Cyclone Sidr … have you heard about it?

Try checking the major American news sites: CNN, Fox, MSNBC, the New York Times, you can even try the BBC. There’s a major news story missing.

You’ll have to read Chris Mooney’s blog to find it. There’s a potential Category 5 cyclone, Cyclone Sidr, on its way to smash Bangladesh.


It’s going to hit sometime tomorrow. While Sonny Perdue prays for a little rain, maybe we should be urging our news networks to pay attention to the important news, our government should be getting ready for emergency assistance, and we should all be preparing to loosen those checkbooks and possibly offer what aid we can.


  1. scrabcake says

    Well gee.
    It doesn’t affect America physically or economically, so who gives a crap?
    I’ve only in recent years realized how frivolous and dumbed-down our news media has become. When the military overthrew the government in Thailand earlier this year (What? There was a military coup in Thailand?!), it didn’t even get mentioned on the news (and I live in the Blue, Blue bay area!). The biggest story on the news that day was some yokel in Napa county who thought he’d found a rock that had the face of Jesus in it.
    I’m really considering cancelling my subscription to Time because they’d rather prat on about how Hillary prays than . On an only slightly related note, I’ve noticed that the cover of time follows this pattern: “The Education System in America Sux: Why We Are Behind”, “Shallow health article XVIII”, “Faith in America (And by Faith, we Mean Christianity)”, loop.

  2. says

    So thats where all that praying is going to, its bound up in a hurricane! We scientists need to band together to create a weapon to stun God.

  3. Neil says

    Scrabcake-I noticed the same thing in the seventh grade, 23 years ago. There was a one day a week “current events” section in my civics class. We used Time, national & local newspapers and a few other magazines to examine national events and discuss them, and Time gets pretty predictable. Just a little right of the middle of the road, and always trying to pretend that it’s just a little to the left.

    Items like this are the reasons why I either laugh or cringe(depends on mood) when I hear the phrase “liberal media.” Wouldn’t a “liberal” media already be asking for government help?

  4. says

    Wikipedia says the 1991 Bangladesh cyclone of similar size, unofficially known as Cyclone Gorky, may have killed 138,000 people and left 10 million homeless.

  5. Brian English says

    The first cyclone of the season in Australia has been named Guba. It’s a piddling category 1 storm but the name seems worth a mention. Bloody weird name.
    Anyway, Bangladesh seems to cop it from all sides. Regular floods in monsoon season as it’s basically a river delta. Tsunamis from those nasty tectonic plates. Cyclones, diseases. You’d think the people would just shift to somewhere habitable …../end stupidity.

  6. travc says

    Holy shit. This is looking like it could be very very bad. Thanks for the ‘head’s up’… any suggestions how we may prompt an appropriate preparation/response?

  7. says

    There must be a lot of gays in Bangladesh to attract a hurricane like that.

    Hope it doesn’t turn out as horribly as it looks like it will.

  8. John Morales says

    It was on the TV news here in Australia.

    It was said that Guba is a word from New Guinea.

  9. Bee says

    It was even news on our little CTV station’s local morning program in Nova Scotia today, and CBC is covering it.

  10. Erp says

    Bangladesh does get hit hard. Surface water is full of nasty microbes so wells are dug to give people clean water. Turns out the well water is full of arsenic (it occurs naturally in the ground there).

    Note the 1970 cyclone killed perhaps 500,000 people which is more than the Indonesian tsunami of a couple of years back or the 1991 cyclone. Since then the country has been building cyclone shelters in hopes of decreasing loss of life (hence the relatively lower loss of life in 1991).

    It has the problem of being poor and densely populated (over 2700 people/square mile, the most densely populated US State, NJ, is only 1134 people/square mile).

    Reuters AlertNet has the cyclone as the number 3 story (after Somalia and the Chilean earthquake).

  11. Fernando Magyar says

    Re #8,

    Is this your attempt at being facetious?

    “You’d think the people would just shift to somewhere habitable …../end stupidity.”

    Or are you really so naive that you think these people actually have the means to do so.

  12. ssjessiechan says

    “There must be a lot of gays in Bangladesh to attract a hurricane like that.” (#10)

    You could say that. Or you could say, God thinks Calcutta’s suffering is looking a little tarnished, and wants to pretty it up with some wide-scale carnage so he can love his suffering poor all the more.

    Sometimes I wish there were a God to pray to make this sort of thing stop. Too bad that doesn’t make it so…

  13. Akshay says

    I’m praying that something similar in magnitude to what happened in 1991 doesn’t occur again; or something worse, for that matter.

  14. says

    So, um, I hope this doesn’t mean I’ll have trouble getting tech support when I can’t figure out how to download that song “Chewing Gum” by Annie that I’ve had going on in my head over and over and over since I heard it last night. Man, I hate it when I have to wait more than 2 minutes on hold! That’s the worst!

  15. Brian English says

    Or are you really so naive that you think these people actually have the means to do so.
    Are you really so naive as to not detect a humorous comment?

  16. jeffox backtrollin' says

    I remember the 1970 event. Huge coverage for weeks afterwards, estimated 2 million deaths due to the event itself and the follow-on diseases/loss of infrastructure. Only good thing about that was that it resulted in the “Concert for Bangladesh” – one of the most underrated live albums of the 1970s. People who lived the era know that that means an awful lot.

    Sir George Harrison was a great man. My 2c.

    (Also remembers when Bangladesh used to be called East Pakistan – and when Sri Lanka was Ceylon) :)

  17. craig says

    There’s an easy way to make Americans care – tell them the source of their supply of Nikes is threatened.

  18. Master Mahan says

    I look forward to seeing how little aid Bush will pledge. It’s only brown people without oil, after all. I’m betting $20 million or so, offered six days after Sidr hits.

    An aide will also need to explain this has nothing to do with apples.

  19. Shanwn Wilkinson says

    This comes as a surprise that American news outlets haven’t mentioned it? Don’t you know the True American motto? “We’ve got our own, so the hell with you.”

  20. says

    Jezus H. Christ on a crutch. What does the great invisable dictator have against the Bangladeshi? I’m beginning to think this god guy is a real prick.

  21. Jon H says

    “What the hell do you mean that the BBC doesn’t have it?”

    It’s stuffed on a weather page, not on the main site.

    Ironic, actually, since they’ve been talking a lot about climate change, and while this storm can’t be pinned directly on climate change, the fate of Bangladesh is often something that comes up in such discussions.

  22. Suze says

    The Chilean earthquake is the headline news at right now. The cyclone is near the top of world news, and also is top news in the international edition. I don’t think this shows a total disregard for the rest of the planet.

  23. Jon H says

    Actually, it’s worse than what I mention above.

    The BBC World Service has a reporter (and a producer, etc, no doubt) on a special boat IN BANGLADESH right now. On the boat there are a bunch of journalists from various countries, all doing climate-change-related reports.

    The latest dispatch from the BBC reporter is from 11 hours ago, “The weather is beautifully placid, but we’re relaibly informed that a big cyclone is heading towards Bangladesh”

    They have people on the water there AND THAT’S ALL THEY GOT.


    At least the BBC Weather site says the storm is expected to weaken as it approaches land. Hopefully that’ll actually happen.

    Hey, let’s go for a twofer – let’s pray for the storm to avoid Bangladesh, take a right turn, and save itself up until it gets exactly over the homes of the Burmese Junta.

  24. Jon H says

    FYI, Bangladesh has approximately half the population of the United States, crammed into territory approximately the size of Florida.

  25. Anonomouse says

    Meh, My heart only bleeds on Local and National Issues. I have a hard time caring about a storm in a place I never want to visit.

  26. j.t.delaney says

    It was certainly covered by CNN here in Germany, but then again, CNN Europe != CNN America. The international news coverage is reasonably good (daily coverage of civil unrest in the Caucusus; long, in-depth pieces on the geopolitics of Pakistan’s Swat valley, the role of China in the rising economy of Angola, etc.), but I think part of it is that it has to compete with European networks that take this stuff seriously. Wolf Blitzer, Paula Zahn, and the rest of the insufferable talking heads are nearly nowhere to be found. Likewise, the he-said-she-said left/right format is downplayed as well.

  27. Peter Ashby says

    I second Bob O’H’s point about time zones. The UK has a large Bangladeshi population so it would always cover something like this when it needed covering, they pay their license fee too. I don’t listen to BBC Asia on digital radio either, it might have been on there for a day.

    As for why do so many people live there? it’s a river delta (or is that several rivers’ deltas?), which means it is so incredibly fertile people have a hard time NOT living there. It is the region’s rice basket for one thing. At least they haven’t had the Corps of Engineers stuffing about with the system…

  28. Buffybot says

    I just checked the NZ papers, and zip, zilch, nothing. The top story is about rugby and the All Blacks coach.

    I am deeply ashamed.

  29. Colugo says

    Shanwn Wilkinson “Don’t you know the True American motto? “We’ve got our own, so the hell with you.”

    Just like Americans – private, NGOs, and government – contributed nothing to disaster relief in Bam, Iran ’03, Indonesia ’04, and Pakistan ’05. Or AIDS funding to Africa. Except they did. So go ahead and dismiss it all as geopolitical expedience, or mere PR, or crumbs from the king’s table and still feel righteously indignant.

  30. MacT says

    Surprisingly, the Bangladesh cyclone warning story is not among the leads on
    Al Jazeera (English) web and satellite feeds.

  31. ajay says

    Surprisingly, the Bangladesh cyclone warning story is not among the leads on
    Al Jazeera (English) web and satellite feeds.

    It’s probably in the business pages. “Cyclone Threatens Breeding Grounds Of Underpaid Indentured Guest Workers”.

  32. says

    It’s not exactly front page news on the BBC online, relegated to the second South-Asia story after Musharraf at the moment. I don’t see it on the Guardian website.

  33. Peter Ashby says

    Um AE it is on the Beeb’s frontpage at, it is in the text links on the right. Has been since I first checked this thread. Around 09:30 GMT.

  34. thwaite says

    For a literally global early warning of events like this, there are desktop displays of the planet, showing the day/night progression and dynamically updated from meteorological and geologic data feeds. Pretty and useful, though they do require broadband. And you have to expose your desktop now and then to see it.

    For Mac there’s the free OSXplanet, which is good on weather such as this cyclone (and several others extant). It includes clouds but doesn’t currently do its earthquakes (e.g. it missed yesterday’s Chilean event altogether). This shoestring project by a first-year college student is derived from xplanet for xwindows, and there are probably windows versions also.

  35. Sean says

    At least they haven’t had the Corps of Engineers stuffing about with the system…

    Not sure whether that is meant as criticism of the Corps or the stuffing about.

    But, thank the disembodied telic designer of your choice that they do have their version of the corps stuffing about with the system. Bangladeshi flood control engineering has grown into such a large and experienced industry that Bangladeshi firms are now being hired from central to southeast Asia to do engineering and construction of flood control systems. This size and experience has come from the construction of one of the world’s most massive array of shelters protected by a network of dikes to protect the shelter areas. They have college engineering programs dedicated exclusively to water engineering. Their government has organizational branches dedicated exclusively to water management. Their system has been most thoroughly and effectively stuffed.

  36. Katrina says

    When we lived in Okinawa several years ago, I got in the habit of checking with the Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center for anything in the Pacific or Southern Hemisphere. (Basically anywhere that wasn’t threatening the U.S.)

    Here’s their link:

    And yes, they’re covering Sidr, as well as Lee and Guba in the Southern Hemisphere.

  37. Keanus says

    MSNBC covered it in their one PM segment today (Thursday). Which only proves the point. This country (the US that is) is so self centered that the rest of the world might as well be on Neptune. It’s why we wind up with presidents as ignorant and uninformed as Bush. I lived in Buffalo NY for 13 years and my wife and I often visited Canada for theatre, museums, shopping in Toronto and the like. But when we traveled 50 miles to the south of the border, most folks looked at Canadians like some kind of foreign freak. This country’s chauvinism, isolationism, and navel gazing will be our undoing eventually. And that’s part of the reason the nation had such a hissy fit over 9/11 (led by the hissy in chief) when a coldly rational response would have been much more productive (and would have kept us out of Iraq).