Coming Out of Left Field

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Tsunami relief

Below is an e-mail I just got from I just donated and sent a message to Bush. If you can, please do what you can to help the relief efforts, either by giving to Oxfam or to one of the other groups my friends JP and Psychovant have listed on their blogs.

~ e-mail text ~

Dear MoveOn member,
The tsunami in southern Asia and Africa may be the worst natural disaster of our time. More than 116,000 lives were wiped out within hours. The toll in death and suffering from smashed cities, broken families, rampant disease, and crippled economies cannot even be calculated. In the face of this horror, MoveOn members have poured in requests to help, asking how we can push through our sadness and lend a hand.

Rising to this challenge is at the heart of global leadership, and the world is depending on us. The U.S. government can lead billions of dollars of aid into this relief effort, if it chooses. Americans are generous and ready to step forward, but the U.S. Congress and the Bush administration have made a weak initial contribution to the effort -- first offering $15 million and then $35 million when they came under pressure. Clearly, we can do more.

Let Congress and the President know that Americans are supporting strong leadership in this relief effort -- that millions of lives are at stake and we have to help. In this hour of need, if America chooses to embrace our role as a world leader, we can have an unparalleled impact. Send a message to our leaders at:

But we can't just wait for this Congress to move. We can help directly, as individuals, and save lives today. Our friends at Oxfam are already scrambling on the front lines to fight off starvation and disease -- and beginning to rebuild. Because Oxfam has worked for years with grassroots groups in the hardest hit areas, they were able to mobilize local leadership to help survivors immediately after the tsunami hit. And Oxfam will be there for the long-term, helping communities recover and regain their ability to meet basic needs. Oxfam needs to raise $5 million immediately to provide safe water, sanitation, food, shelter, and clothing to 36,000 families in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and India. Your contribution can make this possible.

Please give what you can, at:

Of course, Oxfam is only one of dozens of great organizations, like UNICEF, CARE, and the Red Cross/Red Crescent, rushing to help with the immediate need. Their efforts give the victims a head start, but it won't be enough unless the great nations of the world step forward in a big way for the long-term challenges.

Indonesia, by far the hardest hit country, is also the world's largest Muslim nation. Their estimated death toll stands at 85,000 -- in some areas, 1 out of 4 people have already been killed. Now it's time for America to show its true colors. We want to be known as a nation that leads the world with compassion, generosity, and community -- not with disastrous foreign military adventures. We are a nation that values human life, family, and extending freedom and opportunity to where it is most needed. We must now reach out in a serious way to do just that.

The $35 million offered by the Bush administration seems like a lot of money, but it's insignificant compared to what's needed in a disaster relief effort than spans continents and is expected to be the most expensive in history. To put it in perspective, we're spending $35 million in Iraq every 7 hours. (The Bush administration is about to ask for another $80 billion to cover the next installment of this tragic occupation.)1

We can and will do better. Thanks for doing your part to show the true generosity of the American spirit.


--Adam, Ben, Carrie, Eli, James, Joan, Justin, Laura, Mari, Noah, Rosalyn, and Wes
The Team
December 30th, 2004

P.S. Just as we were finalizing this email, we received a note from 17-year-old MoveOn member Annalise Blum, who has a great idea for New Year's Eve parties. Here's her email:

Dear Joan and Wes,
We arrived in Cambodia today and turned on the TV in our hotel room to learn more about the Tsunami. It has been horrifying to follow the rising death toll and especially learn about all of the children who have died. I really wanted to do something when I learned that just as many more people could die from lack of access to clean water and the spread of disease if not enough is done quickly.

I realized that New Years Eve Parties would be a perfect place to have people contribute online to the relief effort. Someone in our group came up with the name "Throw out a lifeline Online."

If MoveOn were to send out a message to its members suggesting that they turn on a computer and donate money to one of the relief organizations at their new years eves parties, it could save thousands of lives. Maybe this sort of message would be a welcome opportunity for its members to help people directly. I would greatly appreciate anything you could do to help.

Below I have written a message I am planning send to my friends. MoveOn, if interested, could send out something similar.

Throw Out A Lifeline Online
Help the Victims of the South Asian Tsunami

As most of you undoubtedly know, many parts of the eastern coastal regions of South Asia were hit on Sunday, December 26th, with one of the largest tsunamis in recent history. The death toll of the tsunami, caused by an earthquake of 9.0 magnitude, has already risen to over 60,000 people. All regions affected are in desperate need of clean water, food, temporary shelter and medical help to the survivors. Some estimate that one third of the dead are children.

World Health Organization expert David Nabarro told reporters "there is certainly a chance that we could have as many dying from communicable diseases as from the tsunami".

Start this year off by contributing money to an effective aid organization to prevent this humanitarian catastrophe from getting even worse. If you are going to a New Year's Eve Party, make it meaningful by turning on a computer and encouraging everyone to donate.

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Have a wonderful New Year!

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