Saturday, February 26, 2011

My view today on the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake as a local born Canatabrian...

By Peter Petterson

First published at Qondio:

I have been reading and recycling many of the stories about the tragic Christchurch earthquake onto many of my blogsites, but feel the need to make a few comments of my own.

I cry for the city of my birth, childhood and teen years. I have so many memories of Christchurch, at home, school, my early work years, my friends and our fun times. I remember many of the buildings around town which are now just a useless pile of rubble and waste. The most striking memory of all has been that of the iconic gothic style Christchurch Cathedral in the middle of the heart of Christchurch - Cathedral Square. It is virtually destroyed; its spire fell off taking an unknown number of tourists with it. They were perched in the observation balconies.

Elsewhere in the Central Business District, the CBD, a third of all buildings have been totally destroyed or have now been condemned. The Canterbury Television building collapsed and buried an unknown number of people working or visiting there at the time of the earthquake, just a few days ago on Tuesday 22 February. Urban search and rescue experts from New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Britain, the United States, Malaysia, China and a number of other countries have been searching around the clock the television building and dozens of other buildings.

As they search the death toll increases, close to 150 as I write here. They dig, move rubble and remains of the buildings, working in eight hour shifts. Something that has not been credited much publicly, but I certainly do so here; is the sheer bravery of these Kiwi and international searchers who could at any moment be victims of these destroyed buildings themselves. Some of the British rescuers were involved in the Haiti earhquake of recent times. Christchurch resembles a war zone - a Beirut.

In the first Christchurch earthquake there were no fatalities and few victims to dig out, because it happened in the early hours of the morning when nearly all New Zealanders and other residents were asleep. This present earthquake has proven so deadly because it happened in the middle of the day - lunchtime for workers, shoppers and people on other business.

Throughout the city in suburbs from all points of the compass, but especially in the eastern suburbs there are stories of people attempting to escape. Some were killed or injured, and others were trapped in their homes. But the triumph of the human spirit has prevailed with neigbours and even strangers stepping out of their own comfort zones to help their fellow human beings. It was the old Kiwi spirit that we thought had gone from the psyche here; but when the chips are really done it rises to the surface just like cream in fresh milk. Some of these people have had no water, food supplies, relying on outside help. There is no sewerage (holes have had to be dug in the back yard), though portaloos are being distributed around the city. The liquefaction which dries out as thick silt, is making driving around the city dangerous and slow. Power is slowly being restored around the city, but with most cables underground it is proving difficult and slow as temporary overhead lines are installed. Help is coming to those in the suburbs. The army is also involved in assistance to householders.

We were worried for our own relatives down south of here of us in Wellington. But despite the loss of electricity messages were able to get through. We were reassured on Facebook that all was well down in Christchurch. Despite the misery and fear of life in Christchurch during these days, they are struggling on through the initial period of recovery from this terrible natural disaster.

I will when I publish this post, return to othe internet sites to learn of further developments. Today is the first Sunday after the quake and many people were able to visit a variety of churches, halls temples and mosques throughout New Zealand to give thanks for the safe delivery of those who survived, to pray for those missing and to remember those who will never return home again. It is no cliche, but we will remember them!

There have been some stories, thankfully few in number, of people who have abused their fellows in a variety of ways, which I won't dwell on here.

Some people have criticised the time it has taken to identify the victims. Maybe in Japan and other countries it (allegedly) takes less time, but in New Zealand all due care and attention is taken to avoid mistaken identities. It really takes as long as it takes!

I will sign off here for now and hope most of the missing are found alive.

A moment in time.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Flag of Hopi tribeImage via Wikipedia
 Gulf Oil Spill Fulfills the Seventh Sign of Hopi Prophecy...

The Gulf oil spill appears to have fulfilled the seventh sign of nine in the Hopi prophecy, which predicts a cataclysmic event that triggers the end of our world as we know it and the beginning of a
new world.  The Hopi prophecy begins and ends as follows:

“The Fourth World shall end soon, and the Fifth World will begin.  This the elders everywhere know. The Signs over many years have been fulfilled, and so few are left…These are the Signs that great destruction is coming. The world shall rock to and fro…Then there will be much to rebuild…” – White Feather, Hopi Tribe.

Of the nine prophecies, six have clearly already occurred: (1) white man with guns; (2) covered wagons; (3) longhorn cattle; (4) railroad tracks; (5) power and telephone lines; (6) concrete highways.

  The last three signs are:

(7) You will hear of the sea turning black, and many living things dying because of it.  (Gulf oil spill)
(8) You will see many youth, who wear their hair long like my people, come and join the tribal nations, to learn their ways and wisdom.  (Hippies)

(9) The Final Sign: You will hear of a dwelling-place in the heavens, above the earth, that shall fall with a great crash. It will appear as a blue star. Very soon after this, the ceremonies of my people will cease. (“In time, in time…” –White Feather)

Story and image source:

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Christchurch City (New Zealand) from the Port ...Image via Wikipedia Before quake...

A photo (below) has emerged of dust shrouding and seemingly capturing the moment the city's buildings collapsed into the shaking earth after Tuesday' s earthquake...

The image, taken from high above Christchurch and published on Twitter, shows a cloud of murky dust rising above the tallest buildings and covering the city centre.

Geologists have said the magnitude 6.3 earthquake was "no surprise. GNS Science had been warning people to expect an aftershock of around magnitude 6 from September's earthquake.

"So in that sense [Tuesday's earthquake] is no surprise," GNS Science geologist Dr Hamish Campbell said.

Dr Campbell said the earthquake was technically an aftershock because its epicentre was adjacent to the September earthquake's aftershock zone.

But other geologists dispute that assessment.

Geoscience Australia earthquake seismologist Dr Trevor Allen said because the earthquake was on a different fault line it should be considered a separate earthquake.

Call 0800 RED CROSS (0800 733 276) to find out whereabouts of friends and family.

Acknowledgements: MSN NEWS

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lyttelton on a sunny dayImage via Wikipedia  Lyttletone before quake...
Christchurch's Port Lyttleton badly damaged...

Christchurch's port and suburban township of Lyttelton, nearest to the earthquake's epicentre, have been severely damaged.

St John area commander Pete Dawson, a local, told AAP how devastating it was to see his town destroyed.

"Just look at it," he said. "It's a mess, totally destroyed.

"It's very difficult. We've lost so many of our best buildings and homes," said Dawson, himself now homeless.

The town had also lost two men, one elderly and another young. Dawson said they were walking on a mountain track when they were hit by falling rocks

Acknowledgement: MSN NZ

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Social Security Administration Office of Inspe...Image via Wikipedia

The Wall Street TARP Gang Wants to Take Away Your Social Security  -  its too expensive to finance in the future...

Just over two years ago, the Wall Streeters were running around Congress and the media saying that if they don't immediately get $700 billion the world will end. Since they own large chunks of both, they quickly got their money.

Even more important than the hundreds of billions of loans issued through the TARP was the trillions of dollars of loans and guarantees from the Fed and the FDIC. This money came with virtually no strings attached. It kept Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and Bank of America and many others from collapsing. As a result, folks like Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein are again pocketing tens of millions a year in wages and bonuses, instead of walking the unemployment lines. Instead, 15 million ordinary workers are being told to just get used to being unemployed; it's the "new normal."

But wait, it gets worse. The thing about Wall Streeters is that no matter how much money you give them, they always want more. Now they are using their political power and control over the media to attack Social Security.

This effort is being led by billionaire investment banker Peter Peterson. Mr. Peterson has personally profited to the tune of tens of millions of dollars from the "fund managers' tax subsidy," an obscure provision of the tax code that allows billionaires to pay a lower tax rate than schoolteachers and firefighters. However, Peterson believes in giving back. He has committed $1 billion to an effort that is intended to take away the Social Security benefits that people have worked and paid for.

As part of this effort, Peterson set up a whole new foundation, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. He and/or his foundation created a "news service," the Fiscal Times, which is intended to promote the view that we have no choice but to cut Social Security. The Fiscal Times has entered into agreements with the Washington Post and other credible newspapers to provide material.

Peterson is also funding the creation of a high school curriculum which is intended to tell our children that the in the future the country will be too poor to finance Social Security. He funded a silly exercise called "America Speaks," which was supposed to convince an assembly of selected participants that we must cut Social Security after a daylong immersion in Peterson-style propaganda. (The people didn't buy it.) And now his crew is spending $20 million on an ad campaign to convince people the world will end if we don't cut Social Security.

Attacks on Social Security have been fended off in the past and it is possible that this one will be too. It is an incredibly popular and successful program. It does exactly what it was supposed to do. It provides a modest income to the retired and disabled, and their families, to ensure that people who have spent their lives working will not fall into poverty. It is also extremely efficient, with administrative costs that are less than 1/20th as large as the costs of private insurers.

It also has very little fraud. We know this because earlier this year the Washington Post made a big point of hyping mistaken payments to federal employees than involved less than 0.01 percent of Social Security spending. If substantial fraud did exist, the Washington Post wouldn't have to hype small change to try to discredit the program.

The really incredible part of this story is that we should be talking about increasing Social Security benefits. Benefits are quite low by international standards. The portion of wage income replaced by Social Security is considerably lower than the retirement benefit provided by the systems in Australia, Canada, Germany and most other wealthy countries.

As a result, many of the retirees who are dependent almost entirely on Social Security have incomes that are only slightly above the poverty line. A modest increase in benefits could make a big difference in these people's standard of living.

In addition, the near retirees, the people directly in the gun sights of the Wall Street TARPers, have just seen most of their wealth destroyed by the collapse of the housing bubble. The Wall Streeters now want to kick them yet again, by taking away Social Security benefits that they have already paid for.

If Congress and the media worked for the public, we would be debating Wall Street speculation taxes right now. Insofar as we need to do something about the deficit in the longer term, taxing Wall Street speculation is a far more economic desirable route than taking away the Social Security benefits that ordinary workers have already paid for. We could easily raise more than $1.5 trillion over the next decade with a broadly based speculation tax than would have almost no impact on anyone except the Wall Street crew.

Even the IMF is now pushing higher taxes on the Wall Street types, recognizing the enormous waste and rents in the financial sector. But the media and Congress do not respond to economic reality, they respond to money. And Peter Peterson and the Wall Street crew are not paying for an honest discussion of the country's fiscal and economic problems. They are financing a rigged debate that is intended to result to even more money flowing to Wall Street and less to those who work for a living.
© 2010 TPM Media LLC
Dean Baker

Dean Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). He is the author of The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer and the more recently published Plunder and Blunder: The Rise and Fall of The Bubble Economy. He also has a blog, "Beat the Press," where he discusses the media's coverage of economic issues.

Acknowledgements: Dean Barker

KR says: Peter Peterson in the above article is not related to me in any way.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Christchurch Central CityImage via Wikipedia  Has been badly damaged...
Another massive earthquake hits beautiful Christchurch in NZ...

Prime Minister John Key says 65 people are dead following a 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch and the death toll is expected to rise.

"We may be witnessing New Zealand's darkest day," he said.

The final number of fatalities may not be known for several days until all the buildings in the city and surrounding areas have been searched.

Hundreds of people remain trapped in collapsed buildings around Christchurch and many won’t make it out tonight as search and rescue crews struggle to cope.

Makeshift hospitals have been set up at triage centres across the city and many people who can’t get home have flocked to Hagley Park. But they have little shelter, water or food.

Thousands of others are wandering the rubble-strewn streets, many searching for loved ones and trying to reach trapped people and the suburbs of Lyttleton and New Brighton are now reportedly "unliveable".

No part of the central city is untouched by the earthquake. Several buildings have completely collapsed and two buses have been crushed by falling buildings.

The seven-storey Canterbury Television building has been levelled and at least one person is still trapped inside. A staff member who managed to escape the building said the earthquake was terrifying. ‘I thought I was going to die.’

At least one person is confirmed dead and more than 30 are trapped in the Pyne Gould Guinness Building, an office block in central Christchurch.

Christchurch’s 110-year-old cathedral is in ruins.

PHOTOS: Earthquake hits Christchurch
Witnesses have said the quake, which struck just before 1pm, was worse than September’s 7.1 magnitude earthquake in the region and it has caused widespread damage.

The quake reportedly lasted about a minute and was extremely violent, causing major buildings to rock back and forth.

Tarmac on the roads have cracked and water mains have reportedly burst.

Phone lines are down and calls are not being connected to emergency services. Several people interviewed in the cental city are distressed because they can't contact their children or other family members.

Sky News has been reporting live from Christchurch and is screening chaotic scenes, with panicked people and crying schoolgirls running through the streets.

A witness told the cameras the earthquake felt much worse than September’s 7.1 magnitude earthquake.

"It was just so strong. It was hideous."

There have already been more than 20 aftershocks and Civil Defence is warning residents to expect more.

Water and sewage is pouring down the city streets and phones and power are out.

The defence force are sending personnel to Canterbury today to help with the disaster.

Triage centres have been established for people with injuries at: Latimer Square, Central City; Spotlight Mall, Sydenham; Sanitarium, Papanui. Police advise that people who have evacuated their homes or buildings should report to their nearest Civil Defence sector post - usually schools. People from as far as Wellington and Dunedin have tweeted they also felt the quake.

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