awkwardly

Sunday

From an essay by Steven Poole in the 20 Feb 2006 New Statesman:
'Perhaps most revealing is the term for the US practice of exporting people for torture by other countries: extraordinary rendition. Suspects were said to have been "rendered", a verb that is also used in the language of industrial meat processing. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency: "Meat rendering plants process animal by-product materials for the production of tallow, grease, and high-protein meat and bonemeal." In these "animal rendering processes", the "raw material" of animals is converted into useful products. Similarly, suspects "rendered" to foreign torturers are anonymous pieces of meat to be converted into useful information by any means necessary. "People are fungible," Donald Rumsfeld once said of his own soldiers. Fungible means replaceable, or convertible into other currencies. The fungibility of a rendered person denies his individuality, denies his presumed innocence, in the service of a dark fantasy of transubstantiation in which the flesh is made word.'

From Part Three of Exterminism and the World in the Wake of Katrina by Stan Goff:
'Alf Hornborg describes imperial privilege as the entitlement to "appropriate space and time," and he describes the imperial-core/exploitable-periphery relation as one where the core imports wealth and orderliness, while it exports disorder, poverty and waste. The white citizens of New Orleans -- and who can blame them -- jumped in their vehicles, gassed up, and headed north away from Katrina's ruthless power. They appropriated space and time, using the universal equivalent of money. Those without the money and the cars... [were] left behind, trapped in space and time to face the social disorder and to wade through the carcinogens, mutagens and embryotoxins.'
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

Personally I wasn't sure how to judge the Bush administration's responsibility for Katrina evacuation until I came across this. If this is true, it should make your blood boil. "Cuba evacuated 1.4 million people in advance of Hurricane Dennis, a Cat 4 that hit them in July, and suffered 16 fatalities (the greatest number for any storm since 1963). That's because Cuba not only invests in disaster preparation and strong civil defense, but because there is a social commitment to medical infrastructure, high literacy levels, and government support of community organizers, to mention a few of the reasons.

"We did the free-market evacuation, an unenforceable order for people to leave under their own power -- by private automobile -- after it was too late. Cuba is resource poor. The United States is resource rich. Figure it out."

You don't have to stop hating Castro to ask how a poor nation with central planning was able to save more lives than a rich nation with decentralized and privatized planning. How many different ways does Cuba has to shame the US? They might not win gold medals at the damn Olympics, but they beat the US at reducing infant-mortality rate and they beat us at evacuation procedures. We win spectator sports and they win at saving human lives. Are you ready to change priorities?

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