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Rastafari Speaks: Disaster

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World Focus: Who feels the Earthquake?
Disaster
by Joey Clarke

So there was an earthquake in Pakistan in October 2005. TIME Magazine just reminded me. They also told me some numbers: 80,000 people died. Hard to imagine for someone who has spent his life in small islands. Unless I think in terms of all the people in my part of Kingston: all of Liguanea, Upper Mountainview, New Kingston and Beverly Hills, plus Gordon Town to boot. All dead within minutes. Or, from the Port-of-Spain years: Belmont/St Ann's, and most of the East-West Corridor - wiped out. Or, say, all of Bridgetown, Barbados... or, everybody in St Lucia, plus ten or so thousand from Martinique or St Vincent.

Strange how I can consider all those dead so coldly when I think in terms of number... maybe I should think in terms of one person: my friend, my relative, my colleague... the person I see every day. Plus the person I don't see so often, the person I run in to now and then, and the person I sometimes notice on my way from A to B. All such persons (plus 79,000 or so more who are part of the lives of others) suddenly killed en masse... it's too much. I don't know if I can ever grasp the scale of a tragedy like that; and I don't even know if it would be any clearer if I had happened to be tooling around Kashmir last October. I suspect that - like the people I saw in the photos - I would be too desperate about my own wellbeing to count beyond myself, and my immediate circle. The TIME article prompted me to start writing, but it wasn't because of the dead, nor even of the 3 million homeless (consider all Jamaica and all Trinidad, but only the lucky ones sleeping in camps), nor - though it impressed me - the 30,000 tons of food (more than I'm likely to eat in the next 20 years) that has been parachuted into the area.

(Read More... | World Focus | Score: 4.5)

U.S.A.: Seven Months After Katrina
Disaster
Sleeping in Your Car in Front of Your Trailer in Front of Your Devastated Home, Tales of Lunacy and Hope from New Orleans

by Bill Quigley, dissidentvoice.org

In New Orleans, seven months after Katrina, senior citizens are living in their cars. WWL-TV introduced us to Korean War veteran Paul Morris, 74, and his wife Yvonne, 66. They have been sleeping in their two-door sedan since January. They have been waiting that long for FEMA contractors to unlock the 240 square foot trailer in their yard and connect the power so they can sleep inside it in front of their devastated home.

This tale of lunacy does not begin to stop there.

(Read More... | U.S.A. | Score: 0)

U.S.A.: Harry Belafonte on Bush, Iraq, Hurricane Katrina
Disaster
Harry Belafonte on Bush, Iraq, Hurricane Katrina and Having His Conversations with Martin Luther King Wiretapped by the FBI

By Democracy Now
January 30th, 2006


We spend the hour with the legendary musician, actor and humanitarian, Harry Belafonte. He joins us in our firehouse studio to talk about why he recently called President Bush "the world's greatest terrorist;" racism and Hurricane Katrina; Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement and wars of imperialism and resistance.

The son of Caribbean-born immigrants, Harry Belafonte grew up on the streets of Harlem and Jamaica. After serving in World War II, he returned to New York and began a successful acting and singing career. Along with his rise to worldwide stardom, Belafonte became deeply involved in the Civil Rights Movement and was close friends with the Rev. Martin Luther King. In the 1980's he helped initiate the "We Are the World" single which helped raise millions of dollars in aid to Africa. He also hosted former South African President Nelson Mandela on his triumphant visit to the United States. Belafonte has been a longtime critic of U.S. foreign policy, calling for an end to the embargo against Cuba, and opposing policies of war and global oppression.

(Read More... | U.S.A. | Score: 5)

U.S.A.: Katrina, Conservative Myth-Making and the Media
Disaster
Framing the Poor

By Tim Wise

During the flooding of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, many a voice praised the media for its supposedly aggressive coverage. The fact that Anderson Cooper cried on camera, or that Geraldo evinced outrage (imagine that), or that even Fox's Shepard Smith waxed indignant at the suffering in the streets, was taken as evidence of some newfound courage on the part of the press.

Standing up to FEMA's Mike Brown, and making him appear every bit as incompetent as he was -- a task about as difficult as making Paris Hilton look underfed -- inspired plaudits for any number of network anchors and reporters in the field. So too, Cooper's upbraiding of an utterly hapless Mary Landrieu, she of the U.S. Senate, just to show that both parties were fair game in this brave new world of independent media, no longer willing to be led around by the neck on a leash, as it had been with, say, Iraq, for starters.

(Read More... | U.S.A. | Score: 4.5)

U.S.A.: Katrina - A Blessing in Disguise?
Disaster
By: Michael De Gale

Do you feel that any white man has ever done anything for the black man in America? "Yes, I can think of two. Hitler and Stalin. The black man in America couldn’t get a decent factory job until Hitler put so much pressure on the white man. And then Stalin kept up the pressure." (The Autobiography of Malcolm X)

As cold and as insensitive as it may sound, Hurricane Katrina could be the best thing that happened to Afro-Americans since WWII. In the glare of MTV, Reality TV and the glitter of Bling, the plights of Black people struggling in ghettos all over America has mostly been forgotten. Katrina unveiled their suffering in Louisiana, Mississippi and New Orleans. More significantly, it reminded us of America's history of slavery, racism and bigotry in this centre of selfishness. With mouths agape, we witnessed in anguish and disbelief the attacks on The World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. Almost instantaneously, a well-orchestrated Government and community organizations rallied to rescue the hapless victims. These events gave the US the excuse it needed to unleash its dogs of war on the defenseless people of Iraq. The unilateral offensive they claimed would "make the world safe for democracy" and uncover "weapons of mass destruction." The rest as they say is history. In contrast, the response by all levels of the US administration in the days following Katrina seems pale. Although the US constitution proclaims liberty and justice for all, it was determined that race was a mitigating factor in the administration's response to this semi-natural disaster.

(Read More... | U.S.A. | Score: 4.18)

U.S.A.: Race in New Orleans: Shaping the Response to Katrina?
Disaster
democracynow.org

The frustration and anger over the slow federal response to hurricane Katrina's destruction and aftermath continues to mount. The disturbing images are revealing: bodies floating through floodwaters, thousands of desperate survivors clamoring for food and distraught families with stricken children. Throughout all this, one thing is starkly evident: the vast majority of victims are black. African American leaders and activists are saying better planning and response by federal authorities could have lessened the severity of the hurricane's impact. Race and class are becoming central to the discussion about what happened in the cities torn apart in the last few days.

(Read More... | U.S.A. | Score: 4.75)

U.S.A.: Bush Strafes New Orleans, Where's Huey Long?
Disaster
by Greg Palast, commondreams.org

The National Public Radio news anchor was so excited I thought she'd piss on herself: the President of the United had flown his plane down to 1700 feet to get a better look at the flood damage! And there was a photo of our Commander-in-Chief taken looking out the window. He looked very serious and concerned.

That was yesterday. Today he played golf. No kidding.

I'm sure the people of New Orleans would have liked to show their appreciation for the official Presidential photo-strafing, but their surface-to-air missiles were wet.

There is nothing new under the sun. In 1927, a Republican President had his photo taken as the Mississippi rolled over New Orleans. Calvin Coolidge, "a little fat man with a notebook in his hand," promised to rebuild the state. He didn't. Instead, he left to play golf with Ken Lay or the Ken Lay railroad baron equivalent of his day.

(Read More... | U.S.A. | Score: 5)

World Focus: God the father, God the son, God the holy bigot
Disaster
By Corey Gilkes
trinicenter.com/Gilkes

I really did not intend that my return to writing articles would start off with a subject this sensitive, but we are living in too perilous a time for people to be still harbouring nonsensical prejudiced views as if such views did not lead to even graver consequences.

The year 2004 closed with one of the most horrific disasters in history when an underwater earthquake triggered a tsunami that killed upwards of 170,000 people in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and even as far away as the east coast of Africa. Now I am not going to get into the question of whether or not this disaster could have been avoided – you know, seismologists predicting that the earthquake itself was going to happen, inadequate funding for the placement of sensors and so on – oh no, we got an even bigger fish to fry.

(Read More... | World Focus | Score: 4.4)

World Focus: Horrified By Destructive Forces?
Disaster
Why We Are Horrified By The Destructive Forces Of Nature But Accept Our Own Violence

By Lucinda Marshall

The recent avalanche of American generosity towards those whose lives have been destroyed by the horrific damage of the Tsunami offers a troubling contrast to our callousness towards those whose lives have been wrecked by the man-made horrors of war. The uncomfortable reality is that the purposeful suffering inflicted by armed conflict is more morally tolerable than suffering caused by natural disasters.

To understand this dichotomy of conscience, consider why wars are fought. They are not fought to liberate a people or bring democracy to a country. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq had little to do with liberating women or throwing the Taliban and Saddam Hussein out of power and even the White House now admits that there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction. These wars, like all wars, have been fought because of greed and the quest for power and control, and the perceived need to restore honor. They are being fought to maintain and perpetuate a dominator, patriarchal society.

(Read More... | World Focus | Score: 5)

Caribbean: Nature sends violent warning
Disaster
By Raffique Shah

IF ever a year started with a bang and ended with a deafening, deadly roar, 2004 was it. The "bang" was, of course, the firepower of one man and his military prowess, used to reduce a once thriving nation to rubble. George Bush thought then, and no doubt still believes today, he is God-on-earth. He alone holds the hammer over the heads of all of us lesser mortals, and boy, did he use it. From Fallujah to Mosul, Kabul to Kandahar, Bush's boys committed atrocities that put the warring tribes of Rwanda or the "Jangaweed" of Somalia, to shame. When they were finished with Fallujah, nothing alive was left standing. And so proud were most Americans of these sub-human feats their soldiers accomplished, they voted back their Commander-in-Chief into power for another four years.

(Read More... | Caribbean | Score: 4)

World Focus: Earthquakes and End Times, Past and Present
Disaster
Meaning and Meaninglessness in the December 26 Tsunami

By Gary Leupp

Two and a half centuries ago a colossal earthquake probably measuring 8.7 to 9.0 on the Richter scale, centered 200 miles off the Iberian Peninsula in the Atlantic, shook Lisbon, Portugal. The tremor lasted a few minutes, immediately followed by a tidal wave. The water of Lisbon harbor was momentarily, mysteriously sucked back, revealing the carcasses of ill-fated ships. Then the ocean surged forward through the downtown area. Historians disagree about the casualty figure of this double blow, most estimates ranging from 30,000 to 90,000 (one-third the city's population). One-third of the city's buildings were destroyed.

(Read More... | World Focus | Score: 4)

World Focus: Death Toll May Reach 200,000
Disaster
Updated: January 02, 2005

Scientific Background on the Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami
Information relating to the submarine earthquake inbetween Aceh, Indonesia and Sri Lanka of the 26th of December, 2004 has been compiled here.

Tsunami Death Toll May Reach 200,000
The world will never know how many people lost their lives in the cataclysm that struck the Indian Ocean region a week ago.
The official death toll moved incrementally forward to 123,184 yesterday, with more than 80,000 of these in Indonesia and nearly 30,000 in Sri Lanka. But one leading observer ­ Laila Freivalds, the Swedish Foreign Minister ­ said after visiting Thailand: "The whole area is still chaotic. Dead bodies are being collected, boats are arriving from the islands loaded with dead people. In the whole area, the death toll is beginning to rise towards 200,000."
Full Article : commondreams.org

5 000 000 displaced by tsunami
Up to five million people have been displaced by the devastating tsunamis that pummelled large tracts of Asia over the weekend, the World Health Organisation said on Thursday.
Full Article : news24.com

(Read More... | World Focus | Score: 1)

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