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John Drew

Tsunami Catastrophe

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This came from Ain't It Cool News, as reported through Taiwan based TVBS (I checked, this is a legit Asian station... although th"BS" at first made me suspicious). Now, there is no confirmation outside of this post that Harry Knowles made...

Hey folks, Harry here... With the recent gigantic tragedy in the "Ring of Fire" area, the tremendous loss of life... I'm sure many of us are sending good thoughts and hopes for those missing. I just got word that an actor dear to the hearts of film lovers everywhere is now missing. That doesn't mean he's passed away, only that he is missing now. According to the report below, he was on vacation with his family on the Maldives Islands... which unfortunately were devastated by the mammoth waves resulting from that earthquake. Let's all send the best prayers and hopes that Jet and his family are well... along with as many others of the missing.

Hi there Harry,

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An update from Ain't It Cool News reads that Jet Li has made contact with his management in Hong Kong... this transcript is from Jet's website... It must have been translated by someone with little knowledge of English, but basically says that Jet and family are OK, and awaiting the reopening of the international airport in the Maldives.

Li Lianjie (Jet Li)  and the Hong Kong manager obtain the telephone contact

2004-12-27 3.40 PM

(Comprehensive report) travels in the Maldives actually meets with the tsunami attack, Li Lianjie (Jet Li) with the Hong Kong manager telephone relation, the husbands and wives two people with has at present accompanied to determine the all is well to Mr. and Mrs. Hua Qiang. After thrillingly meets the tsunami macroseism, Li Lianjie a pedestrian has prepared building machine to leave the Maldives.

According to the foreign news dispatch news, receives the earthquake tsunami attack the Maldives airport, just only then again foreign opened, many fortunately survived the tourist rushed to be first leaves the country. According to estimated that, the quite several hundred people are stranded in the locality, after the airport reopens, the first class the flight which takes off leaves is the Sri Lanka airline's flight.

"Morning paper Net"

-Noah

Administrators, if you want to move this topic to a more appropriate forum, please do so. I have removed the subtitle of this thread, and it's association with the film forum is probably finished.

A more disturbing picture of this event is now coming to light. An entire generation of children may have been lost in some areas that were hardest hit by this tragedy.

Generation of Asians Lost in Disaster

In Sri Lanka, which suffered the biggest loss of life in the tsunami, crowds had come to the beaches to watch the sea after word spread that it was producing larger-than-normal waves.

Thousands of children joined their elders to see the spectacle. The waves brought in fish. The old and the young collected them. Many waited for more fun.

Then the 15 feet-to-20 feet tidal waves hit the tropical island of 19 million people.

"They got caught and could not run to safety. This is the reason why we have so many child victims," said Rienzie Perera, a police spokesman who said reports from affected police stations indicated children made up about half the victims in Sri Lanka.

"Where are my children?" wept 41-year-old Absah, as she searched for her 11 missing children in Banda Aceh, the Indonesian city closest to Sunday's epicenter. "Where are they? Why did this happen to me? I've lost everything."

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I have some thoughts to share, if people would like to read, about the earthquake off Sumatra. It's here.

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The percentage of children, as stated by someone on the news whose name I didn't catch as I had no headpones at the gym (but they were subtitled because they spoke the language), was due to their inability to negotiate even three feet of water--they couldn't swim to keep their head afloat in the tumult of the encroaching waves as adults could.

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Even as the death toll rises, there are still some miracles...

Amid the devastation, however, were some miraculous stories of survival. In Malaysia, a 20-day-old baby was found alive on a floating mattress. She and her family were later reunited. A Hong Kong couple vacationing in Thailand clung to a mattress for six hours.

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A prayer posted to Worship-RCL (listserv):

Tsunami Prayer

THERE IS A LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS

Let's pray for the people and nations effected by earthquakes and Tsunamis.

Over the chaos of the waters Lord you spoke and there was light.

God of creation, you acted to bring about this world.

We ask you to continue to act to bring about a new creation and new hope.

Hear our prayers for those effected by the recent earthquakes and tidal

surges across South East Asia and the Indian Ocean.

Jesus, you grieved when those close to you ended prematurely:

be with those who grieve even now for their loved ones, and for those

whose loved ones are lost, presumed dead.

Come to them in their pain and loss with your healing and mercy.

Holy Spirit, giver of good gifts,

direct and be with those involved in ongoing aid and recovery.

Through their efforts, may your light may be seen in the darkness.

Heavenly Father, bless the many endeavours happening

across nations, peoples, and faiths;

for the sake of the poor and the lost.

We ask this in Jesus name. Amen.

Rev Peter Armstrong

Redcliffe Uniting Church

Rev'd Dennis Webster

Vicar, Parish of Pascoe Vale with Oak Park

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Amid the all of the other natural chaos created by the tsunami - including the potential outbreak of cholera and other diseases - comes disturbing news of a problem of man made origin. UNICEF is reporting that thousands of landmines have been displaced from known mine fields in areas where civil wars have been raging for years, and that fields that were once marked as hazrdous have had all warning signs and markers swept away by the waves.

Landmines danger post-tsunami

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Alan--this source for donations above; are you familiar with them? Relief money disbursal percentage, etc.?

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Hmmmmmmm. Christianity Today certainly doesn't fit this description....

Christian right's compassion deficit

More than 100,000 dead in south Asia, but it's business as usual at the web sites of America's Christian right organizations

It took President Bush three days to ready himself to go before the television cameras and make a public statement about Sunday's devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck southern Asia. Even though he was late, and much more money will be needed, the president pledged at least $35 million in aid to the victims of the disaster. But, as of December 30, some of the president's major family-values constituents have yet to be heard from: It's business as usual at the web sites of the American Family Association, the Family Research Council, the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, and the Coral Ridge Ministries.

These powerful and well-funded political Christian fundamentalist organizations appear to be suffering from a compassion deficit. Organizations which are amazingly quick to organize to fight against same-sex marriage, a woman's right to choose, and embryonic stem cell research are missing in action when it comes to responding to the disaster in southern Asia. None of their web sites are actively soliciting aid for the victims of the earthquake/tsunami.

In fact, there is no mention of the giant earthquake and tsunami that devastated southern Asia. There are no headlines about the dead, injured or the tremendous damage; there are no urgent appeals for donations; there are no phone numbers to call; there are no links to organizations collecting money and providing aid for the victims.

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FWIW, I've been sponsoring a child in Guatemala through World Vision for years now -- actually, more than one child, because every few years the child you sponsor grows up and they give you another child to sponsor -- and yesterday I got a call asking if I wanted to sponsor someone in Southeast Asia as well. I hesitated for a second, because I had been praying for some direction in this and had been contemplating a one-time gift, but then I figured, Okay, an ongoing sponsorship it is. I mean, it IS going to take a long time to pick up the pieces in that part of the world, so I guess a one-time gift wouldn't have really covered it anyway.

As for those other websites -- I dunno, maybe the staff are all on Christmas break still. Although, when we are dealing with organizations that have been put together SPECIFICALLY for the purpose of defending a particular definition of the family, I do wonder how fair it is to attack them for not doing OTHER things in addition to their mandate.

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I was thinking over the weekend if something like this was being planned. The post 9/11 concert pulled in quite a large amount in donations. Let's hope that organizers can prepare the site in time for this event.

Live Aid 2 Planned for Tsunami Victims

Bosses of a major British stadium are calling on bands like U2, Coldplay and The Darkness to help raise millions for the victims of the Asian tsunami - by performing at a Live Aid-style extravaganza. Chiefs at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, are frantically trying to gain the support of their country's politicians in their quest to stage a fundraising concert for the men, women and children left homeless, starving and at risk from disease in the aftermath of the December 26 disaster. Organizers are hoping an "event of international proportions" will take place on January 22 - before the stadium is used for sporting events - but bosses appreciate they are working against an almost impossible deadline. Stadium manager Paul Sergeant says, "It's going to be tight. The pitch comes back into the stadium on the 24th (of January). We won't be able to stage anything after that until the summer." Sergeant insists talks are currently in place with a host of "A-list acts", reportedly including Bono and U2, Coldplay, The Darkness and Franz Ferdinand.

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Jason,

I read with interest your blog on this terrible tragedy.

When I was living in Dallas, I, along with a group of young people drove 13 hours to Matamoros Mexico (next to Brownsville, TX) for my first ever missions trip.

We built three "instant homes," (that were no bigger than your back yard shed), for the poor. Families of up to six lived in them.

Across the dirt street from one of the homes we were building was a family staying with another family for a couple of days in their "nice cement home" with AC. They were trying to get out of the enormous heat. The mother left her four year old daughter with her father while she went into town with the owners and other members of the family who own the home to buy grocercies.

When they came back they found the daughter lying along the side of the home with the father no where to be found. The mother and the family rushed her to the town hospital where later she died.

The next day, announcements were made over the speakers that were attached to the roof of an old 1972 green Datsun that the police were looking for the father. The father incestously raped his four year old daughter and left her to bleed internally by the side of the house. Apparently this happens quite a bit there.

I went to visit and pray with the grieving mother at the viewing of her daughter which was held in the dirt driveway of the home she was staying at. I could view this little girl in a little white casket with ice bagged all around (there are no proper embalming techniques down there), lying on a fold out table only because of the window where you could see her face.

My first missions trip.

The mother was pregnant with the father's second child.

That little girl would have been about 15 years old today. I still think about her. Who she was. Who she would have been.

I think of my children.

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Just wondering -- if a nuclear bomb were to hit one of these Asian cities, would the news reports say "many victims were children", as though this were an unexpected thing? The number of children who died in the tsunami, compared to the number of adults, is roughly proportionate to the number of children who live in that part of the world, compared to the number of adults who do, no?

In other news, an e-pal just forwarded me a few "questions" he's been asking:

1. As the majority of tsunami victims are Muslim, why haven't we heard about Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emerites (all 3 are swimming in oil revenues!) etc. stepping up to the plate and offering financial assistance to their fellow Muslims?

2. As governments such as Sri Lanka are rife with corruption and croneyism, how do governments offering aid and NGO's such as the Red Cross, UNICEF, World Vision, Oxfam, etc. ensure that the aid goes _directly_ to the people?

3. Why haven't the leaders of Japan, U.S., Great Britain and Canada (since they are largest contributors) spoken publicly about how Sri Lankan troops have blocked aid from entering the north and east part of the country, due to their ongoing civil war with the Tamils?

Meanwhile, it looks like the obligatory wacky-science / conspiracy-theory / scapegoat-seeking websites have finally begun to flare up around this disaster (call me excessively Aristotelian, but I cannot use the word "tragedy" to describe the tsunami or its effects):

http://www.petitiononline.com/Exxon/petition.html

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American stinginess is saving lives

But the waters recede and the familiar contours of the political landscape re-emerge -- in this case, the need to fit everything to the Great Universal Theory of the age, that whatever happens, the real issue is the rottenness of America. . . . So American personnel in American planes and American ships will deliver American food and American medicine and implement an American relief plan, but it's still a "UN-led effort". That seems to be enough for Kofi. His "moral authority" is intact, and Guardian columnists and Telegraph readers can still bash the Yanks for their stinginess. Everybody's happy.

Mark Steyn, Daily Telegraph, January 4

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Flightless DART

There's little to say about the tragedy of Canada's response to the tsunami tragedy that hasn't already been said. A lot of excuses have been bandied about for why Canadian soldiers weren't sent, when Australia, Taiwan, Israel, and other countries despatched forces early, and the American military launched its largest operation in the area since Vietnam to try to save lives. In the end, though, the answer's pretty simple: 600 tonnes. . . . Whether to Bosnia or Afghanistan, the Canadian military flies overseas by chartered air now.

BruceR, Flit, January 2

Gulf Arabs Wonder: Are They Being Stingy With Aid?

Noting that the bulk of the nannies, drivers, menial laborers and other servants who keep most households running in the emirate come from Southeast Asia -- imported workers easily outnumber the native population -- some Kuwaitis agree that the country and its Persian Gulf neighbors need to be doing much more. But the campaign to shut down Islamic charities accused of financing terrorism has left many people confused about where to turn when they do want to donate money. And a few extremist Friday Prayer leaders and other religious commentators fueled the uncertainty by suggesting that the tsunami destruction was the wrath of God.

New York Times, January 4

Amazonian compassion

After the American government was vilified for proposing $35 million in disaster relief, it upped its contribution to $350 million. But governments aren't the only possible donors. Individuals around the world, aided by technologies like those fine-tuned by Amazon, can make contributions quickly and easily. See below if your fellow citizens are giving enough, relative to other countries around the world.

Tech Central Station, January 4

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It's always about us

Mere days after the tsunami, widely circulated photographs revealed Western tourists lolling on Thai beaches working on their tans, oblivious to the relief workers sorting through the hell behind them. Another shot, which this paper ran yesterday, showed two fat white men guzzling beer, not a care in the world. The pictures look to be the work of Martin Parr, the British photographer known for chronicling grotesque tourists. But they're not. They're everyday wire service shots, which makes them even more appalling. But let's not heap too much scorn on the louts. They're shoring up a ravaged tourism industry. And they're being no more self-absorbed than much of the media's coverage of the tsunami has been.

Anne Kingston, National Post, January 4

The UN's tsunami power play

Just before the tsunami, the UN was struggling to contain and deny the worst financial scandal in its history: oil for food. As much as US$20-billion that passed through UN hands in the 1990s, supposedly on its way to help the Iraqi people, cannot be accounted for. A committee headed by former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker is sifting through the UN's accounts, trying to trace the money. In the meantime, the people who presided over the scandal -- and who may have pocketed funds -- remain on the job at Turtle Bay. Conscientious, taxpayer-minded governments understandably flinch from trusting such people to manage the money they give. For that reason, the Bush administration has chosen to work directly with the other major democracies in the Asia-Pacific area to distribute disaster relief and -- when the time comes -- reconstruction aid. It is fear that the UN bureaucracy might be circumvented that has UN bureaucrats up in arms. In this time of horror and grief, their first thought was -- as usual -- for themselves.

David Frum, National Post, January 4

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My roommate was wondering yesterday why this particular disaster has attracted so much attention and not the various other disasters in recent years (like the 40,000 people killed by that earthquake in Iran not too long ago) -- he figures it's a confluence of [1] disrupted Western tourism; [2] the timing of the disaster (Christmas is a time when [a] everything is supposed to be perfect and everyone is supposed to be generous, so if there is a major deficit in [a], we may tend to overcompensate with ; plus, of course, [c] it was a slow news week); [3] the fact that there was so much media-hyped visual stimulation, as opposed to all those other, not-so-hyped, more-invisible catastrophes; and [4] the fact that it hit multiple countries simultaneously, which is unusual.

I have to say the media saturation on this has reached the point where I really am beginning to wish it would all just stop. (I'm getting flashbacks to the death of Princess Di, to September 11, to a whole bunch of things.) The relief work must continue, of course; and private donors must keep donating, of course. But when we see politicians outbidding each other to make a big show of how much of their taxpayers' money they are going to throw at this situation, or openly proclaiming themselves South Asia's best friend even though they can't really DO anything all that helpful (yes, I'm talking about YOU, Prime Minister Paul Martin), then it does get rather off-putting.

Add to this the fact that there WILL come a point where relief work will get in the way of the local economies getting back on their feet, and you begin to wonder if all the relief types, having been whipped up into a frenzy of activity, will know when to stop. (If we were always making a big show of how good we are for carrying cripples everywhere, then how would the cripples learn to walk?) Apparently some charities (like the Aussie branch of Doctors Without Borders) are ALREADY telling potential donors to hold off, because they've already been given more than they know what to do with; I seem to recall something similar happened with the overabundance of donations to New York following September 11.

So, y'know, feel free to ignore these ramblings. But as I've learned from James Surowiecki's The Wisdom of Crowds, dissenting voices are a necessity in group situations -- even when those dissenting voices are wrong, which I might very well be.

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Blame the tsunami toll on the hand of man, not God

God might be responsible for a lot of things but you can't pin the tsunami deaths on the big guy. People always look to the beyond to explain things that are beyond us, but the Asian disaster wasn't: It was, by and large, a man-made tragedy, the moral equivalent of allowing people to freeze to death on the streets of Vancouver. Certainly, we can't control harsh weather and tsunamis, but we can protect ourselves and others from such events, and we have the moral responsibility to do so. It was the failure to discharge this responsibility that led to much of the tsunami carnage -- in other words, the disaster was the result of decisions, not conditions.

Peter McKnight, Vancouver Sun, January 10

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MattPage   

Peter,

Thanks for posting that, and for taking a risk in being so honest. I've had similar questions, but not really raised them (funnily enough though I suspected you might share them!).

The contrast with Iran has also been the one I've considered, because it too happened at Christmas, when not many other newsworthy stories were running, huge numbers dying etc.

In terms of media response, I do think the it being a tradgedy involving several nations, rather than one, and the numbers of tourists affected makes a big difference. In some ways its similar to the wave of feeling connected with Sept 11th, that had worldwide effect because many nations were affected. I also think that such a huge scale event increases the shock factor. This is probably why things like death of JFK, Diana and Sept 11th outstrip tradgedies that on numbers of deaths alone are far far more significant.

On the other hand it's at times like these that we can see both how manipulating the media is, but also how reponsive they are (somewhat paradoxically). If we had lived 150 years ago, and the tsunami had happened 150 years ago, we would never have heard of it, or at least not until much later , and its effect would have been diluted. Still the same terrible tradgedy, but a different response. A stronger media has brought a stronger response. At the same time though there has been a grass roots effect, and other than the fact that the media has brought the images and story to those grass roots, and presented it in such a way to elicit some kind of a response, but the response seems to have surprised them, but they've reacted to it, and been in no small way people led.

On another front, all my life I've known that event to be known as a Tidal wave. Why has this been called a Tsunami? Even that seems to be a device to bring dramatic edge to the story, and manipulate an audience. Does anyone know of any media outlets that have donated the extra profit they've made from their increased circulation and sales derived from the Tsunami stories?

-part of Matt's mind at the moment

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MattPage   

I meant to add though that to be honest I'm not too bothered by the media manipulating rich westerners to dig their short arms into their deep largely undisturbed pockets. I severely doubt that the grand total of the giving to this catastrophe will get anywhere near the amount of mony it would cost to rebuild all it has undone.

Matt

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MattPage wrote:

: If we had lived 150 years ago, and the tsunami had happened 150 years ago, we

: would never have heard of it, or at least not until much later , and its effect would

: have been diluted.

Well, that's the basis for one of my qualms, right there. The media is, by definition, "artificial" and not "natural". It would have been "natural" -- part of God's created design, if you will -- for most of the world not to notice that the tsunami had happened. But over the course of the past century -- heck, especially the past few decades -- we have created this media sphere that brings us instant news of all the catastrophes around the world and manipulates us into feeling guilty if we don't all assume personal responsibility for each and every one of them, or at least the ones that the media can sensationalize.

It's not that I think we shouldn't care about it. It goes deeper than that. I wonder if we should even KNOW about it in the first place.

But then, I'm the kind of guy who wonders occasionally if we're retarding evolution by letting people like me wear glasses. How DID the ancients do without all our contraptions...?

And yes, I realize there is irony in me discussing this with you via the internet. smile.gif

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