The latest estimates are that 60,000 people may have been killed and a million people left homeless by the cyclone Nargis, that hit Myanmar on Saturday. According to the secretary general of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), the destruction of mangrove forests is partially to blame. The mangrove forests, which have been cut down because of the rise in population in the area, used to serve as a buffer from the sea and from storms, just as the Mississippi Delta wetlands used to serve as a buffer for Louisiana during hurricanes.
Laura Bush had the nerve to say this on Monday: "The response to this cyclone is just the most recent example of the junta's failures to meet its people's basic needs." Has she already forgotten our government's/her husband's failure to meet the basic needs of the people of New Orleans after Katrina?
At first, our government was offering 250,000 in aid but has now upped the amount to a whopping 3.25 million. Of course this help is conditional on the government allowing our disaster assessment teams into the country to evaluate the situation. Where were these disaster assessment teams when we needed them in New Orleans? Maybe we could send them the FEMA trailers that have toxic levels of formaldehyde too as part of our humanitarian aid package.
If you are wondering why some of the news refers to the country as Myanmar and some Burma, here is an explanation: According to the BBC it should always be called Burma. In 1989 the Junta changed the name to Myanmar but the United States and the UK do not recognise the name change even though the United Nations and countries such as France and Japan do. Burma's democracy movement also prefers the name Burma because they do not recognise the legitimacy of the unelected regime now in power.