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Monday, May 29, 2006

Indonesia Earthquake, Bird Flu And Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is on the ground in Indonesia assessing needs after the Indonesian quake. On their website they say that at least 150,000 people are homeless, but on the phone they said 200,000. I would like to urge you to make a donation if you can.

The Indonesian quake comes at a dangerous time. The last thing we all need is for Indonesians to be in large camps; bird flu is probably passing human to human through toilet facilities there (The virus is known to infect the intestinal tract, and is found in an abnormal range of body tissues and fluids, and to make things worse, there are a large number of clusters of human cases in Indonesia. Most of the cases are occurring in clusters.). An emerging virus + natural disaster is a very, very bad combination.

Nor do we have anything to counter it with. The DoD stockpiled vaccine was based on a clade (strain)1 virus, and the virus spreading through Indonesia and the world now is clade 2. As the DoD itself admits, human antibodies produced to clade 1 vaccine don't seem to react to the clade 2 virus. Furthermore, mutations in the virus that make it better at binding to human receptors have been observed multiple times in human cases already! Get it? With only a few hundred cases, the virus has already been proven to have mutated for human infectiveness more than once. Hong Kong and Turkey both had the same mutation. The clock is really ticking on this one. Yesterday WHO confirmed five more human cases in Indonesia.

This is one of those times when the mandates of faith and science and self-interest and humanitarianism obviously coincide. A donation to Mercy Corps will move needed supplies directly and rapidly to the people of Indonesia in the affected area. How strongly do I believe that this is urgent? Between the vets and the quake, my net take-home pay this week is going to be under twelve dollars. I'm not telling you to go to that extent, but you probably can afford something.

If you are living a charmed life now (it won't last forever, so enjoy it while you can. Sooner or later people in your family will start dying and life will have you in its jaws), an excellent reason to give to those in misfortune is that it forces you to come to grips with broader realities and developing a broader perspective. Build your life on rock, because someday you will need that firm foundation.

(It feels wonderful, btw. I cannot believe how wonderful it feels to be giving away money I earned. Due, in part, to a dedicated avoidance of the principles of femininist epistomology and the Seattle Public School system and a dedicated adherence to principles like these and the ones that these women stand for, I am once again a contributor to society. I feel like going out and doing cartwheels.)

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