Saturday, September 10, 2005


Human development rank of the world's countries — 2005

The table below is an HTML version of the PDF table issued by the UN Development Information Service (UNIS) and the Austrian Development Corporation and is a chapter in the 2005 Human Development Report. The Human Development Index (HDI) is based on "life expectancy, educational attainment and adjusted real income."

High HDI
Medium HDI
  1 Norway
  2 Iceland
  3 Australia
  4 Luxembourg
  5 Canada
  6 Sweden
  7 Switzerland
  8 Ireland
  9 Belgium
10 United States
11 Japan
12 Netherlands
13 Finland
14 Denmark
15 United Kingdom
16 France
17 Austria
18 Italy
19 New Zealand
20 Germany
21 Spain
22 Hong Kong, China      (SAR)
23 Israel
24 Greece
25 Singapore
26 Slovenia
27 Portugal
28 Korea, Rep. of
29 Cyprus
30 Barbados
31 Czech Republic
32 Malta
33 Brunei Darussalam
34 Argentina
35 Hungary
36 Poland
37 Chile
38 Estonia
39 Lithuania
40 Qatar
41 United Arab Emirates
42 Slovakia
43 Bahrain
44 Kuwait
45 Croatia
46 Uruguay
47 Costa Rica
48 Latvia
49 Saint Kitts and Nevis
50 Bahamas
51 Seychelles
52 Cuba
53 Mexico
54 Tonga
55 Bulgaria
56 Panama
57 Trinidad and Tobago
58 Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
59 Macedonia, TFYR
60 Antigua and Barbuda
61 Malaysia
62 Russian Federation
63 Brazil
64 Romania
65 Mauritius
66 Grenada
67 Belarus
68 Bosnia and       Herzegovina
69 Colombia
70 Dominica
71 Oman
72 Albania
73 Thailand
74 Samoa (Western)
75 Venezuela
76 Saint Lucia
77 Saudi Arabia
78 Ukraine
79 Peru
80 Kazakhstan
81 Lebanon
82 Ecuador
83 Armenia
84 Philippines
85 China
86 Suriname
87 Saint Vincent &
     the Grenadines
88 Paraguay
89 Tunisia
90 Jordan
91 Belize
92 Fiji
93 Sri Lanka
94 Turkey
95 Dominican Republic
96 Maldives
97 Turkmenistan
98 Jamaica
99 Iran, Islamic Rep. of
100 Georgia
101 Azerbaijan
102 Occupied Palestinian
103 Algeria
104 El Salvador
105 Cape Verde
106 Syrian Arab Republic
107 Guyana
108 Viet Nam
109 Kyrgyzstan
110 Indonesia
111 Uzbekistan
112 Nicaragua

113 Bolivia
114 Mongolia
115 Moldova, Rep. of
116 Honduras
117 Guatemala
118 Vanuatu
119 Egypt
120 South Africa
121 Equatorial Guinea
122 Tajikistan
123 Gabon
124 Morocco
125 Namibia
126 Saõ Tomé and        Principe
127 India
128 Solomon Islands
129 Myanmar
130 Cambodia
131 Botswana
132 Comoros
133 Lao People’s Dem.        Rep.
134 Bhutan
135 Pakistan
136 Nepal
137 Papua New Guinea
138 Ghana
139 Bangladesh
140 Timor-Leste
141 Sudan
142 Congo
143 Togo
144 Uganda
145 Zimbabwe
146 Madagascar
147 Swaziland
148 Cameroon
149 Lesotho
150 Djibouti
151 Yemen
152 Mauritania
153 Haiti
154 Kenya
155 Gambia
156 Guinea
157 Senegal
158 Nigeria
159 Rwanda
160 Angola
161 Eritrea
162 Benin
163 Côte d’Ivoire
164 Tanzania, U. Rep. of
165 Malawi
166 Zambia
167 Congo, Dem. Rep. of the
168 Mozambique
169 Burundi
170 Ethiopia
171 Central African Republic
172 Guinea-Bissau
173 Chad
174 Mali
175 Burkina Faso
176 Sierra Leone
177 Niger

Previous post
Some geographic trivia (9/10/05)


Quote of the Day

Thinking that your ideas are right isn’t elitism. Believing it’s not worth trying to convince others is. —Avery Walker writing in "The 'liberal elite'"

Some geographic trivia

On Wednesday the UN Development Information Service (UNIS) and the Austrian Development Corporation released the 2005 Human Development Report. I'll write another post on the report itself. But I thought you might like to ponder some trivia questions in the meantime.

The HD Report includes a table in which 177 nations and territories are ranked by a "Human Development Index" (HDI). This index is based on "life expectancy, educational attainment and adjusted real income." The countries are divided broadly into high, medium and low human development.

Until I get around to converting the table from PDF, try your knowledge—or best guesses.

Which are the world's best developed and least developed countries?

Did the United States make the Top Ten before Katrina?

Which island-nations are best and least developed?

Which Caribbean nations fall into the "high development" category? And did You-Know-Who make it?

Where are the best and worst places to go in Central America?

Which Arab country is most highly developed?

Is Russia in a High, Middle or Low stage?

Answers tomorrow.

Friday, September 09, 2005


FEMA online for the few—and some help

You may have heard that you can register online for assistance from FEMA, but that's a bit misleading. You can register for assistance (1) if you can get online, and (2) if you're using Internet Explorer 6.0 and (3) if their servers aren't overloaded. As they said as the levees were breaking, Good Luck!

Today FEMA has added a note to the first page of the registration process—

Does the online application require Internet Explorer?

Yes and no.

Currently to complete your application online you must be using Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6.0 or above. We are in the process of modifying the application so that it will be available to additional browsers.

If you do not have Internet Explorer 6.0 or higher, you may still be able to check the status of your application and update your information online once you have registered by phone.

Yes and No? The answer to the question is "YES"—period. (Is there any way we can stop the government from lying?)

And of course you might as well try predicting the next hurricane disaster as to predict when FEMA will be able to accept applications from other browsers. Great planning, guys!

Then there's this—

Received an Error Message?

Due to the heavy load on our online registration application some of you are receiving an error message when you try to apply. We apologize for this and ask you to call the FEMA Technical Helpdesk at 1-800-745-0243 for further assistance.

NBC Nightly News gave it a try last night (See "FEMA site frustration," but only if you're using IE6!). No luck. And forget the Helpdesk!

Still, considering that FEMA recommends calling between 2 am and 6 am if you want to register by phone—1-800-621-FEMA (3362) and 1-800-462-7585 for hearing/speech impaired—registering online may be worth a try.

Help for Mozilla and Firefox users

If you're using either Mozilla or Firefox, there's help! is providing a "User Agent Switcher Extension" that will allow you to fill out the FEMA application using either browser. The extension works for Windows, MacOS X and Linux versions of Firefox and Mozilla. The folks at Macs Only! say they've tested the Mac version and it works.

Gee! All this in open-source software in just a few days for less than a gazillion dollars. You think they could get a Homeland Security or FEMA grant? Not likely unless they (1) are certified Republican donors, (2) raise the cost by a factor of at least a million, (3) do the job in not under six months to a year, and (4) keep the code "top secret."

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Giving as good as you get

BuzzFlash's top link today advertises
Nancy Pelosi Stands Up for Justice, the Truth, and Slaps Down a Bushevik Reporter on CNN! We Love the New Nancy! Remember, to Beat Back the Republican Putsch, You Must Give as Good as You Get!

It was an interesting bit of theater. Kyra Phillips interviewed Nancy Pelosi. Diane04 has the complete transcript at Kos. Why everyone is excited about Pelosi is this—

PELOSI: Kyra, Kyra, Kyra...

PHILLIPS: It's Kyra. It's Kyra.

PELOSI: ... if you want to make a case for the White House, you should go on their payroll. But the (INAUDIBLE)...

The remark seems to have rankled, because Phillips returned to it near the close of the interview—

PHILLIPS: And by all due respect, nobody in this organization or any network is on the payroll of the Bush administration right now. Everybody has been challenging every leader in every agency in this disaster, because it's pathetic to see something like this happen in the United States and to see dead bodies still on the ground in -- on American soil. It is absolutely pathetic.

It's a little incoherent. I don't know what she means by "this organization or any network"? And I love the "right now." But she ended on as strong an editorial comment as you could wish. And perhaps Pelosi deserves credit for eliciting the statement.

But truth be told, Phillips asked Pelosi a question in the middle of the interview that deserves a better answer, or I should say a real answer.

PHILLIPS: You think politics had nothing to do with this disaster right now?

PELOSI: What I'm saying is, let's form an independent commission to look into that, to make an assessment of what the decisions were made...

PHILLIPS: All right, let me about [ask] you about an independent commission, because I addressed this to Senator Collins, and I addressed this to Senator Lieberman the other day. I mean, we had warnings before 9/11. We knew that there were intelligence failures. We knew where Osama bin Laden was. We knew there were issues among our intelligence agencies, and 9/11 happened, and then there were all these reports and all these investigations and all these commissions that were formed, and all this focus on terrorism.

Now, you had all these reports that were put forward talking about how this was going to happen to New Orleans, that Hurricane Pam, this project that was put forward, was showing and revealing all these problems with the levees and the hurricane -- or the flooding systems there. And we heard from the Army Corps of Engineer.

Now we see, despite all those warnings, what happened in New Orleans and what happened to other states. And now all of a sudden, everybody wants more investigations and more commissions. I mean, this is pathetic. How many things...

PELOSI: It is pathetic. It is pathetic.

PHILLIPS: ... have to go wrong in our country, and how many...

investigations and commissions do we need?

And this was Pelosi's pathetic answer—

PELOSI: We need as many until we make the country safer for the American people. We all have to settle down and take a deep breath, and say, How do we make the American people safer? And in order to do that, we have to have an assessment of how this happened.

First she implies that investigations and commissions are the appropriate tools for making the country safer. To paraphrase a saying, a lunatic is a person who makes a mistake and then goes on making it.

Then she asks us all to meditate and ponder the question "How do we make the American people safer?" mantra-fashion, it seems.

And then she would treat us all to another assessment (through an investigation by a commission or committee, of course).

As though wishing to disprove her own idea, Pelosi went on to say—

But let's take a very objective, nonpartisan look at this. We have a great example in the 9/11 commission, where people, in a bipartisan way, nonpartisan way, made an assessment of what happened leading up to 9/11 and what we can do to go forward to make America safer.

Do people still say "Oh, barf!"?

No. Kyra Phillips' question—How many things have to go wrong in our country, and how many investigations and commissions do we need?—may be dismissed as rhetorical because it's framed rhetorically. But it's a serious question that deserves an answer.

The question that Pelosi along with all her Congressional co-conspirators need to answer is this—We have already had Congressional investigations and commissions looking into what was needed in the event of a disaster such as Katrina. The results are as we see them. And many other examples, perhaps none so horrific as the current one, could be cited of post-investigation, post-commission failure.

Why should the American public tolerate more of the same? The public should know by now that these investigations aren't held for the public good but for the protection and self-aggrandizement it affords the politicians. Isn't it time that questions such as "Why didn't we save a city?" be taken out of the hands of politicians and reviewed by disaster planners and scientists? After all, Congress thought it wise to recuse itself from decisions by the Federal Reserve.

Maybe the commission that we really need would investigate in what other areas the public interest would be served by the creation of truly independent bodies shielded from partisan politics. Like public broadcasting, for instance.

Pelosi and all our Congressional leaders need to stop evading Kyra Phillips' question and give the public an honest answer. And the public needs to demand it.


Horror of the Day

I am stunned by an interview I conducted with New Orleans Detective Lawrence Dupree. He told me they were trying to rescue people with a helicopter and the people were so poor they were afraid it would cost too much to get a ride and they had no money for a 'ticket.' Dupree was shaken telling us the story. He just couldn't believe these people were afraid they'd be charged for a rescue. —Drew Griffin of CNN as reported by Greg Mitchell in E&P

Quote of the Day

Personally, I recommend that you batten down the hatches, stock up on food and water, get yourself some Cipro, and hone your personal escape plans, because this could be a really bad three years.
—Tim Kaine, candidate for governor of Virginia, commenting on what he learned about the Bush administration at a terrorism conference

Posting late today

The management would like to thank you for your patience.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Condemnation of the Day

... there's something wrong when a billionaire buys a ranch, gets a tax break for an easement and then chases the locals off the river in the name of conservation. —Jonathan Weber in "A Class War Runs Through It"

Feudal Thought of the Day

... a big part of the solution is in the hands of the landowners themselves. In an era of economic policies that are producing an ever-larger group of the super-rich, those who are wealthier than the rest of us have a responsibility to manage their properties at least partly in the public interest. —Jonathan Weber in "A Class War Runs Through It"

A generic update on rescue efforts

FEMA may have come up a day late and a dollar short in aiding survivors of Katrina. But you can't fault it when it comes to assisting the press. They offer a number of handy press tools including story templates for their various subdivisions. So I thought I would avail myself of the service and let you know how the search for survivors is going.

Today's news template comes from Urban Search and Rescue. I've put the FEMA instructions in italics and colored in red where I had to fill in the blanks. With the FEMA press kit and story templates, you can whip out a story and still have time for a tall one at your favorite watering hole.



NEW ORLEANS, LA – Local, state and federal emergency workers continue combing through rubble in the New Orleans area looking for survivors who may be trapped in the wreckage caused by Katrina.

[Verified facts about the disaster: When the disaster occurred, what happened (stick to the facts), where injured individuals were taken, whether there are confirmed fatalities (but not how many… those numbers tend to fluctuate.]

Hurricane Katrina smashed into the Mississippi and Louisiana coast a week ago Monday with such intensity that authorities were just baffled by the extent of the damage. Some fatalities have been confirmed, but authorities refuse to speculate on the total number of deaths because they say they tend to fluctuate. So far, however, unofficial body counts have only fluctuated upwards.

Representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urban search-and-rescue task forces are here working [12-hour shifts round-the-clock] round-the-clock in an effort to locate survivors.

Anecdote or detail of how many people have been found, where, etc.

Groups of people who appeared to be dazed were found walking along the Interstate. "That was the last place we expected to find them," said local FEMA coordinator Ray Sizzem. "There was just no way we could get to them, strung out like they were on an open road."

To solve the problem FEMA officials decided to invoke a plan developed during previous disaster exercises. Known as "herding," it called for survivors to be directed to a central location where they could be watched for signs of anarchy. "Fortunately we had both the Superdome and the Convention Center at our disposal," added Mr. Sizzem, "so we could check them for weapons and drugs before they even got through the door. After that it was only a matter of keeping them penned."

“Obviously, our hearts go out to everyone affected by this disaster,” stated [ESF-9 coordinating official,] Kay Oss, who coordinates urban search-and-rescue for FEMA Region VIII. “We will work as hard as we can for as long as we are needed to locate the missing individuals.”

FEMA search-and-rescue personnel are working side by side with local and state emergency workers, and [hundreds of volunteers] countless volunteers who have shown up to help with the rescue effort. Each member of the FEMA team[s] team is highly trained for search-and-rescue operations in damaged or collapsed structures, hazardous materials evaluations, stabilization of damaged structures, and can provide emergency medical care to the injured.


There now. Thanks to FEMA and the free press, you know all you need to know.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Double the loss of Andrew

A British insurance company is estimating the total insurable loss from Katrina will fall between $35 and $50 billion. That implies, of course, that the total loss will be still greater, since a lack of insurance goes along with the poverty of New Orleans.

Ultimately New Orleans will be booming. A disaster takes funds that would normally go to insurance executives and stockholders and redistributes them, at least partially, among the gainfully employed.


Conductor Barenboim an anti-semite?

Any criticism of Israel whether in the U.S., Europe or in the Arab world is always countered by an ad hominem attack on the critic—namely, that the critic is an anti-semite. It has gotten so out of hand that they're now labeling Israeli Jews as anti-semites.

Daniel Barenboim, world famous conductor of the Chicago Symphony and an Israeli citizen, has devoted considerable effort to the causes of peace and especially to peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. As described on his website,

1) A Jew born during the Second World War - and an Israeli by nationality - he has worked closely over many years with three German orchestras - the Berlin Philharmonic, the Staatskapelle Berlin and the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra - in an atmosphere of mutual affection and respect.

2) In the early 1990s, a chance meeting between Mr. Barenboim and the late Palestinian-born writer and Columbia University professor Edward Said in a London hotel lobby led to an intensive friendship that has had both political and musical repercussions. These two men, who should have been poles apart politically, discovered in that first meeting, which lasted for hours, that they had similar visions of Israeli/Palestinian possible future cooperation. They decided to continue their dialogue and to collaborate on musical events to further their shared vision of peaceful co-existence in the Middle East. This led to Mr. Barenboim's first concert on the West Bank, a piano recital at the Palestinian Birzeit University in February 1999, and to a workshop for young musicians from the Middle East that took place in Weimar, Germany, in August 1999.

The West-Eastern Divan Workshop took two years to organize and involved talented young musicians between the ages of 14 and 25 from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia and Israel. The idea was that they would come together to make music on neutral ground with the guidance of some of the world's best musicians.

So Barenboim was in Israel to launch a book he coauthored with Edward Said. An Israeli military reporter wanted to interview him, but he refused so long as she was in military uniform. And the result? Why, Barenboim is an anti-semite! According to the AP report by Ravi Nessman,

Israel's education minister described the conductor Daniel Barenboim as a "real anti-Semite" yesterday after the musician refused to grant an interview to an Israel Army Radio reporter because she wore a military uniform to the launch of a book he co-wrote with a Palestinian.

The education minister, Limor Livnat, was outraged by the incident and said the conductor was "a real Jew-hater, a real anti-Semite."

Mr Barenboim, who was born in Argentina and raised in Israel, has had frequent spats with Israel's government. Last year, he angered Israeli officials when he criticised the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

The conductor, in a telephone interview with Army Radio yesterday, did not deny the incident and defended his actions.

"Anti-Semitic? What is anti-Semitic about it? When I say a uniform should be worn to the right places and not to the wrong ones, there is nothing anti-Semitic about it, there is no logic to this," Mr Barenboim said. "I just thought that in this place, discussing a book written together with a Palestinian, it shows lack of sensitivity."

Oh, and have I ever mentioned the cooperation of the Israeli government in denying the Armenian holocaust?


Demand of the Day

I want two dead every night.
—Israeli briefer as quoted by naval captain in "Evidence from Israeli soldiers forces inquiries into deaths of Palestinians"

Corporate media (Fox) censor again

"Disrespectful of the office of the president." No, the quote doesn't refer to George Bush, though no one could so thoroughly disrepect the Office of the President as George himself. That is what New York City's Channel 5 said of a campaign ad by Brian Ellner, Democratic candidate for president of the borough of Manhattan.

Jim Rutenberg reports in the NY Times that

The 30-second ad features Mr. Bush's face superimposed upon a middle-aged man's naked torso as Mr. Ellner says of the president that "the emperor has no clothes." Mr. Ellner also introduces his partner, Simon Holloway, in the spot - which the campaign says is the first time in city history that a gay candidate has introduced his or her partner in a campaign commercial.

It all sounds on the up-and-up to me.

Tim Arnold, a media adviser to Mr. Ellner, said the station had at first agreed to sell the campaign advertising time but then rejected the advertisement after seeing it. The campaign has already spent about $250,000 to put the ad on the air.

Mr. Arnold said that when he pushed for a more detailed explanation of the rejection, a station representative told him that the station believed the advertisement was "disrespectful of the office of the president."

Mr. Arnold said Channel 5 was the only local station to reject the advertisement out of roughly 15 network or cable affiliates - including NY1 News, WABC and WNBC - that the campaign said it approached. The campaign said it did not try to place the ad on WWOR, which like Channel 5 is part the Fox Television Stations group, a unit of News Corporation.

Theoretically, refusing to run the ad is illegal—

Broadcast channels, which are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, are allowed to reject so-called issue advertisements from interest groups based on their content. But they are prohibited from doing so with ads from candidates.

"There is part of the statute that says the station cannot censor the content of a political ad," said a communications commission official who spoke on condition of anonymity, following the commission's general practice of avoiding public comment upon matters in which it is not involved. (The F.C.C. generally only acts on complaints; Mr. Ellner said he would probably file one but had not done so.)

The commission official said that after a station agrees to sell time for a campaign commercial, "the station is required to put it on the air - they have no option."

... the official said there was a way around the rules. While stations are required to accept all commercials for federal candidates, they can pick and choose the local races for which they will run commercials.

And stations in the past have cited that loophole after being accused of rejecting candidate spots based on their content.

There is a silver lining—

Mr. Ellner's team devised the spot in large part to appeal to gays and lesbians, and the borough's more liberal voters in general. Fox's refusal to run the ad is likely to help Mr. Ellner's aims.

The stations just came under the control of Roger Ailes, the Fox News Channel chairman, in August. A spokesman for Ailes said the decision was made by the local station. But you will note that even reporter Rutenberg speaks of "Fox's refusal."

A question raised neither by the Times nor the Ellner campaign is whether it was really the gay aspect of the commercial that the Fox station found "in poor taste."

Manhattan's Gawker says,

We admit we’ve been strongly considering voting for the cute gay guy running for Manhattan borough president. This is mostly because it’s a largely irrelevant job, so why not vote for the one who’s fun to look at?

You can watch the ad here. It's fun.


This is no rumor ...

[Cheney's] absence, and the president’s performance during it, can only add to the rumors that Bush is clueless without the Big Guy at his side. —Greg Mitchell in "'My Pet Goat' -- The Sequel"

Previous posts
The Duumvirate (9/3/05)
George Bush: Cheerleader-in-Chief of Social Security "reform" (2/14/05)


Question of the Day

It isn't easy picking George Bush's worst moment last week. Was it his first go at addressing the crisis Wednesday, when he came across as cool to the point of uncaring? Was it when he said that he didn't "think anybody expected" the New Orleans levees to give way, though that very possibility had been forecast for years? Was it when he arrived in Mobile, Ala., a full four days after the storm made landfall, and praised his hapless Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director, Michael D. Brown, whose disaster credentials seemed to consist of once being the commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association? —Mathew Cooper (yes, the Mathew Cooper of Plamegate subpoena fame) in Time magazine via E&P

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