Friday, May 23, 2008

Welcome to hurricane season...

Major New Orleans levee is leaking

Forecasters predict 60-70% chance of above normal hurricane season

Crude Oil prices hit $135 a barrel
, Gas at $3.83/gal

Oh, and... we're getting married exactly a year from today!! More to come on this subject from Miss Megster herself!

Monday, May 19, 2008

A new (new) house

Thanks Mom, Dad, and Kevin for all your work and dedication to us this week!

After 9 (or so) trips to Home Depot, and 5 days of long hours, we have a nearly new (new) house. As you can see by the pictures, a lot happened in the past few days - from re-enforcing termite destroyed wood, to installing cabinets, to caulking gutters - our house is much more safe and livable thanks to the dedicated people that helped Meg and I fix it up this week! You guys are life savers!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Obama in Woodburn, Oregon today

Barack Obama had lunch today at Luis's Taqueria in Woodburn, Oregon (the same place I went dozens of times for their amazing burritos during my volunteer year in JVC!) Check out the pictures here! (Also, more pictures from the Oregonian and the Woodburn Independent and the Statesman-Journal.)


Friday, May 9, 2008

Update on cyclone aftermath in Myanmar/Burma

The confirmed death toll is now above 80,000. Estimates are that 40% of children in the affected area are now homeless. To make things even worse (if that is possible) the cyclone struck right at the peak of rice harvest season, making hunger a certainty for months to come.

The UN and other agencies have been having problems with delivering aid to the cyclone affected regions. The first UN relief planes were allowed to land yesterday (5 days after the storm), but the relief supplies were confiscated by the ruling military junta, and aid workers were not granted visas to administer the aid or survey the damage. No aid or personnel from the United States (or nearly any other country) are being allowed in. The UN temporarily suspended further aid flights, but today reinstated flights due to the extreme need. There is talk of the UN Security Council invoking a measure to force aid workers entry into the country (this measure was devised in the aftermath of the failed UN response to the Rwanda genocide in 1994).

For now, I would recommend continuing donations, but only to UN-affiliated organizations, like the World Food Programme, UNHCR (for refugees), and UNICEF (for children). And say a prayer. But give aid first.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Cyclone Nargis devastates Burma

In a period of 48 hours, the announced death toll of the cyclone impacting Burma this weekend has risen from 430 to 2000 to 10,000 to 22,000 - and there is now talk of possibly 50,000 or more. Suddenly, Cyclone Nargis has become the worst natural disaster in the world since the Asian tsunami of 2004. Also, it has passed Hurricane Mitch (1998, Central America, 18,000 deaths) as the worst cyclone/hurricane in at least the last 20 years, since a cyclone in Bangladesh killed over 100,000 in 1991. Surely the intense poverty and social vulnerability in Burma has increased the death toll. The ruling military junta have created a repressive, poverty-stricken state - and unimaginable, North Korea-like conditions. Protesting Buddhist monks were brutally killed last September. They didn't need this, too.

Help the victims of this disaster by donating now.

On a somewhat related note, I just finished reading Khaled Hosseini's book "A thousand splendid suns" over the weekend. It was an intimate account of two women's struggles to survive throughout the chaos that has been the last 30 years of history in Afghanistan. I was frustrated at the ending of the book, and how he glossed over the fact that even after the arrival of the Americans in 2001, things still remain desperate there. However, I thought he summed up well the sometimes irrational hope that people living in poverty sometimes possess in the following paragraph.

They would live in a small house on the edge of some town they'd never heard of, Mariam said, or in a remote village where the road was narrow and unpaved but lined with all manner of plants and shrubs. Maybe there would be a path to take, a path that led to a grass field where the children could play, or maybe a graveled road that would take them to a clear blue lake where trout swam and reeds poked through the surface. They would raise sheep and chickens, and they would make bread together and teach the children to read. They would make new lives for themselves - peaceful, solitary lives - and there the weight of all that they'd endured would lift from them, and they would be deserving of all the happiness and simple prosperity they would find.

Maybe a few people today in Burma also have similar hope of rebuilding their lives someday.

Pray for the people in Burma. Help them to recover from this tragedy. Donate now.