Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Scary storm clouds gather around the world

IT STARTED as a slow news day and then before the clock had struck noon Tuesday, all it all changed.
Let’s back track just a moment:
7 a.m.: “Do we have any bologna in the house?” I yelled to The Missus. “Yes, why do you ask?” she replied. “Because there’s a great long list of recalled products from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency on the Net,” I answered.
Of course, we were both aware of the recent deaths and illness caused by “listeria monocytogenes,” but had no idea of the enormity of the problem.
“Let me see that,” she said, looking down the list which included well-known meat brands including Bittners, Schneiders, Burns, Country Morning, Hickory Farms, Maple Leaf, Overlander, Parma, Safeway, Shopsys, Western Family, etc., etc. It was a who’s who in the “meat department” and it was five pages long.
The Missus wasn’t impressed. I could tell by the determination in her voice that we wouldn’t be serving meat on the table anytime soon.
8 a.m.: That’s when I read about the death of Dave Freeman at age 47 on the Los Angeles Times website. For those, who might not know the name, Freeman was a hero of mine; although we’d never met. He died on Aug. 17 after falling and hitting his head in his Venice, California home.
The advertising genius had co-authored “100 Things To Do Before You Die” with Neil Teplica, who told the Times the title meant, “you should live every day like it would be your last, and there’s not that many people who do that.”
Among the favourite things to do in the strange travel guide, Freeman and Teplica listed the Academy Awards ceremony, the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, the National Hollerin’ Contest in North Carolina and Australia’s Nude Night Surfing contest.
Although I consider myself an adventurer, Freeman really took it to the outer limits.
9 a.m.: While the chatterboxes on Fox were giving me an inside look at the Democratic convention in Denver, the websites were clogged with reports concerning a possible assassination attempt. Apparently it would have targeted Barack Obama during his acceptance speech Thursday night. The police rounded up four culprits.
The sinister story ground to a halt when police said there was “insufficient evidence” to charge the “drug addicts.”
10:30 a.m.: There was fright registered in the voice of the FOX weatherperson. It was concerning a hurricane called Gustav, which was churning through Haiti at about 90 mph. So what? That’s when Janice Dean said that it had almost clear sailing through the Gulf and could evidently turn into a Category 5 by the weekend.
The startling thought of a Cat 5 was almost unthinkable. After all, a lesser storm called Fay had ripped Florida time and again in the past couple of weeks. Gustav, by all early reports could equal one of most devastating blasts of this or any generation called Katrina.
Of course, as a wire story reported Haitians were used to such blasts. In 2004, some 3,000 people in the Haitian city of Gonaives were killed.
Would it reach such Biblical proportions as Katrina did in September 2005? In looking back to those days, a cold sweat broke out once again as I “saw” re-runs of TV images from New Orleans and the SuperDome “hell-hole” and all the stranded humanity which tried to stay afloat along the U.S. Gulf Coast..
And I also recall Geraldo Rivera sobbing from inside and outside that wretched Convention Centre. “Let them walk out of here, let them walk the hell out of here. Walk to some other town. Walk some place where you can help ‘em … These people in the same clothes, where do you think they go to the bathroom? They don’t wash their hands, they don’t wash their faces, these babies. What the hell?”
While the U.S. politicians patted each other on the back in Denver, Gustav roared towards its destination. Then overseas, one major headline read: Russia Threatens Military Response To U.S. Missiles.
12 Noon: Just a slow news day? I don’t think so.


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