Kesuksesan!

That means "success."  Our immigration trials and tribulations are over!  It worked.  We had a final scare when one of the officers disappeared with JM’s passport, but he brought it back after 10 minutes, and it was all set, so we’re now officially allowed to stay here until Feb. 15th.  Excellent.

The news from Aceh and North Sumatra keeps getting worse.  If you have any spare cash lying around, you should really think about donating just a little bit to the disaster relief effort.  But what really is frightening, from what we’ve seen, is that the existing infrastructure in the area is just not able to handle the relief effort.  They’re sending ships with helicopters on them because there aren’t enough airports in the region, and the airports themselves are so packed that planes full of supplies and relief workers are circling, unable to land.  Almost every public place we’ve seen has a donation box, and we tried to get a picture yesterday as we drove by the headquarters of the Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (Prosperous Justice Party) that had hundreds upon hundreds of 50-lb. bags of rice to be distributed, causing a huge traffic jam as people stopped to drop off more.  They’ve even cancelled New Year’s Fireworks so that they can give the money to the victims.

As a little note, we were slightly exasperated to see that Jeb Bush has been named as the co-coordinator with Colin Powell of the US portion of the international relief coalition.  Not because we think that Jeb’s a bad guy–as far as politics go, he’s not so bad–but because of the reason stated: because he has so much experience with disaster relief after the hurricanes this fall in Florida.  I mean, please.  If our criterion were "experience in disaster relief," we could have chosen from thousands of Americans who have actual experience in catastrophes of this proportion.  I don’t know if George has a TV out there in Crawford, but this isn’t an insurance nightmare, this is a humanitarian disaster of unspeakable horror.  It’s not a clean-up effort yet, it’s a life-saving effort.  People need food, water, shelter, medicine, and protection, not an estimate of how much  their house has been damaged.  If our criterion were "Governor of a Swing State, and Presidential Brother," well, then this is a very good choice.

At any rate, it’s good to hear that Americans have been so eager to help, though.  I hope we can keep up the good work.

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