serious

Remember your humanity, and forget the rest.

"We have been trying for 40 years to save the world, sometimes against the world's wishes," Mr. Rotblat said.


Józef Rotblat, winner of the Nobel peace prize and the only physicist to quit the Manhattan Project on moral grounds, has died at 96. He organised the Pugwash conferences, which were very influential in promoting arms control during the cold war.

From the Guardian's obituary:
While working at Los Alamos, Rotblat had been shocked to hear General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project, remark quite casually that the real purpose, of course, was to subdue the Soviet Union. When he decided to leave the project, a determined but highly incompetent attempt had been made to "fit him up" as a Russian spy.

This Guardian article on petrol prices is quite interesting. The implication seems to be that a temporary shortfall in US refining ability will push petrol prices up past what mere increases in crude prices would:

As US oil companies bought up 20 shiploads of European petrol yesterday, the wholesale price of petrol on the Rotterdam spot market soared to a record of $855 a tonne (more than $100 a barrel), up more than 20% in two days
Traders said oil supplies were not the big problem, especially as the US government on Wednesday promised to release some of the country's 700m barrel strategic petroleum reserve [ . . . ] But the strategic reserve contains only oil, not gasoline or diesel, hence the scramble to buy from Europe.

The Treasury responded to the rising fuel price by stressing it had announced in July that a duty increase planned for yesterday would be scrapped because of high oil prices. Fuel duty, now 47.1p a litre, has not risen for two years.


Another knock-on is the probable destruction of the Justice Center, founded by Clive Stafford Smith to give proper legal representation to the poor facing capital charges.
From http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,1561167,00.html:

Yesterday, when I saw the pictures of the Orleans Parish prisoners huddled on a ramp of the interstate, turbid water at one end, and torpid guards with shotguns at the other, it made me angry. The government said everyone had to leave the city, yet the prisoners, the one group who could have been moved without the right to protest, were left behind. They are likely to stay in prison much longer now, with 636 [Baronne St, the Justice Center office] most probably under water.

I remember the name Baronne Street, presumably from when I visited NO back in the mid-nineties. I crashed on Melissa Devnich's couch for a couple of days (she happily put up with me dropping in on her without notice in spite of not knowing me very well, which was exceptionally good of her). She was staying further out past Audobon Park. Apparently that whole area's been under water. It's a strange thought to add to the horrible news. When the hurricane was approaching, I thought about various things - my memories of hurricanes in the Caribbean when I was very small, and the prospect of the lovely historical buildings in the city being destroyed. It didn't really occur to me that the "compulsory evacuation" would be so half-assed, or the rescue efforts so under-resourced. Having things steadily get worse and worse over a period of days is rather reminiscent of watching the news during the few days after the tsunami. It'd be nice to think that things are getting better for everyone still stuck in the city, but I'm not convinced. And after that, of course, there's the matter of keeping them all going until the place is liveable again.

These are relative, of course - NO's about the size of Edinburgh, so I do realise that evacuating it was a herculean task. It was talked of as if it was all in hand, though, which I suppose I was distracted by.

This post keeps disappearing and reappearing. There's probably a metaphor for something important in there somewhere.
  • Current Mood: sombre
Today's FT said that Chavez in Venezula had offered gasoline as well as a big lecture.