We encourage you to check out a few of the following posts from The Compass, the Coast Guard's blog. They've been heavily involved in Haiti, and have been posting some first-hand reports from the field.
Guardians Report In: HS1 Larry Berman
Updated – Guardians Report In: FN Rebekah Runner
Field Notes: LCDR Christopher O’Neil
Guardians Report In from Haiti
A few stories this morning on the Haiti relief efforts:
From the Miami Herald, on humanitarian parole for certain Haitian orphans:
In a late development on Monday, the U.S. governmentannounced it was granting humanitarian paroles to hundreds of Haitian orphans who were waiting to be adopted by Americans before the earthquake.
``While we remain focused on family reunification in Haiti, authorizing the use of humanitarian parole for orphans who are eligible for adoption in the United States will allow them to receive the care they need here,'' said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. The humanitarian parole policy will be applied on a case-by-case basis to the following children: . Children who have been legally confirmed as orphans eligible for inter-country adoption by the government of Haiti and are being adopted by U.S. citizens.
. Children who have been previously identified by an adoption service provider or facilitator as eligible for intercountry adoption and have been matched to U.S. citizen prospective adoptive parents.
Napolitano left the door open for other needy orphans to be considered for the humanitarian parole.
The Catholic Church in Miami has announced plans to launch a second Operation Pedro Pan, this time to house in South Florida Haitian children at risk. They have already identified three sites; two in Miami-Dade and one in Broward.
From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, on a group of Haitian orphans evacuated to the United States:
A group of 53 Haitian orphans was expected to arrive in Pittsburgh this morning as part of a mission led by Gov. Ed Rendell to rescue the children from an earthquake-battered orphanage run by two Ben Avon sisters.
A military transport plane carrying the Pittsburgh delegation, which included lawmakers, doctors and others, left Port-au-Prince shortly before 11 p.m., said Gary Tuma, a spokesman for Rendell.
The plane was expected to land first at Homestead Air Force Base in Miami, Tuma said. Republic Airways provided the charter jet to Haiti, according to officials at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which helped coordinate the effort.
Plans called for the children to receive medical checkups at Children's Hospital in Lawrenceville after their arrival in Pittsburgh and stay with temporary caregivers licensed by Allegheny County. Volunteers from The American Red Cross and Catholic Charities were setting up cots and supplies such as clothing, blankets and food at the hospital, said spokesman Marc Lukasiak.
"I feel good about this," said Leon Pamphile, executive director of the nonprofit Functional Literacy Ministry of Haiti, a native of Port-au-Prince who lives in Pittsburgh and whose niece was part of the contingent. "Everyone is so happy."
From the Washington Post, on Temporary Protected Status for Haitians living in the United States:
When a friend called a 36-year-old Haitian woman from Takoma Park to tell her Haitians who have been living in the United States illegally will be allowed to stay and work for the next 18 months, the woman dropped the phone.
"I screamed. I got on my knees. And I cried 'Lord, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you,' " the woman, whose middle name is Stephanie, recalled. "Nine years I have been waiting for this."
But for Stephanie, who asked that only her middle name be used because she does not want acquaintances to know she has been an illegal immigrant all this time, the feeling was bittersweet.
The massive earthquake that prompted the Obama aministration to extend Haitians "temporary protected status" or TPS, flattened the house in Port-au-Prince where Stephanie grew up, leaving two of her brothers and their children homeless. Two other brothers are still unaccounted for.
"I said, 'Lord, All those people had to lose their lives so that you can deliver me from my hardship?' It's like joy and sorrow at the same time."
So it went in Haitian immigrant enclaves across the country this weekend as word of the TPS decision Friday spread among the estimated 100,000 to 200,000 foreigners expected to qualify.
Many are still trying to sort out the details.
"Will I need a lawyer?" wondered Vertus Louidor, 31, also of Takoma Park, who has mostly relied on close friends to house and feed her since she fled the poverty and unemployment of her rural hometown four years ago.
Dady Philogene, 28, a mother of two young American children who lives in Salisbury, was nervous about identifying herself to authorities--especially since there is no guarantee the status will be renewed after 18 months. "It's hard to put into words the feeling," she said. "You ask yourself what is going to happen afterwards."
But she was still keen to try. "Can I ask you a question, How long will the process take? When can I apply?" she asked a reporter.
2 PM Local
National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) US-VISIT Director Robert Mocny will deliver remarks about US-VISIT’s current and upcoming initiatives at the First Conference on Technical Cooperation for Border Management
Shangri-La Hotel, Grand Ballroom
Current SituationUPDATE 1/15/2010 - 5:30 PM EST: The Secretary just announced the designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian nationals who were in the United States as of January 12, 2010. This is a historic disaster, and TPS will allow eligible Haitian nationals who are currently in the United States to continue living and working in our country for the next 18 months. This designation is part of the Administration's continuing efforts to support Haiti's recovery, and will protect Haitians who would otherwise be endangered by returning home.
From the Secretary's statement:
"At this moment of tragedy in Haiti it is tempting for people suffering in the aftermath of the earthquake to seek refuge elsewhere. But attempting to leave Haiti now will only bring more hardship to the Haitian people and nation. The international community has rallied to deliver relief to Haiti. Much has already arrived and much more is on the way. The Haitians are resilient and determined and their role in addressing this crisis in their homeland will be essential to Haiti's future.Read the full text of the Secretary's statement.
It is important to note that TPS will apply only to those individuals who were in the United States as of January 12, 2010. Those who attempt to travel to the United States after January 12, 2010 will not be eligible for TPS and will be repatriated.
Haitians in the U.S. who are eligible to apply for TPS should go to http://www.uscis.gov/ or call USCIS toll-free at (800) 375-5283.”
The department continues to stand up assets as the situation in Haiti develops and the extent of the devastation is more fully realized. The Secretary recorded the following message on the disaster and the department's response in the aftermath:
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As we mentioned yesterday, The United States Coast Guard has deployed four cutters - the Forward, Mohawk, Valiant and Tahoma - to Haiti to render assistance. They are joined by two C-130 Hercules fixed wing aircraft conducting over flights and patrols, and two Coast Guard helicopters are forward deployed in the area to provide rescue or other assistance. The Coast Guard and FEMA remain in close contact with the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (the U.S. entity tasked with coordinating U.S. efforts), as the situation develops. We'll keep you updated on the operational details as we have them.
How You Can HelpThe White House has set up the following site for individuals who wish to donate money, goods, and services to the relief effort, and to get information on the entire federal response to this unspeakable disaster.
You can also visit usaid.gov, the lead federal agency coordinating the relief efforts, for updates.
We've also received an outpouring of goodwill and requests from individuals wishing to offer their personal assistance to the relief effort. We commend anyone who is willing to travel to help the people of Haiti. However, we must remind everyone that we cannot permit any personally identiable information to be posted in the comment section of the blog. This means email addresses, physical addresses, telephone numbers, and social security numbers. Please visit the White House website above to find out how you can help those affected by this disaster.
From the New York Times, on the U.S. response to the Haiti earthquake:
President Obama, facing the first large-scale humanitarian crisis of his presidency, moved quickly to send help to Haiti, pledging Wednesday that the Haitians and their devastated island nation would have the "unwavering support" of the United States.
Within hours of Mr. Obama being informed of the quake in Haiti on Tuesday, United States officials were plotting a response that included ships, transport planes, helicopters and thousands of Marines.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton decided Wednesday night to cancel the rest of her Pacific trip and return to Washington.
Gen. Douglas Fraser, head of the United States Southern Command, said that one of the Navy's large amphibious ships would probably be sent to Haiti, with a Marine expeditionary unit aboard, and that other American military forces were on alert, including a brigade of 3,500 troops. He said the Pentagon was "seriously looking" at sending thousands of Marines to help the disaster effort.
The Navy aircraft carrier Carl Vinson was deployed from Norfolk, Va.; military commanders said it should arrive in two days. In addition, White House officials said the military was looking into sending the Southern Command's hospital ship, the Comfort, in light of reports that most of Haiti's medical facilities were severely damaged if not destroyed. The Coast Guard also sent four cutters.
From the Miami Herald, on the halting of U.S. deportations to Haiti:
In the aftermath of Haiti's catastrophic earthquake, the Obama administration announced Wednesday it was temporarily suspending deportations of undocumented Haitians.
But there was no immediate indication that the federal government would grant Haitian nationals Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, an immigration benefit long sought by Haitian activists and South Florida lawmakers.
TPS is granted to selected immigrants who cannot safely return to their homelands
because of natural disasters, armed conflicts or other emergencies. Those eligible are allowed to remain here and obtain work permits and temporary stays for specific periods -- a status often renewed indefinitely.
``TPS is in the range of considerations we consider in a disaster, but our focus remains on saving lives,'' Matthew Chandler, deputy Homeland Security press secretary, said in an e-mail to El Nuevo Herald after the department announced it was halting deportations.
From USA Today, on how people can donate in the wake of the earthquake:
After Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma ravaged cities along the Gulf Coast in 2005, private donations by Americans to help victims totaled $6.47 billion, according to a philanthropy center.
After the 2004 tsunami struck in Asia, private donations approached $2 billion, Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy said.
Although government agencies provide assistance after natural disasters, charity experts say private donations will again be critical to helping Haiti.
"It's immediate cash for immediate needs," said Patrick Rooney, executive director of the philanthropy center. "Then there are other needs for longer-term, more sustained rebuilding of . the whole infrastructure."
Among organizations that need assistance:
. The American Red Cross has pledged an initial $1 million donation. People can contribute online (redcross.org), or make a $10 donation by sending a text message with the word "Haiti" to 90999.
There are no public events scheduled for today.
"The entire Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extends its sympathy for the devastation and loss of life in Haiti following last night's earthquake--a disaster that has called the world to action in response. The U.S. Coast Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are leading DHS actions to support the larger assistance effort. Several Coast Guard cutters and aircraft have mobilized and are on the ground to assist the humanitarian effort as needed. FEMA has been in close contact with the State Department and USAID, the lead U.S. federal response agencies, and stands ready to provide assistance as requested."
From the San Jose Mercury News, on a disrupted lottery scam:
Federal authorities Monday handed a $7,000 check to an elderly San Jose woman, money that was intercepted at the Canadian border as part of a sweepstakes scam - but she still lost $300,000 in a previous scam.
The $7,000 was recovered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Canadian police have not yet arrested those involved with that scam, officials said.
The victim, an 82-year-old woman who asked not to be identified, told the Mercury News she was told by phone in early 2009 that she won $4.5 million in the Canadian sweepstakes. She said a "lovely gentleman'' who claimed to work for the U.S. Department of Justice told her she needed to pay taxes before she was to claim the winnings.
The woman cashed in her savings and sent in three checks totaling about $300,000, she tsaid. Then, the man told her she'd also won a $10 million lottery in Hong Kong and would have to pay $1 million in taxes to claim that prize. And she sent in even more money - $7,000 in cash - before authorities got wind of what was happening?.
They intercepted the envelope containing the money at the Canadian border, according to ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice.
From the Eureka Times Standard, on the damage toll form this weekend's earthquake in California:
As Humboldt County continued the process Monday of assessing the destruction left in the wake of Saturday's earthquake, the figures kept creeping up, with more than $28 million in damage now estimated in Eureka alone.
"We're still inspecting damaged buildings, so we do expect that number to increase," said Gary Bird, public information officer for Eureka's emergency response team.
While Eureka was the hardest hit in Saturday's 6.5 earthquake that struck at 4:27 p.m. about 20 miles west northwest of Ferndale, damage reports trickled in Monday from other areas of the county. Meanwhile, the Humboldt County Chapter of the American Red Cross continued to help the 14 individuals displaced by the quake connect with services, retain shelter and generally move on with their lives.
The county's state and national representatives also continued working Monday to ensure the area is in line for federal and state aid, if it's needed.
From the Associated Press, on a fuel spill in Alaska:
The U.S. Coast Guard is responding to a report that an underground diesel tank on Alaska's Adak Island has leaked fuel.
Adak Petroleum personnel said Monday night that a tank containing about 100,000 gallons of diesel fuel had reportedly released an unknown amount into Sweeper Cove.
The workers reported that the fuel is contained within the cove, and they are using recovery equipment to clean it up.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Charly Hengen says Coast Guard personnel and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation workers are making plans to fly to Adak on Tuesday to assess the size of the spill and monitor cleanup.
1:30 PM EST
National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) Under Secretary Rand Beers will deliver remarks highlighting NPPD’s critical infrastructure protection efforts at the National Infrastructure Advisory Council Quarterly Business Meeting
National Press Club (Ballroom)
529 14th Street NW
Results are in! The winners of the first annual Coast Guard Video of the Year Award are…
Drum roll please…..
With an average rating of 4.64 (out of a possible 5) stars, Coast Guard Cutter Sailfish wins first place for their video featuring the dewatering of the fishing vessel Blue Diamond about 90 miles off the coast of New Jersey. The 87-foot CGC Sailfish is homeported in Sandy Hook, NJ.
“The entire crew is pumped to win this contest!” said the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Junior Grade Steve Davies. ”When Chief Goss was taking the pictures and video during the rescue, he was just thinking about the families and friends of Sailfish. We hadn’t thought about posting anything online, but then the First District Public Affairs staff put a great video together and posted it online for everyone to see. It’s a great feeling to get some recognition for the work we did that day. The Coast Guard did a lot of great things in 2009 and we were just lucky the case was successful, the three fishermen and their vessel were saved, and that we were able to capture some of it on film.”
Click here to read more on the rescue and watch our winning video (or watch the extended version of the rescue operation here).
With an average rating of 3.53 stars, Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) 409, a Tactical Law Enforcement Team South (TACLET South) unit located in South Florida, won second place for a Navy video of the LEDET capturing suspected pirates as part of Combined Task Force 151.
“It was a great working relationship between the LEDET and the crew of USS Gettysburg,” said Lieutenant Dave Ratner, Commanding Officer of TACLET South. “It is a big honor to be involved in showing the public the Coast Guard’s involvement in non-traditional, overseas missions and our efforts to help combat the international piracy efforts.”
Click here to read about the mission and watch our second place video (or watch an extended version of the operation here).
LEDET 409 places second in the 2009 Coast Guard Video of the Year contest. Click the image to watch the extended version of the joint operation.
With an average rating of 3.35 stars, Coast Guard Air Station Astoria won third place with a video featuring the rescue of a paraglider from a cave on the shoreline of Cape Lookout. The rescue swimmer, AST3 Robert Emley, and his flight crew were featured as the Guardians of the Week a few days after the SAR case. Amazingly, this rescue was just one of five missions in 12 hours the air crew conducted that day.
Click here to read about this daring rescue and watch our third place video.
AirSta Astoria places third in the 2009 Coast Guard Video of the Year contest. Click the image to watch the video of the rescue operation.
All of the video nominations were fantastic, but the top three winners were determined by the public’s vote using YouTube’s rating system of one to five stars. The winning units will receive an HD Flip video camera in a waterproof case to enhance their ability to capture and share imagery of their operations.
Congratulations to all of this year’s top 11 videos! Excellent job using video to highlight the missions and stories of America’s Guardians.
The next contest featured on the Compass blog will be the People’s Choice Award for this year’s Coast Guard Photo Contest. Click here for details.
From USA Today, on advanced imaging technology:
Air travelers strongly approve of the government's use of body scanners at the nation's airports even if the machines compromise privacy, a USA TODAY/Gallup poll finds.
Poll respondents appeared to endorse a Transportation Security Administration plan to install 300 scanners at the nation's largest airports this year to replace metal detectors. The machines, used in 19 airports, create vivid images of travelers under their clothes to reveal plastics and powders to screeners observing monitors in a closed room.
"It would seem much more thorough than the process that we're doing now," poll respondent Joel Skousen, 38, of Willcox, Ariz., said. "It would put me more at ease getting on a plane."
In the poll, 78% of respondents said they approved of using the scanners, and 67% said they are comfortable being examined by one. Eighty-four percent said the machines would help stop terrorists from carrying explosives onto airplanes. The survey was taken Jan. 5-6 of 542 adults who have flown at least twice in the past year.
Only 29% of respondents say they are more concerned about air safety since the alleged Dec. 25 attempt by a Nigerian passenger to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight. Bombing suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab got through an airport metal detector in Amsterdam with powder explosives in his underwear.
From CNN, on ICE's Secure Communities program:
Evans Mesadieu has racked up a lengthy rap sheet during the three years he has lived illegally in the United States.
He has been convicted of at least six charges, including battery on a law enforcement officer and cruelty to children.
Each time he was arrested, Mesadieu lied about his status, using 15 aliases in Georgia and Florida that allowed him to continue living illegally in the country.
Now, he faces deportation back to his home country, the Bahamas, because of a new fingerprinting program launched by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
"What we are introducing to the process is the digital exchange of the fingerprints so that we can run them through the databases, not only at the FBI but at the Department of Homeland Security for immigration purposes in a matter of minutes and get them back to the law enforcement officials," said John Morton, assistant secretary of homeland security.
The Secure Communities program was launched in one county in October 2008 and has been growing ever since. It is now available in 108 counties in 11 states, and DHS hopes to have the program available nationwide by 2013.
"Secure Communities is all about public safety, and it is all about trying to identify for removal from this country serious criminal offenders in local communities," Morton said.
From the Associated Press, on this weekend's earthquake in California:
Residents of a Northern California county gingerly cleaned up Sunday after the area dodged a catastrophe, escaping a 6.5 magnitude earthquake with little more than bumps, cuts and broken glass.
Entrances to Eureka's Bayshore Mall were blocked as engineers surveyed for damage. Area bridges suffered some bent rails, and local stores reported messy aisles where bottles and jars flew from shelves and shattered, authorities said.
"We're very, very fortunate that it's not worse, but there is a lot of damage," Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., said in a Eureka press conference. "This is a big deal."
Still, the Saturday afternoon temblor - centered in the Pacific about 22 miles west of Ferndale - caused only limited structural damage and a few hours of power outage. There were no major injuries, other than an elderly resident's fracture hip.
A preliminary estimate of damage in Eureka came to $12.5 million, said the city's fire chief, Eric Smith. No countywide assessment was available.
There are no public events scheduled for today.
Yesterday, I joined White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security John Brennan to announce recommendations that DHS has made to the President for improving the technology and procedures used to protect air travel from acts of terrorism.
The attempted attack on Northwest Flight 253 is a powerful illustration that terrorists will go to great lengths to try to defeat the security measures that have been put in place since Sept. 11, 2001. The steps I outlined yesterday will strengthen aviation security—at home and abroad—through new partnerships, technology and law enforcement efforts.
These steps include
- Re-evaluating and modifying the criteria and process used to create terrorist watch lists—including adjusting the process by which names are added to the “No-Fly” and “Selectee” lists.
- Establishing a partnership on aviation security between DHS and the Department of Energy and its National Laboratories in order to develop new and more effective technologies to deter and disrupt known threats and protect against new ways by which terrorists could seek to board an aircraft.
- Accelerating deployment of advanced imaging technology to provide greater explosives detection capabilities—and encourage foreign aviation security authorities to do the same—in order to identify materials such as those used in the attempted Dec. 25 attack. The Transportation Security Administration currently has 40 machines deployed throughout the United States, and plans to deploy 300 additional units in 2010.
- Strengthening the presence and capacity of aviation law enforcement—by deploying law enforcement officers from across DHS to serve as Federal Air Marshals to increase security aboard U.S.-bound flights.
- Working with international partners to strengthen international security measures and standards for aviation security.
Additionally, last week I dispatched Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute, Assistant Secretary for Policy David Heyman and other senior Department officials to meet with leaders from major international airports in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and South America to review security procedures and technology being used to screen passengers on U.S.-bound flights and work on ways to collectively bolster our tactics for defeating terrorists
Later this month, I will travel to Spain for the first of a series of global meetings with my international counterparts intended to bring about broad consensus on new international aviation security standards and procedures.
These steps come in addition to the Department’s immediate actions following the attempted attack on Dec. 25, 2009—including enhanced security measures at domestic airports and new international security directives that mandate enhanced screening of every individual flying into the United States from or through nations that are State Sponsors of Terrorism or other countries of interest and threat-based, random enhanced screening for all other passengers traveling on U.S.-bound flights.
I want to thank the Department of Homeland Security personnel who have been working day-in and day-out to implement these security measures since Christmas—as well as the traveling public for their continued patience. The public remains one of our most valuable layers of defense against acts of terrorism.
President Barack Obama has declared "the buck stops with me" over major intelligence flaws exposed by an Al-Qaeda attack on a US passenger jet and ordered a sweeping homeland security overhaul.
Releasing two reports on the thwarted Christmas Day bombing, Obama said spy agencies did not properly "connect and understand" disparate data that could have busted the plot as it was planned by an Al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen.
He said the probes revealed that US analysts knew alleged attacker Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was an extremist and knew Al-Qaeda in Yemen was plotting an attack -- but could not connect the two strands of intelligence.
And as critics charge his administration is too soft on terror and slow to act after the attack, Obama said the United States is "at war with Al-Qaeda" but promised terrorists would not force Americans to adopt a "siege" mentality.
"I am less interested in passing out blame than I am in learning from and correcting these mistakes to make us safer," Obama said, signaling there would be no immediate firings of top spy chiefs over the security breakdown.
"Ultimately the buck stops with me. As president, I have a solemn responsibility to protect our nation and our people, and when the system fails, it is my responsibility."From the Washington Post, on the use of full body imaging technology:
The United States will urge governments around the world to deploy controversial whole-body imaging scanners at airports to detect explosives and other objects hidden beneath people's clothing, President Obama said Thursday.
The announcement came as Obama and top security aides detailed intelligence failures and responses to aviation security gaps uncovered in the Dec. 25 incident in which a 23-year-old Nigerian man linked to al-Qaeda allegedly tried to blow up an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight with explosives hidden in his underwear.
On air travel screening, administration officials elaborated on decisions previously announced: ramping up the presence of federal air marshals, for example, particularly on the 2,000 daily U.S.-bound international flights, and buying 300 advanced imaging scanners, as previously planned, to augment 40 already in place and 150 set to be deployed later this year.
Obama called on U.S. intelligence and security communities to strengthen terrorist watch lists, especially the nation's no-fly list, by expanding criteria for people to be included. The president also demanded reviews that could lead to additional travelers being subjected to time-consuming secondary security checks at airports, as well as visa denials and revocations at consulates.
One sensitive debate is whether and how to expand scrutiny at airports beyond the roughly 4,000 people on the U.S. Transportation Security Administration's no-fly list and a "selectee" list of about 14,000 people identified for further questioning, said one senior domestic security official. Alleged Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was never placed on those lists.There are no public events scheduled for today.