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Wednesday, August 31, 2005
LaVaughn, LaVerl, Hurricane Katrina, and the International Community

Author's Note: The following is somewhat ironic and attempts to be humorous, but it makes a serious point - effectively, I hope. I certainly do not mean to make light of a major and growing disaster and the many who are suffering as a result. I think those who can help should help in every reasonable way with the immediate and long-term relief. Also, for what it's worth, here's an interesting link I found at The Drudge Report, which essentially foretold and explained the current, massive trouble in New Orleans. And now, on with the show.

In my imagination, LaVaughn and LaVerl are aging widowers who live in adjacent, old, but well-maintained small homes in an unnamed Utah County town. Their yards are pristine, of course. They are a bit dotty, sometimes, but Internet-savvy. Hurricane Katrina did not escape their notice, despite it being at the other end of the continent. Let's listen in - but remember, this is purely a work of imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons or events is purely coincidental, right? Moreover, no specific current news report by any real media outlet is referenced. The date is Sunday, four days hence.

LaVerl: Brother LaVaughn, it's Sunday. I'm here to take you to church. Why are you still watching television? You're not even dressed!

LaVaughn: I'm not going today. I'm completely absorbed in my research. You go without me.

LaVerl: What research?

LaVaughn: I'm watching CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC on the TVs, and reading al-Jazeera here on my laptop. I'm also running some searches with Google News.

LaVerl: What are you looking for?

LaVaughn: Remember in January, when the bishop asked us to fast for two meals and donate the money we saved for relief in the Asian countries who got hit by the earthquake and the tsunami?

LaVerl: Of course. I may be old, but I'm not dead.

LaVaughn: You say so. Anyway, I'm watching for stories about mosques and Buddhist shrines around the world, but especially in Asia, where they're taking collections for relief of our hurricane victims in New Orleans, Alabama, and Mississippi.

LaVerl: Really? Are they doing that? That's good of them.

LaVaughn: I assume they are. At the USAID Web site, I saw that the US Government alone has given more than $1.7 billion for relief and reconstruction down there this year. I know companies and individuals gave a lot, too. It mostly went to help Muslim and Buddhist countries, so it's only natural that they'd want to help us at least a little in return, right?

LaVerl: So what are you seeing?

LaVaughn: Nothing at all, actually. Wait! Here's one on al-Jazeera . . . Oops, false alarm.

LaVerl: What?

LaVaughn: Oh, some cleric is saying the usual stuff about the United States being the great Satan, and this natural disaster being God's - excuse me, Allah's - vengeance.

LaVerl: They're not even talking about the hurricane on the American networks? That's odd. It happened this week.

LaVaughn: Oh, they're talking about it, just not about international generosity.

LaVerl: What are they saying?

LaVaughn: Well, look at CNN here. This senator is saying it's President Bush's fault, and this senator is saying it's not, but that we should investigate Senator Clinton's whereabouts before and during the hurricane. And this White House spokesman here is talking about how much money Washington is sending for relief. Now the first one is saying that it's President Bush's fault that it's not more, and the second one is saying it's not, and the third one is promising to send a lot more, after all. And now we're back to it being - no, wait, now we're blaming Vice President Cheney and Haliburton.

LaVerl: That would be the George W. Bush who originally built New Orleans slightly below sea level, right? Or the Dick Cheney who controls the weather? Or maybe Haliburton, who kidnapped all the children and tortured them until the parents agreed to build their homes in a flood plain?

LaVaughn: Hey, you asked the question! Don't shoot the messenger!

LaVerl: Sorry. I'm thinking, why don't I stay and help? I'll fire up my laptop and see if the UN is sending any aid. They sent a lot to Asia before, I think. And there's a European bureaucrat there who ought to feel pretty bad about telling us the US wasn't generous enough last time.

LaVaughn: Don't bother. I already checked.

LaVerl: And?

LaVaughn: Not a word about it. Well, that's not quite right. Google did turn up a story quoting an anonymous former UN official, something about all their funds being devoted to an internal corruption investigation, so they can't spare a dime for US disaster victims.

LaVerl: You checked the humanitarian affairs link, right? And you checked the daily briefing?

LaVaughn: Yes and yes.

LaVerl: Do you think we're ever going to see what we're watching for?

LaVaughn: Maybe not, but I can keep watching for a while. People are people everywhere, right?

LaVerl: Y'know, all those democracies that rush to help other countries when these disasters occur are pretty rich. Maybe all those Asian countries we helped are too poor to help anyone else. Besides, a lot fewer people died here than there, because we build stronger buildings and houses and have modern communication systems. Plus they know that we will help our own just as we helped them. Maybe they think we don't need any international help.

LaVaughn: Yeah. Kinda makes you think, doesn't it?

LaVerl: Why don't you try a Google News search for international expressions of sympathy from those countries? Even if they're poor, they could afford a sympathetic e-mail to the White House and the inevitable press release, right?

LaVaughn: Okay. Looking . . . Hmm.

LaVerl: Anything?

LaVaughn: Well, here are some from within the US. And here's one where the Chinese government expressed sympathy in advance, to Cuba, over a hurricane that was about to hit there a few years ago.

LaVerl: Nothing from Asia about Katrina?

LaVaughn: Nothing.

LaVerl: Now that really makes you think.

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