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Thursday, March 20, 2014
The Last Empire: Protecting the Ponzi Scheme
The darkest form of evil always comes falsely packaged as something “good”…
The Faux News sponsored policy may well be “Pax Americana”, but the reality-based policy is the velvet fist known as “Might is Right”. Of course, everyone knows that, except for the self-delusional NeoCon psychopaths running around still pretending otherwise.
A Hanoi court finds dissident Pham Viet Dao guilty of “abusing democratic freedoms” in the latest crackdown on dissent.
Last updated: 19 Mar 2014 10:12
Human Rights Watch said the number of political trials in Vietnam has increased every year since 2010 [Reuters]
|A Vietnamese court sentenced a dissident blogger to 15 months in prison for posting online criticism of the government, the latest case in an intensifying crackdown against dissent in the one-party communist country.
At a two-hour trial at the Hanoi People’s Court, Judge Ngo Tu Hoc said on Wednesday that Pham Viet Dao was guilty of “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe the interests of the state” by posting dozens of articles that “distorted, vilified and smeared the senior leaders”.
Dao, 61, confessed to the court and apologised for the “erroneous” details in some of his posts, but said he did not do that on purpose.
“I don’t think that my articles have had bad impact on society,” said Dao, who refused a lawyer and defended himself at the trial.
“The defendant’s acts are dangerous to the society, causing anxiety among the public and reducing people’s trust in the leadership of the (Communist) Party and the state,” the judge said.
Hoc said the court handed down a light sentence because of Dao’s “sincere confession,” clean criminal record and contribution to the country.
Several Western diplomats and foreign reporters followed the court proceedings via a closed circuit television screen in a separate room.
Dao, a former Cultural Ministry official and member of the Vietnam Writers Association, was arrested at his Hanoi home last June. His membership to the Communist Party was suspended after his arrest.
Earlier this month, a court in the central city of Danang sentenced a well-known blogger, Truong Duy Nhat, to two years in jail on the same charges.
New York-based Human Rights Watch issued a statement on Tuesday calling for Dao’s “immediate and unconditional” release.
“The Vietnamese authorities are shaming themselves before domestic and international public opinion by staging yet another political trial of a peaceful critic,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
Human Rights Watch says that the number of people sentenced in political trials in Vietnam has increased every year since 2010, and that at least 63 people were imprisoned for peaceful political expression last year.
The Philippine navy hopes to add two more warships to its fleet as Southeast Asian countries continue to expand their militaries in response to the Chinese government’s increasingly assertive territorial ambitions in the South China Sea, also known as the West Philippine Sea.
Armed forces chief of staff General Emmanuel Bautista said the new acquisitions would come under the fresh U.S. military assistance plan announced last month by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry when he visited the Philippines.
China began widening its territorial claims about five years ago to include nearly all of the seas dividing Southeast Asian countries and their northern neighbor. The claims defy international standards and maritime law, and Beijing refuses to have the dispute heard before an international court.
Its attitude has angered Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines, but the four countries have struggled to forge a united front within the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) when dealing with Beijing over the issue.
Adding to recent tensions was Liu Yazhou, political commissar at the People’s Liberation Army National Defense University, who said in a magazine interview that the Chinese military could match the U.S. by “seizing opportunities.”
“An army that fails to achieve victory is nothing,” Liu was quoted as saying by a defense magazine “Those borders where our army has won victories are more peaceful and stable, but those where we were too timid have more disputes.”
That type of language again irritated its neighbors.
The Vietnamese have for the first time publicly marked a naval battle fought against China over disputed islands 40 years ago. Commemorations came a month after the Chinese government published new rules requiring foreign fishing vessels to seek Beijing’s permission to operate in much of the South China Sea.
Vietnam has also moved to bolster its own defenses, taking delivery of its first Russian-made Kilo class submarine, which is part of substantial military upgrade by Hanoi – primarily through a multi-billion-dollar deal with Moscow. Malaysia has also added two French-made Scorpene submarines, boosting its own maritime capabilities.
Indonesia and Singapore are also expanding their fleets in what The New York Times described as “The Submarine Race in Asia.” The paper noted that much of this arms competition was being propelled by growing wealth in Southeast Asia but added these countries and China should realize that increasing their armaments can only undermine their security as well as the stability that nurtures their economies.
Luke Hunt can be followed on Twitter at @lukeanthonyhunt.
The US is already at odds with China over its air defence zone over the East China Sea [Getty]
|The United States has described as “provocative and potentially dangerous” new Chinese restrictions of foreign fishing vessels in disputed waters in the South China Sea.
From January 1, China has required foreign fishing vessels to obtain approval to enter waters it says are under its jurisdiction. It rejects territorial claims by the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam.
Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the US State Department, said on Thursday that China gave no justification under international law for the new restictions.
“Our long-standing position has been that all concerned parties should avoid any unilateral action that raises tensions, and undermines the prospects for a diplomatic or other peaceful resolution of differences,” she said.
“The passing of these restrictions on other countries’ fishing activities in disputed portions of the South China Sea is a provocative and potentially dangerous act.”
The US is already at odds with China declaring in November an air defence zone over an area of the East China Sea claimed by Japan and South Korea.
The US flew B-52 strategic bombers into the new zone in defiance, raising tensions further in the Pacific.
The new Chinese rules do not outline penalties, but the requirements are similar to a 2004 national law that says boats entering Chinese territory without permission can have their catch and fishing equipment seized and face fines of up to $82,600.
Hua Chunying, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, said regulating the use of marine resources was a normal practice.
China’s ties with the Philippines have been especially frosty over the South China Sea.
Raul Hernandez, a spokesman for the Philippine foreign ministry, said Manila had asked its embassy in Beijing to get more information on the rules.
If you don’t know what it is yet – that means it’s working. The secrecy, that is. But once Pandora’s Box is opened, there’s no putting anything back. It will go down in history as one of the worst, oppressive plagues to saturate the planet.
Like Spider Man trying to stop a train from going over with nothing but his strength and shooting threads; we are going to need all the Web we can get to stop the fast-tracking Trans-Pacific Partnership from running over us. Perhaps more aptly, it is a tangled web we’ll be left trapped in as prey if we do nothing.
Here’s a crash-course and the easiest approach – all guesswork removed. But first, here’s a sampling of what you can kiss goodbye if this mammoth piece of legislation goes through…
What’s left of our jobs, food safety, Internet freedom, natural medicine, small farming, choice in medicine, financial regulation, privacy and more. Basically, all your rights. It permeates every area of your life, it’s been ramrodded through the Senate, and the media is not saying anything. It grants the likes of Monsanto, Wall Street and other huge entities full reign with immunity.
Kiss any last American sovereignty goodbye and say hello to your new global crypto-corpocracy complete with international tribunals and the end of domestic law – from your newly refurbished prison cell, of course. After all, you clicked on the wrong Internet link! And your ISP was watching and reported you. In the near future, this article could be enough to jail me, ban my whole family from the Internet, have computers seized and delete the website. No more videos that piece other clips together, or anything that hints at “infringement,” no more fair use, so no more non-corporate news.
It’s been shrouded in secrecy, especially from the People and Congress, planned behind closed doors for years, and proponents are searching for sponsors to have the President push it through now that Congress is back from recess.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership n. 1. A “free trade” agreement that would set rules on non-trade matters such as food safety, internet freedom, medicine costs, financial regulation, and the environment. 2. A binding international governance system that would require the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and any other country that signs on to conform their domestic policies to its rules. 3. A secret trade negotiation that has included over 600 official corporate “trade advisors” while hiding the text from Members of Congress, governors, state legislators, the press, civil society, and the public.
Here’s your crash course link on the TPP. You’ll be ready for take-off in no time. They’ve made it that simple:
After being mind-blown and catching your breath, you can do the absolute easiest thing there is to do by using Twitter with the hashtag #NOFastTrackTPP (but wait, there’s more).
Don’t use social media? No problem, scroll down. For social media users, here are the easiest things you can do, besides sharing memes and links on Facebook. Share things to Reddit andStumbleUpon. Everyone should call their reps (below).
See the Twitter storm event – still going. Pull any memes – share. Only use this hashtag for social media: #NOFastTrackTPP. Using other hashtags and adding more will split the trends.
Next, Tweet your little heart out to your reps and others. Easily find them by clicking the “Discover” button and typing “congressman” in the search. All their Twitter names appear. Find celebrities, they often re-tweet. Example: @repfitzpatrick or @RepBera
@RepBera NO to Fast Track Authority and TPP, or we will not re-elect!! #NoFastTrackTPP
Here’s another: “Do NOT sponsor FastTrack! Vote NO on TPP! #NoFastTrackTPP”
Some reps have stood against the TPP, so first you might want to see this:
– OR –
Use a general message for everyone: “I will NEVER support the Trans-Pacific Partnership#NOFastTrackTPP”
Want to jump into the Twitter storm? Easy. Sign up at Twitter, it runs you through a few-second tour and you can figure out the rest, see Help, or ask friends. Use the hashtag #NOFastTrackTPP on Facebook statuses.
Non-Social Media Users:
Find all your representatives’ info/forms in one-click. Just click on your state:
Contacting the Congress
Or use this:
Call President Obama: 202-456-6213
Call your Representative: 202-225-3121
or Toll Free (877) 762-8762
(Breathe and talk slowly. You will do just fine. Be polite and confident.)
“Hi, this is (your full name). I am a constituent of Rep/Senator (name). I live in (name of city). I am calling to request that Rep/Sen (name) vote NO on Fast Track Authority. It is important to me that Congress follows the Constitutional directive to negotiate international trade and that all trade agreements are given full consideration, debate and amendments as needed.
Do you know Rep/Sen (name) position on Fast Track Authority? Will he/she vote Yes or No? (wait for an answer)
Do you know Rep/Sen (name) position on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement? Will he/she vote Yes or No? (wait for an answer)
(regardless of their response, just continue)
Once again, I am requesting that Rep/Sen (name) vote NO on Fast Track Authority and NO on the TPP! Please be sure he/she gets my message. Thank you.”
Go to the Crash-Course site and print off PDFs to share. Actually, that whole website is designed to help you take action, online and off. You can still share the hashtag in any way you choose – it gets the point across fast.
If you can target these two reps, you could stop the fast-track today:
1) MIKE QUIGLY (IL-05)
District: (773) 267-5926
2) GREG MEEKS (NY-05)
D.C. (202) 225-3461
District: 347-230-4032 & 718-725-6000
Twitter: Gregory Meeks
Lastly, if you have done something, no matter how small to derail the TPP fast track – THANK YOU!!
Special thanks also to Andrew Pontbriand, Emily Laincz and Nick Bernabe for their tireless organizing, efforts and information – and to all those who joined them. Without them, this article wouldn’t be – nor will it with the TPP!
Recent posts by Heather Callaghan:
How the U.S. Employs Overseas Sweatshops to Produce Government Uniforms | A Lightning War for Liberty
The following article from the New York Times is extraordinarily important as it perfectly highlights the incredible hypocrisy of the U.S. government when it comes to overseas slave labor and human rights. While the Obama Administration (and the ones that came before it) publicly espouse self-important platitudes about our dedication to humanitarianism, when it comes down to practicing what we preach, our government fails miserably and is directly responsible for immense human suffering.
Let’s get down to some facts. The U.S. government is one of the largest buyers of clothing from overseas factories at over $1.5 billion per year. To start, considering our so-called “leaders” are supposedly so concerned about the state of the U.S. economy, why aren’t we spending the money here at home at U.S. factories? If we don’t have the capacity, why don’t we build the capacity? After all, if we need the uniforms anyway, and it is at the taxpayers expense, wouldn’t it make sense to at least ensure production at home and create some jobs? If a private business wants to produce overseas that’s fine, but you’d think the government would be a little more interested in boosting domestic industry.
However, the above is just a minor issue. Not only does the U.S. government spend most of its money for clothing at overseas factories, but it employs some of the most egregious human rights abusers in the process. Child labor, beatings, restrictions on bathroom brakes, padlocked exits and much more is routine practice at these factories. Even worse, in the few instances in which the government is required to actually use U.S. labor, they just contract with prisons for less than $2 per hour using domestic slave labor. Then, when questions start to get asked, government agencies actually go out of their way to keep the factory lists out of the public’s eye, even going so far as denying requests when pressed for information by members of Congress.
Sadly, as usual, at the end of the day this is all about profits and money. Money government officials will claim is being saved by the taxpayer, but in reality is just being funneled to well connected bureaucrats.
From the New York Times:
WASHINGTON — One of the world’s biggest clothing buyers, the United States government spends more than $1.5 billion a year at factories overseas, acquiring everything from the royal blue shirts worn by airport security workers to the olive button-downs required for forest rangers and the camouflage pants sold to troops on military bases.
But even though the Obama administration has called on Western buyers to use their purchasing power to push for improved industry working conditions after several workplace disasters over the last 14 months, the American government has done little to adjust its own shopping habits.
Labor Department officials say that federal agencies have “zero tolerance” for using overseas plants that break local laws, but American government suppliers in countries including Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico, Pakistan and Vietnam show a pattern of legal violations and harsh working conditions, according to audits and interviews at factories. Among them: padlocked fire exits, buildings at risk of collapse, falsified wage records and repeated hand punctures from sewing needles when workers were pushed to hurry up.
In Bangladesh, shirts with Marine Corps logos sold in military stores were made at DK Knitwear, where child laborers made up a third of the work force, according to a 2010 audit that led some vendors to cut ties with the plant.Managers punched workers for missed production quotas, and the plant had no functioning alarm system despite previous fires, auditors said.Many of the problems remain, according to another audit this year and recent interviews with workers.
At Zongtex Garment Manufacturing in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which makes clothes sold by the Army and Air Force, an audit conducted this year found nearly two dozen under-age workers, some as young as 15. Several of them described in interviews with The New York Times how they were instructed to hide from inspectors.
“Sometimes people soil themselves at their sewing machines,” one worker said, because of restrictions on bathroom breaks.
And there is no law prohibiting the federal government from buying clothes produced overseas under unsafe or abusive conditions.
Why am I not surprised…
“It doesn’t exist for the exact same reason that American consumers still buy from sweatshops,” said Daniel Gordon, a former top federal procurement official who now works at George Washington University Law School. “The government cares most about getting the best price.”
Labor and State Department officials have encouraged retailers to participate in strengthening rules on factory conditions in Bangladesh — home to one of the largest and most dangerous garment industries. But defense officials this month helped kill a legislative measure that would have required military stores, which last year made more than $485 million in profit, to comply with such rules because they said the $500,000 annual cost was too expensive.
As usual, it is all about the money. You think average Americans are seeing any of that massive profit? Believe me, someone is and it’s not you.
At Manta Apparels, for example, which makes uniforms for the General Services Administration, employees said beatings are common and fire exits are kept chained except when auditors visit. The local press has described Manta as one of the most repressive factories in the country. A top labor advocate, Aminul Islam, was organizing there in 2010 when he was first arrested by the police and tortured. In April 2012, he was found dead, a hole drilled below his right knee and his ankles crushed.
Conditions like those are possible partly because American government agencies usually do not know which factories supply their goods or are reluctant to reveal them. Soon after a fire killed at least 112 people at the Tazreen Fashions factory in Bangladesh in November 2012, several members of Congress asked various agencies for factory addresses. Of the seven agencies her office contacted, Representative Carolyn Maloney, Democrat of New York, said only the Department of the Interior turned over its list.
Federal officials still have to navigate a tangle of rules. Defense officials, for instance, who spend roughly $2 billion annually on military uniforms, are required by a World War II-era rule called the Berry Amendment to have most of them made in the United States. In recent years, Congress has pressured defense officials to cut costs on uniforms. Increasingly, the department has turned to federal prisons, where wages are under $2 per hour. Federal inmates this year stitched more than $100 million worth of military uniforms.
The Marine Corps and Navy still do not require audits of these factories. The Air Force and Army exchanges do, but the audits can come from retailers, and defense officials fail to do routine spot checks to confirm their accuracy.
The Marine Corps and Navy still do not require audits of these factories. The Air Force and Army exchanges do, but the audits can come from retailers, and defense officials fail to do routine spot checks to confirm their accuracy.
For now, Bangladesh’s garment sector continues to grow, as do purchases from one of its bulk buyers. In the year since Tazreen burned down, American military stores have shipped even more clothes from Bangladesh.
This is the human equivalent of factory farming and every decent American citizen should be appalled that this is happening on multiple levels. Please share this post to raise awareness.
Full article here.
This caused damage to the ecosystem of Vietnam that is still present today. More than 5 million acres of forests were destroyed, and half a million acres of farmland were tainted. It will take centuries of nurturing for the land to recover.
The environment was not the only thing affected. Exposure to Agent Orange resulted in five horrible illness in those exposed: soft-tissue sarcoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (including hairy-cell leukemia), Hodgkin’s disease, and chloracne. (source) What’s even worse is that the damage may not be limited to those directly exposed – it can affect offspring even up to 3rd and 4th generations.
Over a million US veterans were also exposed:
In 2010, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provided $16.2 billion in compensation to 1,095,473 Vietnam-era veterans.[i] The agency does not relate these service-connected benefit figures directly to Agent Orange/dioxin exposure or to any other possible cause of illness, nor does it provide data on total compensation for the years since the war ended.
Thousands of U.S. veterans returning from Vietnam reported health problems almost immediately and rapidly associated them with Agent Orange/dioxin exposure. Controversy over these assertions began just as fast, and continues now.
Many questions remain: Whether (and how to test whether) the illnesses of veterans and their offspring are related to Agent Orange and other herbicide exposure; Levels of dioxin present in the chemicals; The accuracy of data about veterans’ exposure; Levels of corporate, military and government awareness of dioxin’s presence; Fixing of responsibility for the contaminant’s presence and liability for its damages; Details of research protocols, accuracy of findings and reliability of interpretations; and Decisions on who should pay what to whom for which possible courses of remedial action. This “blame game” has blocked action in both the U.S. and Vietnam, needlessly prolonging the suffering of millions of U.S. veterans and Vietnamese. – (source)And now, the USDA, in all of their infinite wisdom, intends to expose Americans to one of the deadly ingredients via our food supply.
Corn and soybeans are present in some form in up to 90% of the processed foods available today. So not only will we be exposed to the effects environmentally, anyone who eats processed food will be directly consuming it. Mmmm…Corn with Agent Orange Sauce…Yummy.
Some scientist argue that 2,4-D is not responsible for the horrible human toll extracted by Agent Orange, while others claim the weed-killer is deadly.
According to the Associated Press, scientists don’t believe 2,4-D to be responsible for health complications caused by Agent Orange, and have instead pinpointed the ingredient 2,4,5-T – banned by the EPA in 1985 – as the culprit. Previous findings by the EPA have also declared the weed killer safe to use, but other groups aren’t as confident.
As RT reported in the past, the Natural Resources Defense Council has linked 2,4-D to cases of cancer, genetic mutations and more. In addition the impact on humans, the Save Our Crops Coalition believes it will be extremely difficult to contain the application of the herbicide to a particular area.
“These herbicides have been known to drift and volatilize to cause damage to plants over ten miles away from the point of application,” the coalition claimed. (source)
Proven in the island petri dish of Molokai, the danger of GMO crops is not limited to the consumption of those foods. The farming methods themselves cause an epidemic of deadly health problems to those near the fields, including cancer, respiratory illness, and horrible skin disorders.
The EPA review of these experimental new seeds will occur over the next few months, and if approved (and we all know it will be since the EPA is as much of a sell-out as the USDA) farmers across the country will then be able to plant the new seeds douse the fields with 2,4-D throughout the growing season.
When the very air you depend on to survive is poisoned, what can you do? How can you prep for this?
Agent Orange. It’s coming to a farm near you.
Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor. Her website, The Organic Prepper, where this first appeared, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Vietnam Shows How To Clean Up The Banking System: Ex-Banker Faces Death Penalty For Fraud | Zero Hedge
The lack of prosecution of bankers responsible for the great financial collapse has been a hotly debated topic over the years, leading to the coinage of such terms as “Too Big To Prosecute“, the termination of at least one corrupt DOJ official, the revelation that Eric Holder is the most useless Attorney General in history, and even members of the judicial bashing other members of the judicial such as in last night’s essay by district judge Jed Rakoff. And naturally, the lack of incentives that punish cheating and fraud, is one of the main reasons why such fraud will not only continue but get bigger and bigger, until once again, the entire system crashes under the weight of all the corruption and all the Fed-driven malinvestment. But what can be done? In this case, Vietnam may have just shown America the way – use the death penalty on convicted embezzling bankers. Because if one wants to promptly stop an end to financial crime, there is nothing quite like the fear of death to halt it.
Bloomberg reports that a Vietnam court will consider the death penalty for a Vu Quoc Hao, the former general director of Agribank Financial Leasing Co. who is charged with embezzling 531 billion dong. While that sounds like a whole lot of dong, converted into USD it is only $25 million, or what Goldman would call “weekend lunch money.” Just imagine how much cleaner Wall Street would be, where the typical bank fraud is generally in the billions, if bankers and other white collar criminals had the fear of death if caught manipulating petty prices or outright stealing amounts that are considered petty cash by most of the 0.001%.
But back to Vietnam and its shining example:
The trial comes as the government seeks to shore up Vietnamese banks saddled with Southeast Asia’s highest rate of bad debt and turn around an economy that grew last year at the slowest pace since 1999. The central bank governor vowed to crack down on violations by groups of shareholders working against banking reforms last year.
Eleven defendants, including Hao, 58, and Hai, are charged with embezzlement, mismanagement, abuse of power and fraud, according to a statement on the court’s website. Prosecutors allege that Hao and Hai formed 10 fake financial leasing contracts to disperse almost 800 billion dong.
At the trial yesterday, Hao said he regrets his violations and hopes the judges will give other defendants lighter sentences, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported today. The verdict and sentencing is expected to be announced Nov. 15, according to the newspaper.
Under Vietnam law, those convicted of embezzling property valued at 500 million dong or more, or creating “other particularly serious consequences,” can be sentenced to life imprisonment or death.
“The party, the government, prosecutors and our courts will give stiff verdicts in these types of cases,” Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, said on the sidelines of an anti-corruption conference in Hanoi yesterday. “We need to make our regulations and legal framework tighter to reduce and prevent corruption.”
“It would be a signal: You could be executed for being caught doing large-scale corruption,” said Adam McCarty, the Hanoi-based chief economist at Mekong Economics. “It has implications for the whole bank restructuring the government is about to do. They want to really dig into these bad debt issues and find out who is responsible for the problems.”
And while one can dream, an outcome such as this in the US is impossible: after all it is these same embezzling bankers that control the legislative and judicial branches (the executive branch is too busy with 404 website errors), which is why deterrence of any substantial scale will never take place in the US and small, medium and large-scale theft will continue unabated, with the occasional slaps on the wrist, until there is nothing left to steal.
Supertyphoon Haiyan Leaves Over 1,200 Dead: The “Massive Destruction” In Photos And Videos | Zero Hedge
As reported yesterday, Typhoon Haiyan – potentially the strongest storm to ever make landfall, and stronger than Katrina and Sandy combined – has come and left the Philippines (currently heading for Vietnam), and now the time has come to evaluate the damage and count the dead. Sadly, as Reuters reports, the devastation is absolutely massive and especially in the hardest hit city of Tacloban in the central Leyte province, may match the aftermath of the Fukushima tsunami: “This is destruction on a massive scale. There are cars thrown like tumbleweed and the streets are strewn with debris.” Airport manager Efren Nagrama, 47, said water levels rose up to four metres (13 ft) in the airport. “It was like a tsunami. We escaped through the windows and I held on to a pole for about an hour as rain, seawater and wind swept through the airport. Some of my staff survived by clinging to trees. I prayed hard all throughout until the water subsided.”
And it’s not over yet: the following clip from The Weather Channel summarizes the current position and heading of the Typhoon:
But while the worst may be yet to come, for the Philippines it is bad enough as Reuters explains:
A day after Typhoon Haiyan churned through the Philippine archipelago in a straight line from east to west, rescue teams struggled to reach far-flung regions, hampered by washed out roads, many choked with debris and fallen trees.
The death toll is expected to rise sharply from the fast-moving storm, whose circumference eclipsed the whole country and which late on Saturday was heading for Vietnam.
Among the hardest hit was coastal Tacloban in central Leyte province, where preliminary estimates suggest more than 1,000 people were killed, said Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of the Philippine Red Cross, as water surges rushed through the city.
“An estimated more than 1,000 bodies were seen floating in Tacloban as reported by our Red Cross teams,” she told Reuters. “In Samar, about 200 deaths. Validation is ongoing.”
She expected a more exact number to emerge after a more precise counting of bodies on the ground in those regions.
Witnesses said bodies covered in plastic were lying on the streets. Television footage shows cars piled atop each other.
The Philippines has yet to restore communications with officials in Tacloban, a city of about 220,000. A government official estimated at least 100 were killed and more than 100 wounded, but conceded the toll would likely rise sharply.
The airport was nearly destroyed as raging seawaters swept through the city, shattering the glass of the airport tower, levelling the terminal and overturning nearby vehicles.
“Almost all houses were destroyed, many are totally damaged. Only a few are left standing,” said Major Rey Balido, a spokesman for the national disaster agency.
Local television network ABS-CBN showed images of looting in one of the city’s biggest malls, with residents carting away everything from appliances to suitcases and grocery items.
Airport manager Efren Nagrama, 47, said water levels rose up to four metres (13 ft) in the airport.
“It was like a tsunami. We escaped through the windows and I held on to a pole for about an hour as rain, seawater and wind swept through the airport. Some of my staff survived by clinging to trees. I prayed hard all throughout until the water subsided.”
Across the country, about a million people took shelter in 37 provinces after President Benigno Aquino appealed to those in the typhoon’s path to leave vulnerable areas.
“For casualties, we think it will be substantially more,” Aquino told reporters.
* * *
Photos of the damage via the Weather Channel:
Finally, here is video evidence of what the stronger typhoon in history looks like on the ground:
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