Archives for August 2005
The force of nature
I woke up last night in the middle of the night and watched TV reports about New Orleans Called ‘Untenable’ As Levees Fail. I remembered a nice trip my husband and I took years ago and what a great time we had, the wonderful food, and the beautiful places we visited. The hotel where we stayed is now a wreck.
The rescue workers have done huge acts of valor, and I am grateful that the people in the service of our country always come through. The TV channels are continously showing rescue after rescue done by the local police and firemen, the Coast Guard, National Guard, and the Army. Don’t miss Mudville Gazzette‘s post on NORTHCOM.
The last thing I watched was a heartbreaking interview of a man whose wife was carried by the stream in front of him and their children.
I urge all visitors to this blog to donate to the American Red Cross 1-800-HELP-NOW, and The Salvation Army 1-800-SAL-ARMY. N. Z. Bear is organizing a blogbugst tomorrow.
Update Maria sent a link to The Humane Society rescue effort.
Update 2 Babalú Blog takes the initiative:
Therefore, Babalú will not offer any new posts, any new entries, any new writing, any new content whatsoever until these relief organizations have received at least 100 donations from Babalú readers.
Update 3: A quick reminder that the American Red Cross has nothing to do with the policies of the International Committee of the Red Cross and has in fact withheld funds from the ICRC to protest its blatantly biased agenda.
Chavez said fuel could be sent to the United States via a Citgo refinery that has not been affected by the hurricane. Citgo is owned by Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).
Maybe we should take him up on it. If it’s handled well from a PR point of view, it could be a win-win situation. There’s much to be said for the positive side of having the USA receiving help, not just giving it as it always does. At the same time, if we do take up Hugo on his offer, maybe we should also not be surprised if a few Venezuelans (and Cuban medics that might come along) might want to stay after their job is done. After all, as Val points out, there’s a real-estate boom in Miami from Venezuelans buying property.
Update: Via Babalú commenter A.M. Mora y Leon, Venezuelan oil state firm Pdvsa’s refining branch in the United States Citgo Wednesday offered a USD 1 million donation to contribute to rescue operations
Of course there’s the blame game
At least Hugo has refrained (so far) from kicking the US while it’s down, unlike Germany’s environment minister who
hinted Tuesday that Americans were to blame for Hurricane Katrina due to the U.S. refusal to cut greenhouse gases which many experts say cause global warming.
Not to be outdone, Robert Kennedy Jr. blamed the GOP.
This is a variation of Castro’s 45-yr-old approach to natural disasters. All my life I’ve been reading reports of hurricane after hurricane having been officially blamed by Castro on the Americans, and I’m old enough that I remember people in the 1970s wondering if there was another ice age coming. Global warming hadn’t even been invented yet. Fidel must have been a man ahead of his time.
Rich Lowry writes about Katrina Conceit: Global warming and Mother Nature
Has global warming increased the frequency of hurricanes? One of the nation’s foremost hurricane experts, William Gray, points out that if global warming is at work, cyclones should be increasing not just in the Atlantic but elsewhere, in the West Pacific, East Pacific, and the Indian Ocean. They aren’t. The number of cyclones per year worldwide fluctuates pretty steadily between 80 and 100. There’s actually been a small overall decline in tropical cyclones since 1995, and Atlantic hurricanes declined from 1970 to 1994, even as the globe was heating up.
It seems that Atlantic hurricanes come in spurts, or as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration puts it in more technical language, “a quasi-cyclic multi-decade regime that alternates between active and quiet phases.” The late 1920s through the 1960s were active; the 1970s to early 1990s quiet; and since 1995 — as anyone living in Florida or Gulfport, Miss., can tell you — seems to be another active phase.
But if hurricanes aren’t more frequent, are they more powerful? Warm water fuels hurricanes, so the theory is that as the ocean’s surface heats up, hurricanes will pack more punch. An article in Nature — after questionable jiggering with the historical wind data — argues that hurricanes have doubled in strength because of global warming. Climatologist Patrick Michaels counters that if hurricanes had doubled in their power it would be obvious to everyone and there would be no need to write controversial papers about it.
Indeed, if you adjust for population growth and skyrocketing property values, hurricanes don’t appear to be any more destructive today. According to the work of Roger Pielke of the University of Colorado, of the top five most destructive storms this century, only one occurred after 1950 — Hurricane Andrew in 1992. An NOAA analysis says there have been fewer Category 4 storms throughout the past 35 years than would have been expected given 20th-century averages.
Maybe New Orleans will rebuild. All I know is that it’s a lot more likely that New Orleans will rebuild than it is that some pseudo-environmentalists will, as Lowry said, give up their “conceit that is oddly comforting: that whatever is wrong with the world is caused by us and fixable by us. Alas, it’s not so.”
The Cotillion was on, bad weather and all
so it’s time to read!
Top 10 conspiracies at the NYSun
Top 10 Arab and Iranian Conspiracies, but, if you want the condensed version, everything “is all the fault of the Americans and the Joos”.
Just yesterday Sigmund, Carl and Alfred discussed Democracy, Freedom, Events, and Experiences:
Contrast these ideas with totalitarian regimes in the Middle East and elsewhere. They are bogged down by the past, reminding us and themselves of former glories while they waste away their present and future, going nowhere. A recent UN report on the state of education in the world placed the Arab countries at the bottom of the list, only above sub Saharan Africa in terms of quality of education. Given that there aren’t that many schools in sub Saharan Africa to begin with, the distinction of not being at the bottom of the list is moot. Did that result in any outrage in Arab society? Hardly. It was ignored.
In totalitarian regimes, life is an orchestrated event, scripted by a government- lived until the death of the leader and new script is handed down.
One pundit wrote something to the effect that Arabs feel humiliated. Not because they can’t read, have real no real economies and have to send their kids to the west to get educated– that was no cause for shame, mind you– but because they see themselves as victims of a conspiracy by the west to hold them back.
The response? A few months ago, Syria came out with it’s new Five Year Plan. Remember those?
Plus ca change, plus ca reste la meme. These regimes are incapable of dealing with reality.
These regimes never accept blame or accountability. Abu Ghraib was met with outrage at the same time far greater horrors occur everyday at home. It is lost on much of the Arab world that we deal with our problems– and they don’t.
Why is it so? Well, these regimes and societies, in their hubris, see the world in an ‘us vs them’ framework, as was mentioned earlier. They never make mistakes and thus are never responsible or accountable. We, who live in democracies and commit to and demand, an always better society, are looked down upon– after all, it is only we who make and correct our mistakes.
Dr. Sanity looks at Delaying Tactics
When belief in any idea become a matter of faith–and one’s own identity is defined by that faith–then the psyche will do anything necessary to distort or deny any truth that contradicts that belief.
On a related subject, don’t miss Sigmund, Carl and Alfred’s What it all means, Parenting and what it all means:
Survival in such a culture necessitates some numbing. But this psychological component might be insignificant relative to the neurobiological effects of being beaten and tortured in childhood. It was Harvard researchers who first revealed that stress hormones released when children experience physical and sexual abuse actually impede development of that part of the brain responsible for empathy and conscience.
Brain scans of those who suffered through events common in the childhood of Palestinian children reveal an underdeveloped hippocampus and vermis. Among the behaviors associated with this sort of brain damage: impulsivity, sadism, and suicide. It is almost too frightening to consider that Israel today faces a population many of whom are hardwired for the sort of violence we have been witnessing.
More terrifying is the long-term prognosis for Palestinian society. Martin Teicher, a lead researcher in the Harvard study, reports that sadistic parents neurobiologically infect their children with the same trait: Society reaps what it sows in the way it nurtures its children.
Read it all.
Lauding the resistance of the Cuban nation to the hegemonic policies of the US, Rafsanjani said President Fidel Castro is regarded as an impressive character in contemporary history and his presence on the political scene has left a double impacts on the anti-imperialism spirit of the Cuban nation.
(If only the mullahs would hire a better translator. But I digress.) Some of that “anti-imperialism spirit of the Cuban nation” might be looking at Iran’s promising nuclear future,
Iran has made a new breakthrough in its controversial nuclear program, successfully using biotechnology to extract larger and cheaper quantities of uranium concentrate from its mines, state television reported
which involves Venezuela, at least as long as Hugo coughs up the dough for all.
The Iranian president gives a sign: Iran’s President Reappoints Nuclear Chief
Iran’s president reinstated Gholamreza Aghazadeh as head of Iran’s nuclear program on Monday, a clear sign to the Europeans and Washington not to expect a change of course under the country’s new leadership.
. . .
Iran renewed its uranium reprocessing activities at a plant in central city of Isfahan earlier this month after rejecting a European proposal to give up its uranium enrichment program in return for economic incentives. Aghazadeh called the offer a “joke.”
Just the same day as the Cuban ambassador to Tehran was meeting with the Iranian Chairman of the Expediency (what does a Chairman of the Expediency do?) Chirac says Iran must halt nuclear activities, or he’ll taunt them a second time.
Back in our hemisphere, the Boston Globe touts wonders of Cuba’s “free universal healthcare” (via Babalu in an article written by Indira Lakshmanan. Maybe the Globe should send Ms Lakshmanan to South Africa to interview some of the students who came back from Cuba (emphasis mine):
Spokesperson Mpho Gabashane said the programme wasn’t always financially viable and that only 12 of the 23 students sent to Cuba in 1997 and 1998 were working at state hospitals in the province.
. . .
The feast was a real treat for the students, who have lived on mainly vegetarian fare for the past three years.
“In Cuba we always eat rice and beans, no meat,” said Africa Manzini.
He said the students had spent the holiday trying to catch up with all the new developments in South Africa, especially the technological advances like those in the cellphone industry.
South Africa has been spending R35,000/year/student ($5,421.99). A Cuban doctor makes $20/month.
I wonder how much moolah all these mullah meetings are costing.
[*] Indulging in my love of puns, this means “to Iran they’ll go”.
The Port of Southern Louisiana
TigerHawk has a post on Katrina: The geopolitical significance of the Port of Southern Louisiana
The Port of Southern Louisiana is the fifth-largest port in the world in terms of tonnage, and the largest port in the United States. The only global ports larger are Singapore, Rotterdam, Shanghai and Hong Kong. It is bigger than Houston, Chiba and Nagoya, Antwerp and New York/New Jersey. It is a key link in U.S. imports and exports and critical to the global economy.
Read it all.
Bad news from Norway
Mountain romance a pain: In Norway the “peaks in autumn have become the country’s hottest meeting place for those looking to find a partner”
Half-drunk men dropping sexual hints and resorting to vulgar body language often ruin the pastoral calm at hotels nestled in the mountains.
. . .
Young boys most also tolerate unwanted sexual attention, especially from middle-aged women.
Maybe it’s the sweaters.
In more serious matters, Arhtur’s got Good news from Iraq, part 34