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Heartless response
December 29, 2004 7:27 AM   Subscribe

Heartless response An American couple survived while diving off Thailand during the tsunami. Because they had lost all their possessions, they had to have new passports issued. At the Bangkok airport other governments had set up booths to assist their citizens. The couple searched there for officials from the American consulate for three hours, before finding them in the VIP lounge. Oh, and U.S. officials demanded payment before taking any passport pictures.
posted by fleener (166 comments total)

 
she was oblivious to the disaster until after they surfaced. [...]

Soon they saw bodies floating past them, Wachs' mother said in an interview from Oakland, California, where she lives.


How surreal that must have been.

re: rude insensitive government employees; somehow, not surprising.
posted by effwerd at 7:31 AM on December 29, 2004


The Bangkok consulate provided US citizens with shockingly poor service, and I hope that those responsible will have to answer for it.

However, is this really FPP-worthy?
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:33 AM on December 29, 2004


If you want to debate FPP-worthiness, I'll drum up a list of 100 pathetic FPP submissions.

In light of the other widely-publicized criticism the US government has received regarding its response (largely monetary), it's important to note that American officials very close to the disaster were so obviously lacking in compassion. Hell, if I was one of those officials and I was directly ordered to demand payment, I'd pull out my own credit card and pay for these peoples' passports. Have a frickin' heart.
posted by fleener at 7:42 AM on December 29, 2004


same thing happened to a few canadians at our consulate in thailand - blunt civil servants following the letter of the law because they hadn't yet gotten any new instructions from ottawa. typical.
posted by t r a c y at 7:46 AM on December 29, 2004


Maybe we've sunk so low as a people that we must pass legislation to officially suspend service fees during a national/global disaster. Let's debate the merits of that law.
posted by fleener at 7:48 AM on December 29, 2004


The Peter Principle: "In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his (her) level of incompetence." I guess these guys have topped out. Or maybe they have a future in the diplomatic service.
posted by carter at 7:50 AM on December 29, 2004


Hmm.. Tens of thousands dead, millions homeless, their lives and livelihoods lost - and I'm supposed to feel sorry for someone because it took them three hours to get a new passport?

Typical American selfishness.
posted by wadefranklin at 7:55 AM on December 29, 2004


Ah, jeez. Let me get this straight. You're alive. You're being aided by consular officials. You have the money to pay for a new passport.
But somehow, in the midst of all that incomprehensible death and destruction, you decide that being asked to pay for new passports is petty and heartless. And rather than contemplate the tragedy you've miraculously survived, you're worried about whether or not the person assisting you has risen to their level of incompetence.
posted by 327.ca at 7:58 AM on December 29, 2004


There will be a million anecdotes that will emerge around this tragedy. From stories like this, to "the animals knew it was coming" which was posted in another thread, to urban legends of people surfing their way out of danger. I hope we don't see a post for every one of them, and instead stick to the big issues.
posted by jpoulos at 7:58 AM on December 29, 2004


Those who live according to the rules of others often lose the ability to think for themselves. Our society has encouraged this in a thousand ways and obviously thinks it is a good thing, despite the occasional bad press.
posted by rushmc at 7:59 AM on December 29, 2004


No one asked you to feel sorry. Just outrage at bureaucracy during a time that calls for compassion. But sure, feel free to sit back and call people selfish for expecting human decency.
posted by fleener at 8:00 AM on December 29, 2004


Hmmm. Ok, so I didn't quite get that the point was to "feel sorry" for this woman, wadefranklin... I think the point was that the US Consulate people weren't helping anyone. It's 58,000 dead at this point... I doubt this one scuba diver was expecting your pity, but I agree that one would expect that in such a dire situation human beings would rise to assist eachother without demanding pre-payment.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:04 AM on December 29, 2004


Do you really think "outrage at bureaucracy" is a helpful sentiment, considering the circumstances? Bureaucracy (i.e., a systematic response to disaster) may be the only thing that keeps the number of dead from doubling in the weeks to come.
posted by 327.ca at 8:07 AM on December 29, 2004


I would like to think that the US Consulate workers were just trying to avoid the possibility of people taking advantage of this tragedy to...I dunno...get US passports? I'd like to think that they were attempting to continue procedure and not just being jerks...
posted by tpl1212 at 8:18 AM on December 29, 2004


Bureaucracy (i.e., a systematic response to disaster) may be the only thing that keeps the number of dead from doubling in the weeks to come.

This is a very good point. I think the post is an interesting one, and not because it shows the irresponsibility of US officials or the luck of the divers. What I think the story shows is the tension between a global view of the world and the reality of modern nation-states. Not to be too grandiose about it, but there's always a lot of talk about how we all (the world) pull together in the face of something like this, when in reality an event like this just as effectively demonstrates the divisions (social, cultural, monetary, political) define the modern world.
posted by OmieWise at 8:19 AM on December 29, 2004


Bureaucracy may be the only thing that keeps the number of dead from doubling in the weeks to come.

Or, one could argue that bureaucracy is what prevented an early-warning system from being developed in the first place.
posted by Kwantsar at 8:20 AM on December 29, 2004


Bureacrats suck.

[derail]Bring out that list, fleener! I wanna see the list![/derail]
posted by graventy at 8:26 AM on December 29, 2004



Or, one could argue that bureaucracy is what prevented an early-warning system from being developed in the first place.


Yes, I suppose -- here in the lap of luxury that is the efficicient, compassionate West -- we could argue that.
posted by 327.ca at 8:27 AM on December 29, 2004


"...Earlier yesterday, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said the president was confident he could monitor events effectively without returning to Washington or making public statements in Crawford, where he spent part of the day clearing brush and bicycling. Explaining the about-face, a White House official said: "The president wanted to be fully briefed on our efforts. He didn't want to make a symbolic statement about 'We feel your pain.' "
posted by orange clock at 8:28 AM on December 29, 2004


Uh, coordinated, trans-continental warning systems are only put in place by bureacracies. They may not be perfect at it, but they're the only ones doing it.

if a passport costs money, and someone has the money to pay for it, and relief funds might be urgently needed elsewhere, why is asking them to pay for their own passport inhumane? It would be inhumane to divert local funds into US-passport-creation, not the other way around.
posted by dkg at 8:29 AM on December 29, 2004


Where is the outrage?
Where is the outrage?
Where is the outrage?
Where, where, where?


I knew we were going to get to this. Seriously, those consular employees screwed up. They did not provide service to American taxpayers, as they are charged to do, and they may also have acted like jerks.

Apparently, some Canadian consular employees were equally incompetent and/or negligent.

Obviously, this is a matter that will need to be dealt with. These people did not do their job well, and they may also have been thoughtless and rude in dealing with terrified people who had just experienced an enormous natural disaster.

I just don't see what discussing this on MeFi is supposed to accomplish, except for the feel-good surge of outrage.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:34 AM on December 29, 2004


I still don't understand why fleener, or anyone else, should draw attention to the minor inconvenience experienced by a few wealthy American tourists when the lives of millions have been shattered in ways we cannot even begin to comprehend.
posted by wadefranklin at 8:34 AM on December 29, 2004


I would like to think that the US Consulate workers were just trying to avoid the possibility of people taking advantage of this tragedy to...I dunno...get US passports?
Very good point. I wasn't thinking of that.

Or, one could argue that bureaucracy is what prevented an early-warning system from being developed in the first place.
True, it would be nice if there was a working system to track tsunamis in the Indian Ocean. But that said, three of the last four tsunami warnings picked up by the Pacific Ocean system were false.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:36 AM on December 29, 2004


If you want to debate FPP-worthiness, I'll drum up a list of 100 pathetic FPP submissions.

Have at it, Fleener. (Not that I think this is necessarily a bad post, I'm just curious to see the list.)
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:40 AM on December 29, 2004


But somehow, in the midst of all that incomprehensible death and destruction, you decide that being asked to pay for new passports is petty and heartless. And rather than contemplate the tragedy you've miraculously survived, you're worried about whether or not the person assisting you has risen to their level of incompetence.

Yeah, I'm sure the people who had corpses floating past them when they surfaced from their dive and likely walked through sun drenched streets littered with the bloated dead really need some guy on metafilter to lecture them on how they should feel.
posted by crank at 8:41 AM on December 29, 2004


This morning I saw an interesting map in the newspaper, which showed the Indian ocean with the epicenter off the coast of Sumatra and concentric rings around it with the times it took the tsunami to each of those rings. Apparently people as far off as Somalia and Kenia were killed (>5 hours away from the epicenter).
It certainly seems to make sense to institute some sort of warning system for tsunamis, since even two hours would be plenty of time to at least get your ass to a safe place. I mean, this is not like an earthquake, which is usally over before you can think even one clear tought.
posted by sour cream at 8:47 AM on December 29, 2004


Well, I don't really see the consulate being heartless here. It sounds more like Faye was a distraught scuba diver looking for a little hand holding at a time of understandable trauma. They had their ATM card and apparently there was a machine close enough that worked to allow the transaction so I just don't see the issue. Kind of a pointless story from CNN...oh boy, there's something new.

I do think Orange Clocks post is more poignant though. Kind of funny we're concerned with a couple consulates when our President is too busy on his ranch to even make a damn statement about this tragedy. God damn nauseating this President is.
posted by j.p. Hung at 8:48 AM on December 29, 2004


Bureaucracy (i.e., a systematic response to disaster)

Good god, do you actually believe that? The standard bureaucratic response to any problem, great or small, is to look bored, consult the rule book, postpone a decision or pass the buck, and go to lunch. Bureaucrats have their virtues, but disaster does not bring them out. Ordinary people doing their best to help out on the spur of the moment generally do much better.

I just don't see what discussing this on MeFi is supposed to accomplish, except for the feel-good surge of outrage.

That's an odd standard. What is discussing anything on MeFi supposed to "accomplish"? This is new and interesting and I suspect most of us hadn't seen it before; isn't that enough?
posted by languagehat at 8:54 AM on December 29, 2004


The email from the diver certainly didn't indicate a lack of feeling for the victims or an enormous sense of outrage at their treatment at the embassy relative to the many victims of the disaster. The email was quite compassionate. Why the daughter decided to share it with the world is another matter. And why fleener thought that this was a worthy post about this tragedy is similarly another matter. And not, I think, flattering to either the daughter or fleener. I hardly care that 11 Americans (so far) are known killed in comparison to the freakin' 80,000 or so already known dead. Inconvenience at the consulate? Not on my moral radar, sorry.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:54 AM on December 29, 2004


why is asking them to pay for their own passport inhumane?

Weii, in general, it's not; but many of these folks may have almost died, and also may have seen their friends/family killed, or have loved ones missing. They may be in a state of deep shock, and on top of that have also lost all the things that make their lives function smoothly in the west.

It may be relatively trivial to what some of the locals have been through - in that tourists can go home, and for locals the suffering is just beginning - but having made it to the consulate, embassy, whatever, I think the last thing they would have expected, is to be asked for payment, when they may have lost wallets, credit cards, passports, etc. Embassy officials are public servants, whose jobs are paid for by the citizens of the country they represent; in this case these officials could have offered assistance.
posted by carter at 8:57 AM on December 29, 2004


our President is too busy on his ranch to even make a damn statement about this tragedy.

He just did.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:57 AM on December 29, 2004


327.ca/dkg/etc, doesn't it strike you as a little stupid to demand payment from people who have just lost all their possessions? If they hadn't managed to hang on to that ATM card then they should have just given up on returning to the US. No money, no help from us!

I think the US consulate could have floated them the cost of passport photos, you know, just as a little token of compassion for what they've been through.

On preview, what carter said.
posted by bitmage at 8:58 AM on December 29, 2004


"Bureaucrats have their virtues, but disaster does not bring them out. Ordinary people doing their best to help out on the spur of the moment generally do much better."

Right, because ordinary people acting spontaneously are well-known to organize from scratch huge multinational relief efforts. All those folks that have formal positions with relief organizations and national agencies, along with their procedures, lines of communication, cross-agency ties and coordination...well, those all don't amount to much, really, compared to all this spontaneous good-will by far-flung bystanders, huh?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:59 AM on December 29, 2004


The fact that thousands died means I shouldn't be angry that government officials won't give passport photos to traumatized survivors without getting paid? That's ridiculous.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:59 AM on December 29, 2004


"Kind of funny we're concerned with a couple consulates when our President is too busy on his ranch to even make a damn statement about this tragedy. God damn nauseating this President is.

our President is too busy on his ranch to even make a damn statement about this tragedy.

He just did."


Dear Mr Bush
Perhaps you have been taking a very well deserved rest over the Christmas period; there is something of major importance to your country to which I would like to draw to your attention.

Faced with the greatest human disaster the world has ever known, the richest and most powerful nation on earth has offered to donate the princely sum of $35 million (initially announced as $15M but that was too embarrassing) to the relief effort. Under your administration, the United States has spent many times more than this, on many individual days on cruise missiles or other armaments which are designed to further world security and democracy.

My question is very simply this. Have none of your advisors indicated to you, that the way to quickly change the hearts and minds of millions in favour of the US, would be to immediately announce a massive (start with a figure of $1 billion and work up) injection of US aid? I am sure that you will appreciate that anti American feeling would be mitigated far more effectively by providing water, food and shelter than life destroying high explosives.

This is (hopefully) a once in a lifetime opportunity for the US to take the lead and to establish itself as an undeniable force for good. Alternatively you can continue to pay lip service to aid, and develop a breeding ground for terrorism which this time will cover a whole continent.

This is the defining moment of all US Presidencies.
posted by Cancergiggles at 9:07 AM on December 29, 2004


Indeed, CunningLinguist. Anger is an appropriate emotional response to bungling, heartless bureaucrats; sympathy, for the effects of "natural disasters" upon human beings. It is difficult for me to see how people confuse or conflate the two.
posted by rushmc at 9:08 AM on December 29, 2004


Faced with the greatest human disaster the world has ever known...

Surely you're not that big an idiot?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:09 AM on December 29, 2004


Some comments on the tsunami threads (and the response of American consulate workers in the news article) are pretty shocking.

The individual pain and terror can't be measured and compared btw persons just on the basis someone being American tourist or local panhandler.

I do have some personal experience in dealing with gov bureaucracies in bad situations. We were there during Bali bombings and later that night I tried to reach Finnish embassy in Jakarta for quite a while before finally reaching someone. Unfortunately the Finnish foreign service official couldn't do much that night as he first heard about the bombings from me, but he followed up on us for several days afterwards and offered to evacuate us on EU organized flight to Copenhagen. My wife called the American embassy the also on the same night and there she got hold of Marine Officer on Duty -- he's response was "it's weekend and Monday is a holiday, so call back on Tuesday." We later heard back from US foreign service about week and half when we had been able to fly to Australia on our own already (after declining the offer to fly to Copenhagen).
posted by zeikka at 9:09 AM on December 29, 2004


Bush's lack of response is pretty disgusting, given how many countries bent over backwards when we faced a disaster 1/10th the scale. It's called diplomacy. When major trading parters are counting dead in the 10,000s you call up a camera crew and say a few words.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:12 AM on December 29, 2004


Side note: the word "outrage" is terribly overused these days. It seems to be the default description for everything from an irritant to a catastrophe. Like other cliches, it is symptomatic of a tendency not to look at the big picture in life and not to use language to intelligently describe the full spectrum of the human experience. It annoys me to no end.

Anyway, about the behaviour of these American consular officials: it isn't that they were charging money that was specifically offensive, but rather that they were mindless drones unable or unwilling to adapt to the situation, acting with callous indifference to the plight of survivors -- as indicated by the couple pointing out that the American consular officials hanging out in the VIP lounge and not extending any effort to set up booths as officials of other countries had. The money is the last straw -- what really offended this couple is the utter laziness and lack of compassion that the American consular officials displayed.

According to the CBC news report I just heard as I was typing this out, it seems Canadian consular officials were being assholes about the whole thing too.
posted by randomstriker at 9:12 AM on December 29, 2004


there is no reason for the president to make a public statement and gloat. he is well aware that jesus is slaying the infidels by the thousands. everything is proceeding according to prophecy. and there's brush to be cleared.
posted by quonsar at 9:14 AM on December 29, 2004


Me: I just don't see what discussing this on MeFi is supposed to accomplish, except for the feel-good surge of outrage.

languagehat: That's an odd standard. What is discussing anything on MeFi supposed to "accomplish"? This is new and interesting and I suspect most of us hadn't seen it before; isn't that enough?


I didn't find it interesting, personally, but obviously some people did. I guess I am worn out by the calls for outrage. But, if people are moved by this story and want to express their disappointment and/or dissatisfaction with the treatment their fellow citizens received, they should contact Alexander Arvizu, the Deputy Chief of Mission, at the US Embassy in Bangkok. He is more likely to deal directly with the matter than Ambassador Darryl Johnson.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:15 AM on December 29, 2004


At first I thought this meant that the tourists had no money, no ATM card, and yet still the U.S. officials demanded payment. However, seeing how this couple still had their ATM and a passport costs about five dollars I don't see the big deal.

On the other hand, I am outraged that we cannot give substantial aid because this country is mired in Iraq, and because of Bush's mis-spending and priorities.
posted by xammerboy at 9:41 AM on December 29, 2004


These tourists had money; they used it to help other tourists who didn't, and who were stuck.
posted by carter at 9:46 AM on December 29, 2004


CancerGiggles - I thought the same thing. $35 million? Bah! We piss that away every day by just leaving the lights on.
posted by grateful at 9:51 AM on December 29, 2004


When I read the article earlier this morning, it sounded like an implication that other nations' staff were performing much better than the U.S. on a variety of levels.

But I haven't heard any names mentioned. Were any embassy or consular staffs going out of their way to shine in a moment of crisis? Or were they all basically following protocol?
posted by gimonca at 9:53 AM on December 29, 2004


$35 million? Bush has raised approximately $40 million in donations to spend on his inauguration.
posted by carter at 10:00 AM on December 29, 2004


For all those calling for a tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean, I wonder, when was the last time the Indian Ocean experienced a tsunami? How frequent are they really?
posted by onhazier at 10:13 AM on December 29, 2004


War On Nature to be announced at any moment.
posted by quonsar at 10:15 AM on December 29, 2004


what Cancergiggles said--it's disgusting that we're throwing away billions a month in Iraq, and can only spare 35 mil? Absolutely disgusting. (i'm also appalled that we can see death and destruction and bodies on tv when it's a natural disaster but not when we're actually causing it, as in Iraq?

And speaking of tourism and bureacracy--i've heard that in either Thailand or Indonesia, the government discussed evacuating people as soon as they heard of the earthquake, but it being high season for tourism, decided not to. A horrendous mistake.
posted by amberglow at 10:19 AM on December 29, 2004


...the richest and most powerful nation on earth has offered to donate the princely sum of $35 million...

Donate? I think you mean loan.
The announcement was made after director Anthony S. Natsios met with Secretary of State Colin Powell and Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage.

Describing the $20 million as a "line of credit," Ereli said "we have identified an additional $20 million that we will be working to make available" to countries struck by the worst natural disaster in four decades.
(Emphasis mine.)
posted by eriko at 10:20 AM on December 29, 2004


I can only imagine what it must be like to live through something as horrific as this disaster and then have some asswipe nickel and dime you.

Speaking of money, where's the best place to send my contribution for disaster relief? Red Cross?

Onhazier, I'll bet that whatever it would cost to put such a warning system in place would be much cheaper that the cleanup for this mess. Ounce of prevention, etc. Even if nothing like this happens again for another 50 years, I'd say it would be worth it to try to prevent it.
posted by apis mellifera at 10:21 AM on December 29, 2004


Only $35 million? Sorry, we're broke.
posted by poodlemouthe at 10:24 AM on December 29, 2004


Dear Mr Bush
Please do not use my tax dollars to provide relief to far-flung nations. I trust that many of my fellow citizens, so visibly outraged by the token US support, will sell all of their worldly possessions and take second jobs in order to provide disaster relief. Because they are so generous with everyone's money I have no doubt that they will be tenfold as generous with their own.
posted by Kwantsar at 10:29 AM on December 29, 2004


I don't question that the cost of a warning system is less than the current cleanup. I was questioning the previously preceived need for the system. I also don't question that the human toll would have been greatly reduced.
posted by onhazier at 10:31 AM on December 29, 2004


Please do not use my tax dollars to provide relief to far-flung nations.

Ooh! Is this the day I get to pick where my tax money is spent? Because I've got a long list of things that I don't want mine spent on anymore.
posted by bitmage at 10:41 AM on December 29, 2004


monju, your wiki makes me giggle -- i can't wait until it's been filled...
posted by armacy at 10:44 AM on December 29, 2004


On the other hand, I am outraged that we cannot give substantial aid because this country is mired in Iraq, and because of Bush's mis-spending and priorities.

This isn't about not having the money. Iraq hasn't bankrupted us. It's much worse than that. This is about thumbing our nose at the United Nations. It's a disgusting, cynical, political statement meant to show that we don't need no stinkin' U.N. We're going to give much more than $15 or $35million, but we're going to bypass the traditional channels (channels which have valuable experience in providing aid in an fast and efficient manner) and give it directly to the countries affected.

Moreso than Clinton, moreso than Newt Gingrich, moreso than Rush fucking Limbaugh: every move Bush makes, every word out of his mouth, has a political motivation.
posted by jpoulos at 10:52 AM on December 29, 2004


The couple searched there for officials from the American consulate for three hours, before finding them in the VIP lounge.

Is that really a shocking? I'm surprised the VIP lounge wasn't the first place they looked.

Mainstream media fluff.....
posted by Gooney at 10:53 AM on December 29, 2004


Amberglow, great point you make. I've watched the news and seen images of hundreds of dead bodies related to this tragedy yet I rarely see any images of death (be it Iraqi insurgents, civilians or soldiers) where this debacle called the Iraq War is concerned.

I do find the figure of 35m kind of pathetic given the gravity of the situation. Hell, we offered Turkey billions in aid to simply put some troops on the ground to invade Iraq.
posted by j.p. Hung at 10:55 AM on December 29, 2004


Kwantsar No - just think of it as self interest. This is the same as if 9/11 happened to you every day for a month - and ps the entire population of New York State is made homeless. Wouldn't you feel disinclined to commit terrorist acts against someone who helped you in such a situation?
Or maybe its just better to bomb everyone just in case.
posted by Cancergiggles at 10:56 AM on December 29, 2004


No - just think of it as self interest.

Do you mean protection money? Buying their love? No thanks.
posted by Kwantsar at 11:00 AM on December 29, 2004


I'm sorry to disrupt your day, but I felt like it was important to talk about what is going to be one of the major natural disasters in world history.

The gall appalls.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:00 AM on December 29, 2004


Sure you're not just waiting for Halliburton to step in?
posted by Cancergiggles at 11:12 AM on December 29, 2004


Wow, the trolls came out for this one. Yeah, it's irritating that our government's support for its citizens in a disaster area wasn't as responsive as that of other governments, but it's not that upsetting. However, the larger, apparently politicized response to human tragedy is upsetting.

What will be interesting is to see how this support unfolds, when compared with other political factors within the Bush administration. For example, Sri Lanka and India have signed Article 98 agreements, but other affected countries have not (as far as I know) - in an administration that felt the Nethercutt Amendment was fair play, the direct payment of aid could be used as leverage to encourage other affected countries to sign such agreements. That could also affect how our aid is delivered, as we have more leverage on "lines of credit" (as in "hey, since you signed an Article 98 agreement, we'll waive further payments on this loan") than we do outright grants, and a heck of a lot more control than if we handed the money over to the UN for disbursement.

(Cynical, yeah, but anything's possible after the Nethercutt Amendment.)
posted by FormlessOne at 11:17 AM on December 29, 2004


I guess I am worn out by the calls for "FPP-worthiness". Whah.

Fair enough, but note that I did post useful information for people who wanted to make a complaint about the Embassy staff's inaction (Bangkok has an Embassy, not a consulate).
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:23 AM on December 29, 2004


Do you mean protection money? Buying their love? No thanks. --Kwantsar

Not exactly, but I'll be safer, happier and healthier if the people I share the planet with are safe, happy and healthy, too. Also, it's just nice to help alleviate the suffering of fellow human beings, isn't it?
posted by apis mellifera at 11:23 AM on December 29, 2004


Am I the only one who found the pictures of tourists massed in the airports trying to get home a little distasteful? You are a guest in someone's country, that country is devastated by a natural disaster, you have the capacity to help where help is needed to clear rubble, dig people out, bury bodies, whatever, and yet you flee the scene of the accident. I dunno, I know there are bigger issues, but did any tourists stay to help the locals deal with it?
posted by Rumple at 11:24 AM on December 29, 2004


jpoulos: This is about thumbing our nose at the United Nations.

indeed. the american media have been foaming at the mouth, quoting the single word "stingy" and the single phrase "UN officials" in report after report.

in fact, a norwegian born UN official named Egeland (widely reported incorrectly as England) whose job is coordinating international aid, in response to a question about the giving of rich member nations [couldn't find a direct quote of the question anywhere], noted that only a small number of (mostly scandanavian) countries meet a UN suggested aid level of 0.7 percent of GNP, while the richest nations only earmark around 0.1 to 0.2 percent of GNP. in that context, the man said "I have no idea why we are so stingy", we meaning rich nations.

this has been inflated beyond all reason and is being portrayed by the hallowed oracles of The Politics of Resentment as an infuriating attack on the generosity of the good american people. judging by the neighborhood conversations, it's working fabulously.

all that said, it indeed looks as if the bush admin will once again squander an incredible opportunity to win hearts and minds around the planet.
posted by quonsar at 11:26 AM on December 29, 2004


Channel your outrage, sadness and sympathy by giving (American Red Cross Disaster Relief via Amazon).
posted by WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot at 11:27 AM on December 29, 2004


Who needs to win hearts and minds when you're fulfilling prophesy? Jesus will reward him on the streets of gold.
posted by fleener at 11:28 AM on December 29, 2004


Sorry, I don't trust the Red Cross to spend my money. I prefer Oxfam.
posted by fleener at 11:30 AM on December 29, 2004


the greatest human disaster the world has ever known

Without even trying, I can think of a larger one: the 1976 earthquake in China that killed a quarter of a million.
posted by Mo Nickels at 11:32 AM on December 29, 2004


Rumple, some people could certainly help, but not everyone is equipped to deal with trauma. In many cases it's probably best for tourists who don't possess the skills to help to just get the hell out of the way. There's a shortage of fresh food and water--maybe best to leave the limited resources for the people who have no alternative?
posted by apis mellifera at 11:33 AM on December 29, 2004


Agreed, fleener. The American Red Cross didn't exactly win my support in 2001.
posted by FormlessOne at 11:37 AM on December 29, 2004


Rumple; well, these are tourists, not aid workers, you realize? Do you want 80 year old grandmothers and parents of small children, for example, untrained in rescue work, to start clearing rubble? Most will not have the cash or resources to stay in the country indefinitely; you need trained professionals to run a rescue operation. All the tourists can really do is go home, get out of the way, (and stop taking up hotel rooms and resources) and give to relief efforts. So no, I'm not offended. Maybe some tourists did stay to help, but I wouldn't expect most of them to.
posted by emjaybee at 11:38 AM on December 29, 2004


Here are the various charities rated on several different scales.

link via BoingBoing.
posted by OmieWise at 11:44 AM on December 29, 2004


Agreed, fleener. The American Red Cross didn't exactly win my support in 2001.

I thought the supposed problem with the ARC in 2001 was that they wanted to save some of the 9/11 contributions for other disasters of the type that do not generate the humongous giving that came after 9/11--i.e., disasters outside of the USA.

How does that decision (which would seem to be a pretty pro-third world decision) make them a bad charity for purposes of this disaster?
posted by Mid at 11:51 AM on December 29, 2004


apis m -"but I'll be safer, happier and healthier if the people I share the planet with are safe, happy and healthy, too. Also, it's just nice to help alleviate the suffering of fellow human beings, isn't it?"
I'm appalled that I didn't say that myself because it makes all other arguments irrelevant
posted by Cancergiggles at 12:09 PM on December 29, 2004


Mid, if they collect money under the pretext of helping specific disaster victims, that money should go toward helping the specified victims. Or, they should be up front from the beginning that they are running a generalized fundraising campaign, not a specific one.
posted by fleener at 12:13 PM on December 29, 2004


Since when is a passport only five bucks?
posted by konolia at 12:21 PM on December 29, 2004


emjaybee - the airport pictures were dominated by 20-something westerners in perfect health. None of the locals are aid workers, either, you realize? And most of those places have still not seen aid workers, let alone seen them on the day of the event.

Everyone who survived and helped were probably traumatized but helped nonetheless. But perhaps what I should say is, were I to be in this unfortunate situation, and be able to help, I hope that I would help in whatever capacity I could before I bailed on the situation. (And certainly before I complained about having to pay for a passport.)
posted by Rumple at 12:25 PM on December 29, 2004


The photo required to apply for a new passport was five bucks. It probably had to be a certain and precise size. I think the embassy staff were providing the service, and charging for it.
posted by carter at 12:25 PM on December 29, 2004


I love when parisan hacks use the guise of a natural disaster that probably killed >100,000 to rip George W. Bush.

My wife is from Indonesia. Thankfully her family is OK but one of our best friend's entire family is unaccounted for. I'm sure it would make him feel a hell of a lot better if W was in Washington rather than Crawford. Come on people. Use some common sense and compassion and lay off the politics for one day.

$35m doesn't sound like a lot of aid upon first glance, but I bet we end up giving many times more than that. There are a lot of channels aid must go through to be approved, and unfortunately, war aid is more planned out than natural disaster aid. Also, the Christmas holiday isn't helping much either.

The disaster occurred in mostly rural areas and needed supplies are basic:

+fresh water
+baby food
+feminine products
+generators
+digging supplies (for graves)

$35 million should go a long way in attaining these supplies.
posted by b_thinky at 12:41 PM on December 29, 2004


Individuals in US government make fools of selves? OldNewsFilter.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 12:47 PM on December 29, 2004


$35 million certainly doesn't sound like a lot of aid when you consider that around $40 million was spent in pursuit of Bill Clinton. While $35 million would go a long way, a bigger figure would go longer. $35 million is quite pathetic when you compare it to some of the other dumbass things our government spends it's money on.
posted by MegoSteve at 1:08 PM on December 29, 2004


Bush announces tsunami aid coalition
President Bush said Wednesday that he has formed an international coalition to respond to the massive tsunami disaster along coastlines of the Indian Ocean.

The president interrupted his vacation at his Texas ranch to speak with reporters for the first time since Sunday's earthquake-triggered waves killed tens of thousands of people.

"It's just beyond our comprehension to think about how many lives have been lost," Bush said.

He announced that the United States has "established a regional core group with India, Japan and Australia to help coordinate relief efforts. I'm confident more nations will join this core group in short order."
posted by dhoyt at 1:13 PM on December 29, 2004


He announced that the United States has "established a regional core group with India, Japan and Australia to help coordinate relief efforts. I'm confident more nations will join this core group in short order."

Well, at least he didn't call it a "coalition".
posted by 327.ca at 1:18 PM on December 29, 2004


Yes this post is trivial and massively insensitive in the context of the wider human tragedy here.

But so what? This is Metafilter aka Trivia Central. Other people's lives are our armchair entertainment here.

Bitching about Americans or George Bush or the Red Cross or bureaucracies or insensitive tourists on the Internet Trivia Channel doesn't help anyone except your own petty conscience - why aren't you out helping with the rescue effort if you actually cared?

What am I doing to help the cause? Not a thing. I'm just a desensitised trivia junkie. But confessing and defending my pseudo-morality to a bunch of fellow trivia junkies doesn't make my pathetic little conscience feel any less troubled either.
posted by DirtyCreature at 1:40 PM on December 29, 2004


I love when parisan hacks

Parisian hacks?
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:42 PM on December 29, 2004


"Use some common sense and compassion and lay off the politics for one day."

Although I'm sorry to hear about your friends family (and do hope they are found safe), I just don't see how one can't react to Bush's handling of this - at least to this point. Yes, 35 million is a lot of money and will certainly help, but it pales in comparison to the amount spent on such pointless events like the inauguration. Do I expect the US to end up shelling out a considerable amount more? Of course. But I can promise you this; it will be done because of political pressure, not Bush's compassionate conservative heart.
posted by j.p. Hung at 1:43 PM on December 29, 2004


ParisianFilter
posted by j.p. Hung at 1:44 PM on December 29, 2004



posted by The Baby Jesus at 1:50 PM on December 29, 2004


It seems that even amid the smell of death the scuba diving industry over there has taken few cancelations...

As one Russian tourist in the article said``We don't want to go home, anyway,'' Nyrkov said, adding that the hotel in which they are staying is high above the ocean.


It seems even through the death and destruction, it won't ruin their vacation....
posted by Gooney at 1:53 PM on December 29, 2004


speaking of politics, i've heard one reason (besides using any opportunity to bash and avoid the UN and render it irrelevant, as in this new "coalition of the benevolent") he's not speaking out more or making it more of a priority is because it makes 9/11--which he's been using for years--look like a little nothing.
posted by amberglow at 1:54 PM on December 29, 2004


B_thinky, did you just make up that list yourself? Because yours is the only disaster list I've ever seen that includes "feminine products" in the top five. What about, oh, *clothing*? And blankets? And the adults -- do they not need food? Is it just the babies who need food? (What these countries need is MONEY. Don't send diapers. Don't send canned food. Don't, for God's sake, send "feminine products." Send MONEY. Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam, the Red Cross; your money will largely get to the victims if you donate to any of those organizations, and a host of other NGOs that others have linked to.)

I agree that this tragedy should not be used as fodder for partisan hacks -- of EITHER party -- but I do think it was in poor taste for W to remain on vacation when a natural disaster of this magnitude was unfolding. Remember what happened to Putin when he tried to stay on vacation during the terrorist bombings in Chechnya? This kind of thing will *always* be used by "partisan hacks" if the people in charge are stupid enough to behave in ways that practically encourage such partisan hackery. C'mon. Does it make your Indonesian friend feel better? Well, maybe not. But I bet it makes *some* people feel better, and some of those people are other world leaders, and some of those people are American citizens like me. Yes, I want my president to treat this as a serious crisis, and I want him to cut his goddamn vacation short to signify that he considers it such. And that doesn't make me a "partisan hack."

Sheesh.
posted by jenii at 2:07 PM on December 29, 2004


i've heard one reason...he's not speaking out more or making it more of a priority is because it makes 9/11....look like a little nothing.

Hmmm. Which news source did you 'hear' that from? Do you have a link? Is it blustery cynicism or is there some objective data supporting it?
posted by dhoyt at 2:21 PM on December 29, 2004


Gee, a suggestion that the president should do his job as the head of state is a "Partisan Hack?" I'd be dropping the same criticism no matter which president did it.

It's part of the job of representing the US in foreign matters. Just like the job requires state dinners and receiving gifts of useless kitch from dignitaries, when a disaster happens you make a "statement," putting on your sympathetic face. Otherwise, you and your country look like a bunch of cowboys who couldn't care less about the rest of the world. (Much less countries with a high Muslim population.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:41 PM on December 29, 2004


actually, dhoyt, it was someone commenting on the disaster, the Washington Post article, and especially this quote: Some foreign policy specialists said Bush's actions and words both communicated a lack of urgency about an event that will loom as large in the collective memories of several countries as the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks do in the United States. "When that many human beings die — at the hands of terrorists or nature — you've got to show that this matters to you, that you care," said Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. (i'm still trying to dig it up from my history folder)
posted by amberglow at 2:53 PM on December 29, 2004


The disaster occurred in mostly rural areas and needed supplies are basic:

+fresh water
+baby food
+feminine products
+generators
+digging supplies (for graves)


I'd be very surprised if many of those people have access to baby food and feminine products at the best of times. In Indian fishing villages the sewage system is a section of the beach, I very much doubt they typically have access to any of the things on your list.

Food, water and medical supplies is surely what's needed, and in the long-term, help to rebuild homes and infrastructure, which is going to cost billions.

On the topic of the US contribution: New Zealand has so far pledged $5 million (about $3.5 million US). We've got about 1% of your population, and our GDP is about 0.6% of yours. So yeah, $35 mill doesn't seem like a lot - although Bush has said its only the start.
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:21 PM on December 29, 2004


jenii: I got the list from an email that was sent to me requesting donations. Some of the items were a little shocking to me, but who knows what the real situation on the ground is? I suppose this is one of the main problems in securing the aid. Getting it there and deploying it must be a major, major problem right now.

The comparison to Bush and Putin seems a bit silly. Putin was vacationing when a terrorist attack struck his country for a political decision HE made. Bush is on his Christmas vacation and an earthquake occurred half a world away. It doesn't really make a difference where he is right now, does it?
posted by b_thinky at 3:23 PM on December 29, 2004


Here's another question: how much aid does Bush have the authority to give without going through congress, senate, various committees etc? Does anyone know? I sure as hell don't, but I'm certain he can't just say "let's give them $100 billion" all on his own. There has to be some limit.

Another thing: this disaster will be paid for. Everyone in the world will chip in what they can and the US will end up giving more than our fair share. For now though, we don't even know how much is needed. The worst is yet to come. Now we're just counting bodies.
posted by b_thinky at 3:26 PM on December 29, 2004


I don't know why they're not using more boats/ships (even requisitioning fishing boats would help)...i keep hearing on tv how remote many of these places are to begin with in the best circumstances.
posted by amberglow at 3:29 PM on December 29, 2004


The President never really takes a vacation, and this particular President chose not to make a politically grandstanding grand gesture of flying back to Washington to do what he could perfectly well do right where he was. But you see, lots of people love to judge motives, which is funny, since I cannot figure out how they could possibly prove they can accurately do so. If Bush has immediately gone to Washington, people would have bitched about that too. But that is part of the fun of being president; people bitch no matter what you do.
posted by konolia at 3:31 PM on December 29, 2004


I remember how after the 9/11 attacks there was this outrage story being spread about a Starbucks near the WTC charging rescue workers for bottled water instead of handing it out for free. I don't even remember if the story proved to be true or not.

When the massacre at Columbine occured, I remember thinking how much of the grief and anger was based on the fact that the killers had committed suicide; as a result, in some bizarre sense they deprived the masses of their inherent need to blame someone and seek retribution.

Whenever I hear these "so and so company made a bad decision, now let's light torches" stories, it reminds me of that. It seems that there's some kind of group/mob mindset that every tragedy requires something to focus blame and anger on as a means of relief for oneself.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:40 PM on December 29, 2004


I would like to think that the US Consulate workers were just trying to avoid the possibility of people taking advantage of this tragedy to...I dunno...get US passports?

Oh yes. Because people from Thailand look and speak just like americans and it would be too hard for US Consulate workers to tell the difference. Idiots..
posted by c13 at 3:56 PM on December 29, 2004


I've met people from Thailand who looked and spoke just like (some) Americans, especially Americans who were emigres from Thailand or descended from same.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:07 PM on December 29, 2004


ugga bugga on the tv coverage

and from justworldnews: Human beings have incredible resilience. But if we were all, truly, a single human family, wouldn't the leaders of the rich countries all now set aside their pursuit of marginal advantage here or there and say, "Yes! This where we can all pull together to make a difference!"
Instead of which, the Bush administration has announced it will contribute just $15 million worth of aid to the relief effort. A tragically small amount. And this, just a week after it marked the approach of Christmas by saying it would anyway be cutting back on huge amounts of emergency aid previously earmarked for the world's poorest nations...
All this, while it continues to spend more than $250 million each day on waging the war in Iraq.
It's obscene.
Why can't the world's leaders call an Asia-wide ceasefire-- a ceasefire of all the conflicts now going on in the Asia-Pacific region, including those in Iraq, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere? Let's call in the UN to regulate and resolve all those conflicts; and concentrate meanwhile on delivering all the longterm development aid that the storm-hit communities will need over the next five years.
I think that's what a true "family" would do, don't you?
And while we're about it, if we were all one family, why would the Western media want to continue with its childishly self-centered focus on the problems that the storm surges have brought to westerners merely vacationing in what these media routinely refer to as "holiday islands"? As though these shore-side locations are not, more importantly, the permanent homes of many thousands times more numerous gatherings of human being who just happen not to be western, not to have white skins?

posted by amberglow at 4:15 PM on December 29, 2004


konalia: The President never really takes a vacation, and this particular President chose not to make a politically grandstanding grand gesture of flying back to Washington to do what he could perfectly well do right where he was.

Um, who is demanding he fly back to Washington? All I'm suggesting is that part of the job is that when a once-a-century disaster hits, you take some time to publically express concern, and perhaps encourage your fellow Americans to contribute to relief charities. He doesn't even have to leave his ranch, it could be done through a conference call.

It's just a part of good statesmanship.

c13: Oh yes. Because people from Thailand look and speak just like americans and it would be too hard for US Consulate workers to tell the difference. Idiots..

Actually, I think there are at least a million Americans of South Asian ancestry.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:15 PM on December 29, 2004


Oh, ok. So making them pay a few dollars for the passport is really going to solve the who's who question.
Besides, I would think that descendants of immigrants to the US would already be citizens, speaking from personal experience.

On preview:

KirkJobSlunder, first, they are AMERICANS, secondly, most of that million is here, not vacationing in Thailand.
posted by c13 at 4:20 PM on December 29, 2004


ITYM "Southeast Asian" ancestry when referring to Thais, KirkJobSluder.

And probably not a million Americans of Southeast Asian ancestry, but close to it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:21 PM on December 29, 2004


c13, the point is that there are Thai citizens who look and talk like American citizens of Thai descent who might want to scam passports, not that the descendants of Thai emigres to the US are trying to scam passports.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:22 PM on December 29, 2004


Wait...did some foreigners die somewhere? All I see on my teevee are reports about how some fancy rich-folks' resorts got flooded...

The President never really takes a vacation

Well, this one fakes it well, more than half the time he's been in office so far.
posted by rushmc at 4:23 PM on December 29, 2004


You stupid ignorant CUNT.

Die Soon Please ________________________________________________

If you're talking about the slight ripple in the seas of South East Asia, then you need to do a little reading. About real world Disasters!

Prat.


I received the above from a Metafilter contributor. Wonder which genius it is?
posted by Cancergiggles at 4:28 PM on December 29, 2004


re: $35 million. I think the amount given will go up as the scale and cost of the disaster can be more accurately determined. I think the UK gave an initial figure of approx $800,000 dollars. That figure has been substantially increased. As the cogs to authorise these amounts of money are slower for larger organisations/governments, I expect the US to do the same in the next week or so. I'd expect to see a final figure of $80 million or so pledged.

As people have said, the first priority is working out what is needed now. After that, we can work out exactly how much and where the money is needed.

Don't diss your government on this one. He may be a twat, but Bush will do the right thing.
posted by seanyboy at 4:31 PM on December 29, 2004


really? that sucks, and is totally unwarranted. Prat's english, so i'd have to say that a brit mefite--most of them aren't assholes tho.
posted by amberglow at 4:31 PM on December 29, 2004


Actually, I think there are at least a million Americans of South Asian ancestry.
Out of 300 Million US Americans, you are only guessing 1M?
posted by thomcatspike at 4:32 PM on December 29, 2004


No, Sidhedevil, the point is that paying a few bucks for the passport is not going to deter the potential scammers. Furthermore, I haven't heard anything about it actually taking place, have you? Granted, these tourists are a lot better off than the rest of of 75000 people, but part of the job of the US Consulate there is to assist the american citizens, and they have not done a very good job. Is it that big of a deal? Probably not, in the scheme of things.
posted by c13 at 4:37 PM on December 29, 2004


i'd say 10-25 mil at least.
posted by amberglow at 4:37 PM on December 29, 2004


In US Census nomenclature, "South Asian" refers to those of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Sri Lankan ancestry; "Southeastern Asian" refers to those of Vietnamese, Cambodian, Filipino, Laotian, Indonesian, Malaysian, and Thai ancestry.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:40 PM on December 29, 2004


c13, I agree that paying a few bucks for the pasport would not do much to deter potential scammers. I wasn't disagreeing with that; I was disagreeing with your implication that Thais did not "look and speak just like americans".

amberglow, why guess when the data are out there?
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:43 PM on December 29, 2004


And lets put a political and military spin on it. Kennedy's Berlin speech may have been rhetorical hooey, but it was one of the more memorable moments of the cold war and helped to create a feeling of solidarity with West Berlin and Germany at a time where the Western European alliance was critically necessary.

Likewise, Asia is increasingly important as both an economic trading region and as a front in fighting terrorism. Remember that one of the more successfull terrorist attacks since 9/11 occured in Jakarta. Indonesia is a country with an 88% muslim population and one of the hardest hit by the earthquake. So it may be political hooey, but it's political hooey where it is, at this point in history, critically necessary.

sidhedevil called it btw. My apologies.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:44 PM on December 29, 2004


From the posted chart I was wrong. In my defense I was also added the visiting Asians.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:45 PM on December 29, 2004


Wait, I'm reading this pie chart correctly; 13 Malaysians live in the US?
posted by thomcatspike at 4:50 PM on December 29, 2004


bye all - excuse the poor editing above.(bed time)
posted by thomcatspike at 4:52 PM on December 29, 2004


that seems way too low--weird.
posted by amberglow at 4:53 PM on December 29, 2004


those charts can't be right--they say that there were only 671 Dominicans in the country in 2000??? Unpossible--just one square block uptown has more than that. From the NYT: A 2003 analysis by the institute said, for instance, that if current trends continue, Dominicans will outnumber Puerto Ricans in the city by the end of the decade. The Dominican population surged 51 percent in the 1990's, to 554,638, while the number of Puerto Ricans fell 12.8 percent, to 789,172, Dr. Hernández said in a study written with a Columbia University researcher, Francisco L. Rivera-Batiz.

I think i'm adding a zero or two to those census numbers.
posted by amberglow at 5:00 PM on December 29, 2004


Rumple "I dunno, I know there are bigger issues, but did any tourists stay to help the locals deal with it?
Some did.
posted by Catch at 5:02 PM on December 29, 2004


And some more
Somedays, I'm proud to be a member of the human race.
posted by seanyboy at 5:07 PM on December 29, 2004


The genius with the amazingly articulate arguments who wishes me dead has an IP 81.86.157.#.
Any ideas? - don't think it's a member of my close family.
posted by Cancergiggles at 5:15 PM on December 29, 2004


I received the above from a Metafilter contributor.

i love a good baseless assumption.
posted by quonsar at 5:16 PM on December 29, 2004


My bad linky--those are Delaware numbers (I must have hit the pull-down on the left by mistake before cutting/pasting the URL).

Here is the link to the US as a whole.

My apologies.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:27 PM on December 29, 2004


quonsar's point is a good one--Cancergiggles, all you know is that you got that from a MeFi reader.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:28 PM on December 29, 2004


and the ip likely belongs to a mail server.
posted by quonsar at 5:29 PM on December 29, 2004


He may be a twat, but Bush will do the right thing.

And you base this pronouncement on...what, exactly?
posted by rushmc at 5:30 PM on December 29, 2004


He meant the Right thing, rushmc. It's pretty much a lock he won't do the Left thing.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:35 PM on December 29, 2004


Sorry quonsar, Sidhedevil and innocents. I suspect that you are correct however the "die soon please" read by my 10 year old daughter caused me to overreact somewhat.
posted by Cancergiggles at 5:35 PM on December 29, 2004


thanks, Sid--i knew those others were way off...seems i was close, no?
posted by amberglow at 5:36 PM on December 29, 2004


put it in your spam-blocking thing, Cg, and hopefully it was a one-time thing.
posted by amberglow at 5:37 PM on December 29, 2004


thanks amber but it was auto from my blog and I don't want to block the nice people - there's actually lots of them.
posted by Cancergiggles at 5:40 PM on December 29, 2004


Bugger - have I just self linked. If so I apologise to you, matt, and the rest of the world. It's too late to start an argument I hope.
posted by Cancergiggles at 5:42 PM on December 29, 2004


it's not really a selflink Cg. Your comment in this thread caused an ugly thing to happen (in the grand scheme of things, not so bad compared to the tsunami i guess), and you pointed to it. How about one of those "prove you're human by typing in the gibberish i'm showing" things?
posted by amberglow at 5:45 PM on December 29, 2004


LOL!!! a metapen!!! love it! and i needed a laugh today--thanks!
posted by amberglow at 5:50 PM on December 29, 2004


Depends what you were talking about, ag. There are just over 10M Americans who described themselves as "Asian and Pacific Islanders", but only 3.5M "Southeastern Asian" and less than 2M "South Asian".

And, CG, it's okay to self-link in comments if necessary. Just not in FPPs. Never in FPPs.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:53 PM on December 29, 2004


Whoaa FPPs? After the past couple of days I would only consider making a post in a language I didn't understand myself, let alone identifying myself as the author.
posted by Cancergiggles at 5:58 PM on December 29, 2004


It's too late to start an argument I hope.

No worries. It's never too late to start an argument.

[I'm only kidding.]
posted by 327.ca at 7:02 PM on December 29, 2004


B_thinky, I now question the request you got for donations. Was it from a reputable organization??? Every legitimate group I've read about says what they really need is money; shipping is expensive, and as you've said, distribution is a challenge.

I realized after you responded to my comparison to Putin that the situation I was really thinking of was the one where the Russian submarine went down with its crew in 2000(?). Not a natural disaster, but not exactly Putin's fault, either. But he remained on vacation, and the perception -- rightly or wrongly -- was that he didn't give a damn about those Russian sailors. The perception here -- again, rightly or wrongly -- is that Bush doesn't give a damn. Is there anything he can do in Washington? Well, yes. He can influence public opinion, for one thing. He can also initiate and support public policy. But even if there was literally nothing he could do, I still think that -- at the least -- he should have made a public statement immediately, and I don't think it could hurt if he returned to Washington.

Perception is as important as reality. That's just the way it is.
posted by jenii at 8:14 PM on December 29, 2004



And you base this pronouncement on...what, exactly?

Faith.
posted by seanyboy at 11:51 PM on December 29, 2004


Wow. The Amazon donate page has raised over 3 million already -- nearly 10% of the entire US government's relief effort.

I'll paraphrase something I read here before: the U.S. government is a politicking sack of shit but the American people are astonishingly big-hearted and generous.
posted by breath at 1:31 AM on December 30, 2004


It seems even through the death and destruction, it won't ruin their vacation....

Which is good for the living in those countries, where tourism is so very important to their economy. What exactly is the right answer here? Some people are never going to stop their vacation and handle corpses. I do not think it is better for those people to cancel, or simply leave with their money. How much was NY hurt by people staying away for awhile after the events of 2001?
posted by thirteen at 11:08 AM on December 30, 2004


the greatest human disaster the world has ever known

Surely you're not that big an idiot?

Without even trying, I can think of a larger one: the 1976 earthquake in China that killed a quarter of a million.

it's being called the greatest human disaster by the u.n. because of the many countries effected by the same disaster, at the same time - not because of the numbers of dead.
posted by t r a c y at 1:30 PM on December 30, 2004


...which is really sort of a strange standard, surely?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:47 PM on December 30, 2004


omfg-- Phelps
posted by amberglow at 2:06 PM on December 30, 2004


strange...? no. i can see the reasoning behind it. i'm not endorsing the description, just revealing that Cancergiggles is hardly alone in considering it such.
posted by t r a c y at 2:22 PM on December 30, 2004




jebus amberglow, that is a truly offensive flyer from the Westboro Baptist Church. *lacks words*
posted by dabitch at 2:55 PM on December 30, 2004


isn't it? and they call themselves christians too.

Music For Relief--Linkin Park started it for this
posted by amberglow at 3:54 PM on December 30, 2004


one more link--a great cartoon
posted by amberglow at 4:56 PM on December 30, 2004


That's hilarious, amberglow, or it would be if it weren't so sad. Thanks for the link.

But take a look what my church is doing. Gay bishops, disaster relief, AND incense! We rock!

The Presbyterians are on the job, too.

And the United Methodist Church is doing its part.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:05 PM on December 30, 2004


one more: Fox's coverage of the tsunami
posted by amberglow at 8:53 PM on December 30, 2004


(and read the crawl on each one too)
posted by amberglow at 8:54 PM on December 30, 2004


Sorry if this is a double (I didn't see it, but I might have missed it), but here was the explanation of the "bad treatment" of the American tourists from the State Department (via CNN):

In an e-mailed response from the State Department, the chief of American Citizen Services said the embassy usually meets and greets every flight personally, but acknowledged there had been confusion the first night in setting up the operation.

Still, "anyone needing assistance is guided to our office in the VIP hall, which is the space allocated to us by the airport authority," the e-mail said.

Typically, anyone needing a passport is directed to go to the embassy, it added.

"If people have no funds to get to the embassy, they are offered a $100 emergency loan on the spot," the e-mail said.

Because of the emergency, the embassy has been issuing no-fee emergency passports since the tsunami hit, it said.

But the photo printer was working only sporadically on the day in question, so its use was reserved for those truly in need; others were asked to walk a building away to get their pictures taken, it said.

"Basically, if you had a decent supply of cash, you were asked to go get photos made so we could try to save the camera for desperate cases."
posted by blahblahblah at 8:56 PM on December 30, 2004


Sorry, source: CNN article
posted by blahblahblah at 8:57 PM on December 30, 2004


... to urban legends of people surfing their way out of danger.

Two people did surf their way out ... but almost didn't make it.*

*Scroll down to the long comment.
posted by bwg at 6:43 AM on December 31, 2004


MetaFilter: lecturing on how you should feel.
posted by bwg at 6:57 AM on December 31, 2004


the american media have been foaming at the mouth, quoting the single word "stingy"

"...on a per capita basis and as a percentage of the nation's wealth, America's emergency relief in Asia and development aid to poor countries actually ranks at the bottom of the list of developed nations, some of the world's top economists and analysts of international development aid said yesterday.

The world's Asian relief effort -- the largest in history -- and the enormity of the disaster have put into sharp focus an intensifying debate over what it means for a country to be generous: how much should wealthy nations pledge for relief from natural disasters, and how much should those governments donate for development in poorer nations?

As of yesterday, the amount the United States has pledged is eclipsed by the $96 million promised by Britain, a country with one-fifth the population, and by the $75 million vowed by Sweden, which amounts to $8.40 for each of its 9 million people. Denmark's pledge of $15.6 million amounts to roughly $2.90 per capita." [Boston Globe, December 31, 2004]
posted by ericb at 7:25 AM on December 31, 2004


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