Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti Disaster and Other Matters

Hi there,

The biggest earthquake in 200 years struck Haiti a few hours ago and has left the country in ruins. Thousands may be dead. Many foreigners providing policing and economic aid are buried under the rubble, including, probably, the head of the UN stabilisation mission there. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and seems to stagger from one natural disaster to another.

Dunno about you, but I don't know what to say when I read news like this. Instinctively you feel a desire to make a gesture of solidarity, to lend a hand, to comfort distant strangers. But you can't. It's a time when the only adequate response is prayer for the dead, dying, injured, bereaved and ruined.

It's the only adequate response, but not the only response. I shall scream if I read another one more febrile news story about why the earthquake shows the importance of Twitter for gathering hard news. This angle on disaster just shows an impoverished sense of humanity.

So far this week, we have posted three stories. In mine, I've tried to draw attention to an important response to assisted suicide from disability advocates. George Friedman and a colleague discuss the havoc wreaked by a suicide bomber on the CIA's operations in Afghanistan; and Carolyn Moynihan remembers -- not fondly -- feminist icon Mary Daly (RIP). Jennifer Roback Morse's article on gay marriage in California has proved surprisingly controversial. Check out some of the numerous comments.

Great reading. Tell us what you think in your own comments!


Michael Cook

Editor, MercatorNet

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