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December 18th, 2013
thesmithian

…when Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines last month…The storm hit at rice-planting time, tearing farmers’ paddies to shreds and stealing their stocks of seeds.

more.

November 21st, 2013
thesmithian

'If there is any ambiguity left to the G.O.P. reform agenda, let it be put to rest by Michael F. Cannon, the director of health-policy studies at the Cato Institute and a former Republican Hill staffer…'

“The only way to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in a governmental activity,” he testified before a House subcommittee in 2011, “is to eliminate that activity.” When you see virtually every governmental function, a priori, as wasteful, fraudulent, and abusive, from disaster relief to early-childhood education, the only way to save the village, to paraphrase a U.S. military officer in Vietnam, is to destroy it. This, one fears, they can do quite competently.

more.

November 21st, 2013
thesmithian
The evacuation centers are an increasing concern…People are living in squalid conditions in need of as much support as they can get.

Matthew Cochrane, a spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

and more.

November 18th, 2013
thesmithian

In 2012 Nigeria experienced…floods that affected more than 7.7 million people, 363…were reported dead…more than 600,000 homes…destroyed…

more.

+++++

art: photographs by August Udoh

November 17th, 2013
thesmithian
Much has been said about the resilience of the Filipinos—and it is not just public relations. It is a fact. Yes, the situation is dire, and please, we need help very badly, but we are not helpless.
Jessica Zafra, from Manila
November 14th, 2013
thesmithian

'When I read a rundown of military assets being sent to rescue survivors and deliver supplies, I feel grateful…but also struck by the fact that the tools we're using were designed to fight wars and are being temporarily repurposed. I wonder what a fleet as well-funded as the U.S. military's would look like if it were optimized for natural disaster response. How many victims would have been reached already?'

The stories about inaccessible areas of the Philippines, where authorities haven’t yet seen the damage—let alone helped the survivors—makes me reflect on the global drone fleet, and imagine an alternative world where it was optimized and expanded to spot victims rather than insurgents, delivering drinking water rather than Hellfire missiles…This isn’t a naive call to eliminate the U.S. military and spend its entire budget augmenting the International Red Cross…But given how predictable it is that there will be deadly storms, catastrophic earthquakes, and other natural disasters besides, you’d think we’d spend more on preemptive measures that would help lower the death toll and speed help to survivors. Alas, our psychology as individuals and nations is to dig into our pockets only after the fact, when the descriptions of mass graves and hunger reach us. It is good to act then. It would be better to act sooner.

more.

October 30th, 2013
thesmithian

Guilty or innocent, [former Mayor Ray] Nagin’s fate will bring closure to a city that arguably suffered as much after the storm as during it…

more.

October 28th, 2013
thesmithian

…evidence of Sandy still litters the landscape. There are miles of shuttered coastline, building lots specked with rubble, entire neighborhoods without habitable homes and blue tarps flapping like flags of surrender. All is not well underground, either. In the city’s dense subterranean layer, damage to the electrical grid and the subway system still keeps workers busy and city officials worried about infrastructure older than the average technician’s grandparents.

more.

September 14th, 2013
thesmithian

Overflowing toilets and the stench of decomposition made the hot air practically unbreathable. Communication with the outside world was sparse and rescue efforts sporadic. The sound of gunshots from the darkened streets and the swirling rumors of martial law and bands of looters made the staff question whether anyone would leave the hospital alive. What they did next forms the basis of…“Five Days at Memorial,” a gripping, comprehensive account of the desperate times and difficult decisions of the beleaguered hospital’s staff. Fink’s exhaustively researched book is a triumph of journalism, based on six years of dogged reporting that earned her remarkable access to the patients and staff who endured the ordeal, and to the investigators and attorneys who questioned their actions after the waters receded and order resumed.

more.

August 4th, 2013
thesmithian

The riot and militarisation of the prison comes a day after the release of a report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which said that inmates control Honduras’ 24 prisons because the state has abandoned its role in rehabilitating people convicted of crimes. The government says there are 12,263 people incarcerated in Honduras, even though its prisons can only hold 8,120 inmates. Killings, riots and corruption are common.

more. also, see this, re the fire of February 2012, which killed 350+ prisoners.

…many of them trapped and screaming inside their cells…

July 11th, 2013
thesmithian

In May 2010, the temperature in Pakistan soared to more than 128 degrees—the hottest…ever recorded in Asia. Just a few months later, extreme monsoons left more than a fifth of the country underwater. Around the same time, Russian authorities declared the worst heat wave in 1,000 years…Floods, droughts and heat records grab headlines, but…how do we know when extreme weather is the result of natural variations and when it’s a sign of something more? A new report from the World Meteorological Organization tries to contextualize the headlines of recent years by…considering all those heat waves, droughts and storms not as single events, but across decades.

more.

July 1st, 2013
thesmithian

When President Obama unveiled his program to tackle climate change last month, he…sidestepped Congress as a hopeless bastion of obstruction, relying completely on changes that could be imposed by regulatory agencies. A two-year study by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, released today, illustrates what might be one of the reasons why he had to take this circuitous route. Fossil fuel magnates Charles and David Koch have, through Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group they back, succeeded in persuading many members of Congress to sign a little-known pledge in which they have promised to vote against “legislation relating to climate change unless it is accompanied by an equivalent amount of tax cuts”…the pledge essentially commits those who sign to it to vote against nearly any meaningful bill regarding global warning…

bold, ours. more, here.

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