Bill Dawson has some very interesting observations about German and Austrian opinion on the "third world" conditions that Katrina exposed in the American South ---and their seeming lack of attention to a far deadlier disaster that befell France just two summers ago.
The outrageous coverage of Hurricane Katrina here in Austria and Germany has included many references to “third world” similarities. See, for example, Ray’s blog posting concerning Stern magazine’s editorial, “Somalia in America’s South.” The sneering arrogance, the gruesome Schadenfreude and the completely over the top moralizing reminded me of something that occurred two years ago in the United States, which also elicited “third world” references.Be sure to check out Dawson's original post for lots of details, but don't forget what was happening at about the same time as our own blackout on 14 August 2003. He notes:
You will recall that on August 14, 2003, an enormous power failure occurred across a huge chunk of the United States and parts of Canada. On September 5, 2003, I made the following blog entry here:
On 11. August, Le Figaro first reported that "the heat wave is killing people" in France.Dawson goes on to write that in the pages of the same German-language magazines where the cynics of Old Europe clucked at the plight of our poor urban blacks, practically nothing was written about the 2003 heat wave that killed so many in France. From the summary of a major European Commission-funded organization tasked with monitoring disease in Europe comes the following item (never mind the weird acronyms; the numbers are in boldface):
On 14. August, according to the Washington Post, French government officials reported that at least 3,000 people had died from the heat wave.
By the 21st, the Post reported [link broken] that the French government had acknowledged that up to 10,000 people may have died.
On 29. August, this CNN report indicated that the toll was actually over 11,000.
Wouldn't you say that 11,000 deaths from heat in a modern and industrialized country such as France could also be compared to the "Third World"?
The analysis of death certificates given by the departmental health offices allowed InVS to produce a first estimate on 28 August of 11,435 excess deaths (excess of 55%) between 1 and 15 August 2003 . On 25 September, INSERM estimated the cumulative excess deaths between 1 and 20 August at 14,800 (excess of 60%) .The impact was greater for women (70% increase in excess total mortality) than for men (40% increase in excess mortality)(1). This was the case even for same age groups. Excess mortality reached 20% in the 45-74 year age group, 70% in the 75-94 year age group and 20% in people aged 94 years and over .Where was the krauts' ire then? Where were the insinuations of savagery as fellow Europeans perished while French politicians got their tans down on the coast?
INSERM also showed that during the last third of the month of August and the month of September the mortality had reached the usual level . October and November 2003 showed the usual death rates in every region.
But since body counts are eminently political, let us look also at the heat wave of 1995, in which Bill Clinton did nothing while a thousand people died in the city of Chicago.
A thousand people? That's more than all the Katrina-related deaths counted so far.