[LINK] Schneier on 'The Future of Privacy'
cas at taz.net.au
Fri Mar 17 14:32:50 EST 2006
On Fri, Mar 17, 2006 at 11:45:25AM +1100, Howard Lowndes wrote:
> ...and don't forget Cuba - the highest literacy rate in the world...
and, of course, being a communist dictatorship which cares nothing for
the little people, their response to natural disasters like hurricanes
is heartless and shoddy compared to the compassion and competence
demonstrated by a democratic capitalist nation like the United States.
Cuba's Hurricane Response Far Superior
Commentary, Marjorie Cohn,
La Prensa-San Diego, Sep 13, 2005
Last September, a Category 5 hurricane battered the small island of
Cuba with 160-mile-per-hour winds. More than 1.5 million Cubans were
evacuated to higher ground ahead of the storm. Although the hurricane
destroyed 20,000 houses, no one died.
What is Cuban President Fidel Castro's secret? According to Dr. Nelson
Valdes, a sociology professor at the University of New Mexico, and
specialist in Latin America, "the whole civil defense is embedded in the
community to begin with. People know ahead of time where they are to
"Cuba's leaders go on TV and take charge," said Valdes. Contrast this
with George W. Bush's reaction to Hurricane Katrina. The day after
Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, Bush was playing golf. He waited three days
to make a TV appearance and five days before visiting the disaster
site. In a scathing editorial on Thursday, the New York Times reported,
"nothing about the president's demeanor yesterday - which seemed casual
to the point of carelessness - suggested that he understood the depth of
the current crisis."
"Merely sticking people in a stadium is unthinkable" in Cuba, Valdes
said. "Shelters all have medical personnel from the neighborhood.
They have family doctors in Cuba, who evacuate together with the
neighborhood, and already know, for example, who needs insulin."
They also evacuate animals and veterinarians, TV sets and refrigerators,
"so that people aren't reluctant to leave because people might steal
their stuff," Valdes added.
After Hurricane Ivan, the United Nations International Secretariat
for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) cited Cuba as a model for hurricane
preparation. ISDR Director Salvano Briceno said, "The Cuban way could
easily be applied to other countries with similar economic conditions
and even in countries with greater resources that do not manage to
protect their population as well as Cuba does."
The U.S. federal and local governments had more than ample warning that
hurricanes, which are growing in intensity thanks to global warming,
could destroy New Orleans. Yet, instead of heeding those warnings,
President Bush prevented states from controlling global warming,
weakened FEMA, and cut the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for levee
construction in New Orleans by $71.2 million, a 44 percent reduction.
Bush sent nearly half our National Guard troops and high-water Humvees
to fight in Iraq. Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for
Jefferson Paris in New Orleans, noted a year ago, "It appears that
the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland
security and the war in Iraq."
"This storm was much greater than protection we were authorized to
provide," said Alfred C. Naomi, a senior project manager in the New
Orleans district of the corps.
Unlike in Cuba, where homeland security means keeping the country secure
from deadly natural disasters as well as foreign invasions, Bush has
failed to keep our people safe.
During the 2004 election campaign, vice presidential candidate John
Edwards spoke of "the two Americas." It seems unfathomable how people
can shoot at rescue workers. Yet, after the beating of Rodney King aired
on televisions across the country, poor, desperate, hungry people in
Watts took over their neighborhoods, burning and looting. Their anger,
which had seethed below the surface for so long, erupted. That's what's
happening now in New Orleans.
"I think a lot of it has to do with race and class," said Rev. Calvin
O. Butts III, pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem. "The
people affected were largely poor people. Poor, black people."
Fidel Castro, who has compared his government's preparations for
Hurricane Ivan to the island's long-standing preparations for an
invasion by the United States, said, "We've been preparing for this for
On Thursday, Cuba's National Assembly sent a message of solidarity to
the victims of Hurricane Katrina. It says the Cuban people have followed
closely the news of the hurricane damage in Louisiana, Mississippi and
Alabama, and the news has caused pain and sadness. The message notes
that the hardest hit are African Americans, Latino workers, and the
poor, who still wait to be rescued and taken to secure places, and
who have suffered the most fatalities and homelessness. The message
concludes by saying that the entire world must feel this tragedy as its
Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law,
executive vice president of the National Lawyers Guild, and the US
representative to the executive committee of the American Association of
craig sanders <cas at taz.net.au> (part time cyborg)
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