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Christal Smith

Entries by Christal Smith

Land of the Free, Home of the Unprepared -- LA Style

(3) Comments | Posted July 3, 2012 | 5:13 PM


L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel recently released her latest audit of the City's emergency preparedness, following up on a 2008 review which criticized the City's lack of a clear vision or strategic plan to respond to a major natural or man-made disaster....
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Land of the Free, Home of the Unprepared

(0) Comments | Posted June 28, 2012 | 2:30 PM

We all know that living through a disaster means many of the things we take for granted (running water, medical assistance, access to gasoline and fresh food) will suddenly be in greater demand, especially by the unprepared, even as supplies simultaneously dwindle. But a recent report ...

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Robots and Disasters: Why Didn't I Think of That?

(4) Comments | Posted April 17, 2012 | 7:04 PM


Illustration of a disaster response scenario part of the DARPA Robotics Challenge: The robot on the right uses a power tool to break through a wall, and the one on the left turns a valve to close a leaking pipe. Image: DARPA//


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Learning From Japan's Disaster

(0) Comments | Posted March 13, 2012 | 6:58 PM

Many state disaster-risk reduction programs have so much to learn from Japan. Within a month, Sendai airport, inundated by the tsunami, reopened. In some areas people went back to work after just two days. If we ever need a reminder of the true value of emergency response professionals -- or...
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Man on Fire -- But Who Is Watching?

(0) Comments | Posted March 7, 2012 | 3:23 PM

"The monk, by burning himself, says with all his strength and determination that he can endure the greatest of sufferings to protect his people... " -- Thich Nhat Hanh

In 1963 Malcome Browne's image of the Thich Quang Duc won the Pulitzer Prize and when President John F. Kennedy saw...

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How to Survive the Apocalypse on $20 and the Stuff in Your Junk Drawer

(16) Comments | Posted March 7, 2012 | 11:30 AM

We know that fear does not motivate us to be prepared. So what does? In my constant quest to find the answer I came across a most unusual event in San Francisco through the Burning Man Project. You've probably heard of the Burning Man Festival, a week-long experimental...

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Travel to Tibet with a Book: 'Across Many Mountains: A Tibetan Family's Epic Journey'

(5) Comments | Posted November 23, 2011 | 10:09 AM

It was with an odd mixture of joyful anticipation and a bit of dread that I sat down to read my friend and colleague Yangzom Brauen's story of growing up as a third generation Tibetan woman in exile. You want so badly to be supportive of a friend's work, but...

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Lisa Ling on "One of the Most Important Things I've Ever Done"

(2) Comments | Posted November 4, 2011 | 5:59 PM

I caught up with my friend and colleague Lisa Ling today. It's already the second season of her new program on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), called "Our America with Lisa Ling." It's clearly the culmination of every journalistic skill she's honed in her 21 year career. Even in this...

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The Story Behind Take Shelter

(1) Comments | Posted October 13, 2011 | 3:38 PM

Take Shelter was one of the first big buys of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, with Sony Classics picking it up before it even had its Park City premiere. It also won the critics prize at Cannes. It is fresh and original yet it begins with one of...

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9/11 Was Also the Six Month Anniversary of Japan's Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami

(3) Comments | Posted September 12, 2011 | 7:05 PM

The Japanese consulate in Los Angeles marked the six-month anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku, Japan with a ceremony to recognize the efforts of Southern Californians to help the area with financial and manpower donations. Accepting help from outside nations marks a major shift in Japan's culture and...

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Earthquake Etiquette: In the Eye of the Storm Don't Put Your Foot in Your Mouth

(3) Comments | Posted August 24, 2011 | 2:58 PM

It will take several days to gauge the overall fall out from yesterday's estimated 5.9 quake centered in Virginia, but it didn't take long for the East Coast bars to offer quake specials and for West Coasters to get extra snarky on Twitter and Facebook:


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The Weather Becomes the News: An Interview With Earth Policy Institute Founder Lester Brown

(6) Comments | Posted July 21, 2011 | 10:46 AM

Entering the Metro convention center in Toronto Canada for the World Conference on Disaster Management last month I was struck by two incongruous sights. First of all the entrance was all but blocked with a crowd of smokers. As I made my way through the gauntlet of second...

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It's Never Too Late: The Making of The First Grader

(0) Comments | Posted July 5, 2011 | 10:23 PM

He is known simply as Maruge. As younger man he was tortured for his part in the Mau Mau Uprising that led to Kenya's independence from British colonial rule. He witnessed some of the worst crimes against humanity in twentieth century Africa yet, in the sunset of his life, he...

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Seeing the World Through "Apocalypse Eyes"

(4) Comments | Posted May 31, 2011 | 1:46 PM

So you survived the second coming.

As we embark on this post-Rapture era, don't you dare breathe a sigh of relief before hearing what Neil Strauss has to say. He has been worrying about the survival of the human race, well, actually his own survival, in particular, for the...

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Something to Write Home About: James Maskalyk of Doctors Without Borders On His Work In Sudan

(3) Comments | Posted February 17, 2011 | 9:10 AM

After 50 years of civil wars that have killed 2 million people and turned millions more into refugees, it appears as though the people of southern Sudan will finally have a chance to become independent from their country's Arab north. But as this nation is preparing to split in half,...

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Drowning Barbie

(1) Comments | Posted February 15, 2011 | 10:18 AM

Artist Daena Title plays with Barbies. Unlike Barbie's key demographic, she is not a young girl trying on new outfits or setting up yet another date with Ken (Barbie and Ken got back together this Valentine's Day, in case you haven't heard). Title prefers to toss Barbie in a pool...

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Dr.Izzeldin Abuelaish: A Voice for Peace

(29) Comments | Posted January 18, 2011 | 5:14 PM

It was exactly two years ago, as Gaza resident and Palestinian doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish was preparing for an interview with an Israeli TV station, that the unspeakable happened. January 16 was to be the last day of Israel's 2009 invasion of Gaza, and Dr. Abuelaish was to give an eyewitness...

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T'is the season? Adventures in customer service.

(0) Comments | Posted December 22, 2010 | 2:24 PM

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Instant (and free) karma for the holidays

(0) Comments | Posted December 18, 2010 | 1:44 PM

It's extremely heartening in this time of financial belt tightening to see more and more of my friends making charitable donations for the holidays in lieu of gifts. Whether it's supporting the important work of Doctors Without Borders, or buying a goat for an African village through

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Women, War and Forgiveness

(0) Comments | Posted December 15, 2010 | 10:06 PM

What if your childhood friend, someone you grew up with, suddenly came to kill you? Rose Mapendo put this question to a rapt audience at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles last week.

An ambassador of sorts from an unfathomable war, Rose survived the death of her husband,...

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