September 2, 2005

You can donate to the American Red Cross here.

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Why Thousands May Die
by Cynthia Bogard ╩

With a horrible decisiveness, Hurricane Katrina has sheared off the front of the American doll house, leaving our decimated national infrastructure for all the world to see. It's not a pretty sight, especially given the current administration's propensity to bluster about America as "the greatest nation on earth" and the "world's superpower." ╩

The consequences of a generation of looting the funding for public works projects, anti-poverty programs, and local and national administrative capacity coupled with rollbacks of federal energy and environmental regulation have been revealed in all their stark reality by this epic storm. Relentless Republican-led but Democratic Leadership Council-supported attacks on "big government" (by which they meant programs of no immediate use to global corporations) in the past two decades have been remarkably successful. "The era of big government," as DLC poster boy Bill Clinton famously declared in the mid 1990s, "is over." ╩

He was talking about what other wealthy democratic nations refer to as their "welfare state"--that constellation of tax-financed regulations and services that provide citizen security on "quality of life" issues such as housing, education, healthcare, safety, a healthy environment and economic stability in times of unemployment. Included also in other nation's welfare states is public infrastructure that can be counted on in such areas as transportation, communication, electricity, and clean water. In other wealthy democracies, that's what government is largely for; these are the kinds of citizen protections those living in poor nations dream about. ╩

Now that Katrina's come to town, it's become all too apparent how far down the road to the wholesale giveaway of America's collective wealth to its wealthy we have traveled. And the consequences of purposely destroying our modest welfare state have become devastatingly clear--well, at least to some. ╩

A few days ago, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco ordered the evacuation of New Orleans, an event which proceeded, according to many accounts, in a remarkably orderly fashion. As it turned out, however, about 20% of residents did not "choose" to leave town--a fact that the governor publicly grumbled about after the levees were compromised, the city inundated and those "left behind" put at risk for their lives in the floodwaters and sweltering heat. One observant commentator noted that the evacuation was indeed very efficiently run "if you had a car." Those left behind were drawn disproportionately from the 30% of the city's residents who are chronically poor. They had no cars, Governor. more...

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Venezuela's Chavez Offers Hurricane Aid
By IAN JAMES, Associated Press Writer

Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez is offering planeloads of soldiers and aid workers to help American victims of Hurricane Katrina, while at the same time taking aim at the U.S. government for its handling of the crisis. more...

September 1, 2005

The National Guard Belongs in New Orleans and Biloxi. Not Baghdad.
by Norman Solomon

The men and women of the National Guard shouldnÔt be killing in Iraq.

They should be helping in New Orleans and Biloxi. more...

August 31, 2005

New Orleans as a casualty of the war in Iraq
By Will Bunch
---snip---

New Orleans had long known it was highly vulnerable to flooding and a direct hit from a hurricane. In fact, the federal government has been working with state and local officials in the region since the late 1960s on major hurricane and flood relief efforts. When flooding from a massive rainstorm in May 1995 killed six people, Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project , or SELA.

Over the next 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and building pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid. But at least $250 million in crucial projects remained, even as hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin increased dramatically and the levees surrounding New Orleans continued to subside.

Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars. more...

August 30, 2005

George W. Bush's Noble Cause - 'Political Capital'
by Thom Hartmann ╩

Cindy Sheehan continues to ask George W. Bush what the "Noble Cause" was for which her son died in Iraq, and why Bush's daughters haven't enlisted in this Cause. ╩

While Bush talked to us about WMDs, an imminent "mushroom cloud," and tried to link Saddam and Iraq to 9/11 (when it was 14 Saudis who hit the World Trade Center), those all fell apart and were exposed (by no less than Paul Wolfowitz) as intentional lies. When Bush shifted his Noble Cause to invading Iraq to bring democracy to the Iraqi people, the Downing Street Memo told another story. And now, also, so does Bush's first biographer. ╩

It's becoming increasingly clear that the way Bush lied us into invading Iraq, particularly the timing of it all (ginning it up just before the 2002 midterm elections), was done largely so Republicans could win take back the Senate in 2002 after losing it because of Jim Jeffords' defection, and so Bush could win the White House in the election of 2004. ╩

It's apparently just that simple, just that banal, and ultimately just that traitorous to the traditional ideals of America. ╩

This is why the greatest political threat that Cindy Sheehan represents to George W. Bush and his Republican Party is in her ability to point this out.more...

August 29, 2005

On Prairie Chapel Road, the Second Visit
by Leigh Saavedra

Sunday night in Crawford was dazzling magic for anyone who was seriously around in the sixties, when so many of us were marching FOR civil rights and AGAINST the Vietnam War. The salient reason: Joan Baez, or Joanie as many still call her.

I had been in Crawford the week before, but this time, the minute my 13-year old son and I pulled up to the Peace House, from which the activities around Cindy Sheehan's vigil all begin, we could see the difference. In just seven days, everything had become bigger, noticeably so, and all this despite Cindy's temporary absence. more...

August 28, 2005

While flying across the midwest last Summer we spotted these unusual looking crop patterns and had no idea what they were.

Crop Circles In Kansas

crop circles

Resembling a work of modern art, variegated green crop circles cover what was once shortgrass prairie in southwestern Kansas. The most common crops in this region¸Finney County¸are corn, wheat, and sorghum.

Each of these crops was at a different point of development when the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) captured this image on June 24, 2001, accounting for the varying shades of green and yellow. Healthy, growing crops are green. more...

August 27, 2005

Today in Iraq

"There are some who, uh, feel like that, you know, the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is: Bring 'em on. We got the force necessary to deal with the security situation. Ń
- George W. Bush, July 2, 2003.

War News for Friday, August 26, 2005

Bring 'em on: Thirty-six executed Iraqis discovered near Badrah.

Bring 'em on: Oil pipeline ablaze near Kirkuk.

Bring 'em on: Forty Iraqis, one American killed in Baghdad fighting.

Bring 'em on: Two Talabani bodyguards killed in ambush near Tikrit.

Bring 'em on: Two Danish soldiers wounded by roadside bomb near Basra.

Bring 'em on: Two Iraqi truck drivers killed by roadside bomb near al-Rashad.

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Archives

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No War in Iraq march.

San Francisco, Ca., January 18, 2003
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Klezmatics

Klezmatics concert photos. (These are uncorrected straight out out of the camera)

On April 3, 2005, Barbara and I went to see the Klezmatics, with guest Joshua Nelson, Jewish gospel singer. To quote the concert program, "Their soul-stirring Jewish roots music recreates klezmer in arrangements and compostions that combine Jewish identity and mysticism with a contemporary zeitgeist and a postmodern aesthetic. Since their founding in New York City's East Village in 1986, the Klezmatics have celebrated the ecstatic nature of Yiddish music with works by turn wild, spiritual, provocative, reflective and danceable." The concert was phenomenal.

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