"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." Theodore Roosevelt
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died Saturday evening at his home in suburban Virginia, said Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg. A statement from the spokeswoman said he was surrounded by his three children when he died in Arlington. [...] His death ends a remarkable 33-year Supreme Court career during which Rehnquist oversaw the court's conservative shift, presided over an impeachment trial and helped decide a presidential election.
This time, during a catastrophe, the president did not merely dither for seven minutes, but for three days, and his top advisors followed suit....
While a rising chorus in the press has taken the White House, FEMA and the Pentagon to task for performing miserably in their response to the human disaster on the Gulf Coast, few have focused on the most telling aspect of the entire failure. It’s not just incompetence. It's a shameful lack of concern: The 9/11 "My Pet Goat" dithering on an administration-wide scale.
Simply stated, the president and his top advisers chose vacation over action.
While the media has done a good job in portraying the overall deadly failure of leadership, it has not focused enough on this deadly dereliction of duty....
This follows Bush himself remaining on vacation for more than two days after the storm hit, despite acknowledging this was the worst disaster in the nation’s history. He did take a trip during those days, not back to Washington but out to San Diego to deliver a political speech comparing his Iraq war to World War II. It got little play because nearly everyone else in the country, besides his inner circle, was focused on New Orleans instead. If this didn't have fatal consequences one would be tempted to merely say: Serves him right.
But at least Bush did start heading home late Wednesday. As he did, Secretary of State Rice was still enjoying her vacation in New York.
In fact, that night she enjoyed a few good yucks while attending the silly Broadway play "spamalot." ironically, the Bush team's performance this week did indeed seem like something out of a Monty Python skit. Each, in his or her own way, took a bunch of "silly walks."
Condi also played tennis with Monica Seles and on Thursday went on a shoe-shopping spree on Fifth Avenue until a fellow customer yelled at her for not doing her job and bloggers exposed all of this. Then she hurriedly headed back to Washington. Turns out she was overdue in getting a grip on offers to help that were pouring in from overseas governments and organizations.
Paging Andrew Card: Turns out he was Bush's Maine man....
While the 9/11 "My Pet Goat" episode was certainly illuminating, it's not certain what might have worked out better that day had the president dropped the book and taken action. But his failure to grab the reins in the hurricane catastrophe for three days this week probably doomed hundreds, or more, to death.
This is not mere incompetence, but dereliction of duty. The press should call it by its proper name.
Who on earth could have known that Osama bin Laden wanted to attack us by flying planes into buildings? Any official who bothered to read the trellis of pre-9/11 intelligence briefs. Who on earth could have known that an American invasion of Iraq would spawn a brutal insurgency, terrorist recruiting boom and possible civil war? Any official who bothered to read the C.I.A.'s prewar reports. Who on earth could have known that New Orleans's sinking levees were at risk from a strong hurricane? Anybody who bothered to read the endless warnings over the years about the Big Easy's uneasy fishbowl.
To use a fine Southern word, it's tacky to start playing the blame game before the dead are even counted. It is not too soon, however, to make a point that needs to be hammered home again and again, and that is that government policies have real consequences in people's lives. This is not "just politics" or blaming for political advantage. This is about the real consequences of what governments do and do not do about their responsibilities. And about who winds up paying the price for those policies.
At a fundamental level, I'd argue, our current leaders just aren't serious about some of the essential functions of government. They like waging war, but they don't like providing security, rescuing those in need or spending on preventive measures. And they never, ever ask for shared sacrifice. Yesterday Mr. Bush made an utterly fantastic claim: that nobody expected the breach of the levees. In fact, there had been repeated warnings about exactly that risk.
Actions have consequences. What you see on your television today is not some wild accident, but is a disaster that could have been averted had the priorities of this government been more in line with the needs of the people it pretends to serve. The city of New Orleans, home to so much of the culture that makes America unique and beautiful, is today drowning underneath an avalanche of polluted, diseased water. This, simply, did not have to happen. Remember that the next time you hear Bush talk about noble causes, national priorities and responsibility. This has been an administration of death, disaster, fear and woe.
The U.S. Air Force will send 300 airmen home from Iraq and Afghanistan to help their families cope with emergencies on an air base devastated by Hurricane Katrina in Biloxi, Miss., a spokesman said Saturday. The airmen, all based at Keesler Air Force Base, will begin flying home over the next two weeks, said Air Force Capt. David Small, spokesman for U.S. Central Command Air Forces in Qatar. The group includes airmen who were scheduled to rotate home in September and others whose deployments will be cut short. "Those who weren't scheduled to go home, we're going to send them home anyway to take care of their families and the hurricane damage," Small said.
As an aside, I thought George said our National Guard was not short staffed...
"Our priorities are clear: We will complete the evacuation as quickly and safely as possible. We will not let criminals prey on the vulnerable, and we will not allow bureaucracy to get in the way of saving lives." (video)
Note the shout from the crowd at the end of the clip.
In St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes, just south of New Orleans, victims of the hurricane are still waiting for food and water and for buses to escape the floodwaters, Melancon said. And for the entire time Bush was in the state, the congressman said, a ban on helicopter flights further stalled the delivery of food and supplies.
The US Navy asked Halliburton to repair naval facilities damaged by Hurricane Katrina, the Houston Chronicle reported today. The work was assigned to Halliburton's KBR subsidiary under the Navy's $500 million CONCAP contract awarded to KBR in 2001 and renewed in 2004. The repairs will take place in Louisiana and Mississippi. KBR has not been asked to repair the levees destroyed in New Orleans which became the primary cause of most of the damage. [...] In March, the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is tasked with responding to hurricane disasters, became a lobbyist for KBR. Joe Allbaugh was director of FEMA during the first two years of the Bush administration.
While the rest of us sympathize for the people of New Orleans, Halliburton salivates over a new billion dollar contract. Surprised? No. Disgusted? Yes.
Acess to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders. The state Homeland Security Department had requested, and continues to request, that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.
If the page gets taken down, here is a screenshot...
E is for Emergency, F is for Failure, G is for Golf
Criticism for George's handling of the disaster in New Orleans is mounting domestically as well as internationally...
President Bush finally made it to the US flood zone [today], amid fury at his administration's failure to give prompt help to New Orleans. As a Louisiana senator awarded a "grade F" to the response to the crisis and warned of more than 10,000 dead, large-scale aid was at last beginning to arrive in the swamped and lawless city. Mr Bush, leader of the richest nation on earth and floundering in the face of a Third World-style disaster, conceded five days on that the rescue effort was "not acceptable". As far back as 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was saying that a major hurricane hitting New Orleans was one of the three "likeliest, most catastrophic disasters facing this country". But the president nicknamed Dubya has constantly slashed the agency's budget, leaving flood defences unrepaired. He appointed inexperienced people to run it, then the body was swallowed up by the Department of Homeland Security.
But he still had the nerve to squeeze in a round of golf after his photo-ops. I guess coming back from a 5-week vacation, one really has to eeeease back into this whole work thing.
FEMA Director Mike Brown: Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans, virtually a city that has been destroyed, things are going relatively well.
Homeland Security Director Chertoff: Now, of course, a critical element of what we're doing is the process of evacuation and securing New Orleans and other areas that are afflicted. And here the Department of Defense has performed magnificently, as has the National Guard, in bringing enormous resources and capabilities to bear in the areas that are suffering.
Crowd chanting outside the Convention Center: We want help.
Nagin: They don't have a clue what's going on down there.
Phyllis Petrich, a tourist stranded at the Ritz-Carlton: They are invisible. We have no idea where they are. We hear bits and pieces that the National Guard is around, but where? We have not seen them. We have not seen FEMA officials. We have seen no one.
It's now day 5, and the officials are more concerned with the political damage control, than resolving the issue at hand... The dissenters are playing politics? Give me a break. These people need to do their job. They are failing miserably, and it's costing lives.
While George is surveying the refinery damage in Biloxi...
"It's worse than imaginable," the president said after walking through a battered neighborhood in Biloxi, Miss. He warned of gasoline supply problems this weekend because of damaged refineries and pipelines.
It's getting much, much worse in New Orleans; via the BBC (video).
I think I've told you that I'm into Arab horses. Well, for 3 years Michael Brown was hired and then fired by our IAHA, the International Arabian Horse Assoc. He was an unmitigated, total fucking disaster. I was shocked as hell when captain clueless put him in charge of FEMA a couple of years ago.
Highlights of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's interview with WWL-AM:
I told him we had an incredible crisis here and that his flying over in Air Force One does not do it justice. And that I have been all around this city, and I am very frustrated because we are not able to marshal resources and we're outmanned in just about every respect.
You know the reason why the looters got out of control? Because we had most of our resources saving people, thousands of people that were stuck in attics, man, old ladies... You pull off the doggone ventilator vent and you look down there and they're standing in there in water up to their freaking necks.
And they don't have a clue what's going on down here. They flew down here one time two days after the doggone event was over with TV cameras, AP reporters, all kind of goddamn -- excuse my French everybody in America, but I am pissed.
I need reinforcements, I need troops, man. I need 500 buses, man. We ain't talking about -- you know, one of the briefings we had, they were talking about getting public school bus drivers to come down here and bus people out here.
I'm like, "You got to be kidding me. This is a national disaster. Get every doggone Greyhound bus line in the country and get their asses moving to New Orleans."
That's -- they're thinking small, man. And this is a major, major, major deal. And I can't emphasize it enough, man. This is crazy.
I've got 15,000 to 20,000 people over at the convention center. It's bursting at the seams. The poor people in Plaquemines Parish... We don't have anything, and we're sharing with our brothers in Plaquemines Parish.
It's awful down here, man.
But we authorized $8 billion to go to Iraq lickety-quick. After 9/11, we gave the president unprecedented powers lickety-quick to take care of New York and other places.
Now, you mean to tell me that a place where most of your oil is coming through, a place that is so unique when you mention New Orleans anywhere around the world, everybody's eyes light up -- you mean to tell me that a place where you probably have thousands of people that have died and thousands more that are dying every day, that we can't figure out a way to authorize the resources that we need? Come on, man.
You know, I'm not one of those drug addicts. I am thinking very clearly.
And I don't know whose problem it is. I don't know whether it's the governor's problem. I don't know whether it's the president's problem, but somebody needs to get their ass on a plane and sit down, the two of them, and figure this out right now.
The White House battled a chorus of criticism throughout the day as bloggers made much of the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, vacationing in New York during the disaster, where she was spotted at a Broadway show and was to attend the U.S. Open. By Thursday evening, Ms. Rice had cut short her vacation and returned to Washington, where she headed to a staff meeting to discuss ways of coordinating offers of foreign assistance from more than 30 countries and organizations. Bloggers also circulated a picture of Mr. Bush playing a guitar at an event in California on Tuesday to imply that he was fiddling while New Orleans drowned. In fact, the picture was taken when the country singer Mark Wills presented Mr. Bush with a guitar backstage at North Island Naval Air Station in Coronado, Calif., after Mr. Bush gave a speech marking the 60th anniversary of the Japanese surrender in World War II.
Now do you understand? Politics, bad press, not crisis motivates these people.
Four days after Katrina made landfall in southeastern Louisiana, Bush was to get a second, closer look at the devastation wrought by the storm's 145 mph winds and 25-foot storm surge in an area stretching from just west of New Orleans to Pensacola, Fla. In all, there are 90,000 square miles under federal disaster declaration. Beginning in Mobile, Ala., the president was to fly by helicopter over some of the hardest-hit areas along the Alabama and Mississippi coasts and stop at a few points in Mississippi to hear from those on the ground. Given the chaos of the early days after the storm, Bush's schedule remained fluid up until the last minute. Aides considered limiting his visit to New Orleans, mostly drowned in rank floodwaters and descending in many areas into lawlessness, to only an aerial tour.
Dangerous being: Not scripted, not vetted, not packed full of rabid Bush supporters.
Congress rushed to provide a $10.5 billion down payment in relief aid for Gulf Coast victims of Hurricane Katrina on Thursday as President Bush ordered new action to minimize disruptions in the nation's energy supplies.
But where is the leadership? New Orleans has erupted in absolute chaos...
Storm victims were raped and beaten, fights and fires broke out, corpses lay out in the open, and rescue helicopters and law enforcement officers were shot at as flooded-out New Orleans descended into anarchy Thursday. "This is a desperate SOS," the mayor said. Anger mounted across the ruined city, with thousands of storm victims increasingly hungry, desperate and tired of waiting for buses to take them out. "We are out here like pure animals. We don't have help," the Rev. Issac Clark, 68, said outside the New Orleans Convention Center, where corpses lay in the open and other evacuees complained that they were dropped off and given nothing - no food, no water, no medicine. About 15,000 to 20,000 people who had taken shelter at the convention center to await buses grew increasingly hostile. Police Chief Eddie Compass said he sent in 88 officers to quell the situation at the building, but they were quickly beaten back by an angry mob. "We have individuals who are getting raped, we have individuals who are getting beaten," Compass said. "Tourists are walking in that direction and they are getting preyed upon."
President Bush will tour the hurricane-devastated Gulf Coast region on Friday and has asked his father, former President George H.W. Bush, and former President Clinton to lead a private fund-raising campaign for victims.
Thanks Bubba, and you too Poppa Bush. Go show little Dubya how it's done.
Bush drew no line between those looting stores for survival supplies like food and water and those stealing television sets that are of no use with electricity out in New Orleans. "I think there ought to be zero tolerance of people breaking the law during an emergency such as this, whether it be looting, or price-gouging at the gasoline pump or taking advantage of charitable giving, or insurance fraud," Bush said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America." Looting has run rampant in New Orleans as stranded victims of Hurricane Katrina await emergency assistance. "If people need water and food, we're going to do everything we can to get them water and food. But it's very important for the citizens in all affected areas to take personal responsibility and assume kind of a civic sense of responsibility so the situation doesn't get out of hand, so people don't exploit the vulnerable," Bush said.
What? The victims of Katrina should "take personal responsibility and assume kind of a civic sense of responsibility"... Are you kidding me? Did those words actually come out of your mouth Mr. President? You, yes you, are at the very least partly responsible for the dire predicament these people are currently in. Why so slow on support? Why are you just now ordering military relief? Why didn't you return from your vacation sooner? You have miserably failed the people of New Orleans, and you have the nerve to cast shame on these people who are just trying to find food and shelter. Shame on you Mr. President.
While the rest of us have been focused on the tragic events unfolding in Iraq and New Orleans, John Bolton has been hard at work, dismantling 60 years of environmental and humanitarian progress, at the United Nations...
Among the changes that Mr. Bolton is demanding is the deletion of a clause that would urge the five permanent members of the Security Council not to veto action aimed at halting genocide or ethnic cleansing.
John Bolton, the controversial new U.S. ambassador to the UN, has demanded no fewer than 750 amendments to an agreement designed to strengthen the world body and fight poverty, the intended highlight of its 60th anniversary summit this month. He also seeks to roll back proposed UN commitments to combat global warming and push nuclear disarmament. The amendments are included in a 32-page U.S. version, obtained by the Washington Post and the UK Independent. The changes eliminate all reference to the so-called Millennium Development Goals, accepted by all countries at the last major UN summit in 2000, as well as the Kyoto treaty and the International Criminal Court. Instead, the U.S. wants passages on fighting terrorism and spreading democracy.
John Bolton, its new UN ambassador, handed over hundreds of amendments, mirroring his government's foreign policy. They omit all mention of "respect for nature," the Kyoto protocol, increasing Third World aid, and obliging pharmaceutical firms to manufacture cheap AIDS drugs. Bolton also insists on removing references to the International Court of Justice, prosecution of war criminals, the "right of self-determination for peoples under foreign occupation," the use of violence "except as a weapon of last resort for the defense of national security," and even "disarmament" of weapons of mass destruction.
In Bolton's world, U.S. military incursions face no hindrance, the natural world is little more than a resource, and facilitating corporate power is a higher priority than reducing poverty. And the International Criminal Court, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Mine Ban Treaty? They simply don't exist. The rest of the planet - those other 190 or so countries that belong to the United Nations - got a bracing introduction to Bolton's world last week. As diplomats made last-minute preparations for the upcoming United Nations summit, scheduled for mid-September, they received a revised copy from the U.S. mission of the reform document that is supposed to be the focus of the summit. That document - the result of more than a year and a half of negotiations - had been dramatically edited. Its thirty-nine pages included 750 new changes.
Sacrifices may be necessary to make sure that all these things happen in an orderly, efficient way. But this administration has never been one to counsel sacrifice. And nothing about the president's demeanor yesterday - which seemed casual to the point of carelessness - suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis. [...] Complacency will no longer suffice, especially if experts are right in warning that global warming may increase the intensity of future hurricanes. But since this administration won't acknowledge that global warming exists, the chances of leadership seem minimal.
Yet where is the National Guard, why hasn't every able-bodied member of the armed forces in South Mississippi been pressed into service? On Wednesday reporters listening to horrific stories of death and survival at the Biloxi Junior High School shelter looked north across Irish Hill Road and saw Air Force personnel playing basketball and performing calisthenics. [...] We certainly need our own county and city officials to come together and identify the most pressing needs of their constituents and then allocate resources to meet those needs. We appreciate the stress that theses elected and appointed officials have been under since the weekend but they must do a better job restoring public confidence in their ability to meet this challenge.
"None of this has been planned," he said. "Not a single elected official has come down here in days to talk to us and tell us anything, not the mayor, not the police chief, nobody. On Sunday the colonel said his main objective was to protect and serve, and that has been a mockery. No one has materialized to do anything. I'm a social worker, and I can tell you, no one thinks about the human aspects." [...] "This is mass chaos," said Sgt. Jason Defess, 27, a National Guard military policeman who had been stationed on a ramp outside the Superdome since Monday. "To tell you the truth, I'd rather be in Iraq," where he was deployed for 14 months, until January. "You got your constant danger, but I had something to protect myself. [And] three meals a day. Communications. A plan. Here, they had no plan."
An aerial view of New Orleans, Louisiana from Air Force One August 31, 2005. Air Force One made an unprecedented low level flight over the Gulf Coast states so that U.S. President George W. Bush could survey the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina.
...At an altitude of about 2,000 feet. What a guy.
I've been scanning the cables news for the last couple of hours and 90% of the coverage is nothing but looting... No exaggeration... Near constant coverage on all the channels, all looting. This truly shameful. Most of the people are taking food, water, diapers, and basic items of necessity. Is that really a crime? The city of New Orleans is all but wiped off the map. Most of the people who decided to stay-out the storm, did so because they couldn't afford to leave. Remember that 12.7% poverty figure... A good number of them reside in New Orleans. These people are just trying to survive. And yes some are taking advantage of the situation, but really, so what if Wal-Mart loses a few TV's or fishing poles.
Having my fill of propaganda being disseminated via the cable news, I decided to check out the latest news online... This is what I stumbled upon, from the AP:
Mayor Ray Nagin ordered 1,500 police officers to leave their search-and-rescue mission Wednesday night and return to the streets to stop looting that has turned increasingly hostile as the city plunges deeper into chaos.
This is completely insane. At exactly what point did we all descend into this Orwellian nightmare? I thought my tired eyes were playing tricks on me... They have called off 1,500 polices officers from a search and rescue, to protect the goods at Wal-Mart? Fucking Wal-Mart? People, the city is gone. Most of these people were living in poverty before the devastation of the storm. Why is this such a priority? The focus should be on saving lives... Not corporate profits. Shouldn't it?
George, thank you for returning to Washington. I can imagine it must have been rough cutting your 5-week vacation short by 2 days. Trust me, the rest of us who get at most 3 weeks for the whole year, can only imagine. Now moving along, this banner from the White House homepage...
Do you really feel that's appropriate? I mean, come on, it's more than just a little misleading. The closest you got to the storm was from 30,000 feet in the air, 72 hours later, from the comfort of Air Force One. If you really wanted to gain some political capital from this one, you should showed up to the party at least 2 days earlier. Sorry, Mr. President but that banner is an insult to the intelligence of the people of Louisiana, and the rest of us - concerned citizens.
As the extent of Hurricane Katrina's devastation became clearer on Tuesday - millions without power, tens of thousands homeless, a death toll unknowable because rescue crews can't reach some regions - President Bush carried on with his plans to speak in San Diego, as if nothing important had happened the day before.
Katrina already is measured as one of the worst storms in American history. And yet, President Bush decided that his plans to commemorate the 60th anniversary of VJ Day with a speech were more pressing than responding to the carnage. A better leader would have flown straight to the disaster zone and announced the immediate mobilization of every available resource to rescue the stranded, find and bury the dead, and keep the survivors fed, clothed, sheltered and free of disease.
I don't believe George is the only one at fault here: Not a single public statement from any Republican or Democrat in Washington, and Congress is still on their summer break. Where is the leadership in this country... Where?
The AP reports: A young man walks through chest deep flood water after looting a grocery store in New Orleans on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005. Flood waters continue to rise in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina did extensive damage when it made landfall on Monday.
The AFP reports: Two residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store after Hurricane Katrina came through the area in New Orleans, Louisiana.
More than 600 people have been killed in a stampede of Shia pilgrims in northern Baghdad, Iraqi officials say. The incident happened on a bridge over the Tigris River as about one million Shias marched to a shrine for an annual religious festival. Witnesses said panic spread because of rumours that suicide bombers were in the crowd. Many victims were crushed to death or fell in the river and drowned. Health officials said the death toll could go as high as 1,000. Earlier, mortar rounds had been fired into the crowd, killing 16 people.
Death and destruction, everywhere... It's simply mind numbing.
President Bush on Tuesday answered growing anti-war protests with a fresh reason for American troops to continue fighting in Iraq: protection of the country's vast oil fields that he said would otherwise fall under the control of terrorist extremists. Bush, a onetime oilman, has rejected charges that the war in Iraq is a struggle to control the nation's vast oil wealth. But on Tuesday, Bush said the Iraqi oil industry, already suffering from sabotage and lost revenues, must not fall under the control of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida forces in Iraq led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
We tried to warn you... Over and over, and over again.
It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. [...] Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.
Get it? The levees were not finished. The levees failed, even though the hurricane veered and weakened. Which levees failed? [...] The $750 million Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Protection project is another major Corps project, which remains about 20% incomplete due to lack of funds, said Al Naomi, project manager. That project consists of building up levees and protection for pumping stations on the east bank of the Mississippi River in Orleans, St. Bernard, St. Charles and Jefferson parishes. [...] "The longer we wait without funding, the more we sink," he said. "I've got at least six levee construction contracts that need to be done to raise the levee protection back to where it should be (because of settling). Right now I owe my contractors about $5 million. And we're going to have to pay them interest."
Some of those areas, specifically St. Bernard, are now completely under water because those levee projects were not completed. [...] The district has identified $35 million in projects to build and improve levees, floodwalls and pumping stations in St. Bernard, Orleans, Jefferson and St. Charles parishes. Those projects are included in a Corps line item called Lake Pontchartrain, where funding is scheduled to be cut from $5.7 million this year to $2.9 million in 2006. Naomi said it's enough to pay salaries but little else.
Two levees broke and sent water coursing into the streets of the Big Easy a full day after New Orleans appeared to have escaped widespread destruction from Hurricane Katrina. An estimated 80 percent of the below-sea-level city was under water, up to 20 feet deep in places, with miles and miles of homes swamped.
The nation's poverty rate rose to 12.7 percent of the population last year, the fourth consecutive annual increase, the Census Bureau said Tuesday. [...] Overall, there were 37 million people living in poverty, up 1.1 million people from 2003. [...] The last decline in overall poverty was in 2000, when 31.1 million people lived under the threshold — 11.3 percent of the population. Since then, the poverty rate has increased steadily from 11.7 percent in 2001, when the economy slipped into recession, to 12.5 percent in 2003.
So let me get this straight... The last time there was a decline in poverty, Clinton held office. And now with Bush at the helm, it's been steadily on the rise. Fascinating. Who knew?
Martial Law has been declared in parts of New Orleans as conditions continued to deteriorate. Water levels in The Big Easy and it's suburbs are rising at dangerous levels and officials stated they don't know where the water is coming from. Residents are being urged to get out of New Orleans in any way they can as officials fear "life will be unsustainable" for days or even weeks.
A resolute President Bush, facing a public wary of his war policies, declared Tuesday that "we will not rest until victory is America's and our freedom is secure." Commemorating the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, the president drew comparisons between that 20th-century conflict and current wars on terror and in Iraq. "As we mark this anniversary, we are again a nation at war. Once again war came to our shores with a surprise attack that killed thousands in cold blood," he said at a naval base here, referring to Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He said that as in the time of World War II, the United States now faces "a ruthless enemy" and "once again we will not rest until victory is America's and our freedom is secure."
Resolute... Is that really the operative word here?
Opium production in Afghanistan has dropped by just 2 percent this year, despite a major clampdown on poppy farmers that sharply reduced the amount of land used to grow opium poppies, the U.N. anti-drug chief said Monday. The land under cultivation was reduced by 21 percent, but heavy rains helped produce a bumper crop of 4,100 tons of opium, said Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. Afghanistan is still estimated to produce 87 percent of the world's supply of opium and its derivative, heroin, Costa said. He predicted it would take 20 years to eradicate cultivation of opium poppies, a mainstay of Afghan farmers despite government warnings and the destruction of some crops.
Afghanistan now only produces 87% of the worlds heroin... Progress baby! Progress!
Under the Venezuelan government plan, CITGO will set aside up to 10% of its refined oil products to be sold directly to organized poor communities, and institutions in the U.S. without intermediaries. The plan calls for the sale of heating oil and gasoline to hospitals, nursing homes, schools and organized poor communities in U.S. soil, according to Ramirez. [...] "There is a lot of poverty in the U.S. and I don't believe that reflects the American Way of Life. Many people die of cold in the winter. Many die of heat in the summer," said Chavez on Sunday during his weekly TV show, explaining why Venezuela was interested in providing discounted heating oil to the U.S. poor. "We could have an impact on seven to eight million persons," Chavez added. Venezuela's ambassador to the U.S. Bernardo Alvarez, had told Chavez that the embassy in Washington DC has already received over 140 requests about the plan, even though it has not been formally announced yet. Venezuela also plans to provide free surgery for certain eye conditions for U.S. poor.
Yes, the same Hugo that Pat Robertson called for the assassination of. Giving to the poor or recommending murder... What would Jesus do?
As dawn broke over the ravaged Gulf Coast on Tuesday, rescuers in boats and helicopters furiously searched for survivors of Hurricane Katrina. The governor said the death toll in just one Mississippi county could be as high as 80. [...] Katrina knocked out power to more than a million people from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle, and authorities said it could be two months before electricity is restored to everyone. Katrina disrupted Gulf Coast petroleum output and rattled energy markets. According to preliminary assessments by AIR Worldwide Corp., a risk assessment company, the insurance industry faces as much as $26 billion in claims from Katrina. That would make Katrina more expensive than the previous record-setting storm, Hurricane Andrew, which caused some $21 billion in insured losses in 1992 to property in Florida and along the Gulf Coast.
Tonight Americans and Iraqis are dying for a world where each people may choose its own path to change. This is the principle for which our ancestors fought in the valleys of Pennsylvania. It is the principle for which our sons fight tonight in Iraq.
The war is hard and brutal and difficult. And some 1878 young men, born into an America that is bursting with liberty and freedom, have ended their lives on Iraq's steaming sands. Why must we take this painful road? Why must this nation hazard its ease, its interest, and its power for the sake of a people so far away? We fight because we must fight if we are to live in a world where every country can shape its own destiny, and only in such a world will our own freedom be finally secure.
A Democracy will never be built by bombs or bullets. Yet the acts of terror are such that force must often precede reason and the waste of war, the works of peace. We wish this were not so. But we must deal with the world as it is, if it is ever to be as we wish. The world as it is in the Middle East is not a serene or peaceful place. Of course, some of the people of Iraq are participating in attack on their own countrymen. But trained men and supplies, orders and arms, flow in a constant stream from Iran to Iraq. This support is the heartbeat of the war.
And it is a war of unparalleled terror. Simple shop keepers are the targets of assassination and kidnapping. Women and children are strangled in the night because their men are loyal to the cause for freedom. And helpless Iraqis are ravaged by suicide bombers. Large-scale raids are conducted on towns, and terror strikes in the heart of cities. The confused nature of this conflict cannot mask the fact that it is the new face of an old enemy. The contest in Iraq is part of a wider pattern of the war on our freedom.
Why are these realities our concern? Why are we in Iraq? We are there because we have a promise to keep. Over many months, we have made a national pledge to help the Iraqi's defend their freedom. And I intend to keep that promise. To dishonor that pledge, to abandon this small and brave nation to the insurgents, and to the terror that would follow, would be an unforgivable wrong.
Well, we are being invaded, and the president of the United States is not doing his duty to protect the states against that invasion. Some courageous Republican, to get the attention of this White House, should drop into the hopper a bill of impeachment, charging George W. Bush with a conscious refusal to uphold his oath and defend the states of the Union against invasion.
The level of concern is, I think, gradually rising. Our nation has given so much to the Iraqi people and what are they giving us in return? I don't see that the Congress is going to suddenly pull back like in the days of Vietnam. It is the desire of the Congress to continue to work with and support the administration. But there is always a tipping point.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld warned Monday that procedures designed to protect the environment can sometimes jeopardize U.S. troops and should be balanced against military needs. "When those concerns are not balanced, the consequence can be unfortunate, such as when troops deployed to Iraq," he said in remarks prepared for delivery at the White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation. When some troops trained for service in Iraq at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., Rumsfeld said, they were taught to roll up the bottom of their tents to stay out of the way of desert tortoises. "In Iraq, however, light spread out at the base of the tents and made troops more visible and possibly more vulnerable to insurgents," he said.
Hey Rumsfeld: Why is the California National Guard in Iraq, in the first place? Oh, right... We need more troops, and you can't risk what little support you have left by reinstating the draft. Second. Have you thought about retraining them on such obvious differences in priorities based on the mission's environment, before shipping them off to Iraq? Apparently not. But then, I guess it's just easier to blame it on the tree-huggers. Isn't it? Hell, it's a two-fer: You excuse yourself from any accountability, and you fire up your base against those damn liberals. Impressive.
Reuters demanded the immediate release on Monday of an Iraqi cameraman who was still being held by U.S. forces more than 24 hours after being wounded in an incident in which his soundman was killed. [...] The U.S. military said it was still investigating and refused to say what questions it was putting to cameraman Haider Kadhem. It would not say where in Baghdad he was held nor identify the unit holding him. [...] The official Iraqi police report said U.S. troops opened fire on the Reuters journalists. [...] Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based media rights group, called the shooting "extremely disturbing" and said the Reuters soundman was the 66th journalist or media assistant killed in Iraq since the invasion of 2003, three more than died in 20 years in Vietnam.
I guess Iraq isn't like Vietnam after all. Move along, nothing to see here.
[June 6, 2005] In fiscal year 2006, the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is bracing for a record $71.2 million reduction in federal funding. It would be the largest single-year funding loss ever for the New Orleans district, Corps officials said. I've been here over 30 years and I've never seen this level of reduction, said Al Naomi, project manager for the New Orleans district. I think part of the problem is it's not so much the reduction, it's the drastic reduction in one fiscal year. It's the immediacy of the reduction that I think is the hardest thing to adapt to.
There is an economic ripple effect, too. The cuts mean major hurricane and flood protection projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved for now. Money is so tight the New Orleans district, which employs 1,300 people, instituted a hiring freeze last month on all positions. The freeze is the first of its kind in about 10 years, said Marcia Demma, chief of the Corps' Programs Management Branch.
So not only has the majority of Louisiana's National Guard and their equipment been sent off to Iraq, but the funding has been dramatically cut as well. Are Republicans tough on National Security? Yes, they most certainly are.
Thousands of Sunni demonstrators rallied in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit on Monday to denounce Iraq's new constitution a day after negotiators finished the new charter without the endorsement of Sunni Arabs. Sunni leaders have urged their community to defeat the charter in a nationwide referendum on Oct. 15, saying it had been rammed through the drafting committee by the dominant Shiite Arab and Kurdish alliance. The absence of Sunni endorsement, after more than two months of intensive negotiations, raised fears of more violence and set the stage for a bitter political fight ahead of the referendum. A political battle threatened to sharpen communal divisions at a time when relations among the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds appear to be worsening. [...] "We sacrifice our souls and blood for you, Saddam," chanted the demonstrators. They carried pictures of Shiite clerics Muqtada al-Sadr and Jawad al-Khalisi who have joined the Sunnis in opposing the constitutional draft.
Crude oil futures briefly surged past $70 a barrel for the first time Monday as Hurricane Katrina barreled toward the heart of U.S. oil and refinery operations in the Gulf of Mexico, shutting down an estimated 1 million barrels of refining capacity. The Category 4 storm advanced on an area crucial to the U.S. energy infrastructure offshore oil and gas production, import terminals, pipeline networks and numerous refining operations in the southern states of Louisiana and Mississippi. "This is the big one," said Peter Beutel, an oil analyst with Cameron Hanover. "This is unmitigated, bad news for consumers." Light, sweet crude for October delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange jumped as much as $4.67 a barrel in Singapore to hit a high of $70.80 a barrel before slipping to $68.95 by midday in Europe.
With a natural disaster that could leave 1 million homeless... How can the MSM highlight such petty concerns? Is this a true reflection of what the public craves? As a nation, have we really become that callus?
The U.S. Army is using an interactive display at Nascar auto races around the country to recruit soldiers. Visitors to the Army exhibit can spray bullets during the virtual patrol, scale a 25-foot rock-climbing wall, bounce in a Humvee simulator, have their names stamped on dog tags and talk to recruiters, reported the Boston Globe Sunday. By the time Nascar's 36-race Nextel Cup series ends this year, the Army expects to gather about 40,000 names of potential recruits who will be contacted at least once by a recruiter. "In terms of sheer numbers, this is the exact kind of event we want to be at," said Staff Sgt. Harold Darner, an Army recruiter in Michigan. "They're race fans, and they're patriotic people. This is more bang for the buck."
Secular Iraqis said on Wednesday a proposed new constitution left no room for doubt about the Islamist path the country was heading down two years after a U.S. led invasion was supposed to produce greater freedoms. The document presented to parliament on Monday is suffused with the language of political Islam in defining the state, and assigns a primary role to Islam as a source for legislation. [...] "We had hoped for a secular constitution that would separate religion from state," said Mirza Dinnayi, leader of the Yazidi sect viewed by Islamists now running Iraq as devil worshippers. "It doesn't even mention some minorities... A constitution that can't ensure the rights of its citizens and equality doesn't deserve to be called a constitution."
A nation heavily influenced by radical religious extremists, no separation of church and state, and no protection for minorities... Sound familiar?
What follows is a collage of statements made by Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, reported by Iran Focus.
Fortunately, after years of effort and expectations in Iraq, an Islamic state has come to power and the constitution has been established on the basis of Islamic precepts. We must congratulate the Iraqi people and authorities for this victory. [Justice-seeking counties of the world] have no model other than the Islamic revolution in Iran to turn to. Lebanese Hezbollah and the state of Iraq are not the only supporters of the Islamic revolution. No matter how many stones [the West] throw in our path, they cannot prevent the spread of the Islamic revolution in the world.
We are the winners in the nuclear issue, too. The way is paved for our progress and we just need to work hard. [Rising oil prices had placed Iran on a sound financial footing,] we still have problems, but less than before. [The new hard-line government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad need to] purge executives who have been within our system, but who have been opposing our system and abusing people’s rights. These executives must be purged as soon as possible.
My deepest gratitude,
Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati Senior Iranian Islamic Cleric
Whether the constitution is sent to the Iraqi people without Sunni approval or is once again returned to the election committee for negotiations is almost irrelevant. The divisions are so intractable that the Sunnis are going to be marginalized, and enraged, in any event. The upshot: America's political vision for Iraq lies in tatters, and the Bush administration has largely itself to blame.
You'd think that by now, watching the meshugas in Iraq, the Bush crowd would have learned some lessons about twisting facts to suit ideology, and punishing those who try to tell the truth. But they're still behaving like Cinderella's evil stepsisters, who cut their feet to fit them into the glass slipper: butchering reality to make the fairy tale come out their way.
When the war's die-hard cheerleaders attacked the Middle East policy of a mother from Vacaville, Calif., instead of defending the president's policy in Iraq, it was definitive proof that there is little cogent defense left to be made. When the Democrats offered no alternative to either Mr. Bush's policy or Ms. Sheehan's plea for an immediate withdrawal, it was proof that they have no standing in the debate.