The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are among the hardest hit locations as a result of Sunday's earthquake and tsunami, being close to the epicentre of some of the quakes. There are fears that some or all of the races indigenous to the archipelago, namely the Great Andamanese, Onges, Jarawas, Sentinelese and Shompens, may have been wiped out entirely.
It's now about 72 hours since the tsunamis swept across the Indian Ocean, and the death toll is rising at an alarming rate. Current figures being reported range between 55000 and 70000.
Almost 48 hours after the tsunami struck, it seems impossible to fully comprehend the enormity of a tragedy that has hit so many countries. It seems now that at least 25000 people have died, almost half of those being in Sri Lanka. Over a million - goodness knows how many at this stage - are homeless, and there are serious concerns that disease will kill many more people before basic facilities can be restored. The fatalities have occurred right around the Indian Ocean rim from Aceh to Somalia and submerging island entities such as the Maldives and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
An interesting intellectual property case in the US. Associated Press has told the NCAA's Bowl Championship Series organisers to stop using its polls as part of means of determining which colleges take part.
A year to the day since the city of Bam in Iran was devastated by an earthquake, we now see an amazing catastrophe unfolding across south-east Asia following a massive quake west of Sumatra.
Tsunamis have hit a wide arc of countries around the north-eastern Indian Ocean, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. There appear to be thousands dead, and with it now being just eight hours since the quake occurred, we can expect the toll to rise much further. We still don't really know the extent.
Happy holidays indeed. It shouldn't be offensive to anyone to wish a Merry Christmas on December 25, regardless of religious belief (or lack thereof). Instead of denying the spiritual significance of Christmas Day in nations of predominantly Christian heritage, we should be embracing the religious celebrations of other faiths when they arise.
Some useful links for an audiovisual celebration of the Advent and Christmas online:
BBC Online - surely the best English language information resource on the net - has areas in its Religion and Ethics section related to Advent and, in particular, Christmas. There are clips, both audio and video, of carols online.
As a cricketer, James Hird is one of this country's finest Australian Rules players. Seen here bowling for the Essendon Football Club in a corporate six-a-side match against the Australian Test team. You know as well as I do who won :-)