Participate in the nationwide demonstrations against the war next Saturday:

While we organize around the demand for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the U.S. from Iraq, it is essential that the movement show the connection between the war in Iraq and all the other fronts of the U.S. government's war for Empire, including the struggle of working and poor people in the United States.

Mass March on
Saturday, September 24
in Washington D.C.
Regional demonstrations in
San Francisco, Los Angeles & Seattle

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September 23, 2005

Blackwater Down
Fresh From Iraq, Private Security Forces Roam the Streets of an American City With Impunity
by Jeremy Scahill  

The men from Blackwater USA arrived in New Orleans right after Katrina hit. The company known for its private security work guarding senior US diplomats in Iraq beat the federal government and most aid organizations to the scene in another devastated Gulf. About 150 heavily armed Blackwater troops dressed in full battle gear spread out into the chaos of New Orleans. Officially, the company boasted of its forces "join[ing] the hurricane relief effort." But its men on the ground told a different story.  

Some patrolled the streets in SUVs with tinted windows and the Blackwater logo splashed on the back; others sped around the French Quarter in an unmarked car with no license plates. They congregated on the corner of St. James and Bourbon in front of a bar called 711, where Blackwater was establishing a makeshift headquarters. From the balcony above the bar, several Blackwater guys cleared out what had apparently been someone's apartment. They threw mattresses, clothes, shoes and other household items from the balcony to the street below. They draped an American flag from the balcony's railing. More than a dozen troops from the 82nd Airborne Division stood in formation on the street watching the action. more...

September 22, 2005

Experts Say Faulty Levees Caused Much of Flooding
By Michael Grunwald and Susan B. Glasser
Washington Post Staff Writers

Louisiana's top hurricane experts have rejected the official explanations for the floodwall collapses that inundated much of New Orleans, concluding that Hurricane Katrina's storm surges were much smaller than authorities have suggested and that the city's flood- protection system should have kept most of the city dry.

The Army Corps of Engineers has said that Katrina was just too massive for a system that was not intended to protect the city from a storm greater than a Category 3 hurricane, and that the floodwall failures near Lake Pontchartrain were caused by extraordinary surges that overtopped the walls.

But with the help of complex computer models and stark visual evidence, scientists and engineers at Louisiana State University's Hurricane Center have concluded that Katrina's surges did not come close to overtopping those barriers. That would make faulty design, inadequate construction or some combination of the two the likely cause of the breaching of the floodwalls along the 17th Street and London Avenue canals -- and the flooding of most of New Orleans.

In the weeks since Katrina drowned this low-lying city, there has been an intense focus on the chaotic government response to the flood. But Ivor van Heerden, the Hurricane Center's deputy director, said the real scandal of Katrina is the "catastrophic structural failure" of barriers that should have handled the hurricane with relative ease. more...

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Fiscal Responsibility?
by Jason Leopold

Republicans like to brag that, as a political party, they are more fiscally responsible than their Democratic counterparts. Well, thanks to President Bush‚s four years in office that theory can now take up residence in the urban legend department.

If anything, Bush‚s tenure as president proves that the Republican tax cuts (which everyone knows truly benefits the wealthiest one percent), drastically slashing funds in the federal budget for much needed improvements to the country‚s aging infrastructure (a perfect example being the outdated power grid), and trying to get away with launching wars on the cheap, have cost taxpayers and their unborn grandchildren more money than anyone could have ever imagined.

Simply put, since he became president, Bush has not invested the funds to fix the cracks in the country‚s faćade, despite repeated warnings from experts and intense lobbying efforts by state officials that ignoring the problem will make it worse in the long run. Instead, the president pumped tens of billions of dollars into an unnecessary war that, when it became evident that attaining victory was tougher than the war planners imagined, required tens of billions of dollars more just to continue the fighting. more...

September 21, 2005

Denying Access to the Ballot

It has been clear since 2000 that the election system is in serious need of reform. But the commission led by James Baker III and former President Jimmy Carter has come up with a plan that is worse than no reform at all. Its good ideas are outweighed by one very bad idea: a voter identification requirement that would prevent large numbers of poor, black and elderly people from voting more...

**********

From Representative John Conyers:
Make no mistake about it, this national ID voting card will result in the disenfranchisement of poor and minority voters, and make us susceptible to the same old Ken Blackwell-style Republican electoral dirty tricks that cost Senator Kerry the election in Ohio. Remember the lack of voting machines in Ohio for Democratic voters? Remember the machines that broke down or registered strange numbers of votes for George Bush or unknown third party candidates? Remember Ken Blackwell‚‚s paper weight requirements for voter registration cards? Imagine if the Republican party can, in one fell swoop, apply new legal obstacles to more than ten percent of voters, most of them poor, minority and elderly voters, most of them Democratic voters, from being able to vote.

Please Sign the Letter to Congressional Leadership.

September 20, 2005

With God On Our Side?
Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is a senior fellow with  Media Matters for America and a senior contributor to The Gadflyer. The anti-Americans in our midst are out in force again, saying everything that goes wrong is America‚s fault. They just won‚t stop running down this country, their hatred never far from the surface. I‚m speaking, of course, about conservatives.

A certain brand of conservative, anyway. Seeing the misery caused by Hurricane Katrina, some on the right knew what was going on: God hates America. Or at the very least, he‚s really, really angry with us. And you don‚t have to go to the maniacal Rev. Fred Phelps of „God Hates Fagsš fame, whose latest project is www.godhatesamerica.com, to find this kind of rhetoric. It comes from people with strong ties to the Republican party. more...

September 19, 2005

Hurricane Hugo at the U.N. 
By Mike Whitney 

"Practically no one in the United States knows that we've donated millions of dollars to the governorship of Louisiana, to the New Orleans Red Cross. We're now giving care to more than 5,000 victims, and now we're going to supply gasoline, freely in some cases, and with discounts in other cases, to the poorest of communities, starting with New Orleans and its surroundings... We've been helping. And we've been even rescuing people." Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez; "Nightline" with Ted Koppel, 9-16-05 

Hugo Chavez's performance at the UN was greeted with the bucket-loads of bile that one expects from America's rightward-titling media. Washington Post hatchet-man Colum Lynch provided a typical summary of the speech by dismissing it as "a rant" from the Venezuelan "bad-boy". But, Lynch isn't alone in his hostility; the outpouring of venom came from all corners; appearing in many newspapers across the nation, invoking the hackneyed expressions of contempt for any foreign leader who rebuffs Washington or who follows redistributive economic policies. 

In fact, the speech was a brilliant and impassioned analysis of the current state of the world and of the United Nations. Chavez noted that the original intention of the gathering had been "completely distorted" by the so-called reform process introduced by John Bolton. The reforms are entirely designed to transform the UN into a cats-paw for American power creating greater flexibility for Washington's preemptive wars and for dismantling the foundations of international law. They signal the demise of the UN as a legitimate forum for world development and an invitation for Bush and co. to act with even greater impunity.  more...

September 18, 2005

If Corporations Could Laugh
by Ralph Nader  

If only corporations could laugh. If only corporations could laugh during the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearings on Judge John Roberts' nomination for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, they would head for the nearest champagne closet in their executive suites.

What a triumph for the most dominant powers in and around our nation. Judge Roberts got away without having important questions asked regarding the interface between corporations, the Constitution, the election laws, the regulatory agencies as they relate to workers, consumers, the environment, manipulated communities, the double standard justice system and the pertinent practices of corporate law firms. more...

September 17, 2005

Culture Of Greed
by Robert Scheer
---snip---

Watching on television the stark vulnerability of a permanent underclass of African Americans living in New Orleans ghettos is terrifying. It should be remembered, however, that even when hurricanes are not threatening their lives and sanity, they live in rotting housing complexes, attend embarrassingly ill-equipped public schools and, lacking adequate police protection, are frequently terrorized by unemployed, uneducated young men. more...

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Baghdad Burning

Draft Constitution - Part I..
I‚ve been reading and re-reading the Iraqi draft constitution since the beginning of September. I decided to ignore the nagging voice in my head that kept repeating, „A new constitution cannot be legitimate under an occupation!š and also the one that was saying, „It isn‚t legitimate because the government writing it up isn‚t legitimate.š I put those thoughts away and decided to try to view the whole situation as dispassionately as possible.

It was during the online search for the *real* draft constitution that the first problem with the document hit me. There are, as far as I can tell, three different versions. There are two different Arabic versions and the draft constitution translated to English in the New York Times a few weeks ago differs from them both. I wish I could understand the Kurdish version- I wonder if that is different too. The differences aren‚t huge- some missing clauses or articles. Then again, this is a constitution- not a blog∑ one would think precision is a must. more...

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Archives

August 21, 2004 - August 19, 2005


August 20, 2005 - August 26, 2005
August 27, 2005 - September 2, 2005
September 3, 2005 - September 9, 2005
September 10, 2005 - September 16, 2005

No War in Iraq march.

San Francisco, Ca., January 18, 2003
San Francisco, Ca., February 16, 2003

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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