Belmont Club

Mad World

When it rains, it pours. A huge earthquake hit Christchurch New Zealand, wrecking the cathedral and causing extensive damage as shown here. The WSJ reported that:

New Zealand police say there are reports of multiple fatalities in Christchurch after a 6.3 magnitude earthquake – classed as an aftershock to last September’s devastating 7.1 magnitude quake – struck today, bringing buildings down on to two buses and trapping people in buildings.

In other news, the Voice of America says that no end is in sight to the crisis in Bahrain and protesters demanded the end of the king’s rule. The troubles in Bahrain may spill over to Saudi Arabia and even Pakistan, which supplies many of the defense personnel of the embattled kingdom. Meanwhile, President Obama asked Sheik Hamad to hold those who used violence against the demonstrators responsible for their acts.

Barack Obama, the US president, has discussed the situation with Sheikh Hamad, asking him to hold those responsible for the violence accountable.

He said in a statement that Bahrain must respect the “universal rights” of its people and embrace “meaningful reform”.

For his part, William Hague, the British foreign secretary, in a telephone call to Sheikh Salman, said he welcomed the government’s military withdrawal and strongly supported efforts to initiate a dialogue.

Bahrain holds particular importance to the United States as the host of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which Washington sees as the main military counterweight to Iran’s alleged efforts to expand its armed forces and reach into the Gulf.

Bahrain’s ruling Sunni dynasty has strong backing from other Gulf Arab leaders, who fear that Shia powerhouse Iran could gain further footholds through the uprising led by Bahrain’s Shia majority. The Shia majority has often complained of discrimination by the Sunni rulers.

Meanwhile, uncertainty swirled around Libya, where Khadaffi declared himself to be still in the capital to belie rumors he had fled, as “Libyan air force jets launched bombing raids on military bases and, it was claimed, rebel areas in a final attempt to reassert control.” Khadaffi was seen holding a parasol over his head as he leaned out of a car.

Crude oil, metal and commodities rose on unrest in Libya as oil companies announced they were evacuating families from the troubled country. Libya, as some may recall, received 155 votes from UN member countries to assume a seat on the Human Rights Council.

The UN Watch press release says “to date, the council has adopted 40 censure resolutions, of which 33 have targeted Israel. The only other governments to be criticized were Burma, Guinea, Honduras, North Korea and Sudan. Out of nine emergency sessions that criticized countries, six were against Israel.”

The other countries elected to serve on the Human Rights Council are Angola, Mauritania, Qatar, Malaysia, Uganda, Thailand, Ecuador, Moldova, Spain, Switzerland, Poland, Maldives and Guatemala.

Meanwhile in Wisconsin, Democratic lawmakers were “still on the lam” according to the Wall Street Journal, splitting up and flitting from motel to motel to elude pursuers. They were proving harder to find than Raymond Davis, whose identity as a security contractor was revealed after the Guardian fingered him.

US officials have provided fresh details about Raymond Davis, the CIA agent at the centre of a diplomatic stand-off in Pakistan, including confirmation that he had worked for the private security contractor Xe, formerly known as Blackwater. They also disclosed for the first time that he had been providing security for a CIA team tracking militants….

The New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press and other media outlets reported for the first time that Davis is a CIA employee. They said they had been aware of his status but kept it under wraps at the request of US officials who said they feared for his safety if involvement with the spy agency was to come out. The officials claimed that he is at risk in the prison in Lahore. The officials released them from their obligation after the Guardian on Sunday reported that Davis was a CIA agent.

Whatever obligation the Guardian felt itself under, it did not extent to keeping a lid on the information. We live in a strange world where information on a birth certificate or the whereabouts of lawmakers is sacrosanct but identity of a man who may be acting to protect the very civilization that protects these privacy rights may be disclosed as a matter of moral urgency.

Based on interviews in the US and Pakistan, the Guardian can confirm that the 36-year-old former special forces soldier is employed by the CIA. “It’s beyond a shadow of a doubt,” said a senior Pakistani intelligence official. The revelation may complicate American efforts to free Davis, who insists he was acting in self-defence against a pair of suspected robbers, who were both carrying guns.

Who knows how things will shake out? According to Hollywood the isolated southern continent and the US Navy’s SSN’s will be the last things to survive a to survive on this crazy planet. Why? one wonders. Probably because you would least expect it.

Maybe one day people will remember a basic old truth: that in order to survive humanity needs as many reserves of energy, food and security as it can muster against the vicissitudes of fate. That, plus the will to endure. For far too long, lulled by the postwar boom and the Pax Americana, it’s been behaving as if survival were always assured; that there would always be enough spare food, shipping, security and money to respond when real need arose. They were  little mindful of what the cavemen and even the depression era sharecroppers always knew: that against the terrible tides of occasional misfortune and human madness that sweep the earth, every scrap of security and design margin counts; that there is no such thing as having too much to spare.  A little bad luck and all the security can be swept away — yes, even the security of the Guardian — until we remember how we won it.

But by virtue of this natural selection of our kind we have developed resisting power; to no germs do we succumb without a struggle, and to many–those that cause putrefaction in dead matter, for instance–our living frames are altogether immune. … By the toll of a billion deaths man has bought his birthright of the earth, and it is his against all comers … For neither do men live nor die in vain.

The problems of the world will be solved and the victims lying trapped in Christchurch will be succored as they always have been; by the hand of man and the memory of brotherhood. For neither do men live nor die in vain.

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