2005_01_tsunamiaid.jpgYesterday, President Bush pledged $350 million to the tsunami relief efforts in South Asia; this is a huge increase from the last aid commitment of $35 million, which had been increased from an initial $15 million right after the disaster. Whether or not putting the aid package in the hundreds of millions is a way for President Bush to deflect criticism that the U.S. was being "stingy" or to show that the U.S. is interested in other countries' welfares, Gothamist is glad that the U.S. is finally stepping up. We were amused that White House spokesman Trent Duffy had to say the funds are "not coming from Iraq money, if that's what you're asking," because it shows that even a force of nature can't get our President to budge.

As for NYC politicians, Senator Hillary Clinton and former President Clinton were at a Sri Lankan temple in Queens, urging people to donate supplies there, which actually surprised Gothamist because we have been hearing that cash donations are the best, since money goes a lot further to create drinkable water and the cost of sending the supplies is sometimes greater than the supplies' value; at any rate, any donations are welcome. The Daily News also reported that Mayor Bloomberg donated an undisclosed sum to the American Red Cross (read his statement about the disaster here) and Governor Pataki announced he was sending a NY State National Guard plane to transport helicopters to Thailand.

As you know by now, there are a number of organizations mobilizing to direct donations to the stricken countries. Gothamist finds the NY Times' list of charities a good place to start (if not as comprehensive as CNN's list), and we also liked that the NYT has a link to Guidestar to help you understand how to choose a charity. One thing Gothamist looked for in charities was making sure that administrative costs weren't overwhelming and that money would go directly to the projects.