340 meters per second

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.

&mdash Alfred Adler (1870-1937)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Disaster looms.

Interesting article in the Globe & Mail yesterday on the recent spate of natural disasters in the world and the tendency of the news media to jump on the local or 'sexy' disasters, reducing coverage of others which in turns leads to fewer charitable donations. In addition, there's a real risk of mass burnout among staffers at relief agencies, which is something I've become personally interested in over the summer.

Coming on the heels of tsunamis, several hurricanes and various other natural disasters, the earthquake that struck northern Pakistan and India has aid agencies worried that their staffers are burning out and that less publicized crises are being overlooked.

Large catastrophes that draw a lot of media attention, such as the Indian Ocean tsunamis, tend to draw large donations. However, there are fears that less prominent crises are being neglected by donors.

The repeated crises have also left a toll on the staff of many agencies.

"The strain is an emotional one. It takes something out of all of us. . . . We've had to be on the ready constantly," said World Vision Canada president Dave Toycen.

The link at the start of this post will launch the complete article in a new window.

* * *

Couple days ago, Vidanges du Diable had a good post up about a new state law passed in Florida. Apparently, Jeb Bush thinks (and I use the term 'think' in its broadest ppossible sense) that allowing his citizens to return fire rather than retreat from an assailant is a good idea. Now, if a Floridian feels that they may be shot while attempting to escape an attacker, they may justifiably choose to return fire rather than flee.

The Washington Post summarizes it thusly in this article:
Florida law already lets residents defend themselves against attackers if they can prove they could not have escaped. The new law would allow them to use deadly force even if they could have fled and says that prosecutors must automatically presume that would-be victims feared for their lives if attacked.

While Vidanges makes an excellent point about the impact this could have on escalating gang violence in Miami and Tampa Bay, I also see it as a response to Katrina.

Florida is constantly battered by hurricanes over the fall months and statistically it's only a matter of time before another monster like Katrina (or 1992's Andrew) rampages across the state. Given the existence of a similarly large population of poor black citizens in their state--and a similarly shameful history of entrenched racism and a deeply segregated population--Floridian lawmakers may have been afraid of seeing a repeat of Louisiana's post-hurricane descent into Third-World lawlessness.

Given the opportunity to learn from experience and adopt a more foresighted evacuation plan or look at the sustainability of low-income housing in their state--or even, say, think about systemic racism--they instead decided to change the law so that people could more easily escape arrest for shooting each other--a sound decision in the country with the highest number of per-capita gun-related deaths in the Western world. Fucking brainiacs, these guys.


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