Friday, January 06, 2006

Disaster Check In

Not sure if there have been more disasters, natural or otherwise, than usual. Or if The Media is simply obsessed with the photo-friendly ones we have had such that I think there have been more disasters than usual. But I've spent the afternoon checking in on a number of them.

In two separate incidents, Kashmiri quake survivors took control of two helicopters and forced them to fly out of the frigid, supply-devoid mountains to cities below. In a statement showing true mastery of understatement, a UN coordinator said, "I presume they were coming down from the mountains and basically wanted out. It's very cold there." Uh huh. 9 degrees in pretty damn cold for living in a tent. With cold rain or snow pelting you.

Roads have been closed in the mountains, restricting humanitarian workers from distributing supplies to those farthest up in the mountains. Probably the folks who grabbed hold of those helicopters. Still sounds like a disaster to me.

As does NOLA. Still stinks there, figuratively and literally. The Chicago Tribune headline a few days back says it all: "Katrina's garbage rates a Category 5." Here's an interesting little garbage tidbit. "
So much garbage was left behind by the storm that the federal government estimates that if stacked in 1-yard cubes, it would wrap around the Earth more than once."

But we Americans are great at making silk purses out of sows' ears. Witness the Hurricane Katrina: America's Worst Catastrophe bus tour. One person's exploitation is another person's opportunity knocked and answered. Me? Whatever floats your bus. Er, boat.

Interesting Time interview with
Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who ran the Federal government's post-Katrina response. As much as I believed that FEMA dropped the ball in NOLA, I enjoyed his take on personal responsibility in times of crisis.

In the area of pending disasters, I'm back on the avian flu thang in Turkey. 3 kids have died now (apparently they lived on a poultry farm and were playing with the heads of dead chickens), and there are up to 30 people being treated for flu-like symptoms. If even half of those people turn up with the flu, that's a scary prospect. Might indicate the disease is beginning to mutate and spread more easily--or is spreading more easily between humans. This map gives you an idea of where it's spreading and how, showing the migratory paths wild birds follow. Yes, we're fine for now. But Europe? Not so much.

In disasters a little closer to home, The NY Times reported today that, once again, our government failed our soldiers. A secret Pentagon study says that 80% of those soldiers in Iraq who were killed due to upper body injuries would have lived had they had extra body armor. Hey. Why should we spend money doing that when we can, instead, give money in tax cuts to millionaires?

Wonder why that report was kept secret?

So many disasters, so little time. We haven't even talked about the possible Hastert Disaster (what happens if we impeach both Bush and Cheney), yet another potential starvation situation in Somalia
(drought equals lowest harvests in a decade) or the
Constitutional disaster that is our President (who essentially declared, on signing the McCain Anti-Torture amendment, that he'll decide if, and when, he wants to follow this law).

There are only so many disasters one can take on in an afternoon.

Until tomorrow,


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