Friday, December 31
Yet More US Moral Degeneracy.
This is utterly sickening. Via Kos:
Jeb Bush Starts '08 Presidential Run
Those lucky, lucky tsunami-hit brown heathens. The chimperor is sending his own holy brother to comfort them in their grief. According to CNN, in explaining why Jeb Bush was chosen to make the trip to indonesia along with that busted flush Colin Powell, Bush's statement said,
"He has extensive experience in the state of Florida with relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts."
Yeah, right. Just like he has extensive experience in being a human being. Seriously, it's my honest belief that this trip is just the start of the Republican's '08 campaign. It's absolutely typical Republican behaviour to use an international humanitarian tragedy to advance their own political agenda.
Thursday, December 30
Fucking Fucking Yanks.
Bloody hell, just when you think Americans can't disgust you very much more they come up with yet another obsecenity like this.
And then we have the jeebus freaks:
Humans, and whatever mumbo jumbo they care to make up and believe it's God, are irrelevant to the planet. The planet does what it does and if humans are affected, then so be it. The planet will continue without us, we didn't make it, it was here before us and will be here after.
What part of that is so difficult for the jeebus people to understand? Religion is just a figment of our fallible human imagination. It's a comfort to some, but that's all it is. There is no eye in the sky making decisions for us for good or ill, we are purely at the mercy of nature.
Anthropomorphising natural forces like tectonics as some sort of act of god is utterly pointless.
Wednesday, December 29
Simon Winchester On Gaia, Geology & Tectonics
Thanks to Attaturk for this link to Simon Winchester in the New York Times:
"[...]Given these cascades of disasters past and present, one can only wonder: might there be some kind of butterfly effect, latent and deadly, lying out in the seismic world? There is of course no hard scientific truth - no firm certainty that a rupture on a tectonic boundary in the western Pacific (in Honshu, say) can lead directly to a break in a boundary in the eastern Pacific (in Parkfield), or another in the eastern Indian ocean (off Sumatra, say). But anecdotally, as this year has so tragically shown, there is evidence aplenty"
So far, I've been pretty good at predicting earthquakes, being as I am an obsessive follower of even small seismic events via the US Geological Survey's excellent earhquake warnings and maps: I've been right around 70% of the time, mainly on gut instinct. (Please note IANA Geologist, merely an enthusiastic amateur.) My prediction this time is the Cascades, San Andreas or Yellowstone, or possibly the Nazca plate around the coast of Chile. There have already been, since Sunday, seismic events in the Philippines, Hokkaido and Kamchatka Pensinula, and now the Aleutians and Alaska within the past hour. Within the past week there was a moderate (4.10 tremor in Chiapas, Mexico; it was very deep, 78km. This appears to mean that things are shifting deep underground and is not a good augury.You can see subsequent activity to the Indian Ocean event moving around the plate boundaries by looking at the maps as they update.
Anyone up for a wager?
The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog
Courtesy of Alice Marshall, via Atrios, a wiki has been set up by S. Asians, for S Asians, giving all the latest info on the tsunami and the aftermath.
Meanwhile, from CNN: Tsunamis shatter celebrity holidays. Nice to know the US media has its priorities straight...
Yet More Republican Obscenities.
Guess how much the Chimperor has pledged to the aid effort following the tsunami? 20 million dollars. Yes, that's all.
Half of what his coronation will cost.
From the Idaho Mountain Express -
A coronation or inauguration?
40 million? 40 bloody million? Bugger the Humvees, think what 40 million could do for Bandar Aceh.
This is the Chimperor's reaction to the tsunami:
CRAWFORD, Texas Dec 27, 2004 — President Bush spent part of Monday at his Texas ranch monitoring devastation from a deadly earthquake in Southeast Asia a replay of his post-Christmas vacation last year when he was monitoring damage from an earthquake in Iran.
Well, whoop-de-fucking-doo. I'm sure we all feel comforted. The mere existence of George Bush is an obscenity and a blight on the name of humanity. If only Yellowstone would blow and wipe this travesty of a president of the face of the earth. Jan Egelund, the UN's Undersecretary General for Humanitarian
Affairs, said "We were more generous when we were less rich, many of the rich countries, and it is beyond me, why are we so stingy, really. ... Even Christmas time should remind many Western countries at least how rich we have become."
An interesting sidebar: the linked article above from the Seattle Post Intelligencer gives a list of organisations, supplied by the State Department, that individuals can donate to. Oddly enough, there's no mention of Oxfam, Save the Children, Unesco, Medecins Sans Frontieres or any of the other secular aid agencies: however, the agencies given are predominantly Christian.
For example Northwest Medical Teams: "We endeavor to help desperate people of all faiths while upholding Christian values. Our Mission is our statement of this commitment."
WorldVision: "World Vision helps transform the lives of children and families in need in the name of Christ."
MercyCorps: "Mercy Corps envisions a world in which acts of mercy, justice, and compassion overcome hate, violence, poverty, and despair - a world where children experience a caring family, a nurturing community, a sacred environment, love, and the opportunity to fulfill their God-given potential."
WorldConcern: We are committed to encouraging the Christian church in communities where we have projects, as well as strengthening local institutions. By combining our efforts with a whole network of international and local organizations, government agencies, volunteers and donors we’re able to do so much more. Our partnership with U.S. churches also helps Christians here at home put their faith into action as they reach out through World Concern to families a world away.
Is there nothing these fundies won't stoop to? Fine, be Christian if you want to, your beliefs are your own. But using a disaster of this magnitude to proselytise for a faith which has caused more suffering than any other disgusts me, and the fact that it's being done in such an underhand way, undermining the real efforts of the UN and secular agencies, well, I'm running out of words.
Obscene is not good enough any more.
A Couple of Quick Blogs
From The Grauniad comes this excellent list of links to specialist websites in activism, the arts, techness, health and news, and this list of useful antiwar sites.
Incomprehension, Grief and Anger
It just gets worse and worse. First 10,000, then 15, then 23, then 60 thousand and the death toll still rises. And that's just the known dead: there are thousands upon thousands of stranded, orphaned, and injured children and adults, and the real scale of the earthquake's effect is only just becoming clear.
A child who has lost his parents and has no idea what has happened
The Independent front page has this picture, and he is just one out of too many to count. My heart breaks for them - they have lost everything, family, livelihood and home. Many more will die from water-borne diseases like cholera and typhoid, and from injuries because some of the islands are so remote that help will be a long time arriving. The scope of the disaster and its longterm aftermath are beyond comprehension.
What has struck me forcibly in watching and listening to the coverage is, that with all the violence that's happening in the world, Iraq, Beslan, Palestine, Darfur and the rest, it seems almost a relief that people are able to feel uncomplicated grief for once because this is a natural disaster. We don't have to consider the politics of the thing; who's right, or who's wrong, or what will the US think, what will Putin do, what will Ariel Sharon say next? It doesn't matter, earthquakes and tsunamis just happen, and make politics irrelevant. The feelings we have for those caught in man-made political disasters may be equally real but they are complicated by our moral difficulties with cause and effect. It is almost a comfort to be able to turn to the tsunami coverage and feel only uncomplicated human sympathy.
However, there are politics to this. The disaster happened on Sunday but it's not until 3 days later that the UN finally managed to arrange a meeting of all the relevant aid agencies. From the current President of the richest nation in the world very little is heard, other than the obligatory ''How sad''. So far the aid pledges are in mere millions, not the billions and trillions that will be needed to rebuild. This is not just a tragedy for the people killed and injured, but an economic disaster for the whole region. How many will go to Thailand on holiday again for example? Who will replace the fishing fleets? Did anyone have insurance? What about the schools, the hospitals, the sewage systems the roads, the infrastructure generally? Can Asia ever recover?
Burying the unknown in mass graves in Sri Lanka, courtesy BBC
What about people like the Andaman Islanders, one of the region's last aboriginal ethnic groups? No-one knows: they may well have been completely wiped out. Also the Maldives, which was on the verge of its first democratic elections ever. Will this derail the democratic process? Bandah Aceh in Indonesia, one of the most hard-hit areas, had been cordoned off by security forces against Muslim rebels. How will this tragedy affect the political situation in Indonesia generally, which is volatile at the best of times? Is this the opening the radical Muslims have been looking for?
And speaking of Muslim nations, where the hell is the Sultan of Brunei? He is after all one of the richest men in the world: with one click of his fingers he could fund the rebuilding of the whole region. Mind you this is true of many individuals in the region. Robert Kuok, of Malaysia, for instance, worth 4.1 billion dollars. The 10 richest men in Asia could sort this out standing on their heads. Of the 40 richest, 8 are Indonesian, the rest Thai, Indian and Malay, all areas badly affected. If they are not helping they should be ashamed.
For those who are not one of the richest men in Asia, ie the rest of us, Vaara reports:
[UPDATE 28.12.04 20.00: News media are now reporting at least 50,000 dead. Here in the Netherlands, an ad-hoc group called Samenwerkende Hulporganisaties has opened a Giro 555 account to help the survivors. Please, give as much as you want to whomever you choose, but give.]
And then give some more. And if you can't afford money then give clothes or shoes or spectacles or something: people are having to start again; they need everything.
Tuesday, December 28
Look! It snowed! (for 5 minutes)
Monday, December 27
Oh, Deary Deary me.
Via the always excellent if somewhat scatological Rude Pundit, prepare for the....
There are many other animal nativity sets featured, but as you know, Bob, we bloggers generally prefer cats. But, but... where are the 3 wise moggies? Why of course, they're sold separately.
THE ADORATION OF THE MOGI.
I hate myself for my illicit and perverted desires, but I so want these... I'd kill for them if they were squid. Oh, what I wouldn't give for a squidivity set.
UPDATE: I went googling for one, and there isn't a squidivity set, but I fully intend to get these lovely pearly squid lures for the tree next year. They'll be so pretty :
Who are you and can you prove it?
"The 'Identificatieplicht' is the latest step in a major government campaign to tackle a range of crime, public disturbance and truancy problems in the Netherlands. Mindy Ran reports.
Absolutely fucking typical. It's us allochtoons who'll be asked, yet all the relevant information is in Dutch. What is it with these people? The racism is bad enough but allied with Dutch bureaucracy it's an absolute nightmare. I for one will be practicing civil disobedience on this subject; I am an EC citizen, I have a right to be here, and I have full freedom of movement and residence within the EU, and there is nothing the damned Dutch can do to stop it.
Eat shit and die, Balkenende and Verdonk. If that's who you really are.
Merry Christmas Fallujah! Here's Your City Back....
Such as it is.
"I saw the city and al-Andalus destroyed," said Ali Mahmood, 35, referring to the district of the city he returned to briefly Thursday but now plans to leave after seeing the mess.
But they're free! Why aren't they cheering?
More Quakes Follow....Please Help The Survivors
The BBC is now reporting over 14,000 dead. This really is a horrible disaster, now upgraded to 9.0 on the Richter scale. when you consider that it is a logarithmic scale, with each full point added meaning it's 10 times higher than the previous point, then a 9.0 is truly horrendous. There is talk from some scientists that it's enough to make the earth's rotation wobble. Tremors were felt as far away as New York's Central Park.
I'm an earthquake junkie and am quite excited by such a huge event and the aftershocks, not to mention the next one that's coming as the shock waves travel around the plate perimeters: but I have to keep looking at the casualty reports to remind myself that there are real people on the recieving end of all this. Particularly worrying is the situation in Burma, which has 1300 miles of coastline exposed to the tsunamis - very little is being reported, and no-one seems to know what the situation is there except it's unlikely to be good.
From the US Geological Survey:
"The devastating megathrust earthquake of December 26th, 2004 occurred on the interface of the India and Burma plates and was cause by the release of stresses that develop as the India plate subducts beneath the overriding Burma plate. The India plate begins its decent into the mantle at the Sunda trench which lies to the west of the earthquake's epicenter. The trench is the surface expression of the India-Burma plate interface..
Anyone reading this, please send what you can manage to the Red Cross/ Red Crescent, or Oxfam, who are responding to the disaster with great dispatch.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has launched a preliminary appeal for 7.5 million Swiss francs to assist some 500,000 people and bring immediate support to relief operations of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and other countries in the region after the strongest earthquake in 40 years caused massive tidal waves, killing at least 6,000 people, according to local authorities, and leaving more than one million displaced and homeless.
Quakes and aftershocks are still continuing in the region: latest report is of a 5.6 quake this morning off the Nicobar Islands... Like these poor people haven't suffered enough already. For our common humanity, please help.
UPDATE: Bob Harris has a very useful list of links to organisations heping with disaster relief that can be donated to here, including Medecins and Telecoms Sans Frontieres.
Go, donate, show the world we're not all Bushes and Blairs.
Sunday, December 26
Boom! That's It For The Festive Season Then
It's Boxing Day already, blimey, how did that happen? Christmas occurred and was muted fun for all: now we've done the traditional turkey, crackers, pudding and sticky liqueurs, and the sleeping through "Harry Potter" thing, we can have some proper fun, like reading, blogging, listening to the Archers Omnibus and drinking tea. And of course, cake. I also shall be making Black Forest Trifle to follow all the cold ham, turkey and roast pork and salad.
Not quite so much fun for those in the Maldives, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand or the Andamans: a massive earthquake, 8.9 on the Richter scale, hit early this morning our time. Lots of damage, tsunamis, and dead/injured - reports are still coming in. This is the latest in a string of earthquakes around the Pacific Rim, and Mt. St Helens is still rumbling. Maybe we'll see the San Andreas blow.
Floods following tsunamis in Sri Lanka
The BBC is posting realtime reports from individuals on the earthquake and the aftermath. It's being constantly updated.
11/28/2004 - 12/05/2004