Environment: Recent Natural Disasters
Myanmar continues to writhe under the heel of an uncaring dictatorship as the populace tries to deal with the aftermath of the cyclone. The creeps-in-charge are busy telling the populace lies about the trustworthiness of U.S. relief instead of giving them help when they need it so desperately. If you would like to send a pair of used underpants to the Burmese government as a hallmark of your respect for their dunderheaded policies, you have our blessing. In case you were living in a mountain cave someplace, Insane McAncient has had to fire two lobbyists from his campaign because they were working for the Burmese junta &mdash you know, the guys who are watching their countrymen starve to death rather than giving them food, aid, and medical assistance.
For what it's worth, at least the ASEAN relief teams have been promised access; and experts are en route to assessing the needs of Cyclone Nargis' victims. Over 133,000 have been reported dead or missing, and 2.4 million are homeless. Please keep them in your thoughts and, if you can spare anything, send it their way. At present, the U.N. says only 40 per cent of promised funding has come through.
In other sad news, Burmese comedian Maung Thura, who works under the stage name of Zarganar, is missing, says U.N. HRC's Myanmar investigator Tomas Ojea Quintana. According to Thura's relatives, police took him from his home in Yangon shortly after he made a trip to the Irrawaddy delta to donate relief items to survivors. The police also seized his computer and cash intended for survivors.
Zarganar's family has not heard from him since the arrest. The ruling military junta had given no reason for the arrest. Zarganar led a team of around 400 people, mainly actors, comedians and writers, in distributing assistance in the form of food, blankets, mosquito nets, and other such items, to those affected by the floods.
The team had made videos of their relief activities, and Zarganar gave interviews critical of the government's relief effort to foreign media, including the British Broadcasting Corp., whose news broadcasts are popular in Myanmar.
To donate to the victims of Cyclone Nargis, you can give directly to organizations like Medicin sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), or go here.
China: Zhang Ziyi, star of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and many other top-notch Chinese films, recently lambasted her fellow artistes for their ignorance of the devastating quake in China. Zhang, who has been raising money for quake relief efforts, said:
"I was as angry as a madwoman. I said, 'Are you idiots? You are well-dressed people who look like you identify with society, but you don't know what's going on on planet Earth.' It's incredible!"La Casa de Los Gatos hereby gives Zhang Ziyi its Media Spokeswoman of Teh Month award for speaking up about the less fortunate.
People like this impress us. They could be going their pretty, wealthy, empty-headed way as most of them do. It's always extremely satisfying when those who have a perch in the upper echelons choose to turn the spotlight on the less fortunate. So many people who strive for fame and fortune achieve it and then forget what life was like before they became rich and famous. There is a saying in Malay, "Kachang lupakan kulit," which translates to "The peanut forgets its shell," that we've always liked.
Zhang Ziyi rocks.
It has been one month since the quake killed approximately 100,000 people in Sichuan province and left a further 5.2 million homeless. The Chinese government's swift response to aid the survivors was astonishing in its scope and dedication. However, now that the initial crisis has been handled, the government is beginning a crackdown on protests planned by grieving parents. Reporters are being actively discouraged from seeking the reason behind the collapse of so many schools. Poor construction and shoddy materials have already been alleged as the root cause.
On the one hand, the Chinese government responded better to the disaster than the U.S. government under Preznitwit Winky McBrillo (thanks, Sharkbabe!) did to Hurricane Katrina. On the other, China is not a democracy, not a free country. On the third hand (as a former believer in a pantheon of deity, we appreciate the multiple hands that are a Side Benefit), China has never been a democracy and we wonder whether it is more important to ensure one billion people the benefit of food, healthcare, education, and a functional society or freedom of speech and the right to sleep under bridges and beg for one's bread.
Yes, we know the two don't have to be mutually exclusive. But didn't Mao Zedong once tell some American politico that dealing with the sewage problems of one billion people was not something that admitted of a democratic solution?
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
U.S.: In the town of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Raw Story reports, some 4,000 homes have been evacuated as flooding from the recent spate of heavy rains left cars and homes inundated with water and destroyed a bridge. Nine rivers in Iowa are seeing historic flood levels. A man has reportedly died in Minnesota as a result of floods.
Flood-related evacuations are also taking place in the towns of Des Moines, Iowa City, and Coralville. Thunderstorms continue to damage parts of southern Wisconsin. There are reports of flash floods in the area. A man was reported killed in Grand Rapids, Michigan, due to flooding. Northern Missouri is preparing for flooding of the Mississippi River. Weather forecasters are warning of tornado risk and thunderstorm warnings have been issued for areas of Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Lake Michigan. Several tributaries of the Mississippi River are overflowing their banks, and record flooding has hit areas across the Mississippi Valley.
To no one's surprise, the Preznitwit has not visited nor made any statements that we can uncover. We believe the National Guard, which would ordinarily be assisting stranded citizens, is off in Iraq being hated by that country's beleaguered citizenry.
The weather is expected to affect corn and soybean crops in the named areas, which will result in higher food prices. If you live anywhere in the threatened areas, please be careful. Drive carefully, make arrangements for your children and elderly and pets, and take good care of yourselves.
La Casa de Los Gatos wishes each and everyone affected by this nasty weather worldwide safety and a peaceful resolution to their woes, great or small. Stumble It!