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What on Earth…?

March 18, 2011

Its been a crazy couple of weeks in international affairs: what with the on-going, possibly escalating, possibly now resolved situation continuing in Libya, more protests and Government perpetrated ant–protest brutality in Bahrain and attempted protests just about everywhere (Yemen, China etc). As if all that wasn’t enough for the hypochondriac-conspiracy theorists to worry about Japan was rocked by a huge earthquake (registering 8.9 on the richter scale, the largest in Japan since records began), which was swiftly followed by a huge tsunami. This natural disaster has decimated the country, leaving thousands dead, more unaccounted for and many, many more homeless. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the tsunami managed to damage the cooling equipment at Fukushima nuclear power plant, threatening the biggest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. The plant currently stands at point 5 on the 7 point international risk factor scale. My thoughts go out to anyone involved in any of these situations.

Just thought I’d share a couple of things that have struck me over the past couple of weeks:

1. China’s silent protest

Testament to huge deprivation of basic freedoms that Chinese citizens are subjected to, their response to growing the international protest movement was to propose a protest where members simply walked silently through the streets. Even this protest was massively stamped on by the Chinese authorities  but I just loved the idea of thousands of people walking together silently in the name of freedom.

You can read a bit about the protests and the governments totalitarian suppression of them here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12666701

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12658963

2. In Rwanda, they did nothing. In Sudan, they did nothing. There are countless examples of the UN failing to intervene and protect innocent civilians in atrocities across the world. But today the news came that the UN voted to approve non-ground troop interventions in protection of the Libyan people from the vengeance of Colonel Gaddafi. News that British and French planes were ready to launch for attack in the immediacy caused a dramatic turn around and announcement of a cease fire by Gaddafi’s foreign secretary – what happens next? Who knows. A turning point in global politics or simply further proof that the heart of the West only bleeds for the black, sticky stuff (oil)?

Anyway the BBC seemed to be first on the ball with this one:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12787739

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/03/18/us-libya-idUSTRE7270JP20110318

3. The last two points are in a similar vein and I have to say the second is much more striking than the first, but I did love the stoic, matter of fact manner of this member of the British rescue team to Japan, who utterly refused to play ball with any kind of media hysteria:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12724918

4. I was completely astounded/awe-struck/humbled by the attitude of the 150+ Japanese engineers facing huge levels of radiation in their struggle to repair the nuclear reactor at Fukushima. They are being hailed the “Fukushima 50” because they work in shift teams of 50 people. Somehow heroic doesn’t seem to do them justice.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12779510

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