Blog of Mass Distraction

Monday, January 03, 2005

A pensive new year

The death toll in southern Asia because of the quake/tsunami disaster has apparently gone past 150,000 and will continue to rise. Thousands were lost in southern India and Thailand, and hundreds in the East coast in a couple of African countries. But worst hit were Sri Lanka, which lost close to 30,000 and Indonesia where the current count in Sumatra is somewhere between 80,000 and 100,000 dead.
Donations and aid has been plegded and has started arriving to some of the areas, though remote areas are much harder to reach as yet. The first thing being given out is clean water to help the survivors.
The US has formed a coalition to aid the stricken countries which Canada has joined. The coalition is supposed to act under the coordination of the UN. The US initially plegded some $35 million and has since upped it to $350 million. Martin's government initial offered $1 million and quickly increased it to $4 million and then $40 million. These paltry sums simply add insult to injury. Martin was simply trying to get away with offering as little as possible and seeing what the reaction would be. The US is offering $350 million, which is nice until you consider they have spent more than $110 billion destroying Iraq and killing 100,000 people there. The problem is they really get nothing out of helping the affected countries aside from some political good will from others, which is why they're spending as much as they are. Right now US aid is concentrated on Indonesia which is both the worst hit country and a close US ally.

In other events, Yushenko won the second election in Ukraine which international monitors said was fair. This time, however, Yanukovych is complaining about vote rigging and he refuses to relenquish power. Yushenko won with a comfortable majority and his supporters to protest Yanukovych, though there is still fair tension between Yushenko's political supporters and the eatern regions of the country which support Yanukovych and provide a majority of the industrial output of the country.

Otherwise things are slow here since most politicians are off on holidays, though many came back early as a result of the tsunami disaster. One thing that has bothered a lot of people during this holiday season is the increase in drinking and driving. I know people that have driven drunk or after drinking and I don't know how they can possilby justify their actions. The risk of danger to yourself and others is never worth it. How can it possibly be worth a life to just get home a couple of hours earlier? Even for people that think they are sober enough to drive (which they usually aren't) and who don't care about the risk they pose to others (like those who don't care about other human life in general, let along when they're drunk), the risk of getting caught seems to be the only discouraging factor and it's obviously not enough. Drunk driving is a criminal offense and having a criminal record has some very serious implications, especially if you travel. Moreover, if you're caught more than once you can serve jail time; but I suppose that doesn't mean much to the "oh nothing will happen" types...


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