All entries for Saturday 29 January 2005

January 29, 2005

La Prisonniere

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This book is an amazing account of how Malika Oufkir, daughter of General Oufkir who was shot for an attempted coup d'etat, was imprisoned with her family for 20 years. It's fascinating to see the changes that this family went through and how they adapted, going from an incredibly priviledged life to an almost beastail existence in inhumane jails.
It is aslo bizarre to read Malika's descriptions of the Moroccan royal family and ruling elites among whom she was raised, which seem trapped in a time warp. From her early chidhood Malika experienced a lifestyle utterly irreconcileable with the wild 1950's and 60's that Britain and the US were living through.
Most startlling were Malika's experiences when some of them managed to escape; Morocco had modernised along with the rest of the world and they had been almost completely forgotten. It leaves you questionning how many other people are imprisoned unjustly that we have no idea about.
This book also serves a good reminder that when we consider the past in one place it does mean that everywhere was like that, for while Britain was enjoying the swinging sixties Morocco's upper classes were stuck in an archaic system of concubines and deceit, where any dissenters were 'got rid of'.

Could many of the Tsunami deaths have been prevented?

Writing about web page http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1380712,00.html

While the majority of Britain's newspapers focussed on the massive death toll and individual horror stories this article in The Guardian stops to ask if those deaths were avoidable. It questions whether an early warning system could have in fact prevented the overwhelming majority of the deaths.

Although countries around the world are now jumping to offer aid, in what the more synical of us would call a publicity contest, this devestating disaster once more raises the question of why the developed world has done nothing to prevent natural disasters in the third world in the first place.

While they are all too keen to offer aid now, once the spotlight is off, will they continue to do so? And what will be done in the long run to prevent the re-occurence of such disastors around the world?


Local effects of the South–East Asian Tsunami

Writing about web page http://www.cornishman.co.uk/displayNode.jsp?nodeId=144143&command=displayContent&sourceNode=144131&contentPK=11607368&moduleName=InternalSearch&keyword=survivors%20olly%20lou&formname=filtersearch

Olly was the cheff and Lou was a barmaid at the bar we all worked at together last year. At the end of the summer they'd saved enough to go off and travel for a few years; a dream trip through Sri Lanka, Singapore,Indo and Australia. But on boxing day they were struck by the Tsunami and no-one heard from them for over 24 hours.
When we did get emails they were not just full of their relief at having survived relatively unharmed, but at the horror of the way other people were behaving. Olly described the unbelieveable generosity of the locals, who gave them somewhere to stay and even bought them toothbrushes and shoes. In stark contrast to this he described the arrogance of the panicked Westerners, who were fighting over taxis and expecting locals to arrange transport and hotels!
It just goes to show that those who have nothing still think of others while the rich, who may have lost their luggage, are able to think of nothing but themselves. (They were in a part of Sri Lanka where, although there was huge destruction, there were not many lives lost).

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