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After seven years in Haiti, it is time for the UN peacekeeping mission to either significantly refocus its mission or close its operation and leave the business of governing and reconstruction to the Haitians themselvesIt is time for the U peacekeeping mission in Haiti to either significantly refocus its mission or close its operation completely.

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It's a tad late in the storm season for this, but tell that to the people of Haiti: Less than a year after the island nation was rocked by a cataclysmic earthquake, Haiti is now in the path of a powerful tropical storm, Tomas, that could do considerable damage if it keeps picking up steam.

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On Monday, Haitian officials freed Charisa Coulter, a Baptist missionary from the U.S. who was held on kidnapping charges following January's catastrophic earthquake in Port-au-Prince. One other American from Coulter's group remains in custody in the island nation's capital, according to The Associated Press.

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Disasters evoke a whole range of human qualities, from the charitable to the predatory and beyond. Thus it's not surprising, although it is upsetting, that a group of Americans was charged Thursday with abduction and criminal association after attempting to usher 33 Haitian children to an orphanage in the Dominican Republic last week even though many were not actually orphans.

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It's been nearly two weeks since the cataclysmic earthquake in Haiti, and the life-or-death issue of food distribution looms larger than ever, despite the concerted efforts of various aid organizations -- and the efforts of Haitians themselves -- to combat starvation.

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Natural disasters may not discriminate, but some members of Haiti's upper class managed to avoid the worst of last week's earthquake simply by virtue of geography, as many of them live outside Port-au-Prince in the suburban enclave of nearby Petionville, which The Washington Post describes as "Beverly Hills, but with razor wire."

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Hoping to find help among friends or family members, or just hoping to get out of their country's devastated capital, thousands of Haitians fled Port-au-Prince on Monday by the busload and headed for the countryside. Meanwhile, the top-ranking American commander in Haiti called an estimated death toll of 150,000 to 200,000 a "start point," according to The New York Times.

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As rescue teams and aid groups rush to help the injured and displaced -- and to tend to the dead -- after Tuesday's devastating earthquake in Haiti, officials from the Caribbean nation estimated Wednesday that the number of casualties could exceed 100,000, even by a large margin. Updated

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A major magnitude 7.0 earthquake and two big aftershocks slammed Haiti on Tuesday, causing widespread damage in and around the Caribbean nation's capital city of Port-au-Prince. As details emerged that evening about casualties and damages, Haiti's ambassador to the United States called the quake "a catastrophe of major proportions."

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