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"Indians" connotes India, and I'm not sure that anyone back then really believed that the "India" of spice fortunes was really that much closer by heading west by ship, than it was known to be by heading east by caravan. Also, Christopher Columbus, etc. never really did show the sort of respect to the locals that one would have anticipated if they had truly believed that they were dealing with the vast numbers and power known to exist where it's claimed they believed that they arrived at.

But, still, "Native Americans" seems to be really watered down when referring to the folks who owned all of this (both the "Northern" piece and the "Southern" piece) before the Europeans (whom we basically universally idolize by history and by lore) wheeled, dealed, batered, stole (or whatever it took) to take over title to (by any accurate description) nearly all of the land that we live on.

"Redskins" (locally "Utes") whatever disparaging nicknames we choose to employ to help justify monumental injustice, the disparagement, the disrespect, the insult, and we can call it what we will, but transparent attempts at minimizing our inability to accept guilt credit us, collectively, not in the least. The reality is that we're simply not honorable enough to admit the truth, and too fucking cheap to pay our debts.

So, what if we look at this as a win-win resolution. The Washington D.C. football team (as a template for themselves, and any and all other similarly situated persons elsewhere) simply adopt the name of "THE WASHINGTON LANDLORDS".

My wife and I live in a modest apartment, and we're called "tenants". Above us is "The Landlord". These titles forever cement the reality of the power in the main relationship of our living arrangement, of our reality.

I don't think that the team would even have to change the symbols (the helmets, the uniforms, and god only knows what all).

Everytime, on the T.V, in the newspaper, etc., the operative title read "THE WASHINGTON LANDLORDS" I have a feeling thast those of us wanting to try to get all uppity about our particular origins would have one more lesson in proper humility.

And I don't know any way that anyone could argue that it's possible for us to have too many of those, and that the rightful descendants of our true Landlords might not get at least a little bit of real pleasure, finally, out of the situation.

Discuss

The John Birch Society is mildly up in arms over some "gathering of the states", or somesuch, that other far righties are holding even as this is being written. They call themselves "The Mount Vernon Assembly", and they've rented the old George Washington Estate today to talk about having a meeting next spring to hammer out a set of rules that they can use in their (semi private?) Constitutional Convention (or Article V Convention in their parlance) to be held as soon as they can figure out how. (Kind of a mouthful, so I apologize.)

Anyway, there have been a couple of mentions on Dkos over the last little while about the possibility of ALEC using a process like this to steal the nation. The ALEC code word for this part of their agenda appears to be "limited representative government". And the John Birch Society, believe it or not, is concerned about ALEC involvement in The Mount Vernon Assembly. A matter of professional jealousy, I think, because JBS seems to have settled on a strategy called "Nullification" that they think they and theirs can use to, basically, steal the nation. (Much of this is spelled out in an article in yesterdays issue of "The New American".)

Then a thought occured to me. Since all of this is being done under the radar, ALEC, The Mount Vernon Assemby, and The John Birch Society obviously must have no confidence in a "fully representational" scenario. That is, all over on that particular fringe Right Wing turf fear Democracy, fear the majority. Meaning they fear us. No matter all of the bravado coming from The Tea Party, etc. they fear Progressives because their research, their analysis says that they just plain cannot compete against us openly.

So they'll go to Mount Vernon on Pearl Harbor day, and plot and scheme. But, mainly, they hope they can keep doing these kinds of things without the average voter ever noticing. The far right wing seems to be a pretty lonely place, and that should be something that organized Progressives should be able to take advantage of.

Discuss

Official death tolls for Supertyphoon Yoland are hard to find, but the one I got the other day was five thousand eight hundred something (with "Official Missing" at 1,800, and I have no idea how that could be calculated in a country where all record keeping is so low tech and lackadasical). The highest two prior numbers I could find for the Philippines were recent history, also, and in the low five thousands. I bring this up only because of the earlier situation where a disaster management official used a number of "10,000 deaths expected", and President Aquino intervened, adamantly, with a lowball figure of "2,000 to no more than 2,500".

My problem with the Phlippine government is that I know that taxation of the wealthy elite would cause our "1%" to head there in a heartbeat, but for the fact that the current wealthy elite have allowed almost no crumbs to trickle down to anyone else. So, allowing the true nature of the situation to be publicized must be "managed" in order to ensure no backlash from the Ruling Class. They simply do not intend to, and will not pay anything for disater relief. Thus the motive for the government to try to stonewall the true extent of this historically massive disaster.

Take, for example, the fact that 90 plus per cent of the deaths resulted not from the world record winds, but, rather, from the ocean surge. With Yolanda, as with Sandy here last year, forecasters knew where the water was going to hit, and how much physical destruction was going to result. Here, however, the government still values people, and we invested in saving basically all of those at risk. In Yolanda, however, thousands and thousands of lives could have been saved if there had been any NATIONAL commitment to doing so. Any NATIONAL resources made available.

But, what the hell, the rich folks didn't want to pay, and the poor folks paid with their lives. Nothing new about that!

Discuss

Thu Dec 05, 2013 at 08:02 PM PST

RKBA: Iceland Edition

by oldpotsmuggler

Police in Iceland shot and killed a guy the other day (search "Iceland" on Google News). He had a shotgun (presumably because Iceland doesn't really have a big old smorgasboard when it comes to firearms), and was somewhat menacing. Still, the reason why the story went outside Iceland is because it's the first time that Icelandic police have ever, EVER, shot anyone to death.

See, I'm the kind of guy that sees guns in public, and sees police doing shootouts, and kind of moves to the next story. But it was the level of news of "the first time in history" so I'm taking a second look also.

And what I'm seeing is that Iceland has guns. Not a lot of guns, not a few guns, but some guns (what I read was 30 per 100 population, versus our 90 per 100 for the U.S.). And Iceland doesn't have all types of guns, like, for example, no handguns,  because the folks there use guns for hunting, and that FACT leads to a reasonable constraint on options. Also, the red tape there, apparently, would make a standard U.S. gunnut resort to intemperate language expressing "appropriate" outrage at the restraint on personal freedom.

Still, what caught my eye was that Icelandic Police, in a country of over 300,000 persons, and 90,000 guns have just an incredibly, incredibly small number of true problems.

I wonder if we ought to do more things the way that Iceland does?

Discuss

All of the kids who could make it there went to the house of our family on Northern Cebu Island, and all of those kids left with candy. That was never the intent back in October when we launched that candy on its way from the U.S., but sometimes outcomes seem to get made for us.

One interesting aspect of Philippine social structure is that "family support remittances" are encouraged to be made "in kind", and not only as cash. Each of the millions of expatriate filipinos, spread far and wide across the planet as opportunity permits or circumstance dictates, can ship large boxes (24"x18"x24" commonly) back home with, really, very few limitations. No contraband, and no commercial quantites/intent. "Balikbayan Boxes" are a very nice thing to do for family. But at $130 each for shipping and any conceivable amount for contents we're really much more hit or miss on the goody packages than we would like to be. But suffice it to say that three of them had filled gradually over time, with all manner of odds and ends, and were sufficicently in the way that we finally cut back on some other support things and our local service provider started them on their journey around the first part of October. About the time that giant bags of cheap Halloween candy started hitting the shelves. So we topped off with twenty, thirty pounds or so, taped everything up tight, and sent them off to the ship.

It was our intent, based on the normal expectation, that ETA would be in that general first part of November. And of course we would have planned otherwise if we had had any way of knowing a month before that the time window we were targeting would have put our three boxes, candy and all, on a perfect collison course with the largest ocean born storm to make a landfall in modern history. At the time we were not happy to be notified by our chosen freight forwarder that the U.S. side of that sort of thing had randomly chosen our personal freight to be channeled through further inspection processes. Engendering delay!

My, my, my, what a difference a couple of weeks can make. Instead of all involved suffering anxiety and heartburn, the golden load, the sweet paradise graced and blessed more young tongues and tummys than ever was imagined to be the case. Of course we called as soon as possible and asked that that particular bounty be as widely shared as possible. And as we imagined, and more than a little expected, we were told that the kids were beginning to arrive in ever larger numbers even as we spoke.

So now I don't know why none of the "food aid packages" that I've read about include candy. Such a simple gesture, and one that I'm gratefully now able to understand the importance of.

Discuss

The numbers, truly comprehended, are more soul searing than merely tragic. Also, there are no official numbers released because no one oficially does or can keep track. Information that the First World takes for granted about itself simply has no counterpart in the Third World.

But well within the range of what's cited is that Typhoon Yolanda pretty much wiped out 600,000 homes, displacing some 2,000,000 filipinos residing in them. (Which, in itself, makes no sense, because I don't know where in the Philippines you'd find a house with only three people trying to call it home.) What and where and who and how, for how many are concepts that are too large for those affected to even possibly try to think about. Those surviving those endless scenes of almost unbelievable destruction have neither the luxury nor the inclination to think beyond their own here and now.

So what do they do, these "survivors"? And you see it even in those Tacloban (taCLOban) photos where once mighty ocean going vessels are now parked on top of what used to be entire neignborhoods. No houses, but still their homes, and if they ever give that up, only then do they become truly homeless. A fate, really, that is far worse than the horror we in our comfortable lives have convinced ourselves we're witnessing when we see the electronic images of how many people, how many people, crawling out from rubble to accept "food aid", only to return to that very exact piece of ground that has housed they and theirs (how ever many times divided ever smaller over the generations) for longer than Europeans have existed in the lands where we build our tract homes, and McMansions.

Discuss

Philippines is the third world. It has little in common with life as we know it except for human suffering. In the best of times all third worlders know more about human suffering than most of us in the developed world ever will. And, believe me, these are not the best of times for those who Yolanda smashed through.

On the personal level, people have now started coming from outside the neighborhood or our family seeking (and receiving) something to eat. I take that as a sign of a problem, both for us and for them. We clearly can't end up feeding everyone, and folks would not be going to that length if thay had a better choice. So, nearly one week in and measurable relief is illusory. The promise is still there, and the reality is that something will happen, and our area is absolutely accessible. However, "The System" is not stretched, it's currently non-existent, and, properly so, organized aid will first end up being received by those far worse off than our area is. And I'll keep crossing my fingers that things don't deteriorate to the point that our family now qualifies as the top governmental priority.

Discuss

Willingly or not, prison will be a learning experience for anyone sent there. For me, the lesson learned most pertinent to the ongoing disaster was when I served on the Jaycees popcorn crew for the weekly Rec Department movie showing. And my recollection is that I was at least partially responsible for the mini riot that broke out one time. No those guys weren't starving, but popcorn was a luxury item of limited availability. The mistake we made that time was to attempt popcorn distribution before security was completely in place. It's not a complicated thing. We have the popcorn all prebagged behind the folding table that we distribute it from. The inmates make a line, walk past, get a bag, go back to the end of the line to try for another, etc. But it's basic human nature that what's mine is not yours, and what I can take from you becomes mine. So the instant that the first guy tried to take all of the popcorn, everyone did. Instantly the four of us were pinned between the table and the wall and the only thing we could do to save ourselves was to heave the garbage sacks of bagged popcorn over the heads of the mob. Then they turned around and fought it out in the center of the floor and the single staffer there hit his "panic button" and had overwhelming force there in under two minutes.

Do I believe the stories of filippinos looting/rioting in the face of starvation? I've never believed anything else for even a second since I first heard the news of the existence of the Yolanda monster. Some looting has probably been "opportunity based" rather than shock or hunger bred, but picture in your mind the worst case you can imagine, and be prepared for news far beyond that.

For my part, I take a more jaundiced view of human nature than most do. I easily picture filippino police manning checkpoints and allowing to pass only that amount of food that is in excess of what they and theirs have to have. Filippino police are not overly known for service or professionalism even in the best of circumstances, and we're clearly moving further into the period when there is going to be a vast additional amount of life and death going on.

We and the rest of the U.S. part of the family of my wife are sponsoring ongoing food runs for the forseeable future, as there is still zero government presence for our family in northern Cebu to see aid from. Sadly, if the police are not fat and happy up and down the only road able to supply the more than one hundred thousand persons left sitting in an area where no food (and nearly none of anything else) remains, that four hour journey is going to become far worse than it is already destined to be.

So, yes, feed the police first.

And send much more through fast. The crisis feels like it's starting to build.

Discuss

Food was on the way yesterday, only now that food is on the way today instead. Rain happened! Nothing notable, especially with this being the tropics. But then fear happened! Again, completely within the realm of "natural". Our folks (and certainly not they alone) had nothing either way to go on, so they conjured up a vision of Yolanda coming back to kick them in the ass again (or Yolanda2, or what ever) and they simply froze in place.

And then they eventually unfroze. And now at least a several day supply of rice is on the road, someplace between the "gorcery store" in Cebu and I still don't know how many hungry mouths anxiously awaiting. For my part, I believe that nothing else can happen, and then it does. But we'll muddle through.

Also, two semi official, official reports of the "rescue activity" happening in and for the devastation that used to be the northern end of Cebu Island (well, at least the island and the people are still there). The first is that one person from the central government was in the vicinity yesterday, in the air, flying to someplace that is not the northern end of Cebu Island. The second is that a person, someone, was giving out some food in the center of Medellin town, and did not end up getting mobbed. We will feed all we can, and I'm sure that he fed all he could, and I have to have confidence that this is only the tip of the iceberg. Millions of small acts of kindness, I believe are happening all around the Visayas, and, while millions more will be required in some form, at least there is a good start.

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With initial survival accomplished, our order of priority for care and comfort is my 86 year old father in law, the 8 year old little girl who we've supported since providing all prenatal care, and whose mother abandoned her at birth, a teenaged nephew whose mother cares for the home of our father in return for support for her mentally and physically handicapped son, and any and all of the remaining folks unless and until our resources run out.

The immediate need is food. Locally, we have not been able to locate any, but blessings continue to appear. Medellin is north of Bogo, and a four hour drive from Cebu City. We have family in the city, and it's damaged but operational. Amazingly, there is already open road from where we can get food, to where it is desperately needed. I shudder to think what that dirve may be like, particularly carrying a food supply past I can only imagine how many hungry places. But there is not yet any organized relief. Fingers crossed for when that might happen. Fingers crossed for our car and driver moving safely between the two points, but the need clearly exceeds the fear.

Money transfers are already back to being essentially instantaneous. We've obtained and forwarded the necessary cash. A car is being borrowed/rented. The husband of a niece has said he will drive. Most of the details are hazy but I know that the level of good will is boundless.

The effort is privately organized, seems entirely possible of completion, and I've watched it come together in the hour before we went to bed last night, and first thing after awakening.

I have no idea how long we might be able to keep this up.

Discuss

How in the hell can an area be almost entirely destroyed, and cell phones still work. Land lines out, electricity gone, and, yet, the relief of hearing good news, tales of survival, in real time. Amid unfathomable destruction, confirmation of near miraculous survival.

A look at the map of the northern end of Cebu Island shows one population center, Bogo City, another ten miles or so that, by satellite is mainly sugar cane plantation, but interspered with pockets of houses and small farms, and that all of this is the next piece of land directly west from where the center of the monster storm was first slamming ashore around a short 24 hours ago.

And now, on a cell phone from our house in the middle of the mess there is a large group of family and neighbors eager to tell my wife here how wonderful it feels to be alive after an experience unlike any that any of them have ever had. We've become old hands at post-typhoon phone calls. Two or three direct hits a year for each of the 14 years that we've been together here. And barely ever a tale of hardship, let alone one of utter destruction as far as the eye can see.

This time nothing remained standing but the two houses that the entire neighboorhood had sheltered in. My wife has a niece in Texas, and they and we each built a home for family, and possibly for ourselves later. Concrete construction, steel roof, still standing and no deaths in that small place. Maybe that scenario repeated itself all across the stricken area, rather than the grissly chore of recovering and caring for bodies.

This group will sleep dry, and start to rebuild. They'll need everything now, and god knows where it's to come from. But that now qualifies as the good problem to have.

And then there are all of the aunts, uncles, and cousins spread all around the rest of that countryside who no word has yet come from.

My wife wishes me to express her gratitude for each and every prayer.

Discuss

We need information. Any information at all at this point.

Our last contact with family in the Philippines was by phone yesterday evening, around 5:00pm MST. The government had already cut the power for safety reasons, and the cell phone batteries were on their last legs. Palm tress had started snapping off. We have upgraded the family of my wife to a cement construction home, with steel roof. Because of that there were around 100 people crowded into it for protection. From what she heard, my wife thought that all of them were crying from fear, and my understanding of the time line is that things got vastly worse in the next several hours.

I'm finally able to devote the rest of my day to seeking information, and one phrase from one news report captured my attention, the typhoon "scoured the northern tip of Cebu Island." Our house, almost our entire extended family is north of Bogo, on the northern most piece of the Island, and not a great distance due west of Tacloban City, Leyte. Because of that, some things reported last night indicated that the eye of the storm would move directly over our people.

There is no more direct contact, and will not be for, likely, some extended period of time. But Kossacks are everywhere. Kossacks, more often than not, collectively know everything. Anything, any morsel of information to (hopefully) help lift the shroud of doom. Please.

Thank you!!!

(And if someone is better with tags than me, that would be wonderful.)

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