The death toll is now 155,000, and rising.

CNN also has a web page where you can help with your donation.
Click here.

This page was linked from the DNC website. It is interesting to note that while the DNC link was at the top right of the page, the RNC has no disaster relief mention on their page, though they do have a huge link to donate to themselves.They do have a story about Bush inappropriately titled "The Rising Tide."

In other news, we lost two heroes on Saturday...

Congressman Robert Matsui of California's 5th district died of a rare stem cell disorder. Having spent the first three years of his life in a Japanese internment camp, he was instrumental in the US apology to internment victims. (Just 18 years after the apology, are we about to intern Arab-Americans?) More recently, he was a leading opponent of Bush's effort to privatize social security. He was the third ranking Democratic member of the House Ways & Means Committee, and he was the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He was 63. From a speech he once gave,

I'd like, if I may, to take a moment to read something that I was able to get through the Freedom of Information Act in 1992. Individual number, 25261C. File number 405986. Your birth, '41, relocation center Tule (?) Lake, assembly center Pinedale. Home address, Sacramento, California.

Country of birth of father U.S. mainland, country of birth of mother, U.S. mainland. Birthplace, California. Year or arrival, American born, never in Japan. Marital status, single. Languages, not applicable.

Race, Japanese and no spouse. Highest grade, no schooling or kindergarten.
Military service, no military nor naval service and no physical defects, and no
public assistance or pension program.

Alien registration and Social Security number, none. Did not attend Japanese language school. Has neither alien registration number, nor the Social Security number.Length of time in Japan, none. Age in Japan, never in Japan. Schooling in Japan, and number of years, none.

That happened to be my file that is still in the defense Department of the United States government. I was six months old at the time that I was taken, with my mother and father, from Sacramento, California, and placed in internment camps in the United States.

I was never given a trial. I never went before any magistrate, nor did my parents. To this day, I do not know what the charges that were lodged against me or my deceased parents at this time.

I spent approximately three and a half years of my life there, although I have no personal memory of it. I do know that many of my friends of Japanese ancestry suffered a great deal.


And the U.S. general, John L. DeWitt, who was in charge of the internment and incarceration of the Japanese Americans, stated a few months later "The Japanese race is an enemy race, and while many second and third Japanese born in the United States soil possessed of U.S. citizenship have become Americanized, the racial strains are undiluted. It therefore follows that along the virtual Pacific Coast over 112,000 potential enemies of Japanese extraction are at large today."

And the reason I call your attention to this, and what happened in the comments and before December 7, is because there was an anti-Asian sentiment. There was a strain throughout the West Coast, and particularly the state of California. Pearl Harbor merely triggered the sentiment to become a sign of action. It is my believe that the internment was for that reason. It was the triggering event of deep seated feelings that existed in the state of California, and Washington, and the entire west coast of the United States.


My dad finally began to speak about it. It was an event that kind of opened up for us the opportunity to begin to discuss what had actually happened. Instead of saying that it was our fault, we were then able to finally say that it wasn't our fault. It was the government, a failure of leadership in the United States that caused the internment.


President Reagan signed the legislation, and I have to say that I brought the letter from the president, by that time President Bush, Sr. had signed the letter and given it to my father, who was 21 years old at the time of the internment, and he broke down and cried, and he indicated what a great country we had.

I have to say that it's very few countries that are willing to look back at its past and apologize for its act, or make amends for its act, as the United States had one. Hopefully as a country, that we learn from our mistakes of the past.

Former Representative Shirley Chisolm also died Saturday at the age of 80. She was the first black woman elected to Congress, in 1968, and later founded the Congressional Black Caucus. In 1972, she ran for the Democratic Presidential nomination. She retired in 1983.

"She was a mouthpiece for the underdog, the poor underprivileged people, the
people who did not have much of a chance." -Ex-husband Conrad Chisolm

"I'd like them to say Shirley Chisolm had guts. That's how I'd like to be remembered." -Shirley Chisolm
The first day of the year, two people died who were downtrodden early in their lives and rose above it. Two people who dedicated their lives to others who were like they once were. I hope their deaths will motivate us in the upcoming year. I hope their deaths, when the year was brand new, is a good omen. Maybe this will be the year that the country finally rejects the selfishness of the Bush administration, and maybe that will translate into some correct choices in 2006 (and 2005 for those of you in Virginia, New Jersey and anywhere else that has local or statewide elections). We already know what the right choices are, but let the memory of Matsui and Chisolm be our motivation to spread that message to everyone in the coming year.

Sorry for the long post.


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