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2 storms and a rocket

Written By: - Date published: 10:30 am, December 14th, 2012 - 42 comments
Categories: climate change, disaster, economy, Left, pasifika, peak oil, poverty, trade, us politics - Tags: , , , ,

These days, the big and powerful players usually get most the political and media attention, while the struggles of the least powerful too often get marginalised.  In a world of changing climate, resource depletion and long financial decline, people living in coastal areas and on small low-lying island are very vulnerable. It is often only when disasters occur that we get a glimpse into the daily lives of some of the people with the lowest incomes and least resources.

The Asia-Pacific is a big area, as much water as land, and it is has been described recently, in the context of the TPP talks in Auckland, as the focal point of a new cold war.

“Prime Minister John Key needs a reality check if he really believes New Zealand can remain best friends with both sides in the escalating face-off between the US and China over the ‘most significant free trade and investment deal ever’”, according to University of Auckland Professor Jane Kelsey

This morning on AlJazeera, I saw 3 news items relating to this area that highlighted various concerns for some of the least powerful people: two of these stories involve the chaotic, but not inexplicable forces of nature, and one an ongoing tension between powerful aligned governments and an independent dictatorship.

People struggling to get their lives back together after a devastating and fatal typhoon in the Philippines.

Typhoon Bopha unleashed floods and landslides across the main southern island of Mindanao on December 4, obliterating entire communities.

At least 714 people were killed, making the typhoon the deadliest natural disaster in the Philippines since a tropical storm killed more than 1,200 people last year.

The civil defence office said that around 115,000 houses have been destroyed, and more than 116,000 people remain in government shelter as they are likely to wait months for new housing to be constructed.

The government said that a total of 890 people remain missing, many of them include at least 313 deep sea fishermen who are feared lost at sea….

“This is a scale the Philippines has not previously seen, we’re talking about tens of thousands of homes destroyed across southeast Mindanao,” Joe Curry of Catholic Relief Service told Al Jazeera.

Nearly 400,000 people, mostly from Compostela Valley and nearby Davao Oriental province, have lost their homes and are crowded inside evacuation centres or staying with relatives.

“In my 15 years of service to the Red Cross, I have not seen such great destruction and devastation,” Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of the Philippine Red Cross, told Al Jazeera.

“Almost everyone there is homeless, there is no clean water … there is very limited medical care.”

Families and fishing companies reported losing contact with more than 313 fishermen at sea.

Many survivors of the latest storm in the Philippines, didn’t have much before the typhoon.  Now  have to use their own resources to find the necessities for survival, as shown in the videos at the above link, and here.

Cyclone Evan that is still wreaking havoc in Samoa.  Once again Samoa is having to cope with fatalities and destruction.  How many times have they had to rebuild their lives?

Cyclone Evan, which has already reportedly claimed the lives of three people, continues to batter Samoa today and is expected to intensify with winds up to 145km/h.

At least three people, two of them children, were reported to have been killed in the cyclone overnight.

Samoa’s Meteorology Division this morning issued a special weather bulletin, predicting winds will pick up to between 120km/h and 145km/h within the next 6-12 hours….

The cyclone was moving northwest and at 4am (local time) was located 40km north-east of Samoa’s capital, Apia.

If it continued on the same track it would be positioned 25km east of Apia at 8am this morning.

It would then turn southwest and “intensify”.

Last night there were reports of widespread flash floods, blocked roads, damaged buildings and evacuations.

North Korea surprised a few people yesterday by launching a satellite, ostensibly to monitor the weather, though many western governments and South Korea fear it has military capabilities and potential. It’s not clear whether China will oppose UN new sanction being applied to North Korea.  Meanwhile, tensions between China and Japan continue over some disputed little islands in the East China Sea.

How should New Zealanders, especially the Left/labour movement, respond to the inter-state tensions in the region?

And how should our government, citizens and Left/labour movement people respond to the most recent climatic disasters and devastation in the region?

42 comments on “2 storms and a rocket”

  1. vto 1

    How should people respond?

    I think the age old wisdom of responding in the manner in which we would like to be responded to ourselves in similar circumstances would be appropriate.

    It is the only way forward.

  2. Anne 2

    Posted this on Open Mike:

    14 December 2012 at 10:17 am

    Better keep a close watch on this next week folks.
    (hit the button and move to other end (Monday)


    It looks like it will affect our weather towards the end of next week. It will no longer be the same intensity (as it is predicted to become over the next 72 hours) but could still pack one hell of a punch. After hitting Fiji, these things usually turn south to south-east as they approach the mid-latitudes, so that would see it slide down to the east of NZ. If that happens it could be the East Coast of the N.I. that gets the main battering.

    Yes, I’m a little ray of sunshine :)

  3. asp viper 3

    I love it when lefties mix up weather and politics…..

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      Climate Change is very much a political issue and the fact that we heard more about Sandy than Bopha is also a political issue.

      • rosy viper 3.1.1

        I watched 121212 Concert for New York – put on for Hurricane Sandy relief. It was great to see a whole lot of hometown heroes and international (once were) great old rockers getting together to do this.

        What disturbed be though was the ticker at the bottom of the tv screen had phone numbers for countries all over the world. You could phone in from, say, the Philippines and donate for disaster relief. In New York.

        The rich and powerful eh? I wonder what justification they might have dreamed up that it’s o.k. to ask people living in Greece for money? How hard would it have been to say if you phone internationally your donation can go to local climate/disaster recovery events? That would be a people-powered understanding of political and economic dimensions of disaster relief.

        An opportunity to show the U.S. cared about more than just itself and an opportunity to raise the profile of climate change discussion completely missed. I sort of felt ashamed for them. How could they ask for money from people in countries with less ability to recover than them… just how could they?

    • karol 3.2

      And many righties like to ignore political realities.  Sometimes weather is political, as Naomi Klein will tell you.

      For her part, Klein “came of age politically,” she told me, with the 1999 protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle, when she was 29, shortly after which her international best-seller No Logo made her an intellectual star of the anti-globalization movement. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, her 2007 magnum opus, exposed the ways neoliberal free-market profiteers have exploited chaos and catastrophe in disaster zones, from hurricane-shocked New Orleans to “shock-and-awe”-shocked Iraq….

      It also says something about the direction the climate movement may be taking — or, rather, the direction McKibben and Klein argue it should be taking, as they seek to merge climate and economic justice in a way that goes beyond both traditional environmentalism and the old-school, climate-clueless left….

      “Climate change lends urgency to our fights for social justice, like nothing else before,” Klein said. “We have to win these battles against free trade, we have to win these battles to re-localize our economies. This isn’t just some little hobby. …
      “So it’s not about abandoning all of those fights, it’s actually about supercharging those fights, and weaving them all into a common narrative. That’s the story we need to tell.

      And what DTB said above.

      • Poission 3.2.1

        wiki leaks has dumped the forthcoming AR5 (Ipcc) report.The conclusiosns are that the so called enhancement of extreme events is non existant in the data be it flloods drought or tropical cyclones.
        i Insufficient evidence and thus low confidence for consistent trends in the magnitude or frequency of floods on a global scale
        iiRecent re-assessments of tropical cyclone data do not support the AR4 conclusions of an increase in the most intense tropical cyclones or an upward trend in the potential destructiveness of all storms since the 1970s
        iii New results indicate that AR4 conclusions regarding global increasing trends in droughts since 1970s are no longer supported
        This is a reversal of the previous report understanding and is more consitent with the literature.

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    UN condemns North Korea rocket launch

    And yet they say nothing when the US, UK, EU, Russia, Japan etc etc all do the same.

    Fucken hypocrites.

    • vto 4.1

      Exactly. Just the day before this North Korean rocket was in te news there was news of a new rocket launch in the US.

      The US was overtly military in nature.

      Why was that launch not commented on by anyone?

      The US government has no credibility. And neither does our.

    • King Kong 4.2

      I can understand why, from a purely selfish view, you would support the right of unhinged mentals to have weapons but North Korea and longer range nukes…really?

      • karol 4.2.1

        I don’t read that as support for North Korea having long range weapons of mass destruction.  It’s more a condemnation of the US et al’s hypocrisy in wanting to have such weapons themselves, while condemning others.

      • Draco T Bastard 4.2.2

        The US is a bunch of unhinged mentals and they have long range nukes and I certainly don’t support them having them. I don’t support anybody having them. That said, I do support all countries being able to defend themselves from agression of other countries.
        Also, this was a satellite launch which all the countries complaining about it do quite often themselves. What it really comes across as is the major power centres being upset that other countries may not be dependent upon them.

        • TheContrarian

          “this was a satellite launch”
          You trust what North Korea says?

          • lprent

            There is little difference between launching a satellite and launching a FOBS. There is effectively no difference between them.

            • Pascal's bookie

              It demonstartes capability for and ICBM bar targetting and warhead.
              But it’s still ‘so what’ as afras NK is concerned. An ICBM doesn;t give them anything they don’t already have. They can already deter attack via their conventional forces.
              So really, it’s advertising goods for sale, which is less than ideal, but not worth anyone wetting the bed over I reckon.

              • TheContrarian

                It is just posturing IMO.

                New leader gotta show his might, etc. but it seems little naive to say “it’s just a satellite”.

                Shit even if it it was a completely peaceful launch of a comms satellite you’d think there would be better things to spend money on. Like, you know, food.

                • lprent

                  Regardless there is absolutely little difference between a missile and satellite launch.

                  you’d think there would be better things to spend money on. Like, you know, food. 

                  Ah yes. And we should heartily condemn the USA, the USSR, and China, not to mention France, UK, and for that matter the European Union who all had people going hungry while their posing leaders wasted money on satellite programs…..

                  In other words; don’t be an idiot using odd standards without thinking through what it means in the same context through history. Quite simply you’re trying to draw some arbitrary line that doesn’t exist in the continuum and your criteria as stated has never been met ever in the development of space/weapons programs… 

                  • TheContrarian

                    So you think it is a-ok that North Korea is focusing its efforts on grand goals of satelitte/missle technology despite its poor record of food production, mechanicisation, farming and feeding their own population. With one the worlds worst human rights records and many of the population live in abject poverty under a tyrannical system of personailty worship.
                    What the fuck Lynn? I am not ‘drawing an arbitrary line’ I am drawing attention to the fact that while the population is oppressed it’s leaders care more about missile technology than their own people.

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      “I am drawing attention to the fact that while the population is oppressed it’s leaders care more about missile technology than their own people.”
                      Thanks captain obvious!
                      NKs got 99 problems but rocket launches are a stupid one to highlight. It’s not like if they weren’t building a rocket, the money would be put to use feeding people.

                    • McFliper

                      don’t recall you posting similar concerns about the cost of an F22.

                    • lprent

                      I am not ‘drawing an arbitrary line’

                      Ah – you are. There were literally millions of people going hungry in the USA when it developed it’s missile and space programs in the 1950’s and 60’s. Especially in the south, in the hill country and on the reservations. Each contained oppressed hungry populations where the national leaders cared more about missile technology than their own people.

                      The French developed most of their missile technology whilst they were in control of Algeria and running brutal oppression against the population there including what were considered to be deliberate starvation campaigns.

                      etc etc….

                      Quite simply there hasn’t been a major space/rocket development program that I know about that hasn’t been done against a background where it wasn’t possible to argue that “…leaders care more about missile technology than their own people…”.

                      I’m not saying it is a good thing. I’m merely stating the contrary view that you look like an idiot for cherry picking which governments you choose to denigrate, when really they are ALL doing it. Quite simply you are picking a line where you choose to regard one side of it as being ‘bad’ whilst ignoring everything else that probably just as bad. It appears completely hypocritical – unless of course you can provide rationalisation to say why NK is ‘bad’ when the US of the 50’s and 60’s was not…. (and then look at the others I mentioned)

                    • the pigman

                      Ever been to the DPRK, Contrarian?

                      I haven’t but I met an elderly Japanese couple (in their late-80s, had lived through WW2, and both inherently racist towards Chinese/Koreans) on a boat from Tianjin to Kobe who had been a couple of years ago during the summer. They described driving through the countryside with their chaperone/translator and commented to me on the people leading relatively normal lives, teenagers going on camping trips, and a complete absence of the starving poverty that the MSM likes to portray. The only way to create this impoverished, starving country is to play at the economic sanctions that the Western world use to crush their appointed axis of evil.

                      Now, you will say “well that has to do with the chaperone/where they were allowed to go”, but for how long is that line sustainable?

                  • higherstandard

                    Have you been drinking again or have you just had a TIA ?

          • Draco T Bastard

            You trust what North Korea says?

            Somewhat less than my trust of what the US says.

            Shit even if it it was a completely peaceful launch of a comms satellite you’d think there would be better things to spend money on. Like, you know, food.

            Food and rockets use a different set of resources and money isn’t a resource.

            • TheContrarian

              Yes Draco but focusing on building rockets and military might which, regardless of your feeling towards it, involves money instead of feeding your population and providing an adequate standard of living is a bit silly, no?

              • bad12

                Yeah i agree with the sentiment you express, the numbers in the US who now rely upon the charity of ‘soup kitchens’ as their main means of sustenance is now in the MILLIONS, with the number of homes foreclosed upon and lost to their owners is said to be around 30 million since 2007,

                Meanwhile the US military budget is the biggest it’s ever been…

              • Draco T Bastard

                regardless of your feeling towards it,

                It’s not a feeling – it’s a simple fact. I know it’s not one that most people accept but there you go. It’s not my fault that people have come to believe that the financial system is actually the economy.

                but focusing on building rockets and military might…instead of feeding your population and providing an adequate standard of living is a bit silly.

                That would depend on if doing so is actually taking significant resources away from feeding the people.

                • TheContrarian

                  The simple fact is when assessing the NK situation it needs to be assessed as it stands under the current paradigm. Not Dracos idea of what should be but what actually is. So regardless of what you believe should be (no matter how right or wrong you are) we need to look at what is. Which is that things cost money.

                  Secondly do you really think that state with appalling human rights, mass poverty which can barely feed itself should focus on missles? Don’t be daft, Draco. While they fiddle with their toys people die.

                  • Pascal's bookie

                    “The simple fact is when assessing the NK situation it needs to be assessed as it stands under the current paradigm. Not Dracos idea of what should be but what actually is. So regardless of what you believe should be (no matter how right or wrong you are) we need to look at what is. Which is that …” … NK is a totalitarian state which doesn’t give a shit about its citizens. So whinging about the cost of a rocket program misses the point by quite some space.
                    Would you rather they spend the money on death camps? What a wanker.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    It doesn’t matter how much money that NK has – it won’t do anything for their economy. Same as having more  money in NZ isn’t doing anything for the economy. We have thousands starving in NZ and yet this government is spending billions building useless roads solely to boost the “economy” (read, have more money).
                    As long as people fail to understand what the economy is and what it’s for then we will have these failures that you seem to be so concerned with and yet do nothing to address only saying no, we must stay with the way things are because that’s the way things are.

  5. vto 5

    Who can name the one nation in the history of the world to use nukes to kill people?

    • King Kong 5.1

      Right on. Al Qaeda never killed anyone with nukes. down with the USA.

      • karol 5.1.1

        Ummm…. has Al Qaeda launched a satellite too?  Struggling to see the relevance.

        • lprent

          He probably thinks that dangerous Islamic terrorists from the secular state of Iraq flew planes into the world trade centre, so the US invading them was a good idea.

          In other words, KK isn’t the brightest person around. Reminds me a lot of George Bush…

          • Pascal's bookie

            To be fair, I think his argument is that AQ is worse than the US, (in terms of intent at least), so therefore “USA! USA!”, and anyone who suggests otherwise is objectively pro-Al Qaeda.

            Now that’s a spectacularly shit argument by any reckoning, but it’s a popular one on the right. I blame a combination of evil and stupid.

            • lprent

              AQ has managed to kill a handful of people compared to (to take an example) the number of civilians that the US coalition killed by pure accident in any arbitrary month during their mistaken occupation of Iraq (that was sold to the US public using the bit of illogical stupidity I referred to above).

  6. Wayne 6

    Karol, your question is what should a Left/labour movement do.

    Well, a Labour led Govt would condemn the launch.

    A Labour led Govt would also continue the negotiation of TPP, and rely on the Nats for the votes in Parliament. After all the Greens, and their advisor Jane Kelsey, will not get the Overseas Trade portfolio, and will have only limited influence in this area. In particular they will not be able to stop ratification of TPP. If the 11 TPP nations agree on a deal, NZ is hardly going to back out of it.

    The Greens, or at least some of them, would get a reality check of what it means to be in Govt. But I am sure Dr Norman has already thought of the compromises the Greens will have to make, if they want to be in Govt. Presumably they will focus on local issues, like water quality, transport, social housing, rather than destroy themselves (or their Govt) on foreign policy issues.

    That is what the Alliance did after Sept 11, and look where that got them. It really was inconceivable that any NZ Govt would simply ignore a US request made in the few weeks after Sept 11, but that is what some parts of the Alliance wanted. I appreciate the Greens would be more internally united, but they will essentially have to put up with the Labour view on foreign and trade policy, if they want to stay in Govt. Even an “agree to disagree” provision in a coalition still requires any criticism to be quite moderated. Look to the Maori Party and Hone as the example. Hone had a fundamentally different world view and had to leave. So someone like Catherine Delahunty would have to be careful in how she would criticise Prime Minister Shearer, or Overseas Trade Minister Goff on these kinds of issues

    Chris Trotter has a good article on what happened to the German Greens.

    • karol 6.1

      Yes, i don’t see a Shearer-led government, especially still with Goff in a senior role, backing off from TPP.  However, there’s still a way to go before the TPP is finalised, and then there’s negotiations with ASEAN countries, especially China to deal with.

      For flax-roots labour/left people, the issues still require some thinking through.   And I think we should be aiming to build alliances with low income people throughout the region.

      I would continue to put pressure on a Labour-led government not to sell-out NZ on any trade deals – more transparency before any agreements are made.

      But for the US, TPP is more than a trade deal.  And they oppose any WMDs being owned by anyone who is not their allies.  I would expect them to put pressure on NZ to apply new sanctions to Nth Korea. 

      • Neoleftie 6.1.1

        A few years bak I read “closing the gaps” which was basically about pax America expansion  policy saving the world  bring peace and prosperity to all in time…this trade deal is simple an extension of big businebig expanding the market and letting nothing stop or get in its way even regional govts, we have the rise of than national business now bigger than countries, more powerful more resources and connected, the rise and rise of pax elite.
        Be scare people be scared as our fought for right aslide eroded taken and or sold by our very own.
        Time to challenge the paradigm of created money and wealth creation before we are two late.
        Time for the left block to get connected, to unite to find a champion and start to organise.
        We in dinners town have had enoght and starting to organise now.
        Bring back  CV .

  7. karol 7

    I’ll see if I can upload this here:  blooper headline currently showing on Stuff’s main page about a Twister in Otago this afternoon:

    11 min ago TVNZ has announced the show to replace Close Up will be called Seven Sharp.
    Twitters hits Otago
    0 min ago Two houses lost their roofs after a small twister struck in Cromwell, Central Otago

    the story is actually headlined:


  8. kiwi_prometheus 8

    The nuclear countries were suppose to dismantle their arsenals according to that non poliferation treaty everyone signed up to.

    But they haven’t, and they still insist that no other country be allowed into the exclusive nuclear club. Hypocrites! Of course they just want the power it gives them over the non nuclear states.

    But slowly they are any way – India, Pakistan, North Korea, Iran…

    Of course Israel gets away with it because it is a USA pet.

    If every country got nuclear weapons the risk of nuclear war would be extreme. But if only a few have them, they can bully and manipulate the non nuclear states.

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