In our ongoing mission to separate the wheat from the chaff, The Department Of Pointing Out The Obvious (DOPOTO) has been following these two news stories centered in the waters bordering the southern part of The United States with keen interest:

The big splashy story (literally) is the gushing geyser of crude oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico that threatens to become the Grandaddy of all man-made ecological disasters. What stands out is that the giant oil company resonsible for the leak, British Petroleum (BP), has about as good an idea as the next guy for capping a reverse Niagara Falls of oil. Unfortunately, the next guy doesn’t happen to be a Deep Sea Gushing Oil Well Repairman, and not only that, there are no Deep Sea Gushing Oil Well Repairmen on the payroll of BP.

This seems to be a serious lapse of common sense when your company is actively engaged in drilling Deep Sea Oil Wells. Instead, BP executives had a meeting one evening after work over Martinis and decided to go ahead and pump junk into the pipe, hoping it clogs, pretty much what any group of drunks who are not in the oil business could come up with at 2 o’clock in the morning. Most people were under the impression that Deep Sea Oil Well Drilling was very high-tech. Seems not to be the case.

In a world where every bicycle rider has a little leather pouch of wrenches, rubber tire patches and an air pump to fix their bicycles, BP engineers didn’t think they needed a tool kit and some repairmen handy in case something went awry on a highly flammable mountain-sized steel skeleton floating on a violently pitching sea and using highly sensitive equipment to pump a volatile gooey substance from a mile beneath the sea. At least a competent plumber. The thinking at BP had to be: “What could go wrong?”

Then there is Haiti, a story most people think is over, and if you check the newspapers and other media reports, it would seem so. Researchers and analysts here at DOPOTO have determined that the earthquake of January 12, 2010 that devastated Haiti was only the beginning of this sorrowful story. There are fewer nations more poorly equipped than Haiti to recover from this disaster. Five months later Port-au-Prince is still in ruins, a million and a half are homeless and there is a catastrophic health crisis.

This is, after all, Haiti, a country that by all reports for as long as anyone can remember has been the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. This one-time beacon of freedom and Democracy in the Caribbean was impoverished by France, forced to pay crippling reparations as compensation for (!) France losing them as slaves. For more than 50 years it has been led by a series of tyrants and its government has been synonymous with brutality and corruption. Suffering, deprivation and oppression has been and continues to be the fate of most Haitians.

Unfortunately for the stricken Haitian people, Big Media has a very limited attention span. Now that there is no more dramatic footage of tumbling buildings and mangled dead people being pulled from the rubble to be shown for sheer shock value, many people assume the story had a happy ending and that Haitians are going about the their business as before. Judging by the miniscule amount of media coverage of Haiti today, that may not be an unreasonable assumption.

Like distracted infants, Big Media moved on to the next shiny object, ignoring the dying throes of a neighboring nation, a nation that has contributed 600,000 solid citizens to the United States of America. The sad truth is that this story desperately needs a happy ending. Haitian recovery depends upon serious international help immediately and for the foreseeable future. Millions of lives are at stake. In this order Haitians are in immediate need of clean water, food, shelter and medical attention. If that sounds like emergency conditions, yes, yes they are. That is only pointing out obvious, our specialty (Actually, our only function). A 5-month-long-and-counting emergency.

Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas need to be rebuilt with modern sanitation, solid infrastructure, safe housing, a medical system and a strong commitment to education. This takes money that the poorest nation in the Americas does not have. This is why there is foreign aid, this is why there is a United Nations. This is why there is a United States of America, to remind the world who we are and how much we can help when needed. The people who gave so generously in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake need to do so again if they possibly can in these hard times.

Times are a dozen times harder in Haiti, which is in the exact same shape it was the day after their earthquake. This luckless nation now has the hard luck to have the greatest disaster in their history happen during hard economic times. Their only consolation is that Haiti is not too close to the Gulf of Mexico. This peaceful neighboring nation remains an emergency priority in need of the greatest possible response from America and all her neighbors.  Good neighbors just don’t help someone put out the fire. They help them rebuild their house.

This was a report from the Department of Pointing Out The Obvious.

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