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Editor's comment.

AS THE WORK IN THIS ISSUE ILLUSTRATES, our means of measuring disaster are manifold: the Richter Scale, the spirometer, magnetic resonance imaging, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the tabloids, an X-ray showing a young girl's heart and lungs being crushed by the curvature of her own spine.

In 2011, the U.S. experienced a record twelve separate billion-dollar weather disasters. The year's unnatural disasters were likewise numerous and insidious: the growing economic inequity that compelled Occupy Wall Street, a meltdown at the tsunami-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, widespread authoritarian response to the swelling Arab Spring, a deadly shooting spree in Tucson that claimed six and injured thirteen, the withdrawal of troops from a war in Iraq that is anything but over. All diverged wildly in nature and scope but demonstrated, in their reporting, that our fascination with the documentation of disaster far outpaces our ability to comprehend the contours of its impact. We selected the pieces in this issue because they enlarge disasters, both real and imagined, that we often observe but rarely feel. We feature them not for prurient reasons, but to bring you inside, to allow you to share with their authors a space beyond documentation.

THIS ISSUE'S COMPENDIUM OF UNRAVELING marks an event of less tragic proportion. After six years and seven award-winning issues, I am turning over Witness to a new editorial staff, led by novelist and UNLV professor Maile Chapman. Maile has been with Witness since 2008, most recently as our fiction editor. She has discovered and nurtured some of the magazine's finest work, and I am excited to watch her shepherd Witness into a new editorial era. Under the supervision of Dr. Carol C. Harter, Black Mountain Institute's executive director, the magazine will continue to grow. I am grateful to Carol for allowing me to invest BMI'S staff time and resources in the expansion of Witness, and I am indebted to my esteemed editorial staff--Maile, Joshua Kryah, and Alissa Nutting--for making some exceptionally brilliant choices. Witness's founding editor, Peter Stine, has provided me with good counsel and fellowship over these six years, and I am profoundly grateful for his willingness to bequeath his treasure to a rookie. It has been an immense pleasure to work with the authors we've published in these pages, and I look forward to reading their work in the years to come.

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Title Annotation:effects of disasters
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2012
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