Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Let the Sniping begin

In another incident of unwavering non-partisianship (cough cough) the Washington Post writes:

Although U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland yesterday withdrew his earlier comment, domestic criticism of Bush continued to rise. Skeptics said the initial aid sums -- as well as Bush's decision at first to remain cloistered on his Texas ranch for the Christmas holiday rather than speak in person about the tragedy -- showed scant appreciation for the magnitude of suffering and for the rescue and rebuilding work facing such nations as Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Indonesia.
After a day of repeated inquiries from reporters about his public absence, Bush late yesterday afternoon announced plans to hold a National Security Council meeting by teleconference to discuss several issues, including the tsunami, followed by a short public statement.
Bush's deepened public involvement puts him more in line with other world figures. In Germany, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder cut short his vacation and returned to work in Berlin because of the Indian Ocean crisis, which began with a gigantic underwater earthquake.

There were a bevy of such stories this morning. How COLD of Bush to remain at his WORKING ranch, while Shroeder cancelled his trip OUT OF COUNTRY. You know, there are two types of politicians (oh, heck, I'm sure there are more than two types, but for simplicity's sake, just go with it.) Type one cares first about posturing for the camera. Who make sure that their EVERY positive action is seen by everyone. And then there are those who care FIRST about action, and only later are concerned with how the public perceives it. This was not a time for Bush to come out and calm our population (since, unlike Germany's possible 1,000 dead, we have very few victims of the tsunami.) 9/11 ... Bush was there. But now, the people who were suffering most likely don't even have television access. It would have been pure posturing. Bush acted behind the scenes.

I also find the list of aid pledged very interesting, and am very proud to call the Australians our allies. Some highlights :

AUSTRALIA: Increased aid to $27 million and said it, the United States, Japan and India were considering setting up a group to coordinate help. Also sent five air force transport planes with supplies and medical specialists to Sumatra, and two 15-member emergency medical teams and 12 police to Phuket.

BRITAIN: Pledged 15 million pounds ($28.9 million); plastic sheets and tents worth 250,000 pounds to Sri Lanka; 370,000 pounds to EU aid offer, $100,000 to World Health Organisation.

DENMARK: Increased aid pledge to 85 million Danish crowns ($15.6 million) after spending almost all initial 10 million crowns pledged. Aid to cover -- medical supplies, food, water, shelter, reconstruction.

FRANCE: 15 million euros pledged to affected states in Southeast Asia. French authorities and aid groups decide to send 110 tonnes of aid.

GERMANY: Doubling emergency aid to 2 million euros. Air force medical evacuation plane to set off for Phuket, two more planes chartered to take disaster relief teams, medicine and consular officials there. Germany's largest utility E.ON donates 1 million euros.

JAPAN: Pledged $30 million in aid, sent three navy vessels to Thailand to help rescue survivors.

KUWAIT: Pledged aid supplies worth $2 million, sent $100,000 immediate aid.

NORWAY: Preliminary contribution of 50 million Norwegian crowns ($8.2 million) for emergency relief, including medicine, food, clean water and shelter.

QATAR - Sent urgent relief aid worth $10 million.

SAUDI ARABIA: Pledged $10 million aid package -- $5 million of food, tents and medicine to be distributed via Saudi Red Crescent, $5 million for international aid groups such as the Red Cross and U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

UNITED STATES: Pledged initial $35 million. Pentagon ordered 12 vessels to region, though no decision taken on their role.

Yesterday, France was reporting only a little over 1 million (American) aid ... and I've seen other numbers, but I'll go with the above number and say good job. Of course, not included is all the aid given freely out of the pockets of normal citizens ...Amazon is collecting funds for the Red Cross, and that effort alone has raised already $2 Million (in a DAY.) I see no reason why everyone can't give at least a few bucks.