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Live From Jacmel, Haiti (Part 2)

I awake to another blue sky, and two UN vehicles in our drive. Is there news? No, nothing. No updates on aid coming in, or anyone going out.

Pistare, Pistare is a phrase that keeps going through my mind. If you have trekked in Nepal, you will know what I am talking about. Slowly, Slowly. Everything happens slowly here, and it will continue to move that way. It is both a cultural norm and the current physical reality. Life works differently here. And infrastructure, or lack thereof, predicates the slow pace of building, rebuilding, responding.

I have taken to keeping a bottle of water nearby. But not for drinking. Every time I think the ground is shaking, my eyes jump to the bottle to see if the water is sloshing. Each time, it seems, it is in my imagination. There have been some ongoing aftershocks. A few big ones during the night, but I slept through them. A couple during the day as well, but not nearly as many as there are in my imagination.

We get more and more news. None of it good. An American who got safely out of their hotel, only to run back in after a computer, and not return. A family member of one of our crew, buried in rubble in PaP. They are trying to dig her out, using cars and ropes to pull the concrete blocks off of her. Without the proper rescue equipment they are now risking their own lives.

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REPORT: Live From Jacmel, Haiti

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We recently learned—via Facebook—that an intrepid friend of Travel + Leisure’s is trapped in Haiti. Never having been, Ruth Bender, who works for the Tides Foundation in San Francisco, decided to stop in Haiti en route to a wedding at the Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda. She, nor anyone else, could have imagined what disaster awaited. Below is Ruth’s first-person, on-the-ground report from 40 miles outside the capital city. She tells a different, slightly more hopeful story than those coming out of earthquake-ravaged Port-au-Prince. Read on. And watch Ruth on CNN here.

JACMEL, HAITI—Mid-way through our third bottle of wine, I pull out my camera and we look through the photos I took of downtown Jacmel. I have an obsession with photographing architecture; doors in particular. My friends know about this, and often skim my photos when I post them. This time, they may take note.

These may be the last photos taken of many of these buildings. Between early yesterday when I took those photos, and today as I write this, Haiti experienced the largest earthquake they have recorded here in 200 years. The town of Jacmel has been decimated. Lovely, historic structures are piles of rubble. The paper-mache creatures the men had spent days and weeks carefully building and painting for the upcoming Carnevale are crushed. But more devastating is the loss of life, and livelihood, and the lack of emergency services available to the region. While Port au Prince has been decimated, they are also receiving all of the news coverage and are able to receive international aid.

Jacmel has up to 10,000 people without homes. Telephones are not working and there is no electricity. The road from Port au Prince to Jacmel is not passable. The airport in Jacmel is being used as a refugee camp for the townspeople, rendering the landing strip useless. No supplies, no aid has come to Jacmel. The townspeople are dependent on the limited supplies at the UN station here. Schools have fallen. The hospital is badly damaged and of limited use.

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From an Expert: Haiti Donation Advice

Aid and relief agencies are rushing to assist the people of Haiti after yesterday's devastating earthquake. But they can't do it without you or, more accurately, without your money. Although it's really easy to donate your dollars, it is unimaginably difficult to actually help people. The best fund raisers in the business are not the best relief workers in the business.

If I learned one thing during nearly 18 years as an aid worker and journalist in Africa it is this: Nothing is simple. Helping people is much more complicated than just delivering food and medical supplies. To accomplish these tasks with even moderate success requires tact, skills, knowledge, and political savvy that can't be learned from books and newspapers.

So take a minute. And take some responsibility. As a donor, you are responsible for what is done with your money. And the wide range of organizations who need your money aren't going to do the same things with it. And how do you know what your favorite charity is planning to do in Haiti? Ask them. Demand that they put the information on their websites and in their PR material. It's not enough that they slap pictures of suffering Haitians online.

What do you need to know? First and foremost, is your favorite charity already working in Haiti? Have they had personnel there for years, with contacts in affected areas? Do the really know the country and the local leaders who will help deliver aid quickly and equitably to those who need it most?

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5 Ways to Help Haiti’s Earthquake Victims

If you’ve watched the news, been online, or spoken to anyone today, you probably know that a 7.0 magnitude quake hit last night 10 miles outside of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince—the strongest earthquake in Haiti in over 200 years.

The city's destruction is staggering: thousands of buildings have been leveled, including the Haitian National Palace, but more importantly, there are countless people missing and trapped in the rubble. Officials say that some three million residents, or one-third of the island nation's residents, have been directly affected by the disaster.

It’s no secret that Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western world, and it needs our help now more than ever. Consider making a donation at one of these active, on-the-ground charities:

Red Cross: Text “HAITI” to “90999” to give $10 (your cell phone bill will be charged); donate online; or call 800-RED-CROSS

Haitian Musician Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti Foundation: Text “YELE” to 501501 to donate $5

Doctors Without Borders: Donate online; email donations@doctorswithoutborders.org; or call (212) 763-5779

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Bird-Plane Collisions May Pass 10,000

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This month marks the one-year anniversary of the US Airways’ miracle landing in New York on the Hudson River. Veteran pilot Captain Sully is a full-fledged national hero, and the incident in which all 155 passengers survived is a now fuzzy memory. But, the cause of the crash—Canada geese in the plane’s engine—has not gone away.

A new government report claims that the tally of bird-plane collisions (or "bird strikes") could reach as high as 10,000 for the first time ever. Some incidents caused serious damage, even death. And annual damages in the U.S. alone have been estimated at over $400 million.

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Obama Orders Security Upgrade

USA Today |  WASHINGTON — President Obama, declaring that the "buck stops with me" when it comes to protecting the nation from terrorists, ordered stepped up aviation security and released a declassified report on intelligence failures behind the near-catastrophic Christmas Day attack.

Under the directives issued Thursday, airline passengers will face more pat-downs and many will be put through body-scanning machines in coming months while counterterrorism officials revamp the government's terrorist watch lists and establish clearer lines of accountability to follow intelligence leads about plots.

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L.A.’s Four Seasons Gets a Facelift

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The Four Seasons Hotel, Los Angeles at Beverly Hills is almost finished with its $33 million renovation project.

As of now, the updates for the Ballroom, Windows Lounge, Cabana Restaurant, and pool are completed with room refurbishments wrapping up soon. A new restaurant, Culina, Modern Italian will debut in early March.

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Silversea Cruises Launches New Ship: Silver Spirit

The intimate ships of Silversea Cruises tend towards the contemporary, even Euro-trendy. So it was a surprise on a recent preview of the new Silver Spirit to find a more traditional, Art Deco-inspired elegance. But a very pleasant surprise, indeed. This is one pretty new ship for the ultraluxury crowd.

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Airports Intensify Screening of Airline Passengers Heading to U.S.

The Globe and Mail |  Airline passengers heading to the United States met increased security screening Monday in airports around the world following U.S. requests for stricter checks after a Nigerian man allegedly tried to ignite explosives on a flight to Detroit.

Pakistan's national airline said it was intensifying security checks for U.S.-bound passengers, even though there are no direct flights to the States from Pakistan. Screening was also stepped up for those flying to the U.S. from other parts of Asia and the Middle East.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said people flying into the United States from countries such as Nigeria, Yemen, Pakistan, Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria are to face the extra screening, which is likely to annoy passengers already facing intrusive security procedures.

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Dubai's Record-High Tower Ready for the Public

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New York Times
|  Dubai was set to open the world’s tallest building amid tight security Monday night, celebrating the tower as a bold accomplishment on the world stage despite the city-state’s shaky financial footing.

The Burj Dubai boasts the most stories and highest occupied floor of any building in the world.

But the final height of the Burj Dubai — Arabic for Dubai Tower — remained a closely guarded secret on the eve of its opening. At a reported height of 818 meters, or 2,684 feet, it long ago overtopped its nearest rival, the Taipei 101 in Taiwan.

The Burj’s record-seeking developers did not stop there.

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