I went to bed too early last night.

It seemed quiet when I laid down my head. This morning I wake to find that my email has swelled to bursting. There are two events driving the majority of it. Both of them are earthquakes.

One was a physical earthquake.

Thousands of people are dead across the coasts of Asia, killed by monster waves set off by an underwater earthquake off the coast of Indonesia.

The quake sent massive waves, up to 10 metres high, across the Indian Ocean: west to the Maldives, north-west to India and Sri Lanka, north into the Andaman Islands and Thailand and east to Malaysia, leaving more than 5000 feared dead in seaside towns and villages.

It measured 8.9 on the Richter scale, making it the fifth most powerful since 1900, striking at 8am local time yesterday (midday in Melbourne).
The other earthquake was in China:
Up to 50,000 workers upset over mistreatment by local security guards clashed with police in a town in China's Guangdong province, throwing rocks and bricks and torching four police cars, a Hong Kong newspaper said on Sunday.

The unrest was the latest in a string of riots and clashes in rural China, all sparked by seemingly minor issues, that have highlighted discontent over rampant corruption and abuse of power and a growing rich-poor gap.
Christmas was peaceful, but the Feast of Stephen (as the song says) is turning out to be anything but. The first matter in particular is of concern, as the US Navy and Marines will mobilize across the Pacific Command to provide relief to the stricken. This won't get the kinds of headlines Iraq does (when did you read about the aid we've been providing to the Philippines this month, in the wake of their catastrophic floods?).

In spite of the disinterest of the elite -- and in the face of real danger from the perils that affect all places recently struck by storm and flood -- our sailors and Marines will be out there, doing good. When you are thinking of the deployed this holiday weekend, think of the ones out in the Pacific, too. Not many do, but they're as far from home as anyone.

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