Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Live report from the China quake

Unless you're living in a Taliban cave in Tora Bora, readers should have heard the news of a massive earthquake that rocked China yesterday. At 6 PM Arizona time, it was reported that the Chinese had a death toll over 10,000. Now, we know there isn't a lot of love for China. They're still Communist. They still want us destroyed, or at the very least, neutered. But let's keep the people in our prayers. After all, they're not responsible for the ideology of the Chinese government, and plenty of them would love to have the same freedoms we do. I did find this post up on Business Week's website. It's a live-blog from a Chinese blogger that was in Chengdu, which is the capital of Sichuan province, which was not far from the epicenter of the quake. Chengdu is 1282 miles from Beijing, and people in Beijing felt this thing. Hugh Hewitt has a map up at this post showing where the epicenter was. He's also urging people to contribute to the charity on his site -- Caring for China's Children. If you can, please give.

Here is the live-blog report:

Song Shi-nan, a blogger from the hipster Bullog blogging community, was blogging in Chengdu when an earthquake began swaying his apartment building and his computer screen on May 12. "I went to the balcony and saw all the buildings around were shaking…I rushed downstairs and saw many people gathering there, mostly women, children and elderly.…" A few hours after the quake struck, Song wrote, "there might be a blackout soon, and we must get out. So I took out the camping stuff and thought maybe I should just go camping with my wife tonight."

Song found it outrageous that TV news reporting on the earthquake was still emphasizing that Beijing's main Olympics stadium, the "Bird's Nest," had suffered no damage from the earthquake, as thousands of people were dying elsewhere in the nation. In the meantime, his TV screen was showing that in the worst hit areas in southern China's Sichuan province, middle school buildings collapsed in villages and parents were digging into the wreckage trying to find their children.

The earthquake, measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale, rocked Sichuan province in southwest China on May 12. The center of the earthquake was less than 80 miles northwest of the provincial capital of Chengdu, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. But it was felt thousands of miles away by people around China, from Beijing to Shanghai and Guangzhou. Office buildings and apartment buildings swayed and people fled their homes and cubicles for the streets in downtown areas of those cities. So far, Chinese authorities report 8,700 people were killed in the earthquake, with an unknown number still trapped in debris.

One famous Chinese blogger, the television reporter Luqiu Luwei, raised a few questions on her blog: Why were so many middle school students among the dead from the disaster? What did that say about the quality of those school buildings? Official media reported that hundreds of students died in the Sichuan earthquake, as they were pinned under the collapsing buildings.

Another blogger, Zeng XianNan, was suspicious about whether the quake could have been predicted based on seismic activity. "I saw the Sichuan Net news quoting Sichuan Earthquake Bureau official Deng Chang Wen saying before the earthquake no forecast indicated any macro anomolies," Zeng wrote. "If this was true, then it means that our technology is not strong enough. But wasn't [it true] that we have successfully forecast earthquakes before? If it were the case that it was detected but reporting was delayed, how would [they] explain that?"

In Baidu Post Bar, a popular Internet forum, thousands of people around China were posting their accounts on what was happening in their region, as if it could make them feel safer and better. Elsewhere online, three college students in Chengdu, the home of 11 million people, shot a short video during the earthquake and posted it on Tudou, a major user-generated video-sharing site in China. The video was later removed, but it was not clear why. (Tudou means potato in English.)

According to Rory Cellan-Jones, a tech blogger on the BBC's Web site, Twitter has seen an unprecedented role in covering the latest earthquake news in China this time around. California-based technology blogger Robert Scoble—who says he receives a Twitter message every second—claimed he broke the Sichuan earthquake news on the Internet even before the U.S. Geological Survey.

A writer named "Necessity" posting May 12 on a site maintained by Chinese living abroad, argued that many natural disasters in China are related to government failing in one form or another. "Necessity" offered the previous examples of the SARS disease spread, the large number of deaths in China's periodic mining disasters, and the so-called three-year natural food disaster, during which millions starved to death.

I have only a couple of things to add. While the Chinese report reads 8700 dead, there is no way to know when that report trickled in. As I said, at 6 PM Arizona time, Salem Radio's news guys were saying the Chinese government estimated their said at that point at over 10,000. So I can't account for that discrepancy. The Examiner corroborates the death toll, and corrects the magnitude from 7.5 (above) to 7.9, which was the initial magnitude I heard.

Second, I find it appalling that the Chinese news services decided to assure everyone in China that the Olympic stadium was safe and unharmed. Seriously, Beijing FELT the quake, the quake wasn't centered there, so who really cares about the damn Olympic stadium. I think the news would have been better in keeping people updated on the quake area, and the rescue efforts going on.

Publius II


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