Saturday, February 27, 2010

Earthquake in Chile

Matt Suggett,, Chile earthquake 2010, (text, collection of photos from various media sources).   Matt blogs:
At about 3:30 last night, I was lying in bed, drifting off to sleep. My window was open to admit the warm night air, and I opened my eyes as a loud motorcycle passed outside. The noise disturbed the street dogs, and I rolled my eyes as dogs across the city began howling and barking.

My bed began to rock, gently. I've felt a few minor tremors before, so I wasn't alarmed as my building began to quiver lethargically. The gentle pulses massaged me in my warm bed. Our big apartment building creaked softly as it swayed slowly in the quiet night, like a the leaves of a tree stirring in a calm evening breeze.

Suddenly, my heart dropped through my stomach. A million things shot through my mind as my room exploded. My bed started shaking violently. My wardrobe doors were flapping open and slamming shut. Books and trinkets on my table crashed on the floor. The noise was deafening.

What happened next is a blur of noise and panic. I had only one thought: get out.

I jumped out of bed. The building was shaking viciously, knocking me off my feet. It was as if a giant man had a hold of me, and was shaking my fragile body like a baby. . . .

Camilo Salsas K., Chile earthquake: First-hand notes from Camilo of Disorder Magazine. Camilo Salsas K. from Disorder Magazine in Chile writes to Boing Boing from Santiago:
The situation right now is very bad. We are getting news of the most bad places (the south center of Chile) and the news is no good. I am listening about buildings on the floor, hospitals with a lot of people and aftershocks. Every 5 or 10 minutes we feel shakes from the earth. Right now I am experiencing a VERY LONG ONE. The news says there are over ne hundred dead people and lot of injuries. I have electric light and internet, i can use my cellphone, with some difficulty, but it works.

I was sleeping at 3:30 in the morning with my girlfriend. I live in the 10th floor of a 10 floor building and i woke up with a little shake. Then it was growing in intensity, and growing and growing. I get to the door and stay there.

Desi McAdam, Jacksonville Beach employee's first-hand account of Chilean quake.  McAdam was dancing at a nightclub when the devastating earthquake struck early Saturday.
"I live on the ninth floor of a high rise in the Centro area. On the way home we didn’t see any big damage other than some of the buildings’ facades had fallen off and (there was) broken glass and windows in places.

"We went up to my apartment and for the most part it was OK. My TV had fallen off the shelf ... and we had cracks in the ceiling [and] walls, and the doors are all torqued. We made ourselves a few drinks and then talked to some neighbors who told us it was not safe to be in the building because of potential aftershocks. So we headed out. ...

"Around 5:30, we went back to my apartment figuring things were OK and I made us some eggs. ... The water was brown and we couldn’t drink it. ... I decided to try to get some sleep around 6:30.

"My friend ... came in around 8 and woke me up. Apparently there was a 6.9 aftershock that I slept through. ... I have never really been in a quake before.

"He told me ... there were a lot of buildings on fire. ... We then filled the bathtubs with water and boiled a couple of pots of water just in case. I still didn’t have any power, and our computers and phones were almost dead, so we conserved what power we had.

"We then went out walking and taking pictures. ... Oddly, the Chileans were all very calm. They were out sweeping up the streets and opening up their shops. There was no panic at all. ...

NY Times,  Updates on the Earthquake in Chile.  See also Readers’ Photos: Chile Earthquake

Cristian Cambronero, Fusil, Chile: los videos del terremoto (Chile: videos of the earthquake).

Friday, February 26, 2010

Court siezure of Thaksin's assets in Bangkok

According to the FT "Thaksin Shinawatra , Thailand’s controversial former prime minister, has been formally stripped of more than half of his vast wealth in a decision that threatens to reopen the country’s deep political divisions. Thailand’s Supreme Court, in a compromise decision that caught many by surprise, ruled on Friday that Mr Thaksin could keep Bt30bn of his Bt77bn ($2.3bn) fortune, held in assets frozen since he was removed from office in a military coup in 2006."

Who was live-blogging the event?

Newley,, Thaksin asset ruling: Images from Thailand’s Supreme Court today
 I spent several hours at the court house today. Here are some images. As you’ll see, there were dozens of police, crowds of TV crews and photographers, and not many red shirt protesters (though many of them gathered elsewhere).

Bangkok Pundit, Asian Correspondent, Live blog: Thaksin Assets seizure case
21:00 Court is still freezing the 30 billion baht, but it will be returned once settlement is made with interest. Didn't hear mention of any other pending cases to hold for that.

BP: The court's rationale is that Thaksin gets to keep all money he had before he become PM. Any increase in shares is part of the poisoned fruit analogy so the court takes all that.

20:48 For now, it seems the 30 billion Baht will not be seized - may be some interest on the 46 billion - but want to wait until the court stops talking to be 100% sure. Just worried they may say they will freeze that pending other cases unrelated to Shin...

20:42 It seems Thaksin and Potjaman will get the money back from before he became PM. Tentatively, they are seizing 46 billion out of 76 billion and add interest. The question of the 30 billion of when Thaksin was PM is a little unclear yet as the court is still going.

20:35 Court says coup order gives authority to seize the money. Court says they can seize all the money belonging to Thaksin and Pojaman. Now, on whether they were unusually rich.

20:30 As already stated Thaksin was directly involved in the EXIM bank loan (5) and excise tax (1) so basically he is screwed on this part. Now, for the other two issues, namely (2) and (4). The majority of the court says Thaksin abused his authority as PM. So how much they will seize?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver

Jotman, JOTMAN.COM, (photos, text)

Opening ceremonies: photos & such from the transit side of things - descriptions of Vancouver on opening night of the Games (lots of photos)

Vancouver Winter Olympics protests

Various groups had planned protests to coincide with the opening days of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver Canada.  Bloggers were on the streets of Vancouver as these protests occurred, providing us with firsthand independent perspectives:

Miss 604, Vancouver 2010 Protests on Day Two (text, 10 photos, video)
Yesterday the Olympic Torch Relay was re-routed due to protesters in the downtown Eastside but it was a peaceful protest. Today it seems like a different group of people with anarchy signs, masks, hoods, and actions such as knocking over newspaper boxes, spray painting cars & mailboxes, and smashing windows...
Clary, Seattle Times, Dispatches from opening day protests (3 videos)
The rally began at the Vancouver art gallery. After gathering and speeches, protesters moved onto Georgia street as media, police and Olympic fans looked on and followed the crowd.

 Jotman, Demonstrations at the opening of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver (text, photos)
On Friday, as many as 5,000 demonstrators danced, sang, an held signs in a peaceful protest in downtown Vancouver..

Vancouver Media Co-op.  Streaming news aggregation at 2010 Vancouver Olympic Protest Reporting.  See also Vancouver page of Media Co-op.  See also YouTube channel  ornvideoVideos posted on 13 Feb 2010
Demonstrators took Georgia Street this afternoon in an action designedto block Olympic traffic from Vancouver to the resort town of Whistler. The action was billed as a Heart Attack, set up to clog the arteries of capitalism.

A marching band accompanied marchers, who carried banners, shoute dslogans and advanced through the streets of downtown. Overturned mailboxes and a dumpster were dragged on to the street as the march passed through, and when the crowd reached Georgia Hornby, black bloc membersbusted windows.  Todays actions were met with harsh violence coming from police, who beat demonstrators in the streets, kettled another group, and arrested 13.
Daniel Hayduk, The Developing Tray, Violent anti-Olympic protest (Hayduk is an award winning Canadian photojournalist -- dozens of great photos)
By Canadian standards, today was a violent sad day.  Several hundred masked protesters taking to the streets during days of national Olympic pride...  And they even smashed some windows!

As the rest of the World wonders why they didn't throw Molotov cocktails and flip cars...   Ahhh... Canadian rioter politeness. :)  They even say excuse me while running to tip newspaper boxes.

For those who see the banners in the pictures, the Anti Poverty Committee is a radical anti-homeless and anti-poverty group in Vancouver.  They seem to like jackboots, bandanna's and breaking stuff.

Incidentally.  Dear protesters, if you are chanting, "this is what democracy looks like," as you walk down the middle of the street, do not try to punch photographers taking your picture.  Taking pictures is also what democracy looks like.

Alex Firmani, Shot In Vancouver Photography.  Vancouver Olympics protests turn violent; multiple arrests made. (dozens of outstanding photos).
An anti-Olympics protest called the 2010 Heart Attack turned violent today in Vancouver as black-masked marchers clashed with over 200 police.
The Duane Story.  On Democratic Rights During The Olympics
This morning I got to walk along Robson Street and watch the protests as they occurred. Given that I saw first-hand how the police officers and the protesters interacted, I thought I would make a few comments.
 Vancouver Olympics
Saw the torch on one of its final stretches before going into the stadium. I have never seen so many police! Before the opening ceremonies we went over to were all the protests were happening. They were for the most part a very peaceful group. The only time I felt a little uncomfortable was when the riot police came in and blocked the entrance to the stadium, I know it was a peaceful protest but the site of so many police and people was a little unnerving, Especially since they were protesting the games, and I was in my uniform.

Osez, Indymedia Bristol, Bristol solidarity with anti-Olympic athletes, February 19, 2010, (photo at right, text).
Wednesday evening a small, but rowdy group of local anti-Olympic athletes gathered in Bristol to show their solidarity with those resisting the Olympics in Vancouver, where there has just been several days of action against the five ringed corporate circus on stolen native land.

Twitter Feeds:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Protests in Iran on the Anniversary of the Islamic Revolution

Several sites did an outstanding job of media live-blogging the protests and celebrations associated with the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. 

As thousands turned out to official rallies around the country, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a huge crowd in Tehran that Iran has produced enriched uranium for the first time.  Protesters took to the streets throughout the country, but a huge security mobilization prevented protesters from disrupting the rally in Tehran.  By evening, it appeared to observers as if the Iranian government had the upper hand.

Guardian, Iran protest live blog,  (map, photo, lots of videos, comments)

Enduring America,  The Latest from Iran (11 February): Today is 22 Bahman, (includes map)

Iran News Now, Live-blog: 22 Bahman – 31st Anniversary of Islamic Revolution – February 11, 2010, (2 dozen videos)

The Lede, Latest Updates on Demonstrations in Iran, (2 dozen videos)

The Daily Nite Owl, Live-Blog: Street Protests in Iran – February 11 / 22 Bahman (20 videos)

 Daily Dish.   Sullivan and his night-shift assistant blogger Chris "tracked the events of 22 Bahman. Extensive summary of our night-shift here. Accounts of the junta's lockdown here, here, and here. Analysis here and here. Glimpses of violence here, here, here, and here. Various doubts of Ahmadi's "20 percent" claim here and a critique of the speech here. Stories of press manipulation here and here. Andrew's impression of the day here and Scott Lucas' here."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Vancouver Winter Olympics torch relay

 Miss 604, Vancouver 2010 Day One in Photos

Jotman, Olympic torch relay in Vancouver

The torch relays Jotman blogged in Bangkok (photo left) and Jakarta prior to the Beijing Olympics were characterized by Chinese nationalism.  Jotman (photo right) compares these relays to the relay for the Vancouver Olympics.

Colin Horgan, True SlantOlympic love in Calgary: an anecdote
At the corner of 7th Avenue and MacLeod Trail in downtown Calgary sits Olympic Plaza, a flat concrete expanse across the street from City Hall. In 1988 the Plaza served as the venue for medal ceremonies during the Winter Games. Since then, it’s been used as a wading pool in summer, an ice rink in winter, and a year-round home to many of the city’s homeless and/or drug dealers. Monday night, it was the site of the torch’s triumphant return.

I arrived at around 5 pm, approximately two hours before the torch was due, and started making my way around the Plaza, hoping to find something other than corporate sponsorship. I didn’t. For all intents and purposes, the rally was for Coca-Cola, and to a lesser extent, the Royal Bank. Within minutes of being there, I’d already received a free Coke, and had completed a quick survey taken by roaming Coke reps, which began “If you’re at work or home, how often a day do you find yourself picking up a bottle of Coke?” and followed on from there.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Divisions within Thailand's military

Reuters (h/t Newley) picks up on a disturbing development:
Analysts, diplomats and military sources say it is premature to talk of a split in Thailand’s powerful and politicised army but that festering ideological differences show signs of broadening in one of the most charged climates in decades....
Nick Nostitz, guest blogger at New Mandala, Two soldiers (superb photos, text)
On 28 January 2010 Colonel Apirat Kongsompong and the leaders of several Army Regiments and Battalions came out in support of Army Chief, General Anupong Paochinda, and denounced Major General Khattiya “Sae Daeng” Sawasdipol for violating the code of conduct and military regulations. 

Rescue and recovery efforts in Haiti

Global Voices team.
"Global Voices has sent a two-person team to Port-au-Prince in the wake of the Haiti earthquake, to help support citizen media activity. Georgia Popplewell and Alice Backer are also contributing firsthand reporting to our coverage of recovery efforts. Find out more about their assignment here."

Georgia Popplewell, Global Voices.   Rand rue artists after the earthquake 
Grand Rue in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, is one of the city's most disadvantaged neighbourhoods, but also home to a vibrant community of artists who create works of art out of the discarded materials they find in their environment. The area was host to the first Ghetto Biennale in December 2009.

Alice Backer, Global Voices. Global Voices in Haiti: Talking to Volunteer Régine Zamor

Alice Backer, on assignment for Global Voices in Port-au-Prince, interviews Régine Zamor, a Haitian-American who travelled to Haiti after the 12 January earthquake and has helped dozens of people as an independent volunteer.

Eric, a medic (text)
the people here are amazing. these people who live in poverty are going out of their way to help us with transportation, interpreters, etc... the degree of crime reported in the mainstream media is mostly hype. we feel totally safe here and have even before we joined up with the 82nd. speaking of transportation, jet blue is comping us for all of our airtravel. they have my business in the future.

Sanchez Missions
When we arrived at Port-au-Prince, mission director Dan Irvine said he had with him a 9-year-old girl whose feet had been crushed in the earthquake. Her feet looked like "ground beef," and if infection set in, it would be quickly fatal. The island hospital had done all they could. They needed to find an orthopedic doctor in Port-au-Prince for surgery. I agreed to wait for her at the plane. - Will White, MAF pilot

Great commission Kentucky (Baptist church), “People Here Are Scared”
Bookcase becomes a pharmacy, Team confronting difficult situationsNew life in the rubble

Israel21 interview/ with Dr. Ian Miskin, doctor with the Israeli delegation.
The mission worked in less-than-ideal conditions. "The scary part was the first days - we had almost nothing to eat, no shower, no way to sleep properly. We slept in pup tents, but it was so hot and humid, so damp. Everything you left outside was soaked... our electricians set up satellite telephone lines to Israel so that we could call home, but because of the work load, we often didn't have five free minutes to call home."
This comment was left by an American medic in Haiti, Kim Kwiatek, MD:
As a member of the Ohio-5 Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) that moved in as you were leaving the soccer-plex on your way back home, I want to commend your team for their excellent work, their graciousness in sharing your food with us on our arrival (the chicken, salad, and Coke we were never able to replicate while we were there - strictly US military MREs thereafter), your drugs and medical gear with us that allowed us to get to work rapidly even while awaiting our full supply line to be established, and your stories and experiences that allowed us to be better prepared for what we were about to face. (Oh yes, and your shower system too!!!)....
Captain Dominic DeScisciolo, Fleet Forces Command Blog, "Operation Unified Resonse Update 1"   Captain Dominic DeScisciolo is CO of USS BUNKER HILL (CG-52). ADM J.C. Harvey, Jr. writes "Dom’s email is a great representation of “a day in the life” of our ships and what is being accomplished everyday by our Sailors."
We are on our fourth town since last week. As you know, we began on the southwest coast of La Gonave at Point-a-Raquettes. We have since distributed relief aid to Anse-a-Galets, La Source, and Gros Mangle on the northwest coast of La Gonave. All of the towns mentioned, if not affected directly by the earthquake, are feeling some sort of indirect need due to the internally displaced people (IDPs) and the disruption of normal supply lines from Port Au Prince. And we’ve been figuring it out and getting more effective and efficient at delivering relief as we go along. The system goes something like this:

My Ops Boss arranges for a helo flight and takes picture after picture of potential communities in need, ingress and egress points, distribution areas, landing zones, places to access via RHIB and where to moor on the shore. Myself, my XO, CMC, DH’s, Chaps, and HMC huddle up that evening and review the photos Ops took that day. We practice the art of the possible in determining where we will put folks ashore and what we could potentially accomplish based on the size of the town, location, natural features, whether there are NGO contacts (like our Fr. Roosevelt from the first town) we could exploit to our advantage, etc.

The next morning I position the ship as close to shore as possible. Due to the lack of sufficient charts in this area, we’re being forced to get close to the beach in support of RHIB ops by sight, feel, and fathometer – which can get pretty sporty. Cheng then leads my two RHIBs ashore for a detailed eyes-on survey of the town, scouts out the most suitable LZ, and establishes a security perimeter manned by my Weapons Officer and his team. We then work with the town ‘elders’ through a combination of translators and our Chaplain, to set up the food and water distribution points. My HMC and his assistants go right to work in the town “clinic” (usually a thatch-roofed affair under a palm tree). The worst medical cases we arrange for medevac. They usually include the IDP’s that have sought refuge here on La Gonave from Port-Au-Prince. By around noontime food, water and medicine start flowing in from the ship via RHIB and helo (if avail; we don’t have our own embarked helo det – we’ve been begging helos each day from air ops on the CSG staff) and gets handed out like an assembly line. We can usually get about 2,000 individual meals and about 1,000 gal of water in to the beach each day before we have to wrap up near sunset. We have been averaging 1-2 days per town to try to bring them up to a ‘pre-earthquake condition’ in terms of food, water, and medical care. We are beginning to see a decline in injuries directly attributed to the quake or its aftermath. We are now seeing more injuries and illnesses that are in keeping with the generally low standard of living, malnutrition, and poverty that prevails in this country.

Anyway – just wanted to give you a glimpse of our day-to-day existence since my last e-mail. No end in sight just yet. But morale is SKY-HIGH and we’re happy to keep perfecting our “system” for the time being.

ADM J.C. Harvey, Jr., Fleet Forces Command Blog:
The little town we provided relief for today (Picmi, on the southeast coast of La Gonave) had actually written “SOS” in the sand (picture attached).  Ops had flagged down a helo and gone up for her daily ‘aerial recon’ the other day and thought she saw the letters while she was taking pictures.  When she got back and we looked at the photos – sure enough, it was there!  We sent in our survey team this morning and found nearly 2,000 residents with no food or water.  Plus we were the FIRST assistance they’d seen since the earthquake 17 days ago.

We began our by now trademark water-and-food shuttle with the RHIBs, and we ended up providing nearly 2,000 meals (MREs) and 400 gal water before wrapping up at sunset.  No medevacs today, but HMC and his team still provided care for over 200 persons (mostly children).  All in all a good day.  And all from an “SOS” in the sand…

 Our 6th town in 8 days… V/R Dom

Upon arriving in Haiti, Fardales reports the following, “We arrived at a field hospital located in the central courtyard of a place Haitians call the El Anexo, a facility within the Military Hospital facilities.

Isidro Fardales, CubaDebate website, (via Juventud, h/t 10%).  Posted 1-15-2009.  Fardales, a Cuban radio correspondent,  writes "A 60-member relief team of Cuban healthcare professionals is already providing medical assistance in that country."  It is an operation of the Henry Reeve Cuban Medical Brigade (Henry Reeves International Contingent of Doctors Specialized in Disasters and Serious Epidemics) founded by Castro on September 19, 2005 after Cuber's large offer of medical assistance to the US in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was declined:
“There, under a big tent, Cuban surgeons tirelessly treat every patient that comes in, injured or mutilated; although the line of people waiting for assistance seems to stretch on forever.

“As I write this, our medical staff has already treated more than a thousand patients in little more than 24 hours, and dozens of them have undergone emergency life-saving surgery.

“Another field hospital has been set up in the Renacimiento Ophthalmology Center, the hospital that used to house the Milagros mission [Cuban-Venezuelan Free Eye-Surgery Program] in Haiti.”

Other resources:
Global Voices Haiti page