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Tsunami: Political Issue?

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Mistletoe Angel
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0 posted 12-29-2004 03:44 PM       View Profile for Mistletoe Angel   Email Mistletoe Angel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Mistletoe Angel's Home Page   View IP for Mistletoe Angel

From Democracy Now!

"Humanitarian groups have launched what is believed to be the largest relief effort in the world's history. Billions of dollars will be needed in the coming weeks.

While the Bush administration has pledged to play a major role in the relief effort, it is already coming under criticism for its handling of the crisis.

On Monday, the Bush administration pledged an initial $15 million for the effort. After a top UN official described the donation as "stingy", the US pledged another $20 million bringing the total offering to $35 million.

To put the figure in perspective, President Bush plans to spend between $30 and $40 million for his upcoming inauguration celebration.

And the amount pledged to victims of the tsunami is dwarfed by the Bush administration's war effort in Iraq.

The U.S. has spent an average of $9.5 million every hour on the war and occupation of Iraq. With a current price tag of $147 billion, the U.S. has spent an average of about $228 million a day in Iraq. In other words, the U.S. spends what it promised on the tsunami relief effort in less than four hours in Iraq.

Meanwhile the Washington Post reports that President Bush is also being criticized for failing to address the devastation caused by the tsunami.

Bush has been vacationing at his ranch in Texas and - unlike German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder - has decided not to cut his vacation short. Bush has not even spoken publicly yet about the tragedy.

The Post reports some foreign policy specialists accused the president of communicating a lack of urgency about an event that will loom as large in the collective memories of several countries as the Sept. 11 attacks do in the United States. Leslie Gelb of the Council on Foreign Relations said, "When that many human beings die -- at the hands of terrorists or nature -- you've got to show that this matters to you, that you care."

Middle East analyst Juan Cole writes that Bush has lost a unique opportunity to reach out to the Muslim world by showing compassion in a time of tragedy. Indonesia, one of the nations hardest hit, is the most populous Muslim country in the world. Cole writes "If Bush were a statesman he would have flown to Jakarta and announced his solidarity with the Muslims of Indonesia."

The White House has announced that Bush will conduct a National Security Council meeting today by teleconference to discuss several issues, including the tsunami. One White House official attempted to explain Bush's silence by saying: "The president wanted to be fully briefed on our efforts. He didn't want to make a symbolic statement about 'We feel your pain.'" But another official described Bush's silence as "kind of freaky."


***************************************

This $35 million, to be exact, is 1/4200 of what the Bush Administration has spent on the war in Iraq.

I understand just now as well that Bush said at his Texas ranch that he wants to form an international coalition to respond to this disaster of "biblical proportions" as Al Howard, a British tourist who was staying on an island near Aceh when seeing the city of Banda Aceh shortly after the tsunami hit, described it as.

If this is truly the "typical response from America", well, then it's a rather ingenuous response. Our government chooses to continue dropping bombs and fighting an albatross of a senseless war rather than redirect a mere four hours of war money to the eight percent of Sri Lanka's population that's now homeless.

Perhaps now after putting the warning system in place, they'll finally also stop harrassing these climatologists who perhaps could have pinpointed these types of disasters before and begin to take them seriously as they should be.

Sincerely,
Noah Eaton


"You'll find something that's enough to keep you
But if the bright lights don't receive you
You should turn yourself around and come back home" MB20

[This message has been edited by Alicat (01-02-2005 07:34 PM).]

Chanson
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1 posted 12-29-2004 04:04 PM       View Profile for Chanson   Email Chanson   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Chanson

Perhaps the same people/governments who are now spitting on the generosity of ours also, upon opening a gift given to them at Christmas or for their birthdays, say to the giver, "I wanted a bigger/better/more expensive gift, so no thanks".

Just another way to look at things.

Mistletoe Angel
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2 posted 12-29-2004 04:58 PM       View Profile for Mistletoe Angel   Email Mistletoe Angel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Mistletoe Angel's Home Page   View IP for Mistletoe Angel

Every little bit helps, Chanson. I've always believed that and still do.

I already made my contribution. I gave $40 to the Red Cross. And indeed I expect whether it is four cents or $4 billion, any relief effort should give the same generous response of thanks to the donator.

But we also have to look at the real terms here.

There's many, especially here in this state of Oregon, which has a 6.5% unemployment rate, who have nothing to give right now except their thoughts and prayers.

There is much spirit and grace in private contributors, but all at once it is disingenous to expect much of the burden and charity to be contributed by the community itself. The government, which claims to care so much about spreading freedom to the world and such, should be doing more itself.

This wasn't a disguised opportunity to attack Bush, this IS an open criticism of Bush. First in that he waited four days to make a response, and second looking at the real terms of the money being contributed, and when you compare it to his own inauguration and the war in Iraq, it's rather slim pickings.

Is that type of thinking greedy? See, I think it is. I'm just bringing the real terms to you all, like I have recently in my activism with the homeless community in stressing that $5.15 for a minimum wage sounds like we'vemade progress compared to fifty years ago, but in real terms, it's arguably the lowest minimum wage ever when you consider the skyrocketing prices in many areas of life, from health care to insurance.

You know what $35 million divided by my $40 is? It's 875,000. In other words, if 874,999 other Americans contributed the same amount as me, it would total the $35 million the U.S government intends to give in immediate relief. That's barely more than the total population of Indianapolis!

In real terms, does that sound like a lot at all?

Now, I've heard in the Washington Post as well that in addition to the initial relief money, the United States is dispatching a Marine expeditionary unit, the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and a 'maritime preposition squadron' from Guam to help with the situation.

Even so, $35 million for initial funding in a disaster of "biblical proportions", in real terms, especially when comparing to the war in Iraq, is not a very genuine gesture.

Sincerely,
Noah Eaton


"You'll find something that's enough to keep you
But if the bright lights don't receive you
You should turn yourself around and come back home" MB20
Poet deVine
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3 posted 12-29-2004 05:43 PM       View Profile for Poet deVine   Email Poet deVine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Poet deVine

Sorry...but it's early days yet...the U.S. gives and gives...and pledging an amount is a far cry from what will eventually be given! I don't understand making this disaster a political discussion...
Ron
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4 posted 12-29-2004 06:12 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
There's many, especially here in this state of Oregon, which has a 6.5% unemployment rate, who have nothing to give right now except their thoughts and prayers.

What about the other 93.5 percent who aren't unemployed, Noah?

quote:
There is much spirit and grace in private contributors, but all at once it is disingenous to expect much of the burden and charity to be contributed by the community itself. The government, which claims to care so much about spreading freedom to the world and such, should be doing more itself.

I couldn't possibly disagree more, Noah.

The role of government should be to protect. Period. Charity has to be the province of the people, else it STOPS being charity. It becomes just another bill to be paid come April 15. When giving stops being voluntary, no one will want to give.

I commend you for giving forty bucks, Noah. That shows real character. Now, multiply that by 93.5 percent of the population of Oregon and you should know where your efforts will best be directed. If you can get a few sawbucks from all the taxpayers, then great. If you can't, perhaps you shouldn't complain because someone else can't either.
nakdthoughts
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5 posted 12-29-2004 06:30 PM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts


Your "Even so" got to me...

Noah, we can't solve all the world's problems...

They have called up the national guard here in PA and I am  sure in other areas and they are to be sent to help with rebuilding( they are engineers I believe) and their families were told to expect them to be gone for 7 months...I think about those families and the loss of their family units and money to keep their homes etc...also...the service is never meant to pay them a living wage...

I think of my nephew in Iraq who I'm sure is having family( he is single) help pay his bills and keep his home while he is on his second or maybe third(some being secretive)tour of duty there...

There is only so much one country can do and maybe you should spend your time making a cause in your own state and raise funds for the survivors of the Tsunami.

Giving is fine...complaining  doesn't do a bit of good...why not make a positive spin on it and go out and  raise some money..donate blood to the red cross...etc.etc. those of us who can help will..

besides any money coming from the government to help with relief is our money from working taxes...isn't it?

so  the people of the United States are helping even if they aren't named individually.

sorry if I sound grumpy
maybe I am just tired of the President and the US being blamed for Mother Nature and everything else that happens...
Balladeer
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6 posted 12-29-2004 07:02 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

I agree with the above comments. Noah, it appears you are using this tragedy as another avenue for Bush bashing. Where did that article you reproduced come from? An unbiased source? I doubt it. There is no more generous country in history than the United States and the fellow from the UN thinks our contrubution is stingy? Where the hell is the UN then? Where is this organization that you think so highly of besides standing there saying America should do more? There was an Indonesian on tv saying "Where are the Americans??" not where is the UN, not where is Al-quada, not where are the Moslems. We get blamed for trying to do good in the world and blamed for not doing enough good. This would be a good way to show the Moslems a good side of us by showering them with money? How transparent is that?

I admire your efforts and your personal participation in these efforts of relief but don't cheapen it by using it as a Bush bashing platform, please. For once take the politics out of it, please.
Huan Yi
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7 posted 12-29-2004 07:48 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

Where is the economically booming China
in this event?  Where are the oil rich Moslem
nations?


“A condition which has long affected people in the West is now becoming increasingly common in India.

Obesity is rarely a problem people usually associate with India. But one study has found that nearly half of all high-income women in Delhi are overweight. “


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/986628.stm

Seems there might be other sources for charity very nearby.

Severn
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8 posted 12-29-2004 09:34 PM       View Profile for Severn   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Severn


I'd say it's inevitable that America as a myth, as an institution, as a living analogy of prosperous culture gets 'blamed' and demanded of by suffering nations, and nations affected by trauma and great loss.

Part of parcel, unavoidable. Many arguments here - the immediate one of who is responsible in providing enough aid to cope with this disaster that defies words; the argument of aid and the dependency it encourages; the arguments about the American government that never seem to end heh.

Ultimately - the world's rallying to help. I think that's a good thing. Simplistic? Perhaps. Last night, on tv, I watched a mother and a father each carrying a dead child away from rows and rows and rows of dead, festering bodies. The children looked like they were sleeping. Now, that's simplistic enough for me, right now.

K

nakdthoughts
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9 posted 12-29-2004 09:40 PM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

It's awful Severn, the pictures on tv and on here...the interviews..it is almost an
unbelievable occurance and no manner of help will ever make up for the losses...

it is unequaled in its devastation and there will be many more deaths in the days/weeks/months to come, from diseases...

it is a world problem...a humanity problem that will affect the whole civilized world

M
Brad
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10 posted 12-29-2004 09:52 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Like we need a 9.0 earthquake to criticize Bush?

I guess we should be happy with what we get. My mother called me yesterday and asked if I was okay. How many Americans know how to read a map?
Brad
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11 posted 12-29-2004 09:56 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

75,000 and counting.

NY Times, Bush outlines aid plan.

Have we done enough?
Mysteria
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12 posted 12-29-2004 10:08 PM       View Profile for Mysteria   Email Mysteria   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Mysteria

Did anyone ever see the movie, "It Could Happen To You" with Nicholas Cage where he promises to split his lottery winnings with a waitress in lieu of a tip?  The bottom line was that the money was not important to this policeman, or waitress.  How this movie ends makes a huge statement on what charity, and love actually is.  The citizens of New York opened their hearts and mailed them $2. here, $5. there, $50., and so on, and it amounted to $600,000 when they finish opening all their mail, enough to keep her coffee shop, and start thier lives over but together.  

If every person who could - sent even a very small charitable amount to one of the agencies collecting, it adds up to relief, and that is what is needed period.

Another thing to note is that even in Sri Lanka they have put their political differences away for now to help with this disaster and work together.  That has to say something about the magnitude of the need there right now to stop disease from running rampant.

A piece from the link below:

"In a national address Tuesday, Sri Lanka's president, Chandrika Kumaratunga, asked the country to shed its ethnic differences and invited the Tigers to join a relief effort.

And on Wednesday, the leader of the Tamil Tigers made his own peace offering, issuing a statement of condolence to the southern Sinhalese, his sworn enemy.

In Manalkadu, none of this matters. Nobody talks politics here anymore."


http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/world/10524547.htm?1c

I would like to think we all still live in a world that we can care about each other, and if I am dreaming - please, don't wake me.

If you want to know how to help - I wrote a little senryu,  and on it is all the information you need to help. http://piptalk.com/pip/Forum91/HTML/002463.html


Severn
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13 posted 12-29-2004 10:50 PM       View Profile for Severn   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Severn

They've stopped counting the dead now.

I'm not sure we can count this as a 'disaster.' A disaster is something we think of, in general, as an event that we recover from; the return from the event is signified as a recovery to the same position we started from. We don't stop counting the dead in disasters.

There will be no recovery from this. Instead it will be a reshaping.

Whole indigenous Indian tribes lost. Landmasses shifted. The world tilting on its Axis? Infrastructures destroyed...

My God. This beggars belief.

Many people will all do their little bit, Noah, like you have and those little bits will add up. I read today that Bush stated that the pledge 'is just the beginning' of what the US will offer.

I've watched the things you say in the Alley and the more I think about it I'm disappointed in you, for this post, for the tone of this post, for the angle of this post. Though having said that I know you have a good heart, and genuinely care. I just suggest, like others I guess, that you redirect that care into something positive. Which is really what the rest of the world needs to offer right now, in whatever way, in whatever amount, they can.

K
Tim
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14 posted 12-29-2004 10:55 PM       View Profile for Tim   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Tim

I read this thread and have to shake my head.  The U.S. provided 40% of the disaster relief aid in the world last year.
We responded as a government to 61 declared disasters.  

The money initially given is the amount of money on hand in the emergency relief fund and will be used in the initial evaluation period.  It is anticipated the government will provide a billion or more dollars in relief for this disaster.
http://www.state.gov/p/40108.htm

All agencies of our government are working together and were within hours of the tragedy to provide relief.

That of course does not take into consideration the charitable contributions of Americans who have always and will always respond to the suffering of others.

On Christmas Eve in church we took an offering for blankets in the Sudan, I can assure you many collections will be taken for the tsunamis victims in our church.  This will occur in thousands of homes and churches across America.

Rather than petty political bantering, this is a time when the people of the world will unite to provide assistance to those in need.  The U.S. and its people will be at the forefront in efforts to relieve suffering and will do so notwithstanding the naysayers in our own country.


Huan Yi
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15 posted 12-29-2004 11:06 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi


Noah,

“While the Bush administration has pledged to play a major role in the relief effort, it is already coming under criticism for its handling of the crisis.”

“perspective”

‘I want to work to save every child out there. And I know the president does, and I know the American people do. But neither we nor the international community have the resources nor the mandate to do so. So we have to make distinctions. We have to ask the hard questions about where and when we can intervene. And the reality is that we cannot often solve other people's problems..."’

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/evil/etc/slaughter.html

Denise
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Here's a good article that pretty much sums up the spirit of America and the American people:
http://www.townhall.com/columnists/lindachavez/lc20041229.shtml

And we will do more than our part, as always, as we should: the government, and the people through private donations and donations through the houses of worship.

Brad
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17 posted 12-29-2004 11:30 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Reification.
Mistletoe Angel
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18 posted 12-30-2004 01:45 AM       View Profile for Mistletoe Angel   Email Mistletoe Angel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Mistletoe Angel's Home Page   View IP for Mistletoe Angel

It seems you all are missing the two main intents I had to beginning this post in the first place.

1) To show how the U.S government is spending its money, to reveal how obsessed they are with military spending. I provided examples before from education to health care, and this is just enough angle to look at the government's obsession with violence and war.

2) The scientific root of the problem; the harrassment of climatologists and the need to have their research be accepted into the public eye and be treated with dignity.

Some of you see this strictly as a Bush-bashing opportunity. I was expecting that response all along, because of the sense of patriotism, standing behind your president, etc. I could say some of you indeed took the same strategy during the holidays on liberal-leaning organizations and Christmas (which I do believe some of the examples were wrong) and I believe had Kerry been elected, honestly, many of you would be doing the same thing.

Maureen and Severn were right about one thing though, definitely. We should also be taking the deep emotions we're feeling now and use them also in a positive force. Which is why I want to leave everyone with ways they can help out with the relief:

1) Chip in every penny, nickel, dime, quarter, dollar you can to these charities (or others you can think of)
http://www.americares.org/
http://www.actionagainsthunger.org/
http://redcross.org/
http://www.christianchildrensfund.org/
http://www.fh.org/
http://www.islamic-relief.org/
http://www.op.org/
http://www.planusa.org/
http://www.savethechildren.org/
http://www.unicef.org/

2) Donate blood/plasma.

3) If you have some extra/worn out blankets, clothing, ec. contribute to goodwill!

**********************************

I'm just frustrated in that I want everyone to understand and realize where all the bulk of our money is going, and also to point out once and for all this harassment of scientists must stop immediately.

The public deserves to know the real science right about now, and know exactly what we all must do to tone down possible reoccurences in the long run.

Natural disasters always happen, historically, they always have. But the reports show that global warming is undoubtedly an agent to the growing problem of extreme weather, and we can prevent these types of storms many climatologists fear can cause $75-100 billion in damage in Florida or elsewhere in the near future.

There's more to the problem than meets the eye. And I hate talking about the politics behind each issue more than anything else, but it is essential to talk about the grim reality behind these issues.

I prefer to be the positive respondent. I provided all those charity links in how you can give to the less fortunate this Christmas through Heifer, Vetaid and Goodwill Gifts. I said how you can volunteer and help the homeless and oprhaned this holiday season. While doing that I also talked about some of the local issues homeless are struggling with recently, and te fact is, politics affect their lives too, whether they accept or deny it.

I believe in all conscience, we must be forced to look at these sorts of things in both lights. Always have a positive outlook in dealing, but, there's also that obligatory role of critical judgement some take, some don't. I hate to take that burden but believe in my heart it is necessary to do so so we can underatand the full complexity of each issue.

And, believe me, I applaud what many citizens are already doing to help out. This is said to already be the greatest relief effort for a single natural disaster in all of history. That's something to celebrate indeed!

Anyway, I certainly hope $35 million is certainly just the immediate effort and tens of millions more will add to that really soon. Perhaps the redirection of a day of war funding in Iraq would be very beneficial.

Sincerely,
Noah Eaton

"You'll find something that's enough to keep you
But if the bright lights don't receive you
You should turn yourself around and come back home" MB20

Balladeer
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19 posted 12-30-2004 02:23 AM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

I missed the part about the harrassment of the climatologists, Noah. Who did you say were doing that and how?

Brad
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20 posted 12-30-2004 03:12 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Just for the record:

The US spends less than a quarter of 1% of the budget on non-military foreign aid.

Most Americans believe it's around 25%.

Chanson
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21 posted 12-30-2004 07:18 AM       View Profile for Chanson   Email Chanson   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Chanson

Noah--  Somebody says to you they think you are stingy for pledging only 40 dollars?

How would you feel?

Tim
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foreign aid and disaster relief are not synonymous terms.  The U.S. government provides over fifty per cent of the funding for the World Food Program, a third of the funding for the U.N. refugee program and oever 25 per cent of the funding for the peace keeping operations along with 20 per cent of the entire U.N. budget.

Christian charities, foundations and private individuals from the U.S. give 34 billion a year to foreign causes.  That is over ten times the budget of the U.N.

$40 is what percentage of an annual minumum wage salary?

Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of the world is rallying to support the suffering of this unthinkable tragedy of epic proportions and only a very small minority is engaging in as indicated petty politics.

interestingly enough, Massachusetts is at the bottom of charitable giving while Mississippi always ranks first.  The blue states make up the bottom rung in per capita giving while the red states make up the top tier.  (ack, interjecting petty politics here, sorry)

[This message has been edited by Tim (12-30-2004 12:31 PM).]

Mysteria
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23 posted 12-30-2004 01:27 PM       View Profile for Mysteria   Email Mysteria   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Mysteria

Tim - I have found always that those that have the least seem to try and give the most They seldom say a word while giving it either.  Maybe devastation has to hit closer to home to reach a heart?

I really enjoyed Kacy's thread without the politics, but to each their own.  
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24 posted 12-30-2004 02:58 PM       View Profile for Mistletoe Angel   Email Mistletoe Angel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Mistletoe Angel's Home Page   View IP for Mistletoe Angel

The Bush Administration has been harrassing climatologists since the beginning, Michael. And it is extremely important you realize the politics behind this, because these are exactly the politics that will be reeling days, weeks, months after this disaster!

Scientists continue to be suppressed, and their reports distorted by the White House of dire warnings about climate change, stem cell research, the dangers of mercury and hundreds of other toxic chemicals, the dangers of depleted uranium, Agent Orange, mining, nuclear weapons storage, and the power plants themselves. Over 4,000 scientists including 48 Nobel Laureates, 62 National Medal of Science recipients, and 127 members of the National Academy of Sciences, have come out accusing the Administration of this, they continue to be blacklisted and harrassed, suppressed from releasing information to the public that is critical of the Bush Administration and its corporal contributors, whose anti-environmental, anti-sustainable record is, agreed among most studies, accelerating the effects of extreme weather and climate change.

They, together, assembled this statement titled "Restoring Scientific Integrity in Decision-Making". You can find it here:
http://www.americanprogress.org/site/pp.asp?c=biJRJ8OVF&b=33731

Climatologists now predict if these patterns continue, in fifty years, 25% of all houses within 500 feet of the ocean will vanish. That is quite a bold prediction, but plausible, especially after four major hurricanes and now this tsunami.

Effects are being felt all across the world. We have seen depressing floods in Bangladesh kill thousands and leave thousands more homeless and sick from malnutrition. We see our great glaciers vanishing at alarming, accelerating rates in the Himalayan mountains. In result, virtually all the great rivers of Asia are threatened to dry up, which can cause untold damage to their irrigation agriculture and leave millions in famine. We had that massive heat wave in Europe in summer 2003 that killed about 20,000 people.

The results affect us globally. And very little is being done.

Me and some others have been talking about the environment in threads here over the election season, where no one who was primarily a Bush supporter participated in the discussion, either because its plainly obvious he is the worst environmental president ever or they refuse to take any of the accusations in more than just a grain of salt either because of patriotic pride or the atmosphere that it's just another "Bush-bashing opportunity".

But if anyone looks at his environmental record, it is clear on the need to protect it, we've taken so many steps backward.

It was President Sr. Bush himself who said this on April 23, 1990:

"Science, like any field of endeavor, relies on freedom of inquiry; and one of the hallmarks of that freedom is objectivity. Now, more than ever, on issues ranging from climate change to AIDS research to genetic engineering to food additives, government relies on the impartial perspective of science for guidance."

He would be wise to be listening to his father right now.

Sincerely,
Noah Eaton

"You'll find something that's enough to keep you
But if the bright lights don't receive you
You should turn yourself around and come back home" MB20

 
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