Posts Tagged ‘Humanity’

Posted on September 20, 2005 in Our American Friends by Andy @ Yellow SwordfishComments Off

On the 6th September, the BBC described how Hurricane Aid Flights Were Leaving The UK:

On Sunday the US asked the European Union and Nato to send emergency aid.
Two planes carrying the first batch of 500,000 standard issue ration packs – each containing enough food to last one person up to 48 hours – left on Monday.
Three more will leave for Little Rock, Arkansas, on Tuesday, to be followed by daily flights over the coming week.
The rations will be flown on from Arkansas to Texas, Mississippi and Alabama, where refugees evacuated from the hurricane disaster zone are currently based.

It came as a bit of a shock to learn today via The Naked Truth, that not only are the planeloads of rations still sitting at Little Rock, but that the US Food and Drug Agency (FDA) has condemned the lot as being ‘unfit for human consumption’ and plans to send it for incineration.

As reported in The Mirror:

One British aid worker last night called the move “sickening senselessness” and said furious colleagues were “spitting blood”.
The food, which cost British taxpayers millions, is sitting idle in a huge warehouse after the Food and Drug Agency recalled it when it had already left to be distributed.
Scores of lorries headed back to a warehouse in Little Rock, Arkansas, to dump it at an FDA incineration plant.
The Ministry of Defence in London said last night that 400,000 operational ration packs had been shipped to the US.
But officials blamed the US Department of Agriculture, which impounded the shipment under regulations relating to the import and export of meat.
The aid worker, who would not be named, said: “This is the most appalling act of sickening senselessness while people starve.

OK. So it’s The Mirror! But it kind of has the ring of truth to it when you tie it in with the rest of the mess the US authorities have made of Katrina relief. And if they don’t want it – then they should bloody well fly it back.

Posted on September 17, 2005 in Politics by Andy @ Yellow Swordfish6 Comments »

I have been very wary of commenting on the Israel/Palestine issue. This problem that Israel and the USA created, has been going on throughout my lifetime and I find it immensely disturbing that even today, direct criticism of Israel so often leads to someone responding with the ‘anti-semitic’ card and invoking the spectre of the holocaust and the Nazi’s.

Whilst it is understandable and only proper that the Jewish people should never let the world forget the horrors of 60 years ago, it is used too often to stifle what could be constructive debate and has sometimes been used as emotional blackmail to obfuscate Israeli actions that would otherwise receive condemnation. The Israel/Palestine issue has been at the core of Middle East unrest for a long time, and, like Northern Ireland, I don’t have a clue how it will get resolved. But one thing I do feel sure about is that it will never get resolved all the time the ‘west’, and in particular the USA, gives what appears to be unconditional support to Israel.

OK. Having said all that and opened myself up to all kinds of comments I have to agree with Mike Power in his item More dark-skinned looters who said:

I was disturbed by the way the BBC TV News portrayed the destruction of the synagogues in Gaza and how it referred to ‘looting’ by Palestinians. Surely they were EX-synagogues anyway and can the removal of window-frames from buildings illegally built on stolen land by the people the land was stolen from really be classed as ‘looting’?!

The real answer to that question is, of course, no. It is time for our politicians and the politicians of all major world powers to stop playing lip-service to the plight of Palestine and to throw the weight of the world behind solving the problem and creating a Palestinian state. Done with care and belief, it would be the start of healing some of the other problems of the Middle East.

Posted on September 3, 2005 in Bush Effect by Andy @ Yellow Swordfish3 Comments »

I watched two, separate, English TV reporters today, working from within the devastation that was once New Orleans. They were there with the dispossessed, the sick, the elderly and the children amongst the dead bodies laying out in the searing heat. People who have for four days been offered no hope from their government that life will ever be the same again.

Both of these journalists are ‘old hands’ at working within disaster zones – be they man made or natural. And they both, independently said the same thing. At no natural disaster they had covered in the past – mainly in poor, third world countries, had the authorities and government done so little over so many days. They spoke of food and water being dropped within 24 hours of the tragic tsunami in Asia yet four days after Katrina ripped their lives apart, people stranded in the centre of a once great city had not even been offered emergency water.

We all know that there are good people there working tirelessly, many of them volunteers, but the response from the Bush Administration beggars belief. Having stripped the funds that were badly needed for water defences and sent the bulk of the National Guard off to Iraq, I would hope there is some shame being felt by the countries political elite just now.

The mismanagement of the first four days of this tragedy must surely make most Americans feel ashamed.

Posted on August 22, 2005 in Life in England by Andy @ Yellow Swordfish2 Comments »

A disturbing poll from ICM (sponsored by The Guardian) suggests that 73% of Brits would trade civil liberties for greater security. I hope, along with Liberty, that this is just a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction otherwise it plays right into the hands of Charles Clarke who seems hell-bent on doing just that. No wonder he looks so happy in the picture below!

As The Register points out:

It is interesting to note that this is the same general public that rails against any attempts to make them drive more slowly, or with more care. This is in spite of the fact that in 2004, 671 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents, and a further 2,550 people died in other road accidents.

Which is, of course, a tad higher than those killed to date by terrorist activity.

More understandable are the 62% who support the deportation of radical Islamists, even to countries that routinely administer torture. We know, after all, that most of these people fled their homeland because they were radical, but it is a disturbing figure.

Curbing our own hard-fought for freedoms and condoning torture (even if elsewhere) can never be the answer. Ask the American people who have already gone down this route – at least ask those who see through the constant media barrage of scare stories and Homeland Security ‘Threat Levels’. Do we really either want or need this?

Following the two London attacks in July, I was proud to be British. The government response was that we should introduce laws that made the fostering of terrorism illegal. While I readily understand that the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001 took many more lives, compare the British response with that of our American friends. The Department of Homeland Security. The Patriot Act. Hundreds locked up without trial in secret. Two separate wars, both still dragging on. Huge loss of life on all sides. Abuse of prisoners. Polarisation of the American people. The rise of Christian Fundamentalism. And yes – a constant attempt to curb civil liberties.

I think we can be smarter than that. At least, I sincerely hope we can.

Posted on August 18, 2005 in Science by Andy @ Yellow SwordfishComments Off

With western civilisation and the Middle East in the early stages of meltdown and our newspapers full of gloom and doom it is so refreshing and uplifting to come across something that re-affirms our humanity.

The LifeStraw – the invention of the century? is just such a story.

More than one billion people – one sixth of the world’s population – are without access to safe water supply. At any given moment, about half of the world’s poor are suffering from waterborne diseases, of which over 6,000 – mainly children – die each day by consuming unsafe drinking water.

The aptly-named LifeStraw is an invention that could become one of the greatest life-savers in history. It is a 25 cm long, 29 mm diameter, plastic pipe filter and purchased singly, costs around US2.00. LifeStraw is a personal, low-cost water purification tool with a life time of 700 litres – approximately one year of water consumption for one person. Positive test results have been achieved on tap, turbid and saline water against common waterborne bacteria such as Salmonella, Shigella, Enterococcus and Staphylococcu.

I don’t know about you, but this gives me a warm feeling – that we are still capable of caring.