When difficult questions arise, I often turn to the cast of the Lethal Weapon movies for quick answers.
Q: Should I go inside to order food, or pull up to the drive-thru window?
A: "Don't ever go up to the drive-thru, OK? Always walk up to the counter," says Joe Pesci's character Leo Getz in Lethal Weapon 2. "They fuck you at the drive-thru."
Q: Who's responsible for all the wars in the world?
"The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," says Mel Gibson.
To be clear, this line wasn't actually from a Lethal Weapon movie. Gibson said it to the L.A. County deputy who arrested him for DUI in 2006. Nevertheless, it's not too far removed from the sort of thing Gibson's intemperate Lethal Weapon character might have said, were it not for the fact that Jews control the content of every Hollywood movie.
Q: Was Haiti's earthquake actually a man-made disaster?
Yes, says Lethal Weapon co-lead Danny Glover, who's been keeping busy lately issuing public statements that make his buddy Mel seem reasonable by comparison.
Speaking to satellite and online news program GRITtv, Glover insinuated that the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti was the result of December's failed United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen.
Glover's not the only person to pin blame for the quake on human malfeasance.
Vladimir Acosta, a Venezuelan sociology professor and prominent supporter of President Hugo Chavez, says the earthquake was caused by the U.S. Navy using something he described as "a weapon of earthquakes."
Odd how our commander-in-chief can't get health care legislation through an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress, but he can move two tectonic plates eight miles underneath the Caribbean. That's not change I can believe in.
Obviously, actual shaking of the earth near Haiti had nothing at all to do with climate change, the U.S. Navy's weapons, Jews, or sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads. The shaking of the earth due to shifting tectonic plates is a completely natural event.
However, the huge death toll in Haiti is absolutely a man-made catastrophe.
People don't die because earthquakes shake them. For the most part, people die in earthquakes because the buildings they're in fall on top of them.
By and large, Haitians lived and worked in shoddily built structures. Haiti's government was too corrupt and inept to enact, much less enforce, building codes. And Haiti's people are too poor to be picky about where or how they live.
Haiti also lacks any meaningful emergency response capability. If my home collapsed, a passer-by would call 911, prompting trained rescue workers with earth-moving equipment to rush to dig me out and take me to the hospital. No such system exists in Haiti. Even if it did, several of Haiti's hospitals were destroyed in the quake.
Other countries have suffered equally intense earthquakes in densely populated areas without suffering anywhere near as many casualties as Haiti has.
On Oct. 17, 1989, a magnitude 7.1 quake struck the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose metropolitan area. The area's population at the time was roughly 6.3 million, but only 63 people died.
On Jan. 17, 1995, a magnitude 6.8 quake struck near Kobe, Japan. Though weaker than the Bay Area quake, the Kobe quake's epicenter was much closer to center of the city. Of Kobe's 1.5 million residents, 6,434 were killed. Of those, more than 4,000 died in a part of town packed with old wood-framed houses topped with heavy tile roofs to resist typhoons. In other words, the deaths were concentrated in a part of the city that predated modern building codes.
Haiti's earthquake measured 7.0 with an epicenter just eight miles from capital Port-au-Prince's estimated 3 million residents. So far, 80,000 people have been buried. The Haitian government expects a final death toll of 200,000. Another 250,000 are believed injured, and 2 million are now homeless. Haiti's pre-quake population was less than 10 million.
The fatality rate of Haiti's quake was at least five times as deadly as the Kobe quake, and 2,100 times as deadly as the Bay Area quake – not because the earth shook harder, but because Haitians were inside lousy man-made structures when the quake hit.
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