Monday, October 29, 2007
Yes the Republican Bloc in Congress is the main reason for the low polls, but the second reason for low poll ratings are these two additional "Deciders."
Harry Reid had "decided" that the giant, powerful telecoms are "above the law" and should not have to face their day in court. The voters are disgusted with the way the rule of law has been thrown away in this country. It's gotten to the point that the "rule of law" only applies to the middle and lower classes in this country....with a token elected official thrown into the mix occasionally.
Why should the most powerful institution in our country--the multinational corporations--be exempt from the law? There is currently a court case pending. Harry Reid you need to let the judicial branch do its job.
Hopefully, all of Virginia's elected officials--both Democrats and Republicans--will stand up to The Deciders and faithfully represent their constituents....not the powerful corporate lobbyists who have lots of money trying to buy "our" elected officials.
The "people" have made it very clear....we want our rule of law restored and our constitution protected. Hopefully we will all be able to contacting our Senators and our house representatives to remind them of that "our" constitution and the rule of law is the basic foundation of the democracy we treasure so highly. Buzz....Buzz.....
Sunday, October 28, 2007
It will be interesting to compare the pathetic government efforts at recovery in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans to how government will now react in southern California to the wild fires devastation. Stay tuned for that.
In this report I have now waded into the heart of hurricane devastation in New Orleans, the Lower Ninth Ward, where I found government relief efforts practically invisible, and only some hearty volunteers and social activists present there to help the victims of Katrina survive day to day.
May 8, 2007
Welcome to the Lower Ninth Ward, Where Tragedy and Hope Meet
By Mac McKinney
Along the Gulf Coast, Post Katrina, Part 4: The Lower Ninth Ward
Devastated house in the Lower Ninth Ward
After wandering through Orleans Avenue (which was recounted in Part 3) on this increasingly warm and sunny Friday the 13th, I headed on to downtown New Orleans, somewhat disoriented by the unfamiliarity of the streets after some 28 years, but I finally found myself on the end of St. Charles Avenue. I stopped at the nearby St. Charles Bar and Pool Room and ordered a Hurricane, which I sat sipping through a straw like a slow milkshake while I watched an old Gunsmoke episode on the nearest screen. I figured I could use a good shot of rum to get me through the rest of what would surely be a taxing afternoon.
I started walking up busy St. Charles, taking photos, diverting momentarily over to Camp Street, where, surprisingly, I came across the Zen Center of New Orleans, unaware that the city even had a Zen temple. It would take the compassion of Buddha, I thought, to heal all of New Orleans. I walked through Lafayette Square, photographing the statue of school children with John McDonogh, the philanthropist, also unaware that the plight of the public school system would be brutally brought home to me soon in the Lower Ninth Ward.
I eventually reached Canal Street, where I bought some trinkets and took more photographs. You could never guess, looking at downtown New Orleans, that a major hurricane had devastated the city some 20 months ago. Repairs had been relatively quickly and efficiently made, even though parts of downtown had been flooded up to four feet high, as a hotel clerk explained to me. She also told me the easiest way to get to the lower Ninth: drive east on Poydras, right on Claiborne, and just keep going until you cross over a big drawbridge.
So that's what I did. However, once upon S. Claiborne and merged onto N. Claiborne, I was so struck by significant damage right on this major boulevard that I parked and took more photographs. Why, I thought, hadn't such an amazing eyesore as the one shown below been leveled after so long by the city? But again, this was in a predominantly Black district. Is that answer enough?
An eyesore along N. Claiborne Avenue
After about a ten minute drive I was rolling over the large and rusty looking draw bridge spanning the Industrial Canal, the canal whose levee system had been breached in three places, two of these breaches directly flooding the Lower Ninth, a levee system that investigators have emphasized was one in name only.
As I got off the bridge, I pulled into a close by gas station, jumped out and asked a fellow gassing up to his truck if I was actually in the Lower Ninth right now, which he confirmed. "Where can I find the major damage?" I asked, explaining that I was here to take photos.
"Just turn right at the light two blocks up or take the next right here and start looking," he replied, "The damage is everywhere."
So I turned right, or north, and began what became a two hour plus sojourn up and down the still devastated streets of the Lower Ninth Ward, where some 25,000 people once lived, worked, played and worshipped. On the northside at least, very few people have moved back in. You see a few operable-looking cars parked in front of a few houses, as opposed to the hundreds of abandoned cars all over the place. On the southside, less badly hit, several thousand people have moved back in I am told, and I did see more people out and about, although, due to time constraints, I focused primarily on the northside, where I barely saw a person all afternoon, except for a few city workers, several homeowners, and a handful of contractors, that is until I went by the Common Ground Community Center later on.
You can visit my photo album on the Lower Ninth Ward, by the way, at any time by just clicking here. You can view the photos singly or as a slide show. You don't have to sign in either. There are 176 photos, so take your time.
Almost every house on the northside looks abandoned and damaged, with windows half or all the way out and the front door usually open or loose on its hinges. Some of the front doors or facades had X's on them, ominous reminders of the horrific days of the flooding, when rescuers were putting X's on a house to indicate that it had been checked for people or pets. But many if not most houses had no X. Does that indicate they were never checked?
Gone, obviously, are all the bodies. Gone too are the egregious piles of putrid garbage that had accumulated throughout the Lower Ninth as the floodwaters abated. Determined crews of volunteers dressed in Tyvek suits and respirators came in, from both the Lower Ninth and beyond, to eliminate them. None of this was organized by the city, mind you, despite Mayor Nagin's wonderful-sounding rhetoric, the city acting more like an absentee landlord in a detective series than any kind of leader in the rebuilding efforts here, which just reinforces the viewpoint some residents hold that the city only wants to drive off the black community, so that realtors and carpetbaggers can seize all their property. Or is it just the inertia of bureaucracy and regulations that paralyzes government?
Schools and Churches
In March of 2006 students and organizers also "raided" (since it was off-limits) the Martin Luther King Elementary School on the southside. To quote from an article by Kerul of Common Ground Collective:
New Orleans --In an historic act of solidarity, around 85 students and organizers from across the country risked arrest today by entering Martin Luther King Elementary School in the devastated Lower 9th Ward. Outside the school, a crowd of around 300 gathered wearing Tyvek suits and respirators, holding hand painted signs and chanting to oncoming traffic. In an ongoing effort to rebuild New Orleans, residents of the Lower Ninth Ward requested that these supporters clean the school out....
After raking the leaves and debris littering the entrance to the school, the crowd of volunteers pounded their tools on the pavement, as police observed from across the street. The students made their way into the building, and began sweeping and scooping piles of mud and debris from the lobby, carefully avoiding personal effects and sensitive items, such as plaques and framed pictures that had fallen from the walls in the storm. Among odd findings, an 8 inch dead fish was found in the stairwell leading up to classrooms.
Of the 117 public schools operational before Hurricane Katrina hit, only 20 are open. No plans exist to open schools in the Ninth Ward, giving residents no opportunity to rebuild their community. (March 16, 2006, source)
Unfortunately, over a year later, the school has not reopened, prompting protests. Instead the school has been "moved" uptown, in name only and as a charter school, to the former site of Edgar P. Harney Elementary School in Central City, which does absolutely nothing to help the repopulation and rebuilding of the Lower Ninth. The Louis Armstrong Elementary School, also on the southside, has likewise not reopened. Charter schools, I might add, are looked upon as the Messiah for a new educational paradigm, but the jury has not even formed on this count.
Joseph Hardin Elementary. Louis Armstrong has yet to reopen on the southside
Things are even worse on the northside, where the Joseph A. Hardin Elementary School has never even been gutted. I can attest to that after stumbling across the school as I drove down St Maurice Avenue. It seemed so disheveled, with weeds and twisted chain-link fencing marring the entrance, that I grew curious and started exploring the premises, soon realizing that no one, apparently, has bothered to do much of anything to this neighborhood tragedy. An overwhelming pathos struck me as I gingerly stepped through semi-dark rooms taking pictures. You'll see what I mean when you look at my photo album. Room after room was trashed, with the ceiling panels falling down, insulation hanging, the overhead trim rusting, trash and desks and books strewn all about, yet, thankfully, there was not a lot of structural damage visible. Can this school be salvaged? I would say yes, but there has to be the will to do so. And unless the schools are all cleaned up and rebuilt, how can the Lower Ninth Ward be revived?
The lobby of Hardin Elementary in April, 2007
There is a similar problem with the churches on the northside. The two I saw and photographed, the Holy Family Spiritualist Church and The Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, have both been gutted, thank God, but they still await reconstruction, and for the Ward to be revived, the houses of worship must also be revived.
I continued to drive about, stopping to take photos every few blocks or so. There were crazy juxtapositions such as a boat atop a rusted out truck, fairly intact houses right next to completely shattered ones, a tour bus sitting in a weed-grown lot right next to a house, parked as if it was the family car. After rambling though most of the northside, I finally doubled back toward the direction I had started from, driving south on tree-lined Tennessee Avenue, but then turned right a block, then left again onto Deslonde Street, where I could immediately see some activity in the distance ahead.
Common Ground Collective
The bright color blue caught my eyes as I approached, this anomaly gradually transforming into a house covered with a blue tarp that extended out over the large driveway and, past that, another, corner house whose siding had been painted the same blue tint. This was the ward headquarters, so to speak, of Common Ground Collective, a truly amazing volunteer organization that I can't do justice to in this piece alone, only delineating it here.
Common Ground Community/Distribution Center in the Lower Ninth Ward
Common Ground was founded in the tumultuous days after Katrina struck by social activists Brandon Darby, Scott Crow, King Wilkerson and Malik Rahim with a treasury of $50 and the awareness that, to quote from a March 2, 2006 Alternet article by Billie Mizell, "they could do a better job at helping people than the government of the most powerful nation in the world. Their small monetary investment has grown; the collective now has hundreds of members who have fed, housed and provided medical care for nearly 20,000 people (many more than that in the year since this was written-Mac).
"How did they do it? They went to the houses that were standing and asked the people who were still around, "What can we do to support you?" What they kept hearing: You can't rebuild a community that's buried under tons of garbage. So they started by picking up trash and decomposing animals, and then moved on to putting tarps over homes.
"They began to envision a relief organization radically different from those that had come to Louisiana in Katrina's aftermath. They wanted to bring together people of every background, race and economic level -- doctors working alongside garbage men working alongside cooks working alongside lawyers working alongside kids, all for one common goal. Space in a local mosque was secured for their headquarters, and soon, monetary assistance started pouring in and volunteers started lining up. A medical clinic was opened, and Red Cross immediately began pointing people in need to Common Ground. (Yes, the Red Cross turned the sick away in droves, instead sending them to a tent run by kids and volunteer nurses.) A legal aid clinic was established to offer immediate assistance to those trying to rebuild their lives and to put pressure on the authorities to focus on relief and rebuilding." (source)
Common Ground eventually divided into two separate organizations: Common Ground Relief and Common Ground Health Clinic. Quoting from Wikipedia:
"Common Ground Health Clinic had its beginnings when four young street medics, who had heard Malik Rahim's plea for support, showed up in Algiers a few days after the hurricane. They began riding around on bicycles asking residents if they needed medical attention. Locals were apparently surprised to be approached in this way, since no representatives of government agencies or of the Red Cross had appeared up to that point. The medics offered first aid, took blood pressure, tested for diabetes, and asked about symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other disease.
"After forming as a more cohesive organization, Common Ground began recruiting volunteers to help rebuild homes and provide other free services in the Lower Ninth Ward.... Thousands of people have volunteered for various lengths of time, creating an unusual social situation in the predominantly black neighborhoods, since most of the volunteers have been young white people from elsewhere. An ABC News Nightline report described the volunteers as "mostly young people filled with energy and idealism, and untainted by cynicism and despair, and mostly white, [who] have come from across America and from countries as far away as Indonesia."
"In addition to providing free food, water, cleaning supplies, protective gear, diapers, and health and hygiene goods, Common Ground has offered legal assistance, day care, tutoring, soil and water testing, and Internet access. Although much of their housing remediation work has been in the Lower Ninth Ward, they have a larger station across the Industrial Canal in the Upper 9th Ward of New Orleans." (source)
So I stopped here and started asking a few questions. Since it was already late afternoon now, I didn't ask many, and later decided I would come back Sunday to ask some more. I then walked to the corner and started talking to a handful of people sporting "I Love New York" tee-shirts. They were all church volunteers from New Jersey, and apparently the corner of Deslonde and N. Derbigny in front of Common Ground was a sort of volunteers' rendezvous point. Countless volunteers from around the globe must have met on this same corner since Katrina hit.
When I cam back Sunday I interviewed Jesse and Dan, two hard-core volunteers who had given up their normal lives and homes to serve the people of the Lower Ninth Ward. Jesse explained how they realized, as the Katrina tragedy unfolded, "that there was something from our government that should have been done, but wasn't, so we stepped in and will help as long as needed."
Both felt that the city of New Orleans was not only not helping, but clearly trying to drive people out of the Lower Ninth while maintaining a PR façade. Consequently a lot of Common Ground's efforts are in the legal arena, educating residents about and protecting them from government and private business ill-intent and dishonesty. A hotline was created for residents to report police corruption and brutality.
Jesse himself explained how he had been cold-cocked and beaten up by five of New Orleans' finest after he accidentally wandered into a melee that the police were starting to break up. Jesse explained how there was really a terrific community fellowship and an old, old culture in the Lower Ninth Ward. Generation after generation of families have lived here and everybody on a street knows everybody else. So what a compound tragedy it will be if this community is not revived.
I asked about the levee system, because I had noted how low it looked to me. Jesse anecdotally described how if one is a good jumper, you can stretch your arm up, leap up and barely touch the top of the levee in certain places. Not very encouraging. That is why, ultimately, New Orleans needs an entirely new engineering project to offer this invaluable city flood and surge protection to suit the challenges of the 21st Century. But that would take a massive New Deal Era TVA-style project, something totally beyond the thinking and capability of the atomistic, corporate-minded Bush Administration.
To add injury to insult regarding the levees, Jesse and Dan conveyed how Mississippi River cruise ship lines were attempting to build docking facilities on the far northern end of the Lower Ninth on a natural hurricane barrier called the Cypress Triangle. This would destroy much of this natural defense against flooding and put residents at even greater risk. To compound matters, they also want to construct dangerous and garish high-voltage towers in the ward, an example of the utter callousness and folly of corporations untethered from social needs. The Army Corps of Engineers' proffered advice to residents in light of all the above is: Put your houses on stilts.
Returning to Friday afternoon timewise, after talking to volunteers, I hopped back in my car and drove over to the southside to survey the damage there. I saw much of the same, but with less destructive intensity, and there were more signs of life, functioning houses here and there, neighbors talking, more cars and trucks driving about, so this was a hopeful sign of progress.
By now it was late afternoon with the sun low on the horizon, so I slowly turned back onto N. Claiborne Avenue and up and over the draw bridge, headed for a look at the French Quarter, which I soon discovered looks completely recovered from Katrina, a stark, stark contrast to what I had just witnessed.
I left the Lower Ninth Ward with competing emotions flowing through me. On the one hand, the enormity of the destruction was unnerving and depressing. On the other hand, the spirit of love, selfless service and dedication among the volunteers I met was absolutely inspiring. If this spirit is contagious enough to spread throughout America, then New Orleans and the Lower Ninth will survive and flourish. But if the current paradigm of privatization, "halliburtonization" as some call it, prevails down here, then the Devil will get his due.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
The American people don't fully realize what's going on, said Staff Sgt. Richard McClary, 27, a section leader from Buffalo.
"They just know back there what the higher-ups here tell them. But the higher-ups don't go anywhere, and actually they only go to the safe places, places with a little bit of gunfire," he said. "They don't ever [expletive] see what we see on the ground." (Source)
Reminds me of when Lindsay Graham tried to use his "guided tour" in Iraq as "proof" to show "progress" in the Iraq occupation. Jim Webb appropriately labelled Graham's "guided tour" as a "dog and pony show." Our experienced troops know what's really going on. That's why when we have an election the U.S. Government doesn't do what needs to be done to insure that our troops votes are counted! In fact the extremists Republican party actually sends mail to the home of troops stationed in Iraq with a "do not forward" so they can "challenge and eliminate" the vote of that soldier.
The Republican party has a funny way of showing their gratitude for our troops.
Friday, October 26, 2007
I am glad Mosquito brought up the so-called conservative (Barry Goldwater would scream) political group, Family Security Matters, in her last post. They are actually a front for the NeoCon think tank "Center for Security Policy", and it just so happens that I wrote a public diary at OpEdNews back in August regarding their "conservative" philosophy of government, based on a Paul Watson article. So I am reprinting it here for your enlightenment. If this doesn't raise alarm bells in your heads as to what these seemingly innocuous-sounding NeoCon cadres have in mind for America and the planet, then you are likely a cadaver on a slab. So read on if you are still alive and kicking:
From my OpEdNews Public Diary of August 17, 2007:
Want to know what goes on in the minds of NeoCons behind closed doors? Want to see how their philosophy, one more akin to Nazi Totalitarianism, Statism and the Mafia all rolled into one, is totally alien to the principles upon which the American Republic was founded? Then check out this expose by Paul Joseph Watson of their not so secret desire to make Georgus Bushus Junior the Emperor of the World.
The NeoCons had a gaffe recently. They let their collective inner brain get exposed to the public, if ever so briefly. Within this brain we see the workings of disfunctional, delusional psychotics whose rantings would normally end them up in a secure mental ward in an asylum. Instead, the lunatics have taken over the asylum, the Paranoid States of America, formerly known as the United States. Read this excerpt from Paul Watson's latest article, which can be found here:
(I don't usually insert this much from an article, but it is truly important to immediately absorb just how f**ked up in the head these cats are.)
Neo-Cons: Make Bush Dictator Of The World
Paul Joseph Watson
Friday, August 17, 2007
If you thought Stu Bykovsky's call for a new 9/11 was the lowest the Neo-Cons could sink, think again. A right-wing foundation with links to Dick Cheney has called for Bush to be made lifetime president, ruler of the world, and for Iraq to be ethnically cleansed of Arabs by means of a nuclear holocaust.
The Family Security Matters organization masquerades as an independent "think tank" yet was highly influential in President Bush's re-election in 2004 and has links to top Neo-Con ideologues.
The outfit poses as an advocacy group for a new breed of goose-stepping brownshirts - so-called "security moms," who are noted for their blind obedience to neo-conservatism as a result of believing every ounce of fearmongering that emanates from the Bush administration on the inevitability of mass casualty terror attacks.
"In late 2004, Media Matters for America discovered that the phone number listed on FSM's website actually belonged to the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a rabidly hardline foreign policy outfit run by former Reagan administration figure Frank Gaffney," reports Right Web.
The Center for Security Policy is an umbrella organization that includes the National Security Advisory Council, whose members hold senior positions within the Bush administration itself. Former and current members include Dick Cheney, Richard Perle, Elliott Abrams and the organization has also given awards to Donald Rumsfeld.
The FSM foundation itself also has ties to the Anti-Defamation League, the International Women's Forum, numerous nationwide television and print media outlets, and includes on its board of advisors Neo-Con radio host Laura Ingraham and former director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, James Woolsey.
Representatives of FSM also routinely appear as guests on Fox News and their website is a cesspool of anti-American fervor - acting as a cheerleader for the invasion of Iran, the warrantless wiretapping program (opponents of which are labeled "traitors") and lauds the Patriot Act as "An irreplaceable tool utilized by our Secret Service to keep us safe."
In an August 3rd article, contributing editor and philosopher Philip Atkinson penned a feverish diatribe that calls for the end of democracy, for Bush to be made ruler of the world as Julius Caesar was made emperor of Rome, for Bush to be made lifetime President in the U.S., and for Iraq to be ethnically cleansed by means of nuclear genocide and re-populated with Americans.
The comments are so fundamentally sick and twisted that the reader must absorb the following passages in full to recognize the true depravity of what the Neo-Con fringe truly embrace.
After calling democracy 'the enemy of truth and justice', Atkinson openly calls for genocide and mass slaughter."The simple truth that modern weapons now mean a nation must practice genocide or commit suicide. Israel provides the perfect example. If the Israelis do not raze Iran, the Iranians will fulfill their boast and wipe Israel off the face of the earth.
"The wisest course would have been for President Bush to use his nuclear weapons to slaughter Iraqis until they complied with his demands, or until they were all dead."
He then cites Julius Caesar, the reviled dictator of the Roman Empire, as an example of how Bush should engage in rampant ethnic cleansing.
"When the ancient Roman general Julius Caesar was struggling to conquer ancient Gaul, he not only had to defeat the Gauls, but he also had to defeat his political enemies in Rome who would destroy him the moment his tenure as consul (president) ended.
Caesar pacified Gaul by mass slaughter; he then used his successful army to crush all political opposition at home and establish himself as permanent ruler of ancient Rome.
If President Bush copied Julius Caesar by ordering his army to empty Iraq of Arabs and repopulate the country with Americans, he would achieve immediate results: popularity with his military; enrichment of America by converting an Arabian Iraq into an American Iraq (therefore turning it from a liability to an asset); and boost American prestiege while terrifying American enemies."
Atkinson then concludes by stating such actions would allow Bush to declare martial law, become permanent President of the U.S. and eventually ruler of the entire world."He could then follow Caesar's example and use his newfound popularity with the military to wield military power to become the first permanent president of America, and end the civil chaos caused by the continually squabbling Congress and the out-of-control Supreme Court.
"President Bush can fail in his duty to himself, his country, and his God, by becoming "ex-president" Bush or he can become "President-for-Life" Bush: the conqueror of Iraq, who brings sense to the Congress and sanity to the Supreme Court. Then who would be able to stop Bush from emulating Augustus Caesar and becoming ruler of the world? For only an America united under one ruler has the power to save humanity from the threat of a new Dark Age wrought by terrorists armed with nuclear weapons."
The sheer abhorrence of the diatribe could lead many to think that this was some kind of attempt at black humor, a faux article written by a liberal intended as a parody to ridicule right-wingers, but it's not, it's real - this is what many of the Neo-Cons actually embrace.
To the kind of people who think like this, carrying out a 9/11 style attack is like a walk in the park.
-end of excerpt
Again, please check out the rest of this expose at this weblink
has just released it's list of the ten most dangerous organizations in America. If you are enrolled in a university or college (or are a graduate) than you are very familiar with the #2 organization on the list....It seems education makes for a dangerous America. No wonder Bush developed the No Child Left Behind program....Bush was just "protecting" us. Here's the Family Security Matters top ten list of the most dangerous organizations in America.
9) Muslim Student Association
7) American Civil Liberties Union, National
6) Family Research Council
5) Center for American Progress
4) League of the South
2) Universities and Colleges
1) Media Matters for America
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Meanwhile, independent photographer Joe Filipowski sent me a CD full of photos of the Blackwater Protest in Moyock last Saturday, with the request that I get them out to the public, so I have been doing that. I took some 80 plus of his best photos and loaded them on my Kodak Gallery space for everyone's perusal, but I thought I would show you a few of them here at Mosquito Blog to twik your interest. You can follow them up via the link to the rest of the photos at the bottom of this post.
To briefly summarize, there were protesters outside of the Blackwater entrance along both sides of the roadway and bleeding onto a nearby city street. There was a guerilla theater partial reenactment of the Nisour Square massacre, and there were seven arrests of activists who quietly chose to practice civil disobedience. The police were pretty cool about this and the whole event went off very successfully.
There was local and Virginia coverage of the protest, with some independent media types joining in, or protesters simply being their own media journalists and photographers. The message got out that there is very vocal resistance on both coasts now to Blackwater's martial ambitions and violence.
You can see the rest of Joe's photos by clicking here . You don't have to sign in, just go to "view slideshow".
It is hoped that this protest will serve as an inspiration to others who are challenging the government/corporate war machine that is devastating humanity and the planet.
Think Progress broke this story on how Fox News used a old FBI memo (neglecting to tell it's viewers the memo was from four years ago) to "connect" the California fires to Al Qaeda. Fox News continues to stay on the Republican "shock and awe" script. If the Republicans can keep
Americans shocked and awed like deer in the headlights they can continue to allow their corporate cronies to rob our National Treasury AND dismantle our rights and our constitution.
Is there anyone out there (besides "charles) who will admit they depend on Fox News to keep them informed?
Thanks to Think Progress for the h/t you can also view the Fox transcript there.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
More than 100,000 pages were finally released under the Freedom of Information act and the result is the book Administration of Torture . In this book General Micheal Dunlavery reports that President Bush gave him "marching orders" to have the Pentagon approve harsher interrogation methods for use at Guantanamo.
The book sources an Army investigator reporting that Rumsfeld was "personally involved" in overseeing the interrogation of a Guantanamo prisoner Mohammed al Qahtani. The prisoner was forced to parade naked in front of female interrogators wearing women's underwear on his head and was led around on a leash while being forced to perform dog tricks.
“It is imperative that senior officials who authorized, endorsed, or tolerated the abuse and torture of prisoners be held accountable not only as a matter of elemental justice, but to ensure that the same crimes are not perpetrated again.”--Jameel Jaffer and Amrit Singh
I wonder if the Democratic Congress is going to continue to do nothing but give us lip service now that the torture has been traced all the way to Rumsfeld and Bush. Wouldn't it be wonderful if someone would at least start the impeachment hearings. If these were started it would be difficult (if not impossible) for Bush and Cheney to invade Iran and/or impose martial law in the United States.
If our Congress continues to refuse to act maybe the World Court will mete out the justice that is necessary to restore some balance of power in our world...and maybe some in Congress will also be held to account.....
Monday, October 22, 2007
#2 Bush Moves Toward Martial Law
# 3 AFRICOM: US Military Control of Africa’s Resources
# 4 Frenzy of Increasingly Destructive Trade Agreements
#5 Human Traffic Builds US Embassy in Iraq
#6 Operation FALCON Raids
#7 Behind Blackwater Inc.
#8 KIA: The US Neoliberal Invasion of India
#9 Privatization of America’s Infrastructure
# 10 Vulture Funds Threaten Poor Nations’ Debt Relief
# 11 The Scam of “Reconstruction” in Afghanistan
# 12 Another Massacre in Haiti by UN Troops
# 13 Immigrant Roundups to Gain Cheap Labor for US Corporate Giants
# 14 Impunity for US War Criminals
# 15 Toxic Exposure Can Be Transmitted to Future Generations on a “Second Genetic Code”
#16 No Hard Evidence Connecting Bin Laden to 9/11
# 17 Drinking Water Contaminated by Military and Corporations
# 18 Mexico’s Stolen Election
# 19 People’s Movement Challenges Neoliberal Agenda
# 20 Terror Act Against Animal Activists
# 21 US Seeks WTO Immunity for Illegal Farm Payments
# 22 North Invades Mexico# 23 Feinstein’s Conflict of Interest in Iraq
# 23 Feinstein’s Conflict of Interest in Iraq
# 24 Media Misquotes Threat From Iran’s President
# 25 Who Will Profit from Native Energy?
These are clips from Outfoxed. Robert Greenwald (recipient of journalism's prestigioua Upton Sinclair award) is the director of Outfoxed.
Fox News, in its present state, will never have a reporter win a muckraker award like this.
With just a little bit of research one will know NOT to depend on Fox News for anything but examples of corporate bias and right wing propaganda.
If you haven't seen OutFoxed why not? Have you thought about the corporate ownership and interests of your local news and other national news sources?
Sunday, October 21, 2007
An anti-Blackwater Protester Outside Blackwater's World Headquarters (Source: WNCT, Channel 9 in Greenville, NC. Check out their coverage too, with news video, by clicking here )*******
There have been several local reports of Saturday's protest, although I don't think the national media picked it up. What else is new?
But the excellent reporter for The Virginian Pilot, Bill Sizemore, did however write a news report with five great photographs by Chris Curry of the Pilot as well. Below is an excerpt of the article. You can read the entire article by clicking here and note when you do that the photos are a series of five that you can activate.
Sizemore has also written a terrific report on Blackwater which you can access by clicking here.
Photos: Seven protesters arrested at Blackwater's headquarters
© October 21, 2007
Last updated: 7:05 PM
|Special Report: Inside America's Private Army|
By BILL SIZEMORE, The Virginian-Pilot
Seven people were arrested Saturday at Blackwater Worldwide’s front entrance after protesters re-enacted the Sept. 16 shooting incident in Baghdad involving Blackwater contractors in which 17 Iraqis died.
It was the first protest at the 10-year-old private military company’s headquarters, a reflection of its heightened profile since the Baghdad shootings stirred Iraqi anger and created a diplomatic crisis for Blackwater’s client, the U.S. State Department.
The protesters drove a small gray station wagon, covered with simulated bullet holes and smeared with red paint, onto Blackwater’s property. One lay back in the driver’s seat and five others got out and lay on the ground, as if they had been shot.
The scene was intended to mimic that in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, where an Iraqi doctor and her son died in a fusillade of gunfire as their car approached a Blackwater diplomatic convoy......
Currituck County sheriff’s deputies, called to the scene by Blackwater guards, told the protesters they were on private property and asked them to leave. When they didn’t respond, they were handcuffed and placed in a sheriff’s van. Some went limp and had to be dragged.
A crowd of about 50 more protesters who had gathered along the adjacent public road cheered as the seven were driven away. The group carried signs with slogans such as “Bring Blackwater to Justice,” “Security Contractors are Unlawful Combatants” and “Blackwater: Shoot First, Ask No Questions.”......
The protest was organized by the Norfolk Catholic Worker and Blackwater Watch, an activist group based in Durham, N.C.
Christian Stalberg, a spokesman for Blackwater Watch, said the group’s aim is to “shut down Blackwater.”
“It’s an unmitigated disaster,” he said. “They’re irresponsible and totally unaccountable.”
DeMott, who described himself as a Vietnam War veteran, said he was willing to risk arrest because “not to raise my voice would be to tacitly condone Blackwater and its murderous activities.” ......................
Saturday, October 20, 2007
What have we wrought?
Outside a morgue in Baquba, Iraq, family members cry near the body of a 17-year-old girl killed during a raid by Iraqi forces. It has been five years since the authorization of US military force in Iraq.
(Photo: Reuters) (source: Truthout.org)
The Buddha said over two thousand years ago that hatred will never vanquish hatred. Only love can vanquish hatred. This is an immutable law of the universe.
America, collectively, went into Iraq with hatred and racism in its heart. Underneath all the fine rhetoric was a deep lust to strike out and punish, if not destroy, a people we have never had any real awareness of, substituting instead decades of Hollywood stereotypes about evil, violent, thieving, lascivious Arabs. These stereotypes, although more subtle than the Nazis' fragrant stereotypes against the Jews, have been every bit as deadly. America has actually transferred this traditional Western and Germanic/Anglo-Saxon anti-Semitism against Jewish peoples, dating back hundreds of years, for a self-righteous anti-Semitism against the Arabs, because, if you even know, Arabs and Jews are both considered Semitic peoples. They were both cut from the same cloth geographically and ethnically. Moslems and Jews even share the same ancestral "grandfather", Abraham.
So if educated Americans have ever wondered how in the world the sophisticated German people could have gone along with the Nazi agenda, with the massive crimes against humanity, with the endless passion for war, violence and torture, all we have to do is look at ourselves for the last six years and how we have leisurely walked down the seductively negative path of fear, violence and loathing. We have now perpetuated a Holocaust in Iraq, with anywhere from half a million to over a million dead, with some two million plus Iraqis in external exile, another two million in internal exile. Hundreds of thousands are sick, wounded, depressed, deranged, unemployed or in prisons, overt or covert, some of which still practice torture beyond prying eyes.
This is America's self-expression in the world today, massive death and suffering, compliments of the traditional Right-wing, the corporate Merchants of Death, and the Trotskyite-style Neocon fanatics. They will inevitably say in their alienated, sophistic ways, "So what, who cares, they're sub-human, and enemies of Christ or Jehovah or the American Century anyway."
But it does matter, because now this is their and our Karma. And what goes around comes around. So how will America work its way out of such terrible crimes? Is this even possible, to offer contrition at this point and try to make amends?
Even worse, America has made itself less and less human by dehumanizing others, so cruelty and inhumanity will follow us home, so to speak. Our social and political interactions within America will coarsen and harden, indeed they already have. The faux Social Darwinism of the 19th Century has returned with a flourish - the survival of the fittest, the richest, best armed and most unscrupulous.
And then we have the walking wounded. For those who have literally shot and killed or tortured Iraqis, particularly women and children, they now have their demons and ghosts inside of them permanently, no matter how they try to repress this black hole through liquor and drugs and self-denial. And we have thousands of GIs or ex-GIs carrying this burden.
This is why I don't go and beat my neighbor and burn his house down in a fit of paranoia or sadism, because I know it will all come back on me, sooner or later, no matter how invincible I think I might be. The human ego, no matter how arrogant it is, is not running the Universe. A God of Truth and Justice is. And it isn't any different for nations.
Pity the nation.
(Warning: This Video contains some war images that the American people are not used to seeing... since the corporate media has sanitized the war, deciding to show invasions like they are some video game.)
It looks like it's up to the "people" to demand an end to the Bush Cabal--Don't give up...Contact your elected representatives at least once a week. Let them know you want Impeachment, and to protect the Constitution and the Civil Liberties it grants to "we, the people."
Unfortunately this democratically controlled congress fears and respects Bush and Cheney much more than they do the voters who gave them the control of Congress. Maybe the Dems need enough wake up calls on a regular basis to instill some respect for the people who actually vote them into office. The Dems need to realize that they don't stand a snowball's chance in hell of capturing the White House if they can't show their base and the American people that they are in reality a second, "opposition" party.
Let's show them that there are not enough "good germans" in this country that will allow Bush and Cheney to continue their war crimes against Iraq or Iran.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Inside home looking out, whose owner claimed it was shot into by US snipers from nearby rooftops during the 1st Siege of Fallujah.
(source from Dahr Jamail)
This November will mark the third anniversay of the second of two American-led military assaults culminating in the massive destruction of most of the ancient Iraqi city of Fallujah. Consequently, I am republishing my account of this event here on Mosquito Blog, lest we forget. It was first published by the Southern ((I)) in print form, and later at OpEdNews.com, the web-link of which site you can access by clicking on this article's above title.
Earlier this year I posted the first four articles in this series at Mosquito Blog. They dealt with the first assault ending in May, and the immediate aftermath. In the following articles I will go into detail about the much more brutal second assault.
In light of all the controversy over Blackwater, bear in mind that it was the folly of Blackwater that created the circumstances that led to the siege of Fallujah. Remember this as you read on. Blackwater's presence in Iraq has been like the Black Plaque's from the start.
Part 5: Cruel November Approaches
By Mac McKinney
The Fallujah Brigade, created to resolve the brutal conflict between the American military and the city of Fallujah by the May Truce, was a political solution, not a military one. The Brigade's overall mission was to pacify the city as an American proxy force through both persuasion and police powers, and to arrest the killers of the Blackwater Four, a goal that was beginning to look like a ludicrous obsession in a country where scores of people were being murdered daily.
The thousand-plus (1600 by some accounts) Fallujah Brigade was hastily created out of, largely, whichever local Iraqis were available with past military experience. Ironically, this included enlisting both members of Saddam Hussein's old Baathist army and, by tactfully looking the other way, insurgents that the Marines had just been fighting against. Consequently, if the Brigade was meant to confront and defang insurgent forces inside Fallujah, it was compromised from the start. And one can imagine Marine Officers knew this. As journalist W. Thomas Smith, former Marine, writing in National Review Online, points out, "Officially, Marine commanders support the Fallujah Brigade. They may not have a choice", as if this was an odious decision. He goes on to emphasize that "Decisions on how to destroy the enemy should be left to the professionals", and then begins a lengthy discourse on the teachings of Sun Tzu, the Chinese author of the hoary Art of War, pointing out in particular the evils of allowing civilians to interfere with the generals. (source)
In early May, the Fallujah Brigade began taking over some of the Marines' responsibilities, although still under the direct control of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. But the Brigade was staring at a transformed city, one that was now militarized and radicalized by recent events. The traditional political structure that had run the city was in chaos, thanks first to the US Army's destabilizing "regency" for months, followed by the Marines' just-aborted siege, so that now the most obvious authorities in Fallujah beyond the Marine Corps perimeter were the ones with all the guns, the insurgents or mujaheddin. And these tended to be God-fearing Sunni Muslims who undoubtedly felt they owed their survival thus far to the grace of Allah, and Allah's intermediaries, the imams, or clerics.
Strident martial law, Sharia-style, now began to take effect within the formerly secular-ruled city, a move that was an organic development under siege conditions, but one which would also alienate some Fallujans. A "Mujaheddin Advisory Council or Shura" became a loose umbrella organization to run the very city the Fallujah Brigade was now supposed to take control of, and it included such imposing, hard-line clerics as Abdallah Janabi. The Shura was soon issuing strict Islamist decrees that would have never passed muster during the secular Saddam era. Some have described what was taking place as the "Talibanization of Fallujah."
Pepe Escobar, the well-known journalist who writes the Roving Eye column for Asia Times Online, had this to say in 2004 regarding the new order in Fallujah:
"Writers and professors in Baghdad with close family and tribal ties to Fallujah have explained to Asia Times Online the new order. In today's Fallujah, every military commander is an emir. They may be strident, conservative Salafis, philosophical Sufis, al-Qaeda admirers, former Ba'ath Party army officials, former secret-service agents, or even the average neighbor, a father of six.
"If you qualify as an emir, you are a leading member of what is popularly described as 'the Iraqi resistance' in control of 'liberated Fallujah', a region off-limits to US troops ever since the United States handed over control of the city in May after a month-long siege.
"Along with local imams and tribal chiefs, all emirs are also part of a Shura, a mujahideen council, created last winter and directed by two imams, Abdallah Janabi and Dhafer al-Ubeidi.
"These imams may be considered the spiritual leaders of the resistance in Fallujah. Janabi, from the Saad bin Abi Wakkas Mosque, is a true radical: he is the leader of the takfiris - the fiercest warriors, some Iraqi, some from other Arab countries, some voluntary, some linked to Arab groups. Janabi was the first imam in 2003 to call for armed resistance against the occupation of Iraq, and for the summary execution of spies. Dhafer, from the al-Hadra al-Muhammadiya mosque, is a senior to Janabi in the Shura. His fatwas (religious edicts) carry enormous influence........The mujahideen paint a picture of a city where Sharia law may be the norm, but the air hangs heavy with paranoia - just as it did in Taliban Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein's Iraq. The city may now be free of marines, but is under an informal siege by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's new secret-service agents and Central Intelligence Agency operatives. These spies are executed the minute any of the emirs identify them. The emirs parade around town in luxury Western cars with tinted windows, just like the Taliban with their Toyota Land Cruisers did in Afghanistan.
"An undeclared 'foreigner-hunting season' is in effect. It has claimed, among other victims, a Lebanese businessman, the South Korean national Kim Sun-il, and six Shi'ite truck drivers. Janabi justifies all the executions. During the past three months, the mujahideen have also executed more than 30 Fallujah residents, all of them denounced as spies for the Americans..." (Pepe Escobar) (source)
The reference to Minister Allawi above refers to the fact that on June 28, 2004, the American supervised Iraqi Interim Government morphed into the Iraqi Transitional Government, led by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, a secular Shiite with a dual Iraqi-British background who lived in exile in England for years and who was instrumental in helping the Blair Government craft its case for war against Iraq. Allawi quickly took a very hostile position toward the Fallujan insurgency and continuously granted US forces carte-blanche for ongoing military actions against the city, including, for example, sporadically blasting Fallujah with one-ton bombs.
Against this evolving insurgent dynamic in Fallujah, the Fallujah Brigade had to accomplish several key demands of the Marines: 1) apprehend the men responsible for killing the Blackwater Four; 2) broker the handing in of the insurgents' heavy weapons; 3) root out and arrest foreign terrorists (another American obsession); and 4) patrol the city. It soon became apparent that the Brigade was having difficulty on all counts, although they were manning various checkpoints. I return to Escobar's account:
"Every entrance to the city is controlled by the mujahideen, who also control the US-trained Iraqi policemen. Most men now are mujahideen, either in the Iraqi National Guard (the former US-trained Iraqi Civil Defense Corps); the Iraqi police; and in the population as a whole. The real Ba'ath military power in Fallujah is in the hands of two people with very close ties to the emirs: Jassem Mohammed Saleh - the first commander of the Fallujah Brigade - and Abdullah Hamed.
"The Fallujah-connected sources tell Asia Times Online that the new US-Allawi-appointed Iraqi secret services hoped the Ba'ath military in Fallujah would circumscribe the influence of the mujahideen. The exact opposite has happened. In Fallujah, Ba'athists now answer to the emirs in control of the resistance." (Pepe Escobar) (source)
By June, 2004, the Marines were already expressing public disenchantment with the Brigade, many of whose members saw themselves as peacemakers, not proxy enforcers, and by August, the Marines were openly suggesting that it was a failure. By early September, tensions grew dramatically between the two forces when several Brigade members allegedly fired at Marines near the city limits and the latter returned fire, killing four Iraqis. This incident was the last straw, and on Sept 9th the Corps informed the Brigade they would be dissolved. To quote Colonel Jerry Durant, "The whole Fallujah Brigade was a fiasco. Initially it worked OK, but it wasn't a good idea for very long."
Brigade members were offered positions with the Iraqi police or national guard. An LA Times article reported, however, that Brigade members were upset and much more likely to join the insurgency. A Major Abed Abaas of the Brigade said, "This was a great violation to the members of the Brigade by the American forces and the Iraqi interim government. Dissolving the Fallujah Brigade, they broke the truce agreed upon last April when the Americans besieged Fallujah."
Since the Marines never put much stock in the Brigade to begin with, they had never completely ceased military operations against Fallujah. Air strikes continued throughout the summer and fall, often on residential areas, with the rationale that these were legitimate insurgent targets. As a Sept 12, 2004 article by Brian Dominick of the New Standard reports:
"American pilots have struck the city of 300,000 more than a dozen times since ground forces pulled out last spring, however. In fact, they have bombed the city nightly for the better part of the past week, each time striking what US military officials say are terrorist 'safehouses.' On nearly every such occasion, hospital officials have said the strikes killed or wounded women, children and others presumed to be noncombatants.
"New doubt was recently cast on the validity of US targets by an unusual source: In a video the UK Guardian says is being distributed in markets all over Fallujah, unidentified captors reportedly execute an Egyptian man who says his name is Muhammad Fauzi Abdul Aíal Mutwali. Before he is beheaded, Mutwali confesses to having been offered $150 apiece to plant homing devices in the houses of suspected insurgents around the city, to be used to help US pilots hit specific targets in the city.
"In the past, the tactic of using paid informants to determine targets has received criticism for its arbitrary nature and its potential for abuse by competing parties on the ground. This is especially applicable in cases where damage cannot be assessed by the military, and thus informants cannot be held accountable for providing invalid targets.
"While the US military enjoys unbridled control of the skies above Fallujah, the streets appear to belong exclusively to a cabal (the Shura) of some twenty militias whose leaders have begun to meet and coordinate defense of the brazen city, the Guardian reports."
The military also claimed to be attacking the safehouses of "al-Qaeda in Iraq" led by the mysterious Jordanian, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whom, some declared, had established Fallujah as his operational base. But sightings of Zarqawi proved as reliable as sightings of the Loch Ness monster, complicated by charges that he didn't even exist, at least not on the increasingly mythic level his media persona was attaining. The Pentagon has added to this cynicism by recently admitting that they have been purposely hyping Zarqawi as a propaganda strategy to influence the Iraqi people (and, indirectly, the American people.) So, where does the reality end and the PSYOP begin regarding Zarqawi? (For more on the Pentagon PSYOP Zarqawi Program, click here.
But as October arrived, one thing was proving increasingly reliable - the growing rumors and reports that the Americans were preparing to launch a second major offensive against the city.
Cruel November Arrives
Thursday, October 18, 2007
SIGN THE PETITION HERE
THEN CALL YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES...TELL THEM TO STRIP OUT OF THE BILL WHAT THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY PAID TO HAVE "SLIPPED" INTO THE BILL WITH NO DISCUSSION AND NO DEBATE. WE NEED SAFE, GREEN, VIABLE ENERGY. INVEST IN WIND AND SOLAR PLANTS NOT NUCLEAR.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Is there anyone out there who will even admit to seriously watching this propaganda station?
There must be a few "good german" types out there because Bush still has about 20 -25 percent no matter what he is caught doing....many of the "good germans" appear to be network executives and newspaper owners because the American news tends to bury what is uncovered on George Bush and his minions....Buzz...Buzz...
The list has now grown to over 200 with others sending in links to the site now....It will be interesting to see how big the list grows. We are happy that we were easily found and didn't have to send a link into the list.
It's interesting that the compiler figured out the sex of the Mosquito....but I guess the cat's out of the bag now. We also have Star posting here and our main man Mac McKinney.
Alma Kessling will soon be joining us as soon as I get her the information so she can start posting her stuff. We anticipate that Alma is going to be a very exciting addition for us. She has a lot of insight on local happenings in Hampton Roads as well as the national scene.
From those of us at Mosquito Blog....We hope everyone is doing okay out there. Buzz...Buzz....
Sunday, October 14, 2007
On Tuesday Sept. 18 we reported that a Republican federal prosecutor –John David R. Atchinson--was criminally charged with “allegedly” paying for sex with a five year old girl.
Now the covers are pulled off another of these extremist Republican neo-cons. Donald Fleischman, the 37 year old Republican chairman of Brown County Wisconsin faces criminal charges for “allegedly” fondling a 16 year old runaway boy. Fleischman has been charged with two counts of child enticement, two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a child, and a single charge of exposing himself to a child.
In November 2006 Police went to Fleischman’s home searching for two runaway boys. The officers found a glass pipe in the living room (which tested positive for marijuana residue) and a 16-year-old boy wearing only his underwear hiding in a closet. In Dec. 2006 the police found the boy at Fleischman’s home again.
The boy now 17 told authorities that the Republican chairman provided him with drugs (beer and marijuana). The boy told authorities that Fleischman fondled him and once he woke up and saw Fleischman masturbating next to his bed.
Amazingly, the very same American Corporate Media who headlined every detail for weeks (if not months) of Bill Clinton’s consensual sexual liason with another adult woman, has been IGNORING this story. It appears that it is not newsworthy if a Republican is caught and prosecuted for “allegedly” raping children.If the Corporate Media gave the same coverage to the numerous child sex scandals of the Republicans we would no longer want these Republicans in powerful positions preying on our children.
It just goes to show that the notion that Republicans can make us safe and secure is a myth.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Not to be outdone Rudy G. has chosen his own man in Philly--Joey Vento. Vento and Allen appear to havea few things in common. Both men are fans of the Confederate flag and Vento is currently having his own Macaca moment....it is alleged that Vento told a reporter that Mexicans carry disease and should not play or drink in the same water as Mexicans. (Source 1, Source 2)
Maybe Rudy and Fred will be asked to give a Rebel Yell at the next Republican debate?
In El Salvador, the government claims that terrorists include the citizens protesting the privatization of water. (This should sound familiar because if you are an environmental or animal rights activist in the United States you are also defined as a terrorist.) Multinational Corporations are buying up water supplies worldwide claiming that they can manage the water shortage that is about to come better than the governments...of course they will sell their water to the elites as the highest price. The El Salvadoran people prefer to keep the water public and have laws protecting clean water from being contaminated by the very same multinational corporations who want to profit on scarcer supplies of clean water.
The war on terrorism is now being used world wide to silence people from speaking out against the takeover of resources (and our governments) by multinational corporations.
Unfortunately, we need water to survive....water should not become a property of the multinational corporations. When water is privatized under the Free Trade Agreement in South America it is illegal for anyone to even collect rain water. Go figure...
Here's a video of those deadly South American activists.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Why did Nancy Pelosi and the "Washington" Democratic leadership think that the American people voted to have them become The Deciders? We thought we were voting to restore our democracy.
Please stop playing the political games. It is sickening. Start Impeachment proceedings and do everything in your power to prevent Bush and Cheney from launching another devastating attack on another nation.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Friday, October 05, 2007
Watch and see what the Texas Republicans really think about one person one vote.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
(source) Note the sharp 45 degree cut, with molten slag, on the massive steel column in the far background. Quite a glaring contradiction to the official theory that the Twin Towers simply collapsed spontaneously from fire and impact. This had to have been quite a talented cataclysm to make such a neat cut. Any steel worker or demolition expert will immediately recognize that such a cut in steel could only be made with some kind of torch or other method that can produce intense, sharply focused heat and energy, leaving the tell-tale slag. But this steel is way too thick for a torch. That leaves one other obvious suspect: a shaped cutter-charge.
There is a myth out there in the mainstream media that there is a consensus among engineers and architects that the official 9/11 Commission-NIST-FEMA reports, which state that fire and plane impact brought down the Twin Towers, closes the book on the subject.
Nothing could be farther from the truth! As I write, there are now at least 186 engineering and architectural professionals who officially reject the official theory. (Reference)
Jeff King, an engineer from MIT who is one of them, recently gave a powerful presentation at a forum on 9/11. Here is a You Tube video capturing a ten minute excerpt: see video
You can find this one and 151 others at 911triumph. And there are many other sites. Thousands of people have been pouring over all the available evidence in attempts to reconstruct what really happened.
Of course the government, which wisked away all the crime scene evidence in a matter of days, is also holding on to even more evidence, lots of it, and refusing to release it. Even so, enough is known now to demand a new, independent investigation. America will never be whole again until all the truth comes out.
On that fateful day, September 11, 2001 the country turned down the path of fear, a path that ultimately leads to the lowest pit of Hell if you continue down it long enough.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Welcome to Orleans Ave, New Orleans, or what's left of it
A house on Orleans Ave demolished by Katrina
Here is my third article generated by my recent tour of the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and Louisiana to inspect 2005 hurricane damage and what has been done in the aftermath. This series was published at OpEdNews.com in the Spring, but I wanted to bring Mosquito Blog readers up to date, because, as I write, the government is moving to completely shut down and level the still functional housing projects in New Orleans. This move is not about helping the Katrina survivors. This is about cynical politics and greed.
In this report I have finally made it into New Orleans, specifically Orleans Ave, which becomes, when you turn right instead of left toward the French Quarter, a glaring eyesore, to the physical eyes as well as the soul.
Along the Gulf Coast, Post Katrina, Part 3: Orleans Avenue, New Orleans
On Friday, April 13, 2007, after surveying hurricane damage in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, I high-tailed it up to Interstate 10 and headed due west. An hour plus later I was passing the state line into Louisiana and soon bearing down on Slidell as I-10 gradually curved south. Even before Slidell I began to get glimpses of Katrina's wrath out of the corners of my eyes as I sped on - torn up trees, piles of debris or damaged buildings in the distance. By time I had passed Slidell and was hitting the Huey P. Long Bridge, all kinds of questions were percolating in my head – how many towns and cities were hard-hit, how many people displaced; how much had been repaired; what have been the overall costs? And on and on.
As I drove over Lake Pontchartrain and gradually began the downward descent on the southern end of the bridge, the image of the far shore rising out of the vast blue lake waters rammed home to me just how fragile and isolated New Orleans is, and how low. You gained the distinct impression as you reached shore again that you were almost dropping into the lake, and in a sense you are, because, of course, the Crescent City is actually below sea level. And when you realize how the city and parish are bordered on the north by the lake, and east and south by the Gulf of Mexico, that is vulnerable indeed.
At last the skyscrapers of downtown New Orleans began looming into view, introducing some verticality into the geography, as if that was somehow reassuring as the next hurricane season approaches. I was getting more excited now, because I hadn't been to New Orleans since 1979, when I was on leave from the military, and had truly missed the place, which I had found magical and romantic.
Finally, I slowed down and began signaling left to take the exit for Vieux Carré (Old Square), the original French term for the French Quarter. Down I went, until the off-ramp suddenly drops you right onto Orleans Avenue, which runs parallel to better known Canal Street, which takes you smack into the French Quarter. But I had flown in here before, not driven, so I was disoriented. Should I turn left or right? My instincts told me the French Quarter was to the left and what I was really interested in was to the right, because I hadn't come down here to party, but to investigate the aftermath of Katrina. So I turned right.
A fortuitous decision. I hadn't driven two blocks before I was muttering Jesus under my breath. And I hadn't driven but several more before I was parking the car and grabbing my camera. My worst fears were materializing, based upon reports I had read, that the Polyanna depictions of New Orleans on the mend were greatly exaggerated. Now reality was staring me in the face, an entire, devastated neighborhood pretty much left to its own devices, as well as actually sabotaged, I would learn over time, from full recovery by the powers that be.
Another victim of Katrina
So I began walking around taking pictures. At the time, I didn't even know the controversial story about the Lafitte Housing Project, so it was fortunate that I happened to take a few incidental photos of the Project apartment houses, so I could include them in this photo-essay. I otherwise ignored the Lafitte complex, because it was in pretty darned good shape, although boarded up and peppered with NO TRESPASSING signs. In the back of mind I wondered why, if so many citizens had been displaced or relocated, hadn't these been reopened to ease the suffering and return some of the exiled?
The Lafitte Housing Project, with minimal hurricane damage, but locked-up anyway
What Orleans Avenue immediately reminded me of was sections of Naples, Italy that I had visited way back in 1980 while in the Navy, for there were still parts of Naples that had never been rebuilt after enduring all the carnage of World War II, as American forces wrestled Italy from German control. So in Naples, you incidentally walked up on a bombed out building every now and then and stared.
Well, I was staring now at street after street that looked like they may each have received a few rounds from Howitzers too. That there was this much damage still visible after some 20 months was shocking and embarrassing, embarrassing for a nation that claims to be the greatest super-power in history. A few trucks, work crews and sledge hammers could remove many of the hideous eyesores marring the neighborhood in a few weeks. Is City Hall, the State of Louisiana and FEMA incapable of something so basic, simple, and inexpensive? Or is something else going on here?
To understand what I am talking about, please visit my photo album on Orleans Avenue by clicking here. You can view the photos singly or as a slide show. You don't have to sign in. Here are a few more of the album shots:
The abandoned Carver Medical Clinic
An abandoned grocery store
A massive, abandoned laundry plant behind Orleans Avenue
Why hasn't the Carver Medical Clinic been reopened? Why haven't the local grocery stores been repaired? These are core necessities. To Hell with making the owners jump through insurance and legal hoops! Subsidize them and get the establishments reopened, and reopen the Lafitte Housing Project as well to repopulate the neighborhood, even if only temporarily reopened.
But there are agendas at work here. The poet Edward Sanders has a great online article about this in a piece explaining why and how he wrote his latest book of poetry, Poems for New Orleans (click here to read). To quote him:
What happened in New Orleans and the Gulf after Katrina is fairly widely known- the ineptitude of FEMA, the callousness of Bush, Karl Rove and the White House, the privatization of much of the recovery- which resulted in massive excess pain for the victims, and profits aplenty for the sharks that grabbed control of, or siphoned off cash from, the recovery.
The Bushies and their ilk fervently believe in turning over as much of our government as they can get away with to the so-called "private sector." Thus, the running of the war in Iraq was considerably "privatized," or halliburtonized, with U.S.-paid mercenaries and companies in key positions in the prosecution of the war. The neocons, in the same mode, tried to privatize as many government functions as possible in the post-Katrina recovery in New Orleans and the Gulf.
In New Orleans in particular, the halliburtonized recovery has been a post-disaster disaster. It's a complicated story, but its essence is that the "Privatizing" of post-Katrina reconstruction and assistance has led to enormous bottlenecks, anger, despair and frustration. (Reference)
So New Orleans' citizens have had to fight two battles, the first against the horrors of Katrina, the second against the "halliburtonization" of the recovery, to adopt Sanders' term. After the American Civil War they called this latter phenomenon "Carpetbagging", taking advantage of disaster to disenfranchise and rob the citizens of the South. This is going on today at the hands of greedy, hateful and unconscionable individuals and organizations, be they insurers, realtors, contractors, speculators, politicians or ideologues.
Sanders had this to say about irresponsible politicians in particular:
Historian Doug Brinkley called it "Lethal Ineptitude" the way Bush, Homeland Security honcho Chertoff, FEMA political hack Brown, Louisiana Governor Blanco, conservative republicrat New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin, and others, dripped malice & do-not on New Orleans and the Gulf.
Mayor Ray Nagin, in particular, seems to be a disciple of the kind of privatization-batty neocons who helped ruin the Chilean pension system after the overthrow of Salvador Allende. He is the halliburtonizers best friend. Governor Blanco of Louisiana is not much better, especially in her caving into the forces of unregulated rip-offs by the insurance companies. (ibid)
Now one can begin to understand why Orleans Avenue still looks the way it does. Things would apparently be even worse if the citizens of New Orleans hadn't been fighting back. Too many of them have roots in New Orleans going back generations, too deep to let themselves get screwed over by silver-tongued politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen.
For example, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) wants to demolish all the major housing projects in New Orleans, claiming that in between hurricane damage, old age and crime infestation, they have got to go, to be replaced by "mixed-income" remodeling, an urban renewal strategy anchored in HUD's Hope VI grant program, which has had only a mixed record nationally where it has been implemented. That the Bush Administration and Republican apparatiks are eager to bring HUD's plan to fruition is obvious. Who can forget Rep. Richard Baker's callous statement in the aftermath of Katrina that, "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."
A veteran advocate of public housing in New Orleans, Endesha Jaukali, has this retort to HUD's plans:
Mixed income is a pie in the sky illusion...What you're going to do is mix poor people and middle income people right on out of here. (from "New Orleans Housing Fiasco" by Anya Kamenetz click here)
It has been my own experience in Norfolk, Virginia that when the poor and lower middle class are dispossessed and displaced from an area, what fills the void is condominiums and luxury apartments affordable only by the upper middle class, the rich or corporations, the latter two buyers often from outside the area. The displaced are further marginalized, some to the point of homelessness and despair.
So Jaukali and others have launched a class action lawsuit against government agencies to stop the demolition of the projects:
The current class action suit alleges racial discrimination and violation of the 1937 Housing Act, which requires public hearings before demolition of any public housing. HANO (the Housing Authority of New Orleans) has used everything from steel shutters to barbed wire fences and armed guards to keep residents from reoccupying their former units. Resistance has taken many different forms. Since June, for example, the St. Bernard development has had a "Survivor's Village," a tent city of 20 or so residents on the neutral ground outside. Juakali says he modeled the Village on the 1968 Poor People's Campaign, which built a tent city on the Washington Mall. (ibid)
There has also been civil disobedience at the Lafitte. For example, on August 28 of last year, this transpired:
At 2pm today Gregory "DJ" Christy, a resident of the Lafitte housing development, joined by more than 70 supporters entered his apartment with the intention of reoccupying it for the first time since August 2005. 9 supporters of Christy were arrested in the attempt to reopen public housing. All 9 have been bailed out of the Orleans Parish Prison....
Christy's apartment was opened by a group of activists including C3/Hands Off Iberville, the United Front for Affordable Housing, and other community activists. Legal observers from the Common Ground Collective were onsite to monitor the police response. Using a ladder to scale to the second floor window, the activists climbed in, walked downstairs into Christy's unit, and opened the heavy steel door from the inside.
After the door was removed Christy entered his apartment along with several more supporters. Housing Authority police were on the scene when the door fell. City police arrived shortly after preventing others from entering or leaving the apartment. While these 7 were occupying the apartment more than 70 supporters rallied outside. (by Darwin BondGraham, click here)
But as you can see from my photos, unfortunately the Lafitte is still locked up. However, continuous protests have caused authorities to backtrack some, HUD temporarily reopening some housing units in the city to allow some of those scattered to the winds to return. Congress has also weighed in to slow down the demolition plans, and the legal showdown over the class-action lawsuit is scheduled to take place this November. But the hard-pressed citizens of Orleans Avenue, not to mention the rest of the city, especially the Lower Ninth Ward, can use all the support they can garner nationally and internationally in the meantime. Here is a list of organizations that Edward Sanders has come up with that you, the reader, can contact if you feel inspired to help in some way. See his full article for more info on each one:
1. Common Ground Collective
2. Neighborhoods Partnership Network
3. People's Hurricane Relief Fund
4. Rethink (Google them)
5. DNIA, firstname.lastname@example.org (to email)
6. St. John #5 Baptist Church, 635 Hamburg St New Orleans, LA 70122, (504) 288-3272
7. Greater New Orleans Foundation
(from http://www.woodstockjournal.com/neworleans.html )
Please help the citizens of New Orleans recover their dignity, fundamental rights and heritage. And again, to see the photo album, you can also click here.