The news has been a big swirling stew of horrors lately, challenging even my finely-tuned ability to see the silver lining in every mushroom cloud.
«Out of the 30 pupils in his class, he is the only survivor. Gone too is the boy's speech. 'Jaheer has not spoken since the tsunami came,' says Ahmed Mohiddin, principal of the school. 'We had 600 students. Now I cannot count half of that number alive.'
At Kalmunai Base Hospital in Ampara in Sri Lanka last week an infant dubbed 'Baby 81' was kicking playfully at a pink blanket as nine desperate, heartbroken women quarrelled over him, all claiming he was theirs - torn from them by last month's tsunami.»
But the economy's alright, yes?
«Now there is not only little in the sea and few boats ready to catch it, but seafood sales have plummeted. [...] Sri Lankans have avoided the fish, believing that Indian Ocean sea creatures have feasted on people who were swept out to sea. [...]
Earlier this week, a delegation of fishermen delivered a crate of fish to the presidential palace. Having talked their way into the building they managed to drop it on to the table during a cabinet meeting, begging officials to eat the contents.»
Hm. Speaking of bodies...
«More containers have now arrived and the corpses will be transferred to refrigerated storage units after fresh DNA samples are taken, dental records collated, and a microchip inserted into each to ease identification, Pornthip said."»
And, sure, the survivors are starving and are geysering diarrhea because of the infected water supplies, but the Indonesian élites can always be relied upon to find what's really bad about a disaster that kills a good chunk of a million people:
«Indonesia's most influential group of Islamic clerics on Friday warned of a widespread Muslim backlash if international aid groups involved in relief efforts in tsunami-battered Aceh province begin proselytizing and adopting children orphaned from the Dec. 26 disaster.
[...]Syamsuddin was referring to reports that U.S.-based welfare organization WorldHelp had planned to adopt 300 Acehnese children orphaned by the quake and raise them in a Christian children's home.»
Wait, wait, for the punchline...
«Despite the huge response by international governments when the tidal wave hit on Boxing Day, the United Nations humanitarian appeal is still underfunded by a third, with just $723 million received out of a total of nearly $1 billion originally demanded and pledged.»
Because, of course, all that money is tied up in Iraq. What's it doing? Feeding puppies! Yaaaay, puppies!
Oh wait. There's a bit of trouble with how the puppies are getting fed...
«Ali Fadhil, an Iraqi journalist working with the Guardian's film unit and one of the few reporters to travel independently to Falluja, describes in a Channel 4 News film tonight a "city of ghosts" where dogs feed on uncollected corpses.»
But just as long as everything is fine at home...
«This is not ordinary strip mining. This is mountaintop removal - activists dub it 'strip mining on steroids'. It is the stuff of science fiction and it is booming in the Appalachian mountains, bringing with it environmental degradation and human despair. It is fuelled by a mining industry that has paid millions of dollars into Republican campaign coffers and received in return an unprecedented relaxation of rules.
Mountaintop removal mining does exactly what it says - in order to get at thin seams of coal that lie within, like cream through the middle of a sponge cake. Millions of tons of rock are blown up, scraped away and poured into surrounding valleys, filling them to the brim. What was a mountain range is turned into a flat and almost barren desert of rock.»
Harshing. My. Buzz.