Wednesday, August 31, 2005

965 Dead in Baghdad stampede....

With all the (completely deserved) attention paid to Katrina and its aftermath (which gets worse and more terrifying with every report I read) I'm not sure too many people have heard about this story:

It's quite shocking:

Deaths mounted steadily in northeast Baghdad after a massive midday Shiite religious procession erupted into a chaotic stampede Wednesday, causing the drowning and trampling deaths of 965 pilgrims.

Authorities believe a rumor raced through the crowd that a suicide bomber was in their midst, and that created panic among the waves of pedestrians trying to cross the Al-A'imma bridge over the Tigris River.

Every time I checked this story today, the death toll had increased by HUNDREDS.


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Things are really bad in New Orleans...

I'll update this post with more information as it comes in, but sadly, I thought it important to report right away that things are apparently much worse in New Orleans than you may have been led to believe from preliminary reports.

I had wondered why none of the death toll figures seemed to have any numbers from New Orleans, and I assumed at first that it was because Mississippi was so much harder hit. Tragically for New Orleans, the initial hit was just the beginning of problems. Levies apparently continue to fail, and the water level has been going UP consistently since Monday, and still is. Apparently there are no death tolls for New Orleans because officials realize they need to get everyone out and abandon the city, so they're not stopping to count, or even recover bodies. Hundreds more people have been evacuated to the Superdome, which must now, itself, be evacuated, as the water continues to rise, and there is no air conditioning, no electricity and no toilets for the thousands of people now sheltering there.

There is also apparently an AP report out now saying that the Mayor of New Orleans has stated that hundreds - perhaps thousands - of people have been killed there. Death tolls are morbid things, and we all know how untrustworthy they can be in early days, but I'm afraid that, tragically, it appears that Katrina has probably killed many hundreds of people, and many more people are still in serious danger. These latest reports may end up being somewhat exaggerated (let's pray they are) but it now seems clear that the early reports didn't nearly do justice to the size of this disaster.

Update: Quotes from the Mayor of New Orleans from the Globe and Mail:

"We know there is a significant number of dead bodies in the water," and others dead in attics, Mr. Nagin said. Asked how many, he said: "Minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands."

Update 2: There's never a bad time to give money to the Red Cross, but it's often only during events like these that we think of it. Things look pretty bad, so please consider giving. Someone effected by this or another disaster could depend on it.

Update 3: Just to give everyone an idea of just how vulnerable New Orleans was to a hurricane like this, it turns out FEMA had 3 major catostrophic disaster scenarios that they used as "worst case for the nation" type secnarios. A major earthquake in California. A major terrorist strike in New York. And a Category 5 hurricane hitting New Orleans. Now admittedly, Katrina landed as a category 4, but as one expert said, that's like the difference between getting run over by a 18-wheeler instead of a freight train. Neither is any good.

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Have you called Washington yet...

OK, I realize this whole CPC "everybody should call and leave a message for Bush" is just a little piece of political theatre, and not meant as a serious proposal for doing something about softwood lumber (at least I PRAY that's the case) but frankly, it's still got me really upset. One, because, hello!!! You're the OFFICIAL OPPOSITION. You work for me every bit as much as Martin and his gang and dammit I expect serious proposals for actually DOING SOMETHING about our problems. And two, even as political rhetoric, this suggestion was so stupid... I can't even... it's just...dammit, there's that headache again!

I am not a Conservative supporter, but the idiocy of this whole telemarketing campaign has really got me going. Are there ANY MPs left from any party who are worthy of governing Canada? This "Call Bush" thing from the CPC is really the last straw for me. I think I officially don't care what a party's policy is anymore. If your policy is that we should round up kittens and sacrifice them to a pagan God I'll vote for you, so long as you show some competence and intelligence, and convince me you have a plan for rounding up the kittens, and a system for efficiently executing them.

I'd be most interested to hear from any Tories out there who are upset about this. I'm absolutely convinced that this telephone strategy was thought up by a summer intern on his or her way back to class, and I'm desperate for someone to get fired over this. There was a time when I enjoyed seeing the CPC do stupid things like this, because I knew that it would help keep them out of power, but for Pete's sake their supposed to be "Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition". Let's go people! OPPOSE. I just can't take it anymore. The Martin Liberals have been pretty pathetic, and I actually don't oppose most of the things they've done. It's that they've done SO LITTLE, and done it SO BADLY that really upsets me now... and yet the CPC is apparently SO STUPID that they're making these clowns look good. I've really had it.

I'm quite small-l liberal and I find myself missing Preston Manning. I wouldn't have liked how he would have led this country, or where he would have led us, but at least I had confidence in his intelligence and his ability to LEAD. But these clowns in the CPC today? Hell, at least Stockwell Day was up against a formidible political machine at the height of its power. He didn't stand a chance, so it didn't matter if he did dumb things. What's the excuse now? Forget policy.... forget scandal... forget corruption... the people around Paul Martin clearly don't know what the Hell they're doing (I'd list examples, but you know them all...) and yet they're looking BRILLIANT by comparison. Now, remember corruption and scandal. I know. It's shocking, but the CPC STILL looks bad.

Haven't heard much from Martin lately? That's probably because he's taken the only smart advice anyone has given him. "Keep your head down and don't say anything.... Now watch this, it'll be funny...."

I know it seems strange for me to be praying that the CPC gets it's act together, and some people may think I'm just mocking them, and I don't seriously want them to shape up. And, as I said, there was a time when I laughed heartily at the CPC when stuff like this happened, and breathed a sigh of relief that they would surely lose another election. But now I'm just angry.

Game on. The first politician/political party to show me some intelligence and convince me you're more interested in running the country than making fun of the other guy gets my vote.

Even if it's bad for the kittens.

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Thursday, August 25, 2005

A rose by any other name....

Thanks to Paul Wells for this great quote:

"You have to undercut the perception of occupation in Iraq. It's very difficult to do that when you have 150,000-plus, largely western, foreign troops occupying the country."
— Maj. Gen. Douglas Lute, director of operations at US Central Command, interview with Financial Times, published this morning.

Yes, it certainly would be easier to convince Iraqis their country isn't occupied if their country weren't occupied. What an excellent point.


P.S. London was wonderful BTW, if (ironically) much cooler than Canada. I'm afraid I did have to wear a jacket quite often, but for those who were concerned, I assure you it was nothing too bulky.

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