though it does it poorly, find someone else to do it better, or not care if it gets done. The second option is impossible, the latter terrible, so the first is pretty much what's left. The UN, given what it is, can't help but suck, but the individual people in it are generally amazing and sacrificing everything just to do the less-than-mediocre job that gets done, so they get my respect and thanks for doing a thankless task no one else will.

Also, I ask you: if this story were about some American spreading swine flu or something to Iraq, would your reaction be "Aha, this proves all Americans are evil and the US occupation of Iraq was a racket by people who don't care about the Iraqi people; why don't they all pat themselves on the back for promoting 'freedom' and go home", or would it be "I can't believe those evil blame-America-firsters are holding one setback against us after we've sacrificed so much to do an important job there, and they should be ashamed of themselves"?
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From:gothelittle
Date:November 27th, 2010 12:52 am (UTC)
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if this story were about some American spreading swine flu or something to Iraq, would your reaction be "Aha, this proves all Americans are evil and the US occupation of Iraq was a racket by people who don't care about the Iraqi people...

Methinks you've missed the point of the post.

Cholera is virtually unknown in any country that separates drinking water from feces disposal.

What the UN has done is send a team from a country that can't even keep its own poop out of their drinking water to aid another country.

It has sent a team that is incapable of providing the most basic sanitation for itself to go try to provide Haiti with proper sanitation.

This ranks up there with making Sudan a member of the United Nations Human Rights Commission. You can only guess that the UN doesn't care that much about actual human rights.
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From:ford_prefect42
Date:November 27th, 2010 03:34 am (UTC)
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Hmm.. So, they have taken people that were living in tent cities and starving, and by dint of heroic effort... Transformed them into people living in tent cities and starving, but now dying of a shiny new plague.

The problem here is that the UN and "humanitarian efforts" are fundamentally the wrong tool for the job. It's not a nail, it's a screw, continuing to pound it will only strip the threads, if it doesn't break it outright. As unpleasant as it sounds, doing nothing would be an improvement, at least that way the path is clear for someone with a screwdriver (say, a plantation robber baron) to come do what needs to be done.

The problem with the "humanitarian" methodologies is

a) They put the cart before the horse. They *start* with improving the standard of living, rather than creating an economic framework that supports life itself. This causes influxes of *more* needy people, and creates additional demands on resources. So long as the UN is there, there will be a tent city there.

b) They enable methodologies of guaranteed failure. Those people would *leave* their tent cities, and most to all of them would find some form of subsistence elsewhere, were it not for the "humanitarian" call of "stay here, and we will take care of you".


Essentially, I would argue that the "humanitarian aid" is almost always *much* worse than nothing. Left alone, it solves itself, one way or another, with "aid" it always solves itself in the worst way possible. The few instances when humanitarian aid has been helpful are always extremely short term interventions into fundamentally fully functional systems undergoing temporary and localized disruption, where they typically are not delivered (IE katrina).
From:operations
Date:November 27th, 2010 04:25 am (UTC)
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"the US promised them over a billion dollars to the reconstruction effort, then delivered less than a tenth of that"


I refuse to believe that on the grounds that the Messiah really likes giving our money, borrowed from the Chinese, to everyone BUT Americans.
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From:jordan179
Date:November 27th, 2010 03:13 pm (UTC)
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But there are eight hundred thousand people in the country living in tent-cities with no internal source of food or water. The prospect of what would happen if the UN left Haiti is too horrible to contemplate. I know that that's a typical big-government liberal justification for anything, but I dare you to go to Haiti and then tell me that the idea of the UN leaving the country to its own devices isn't too horrible to contemplate.

I think you're not quite grasping the severity of what has happened here. When I said that the cholera epidemic could kill "hundreds of thousands of people," I wasn't engaging in rhetorical exaggeration. This is a virgin-field epidemic in a population already weakened by natural disaster which was none too well-fed or treated even before the earthquake. The mortality among those who are actually exposed to the cholera could well reach 50% or more. It would be worse, were it not for the fact that the ancestors of the Haitians were probably exposed to cholera at some point, probably in 17th-18th century Africa or France.

This is a situation so bad that the Haitians might literally have done better had the UN never gotten involved. They would have suffered a die-off right after the earthquake and then the refugees would have dispersed enough that the mortality rate among the survivors would have dropped. Cholera could spread like wildfire in the crowded refugee camps, and kill a majority of the earthquake survivors.

Also, I ask you: if this story were about some American spreading swine flu or something to Iraq, would your reaction be "Aha, this proves all Americans are evil and the US occupation of Iraq was a racket by people who don't care about the Iraqi people; why don't they all pat themselves on the back for promoting 'freedom' and go home", or would it be "I can't believe those evil blame-America-firsters are holding one setback against us after we've sacrificed so much to do an important job there, and they should be ashamed of themselves"?

You're not getting it. I'm not accusing the UN of being "evil." I'm accusing it of being incompetent, and essentially also uncaring since the whole point of it is ego-boo and loot for its bureaucrats.

And the US military never would have screwed up on this scale. The First World has known how to prevent cholera for over a century and a half, and its troops have consistently practiced sufficient camp discipline and skill to avoid catching and spreading the disease for about a century (certainly since a bit before the First World War; the last time that American troops suffered seriously from avoidable cholera was in 1898, as far as I know).

The UN applied the ideology "We're all equals here" to Nepal and failed to take into account that the Nepalese, technologically, aren't. And now Haiti is paying for UN pollitical correctness. Which is why it's not surprising that the Haitians now hate the UN.

It's kind of hard to remember to cheer your transnational overlords when their policies are killing your people.
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From:jordan179
Date:November 27th, 2010 03:16 pm (UTC)
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As for whether or not the Haitians "deserve" UN help, my response is this:

The only people who would "deserve" the kind of "help" the UN has brought Haiti would be a nation who had waged deliberate biological warfare on the rest of humanity. And even in that case, I would try as much as possible to execute only the leadership, rather than murder the population en masse.

No, Haiti did not deserve what the UN's incompetence has done to it.

Do I make myself clear?
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From:marycatelli
Date:November 27th, 2010 05:23 pm (UTC)
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Sometimes doing nothing is better than doing something.

That is, if you want to do good for the putative objects of your beneficience, not for your own ego.
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From:kishiriadgr
Date:November 27th, 2010 12:08 am (UTC)
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Weren't you cheering for the Nepalese when the Gurkhas beheaded a Taliban bad guy?

The Nepalese are very often in the team when multi-national forces go anywhere. While the UN reaction is quite disgusting here, finger-pointing at the Nepalese is more than a little disgraceful.
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From:jordan179
Date:November 27th, 2010 06:30 am (UTC)
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Weren't you cheering for the Nepalese when the Gurkhas beheaded a Taliban bad guy?

Well, yes. Or, actually, for the Gurkhas, who are a particular Nepalese tribe, some of whom serve the British as mercenaries. But then, the Gurkhas did something obviously and completely good by killing a Taliban fighter and then bringing in his head, while the Nepalese in Haiti have spread a plague likely to kill over a hundred thousand people, which is obviously and completely bad. I have no trouble with the notion that people from the same country might do different things, some good and some bad. Not sure why that's hard for you to grasp ...
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From:jordan179
Date:November 27th, 2010 06:31 am (UTC)
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While the UN reaction is quite disgusting here, finger-pointing at the Nepalese is more than a little disgraceful.

How "disgraceful" of me to "finger-point" at the people who actually screwed up, quite. Shall you tell me just which scapegoat you'd rather I blamed, so as to avoid blaming those actually responsible?
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From:polaris93
Date:November 27th, 2010 12:55 am (UTC)
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The UN may have managed to kill more people through its humanitarian intervention than would have died had they left the Haitians alone.

I think we need quote marks around "humanitarian intervention."

Clearly the UN has long since gone from "solution" to "galactic-class problem" -- or, as many have asserted over the years, never was a "solution" in the first place, and has gone from "minor problem" to "galactic-class problem" and is still trending in an expansionist direction.

(Compulsive grammarian quibble: Perhaps "This might be worse, more like smallpox in the New World, if not even the ancestors of the Haitians have really never encountered any cholera strain" perhaps should read "This might be worse, more like smallpox in the New World, if not even the ancestors of the Haitians have really never encountered any cholera strain"?)
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From:marycatelli
Date:November 27th, 2010 03:14 am (UTC)
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Good heavens, you don't think the purpose of "humanitarian intervention" can be discerned by looking at the words? Sematic drift kicked in.

Besides, if humanitarian intervention made life better for people, what would the professional do-gooders do with themselves?
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From:americanstd
Date:November 27th, 2010 08:03 am (UTC)
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Wow, Jordan...

I'm... stunned. I tell you what, let me get my internet up and going full-time sometime tomorrow, and I'll comment further.
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From:brezhnev
Date:November 27th, 2010 11:00 am (UTC)
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For a wannabe-One-World-government known for bungling at best and outright villainy at worst, I would say that's about par for the course.
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From:americanstd
Date:November 28th, 2010 09:45 am (UTC)
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Ok, first of all...

- I am opposed to the UN in all its forms. Period. If it were up to me, the US would have withdrawn long ago, and whoever owned the land that the UN headquarters is on could charge fair-market rent to the organization.

- I am against one-world government, a 'New World Order', preventative war, neoconservative 'Nation Building', or any other euphemism for US power-projection that is used today. I am opposed to US troops being sent anywhere in the world without a formal declaration of war by Congress.

That being said...

(hat tip for using a non-other person's blog to cite from)

While there is no direct evidence showing the Nepalese camp being the source of the cholera, there is plenty of circumstantial evidence stating that the Nepalese camp was the source of the cholera.

Many non-attorneys have a hard time telling the difference between direct evidence and circumstantial evidence, so, allow me to define those for you. (for the record, I'm an attorney by trade.) Since I don't have my Black's Law Dictionary here, I'll gather the definitions from dictionary.law.com (which isn't the best, but it's late, and I'm not going to get a Black's right now)


Direct Evidence: real, tangible or clear evidence of a fact, happening or thing that requires no thinking or consideration to prove its existence, as compared to circumstantial evidence.

Circumstantial Evidence: evidence...which is not directly from an eyewitness or participant and requires some reasoning to prove a fact.

Now, there is no direct evidence to show that the outbreak came from the Nepalese camp. Not one person came out and said "I'm sick, and I defecated in the river." However, the circumstantial evidence that Nepal has endemic cholera, and the contractors used to maintain such facilities did not perform, causing the Nepalese camp to dump raw sewage into the river can, with using reason, can be shown to be a possible cause of the outbreak.

However, The Guardian UK reports here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/nov/22/haiti-cholera-un-weather

that three top cholera specialists from the good ol' USA state that there are other factors that could have caused such an outbreak. These alternative causes must be investigated... although I have my doubts.

While there is mounting evidence, Jordan, it's not direct evidence as you state.


---

First of all, your post had the stench of racism against Nepal and Nepalese. You seem to say that third-world countries can't provide the aid that first-world nations do. Well, seeing the list of nations participating in MINUSTAH:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MINUSTAH#Mission_composition

it seems that there isn't very many first-world countries there. Maybe Israel with it's 14 police/civilian personnel can figure something out.

In short, I blame the U.N. and it's lack of performance for letting this fiasco spread, and screw everything up, but I am withholding blame for the Nepalese contingent until more evidence is adduced.

I think it's also wrong to shit on (no pun intended, really!) the Nepalese too much. After all, they did show up and send troops to Haiti, 1075 troops and 168 police/civilians. How many did Israel send? 14 police. If the US wants to be a leader in the UN, who is the better ally?

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From:jordan179
Date:November 28th, 2010 02:09 pm (UTC)
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First of all, your post had the stench of racism against Nepal and Nepalese.

Racism against a State is an oxymoron, as a political organization is not a "race." And I do not consider the Nepalese to be biologically-inferior to other human groups.

You seem to say that third-world countries can't provide the aid that first-world nations do.

I am saying, clearly and directly, that Nepal has demonstrated herself to be incapable of competently providing aid to Haiti, and that one reason why the UN imagined that Nepal was may have been a false belief in the equality of all nation-states as organizational entities.

The cholera bacterium does not care about fine-sounding declarations of equality. Given the opportunity to spread, it does. And the Nepalese clearly gave it that opportunity.

I think it's also wrong to shit on (no pun intended, really!) the Nepalese too much. After all, they did show up and send troops to Haiti, 1075 troops and 168 police/civilians.

They showed up and spread a disease likely to kill over a hundred thousand people. Because of Nepal's involvement in the aid mission, more Haitians will die than would have died had the Nepalese stayed home.

Nepal did not do Haiti a favor.

How many did Israel send? 14 police.

What exactly does Israel have to do with the spread of cholera in Haiti.

If the US wants to be a leader in the UN, who is the better ally?

Israel, since Israel is unlikely to spread plagues into countries she is ostensibly trying to help.

There, that was easy. Did you expect a different answer?
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From:jordan179
Date:November 28th, 2010 02:11 pm (UTC)
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Oh, and Nepal is not a defendant in a court of law before me. Strong circumstantial evidence, as exists here, is good enough for ordinary determinations of fact. For that matter, it's often good enough to convict in a court of law And facts don't go away just because you cry "No! You haven't proven it beyond a shadow of a doubt, so it's not true!"
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From:jordan179
Date:November 28th, 2010 02:12 pm (UTC)
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Finally, why the hell would we want to be a "leader" in an organization which appoints countries like Iran and Libya to human rights commissions?
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From:gothelittle
Date:November 28th, 2010 05:27 pm (UTC)
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How many did Israel send? 14 police.

And 220 people on two Boeing 747 jets containing, along with food and supplies, a portable, fully-equipped field hospital with 40 doctors, 25 nurses, paramedics, a pharmacy, a children's ward, a radiology department, an intensive care unit, an emergency room, two operating rooms, a surgical department, an internal department and a maternity ward. They were the first field hospital on the ground and performed 152 successful operations on Haitian survivors within the first week post-quake. A Haitian woman who gave birth in their field hospital named her baby "Israel" in gratitude.

Complain as you wish about the UN, the US, or Jordan's critique of the Nepalese contribution, but do not belittle Israel's generous aid to the stricken area. The speed, effectiveness, and size of their contribution has noticeably impressed several countries and aid organizations.
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From:headnoises
Date:November 30th, 2010 02:59 pm (UTC)
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...Why are folks having such a hard time saying "Wow! This is bad! We need to take steps to make sure it doesn't happen again!" ?
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From:jordan179
Date:November 30th, 2010 07:13 pm (UTC)
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The funniest reacton was americanstd, who tried to blame the Jews for the situation. Despite the lack of notable Jewish populations in either Haiti or Nepal.
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