“…the Bronze Age states (c. 1250 BC) were hit by multiple events. Not just sustained droughts and famine, but also numerous volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, civil unrest, mass refugee migrations, trade disruptions and war.” – BBC feature: Economic Collapse: the real message of the fall of Troy.
Oxfam: Only trying to help
Like John Milton I’m going to struggle with my near-blindness for a bit, because I need to say something. (Unlike Milton we’re hoping it will go away eventually…)
I’ve just lost it again with a harmless old chap I run into most days on my walk, who keeps triggering my inner libtard by parroting toxic ideas he gets from the rightwing media, mostly about ‘foreigners’ (although he tells me he was born in America).
A bit ashamed of that, actually. Sorry, dear old chap. I treasure you really.
Today, he was most exercised that ‘we’ give money to Oxfam so they can exploit 10-year-old Haitian prostitutes.
I agree, that’s not good. However, it’s probably more shocking in my more expansive view that ‘we’ pay the officers of Oxfam half a million pounds a year to fly first-class and stay at the best hotels just down the road from the disaster zone, while allowing 10-year-olds to ply the oldest profession in the street outside.
The economics of prostitution are generally related to a failure of good governance at many levels, but it is invariably born out of necessity, of a kind one had imagined charities like Oxfam have for more than 50 years been paid to relieve.
While Oxfam probably employs many thousands of good people around the world in difficult situations where they can’t always be supervised, there are a few bad apples in every large organization, who in this case were fired as soon as Oxfam found out. That’s not good enough for the British press, however.
But do we really want to destroy institutions that still do some good in the world, while yet there is a British parlour wall unhung with a 60-inch TV screen?
The occasionally atrocious behavior of a tiny handful of employees is a lot less unexpected than the broader failure of the organization to do its work. There should be no 10-year-old prostitutes in the first place in an earthquake disaster zone where international charities are thick on the ground. That’s the outrage – not that a few wicked and licentious officials may be tempted to exploit them.
The elderly party thinks it’s a disgrace anyway that the government gives ‘our’ money away to people in foreign countries when we should spend it instead on the National Health Service and other poverty-stricken causes in ‘our’ own country.
I agree… many of ‘us’ also need help. But… Don’t ‘we’ already get help? Maybe not quite as much as we feel we deserve. But there is no famine in Britain. No militarized mass rape. No genocide. No rampaging warlords or traffic in “blood diamonds”, beyond a few isolated cases of exploitative gangsterism. Influence-peddling, some inequality, but no kleptocracy to speak of; and very few earthquakes.
As I have recently experienced, in Britain you can walk in off the street to a clean, professionally run hospital and, provided you have the right condition, be swiftly assessed and treated expensively for free. Every child receives a free education to the age of 18. Comply to the nth degree with the miserable conditions and endless bureaucracy of the Government’s rotten means-test and you can at least get a few tens of pounds a week in benefits to help you survive to an age when the State grants you a pension.
And who left those “shithole” countries in the state they’re in? They’re mostly former colonial territories of ours, the French, the Belgians, the Germans, the Dutch, the Spanish, the Portuguese – and they didn’t have much to begin with.
I try explaining that ‘we’ give just 70 pence out of every hundred pounds we earn, our Gross National Product, to the aid budget because some people on earth are even more desperate than we are, the sixth richest nation in the world – and we’re nominally a Christian country. Does the old guy really think that if ‘we’ took back that 70p, they’d give more to people like him? Ha ha! Sillyface.
The NHS already swallows twelve whole pounds out of every hundred we earn; the problem seems to be (forgive me, I’ve spent too much time in hospitals lately) a mismatch between the facilities available, the staff available and the patients’ medical needs, which are seldom serious. That’s a management, not a money problem. £40 billion goes to Education; a similar amount to defend ourselves against the North Korean menace. Good God, we’ve spent 7 billion pounds building two leaky aircraft carriers with no aircraft, and propose to spent 60 billion more on useless nuclear submarines we can only operate with the permission of the Pentagon – 60 billion more still on a superfluous and destructive 110-miles of railway line on which you and I will not be able to afford to travel.
Isn’t that selfish enough for the average Daily Mail reader?
Indeed, £38 in every £100 the nation earns goes into the pockets, the country estates, the offshore accounts and the Bentley Continentals – who knows, maybe also the 10-year-old prostitutes – of the top 1 per cent of wealthy people in ‘our’ country – among them that braying, bullying egoist, the £2.5m a year editor of the Daily fucking Mail – people who prefer you not to think of them when you’re begrudging the world’s poorest their 70 pence.
I should like to explain that only some of the aid budget, that 70p in every hundred pounds, goes to famine and disaster relief. Some goes to useful development projects that intendedly help to increase ‘our’ export sales. Some goes to preventing refugees from coming to Britain. Some goes to maintaining embassies abroad. Some goes to the United Nations. And some even goes to the military to pay for peacekeeping missions that ultimately increase security on ‘our’ streets.
This huge generosity is what the editor of the Daily fucking Mail, the world’s nastiest, greediest, most selfish, fascist-supporting so-called newspaper, a privileged Jingoistic swine who owns a 17 thousand-acre Scottish estate and gave himself a 60 per cent pay rise last year, a bullying brute by all accounts pandering profitably to the worst instincts in stinking humanity, describes as ‘madness’.
But I don’t explain. What would be the point? Instead, I tell this elderly party, who’s probably no older than I am, ‘oh, fuck that Daily Mail bullshit’, and walk away angrily, because I don’t expect him to understand what I’m saying to him. No-one wants to hear they’re being played for fools, or that they’re just normally thoughtless, selfish, dog-eat-dog human beings.
I’m sure he was only trying to be helpful.
GW: stumbling blindly through the blizzard
Look, I’m still not really up to writing loads of copy. Staring at this screen hurts my eyes. I’m going to just give you a link to Climate & Extreme Weather News #92 pt 2, the latest issue, and you can draw your own conclusions. They’d better be the right ones. Video footage from Iowa includes instructions (from 08’53”) for how to build a traffic jam out of idiots – 12 of whom died trying.
And now there’s CEWN #93 and it’s just overwhelming:
Cyclone Gita: Samoa, American Samoa & Tonga …The Philippines: Tropical Storm Basyang …Bolivia: Tiquipaya mudflows …Brazil: Porto Alegre storm …Argentina: Cordoba hailstorms … The USA: Midwest snowstorm & south-east flooding …Europe: Western Europe cold & France snow …Iceland: Reykjavik blizzard …India: Maharashtra thunderstorms …Japan: Snowstorms …Australia: Queensland heatwave & Brisbane thunderstorms …New Zealand: Opotiki flooding …Sudden Stratospheric Warming Event…. and more!
To summarize (more winterize, actually):
5 dead in the Philippines as TS Basyang batters Mindanao. Cordoba experienced quite a few giant hailstones of 10 cm dia. and more, but we recall it is the city that had five feet of hail in fifteen minutes last August. 12 people have died in record snowfalls over coastal Japan in the past week. Central Queensland is heading into a possible record heatwave for next week. 4 people died in a cyclonic hailstorm in Maharashtra, with extensive crop damage. Reykjavik experiences total whiteout and hurricane-speed winds with 5-ft snowdrifts burying cars overnight. Arctic sea ice is at another record February low, while a heatwave in the stratosphere is intruding over the Arctic and expected to play hell with the polar vortex over the next few days.
The forecaster fails to mention however that the subArctic jetstream is somewhere over North Africa.
USA: “Heavy rain, flooding and landslides have affected areas of Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee since 10 February 2018.” 2 die as Chicago experiences 9 straight days of snow.
Bolivia: “Heavy rain and flooding has left 6 people dead and 9,600 families affected. As many as 14 municipalities have declared a disaster.”
Mediterranean: “Severe weather, including strong winds, heavy rain and high waves, caused damage in Malta on 10 February. 1 man was killed and a passenger injured when a car was hit by a fallen tree. A large ship ran aground during the storm. Over 100 mm of rain fell in some areas in 24 hours.”
Pacific: “Days of heavy rainfall brought by Tropical Cyclone Gita have caused flooding and landslides in Samoa. The storm dumped massive amounts of rain from 07 to 11 Feb. Some areas recorded over 600 mm in a 24-hour period. Heavy rain in eastern areas of Malaysia caused flooding in parts of Sarawak from 03 Feb. Samarahan Division recorded almost 200mm of rain in 24 hours to 06 February. Schools and hospitals have been closed and thousands of people affected.”
Africa: “The south of Malawi is enduring a dire dry season that the country’s ministry of agriculture says will leave more than 700,000 farmers with less than 40 percent yield from their crops.” Mob violence has accompanied rumors that the drought is due to witchcraft. (Washington Post, 08 Feb).
Last week, however, GW was relaying news from Floodlist that northern Malawi was yet again underwater owing to intense rainfall. Maybe a pipeline or some buckets would be useful?
Anyone there at Oxfam?
Thanks to Floodlist/ Washington Post/ Climate & Extreme Weather News #92 pt 2, #93.
It’s been a blast
Yellowstone is “under strain” according to a group of seismologists who are monitoring the potentially catastrophic volcano, prompting fears an eruption is imminent. 15 Feb a new earthquake swarm up to M2.9 is recorded (but not reported) in the park.
Food security: “Some areas of Australia have seen up to 70% (grain crop) reductions compared to last year’s output. Reasons are drought and cold related issues.”
Mary Greeley website quoting the Billing Gazette and an unsourced scientific paper/ ABC News
A Higher Gear
I don’t normally give a shit about the BBC’s noxious car show for drooling petro-cretins and their embarrassed-looking girlfriends, Top Gear. I’m just watching for the first time the stilted, amateurish, characterless new autocue-stumbling presentation team going through the motions while waiting for something better to come on.
A dreary presenter is having an orgasm driving the latest Ferrari round a track somewhere. It goes at 300 mph, you can’t legally drive it on the road and it’s not race-licensed either. Only 40 will ever be made, it costs only £2 million, comes with its own fulltime team of mechanics – the tyres last only a few miles – and you can’t just buy one, you have to be invited as a deserving person to own one (Lewis Hamilton, enjoy!).
It is, of course, exquisite. Out of this world. It even limits the number of laps you’re allowed to drive it, before you die of smugness. And has a button that lets you drift excitingly round corners at 200 mph with no traction control, just for the hell of it.
FXXK? FXX that.
You’re taking the piss, right?
Or is this a new series of Pointless?