Comments

  1. Bill Dauphin says

    Obviously, 10,000 dead “over there” vanishes in importance, as compared to the nth week of rehashing one retired preacher from Chicago… [weeps]

  2. starman91 says

    Another bunch of Godless heathens who could not pray hard enough to the American Evangelical God to save them.

  3. Donnie B. says

    Whew, thank goodness. That tsunami thing just went on and on… what a drag.

  4. says

    starman91 – You think this is funny?
    10,000 people just died yesterday in a fucking storm and more people are suffering and dying today.

    Instead of making stupid jokes about prayer how about you show the fundies that they are wrong about atheists not having morals and do something to help.

    I suggest that everyone donate to the International Response Fund of the Red Cross or whatever emergency response charity you prefer and despense with any stupid jokes or comments at the expense of these men, women and children that just had their lives taken or destroyed by this storm.

  5. Bill Dauphin says

    starman91 – You think this is funny?
    10,000 people just died yesterday in a fucking storm and more people are suffering and dying today.

    I can’t speak for starman91, but I’ve been similarly snarky, and at least in my case, it’s no disrespect to the victims. Quite the opposite, it’s my way of responding not only to the horrible sadness of this tragedy, but also to the vastly disappointing relative indifference of our media, as compared to the tsunami disaster, for instance. Any derision you’re noticing is directed at distracted Westerners, rather than the suffering people of Myanmar.

  6. says

    @#5 ThirdMonkey —

    I suggest that everyone donate to the International Response Fund of the Red Cross or whatever emergency response charity you prefer and despense with any stupid jokes or comments at the expense of these men, women and children that just had their lives taken or destroyed by this storm.

    While I agree with the first part (give to a charity), I don’t think starman91 was making a joke at the expense of the victims. Rather, I think he was making a remark against those who *do* think that prayer can prevent such disasters, or that sin can cause them.

  7. says

    I’m not really buying the death toll estimate Myanmar is releasing. I wonder how many of those reported 10,000 were actually killed by the authorities, and now listed as cyclone deaths. Call me skeptical but Myanmar is not exactly The Magic Kingdom and the fact that you all feel empathy now, for the victims of Nargis, but apparently all forgotten about the brutal dictatorship the country is also suffering under, shows how the media’s order of importance is as follows:

    Drunk Britney Spears, missing rich blond girl, raving lunatic African-American preacher, cyclone in Myanmar […], polar bear in German Zoo, dictatorships far worse than Saddam’s.

    Obviously, this is still a tragedy.

  8. BlackBart says

    “Instead of making stupid jokes about prayer how about you show the fundies that they are wrong about atheists not having morals and do something to help.”

    Because I’m too busy Not Caring.

    Sheesh, I never knew what people meant by a “bleeding heart” until I came here.

  9. says

    the fact that you all feel empathy now, for the victims of Nargis, but apparently all forgotten about the brutal dictatorship the country is also suffering under

    That’s a pretty ballsy assertion on your part; care to back it up with any evidence?

  10. says

    Here’s a message about the effects of Nargis from someone still in Burma. Identifying information has been redacted for their protection.

    =============================================================
    Sorry to convey you the unpleasant news.

    According to experts, it will take years to reconstruct Rgn and other towns as all infrastructures are collapsed now. It will take at least 40 days to reinstall electrical lines. Main water supply system is damaged and the whole city cannot get any water now. A bottle of watter cost 800 kts and there is no more stock now. Fuel price is 10,000 kts per gal tonight. Bus fare from downtown to Insein is 2000 kts. An egg cost 300 kts, and all food and commodities cannot be bought easily.

    About half of housings are damaged in Rgn. Hlaingtharyar, Shwepyithar and Dagon are most hard hit. Some quarters were blown away completely. But there are very few information available, as people cannot move around even in your own quarter.

    In Phyarpone, Pyinsi village out of 3000 villagers, only 700 left behind. They lost the rest. In Hainegyi, there are 95,000 homeless on the town alone. No relief assistance is available. I think hundreds of thousands of people’s life are at stake, if no rescue program start in time. Kyaiklatt and Lapputta are the hardest hit, it is said. Many villages are still under flood and no food or water is available.

    In Rgn, all the roads are still blocked with fallen trees. There is no public conveyance system. Almost all phone systems are dead, except very few CDMA lines which are reconnected this evening. All trees from U Wisarra road are uprooted. All big pagodas are damaged.

    Only Kabaaye road is cleaned today. Prome road is still closed. No news from Daw Suu [Aung San Suu Kyi] compound yet. NLD signboard [Aung San Suu Kyi’s coalition] is blown away. All advertisement signboards were fallen and all satellite antennas fall down from roofs.

    There are news that hall no 1, Insein jail was burnt down to ground during the storm. Cannot confirm yet, as everyone is still busy repairing their own house and try to make their way out. The whole city is totally paralyzed and people are panic of extensive looting in the coming days.

    There is no hope to get food for majority of the population. There is not even enough candles to buy. All hospitals are hit hard too and medical personnel cannot attend the patients.

    I heard SPDC [the government’s State Peace and Development Council] refuse some aid offers. They will not rebuilt Rgn but encourage people to move to Naypyidaw.

    It is unthinkable to survive with no food, no water, no medecine, no roof, no electricity, no phones, no transport, no fuel or candle, (No job, no money, no hope) and no help.

    I will update you more soon.

    Regards,

    (redacted)

    =============================================================

  11. says

    @Thalarctos (#12): Ballsy, maybe… evidence, only circumstantial. Nothing that will hold up in court ;) That’s why I inserted the word “apparently”.

    But seriously, I was the first one to bring up the dictatorship in this post… and how many times do you hear anyone mention Myanmar, besides now, with this cyclone?

  12. Kseniya says

    Sheesh, I never knew what people meant by a “bleeding “heart” until I came here.

    There. Better?

    It’s the same thing every time. Our inclincation to care is scaled by the effects of tribalism and perspective: The farther away something is, the smaller it appears. However, these natural distortions can be overridden with the merest bit of compassionate thought. It doesn’t take much.

  13. says

    Nothing that will hold up in court

    Much less pass the smell test.

    and how many times do you hear anyone mention Myanmar, besides now, with this cyclone?

    Every single day. A lot of the people who hang out here work in global public health and social justice related work, and you have some balls to make a misguided and insulting blanket assertion about all of us like that.

    Here’s a hint, dumbass–just because *you* don’t notice work doesn’t mean it’s not going on.

  14. Bill Dauphin says

    But seriously, I was the first one to bring up the dictatorship in this post… and how many times do you hear anyone mention Myanmar, besides now, with this cyclone?

    Do you really think it’s a brilliant new insight on your part that folks pay more attention to acute misery than to chronic misery?

    Nobody can worry about all the world’s ills all the time. Are you suggesting that fact that Burmans’ everyday lives are diminished by tyranny means we shouldn’t bother to feel compassion when many of them lose even that to nature’s random violence? Because they’re already victims, we shouldn’t be concerned when they become victims yet again? The logic of that suggestion is, I’m afraid, entirely lost on me.

  15. says

    If people are interested in helping with relief for this tragedy, the US Campaign for Burma has a donation page here. They’ve been doing political & humanitarian work in Burma (aka Myanmar) for a while now, so I think they probably have the best grip on how to administer relief given the political situation there. You can donate as much or as little as you like, and choose whether you want it to go to cyclone relief or to general work in Burma (check the box at the bottom of the page to give to cyclone relief).

  16. Kseniya says

    But seriously, I was the first one to bring up the dictatorship in this post…

    Yes, a full ten posts in… *eyeroll*

    and how many times do you hear anyone mention Myanmar, besides now, with this cyclone?

    Point taken, but for the sake of comparison, how many times to you hear anyone mention:

  17. – Thailand
  18. – Singapore
  19. – Indonesia
  20. – Malaysia
  21. – Hawaii
  22. – Alaska
  23. – Kamchatka’s Kronotsky Nature Reserve
  24. – Luxembourg
  25. – Lichtenstein
  26. – Monaco
  27. – Rhode Island

    I mean, really. You’re right, but what’s your point? Aside from the obvious self-aggrandizement, that is. When was the last time you mentioned the political situation in Myanmar on this blog?

  28. says

    Funny how people feel attacked themselves, and bite back including insults, while I was clearly pointing my finger at the media. What a lovely bunch of “dumbasses” [sic, paraphrased] around here (and no, this is not a generalization: if you feel targeted then you are one. If not, you are not one).

  29. says

    The political idiots in Myanmar do look to be serious culprits in this tragedy:

    Before the cyclone hit, the government had only put out “storm news,” saying the cyclone would travel at about 30 miles an hour, whereas it struck at almost four times that speed.

    “The government misled people. They could have warned us about the severity of the coming cyclone so we could be better prepared,” said Thin Thin, a grocery store owner.

    In the former capital Yangon, food and fuel prices have soared as aid agencies scrambled to deliver emergency supplies and assess the damage in the five declared disaster zones, home to 24 million people.

    The government had previously put the death toll countrywide at 351 before increasing it Monday to 3,939.

    A radio station broadcasting from the country’s capital, Naypyitaw, said that 2,879 more people are unaccounted for in a single town, Bogalay, in the country’s low-lying Irrawaddy River delta area where the storm wreaked the most havoc.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24459578?GT1=43001

    I hope the fact that many of the dead are victims of an either highly incompetent or grossly negligent government will not lessen the already small concern that we have for said victims.

    Glen Davidson
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  30. says

    You’re the one who said “you all”; the replies to you were simply in kind.

    If you don’t want to take responsibility for what you write, then maybe you ought to think before writing it.

  31. says

    Well, such is life when your prayer-to-gay-anal-sex ratio is off, like New Orleans. Just ask Pat:

    “A condition like this will bring about … earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor,” he said, apparently referring to his belief that the presence of openly gay people incurs divine wrath and that God acts through geological and meteorological events to destroy municipalities that permit gay people the same civil liberties as others.

    Clearly, too much man-on-man anal sex in Myanmar.

    Personally though, I think God loves gays and hates Baptists:

    God seems almost neutral on the subject of sexual orientation. I say “almost” because if we look at the density of gay groups relative to the population as a whole, there is a small but statistically significant (p < .05) correlation with the occurrence of tornadoes. And it's a negative correlation (r = -.28). For those of you who haven’t used statistics since 1973, that means that a high concentration of gay organizations actually protects against tornadoes. A state with the population of, say, Alabama could avert two tornadoes a year merely by doubling the number of gay organizations in the state. (Tough choice for Alabama’s civil defense strategists.)

    Although God may not care about sexual orientation, the same cannot be said for religious affiliation. If the underlying tenet of Pat’s postulate is true–that God wipes out offensive folks via natural disasters–then perhaps we can find some evidence of who’s on God’s hit list. Jews are off the hook here: there’s no correlation between numbers of Jews and frequency of tornadoes. Ditto for Catholics. But when it comes to Protestants, there’s a highly significant correlation of .71. This means that fully half the state-to-state variation in tornado frequency can be accounted for by the presence of Protestants. And the chance that this association is merely coincidental is only one in 10,000.

    Protestants, of course, come in many flavors–we were able to find statistics for Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, and Other. Lutherans don’t seem to be a problem–no correlation with tornadoes. There’s a modest correlation (r = .52, p = .0001) between Methodists and tornadoes. But Baptists and Others share the prize: both groups show a definite correlation with tornado frequency (r = .68, p = .0001). This means that Texas could cut its average of 139 tornadoes per year in half by sending a few hundred thousand Baptists elsewhere (Alaska maybe?).

    http://www.gendersanity.com/orlando.shtml

  32. Quiet Desperation says

    All we have to do, though, is wait a few days, and it will disappear from the news.

    OH NOES! WE AM TEH EVILZ!

    Seriously, what more is there to be said about it?

    I make regular monetary donations to the Red Cross and, despite being mostly atheist, my old clothing and furniture go the Salvation Army (I have my reasons).

    So what sorts of news coverage would you like to see, PZ, if you were, say, were the news dictator of CNN?

  33. Quiet Desperation says

    that means that a high concentration of gay organizations actually protects against tornadoes

    Oh, we *so* have to send this one into the Mythbusters! ;-)

    I thought high concentrations of The Gay protected against falling property values and poor window treatment decisions. Well that’s what I read… somewhere…

  34. Scott Simmons says

    “Katrina killed far less at about 1500 and yet got far more attention.”

    Probably not in Myanmar.

  35. Interrobang says

    So what sorts of news coverage would you like to see, if you were, say, were the news dictator of CNN?

    I’m not PZ, but I’ll take a crack at that one: How about, oh, say, some actual news, as in what’s going on in the world, instead of filler, political twaddle, gossip, and whatever thinly-disguised right-wing propaganda that’s on sale cheap this week? Even CNN’s international edition is hopelessly Americocentric. That’d change if I had the reins.

    Aside from noting that the government’s incompetence exacerbated the problems from the storm (where have we heard that one before?!) isn’t the dictatorship in Myanmar basically irrelevant to the point? It seems to me that jumping in here and saying, “Yeah, but what about the dictatorship?!” is a distraction at best, sorry.

  36. BlackBart says

    “It’s the same thing every time. Our inclination to care is scaled by the effects of tribalism and perspective: The farther away something is, the smaller it appears.”

    Exactly My Point.

    “However, these natural distortions can be overridden with the merest bit of compassionate thought.”

    WHY? When my compassionate energies can be focused on my tribe and my own interests and in the long run do a lot more good with less overhead.

  37. Kseniya says

    Rienk:

    …while I was clearly pointing my finger at the media.

    Ah, I see my mistake now. I responded to #15, and overlooked the mention of the media in #10. Sorry if you felt attacked – in fact, you can ignore me completely if you like, I’m not feeling very sparkly today, so I’m a bit grumpy.

  38. Kseniya says

    Bart:

    WHY? When my compassionate energies can be focused on my tribe and my own interests and in the long run do a lot more good with less overhead.

    Why? Ok, good question. Possible answer: Because your tribe is far better at taking care of its own needs than is their tribe, and because we’re actually just subgroups of the same global tribe.

    I know, I know… hopelessly idealistic…

  39. Chris (in Columbus) says

    I’m really tempted to make a joke via Pot Robertson, “God did it to the heathens!”, but in respect of the lives lost it’s not worth it.

    At times like this I wish I could pray, because it makes one feel like they’re actually making a difference. However, there is no real comfort in false comfort, so I’ll offer my most genuine compassion to these people. It’s really terrible.

  40. BobH says

    “All we have to do, though, is wait a few days, and it will disappear from the news.”

    Exactly, PZ. I think the same thing every time I hear that 30 people are blown to bits by a bomber in Iraq. Shoot, 30 – that’s nothing. It’s not like they’re real people…

  41. says

    Given God’s track record, one could easily think he’s pissed off at the monk-bashing going on in Myanmar.

    And by the way – I have given. I don’t think that doing that and making “jokes” about Christians are mutually exclusive activities.

  42. Jim Thomerson says

    At the moment the cyclone is getting a good bit of coverage on the TV news. As said, it probably won’t last too long.

  43. brightmoon says

    was reading this interesting book

    Censoring Science, by mark bowen

    its about jim hansen and how the political cliate around NASA tried to stop info about global warming from reaching the public

    the book mentioned that the effects would be felt in asia first

  44. robbrown says

    Ok I’ll take a contrary position here.

    It seems like that implication here is that I should be equally upset if someone 1000 miles away from me that I’ve never heard of dies in a car crash, than if my next door neighbor does. That’s not normal, natural, or expected, in my opinion. Of *course* empathy is affected by proximity and by how much you know the person or know about the person.

    There are nearly 7 billion people on the planet. I think as long as people care about the people relatively near them, and those that they can actually have an affect on, that should be enough. Empathy is doing what it is supposed to do.

  45. deang says

    The Myanmar tsunami is hardly being reported on even now. Meanwhile, all kinds of news about celebrities’ private lives. And in the 80s, no attention was paid in the US to outright genocide being perpetrated in Guatemala with US help that left a quarter of a million killed, but a lot of attention was paid to official enemies who weren’t killing nearly as many. That’s what got me to turn away from corporate media and look for more accurate sources of information. Right now, US Olympic athletes are protesting China’s treatment of Tibetans and China’s human rights record, but not protesting the far greater deaths their own government is causing in Afghanistan and Iraq, nor looking at the fact that their own government imprisons far more people than any country in history and has an unprecedented network of torture centers throughout the world. No, the focus must stay on China. Have to avoid the mirror at all costs.

  46. Kseniya says

    It seems like that implication here is that I should be equally upset if …

    You know, I basically agree with you point of view, but with regard to the “implication,” you’re knocking down a strawman of your own devising.

    We’re talking about two very different experiences, so it’s impossible to be “equally upset” – for the reasons you suggest. Nobody could experience 13,000 deaths as individual, personal losses. (Good thing, eh?) But we are talking about 13,000 deaths and the crippling of a region – not about a single anonymous death halfway around the world, as your comment very wrongly suggests.

    The essense of the implication can be found in the first eight comments: it’s neither impossible nor inappropriate for our culture to care a little more than it does. And when an entire region is devastated, local empathy doesn’t work the way it does when a neighbor suffers a loss, hence the need for aid from faraway lands like ours.

  47. robbrown says

    The Myanmar tsunami is hardly being reported on even now. Meanwhile, all kinds of news about celebrities’ private lives.

    So, here’s what I think we should do. Gather up some investors, and we’ll start a new cable channel. It will be called “The Suffering Channel”, and will be 24 hours a day, documenting all the human suffering in the world. Then we can sit around and watch it and feel good about ourselves. I’m sure there is more than enough material out there to keep it filled with content.

    And based on what people say all over the webernet boards, there is a huge audience for it. The investors will recoup their investment, and we can also be doing good, because having people vicariously suffer is, obviously, a good thing.

  48. Sven DiMilo says

    new cable channel. It will be called “The Suffering Channel”, and will be 24 hours a day, documenting all the human suffering in the world.

    Sort of NPR with visuals?

  49. robbrown says

    But we are talking about 13,000 deaths and the crippling of a region – not about a single anonymous death halfway around the world, as your comment very wrongly suggests.

    Yes, I realize the scale is larger. Still, what I am complaining about, which seems to pervade these discussions, is the implication that it is not logical to care about the deaths/suffering of some people more or less than others. I say it is.

    To me, it is expected that you care more about people close by and more related culturally and genetically. How *much* more is the question.

    A lot of people complain about celebrity reporting. Ok, that is entertainment. People have a right to be entertained, in my opinion, whether it is watching celebrity news, playing video games, or debating evolution/creationism in blogs. Saying that it is “not news” is irrelevant — if you want “real” news, there are plenty of newspapers, web sites, and cable channel to serve your needs. Get yourself a Tivo and fast forward through the stuff on cnn you don’t want to watch. If I want to watch celebrity “news” (which I don’t, but whatever…), that is my business, and really is irrelevant to the issue of natural disasters in myanmar.

  50. Sangy says

    As I’ve said before, I go to a private, Catholic highschool. At the beginning of each religion class, a pre-assigned student leads the prayer. It’s usually something ridiculous, like praying for the football team at State (if there actually was a god, would it honestly care? And would you want to win because you prayed for it? I think not.) Then, after the individual leads the prayer, others are able to add intentions.

    I’ve been irritated with that general attitude for a while, and, after having a particularly horrible day and a weekend of watching the storm, I threw out- “Hey, how about you pray for everyone DYING in the hurricane in Myanmar.” (Who knows- maybe for once prayer would actually help. Maybe the supposedly ”

    The response from all but three students in my class? “What hurricane?”

    I feel sick.

  51. Sangy says

    ETA: The bit about prayer actually helping was supposed to be deleted, but since it’s half-up there, let me clarify. The rest of that was going to talk about the supposed Christian charity and buying your way in to heaven, and a bit about how, maybe if everyone at my school (my teacher included) were actually paying attention, more relief money would go to Myanmar.

    I had decided that I wasn’t in the mood for that rant, and, apparently only deleted half of it. Apologies.

  52. Quiet Desperation says

    I’m not PZ, but I’ll take a crack at that one: How about, oh, say, some actual news

    Well, I meant with specific regard to the cyclone. Other than maybe pointing people toward the appropriate charitable institutions, I’m not sure what PZ wants, exactly. Are we supposed to be sitting there watching “Cyclone 2008 Team Coverage” 16 hours a day and wringing our hands at the tragedy of it all?

    Cripes, we get enough of that here in Southern California when a tremor knocks a few coffee mugs off the shelf at the local Wal-Mart. Here comes four hours of helicopter-cam shots of a parking lot. Whee! And, honestly, if and when The Big One hits, I won’t be all broken up if the folks in, say, Sri Lanka, don’t take much notice.

    I’m not a religious person, so this falls under the “Shit Happens” category, and I already make my donations to the Red Cross.

    And as a couple others have pointed out, we seem to be wired for empathy to those near to us. Yet we can still manage to be charitable to folks far away. *shrug* It seems, for the most part, to work. It’s just not something I’m going to lie awake about.

  53. William Hyde says

    “Are we supposed to be sitting there watching “Cyclone 2008 Team Coverage” 16 hours a day and wringing our hands at the tragedy of it all?”

    Well, our news organizations could assign an intern to look at this site:

    http://severe.worldweather.wmo.int/

    or something like it, say, once per day. The map is quiet now but all last week it was clear that a severe cyclone existed and about Thursday, if I recall correctly it turned east.

    Quite likely the broadcast of such information would have no practical effect but it seems to me that a category 3 cyclone bearing down on a heavily populated coast is news. Maybe the Burmese dictatorship would catch it on CNN. Who knows?

    William Hyde

  54. Kseniya says

    robbrown:

    …Still, what I am complaining about, which seems to pervade these discussions, is the implication that it is not logical to care about the deaths/suffering of some people more or less than others. I say it is.

  55. To me, it is expected that you care more about people close by and more related culturally and genetically. How *much* more is the question.
  56. Indeed, that is the question.

    Rob, I agree with all that. It’s not only logical, it’s necessary and inevitable. I suspect that anyone who would experience all deaths at the same level they would experience the death of a loved one, would quickly lose their grip on sanity as we know it.

  57. Hematite says

    Re Moses (#25) Quoting Pat Robertson: “A condition like this will bring about … earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor,”

    Hur hur. I guess those elipses were a little snip for readability, but they make me imagine a pause as Pat consults his handy sin-to-retribution lookup table.

  58. Peter Ashby says

    Here’s how you do it, on http://www.stuff.co.nz it is kept on the front page by making it about how the NZ govt is organising its relief effort with a link just below saying the toll is now 15,000. news.bbc.co.uk has a large photo of people at a standpipe and is also leading with the aid effort.

    This is good and sensible because it veers away from just more disaster and onto ‘what can be done, what is being done?’.

    That’s how the rest of the world does it anyway.

  59. Hematite says

    By the way, I won’t be giving to any relief funds over this matter. My government is already on the case and I’m proud to have been contributing to this via my taxes. The US government is giving, and I assume other readers’ governments will too. Linky.

  60. Quiet Desperation says

    Maybe the Burmese dictatorship would catch it on CNN.

    And do what? Better plan to impede relief efforts like they are doing now?

  61. A says

    Well, we (readers/commentators of this blog) should stop commenting on/flaming/.. each other, and consider what can be done about it (beyond praying/complaining/… which – we all seem to agree- is useless).
    – Clearly, there is the acute tragedy of the cyclone; so whoever can, should contribute through his favorite charity for emergency relief.–
    – Then, it helps if one is aware that the tragedy has been compounded by the military dictatorship of Burma/Myanmar, Some of us were aware of this problem for a long time.
    (And were trying to do something about it, remember various campaigns to get cities to boycott businesses dealing with the dictatorship?
    http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk/
    http://uscampaignforburma.org/ )
    So, the first thing to do is to inform oneself; I suggest also Amnesty International’s annual report page on Burma at
    http://www.amnestyusa.org/other-countries/myanmar-burma/page.do?id=1011205&n1=3&n2=30&n3=955
    for background, and
    http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/asia-and-pacific/south-east-asia/myanmar
    for more recent news.
    Then, from these web pages cited, there are links for petitions, and letter-writing campaigns, and other activities. So, if every reader of this would write one letter to complain that Aung San Suu Kyi is still not free,
    or that Ma Khin Khin Leh should be freed,(See AI Web pages above for detail on these) some good might be accomplished. Or, at least, perpetrators of evil are shown that their acts do not go on unobserved. And those working to help are encouraged.

    To answer Post #40 “No, the focus must stay on China. Have to avoid the mirror at all costs.” I’d think that many readers of this blog are aware of the problems the U.S. causes these days throughout the world, and even try to do something about it, such as learning about it, and contributing to, say the ACLU http://aclu.org/
    to defend human rights in the U.S. as well.

    Indeed, in the U.S. media, the trivial completely overwhelms any news of substance, and it behooves us to turn away from the MSM [Main-Stream Media] and search out our own news. The web fortunately makes that easier. You are not stuck to CNN News (‘Fox lite’), your Mozilla browser already has the BBC newsfeed, and you can get many others. And after you’ve read the news there, no need to watch your TV station’s worthless ‘news.’

  62. Roman Werpachowski says

    “All we have to do, though, is wait a few days, and it will disappear from the news.”

    And from this blog, as well.

  63. j.t.delaney says

    Saying that it is “not news” is irrelevant — if you want “real” news, there are plenty of newspapers, web sites, and cable channel to serve your needs. Get yourself a Tivo and fast forward through the stuff on cnn you don’t want to watch. If I want to watch celebrity “news” (which I don’t, but whatever…), that is my business, and really is irrelevant to the issue of natural disasters in myanmar.

    The problem is that the American television news networks release a woefully dilute product, which does the public a diservice. Most American newspapers aren’t much better, and it’s hard to be a functioning democracy without an informed public. Sure, those of us inclined try to keep updated via niche websites on the internet, but that doesn’t do much to help the information gap with the rest of the public. This lack of coverage is not just on issues related to natural disasters and relief aid, but also public health and global security: issues that the American public cannot ignore without some dangerous consequences.

  64. BlackBart says

    “Nobody could experience 13,000 deaths as individual, personal losses. (Good thing, eh?) But we are talking about 13,000 deaths and the crippling of a region – not about a single anonymous death halfway around the world, as your comment very wrongly suggests.”

    No we are talking about 13,000+ anonymous deaths halfway around the world caused by a Natural Disaster in an area where its Govt has specifically raised the barrier for aid to its people.

  65. Kseniya says

    Err… Yes. That too.

    Tony, thanks for that link. I like the looks of it. There are quite a few reputable organizations to support. My family (that is, dad, me, two brothers) have contibuted time, money and services to Episcopal Relief and Development in the ongoing efford to help rebuild areas devastated by Katrina. (My brother’s going down this summer, for the third year in a row, to hammer nails, tar rooves, build handicap access ramps – whatever needs to be done.) ER&D is one of the organizations involved with the Nargis relief effort, along with three or four dozen other religious and secular orgs.

    People helping people. That’s all there is to it. Now if only the greedy bastards and ideologues would get the heck out of the way.

  66. John Scanlon, FCD says

    Roman #56,
    disappear from this blog? This isn’t UD with the Memory Hole. Link to this page and keep coming back, or watch for new posts on the topic. I think you’ll find ‘the present’ has much greater duration on the blogosphere than in TV and newspapers.

  67. says

    People helping people. That’s all there is to it. Now if only the greedy bastards and ideologues would get the heck out of the way.

    If only. The news is now reporting that the dictatorship is blocking relief efforts, including forcing an airplane with relief supplies to leave without unloading.

    Bastards. Even from the strictly pragmatic point of view, let alone any moral one, that doesn’t make any sense.

  68. says

    The French ambassador to the UN is pressing for strong international action against the Burmese government for endangering hundreds of thousands of lives through its non-response to the storm.

    He used the term “crime against humanity” to describe the potential outcome of the government’s actions:

    Jean-Maurice Ripert prĂ©cise que le refus par la junte militaire de l’aide Ă©trangère met en pĂ©ril des centaines de milliers de vies. Cela constituerait Ă  ses yeux un crime contre l’humanitĂ©.

    English news here.

  69. says

    Regarding the news links above, while as a general rule, I typically am anti-invading-sovereign-nations, in my opinion, it’s now internationally-co-ordinated airlift time.

  70. says

    The Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health and Human Rights and the Emergency Assistance Team has produced a report about human rights violations in the wake of Cyclone Nargis: After the Storm: Voices from the Delta

    The Preface admirably sums up a detailed, damning case:

    In May of 2008, the world watched in horror as evidence mounted from Burma that Cyclone Nargis had been an enormous storm resulting in great loss of life. Offers for emergency assistance poured in from around the world as the numbers of the lost and the missing rose into the tens of thousands. Yet the ruling Burmese junta, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), proved reluctant to accept aid or allow skilled relief workers into the flooded Irrawaddy Delta. Some ten months later, reconstruction of the Delta continues and the survivors of the storm and their communities continue to face huge challenges. Their voices, their experiences, and their eye-witness accounts of the response to Cyclone Nargis have been missing from the international debate around the relief effort. This report, After The Storm: Voices from the Delta, by the Emergency Assistance Team and its partners, is the first independent assessment of the response to bring forth the uncensored voices of survivors and independent relief workers.

    Their accounts are stunning. Relief workers witnessed systematic obstruction of relief aid, willful acts of theft and sale of relief supplies, forced relocation, and the use of forced labor for reconstruction projects, including forced child labor. When the junta allowed aid to reach survivors, it was often preferentially provided to members of the Burman ethnic group. Survivors experienced SPDC controls on basic rights and freedoms, and they were compelled to vote in the junta’s anti-democratic constitutional referendum just weeks after the storm—before many had access to the most basic of services.

    While other reports have detailed the relief effort, the human rights dimensions of the complex humanitarian emergency have been missing. This report demonstrates that the SPDC continues to violate the rights of relief workers and survivors, just as it continues to hold relief workers in its prisons for having dared to help their own people. The needs of the people of Burma, especially the people of the Delta, are many. Among them is the need for truth, for transparency, accountability, and respect for their human rights. The crimes against the people of the Delta must stop, and those who have committed them must be held accountable. After the Storm is a critical step toward that accountability. These are findings which call for immediate action. The people of Burma deserve no less.

    I understand that Harvard Law School is also preparing a report for the International Criminal Court, although I don’t yet have a link for that.