Getting help to the Haitians

January 18, 2010 12:26:26 PM PST
Where to begin with the stories coming out of Haiti?

Lots of criticism that the relief effort is slower than is needed. Not enough food and water and medical supplies yet. Not enough rescue workers.

The latter issue goes first: so many Haitians, and Americans, defying nature and surviving, somehow, two days longer than anyone expected they would, without water. But now time does indeed seem to be close to out, and, despite the valiant efforts of the folks down there, making the change from a rescue to a recovery operation can't be that far away.

As for the criticism of the aid - I'll take the octopus approach. On the one hand, why in the world has it taken so long? On the other hand, the logistics of such a massive relief operation are staggering. And with the airport in Port-au-Prince more closed than open, the challenge was even more arduous.

The relief effort has been ramped up today, big time. But it has not been a perfect operation by any stretch of the imagination.

Our N.J. Burkett and Marcus Solis are in Haiti for us, tonight at 11; they have done a remarkable job bringing us stories of the people who were saved, and of the people who saved them.

Meanwhile, we opened up the floor for the debate over the term "looting." Today, the wire reported that "looting is spreading to more areas of down Port-au-Prince."

One of the hot items is toothpaste - and folks in Haiti are using it to smear under their noses to fend off the smell of the decaying bodies. Is that looting? Not in my book.

Another item is rum. Is that looting? It is to me.

But looting is a loaded word, and many people think that, over time, it has been unfairly applied more to blacks than to whites.

Our feeling - by the way - is that if people in desperate situations are stealing food for their family, that's not looting. If they're stealing merchandise they don't need to survive, then that's looting. No matter what their skin color. Virtually all of you agreed.

Also at 11, we'll have the latest on the Martin Luther King Day festivities and remembrances in our area, and it's the last day in office for New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine - and he spent part of it signing into law the state's medical marijuana law, making New Jersey the 14th state to make medical use legal.

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows nearly 80% of Americans support legalizing marijuana for medical use.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports, including the Jets' Cinderella run right through the playoffs.

I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa (in for Liz Cho) and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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