Thursday, August 30, 2007

Disaster, Inc. Part IV

And from the ACLU :

On Katrina's Second Anniversary, Ongoing Civil and Human Rights Violations on the Gulf Coast Still Reported

A new report by the ACLU, Broken Promises: Two Years After Katrina, exposes numerous civil rights violations that have occurred in Louisiana and Mississippi since the storm, including reports of heightened racially motivated police activity, housing discrimination, and prisoner abuse.

"Politicians made promises, but they failed to fix the problems that Katrina's fury made painfully clear,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. “The government must be held accountable for its mistakes rather than allowed to perpetuate the systemic racism and discrimination that only added strength to the storm."

The report highlights the ongoing abuses since the storm, including:

Violence and neglect run rampant behind the walls of the jails. Some conditions in the Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) have even worsened since last year. The House of Detention, the largest of four jail buildings reopened since the storm, is severely overcrowded and conditions are squalid. Prisoners are forced to sleep on the floor without mattresses for weeks at a time in areas where up to 18 prisoners are held in cells designed for 10 people. There is no air-conditioning in most of the overcrowded facility despite excessive heat. These inhumane and dangerous conditions are exacerbated by severe understaffing at the jail.

Medical and mental health services at the jails are grossly inadequate. There reportedly have been several recent outbreaks of "staph" infections, a highly contagious and potentially fatal disease caused by filth and unsanitary conditions, and efforts to provide treatment are deficient.

Prisoners who are identified as needing mental health care after being taken into custody have been sent to a unit where they are strapped down to a bed in five-point restraints. The ACLU has received reports of prisoners being left there, largely unsupervised, for days at a time without any breaks, even to use the restroom.

In light of the findings in the report, Congress should pass legislation to address post-Katrina injustices, including racial profiling, voter disenfranchisement, and the dearth of health care facilities and low-income housing. The Department of Justice should investigate severe problems at OPP, the New Orleans jail system where prisoners were abandoned during the storm.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Disaster, Inc. Part III

This, too, gives me hope.

Brave New Films has made a short but heartbreaking video about the ongoing disaster, When the Saints Go Marching In.

At the conclusion of the film, it urges us to support The Gulf Coast Recovery Act. Sign the petition to do so.

And here is a brief letter written by Brave New Films:

Dear Friends,

Tomorrow marks the two year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and still there are tens of thousands of families without homes. 30,000 families are scattered across the country in FEMA apartments, 13,000 are in trailers, and hardly any of the 77,000 rental units destroyed in New Orleans have been rebuilt.

During the making of this video, we heard the heartbreaking stories of good people unable to return home. We have heard the story of the Aguilar family who lost their home to the storm and only received $4,000 in payments from their insurance company. We have met Mr. Washington, an 87-year-old man and former carpenter, who owned three homes prior to the storm. He is still living in a FEMA trailer today. And we've met Julie, who could have returned to her job and normal life, if the government had opened up the public housing units that she had lived in prior to the storm.

Disaster, Inc. Part II

The heartening part of it all - if there IS a slice of optimism to be discerned amidst the devastation - is that there are a few groups who are clamoring for change in the way that the Katrina aftermath is being handled.

From Campaign for America's Future:

Conservatism Disconnected

The Gulf Coast is still struggling to rebuild and recover, while conservative policies ensure that critical infrastructure and services will continue to be neglected. Write your local paper and inform your community how conservatism is eroding America’s foundations.

Seventeen days after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, and fifteen days after he ended his vacation, President Bush addressed the nation from New Orleans. He urged the displaced to call a toll-free number “and we will work to bring your family back together.”

Call that number today and you’ll find the line disconnected. Sadly, not surprising.

As we approach the second anniversary of the brutal storm, we still have hundreds of thousands of displaced Americans who have still not been able to rejoin their families in New Orleans -- and many others unable to get help with housing or jobs. White House promises made to them were broken, and it’s up to us to hold accountable those who failed to keep their word.

That’s what this week's observance of the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina must be about, if we are to not only rebuild the Gulf Coast, but also rebuild all of America.

Because this is not simply about assailing the incompetence of President Bush and his band of hacks. This is about how the conservative ideology is eroding the foundations of our great country.

From our bridges to our mines to our beloved home of jazz, conservative hatred of responsible government has led to crumbling institutions that have cut short the lives of too many. Unless we speak out and identify the problem, we won’t be able to implement solutions that will restore our infrastructure and revitalize our cities.

At Campaign for America’s Future, we’re doing our part during this week of solemn remembrance.

We’ve released a new video dramatically showing how Washington conservatives are disconnected from the harsh reality that Katrina’s victims are still living.

All week at our blog The Big Con, we’re chronicling how conservatism is at the root of what still ails the Gulf Coast.

And we’ve set up a web page where you can easily send letters to the editor and relay the facts to your community.

After Katrina, a leading congressman said the plan was to bring “conservative, free-market ideas to the Gulf Coast.” They did, and we’ve seen the results.

Less affordable housing. Fewer schools. Less water. Fewer buses. Less medical care. Fewer African-Americans that can come home and exercise their right to vote.

A disaster-relief agency that has served as a dumping-ground for political cronies.

And lots of no-bid contracts and wasted taxpayer dollars.

We cannot allow conservatism to continue to plague New Orleans and the rest of America. Let’s make our voices heard this week, and help get our nation back on solid ground.


Roger Hickey, Co-Director
Campaign for America’s Future

Monday, August 27, 2007

Disaster, Inc.

Have I even written about the Katrina disaster yet? If not, mea culpa, and I am deeply chagrined. The way the Katrina aftermath was handled is one of the many fiascos (among the whole huge bewildering mass) that Bush, Cheney, et al. should be impeached (and incinerated) for, and one of the many tragic situations that should be dominating the media, but which sadly and outrageously is not.

Anyway, the Katrina situation is STILL raging, because the government, fascist sick government that it is, is refusing to grant lower income people their RIGHT TO RETURN to New Orleans, and instead are using money that is RIGHTFULLY the victims' to remake the city into a Vegas-style tourist trap. It's happening along the Gulf Coast, too - instead of helping to house people, they are buidling casinos to lure in the tourists. Poor folk be damned - as usual.

It's yet another example of how America is being re-fashioned into a Haiti-like nightmare of huge income disparities. America is third-world-izing right before our very eyes. If you are in any doubt whatsoever, you are not paying attention, and have a lot of catching up to do. Get crackin'.

And none of us are safe from the egregious greed shown by the tyrants and corporations who control our country; middle class folks are already being financially impacted, and even the richest among us will eventually pay, spiritually and emotionally, for the sickening sins of the corporate totalitarians.

Watch a heart-wrenching video about it here:

Voices from the Gulf

And here is the excellent site of a movement that advocates for Katrina victims' rights, among other civil rights:

Color of Change

Sunday, August 26, 2007

This just in:

The world is still fucked up. Boo world!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

YES new taxes!

The bridge collapse in Minneapolis (not to mention the levee failure in New Orleans) perfectly illustrates why conservative rule DOES NOT WORK. The conservative mantra is always "no new taxes," implying that any new taxes are anathema to the health of society and the economy. But precisely the OPPOSITE is true. A healthy society thrives on taxes in order to maintain roads, schools, healthcare and so on. Social Democracy is the ONLY way to smoothly and sanely run society. Socialism because taxes exist for the common good, and Democracy because personal freedom is paramount.

People in America are so conditioned to think that taxes are an abominable evil. No other country in the Western world is so violently opposed to taxes - indeed, people in places like England, France, Spain, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland embrace taxes because they know that privatization of public services is ultimately much more costly and less reliable.

So I ask you: where would most kids other than those from affluent families attend schools if not for tax-funded public education institutions?* You might say, "but our public schools suck!" Well, first of all, they do not wholesale suck, because there are some great things going on in public schools. And secondly, if they do suck in any way, that's due to the fact of them being UNDERFUNDED, because we'd prefer to spend more on bombing babies than educating them. Did you know that the Iraq War is costing $2 TRILLION? Yes, OUR taxes are going toward annihilating a country. So even though the conservatives CLAIM to abhor taxes, the fact of the matter is, they LOVE them, because how else would they subsidize their nihilistic agenda? What would YOU rather pay to watch - the intellectual nurturing of a child, or the blasting off of her limbs? Because the latter is exactly what is happening in Iraq.

Anyway, a while back, the governor of Minnesota refused to sign onto a bill that would increase taxes for maintaining roads and bridges, and has ended up paying a hefty price anyway. Six people have died. He has blood on his hands. Arrest him and sequester him, because he has not protected the well-being of his subjects.

According to this article, Bridge Collapse Spotlights America's Deferred Maintenance "the nation is spending only about two-thirds as much as it should be to keep dams, levees, highways, and bridges safe."

So now do you feel safer knowing that daily, new terrorists are being created in Iraq, using YOUR tax dollars, while our infrastructure is crumbling all around us? Look for more Katrina- and Minnesota-style fiascos to happen if the current trend of defunding public services continues.

*Besides, in a true social democracy, people would not own such egregious wealth as some do now, and we would not have such vulgar class disparities.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

And on that note...

Watch this invigorating piece of agit-prop:

Agit-Pop on behalf of Stop the Iraqi Oil Law

Iraq TRAGEDY, and we are ALL to blame

If there were not such a pathetic media blackout of Iraq war coverage, more people would be upset about what's going on in OUR NAME. As it is, we can sit in complacent comfort in our own homes, ecstatically ignorant about the devastating suffering endured by millions of Iraqis at the hands of a totalitarian American government WE are too lazy to topple.

From AlterNet's War on Iraq:

*80% of Iraqis lack access to sanitation, 70% lack regular access to clean water and 60% lack access to the public food distribution system… As a result of these multiple public health failings, diarrhea and respiratory infections now account for two-thirds of the deaths of children under 5… According to a 2006 national survey conducted by UNICEF, 21% of Iraqi children are chronically malnourished.

*And then there's the poorly covered refugee crisis -- probably the worst on the planet at this moment -- gripping the country. Almost 4 million Iraqis have had to leave their homes, according to Refugees International.

*Iraq is producing one of the -- if not the -- most severe refugee crisis on the planet, a crisis without a name and without significant attention.

*Let's start with the numbers, inadequate as they are. The latest UN figures concerning the refugee crisis in Iraq indicate that between 1-1.2 million Iraqis have fled across the border into Syria; about 750,000 have crossed into Jordan (increasing its modest population of 5.5 million by 14%); at least another 150,000 have made it to Lebanon; over 150,000 have emigrated to Egypt; and -- these figures are the trickiest of all -- over 1.9 million are now estimated to have been internally displaced by civil war and sectarian cleansing within Iraq.

*These numbers are staggering in a population estimated in the pre-invasion years at only 26 million. At a bare minimum, in other words, at least one out of every seven Iraqis has had to flee his or her home due to the violence and chaos set off by the Bush administration's invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


If a blog post was made but no one was there to read it, does the blog post really exist?

What is the sound of one blog blogging?

If the Dalai Lama were to write a blog post, would it say nothing?

And if it said nothing, would it say "nothing," or would it literally be a blank page?

And if it were literally a blank page, would that count as SOMETHING, since it's a page of white color?

What does nothing look like, anyway?

I suspect it looks like oblivion.

What does oblivion look like, you ask?

Why, it looks like pre-darkness.

What does pre-darkness look like, you wonder?

Why, it looks like post-illumination.

What does post-illumination resemble?

For that, you are going to need to look in the mirror before you were conceived.