Hm, does this mean I’m famous? A twenty-minute interview renders one short paragraph in the overall article… But at least I got to use the word ‘fetid’, which makes me immeasurably happy!


Pakistani prime minister cancels UN trip to deal with floods | World news | The Guardian.

Pakistan‘s prime minister has cancelled a trip to attend the United Nations in New York, where he planned to rebuild frayed relations with the US, saying he needs to co-ordinate emergency aid for flood victims at home.

Yousaf Raza Gilani’s decision was intended to stave off criticism made last year when Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, visited a French castle as epic floods ravaged the country. But it was also testament to the seriousness of this year’s calamity.

Aid agencies are scrambling to southern Sindh province where vast swaths of farmland have been inundated, more than 300,000 people are living in rough shelters and many more are at risk of malaria, dengue fever and food poisoning. Some 230 people have already died, and torrential monsoon rains continue to pound the region, smothering villages in as much as two metres of water.

“The TV images are not as dramatic as last year but the situation is extremely serious,” said aid worker Jeffrey Shannon of Mercy Corps, speaking from Sukkur. “You have fetid, stagnant water, filled with human waste and decomposing animals, which has nowhere to go. In some places it’s turning black and starting to smell, and the malaria season is well under way. That’s not good.”

Some of the worst affected areas were still struggling to recover from last year’s floods, which swamped one-fifth of the country. “The wrath of Allah has hit us twice,” villager Azrah Bibi told the UN news service IRIN.

The floods coincide with another health crisis in Pakistan. A major outbreak of dengue fever has spread across Punjab province, leaving hospitals overflowing with victims, some of whom have died. At least 3,000 cases have been reported in Lahore alone; a senior civil servant is among those who have died.

Whereas last year’s floods were caused by the Indus river bursting its banks, this year’s disaster is the result of unusually heavy monsoons in Sindh – a phenomenon some Pakistanis believe is caused by climate change.

Oxfam says 4.2m acres of land have been hit, but the immediate worry is the spread of disease. The UN children’s fund estimates that at least 2 million children are at risk, although the exact extent of the devastation is difficult to gauge.

Estimates of 5 million people being affected are based on rough population counts; a more accurate survey of the devastation is currently being carried out. There is little doubt, though, about the misery of those trapped by the rising waters.

Around 1.2m homes have been washed away, causing entire villages to move onto the roadside in search of shelter. Despite the profusion of water, supplies of clean water for drinking and cooking are desperately short. Humayun Babas, an aid worker with World Vision, has just returned from Badin district in southern Sindh.

“There is four or five feet of stagnant water yet mothers are having to cook and wash their children in it,” he said. “The mosquitoes are unbearable, even the livestock can’t stand it.”

The international response to the flood was slowed by the Pakistani government, which refused aid agencies permission to deploy until one week ago – a delay that drew sharp criticism from aid workers. But the experience of last year’s floods has also left many aid agencies better positioned to scramble aid into position now.

The British Red Cross said it had pre-positioned £1.7m worth of relief supplies such as tents and hurricane lamps to deal with such an emergency. It has also set up water treatment plants in two districts, describing conditions in temporary camps housing 300,00 people as “overcrowded and unsanitary”.


BBC News – Pakistan rains cause severe flooding


BBC News – Pakistan rains cause severe flooding.

This is where we’re trying to start emergency flood relief interventions. So far, the central government isn’t allowing international NGOs to work there, though local government officials are screaming for help.

We’ve already sent one rapid assessment team down there with another technical team to follow tomorrow afternoon. They’ll be trying to get official government invitation letters and finding appropriate sites to set up water filtration plants and establish mobile health services.

Wish us luck!



Flickr: Michal Przedlacki’s Photostream

Michal Przedlacki

via Flickr: Michal Przedlacki’s Photostream.

Michal’s a good friend of mine from our Afghanistan days — a dedicated and passionate development worker, who inspires and motivates, and who gets things done.

And, it turns out, he’s also an excellent photographer.

Here’s a link to his Flickr photostream, which has some amazing pictures from his travels and work around the world. I’m linking here to his Afghanistan pictures, but there’s a whole host of others from Burma, Chechnya, the Somali Region of Ethiopia and more.

A great eye from a remarkable person.



A dangerous misreading of the Boston Tea Party from rightwing anarchists | Timothy Snyder for the New York Review of Books blog | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk



A dangerous misreading of the Boston Tea Party from rightwing anarchists | Timothy Snyder for the New York Review of Books blog | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.

This is a fine distillation of my own thoughts on the matter. We’re ideologizing ourselves into irrelevancy, insolvency and facelessness. By claiming to want to return to some non-existent Golden Age, discarding facts, creating others out of whole cloth, we erode the ground beneath our feet and give up what truly did make us somewhat special.

Though not always, perhaps even rarely, getting it right, we did strive for a more perfect union, strove to move forward in brash waves of creativity, often times reckless naiveté, and we relished our mongrel nature of the American mixed salad — out of many, one and the whole being much more than the sum of its parts.

But now we strike out in mindless rage, aware that something’s ‘not right’, we’re not on the right path, but allow ourselves to be misled, blinders pulled down tight and our anger directed away from those who oppress, who destroy our way of life, our creativity, our identities, our generosity of spirit — turning us into callous, callow, recalcitrant children.

We claim religious fidelity, yet we forget the exhortation to give ‘unto the least of these’. We claim our fervent desire for freedom, wrapped in ketchup-stained, too tight flag t-shirts, yet would deny that freedom to any and all perceived to be not like ‘us’. We claim we are peaceful and tolerant, yet wage wars across the globe and are quick to mob mentality at the faintest dog whistle.

We say we want our country back, but don’t even remember who we once were, nor realize who we have become — who we are.


What is needed is a truly patriotic position, one that would explain to voters, whatever their sympathies, that there is no American nation without an American middle class, and no American middle class without an American government that provides the essential services that allow people to move up in a globalised world. Whatever one thinks of the Tea Party’s Orwellian references to our revolutionary heritage, there’s no danger of a return to an 18th century: when Ohio did not even exist, and the midwestern economy depended on the Indian flint arrowheads that today pass beneath the blades of the massive high-tech combines. The real danger is that we will move briskly forward to national non-existence, misunderstanding the plainest lessons of our own past along the way. By the time the costs of rightwing anarchism reach the truly privileged, it will be far too late for everyone else. If we don’t find a way to adapt own national thinking to global reality before then, all we can look forward to is leaving a trace: like fossils, or arrowheads, or the mammoth tusk that hangs on my grandmother’s porch.”

Associated Press Of Pakistan ( Pakistan’s Premier NEWS Agency ) – No aid needed from world donors for flood victims in Sindh: NDMA

Let’s hope they’re not wrong. Again.

Associated Press Of Pakistan ( Pakistan’s Premier NEWS Agency ) – No aid needed from world donors for flood victims in Sindh: NDMA.

No aid needed from world donors for flood victims in Sindh: NDMA PDF Print E-mail
ISLAMABAD, Aug 20 (APP): Chairman,National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Zafar Qadir on Saturday said that the Authority would not be looking for any international assistance for the current floods which hit Sindh province. NDMA was efficiently managing the relief work and facing no difficulties in its operations, he told APP.
The Authority has distributed relief items including 12,700 tents, three water purification plants and 23,000 family ration packs, to the flood-affected people in Sindh.  The relief goods have been disbursed in the inundated districts of Badin, Tando Muhammad Khan and Mirpur Khas besides the badly damaged Mithi town of Tharparker district, he said. 

Dr. Zafar Iqbal Qadir who visited the affected areas to take stock of the situation and coordinated with the provincial authorities for organizing effective and timely relief operations, said, NDMA’s teams were actively engaged in the flood relief and rescue operation and they were capable enough to tackle the current flood aftermath.

“In case we need any assistance from the donors or international non-governmental bodies we will engage the donors in the relief work,” he added.
He said that if international non-governmental bodies’ wants to go on the flood affected areas but before going for any relief operation they have to get an approval from NDMA.
“We want to have a complete check and balance on international non-governmental bodies before clearing them for any relief work,” said the chairman of NDMA.
Zafar Qadir added that the current step was taken after looking the history of international non-governmental bodies because they collect thousands of dollars in Genva and New York for the flood affected population hardly spends it on the effected people.
“The money goes more in salaries and other things,” he remarked.         
He informed that around 60 percent of cotton crops were damaged in the flood affected areas.
“Crops of sugar-cane were not damaged in flood hit areas because the height of the sugar-cane is three feet above the flood water level,” said the chairman.
He said that all armed forces were managing the rescue part of flood relief operations.
Qadir, who was currently in Badin, added that 31 lives were lost because of the current floods as the roofs of their houses were collapsed after massive rains.
It may be mentioned that the Sindh province has been hit by floods again this year which has undated several villages and around six districts leaving several thousand people homeless.

The Weeknd


The Weeknd.

Abel Tesfaye, obviously of Eritrean or Ethiopian extraction, though a Canadian, is apparently a hot new thing coming up out of the music cloud that is Drake. He goes by the name The Weeknd when putting out music and has been bubbling away underground for a while, say the music blogs, putting out free ‘mix tapes’ to build a following.

And it seems to be working. This is chilled, laid back, interesting stuff. And it’s free to download. What could be better?

Definitely worth the download time and certainly worth the listening time if you like R&B with a bit of an edge — smooth though the sound may be.



BBC News – Violence escalates as Karachi death toll rises to 39

BBC News – Violence escalates as Karachi death toll rises to 39.

Meanwhile, the violence continues in Karachi. Again, these are political games being played out with ordinary people used as the pawns. Business and politics combine into a nasty brew, fighting to determine who’ll come out on top, who’ll call the shots.

Unfortunately, the shots are hitting everyday people. And bodies are apparently piling up in jute bags left on the streets, showing all too many signs of torture.

It’s a beastly game being played out on the streets of Karachi.