Unanswered questions surround Kenya mall attack

By Jacob Kushner And Jason Straziuso

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The Sept. 21 terrorist attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall produced a raft of questions that haven’t always had clear, complete answers. The answers to some questions about the attack have changed over time. Other questions haven’t yet been fully answered.

How many attackers were there? How many hostages? Were there any hostages at all? The Associated Press attempts to define what is known and not known about the deadly mall attack.

Read the full AP article as it appeared at Bloomberg Businessweek.

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MALL ATTACK TO COST KENYA $200 MILLION IN TOURISM

A giraffe eats a food pellet from the mouth of a foreign visitor at the Giraffe Centre, in the Karen neighborhood of Nairobi, Kenya Monday, Sept. 30, 2013. The risk to the country’s tourism was one of the first concerns expressed by officials during the initial days of the Westgate Mall siege, but tourists continue to fly to Kenya for safaris and beach vacations seemingly despite a number of foreigners being killed in last week’s attack. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

By JACOB KUSHNER

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — When Ohio resident Bill Haynes heard about the shooting at Westgate Mall by Islamic extremist gunmen last month, he considered canceling his upcoming 17-day safari to Kenya and Tanzania.

“You can’t help but be concerned,” said Haynes, 67. “Here’s a place we’re going to be in about five days and there are some terrorists shooting the place up. That would cause anybody to give some pause.”

Acting on advice from a friend in Nairobi, Haynes went through with his trip except for a stop at Lamu, a coastal city near Somalia where a French woman was kidnapped in 2011.

The risk to tourism was one of the first concerns officials expressed after the attack that left at least 67 dead including 18 foreigners. Tourism generates 14 percent of Kenya’s GDP and employs 12 percent of its workforce, according to Moody’s Investment Services and the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Moody’s predicts the attack will cost Kenya’s economy $200 million to $250 million in lost tourism revenue, estimating it will slow growth of Kenya’s GDP by 0.5 percent. Kenya’s 2012 GDP was $41 billion.

Read the full story as it appeared at the Associated Press.

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Clinton panel announces major new Haiti project

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti—The Haiti reconstruction panel co-chaired by former U.S. President Bill Clinton announced a major new project Wednesday to rebuild part of the capital damaged by last year’s earthquake.

The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission said it plans to spend $78 million to revitalize 16 neighborhoods and remove roughly 30,000 people from six major settlement camps that formed after the January 2010 disaster.

The commission said the project aims to move the 5,239 families living in six particularly vulnerable camps back into the 16 Port-au-Prince neighborhoods where most of them lived before the quake.

“This kind of collaboration will generate the lasting change, the permanent housing solutions that Haitians are depending on,” Clinton said in a speech after the commission’s announcement.

Click HERE to read the full AP story as it appeared at the Boston Globe.

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Clinton launches business loan program in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Former U.S. President Bill Clinton launched a new business loan program in Haiti on Tuesday aimed at helping bolster an economy that was devastated by the January 2010 earthquake.

Clinton said the first loan in the $20 million program is being made to Caribbean Craft, which produces colorful goods such as carnival masks, sculptures and paintings for export and lost its workshop in the earthquake.

The company is receiving a loan of $415,000, with interest to be paid back to the program to help make additional loans in the future, Clinton told reporters as he toured Caribbean Craft’s workshop near the airport in Port-au-Prince. He said the money will help the operation hire 200 more workers. He didn’t say how many employees it has now.

Clinton, who has been active in Haiti reconstruction through his foundation and as co-chairman of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, said he had been “surprised and disturbed” to learn of the difficult loan terms available for even Haitian businesses with solid credit.

“One of the biggest problems in growing the Haitian economy is that there is really no facility that grants small business loans on reasonable terms,” he said.

Click HERE to see the full AP story as it appeared at Yahoo! News.

Dominican crackdown on Haitian migrants sows fear

By JACOB KUSHNER and DANICA COTO, Associated Press

JIMANI, Dominican Republic – The Dominican Republic has deported thousands of illegal immigrants in recent weeks, sowing fear among Haitians living in the country and prompting accusations its government is using a cholera outbreak as a pretext for a crackdown.

In the largest campaign in years to target Haitians living illegally in the Dominican Republic, soldiers and immigration agents have been setting up checkpoints and conducting neighborhood sweeps, detaining anyone without papers and booting them from the country.

Click HERE to read the full AP story as it appeared at the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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‘Baby Doc’ adds new twist to Haiti latest woes

By JACOB KUSHNER and JONATHAN M. KATZ, Associated Press

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “BabyDoc” Duvalier ensconced himself Monday in a high-end hotel following his surprise return to a country deep in crisis, leaving many to wonder if the once-feared strongman will prompt renewed conflict in the midst of a political stalemate.

Duvalier met with allies inside the hotel in the hills above downtown Port-au-Prince and spoke publicly only through emissaries, who gave vague explanations for his sudden and mysterious appearance — nearly 25 years after he was forced into exile by a popular uprising against his brutal regime.

Henry Robert Sterlin, a former ambassador who said he was speaking on behalf of Duvalier, portrayed the 59-year-old former “president for life,” as merely a concerned elder statesmen who wanted to see the effects of the devastating Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake on his homeland.

“He was deeply hurt in his soul after the earthquake,” Sterlin said. “He wanted to come back to see how is the actual Haitian situation of the people and the country.”

Duvalier — who assumed power in 1971 at age 19 following the death of his father, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier — still has some support in Haiti and millions are too young to remember life under his dictatorship. But his abrupt return Sunday still sent shock waves through the country, with some fearing that his presence will bring back the extreme polarization, and political violence, of the past.

Click HERE to read the full AP story as it appeared at Yahoo! News.

Haiti mourn quake dead, find hope in own resilency

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — The air was choked with memory Wednesday in this city where everyone lost a brother, a child, a cousin or a friend. One year after the earthquake, Haitians marched down empty, rubble-lined streets singing hymns and climbed broken buildings to hang wreaths of flowers.

The landscape is much as the quake left it, thanks to a reconstruction effort that has yet to begin addressing the intense need. But the voices were filled with hope for having survived a year that seemed to get worse at every turn.

“We’ve had an earthquake, hurricane, cholera, but we are still here, and we are still together,” said Charlemagne Sintia, 19, who joined other mourners at a soccer stadium that served as an open-air morgue after the quake and later housed a tent camp.

Thousands gathered around the city to be with loved ones and pray. They flocked to the ruins of the once-towering national cathedral, to the soccer stadium, to parks, hillsides and the neighborhood centers.

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Presidential candidates lead protest against disputed Haiti election

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP)- Frustrated presidential candidates led a march through Haiti’s capital Thursday to demand officials annul an election they say was tainted by fraud.

At least four of 19 candidates on Sunday’s ballot walked with hundreds of supporters to an electoral council office. They denounced electoral officials, President Rene Preval and the ruling Unity party’s candidate, state construction company chief Jude Celestin, chanting: “Prison for Preval, liberty for Haiti!”

“These were not elections. People were not allowed to vote and there was stuffing of the election boxes … We need democratic elections,” candidate Charles Henri-Baker, a factory owner, told The Associated Press.

The presidential hopefuls were part of a group of 12 candidates who called for voting to be canceled while polls were open, alleging the election was rigged in favor of Celestin.

Click HERE to read the full Associated Press story as it appeared at the Star Tribune.