Tag Archives: Natural Disasters

Record high heat waves, forest fires and floods raise alarm as never before


Worsening heat waves are currently causing many to die in Canada. Not only are the highest ever recorded temperatures very alarming, but so too is the inaction of governments to protect the population despite all the means at their disposal to do so. Meanwhile, both the Canadian and U.S. government refuse to take responsibility for the absence of potable water in many communities. In Canada more than 30 communities on reserves have no safe potable water. This is also the case of several U.S. towns where drought has become permanent. The consequences of disasters linked to nature are affecting the peoples of the entire world, especially Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. It is as if the domination of nature by human beings had never occurred and is beyond reach, which is absolute nonsense.

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Significant archives are under threat in Cape Town’s fire. Here’s why they matter so much.

The African Studies collection consists of an astonishing collection of works related to Africa. These range from works published from as long ago as the 1500s through to the present day.

Significant Archives Are Under Threat in Cape Town's Fire. Here's Why They Matter So Much.

Firemen walk through the burnt out remains of Jagger Library at the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa, April 20, 2021 | REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

A wildfire on the slopes of South Africa’s Table Mountain has wreaked havoc at the University of Cape Town (UCT) campus. Among the sites of historical significance that have been damaged is the Jagger Library. The library houses rare and specialist collections, such as the important African Studies collections. The Conversation Africa’s Nontobeko Mtshali asked UCT academic Shannon Morreira to share her insights on what the loss means for the historical records held by the university. Continue reading

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This day. Two hurricanes, two responses

A fishing shed floats offshore Fisherman’s Reserve on the Eastern Shore after Hurricane Juan (Photo | Allan Jean Joyce)

(Part of a series) This Saturday, September 29, marks 15 years since Hurricane Juan ripped through Halifax in the middle of the night toppling trees, smashing boats and knocking out power for many days and even weeks in some neighbourhoods. Wind speeds of up to 178km an hour were recorded at McNabs Island in Halifax Harbour. Mark Rushton and Tony Seed compare the responses of Canada and Cuba to hurricanes. Continue reading


Filed under Canada, Fisheries & fishermen, Nova Scotia Government

This day. Hurricane Juan

(Part of a series) This Saturday, September 29, marks 15 years since Hurricane Juan ripped through Halifax in the middle of the night toppling trees, smashing boats and knocking out power for many days and even weeks in some neighbourhoods. Wind speeds of up to 178km an hour were recorded at McNabs Island in Halifax Harbour. Continue reading

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Tornado strikes the Outaouais leaving many families homeless

Chantier Politique, online bulletin of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec (PMLQ), has published several items on the tornadoes, effect, response and environmental, social and political implications of such natural disasters:

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Extreme weather, extremist governments

The social effects of extreme weather for the homeless, the poor, the elderly and the colonized, in the cities and on the roads; the abnegation of social responsibility and the public interest by the media and governments shows the need for empowerment. “When tragedies do occur, the monopoly media focuses on the technical mechanics of the disaster, excluding who should be held accountable, how the concerns and campaigns of the community were dealt with or ignored, and the response of the public bodies” | TONY SEED

(December 30, updated January 5) – According to the CBC, the main “news” and social consequences of the record extreme cold weather seems to be the status of outdoor civic New Year’s parties, the condition of the ice on a short-term, multi-million dollar outdoor rink erected on Parliament Hill, polar bear dips, and an outdoor World Junior hockey game between Canada and the U.S. in Buffalo on Friday December 28th.

A fiery crash of a tractor trailer truck on the QEW (pictured above) that shut down the Niagara bound lanes near Bartlett Ave. in Grimsby was reported merely as a freak obstacle or an inconvenient “long delay” to the many Canadians heading to the game. While no one was hurt this time, the damage to the highway was extensive and will take time to repair.

One CBC anchor, Hanna Thibodeau, joked with meteorologist David Phillips as to whether Russia was to blame for the Arctic front.

In seeming contrast, CBC published on December 29 a long photo feature titled “Toronto has officially frozen over. See it here in all its icy glory” highlighting the beauty of a nature that is benign. The kicker called on readers to “Take in the stunning sights of the city during the deep freeze.” (The photos were submitted.)

As 2017 ends, the working people face a media onslaught about what is going on in Canada and around the world, of which the weather occupies one sphere. We think that a sober approach going into 2018 is of importance.

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Snow squalls, snow fences and the privatization of highways: ‘It is time to draw a line in the snow’

A lake effect snow squall (snowsquall) drops heavy snow over Sudbury on Feb. 27. Lake effect squalls are noted for their persistence and linear banding, producing blinding visibility on Highway 400 yesteday.

An awesome lake effect snow squall (snowsquall) drops heavy snow over Sudbury on February 27, 2014. Lake effect squalls from Georgian Bay are noted for their persistence and linear banding, producing blinding visibility on Highway 400.

The following reflection was written on February 28, 2014 but for some reasons was not published at the time. I am posting it now in the midst of the extreme cold weather front that is gripping Canada and the United States.

The view from Blantyre


WHEN extreme weather event strikes, the reporting of the media proceeds from the premise of the insurance companies: it is a supernatural “act of God,” a natural disaster divorced from the social conditions made by man. It has become a genre and given a name – disaster journalism. It was all so “unexpected.” Hurricane Katrina? Just blew in suddenly from the Gulf. That ice storm in Atlanta? The weather suddenly shifted upstate in the morning. That tsunami in the Indian Ocean? No-one at the U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii had the phone number of the Sri Lanka president and hence the island received no warning. Thousands of people, mainly poor fishers, along the eastern and southern coastline were engulfed by the deep blue sea, as if an act of Buddha. Due to the large number of victims, that far-off disaster did make the evening news. These were not “accidents”; natural disasters became crimes. Continue reading

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Puerto Rico: Militarization of Hurricane Relief

Signs at emergency rally for Puerto Rico, Philadelphia, September 29, 2017.


New York City and Buffalo’s Puerto Rican community, alongside that of Boston and Chicago, and joined by all those concerned across the country, have rallied support for the millions contending with no power, no drinking water and the broad devastation across Puerto Rico. It is the people in the U.S. and Puerto Rico who are setting up facebook pages to provide information about conditions in various towns, reach out to family in Puerto Rico where lack of power means communication is down, set-up fund raising campaigns, and organizing together for the recovery. Continue reading


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Salute workers fighting the Fort McMurray and area fires! Salute the workers and people of Fort McMurray!

cpcml.ca (May 5) – The evacuation of Fort McMurray is now complete, with close to 90,000 people forced to leave as the devastating forest fires continue to rage. The people of Fort McMurray and emergency workers are being widely recognized for their strong community response in accomplishing the evacuation of their city under extremely perilous conditions.

The Alberta government declared a provincial state of emergency. Authorities report that two people were killed in a tragic accident on highway 881 south of Fort McMurray amidst heavy traffic of evacuees. There are presently no other known deaths or serious injuries.

Firefighters continue heroic efforts on the ground and in the air to battle the devastating wildfires burning in Fort McMurray and area. Five dozen firefighters from the state of Jalisco, Mexico have now joined the hundreds of firefighters from Wood Buffalo, Slave Lake, and Edmonton, working to suppress the fire. They are here to fight the massive blaze in the Wood Buffalo region as well as forest fires across the province, including one west of Edmonton that is destroying homes and has caused the evacuation of the Alexis Sioux First Nations and the Glenevis area in Lac Ste. Anne County West of Edmonton. One hundred firefighters from Ontario are on their way, and hundreds of firefighters from across the country are on standby to assist when needed.

Three subdivisions in Fort McMurray have suffered extensive damage to homes and businesses and seven more communities in Wood Buffalo have also experienced serious damage. At least 1,600 structures (homes and businesses) have been lost. Fire officials are warning that a lethal combination of high temperatures and winds and low humidity means that the crisis is far from over. The fire covers more than 10,000 hectares (100 square kilometres).

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Stand with the people of Fort McMurray

Devastating forest fire raging in Fort McMurray and area

Wildfire is worsening along highway 63 Fort McMurray, Alberta Canada May 3, 2016. © CBC News / Reuters

Wildfire is worsening along highway 63 Fort McMurray, Alberta Canada May 3, 2016. © CBC News / Reuters

At 6:30 pm on May 3 a mandatory evacuation order was issued to the more than 80,000 residents of the city of Fort McMurray. The entire city is being evacuated as forest fires are devastating the area surrounding Fort McMurray. The fire has crossed the city limits. Latest media reports say that communities inside the city of Fort McMurray are in flames and that homes are burning in the centennial Trailer Park and the community of Abasand. This wildfire has forced the largest evacuation in Alberta’s history and is expected to get worse Wednesday, when winds are forecast to switch direction and increase in intensity, at speeds of 25 to 50 kilometres per hour. Continue reading

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New York Times deploys to Nepal

America’s disaster diplomacy, geo-strategic interests and “soft power”

Media-Culpa“First comes the missionary, then the soldier,” was an old maxim borne out by the bitter experience of a century of bloody colonial conquest in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.


The missionaries are still at it, particularly in lands where souls can be bought most cheaply, but they hardly play the role allotted to them in the 19th century. A more modern version of this same epigram—better suited to the ongoing militarist drive by US imperialism for global domination—might substitute for missionary, “the man from the Times.” Continue reading

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Filed under Asia, Media, Journalism & Disinformation

Militarization of the USA: two items

110319-USDCAntiwar-Xinhua-02cropBarack Obama is increasingly referred to as Commander in Chief, as Gen Colin Powell, former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did in the recent election. Obama must make certain the public treasury can be utilized for U.S. war aims in conditions where the economy is not recovering. His regime is also paying first rate attention to the home front, as the revelations of the broad scope of spying on Americans illustrate. Obama also drew support from Michel Bloomberg, Republican mayor of New York, which boasts what he openly called one of the “largest armies” in the country, referring to the highly armed New York Police Department (NYPD) and large bureaucracy of city government. The NYPD, which also works directly with the CIA, has its own tanks, helicopters and missiles. Obama thus has his forces in control of both Chicago and New York City and their massive police forces. The following two items illustrate how, as the current cold civil war within the USA between factions within the ruling circles is going hot, the American state is preparing its military and police forces on the home front to keep the people repressed while keeping the union whole. Or at least that is what the rulers hope.

Pentagon prepares doctrine on using force on American soil

Secrecy News – THE Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 generally prohibits military forces from performing ordinary civilian law enforcement functions such as arrest, surveillance, interdiction, search and seizure.

But a newly updated Department of Defense doctrinal publication notes that, despite this prohibition, “There are several forms of direct assistance to civilian law enforcement by military personnel that are permitted under the Military Purpose Doctrine. The Military Purpose Doctrine provides that law enforcement actions that are performed primarily for a military purpose, even when incidentally assisting civil authorities, will not violate the PCA [Posse Comitatus Act].” Continue reading

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Hurricane Sandy exposes U.S. vulnerabilities to natural disasters

Crescent-Online* (November 2, 2012) – HURRICANE SANDY, a superstorm that formed in the Caribbean and lambasted the US East Coast after it came ashore on October 28. The storm had already claimed 71 lives in the Caribbean, caused 70 additional deaths in the United States, mostly in the New York and New Jersey region, as well as serious flooding in coastal regions of Nova Scotia and the town of Truro. Hurricane Sandy illustrated the vulnerability of US coastal cities, which are confronting climate change with aging infrastructure. Since the Reagan “revolution”, the US has been pouring taxpayer funds into wars in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America, rather than investing in public services and municipal infrastructure.

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