Tag Archives: Earthquake

How to make an entire country disappear

They did it to Haiti… and now, Japan.
They’re still there, see… my sentence structure is starting to really fall apart but push, push, push on I must. They’ve been disappeared into the Friday News Cycle Memory Hole. Even though, now, Japan going out has the potential to take out the entire rest of us. Some slower than the rest. Must keep the citizens entertained, don’t look at the nasty glowing clouds approaching, kids… if we all pretend they’re not real they’ll go away.
OK, maybe it won’t be as grim… but it is really really grim. The unnatural tendency for the Newsies and other people who cheerlead for More Money At Any Cost is to hide things from the rest of us, at least enough that they can cash their stocks and bonds out. Not that it will matter.
So, how bout that American Idol?
They did that to us during the opening days of the Iraq Invasion and Occupation errr Liberation and Nation Building. The Last Baptist Church of Burleson Texas was holding prayer meetings for some kid named Kelly who can sing, (she won) Special Prayer meetings begging God to intervene and make her into an Idol. Hey, it was the only thing on the news in North Texas for an entire two weeks aside from the Build Up The Lie campaign about the WMDs.

Bread and circuses, well, they can’t afford the bread so they’ll make a circus out of executing the Bread Riot ringleaders. Oh, they’re expanding the War on Everybody Darker Than a Paper Bag (it’s a Louisiana thing, you would have to have been there) to Libya and to Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio.
The rest of us have to wait our turn, meekly… Or DO WE?

By the bye, the Wisconsin folk, mostly white but you know what Stupid Boy Glenn Beck has been doing these past few weeks? Saying that the workers in Wisconsin are being manipulated by The Caliphate. Yes, brethren and sistren and mothren, those insidious darkies are now preying on our workers as well. Because of course working folks are stupid.
I mean, we’d just about have to be to be ripped off so long and so regularly over the ages, right?

You know what the difference is between a Hiroshima event and a Chernobyl style event? The Chernobyl style events leave buildings standings.

See, I was avoiding the Japan story for just this reason. That and I really did harbor an irrational hope that the reactors could be tamed down, locked down, shut down forever and people would walk away from it with a better understanding of just how badly we’ve screwed up, and a real resolve to give up on the stupid shit.

Apparently not.

And if Boobquake caused a tremor?

The same uptick of seismic activity which prompted Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi to condemn Western immodesty might be the best reason not to shake your breasts at Mother Earth in defiance of another earthquake. BOOBQUAKE organizers want to show Iran’s fundamentalists that American women can titillate with disdain for religious superstitions, although the mullah’s Rube Goldberg ipso facto seems appealingly pagan to me. Of course the refutation to be made with #BoobQuake (or #PantsQuake depending on the lure you’re shaking) counts on plate tectonics not batting an eye. How arrogantly Western to presume Mother Nature does not respond to us.

Good news for Haiti

Haiti presidential palace succumbs to earthquake
On the bright side of Haiti’s catastrophic earthquake, American puppet René Préval has been cut down a few notches, a whole couple stories actually. Here’s the presidential palace before January 12 and after. The pretender Preval has been Our Man in Port-au-Prince subsequent to the US-arranged a coup in 2004 to depose the democratically elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide (for the second time). The popular Aristide was a threat to exploitation interests.

While Americans rally to provide relief to the Haitians, let’s not be too incredulous about the state of their poverty. Here’s A.N.S.W.E.R.’s recent statement to highlight this teaching moment:

All of us are joining in the outpouring of solidarity from people all over the hemisphere and world who are sending humanitarian aid and assistance to the people of Haiti.

At such a moment, it is also important to put this catastrophe into a political and social context. Without this context, it is impossible to understand both the monumental problems facing Haiti and, most importantly, the solutions that can allow Haiti to survive and thrive. Hillary Clinton said today, “It is biblical, the tragedy that continues to daunt Haiti and the Haitian people.” This hypocritical statement that blames Haiti’s suffering exclusively on an “act of God” masks the role of U.S. and French imperialism in the region.

In this email message, we have included some background information about Haiti that helps establish the real context:

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive stated today that as many as 100,000 Haitians may be dead. International media is reporting bodies being piled along streets surrounded by the rubble from thousands of collapsed buildings. Estimates of the economic damage are in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Haiti’s large shantytown population was particularly hard hit by the tragedy.

As CNN, ABC and every other major corporate media outlet will be quick to point out, Haiti is the poorest country in the entire Western hemisphere. But not a single word is uttered as to why Haiti is poor. Poverty, unlike earthquakes, is no natural disaster.

The answer lies in more than two centuries of U.S. hostility to the island nation, whose hard-won independence from the French was only the beginning of its struggle for liberation.

In 1804, what had begun as a slave uprising more than a decade earlier culminated in freedom from the grips of French colonialism, making Haiti the first Latin American colony to win its independence and the world’s first Black republic. Prior to the victory of the Haitian people, George Washington and then-Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson had supported France out of fear that Haiti would inspire uprisings among the U.S. slave population. The U.S. slave-owning aristocracy was horrified at Haiti’s newly earned freedom.

U.S. interference became an integral part of Haitian history, culminating in a direct military occupation from 1915 to 1934. Through economic and military intervention, Haiti was subjugated as U.S. capital developed a railroad and acquired plantations. In a gesture of colonial arrogance, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was the assistant secretary of the Navy at the time, drafted a constitution for Haiti which, among other things, allowed foreigners to own land. U.S. officials would later find an accommodation with the dictator François “Papa Doc” Duvalier, and then his son Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, as Haiti suffered under their brutal repressive policies.

In the 1980s and 1990s, U.S. policy toward Haiti sought the reorganization of the Haitian economy to better serve the interests of foreign capital. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) was instrumental in shifting Haitian agriculture away from grain production, paving the way for dependence on food imports. Ruined Haitian farmers flocked to the cities in search of a livelihood, resulting in the swelling of the precarious shantytowns found in Port-au-Prince and other urban centers.

Who has benefited from these policies? U.S. food producers profited from increased exports to Haitian markets. Foreign corporations that had set up shop in Haitian cities benefitted from the super-exploitation of cheap labor flowing from the countryside. But for the people of Haiti, there was only greater misery and destitution.

Washington orchestrated the overthrow of the democratically elected Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide—not once, but twice, in 1991 and 2004. Haiti has been under a U.S.-backed U.N. occupation for nearly six years. Aristide did not earn the animosity of U.S. leaders for his moderate reforms; he earned it when he garnered support among Haiti’s poor, which crystallized into a mass popular movement. Two hundred years on, U.S. officials are still horrified by the prospect of a truly independent Haiti.

The unstable, makeshift dwellings imposed upon Haitians by Washington’s neoliberal policies have now, for many, been turned into graves. Those same policies are to blame for the lack of hospitals, ambulances, fire trucks, rescue equipment, food and medicine. The blow dealt by such a natural disaster to an economy made so fragile from decades of plundering will greatly magnify the suffering of the Haitian people.

Natural disasters are inevitable, but resource allocation and planning can play a decisive role in mitigating their impact and dealing with the aftermath. Haiti and neighboring Cuba, who are no strangers to violent tropical storms, were both hit hard in 2008 by a series of hurricanes—which, unlike earthquakes, are predictable. While more than 800 lives were lost in Haiti, less than 10 people died in Cuba. Unlike Haiti, Cuba had a coordinated evacuation plan and post-hurricane rescue efforts that were centrally planned by the Cuban government. This was only possible because Cuban society is not organized according to the needs of foreign capital, but rather according to the needs of the Cuban people.

In a televised speech earlier today, President Obama has announced that USAID and the Departments of State and Defense will be working to support the rescue and relief efforts in Haiti in the coming days. Ironically, these are the same government entities responsible for the implementation of the economic and military policies that reduced Haiti to ruins even before the earthquake hit.