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The Role of U.S. Criminal Negligence on a Global Scale

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  • Elfscloud009@aol.com
    Casualties of a policy of war, negligence, and corporate greed A Statement from the International Action Center While earthquakes and tsunamis are natural
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 31, 2004
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      Casualties of a policy of war, negligence, and corporate greed

      A Statement from the International Action Center

      While earthquakes and tsunamis are natural disasters, the decision to
      spend billions of dollars on wars of conquest while ignoring simple
      measures that can save human lives is not.

      At least [120,000] people were killed by the tsunami that devastated
      coastlines from Indonesia to Somalia. Almost a third of the dead are
      children. Thousands are still missing and millions are homeless in 11
      countries. Hundreds of thousands have lost everything, and millions
      face a bleak future because of polluted drinking water, a lack of
      sanitation and no health services, according to UN undersecretary Jan
      Egeland, who is in charge of emergency relief coordination.

      Egeland said, "We cannot fathom the cost of these poor societies and
      the nameless fishermen and fishing villages and so on that have just
      been wiped out. Hundreds of thousands of livelihoods have gone."

      No money for early warning system

      Much of this death and destruction could have been prevented with a
      simple and inexpensive system of buoys. Officials in Thailand and
      Indonesia have said that an immediate public warning could have saved
      lives, but that they could not know of the danger because there is no
      international system in place to track tsunamis in the Indian Ocean.

      Such a system is not difficult or expensive to install. In fact, the
      detector buoys that monitor tsunamis have been available for decades
      and the U.S. has had a monitoring system in place for more than half a
      century. More than 50 seismometers are scattered across the Northwest
      to detect and measure earthquakes that might spawn tsunamis. In the
      middle of the Pacific are six buoys equipped with sensors
      called "tsunameters" that measure small changes in water pressure and
      programmed to automatically alert the country's two tsunami-warning
      centers in Hawaii and Alaska.

      Dr. Eddie Bernard, director of the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental
      Laboratory in Seattle, says just a few buoys could do the job.
      Scientists wanted to place two more tsunami meters in the Indian Ocean,
      including one near Indonesia, but the plan had not been funded, said
      Bernard. The tsunameters each cost only $250,000. A mere half million
      dollars could have provided an early warning system that could have
      saved thousands of lives. This should be compared to the $1,500,000,000
      the U.S. spends every day to fund the Pentagon war machine. Lack of
      funding for an inexpensive, low-tech early warning system is simply
      criminal negligence.

      Indian Minister of State for Science and Technology Kapil Sibal
      said, “If the country had such an alert system in place, we could have
      warned the coastal areas of the imminent danger and avoided the loss of
      life.” But there is no room in the Bush budget for such life-saving
      measures; the U.S. government's priorities are corporate profit and
      endless war. At a meeting of the UN Intergovernmental Oceanographic
      Commission in June, experts concluded that the "Indian Ocean has a
      significant threat from both local and distant tsunamis" and should
      have a warning network. But no action was agreed upon. Geologist Brian
      Atwater of the U.S. Geological Survey said, "Sumatra has an ample
      history of great earthquakes, which makes the lack of a tsunami warning
      system in the Indian Ocean all the more tragic. Everyone knew Sumatra
      was a loaded gun."

      U.S. government failed to warn region

      Although the local governments had no real warning, the U.S. government
      did, and it failed to pass along the information. Within minutes of the
      massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Indonesia, U.S.
      scientists working with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
      (NOAA) suspected that a deadly wave was spreading through the Indian
      Ocean. They did not call anyone in the governments in the area. Jeff
      LaDouce, an official in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
      Administration, said that they e-mailed Indonesian officials, but said
      that he wasn’t aware what happened after they sent the e-mails.

      In this day of instant communications, controlled in a large part by
      the U.S., it is possible to communicate within minutes to every part of
      the globe. It is beyond belief that the officials at the NOAA could not
      find any method to directly and immediately contact civilian
      authorities in the area. Their decision not to do so may have cost
      thousands of lives. Even a few minutes warning would have given the
      inhabitants a chance to seek higher ground. The NOAA had several hours
      notice before the first waves hit shore. Tim Walsh, geologic-hazards
      program manager for the Washington State Department of Natural
      Resources, said, "Fifty feet of elevation would be enough to escape the
      worst of the waves. In most places, 25 feet would be sufficient. If you
      go uphill or inland, the effect of the tsunami will be diminished." But
      the inhabitants of the area weren't given the warning - as a result,
      television and radio alerts were not issued in Thailand until nearly an
      hour after the waves had hit and thousands were already dead. The
      failure to make any real effort to warn the people of the region,
      knowing that tens of thousands of lives were at stake, is part of a
      pattern of imperial contempt and racism that has become the cornerstone
      of U.S. policies worldwide.

      The NOAA immediately warned the U.S. Naval Station at Diego Garcia,
      which suffered very little damage from the tsunami. It is telling that
      the NOAA was able to get the warning to the US Navy base in the area,
      but wouldn't pick up the phone and call the civil authorities in the
      region to warn them. They made sure that a US military base was
      notified and did almost nothing to issue a warning to the civilian
      inhabitants who were in the direct path of the wave--a warning that
      might have saved thousands of lives. This is criminal negligence.

      Disease may kill tens of thousands more

      The [120,000] deaths directly resulting from the tsunami are just the
      beginning of the tragedy. Disease could claim as many victims as have
      been killed in the weekend's earthquake-sparked tsunami, according to
      the World Health Organization (WHO). Medical experts warn that malaria,
      cholera and dengue fever are expected to pose serious health threats to
      survivors in the area, where waves spoiled drinking-water supplies,
      polluted streets and homes with raw sewage, swept away medical clinics,
      ruined food stocks and left acres of stagnant ponds where malaria-
      carrying mosquitoes can breed.

      "The biggest threat to survivors is from the spread of infection
      through contamination of drinking water and putrefying bodies left by
      the receding waters," said Jamie McGoldrick, a senior U.N. health
      official.

      "Within a few days, we fear, there is going to be outbreaks of
      disease," Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla said. "Cholera is going
      to be a problem. This is going to be the most important thing in a few
      days."

      The response of the U.S. government to this emergency is to offer a
      paltry $15 million "aid package." To put this in perspective, this is
      one tenth of one percent of what Washington has spent thus far on the
      war against the people of Iraq.

      Money for human needs, not for war

      The U.S. and British governments owe billions of dollars in reparations
      to the countries of this region and to all other formerly colonized
      countries. The poverty and lack of infrastructure that contribute to
      and exacerbate the scope of this disaster are the direct result of
      colonial rule and neo-colonial policies. Although economic and
      political policies cannot control the weather, they can determine how a
      nation is impacted by natural disasters.

      We must hold the U.S. government accountable for their role in tens,
      perhaps hundreds, of thousands of deaths. We must demand that it stop
      spending $1.5 billion each day for war and occupation and instead
      provide health care for the victims of this tragedy, build an early
      warning system, and rebuild the homes and infrastructure destroyed by
      the tsunami.

      Sara Flounders
      Dustin Langley

      for the International Action Center
    • Jo Ann Schwartz
      Hi Leela, And the reason the Europeans get off the hook for this is?? Last I heard, India, Indonesia, etc. (with the exception of the Philippines) were all
      Message 2 of 3 , Dec 31, 2004
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        Hi Leela,

        And the reason the Europeans get off the hook for this is?? Last I heard,
        India, Indonesia, etc. (with the exception of the Philippines) were all former
        European colonies. And the Europeans also seem to have a few spare shekels to
        rub together these days.

        Also, we are talking a once in a century type of event here. Why is it so
        sinister or surprising that no one was prepared for it? (I gotta tell ya, here
        in the USofHay we still have the "Civil Defense" infastructure in place for
        when the pesky Russians send over the missles, but I'm not sure anyone would
        know what to do if the sirens went off -- except for the once a month test, at
        which we check our watches and say, oh, is it that time again?)

        Then again, there are fair regular earthquakes off the coast of Japan and I
        have to say, they do look for tsuunami afterwards, chasing folks off the
        beaches, etc. Whilst the Indonesians were too close for much warning, why
        weren't the Thais, Indians, etc. on the lookout for tsuunami after the Sumatara
        quake? It wasn't exactly a secret.

        Musing the US ain't responsible for *everything* dammit,
        JoAnn
      • Steve Haag
        ... dollars could have provided an early warning system that could have saved thousands of lives. This should be compared to the $1,500,000,000 the U.S. spends
        Message 3 of 3 , Jan 1, 2005
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          --- In anthroposophy_tomorrow@yahoogroups.com, Elfscloud009@a...
          wrote:

          > The tsunameters each cost only $250,000. A mere half million
          dollars could have provided an early warning system that could have
          saved thousands of lives. This should be compared to the
          $1,500,000,000 the U.S. spends every day to fund the Pentagon war
          machine.

          I wonder if this is an unconcious population control effort along the
          theme of fear of other. And all this a confusion over what it means
          to be one's brothers' keeper - forget the bit about love other as
          self.

          SteveD
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