Almost 300 million people were affected by natural disasters in 2010. The large disasters provided
constant headlines throughout the year, beginning with the devastating earthquake in Haiti followed
one month later by the even more severe—but far less deadly—earthquake in Chile. In the
spring, ash spewing from volcano Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland paralyzed flights for weeks in the northern
hemisphere. Early summer witnessed the worst Russian wildfires in history while a few months
later, the steadily rising floodwaters in Pakistan covered 20 percent of the country. In sum, it was a
terrible year in terms of natural disasters causing havoc and destruction around the globe. However,
many of the largest disasters barely made headlines in the Western press.
Most notably, over 130 million Chinese were affected by the worst flooding in recent history—this is more than five times the number of people affected by the earthquake in Haiti and the Pakistani floods combined—but the Chinese floods received far less international attention than either Pakistan or Haiti. The example of the Chinese floods illustrates one of the dilemmas in response to natural disasters, which is that disasters, even major ones, receive significantly diverging media coverage. In the case of China, although over 130 million people were affected and some 4,000 were reported killed or missing,1 very little international assistance was provided or requested. There was no overall United Nation funding appeal for those affected. The widely-regarded web-portal Reliefweb posted only 243 entries on the Chinese floods, primarily from the Chinese News Agency, in comparison with 10 times that number of entries on the flooding in Pakistan which occurred several months later in the year and affected around 20 million people.
Apart from the few large—or what some even call mega-disasters—like the Haiti earthquake and the floods in China and Pakistan, the majority of disasters in 2010 were “smaller” disasters. Those disasters, smaller in scope and scale, from the Philippines to Guatemala and from Niger to Venezuela, are also deadly, causing significant human suffering and displacement and had economic, social, and in some instances, political consequences.
[Targeting Rouhani’s brother] is a very convenient way to cause pain to the family without necessarily provoking a crisis of office. The general message that the rest of the system is trying to send to Rouhani is not to get too far ahead of himself, to not allow his decisive election victory to give him illusions of greater autonomy and authority than his position actually has.
There's often a temptation to look for some kind of logic [in the arrests of students and dual nationals in Iran]... I think that this particular case [of Xiyue Wang] highlights the fact that the logic is simply the paranoia of the Islamic Republic—its judiciary and its security services in particular.
This is just a system [in Iran] that views individual foreigners who come to the country, particularly people with some language capabilities, as inherently suspect.