News in Brief: Haiti Earthquake Funds May Have Been Misused, and More

Monday, 10 January 2011 13:53 By Nadia Prupis, t r u t h o u t | News in Brief | name.

Haiti Earthquake Funds May Have Been Misused

The Miami Herald reports that several nonprofit organizations that pledged to help Haiti recover from its devastating 2009 earthquake have recently come under fire for their use of donated funds. HaitiWatchdog.org director Karl Jean-Louis told the Herald that while many organizations claim to have spent millions of dollars on homes, they most often cite the money that has been pledged to build shelter, well before any construction has been completed. "You will read reports that say: 'We spent $10 million on shelter,'" Jean-Louis said. "There is not $10 million worth of shelter right now in Haiti." Many nonprofits will also exclude workers' salaries and operational costs from their expenses. Charlie MacCormack, CEO of Save the Children, said that organizations may be holding on to much of their funds because they want to focus more on long-term recovery rather than immediate relief efforts. "Every dollar spent on a handout is a dollar wasted not going to a hand up."

Giffords Surgeon Optimistic

The lead surgeon for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona), who was one of 20 shooting victims wounded during a Tucson rally this weekend, said the Congresswoman is making progress and may be able to be taken off her breathing machine, The Hill reports. Dr. Peter Rhee, director of the Trauma and University Medical Center Critical Care, said that Giffords has been making a quick recovery after being shot in the head on Saturday, telling MSNBC that doctors may be able to remove her breathing machine in "probably one or two days if things are still going really well." Six of the 20 victims died during the shooting. The suspect, 22-year-old Jared Loughner, is scheduled to appear in court today.

Iran Sentences Human Rights Lawyer to 11 Years

Nasrin Sotoudeh, a human rights lawyer who often worked on behalf of women and children, has been sentenced to 11 years in jail for "activities against national security" and "propaganda against the regime," according to The New York Times. In addition to 11 years in jail, Sotoudeh will be barred from practicing law or leaving the country for 20 years, her husband Reza Khandan said. Sotoudeh, who is a founding member of the Defenders of Human Rights Center with Nobel Peace Prize-winner Shirin Ebadi, previously said she believed that the ruling against her was politically motivated. Iranian authorities have historically accused human rights lawyers of conspiring with foreign governments to sabotage the country's regime; two other co-founders, Mohammad Seifzadeh and Mohammad-Ali Dadkhah, have also been convicted of similar charges.

California Ignoring Hospitals With Earthquake Safety Risks

State and hospital officials who discovered extreme structural weaknesses at more than a dozen facilities in California have done little to notify the public or investigate hundreds of other dangerous sites, California Watch reports. Among the hospitals facing the highest risk of collapse during an earthquake, 14 are rated at 10 to 31 percent most dangerous, which score officials say is much greater than a reasonably safe rating of 1.2 percent. California does not require hospitals to determine their collapse risks

Nadia Prupis

Nadia Prupis is Truthout's Media Policy Reporting Fellow.

Last modified on Monday, 10 January 2011 15:38