Friday, September 01, 2017

Harvey: Freak Storm, or Harbinger of New Normal?

Harvey: Fierce Climate Change at Work

by Robert Hunziker - CounterPunch

September 1, 2017

Is Harvey a force of nature or something more?

Clearly, Harvey is a natural disaster of monstrous proportions. Its destructiveness is the hottest topic on TV coast-to-coast and around the world. Still, cynics of climate change say natural disasters, like hurricanes, are normal and nothing more than nature’s way.

The evidence, however, points in another direction; climate change is no longer simply nature doing its thing. It’s lost purity of the force of nature, only nature.

Similar to the record setting massive meltdown of Arctic ice in a flash of geologic time, fierce storms and zany weather patterns are setting all-time records, hyper-speeding nature’s time clock.

In point of fact, bigger/faster all-time records have become the norm, racing ahead of nature, prompting the question: Why is this happening?

The likely answer is: The human footprint is driving climate change to hyper speed; in some instances 10xs faster than climate change over the past millennia.

Indeed, today’s rapidly changing climate is the upshot of the Great Acceleration or post WWII human footprint into/onto the ecosystem, with authority, knocking down weather records along the way. Abnormal is now normal. One-hundred-year floods are passé, outmoded, old hat. Epic floods and historic droughts are the norm. It’s all happened within the past couple of decades. Recent examples include the following:

It was only a couple of years ago that Hurricane Sandy caused $75B in damages as the 2nd costliest hurricane in U.S. history. But then again, New York is not located in hurricane country. Still, it happened and is but one more example of a climate gone bonkers.

In France in 2003, the hottest heat wave in over 500 years killed approximately 15,000, as well as 70,000 throughout Europe. Stifling heat hung in the air for months, no movement, atmospheric troughs of jet streams stood still, likely influenced and altered by global warming, specifically via radical changes in the Arctic, which is losing its bright reflecting ice cap that used to reflect up to 90% of solar radiation back into outer space. But, alas, warming 2xs-to-3xs the world average hit Arctic ice, losing much its reflective cover, with danger signals ever-present thereafter, like crazed out-of-whack jet streams (which negatively alter weather patterns throughout the Northern Hemisphere) to methane eruptions from below, potentially endangering all life forms with runaway global warming.

Meanwhile, drought clobbered the Middle East, especially Syria, experiencing its worst-ever drought in 900 years, displacing one-to-two million farmers/herders and contributing to Syria’s socio/economic disruption, leading to conflict.

Throughout the Middle Eastern region “it’s well outside the norm of natural variability indicating that a climate change signal is likely emerging in the region.” (Source: Benjamin I. Cook, et al, Spatiotemporal Drought Variability in the Mediterranean Over the Last 900 Years, Journal of Geophysical Research- Atmospheres, DOI: 10.1002/2015/D023929)

The regular ole brand of climate change for hundreds and thousands of years is history. In the past, when tropical storms and hurricanes hit, swooshing onshore, they’d die-off when hitting land. That’s nature marching to its own drummer.

Whereas, Harvey hits and then hits again and again while carrying boatloads of moisture, well above and beyond any storm ever recorded. Cause and effect, it’s the human footprint, too much of everything, including too much CO2 emitted from planes, trains, and automobiles and power plants and big fat cows weighing down the atmosphere, heating things up and altering jet streams that dictate weather patterns. It’s a deadly cocktail of nature plus the human footprint of the Great Acceleration deviously at work!

Harvey is so monstrous that it brings forth the best of the best talking heads, a prerequisite with something so momentous, so absolutely huge, all encompassing. For example, Michael Mann (Pennsylvania State University), one of America’s most illustrious atmospheric scientists writing for the Guardian, says “human action” made Harvey worse because (1) anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change has raised seawater levels, goosing the storm surge, and (2) higher temperatures than in the past cause more moisture in the atmosphere meaning more rainfall, and (3) Harvey mysteriously hovers over Houston, not dying over land like hurricanes always do because human-caused global warming has altered weather patterns. (Source: Mann, M. E. et al. Influence of Anthropogenic Climate Change on Planetary Wave Resonance and Extreme Weather Events. Sci. Rep. 7, 45242; doi: 10.1038/srep45242, 2017).

Meanwhile, day-over-day, hour-by-hour Houstonians fight for survival, but back in Washington, D.C., Trump’s proposed budget calls for a 16% cut to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which serves as the public’s eyes and ears for all things atmospheric, satellite and weather related. For example $513M is cut from NOAA”s satellite division, potentially crippling NOAA’s ability to keep afloat key satellites relied upon by business, military, and weather services for the general public.

“Scientists and meteorologists have worried that the cuts, and much more devastating reductions in climate change programs at NASA and other agencies, would harm the agency’s ability to forecast storms. In recent decades, the improvement in forecasting technologies has saved hundreds of lives, especially when it comes to tornadoes. The National Weather Service notes that hundreds used to die from pop up tornadoes like the ones that blew through Oklahoma in the mid-1970s, and that deaths are way down due to accurate predictions.” (Source: Matthew Cooper, Trump’s Proposed Cuts to Weather Research Could Make it Much Harder to Prepare for Storms, Grist- Climate Desk, Aug. 25, 2017).

The tragedy of Houston is heartrendingly supremely more tragic under guidance of the Trump administration, which is cutting anything and everything related to science. By all appearances, Trump has a bone to pick with intellectual and scientific matters of state. He’s uncomfortable unless involved in primitive elementary scenarios, like speaking before a crowd of glassy-eyed lackeys.

As it happens, Houston’s mourning exposes and brings to the surface Trump’s destructionist mentality in pure numbers that will soon be presented to the public via congress for consideration.

Trump’s budget proposal cuts $667M from FEMA state and local funding, including disaster preparedness and response programs and cuts $90M from FEMA’s pre-disaster mitigation program and eliminates the entire $190M for national flood insurance analysis program. Henceforth, states and localities will contribute 25% toward grants that they previously did not fund.

The same Trump budget that cuts FEMA programs by about $1B proposes $2.6B in funding for The Wall. For this spending proposal Trump is willing to shut down the government to force Congress to pay up or be damned/blamed for shutting down the fiefdom.

But, will The Wall prevent storms or will it perversely create more?

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at
More articles by:Robert Hunziker 

GI Cop:Trump’s ‘Arms for Cops’ Program Just Means More Militarization of the Police

Another sop to the gun nuts : President Trump’s ‘Arms for Cops’ Program Just Means More Militarization of the Police

by Dave Lindorff  - This Can't Be Happening

August 30, 2017

President Trump’s pandering executive order reversing an Obama decision to scale back the dumping of surplus military equipment on the nation’s already over-armed police departments includes word that his new “toys (arms)-for-cops” benefit program will include Army and Marine surplus bayonets.

Let’s ponder that for a moment.

Cops or soldiers? In today's America it's hard to know.

The Army gave up bayonets for combat use after the Korean War (the last recorded US bayonet charge was in 1951 in that war). Now, while the Marines still train in bayonet use in boot camp in a bow to tradition, the reality is that nobody actually uses them in combat.

So you have to ask: If the military doesn’t think that bayonets are needed or useful in actual combat, why would police in the US need them?”

It’s a good question and gets to the larger question of why American cops need any of the gear that they’re being offered — once again — by the US military: everything from RPGs to MRAP “tanks” so heavy that if called out for a SWAT raid, a route has to first be carefully plotted and followed that doesn’t cross over any of this country’s worn-out and and crumbling bridges and culverts (an MRAP weighs 14-18 tons, while local street viaducts in many communities frequently have tonnage limits in the single digits).

 Before he retired, I had a conversation with the chief of police of my community of Upper Dublin, a quiet middle-class suburb of Philadelphia, about militarized policing. A thoughtful veteran of the Vietnam War himself, he disabused me of an automatic and commonly shared assumption I had made that local police SWAT teams were probably populated by combat veterans looking for more adrenalin-pumping action. Actually, he told me, combat vets who go into police work — and there are many who do, thanks to the extra points awarded to veterans by most communities in their hiring — don’t want to be playing soldier when they become police officers. “They’ve had enough of war and killing,” he told me. “It’s the ones who have never been in the military who volunteer for SWAT teams.” He Described such SWAT volunteers as “wannabe soldiers.”

Maybe if police and sheriff’s departments get old Korean War-era bayonets from the Pentagon to put on their semi-automatic rifles, they’ll try launching bayonet charges next time they bust into a house to deliver a bench warrant for a bald tire or missed family court appearance or to look for pot plants, instead of just walking up to the front door in the early morning and bashing it in with a battering ram, as my son witnessed the Savannah Police SWAT unit do trying to arrest a pot dealer who lived next door to him and his schoolmates (the suspect wasn’t home, but his little kids were).

Next we’ll be reading about police stabbings of innocent civilians, instead of their being shot.

Maybe that would be a a good thing. A stabbing victim, I should think, would have a much better chance of survival than someone who is the victim of a barrage of bullets fired by an over-excited assault-rifle carrying cop in the heat of urban, suburban or rural “battle.” That is unless the cop wielding the bayonet decides to engage in multiple piercing of his victim.

Really, this whole thing is getting seriously out of hand.

I was just in England, where I had to spend some time in a National Health Service hospital waiting room, and among other things, I got to see an English version of a reality cop show, where the camera was following a couple of bobbies around on their night patrol. I don’t know what city it was but judging by the size of the railroad station where the portion of the program I watched took place, it must have been a big one.

At any rate, the two bobbies drove up to the train station in response to a call about an apparently deranged man attacking a locked station door and shattering its glass pane. The cops exited their squad car and walked up to the perp. He tried to leave but they gently took him by the arms and restrained him. They kept their voices low and calm and did not draw any weapons (I’m not sure they were carrying guns at all).

“Why did you break that glass?” one cop asked him.

The man had no answer. The other cop asked him where he lived. When he replied that he didn’t have a home, he was told they could take him to social services, which could find him a place.

They told him he had destroyed public property and might have to pay for it. The man said he had no money, so they said they had to bring him in to the station. They then walked him — no handcuffs needed — to the squad car, and helped him gently into the back seat, which is walled off from the front seats, and drove off.

I didn’t get to see the rest of the show as I was called away for some tests, but what struck me was that the cops remained calm at all times through this incident, and that they did not rough the man up. He was not thrown to the ground and piled on by the arresting officers, which is now pretty much standard practice for arrests in the US. And he didn’t have his arms wrenched behind him and cuffed — another US standard police practice that frequently results in injured hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders, and that can also result in more serious injuries if the cuffed person, unable to protect his head, “happens” to fall over, or down some stairs.

The same retiring police chief also told me, back during our conversation about militarized police, that when he first got hired as chief in our town, he found that the department had earlier been supplied by the Pentagon, under the arms-for-cops program of handing out surplus military equipment, with enough fully automatic M16 rifles for every cop on the force. This in a town where the biggest violent crime in two decades was whatever the largest barroom brawl was during that period. We did have a restaurant owner murdered in what appears to have been a mob hit, but that is a kind of unique thing that hardly required use of a SWAT team or M16’s to handle. The guy was found shot dead, and it became a job for detectives, including the FBI.

Anyhow, the chief said one of the first things he did was send back the automatic weapons to the Pentagon. He said “We didn’t need police running around with fully automatic weapons.”

True enough, though they still all have semi-automatic AR-15s racked in their SUV patrol vehicles. These weapons only get used, though, for putting injured deer out of their misery. There are no other types of crimes calling for such guns to be unracked in Upper Dublin.

Truth is, most SWAT raids across the US — and there are over 20,000 of them a year across the country, mostly to serve warrents that could be served by a knock on the door, or to search for drugs, which could be done without breaking down doors and terrorizing families — are clearly unjustified. In fact they have resulted in numerous killings of innocent citizens, sometimes because police raid the wrong address, and other times because the cops don’t do good pre-raid intelligence to see whether their are children in the targeted home. Babies have been killed when police toss flash-bang grenades into windows as part of a raid and they end up landing in an occupied crib or playpen.

The whole thing should sicken decent people of all political stripes, but we seem to have accepted the idea of cops behaving like occupying troops in a foreign land as normal policing in the United States of 2017.

Trump is catering to that mentality by reactivating the arms-for-cops conveyor belt.

How long will it be before we have the first baby stabbed by a bayonet-wielding cop who will predictably claim he couldn’t see because his visor was fogged up from the tear gas canister police launched, or smoke from the stun grenade they tossed into the house before rushing in?

It’s time to back this whole thing up. Most of this up-arming of police, and the adoption of brutal and aggressive tactics in arrests is justified as necessary to protect officers from perceived risk of harm. But that’s outrageous and wrongheaded.

Firefighters are also uniformed public servants — many of them volunteers! — and we expect them to be ready and willing to run into burning buildings if they think there’s any chance that a person might be trapped inside. They do this knowing that they could be running to their deaths. I actually watched two New York City cops do this, kicking open the door of a burning apartment in my building and, without a second’s pause rushing in as smoke and flame burst out of the busted doorway. It’s almost hard to imagine a firefighter, confronted with a burning building and cries from someone inside the conflagration, just standing there with a hose and doing nothing because he or she was afraid of injury or death. It’s just not what firefighters do.

Yet all a police officer has to do to get off the hook for panicking and slaughtering an unarmed person during an arrest is to say, “I feared for my life.” The cop doesn’t have to offer any serious evidence of a threat. It could be a person reaching, in response to an order from the cop, for his wallet (all too common a situation). If the cop says that he or she thought the wallet might have been a gun, that would be enough, and often is, to convince a district attorney not to prosecute, or in the rare instance where there is a prosecution, to convince a jury not to convict.

That’s wrong. When someone becomes what should be called a “peace officer” (now a laughably anachronistic term), that person is hired to “protect and serve” the public, and given the nature of the job, that should entail a assuming a considerable amount of risk, just as becoming a firefighter entails assuming a certain amount of risk. Part of that risk should include not shooting first and asking questions later, and trying to de-escalate conflict situations instead of amping them up by yelling, swearing and trying to “disorient” the subject facing arrest.

We’re going in the opposite direction by offering cops military arms and equipment, as President Trump is doing, which just encourages police to think of themselves as soldiers in a war zone instead of as peace officers in a community.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

EyePhone: Spy v. Spy Goes Mainstream

IMSI Catching: Phone surveillance measures and countermeasures go mainstream

by Rick Falkvinge

August 29, 2017
The German newspaper Die Zeit has a long feature this week about IMSI catchers and their countermeasures, words that were long heard only in countersurveillance cultures at Black Hat and Defcon
Observing this phenomenon make the jump from the obscure to the mainstream tells us a lot about the years to come: surveillance and countersurveillance will be a cat-and-mouse game for quite some time.

Most people have heard of their IMEI, their phone’s unique identifier. It’s short for International Mobile Equipment Identity, and a lot of people learn how to read this number. 
Originally, it was produced by typing ×#06# on your phone, a sequence that amazingly still works, but it’s also on the phone receipt, in the menus, and in a number of friendlier places. This is the number you can insure, and this is the number you can report stolen to brick the phone.

A more secretive number is the IMSI, the Subscriber Identity, which identifies not the phone but the SIM card inside the phone. In most parts of the world, you’re expected to buy these separately from the phone, and you can replace the SIM card to change carriers but keep the same phone. In some other parts of the world, where telco carries have exercised regulatory capture and have a dysfunctional market, the SIM is typically card prebaked into the phone, and in these countries, you might never have seen it – but it’s still there, identified by the IMSI.

There are many good technical reasons to keep this number a secret. For example, any reconfiguration instructions sent to the phone from the carrier – so-called Over-the-Air provisioning — must be signed cryptographically with the IMSI of the current SIM card, in order to prevent fraudulent configuration. It’s also the number used when the phone contacts the carrier network, and therefore, anybody intercepting that handshake will see the IMSI.

This is the technology used in so-called IMSI catchers. When there is a large number of people in an area that the regime — police or other forces — want to keep tabs on, they deploy high-powered fake celltowers that the phones connect to, believing that these fake celltowers are their carrier’s. The fake towers then contact the real ones in turn, performing what we call a man-in-the-middle attack, which is just what it sounds like, sitting between the phones and the real cellphone towers.

This is a fairly sophisticated attack, one made by law enforcement in a highly dubious legal area. That’s why it’s really interesting to see mainstream media cover the topic now.

It’s particularly interesting as law enforcement won’t immediately get identities out of this attack — it will merely read which IMSI numbers were in the area at the time of the man-in-the-middle attack. Some of the time, this could conceivably be translated into people’s actual names, by means of subpoenas or similar to the carriers. A lot of the time, it won’t (think anonymous prepaid SIM cards).

While this attack can be used to track an individual’s movements once you have their IMSI — and has been used for this, notably with the American-made Stingray devices — it’s more alarming that law enforcement is increasingly using the attack to keep a catalog over which people, or at least their phones, are present at a certain type of protest.

Die Zeit’s article also covers countermeasures to the IMSI catcher attack, and mentions that while there are numerous apps that detect IMSI catchers, the better ones can only detect about 90% of those attacks.

We can expect this to escalate in the coming years. 

Rick Falkvinge is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. He works as Head of Privacy at the no-log VPN provider Private Internet Access; with his other 40 hours, he's developing an enterprise grade bitcoin wallet and HR system for activism.

Syndicated Article - This article was previously published at Private Internet Access.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

This is What a Spill Looks Like: Pictures and Stories from the Nathan E. Stewart Disaster

“This is What a Spill Looks Like”: Photographer, First Responder Share Images, Stories from 2016 Great Bear Rainforest Oil Spill


August 29, 2017

VICTORIA - RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs) presents "This is What a Spill Looks Like", a fundraising event in support of the Heiltsuk Nation. The event features underwater and wildlife photography of the Great Bear Rainforest by April Bencze and a talk by Jaimie Harris of the Heiltsuk Nation.

The pair are fundraising to keep wild fisheries safe from spills and support the Heiltsuk Nation who are struggling to recover from a devastating spill in their traditional territories. Both Harris and Bencze were in Bella Bella in the fall of 2016 when the tug, Nathan E. Stewart, spilled over 110,000 litres of diesel fuel straight into the Heiltsuk’s main marine harvesting area.

After spending weeks fighting to contain the oil spill, the Heiltsuk are now preparing a civil case against Kirby Corporation, and the government of Canada, to recover damages for loss of Aboriginal rights to food, social and ceremonial harvesting, and the loss of their commercial harvesting of marine resources.

“For thousands of years we have created clam gardens, and seeded them, to ensure we would always have access to that resource. Our harvesters come down with a punt full of clams and call it out on the radio: come get clams! And everyone comes down, old people who can’t go out themselves, single moms, people who need that food, they come down to the dock and help themselves. And now it’s gone.” – Ayla Brown

The Heilsuk were instrumental in standing against the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project, joining 6 other Indigenous Nations in a legal challenge that ultimately resulted in the cancellation of that project’s permit. RAVEN, in partnership with Sierra Club B.C., raised $600,000 for Indigenous legal costs through the Pull Together campaign.

Says Heiltsuk Chief Marilyn Slett, “Everything that we do as people is tied to the land and to the sea- our history, our stewardship, our culture, our livelihood. Who we are is tied to the land and sea, so we have a responsibility to be stewards of the territory, so that is why we filed, to protect our way of life for the future.”

“We’ve felt such a generous outpouring of people just reaching out to us from all over the world. It’s a good feeling knowing that we’re standing together united in solidarity with British Columbians at large.”

Now, the Heiltsuk aim to expose the actual state of British Columbia and Canada’s “world class” oil-spill response system. The small First Nation are reaching out for assistance to prepare their case and to stand up against lawyers from the Department of Justice and Kirby Corporation.

If they can demonstrate how the poor spill response impacted directly on their community’s breadbasket, their case may support increased environmental awareness, better safety measures and/or restrictions on oil shipping, and real improvements to spill response.


August 30th

Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, 6 pm-9:30

with pre-show reception from 6-7 $25


August 31st

The Hub, Cowichan Station 7:30-9:30

By donation, at the door.

September 1st

Fulford Hall, Salt Spring Island 6-9:30

with pre-show seafood bbq $30

Slideshow & Talk 7 pm : by donation.


— 30 —

For immediate release
Contact: Ana Simeon, campaigns manager:
778-677-4740 (cell)
Ana will arrange interviews with Heiltsuk representative(s) if desired.

Ana Simeon
Fundraising Campaign Manager
RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values & Environmental Needs)
Office: 250-383-2331​, ext. 201​

Cell: 778-677-4740

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Andy Worthington, William Laurance, Christina Nikolic August 30, 2017

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook -

August 30, 2017

we've all seen the carnage on the roadside - or at least, seen some of it. Every day millions of creatures are killed and maimed through the happenstance of human activity. Astronomical numbers are obliterated by automobiles alone; it is, according to my second guest, a veritable highway holocaust.

William Laurance is a distinguished research professor and Australian Laureate at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, director of the Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science, and founder and director of ALERT—the Alliance of Leading Environmental Researchers & Thinkers. In addition to his scientific papers, his popular essays appear at, among other places,, The Conversation, and, where I found his article 'Curbing an Onslaught of 2 Billion Cars.'

Listen. Hear.

William Laurance in the first half.

And; if there's a single defining characteristic of this mad time we're careening through it is the ceaselessness of it all. Even in the stillest moments the motor hums on, just behind the wallpaper. But, if the prospect of living at the mercy of a mechanistic society unable to find rest seems daunting, how much worse is it when the machinery resides not inside the walls but within our heads, possessing every waking moment, pervading even our dreams? How much worse yet when, not only do we want the omnipresent noise, but can't live without it?

Andy Worthington is freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker, and singer-songwriter. Co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative) and co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, he has made an annual pilgrimage to America from his native Britain to lobby for that infamous prison’s closure.

Andy’s book titles include: ‘Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison, ‘Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion’, and ‘The Battle of the Beanfield.’ He also co-directed (with Polly Nash) the documentary film, ‘Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,’ and spends an inordinate amount of time online, enmeshed in the virtual wires that constitute the modern-World. His latest article, 'Switch Off Your Devices and Have a Week Off: Why Headspace, Silence and Human Interaction is Good for Us' examines the value of another kind of peace.

Andy Worthington and making room for headspace in the second half.

And; Victoria gardening guru and green entrepreneur, Christina Nikolic will join us at the bottom of the hour with a special Victoria Fringe Festival Left Coast Events feature. But first, William Laurance and curbing the global vehicular onslaught.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at:  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, Check out the GR blog at:

G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Switching Off and Saving Headspace

Switch Off Your Devices and Have a Week Off: Why Headspace, Silence and Human Interaction is Good for Us

by Andy Worthington

August 27, 2017

I’m just back from a fortnight’s holiday with my family in Sicily, and am also just back online after a week with no internet access at all, which was a wonderfully refreshing experience.

Don’t get me wrong. I make a living — or what passes for a living — mostly online, and I know more than many how the internet can enable individuals to become truly independent media sources and activists, and how we can reach out across the world in a way that was never possible before the advent of the world wide web. It’s what I’ve been doing for the last eleven years, and will continue to do so long as there are appreciate people out there who are prepared to support me in what I do.

However, the permanently connected world is not without its pitfalls — and I’m not just thinking about fake news, bigotry, and the horrendous rise of cyber-bullies and cyber-misogynists.

Every year, when I switch off, I return to a time when there was space in our lives — space to think, to reflect, even to be bored, which can be a constructive experience. It’s somewhere I try to get to regularly in my everyday life, cycling around London taking photos, with no mobile phone connecting me to the online world (or able to track my every move), but I always return to my laptop, to the blizzard of emails, notifications, status updates and more from the absurdly large number of people who purport to be my “friends,” but who, in reality, are a relatively small number of friends and acquaintances vastly outnumbered by people I don’t know at all.

In the online world, seeking attention, we are encouraged to ignore how often our words and our thoughts disappear into the ether, and yet how much we are encouraged to keep on chasing interest and approval via likes and follows, like hamsters in a wheel that only gets smaller and faster-moving the more we go round in it. I’m still avoiding being tied to a mobile phone, in part because of an absurd, old-school desire to be “free”, but also because I genuinely find their use to be alarming — like an extension of people’s bodies, statuses and likes checked relentlessly like nervous tics, attention spans shrunk to almost nothing, intellectual capacity reduced to 140 characters or less.

I have no serious desire to be a Luddite — although I do find myself frequently fantasizing about how pleasant it would be to generally return to an analogue, pre-digital age — but every year, when I do switch off from the internet for a week or so, I come back with the belief that we should all switch off our devices more regularly than we do — if we do at all. I am convinced our brains need room to breathe, and that our relationships with each other cannot be sustained if we constantly have half an eye on the little device in our pockets that tells us in so many ways that it is our best friend, when, in reality, it can often be smothering and damaging to our well-being.

I’ll be interested to know what you think. What, for example, would you think about a campaign that encouraged us all to switch off our devices one day a week? Is it something that is even imaginable, or is the grip of the powerful hand-held computer so powerful that we can no longer imagine any amount of time spent without them?

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp).

He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

American Junta: Trump's Generals and the End of Democracy

Let’s Call “Trump’s Generals” What They Are: A Military Junta 

by Whitney Webb - MintPress News

August 27, 2017

Trump is fond of boasting about “his” generals. But over the short course of his presidency’s first months, the possession and control have reversed themselves. Mattis, McMaster, and Kelly have banished all opposition and now pour the neo-con agenda straight into Trump’s ear.

WASHINGTONThe U.S., long known for its meddling in the affairs of other nations, also has a long and sordid history of supporting military juntas abroad, many of which it forced into power through bloody coups or behind-the-scenes power grabs. From Greece in the 1960s to Argentina in the 1980s to the current al-Sisi-led junta in Egypt, Washington has actively and repeatedly supported such undemocratic regimes despite casting itself as the world’s greatest promoter of “democracy.”

Finally in 2017, karma appears to have come back to roost, as the current presidential administration has now effectively morphed into what is, by definition, a military junta. Though the military-industrial complex has long directed U.S. foreign policy, in the administration of President Donald Trump a group of military officers has gathered unprecedented power and, for all intents and purposes, rules the country. 

Three generals at the center of power

In a recent article in The Washington Post, titled “Military Leaders Consolidate Power In Trump Administration,” Post reporters Robert Costa and Philip Rucker noted that “At the core of Trump’s circle is a seasoned trio of generals with experience as battlefield commanders: White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and national security adviser H.R. McMaster. The three men have carefully cultivated personal relationships with the president and gained his trust.”

“This is the only time in modern presidential history when we’ve had a small number of people from the uniformed world hold this much influence over the chief executive,” John E. McLaughlin, a former acting director of the CIA who served in seven administrations, told the Post. “They are right now playing an extraordinary role.”

This role, however, appears to reach beyond “extraordinary”. Although Trump is fond of calling them “my generals,” they now, Costa and Rucker report, “manage Trump’s hour-by-hour interactions and whisper in his ear – and those whispers, as with the decision this week to expand U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, often become policy.” Another Washington Post article, published last Tuesday, led with the headline “The Generals Have Trump Surrounded.”

Also notable is the fact that this trio of generals has overseen the firing of more independent, “outsider” voices, notably Derek Harvey and Steve Bannon. Bannon, in particular, was a thorn in the side of the generals, in light primarily of his staunch opposition to the American “empire project” and new wars abroad. Bannon had opposed Trump’s strike against Syria, troop surges in Iraq, and the dropped hint of a ”military option” to deal with the crisis in Venezuela. The New York Times referred to McMaster as Bannon’s “nemesis in the West Wing,” precisely due to McMaster’s commitment to American empire building.

With Bannon’s relatively recent departure, the tone of the Trump administration – now unequivocally ruled by “the generals” – has changed significantly — as illustrated by Trump’s decision to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan, a measure both Bannon and Trump himself once opposed.

In addition, last Thursday, Politico published a report detailing the control exercised by Kelly over the president, as he personally vets “everything” that comes across Trump’s desk. Politico referenced two memos that laid out a system “designed to ensure that the president won’t see any external policy documents, internal policy memos, agency reports and even news articles that haven’t been vetted.”

The Hill further noted that Kelly is also “keeping a tight leash” on who gets to meet directly with the President in the Oval Office, which is now strictly appointment-only and also dependent upon Kelly’s approval.

How many generals does it take . . . ?

Kelly, however, is a recent arrival. H.R. McMaster, who took control of the National Security Council (NSC) following Flynn’s ouster in February, has been — at least since April — personally controlling the flow of national security information that makes it to the president. McMaster also took control of the Homeland Security Council and had Steve Bannon, known for his strident nationalism and anti-interventionism, removed from the NSC.

“McMaster is trying to put them [NSC staffers] under his control and either removing or downgrading people who had independent linkages to the White House so that advice will flow through him,” Mark Cancian, a national security expert and former White House official, told The Washington Post in April.

McMaster has drawn more ire than any other of “Trump’s generals” from disillusioned members of Trump’s base, many of whom have pejoratively referred to the NSC adviser as “President McMaster.” McMaster has also overridden many of the Trump’s policies, such as asking South Korea to pay for the THAAD missile system, and has actively pushed for a ground war in Syria and a massive 50,000-troop surge in Afghanistan.

The first of the trio of generals to be appointed to a high-ranking position in the Trump administration was Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Neo-cons like Bill Kristol and Elliot Abrams, along with “an anonymous group of conservative billionaires,” had called for Mattis to be drafted into running as a third party candidate in the 2016 election. Though his candidacy did not materialize as such, formal election appears to have been unnecessary.

Mattis began to take power in March. At the time, Defense One noted that Trump’s generals, including Mattis, “increasingly sound like they’re working for a different president altogether.” Trump’s failure to take the general’s advice was soon met with threats of resignation, shortly after which Trump’s tone changed and he gave Mattis “a freer hand to launch time-sensitive missions.”

The new model of command that arose involved “pre-delegating authority to Mattis; …that authority could be pushed much further down the chain of command – all the way down to the three-star general who runs JSOC.” Essentially, the White House, though still informed of military operations, relinquished commanding authority over the U.S. military to Mattis. Since the great “war power giveaway,” Mattis has overseen the expansion of every theater of war Trump inherited from his predecessor.

President Wolfowitz? The neo-cons back in the saddle and unchallenged

Not surprisingly, the path now being followed by the Trump administration, at the behest of the generals, is a familiar one. This likely owes to both Mattis’ and McMaster’s allegiance to notorious neo-cons and war hawks — such as Paul Wolfowitz, architect of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and creator of the Wolfowitz doctrine, and David Petraeus, disgraced general and former director of the CIA. Wolfowitz, in an April interview with Politico, revealed that he was in private email correspondence with both Mattis and McMaster, “in hopes they will pursue a U.S. strategy of stepped-up engagement in the Middle East” and elsewhere.

Though the generals are in control and their junta established, they are not the ones calling the shots — as Wolfowitz’s revelation suggests. The military-industrial complex and the ever-hawkish neoconservatives have taken over, refusing to let the anti-interventionism the American people voted for make itself heard. As Henry Kissinger — the man who installed military juntas throughout the world — once said of the Chilean people, while planning a coup against their democracy: “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people.”

Over 60 years later, the theater of engagement has come home and the warning against foreign “communism” has been replaced by one against our own “anti-interventionism.” However, the powers-that-be have once again revealed that they will not allow the “irresponsibility” of any group, including American voters, to get in the way of their trillion dollar war racket and their expansion of the U.S. military empire.

© 2017 Copyright Mint Press, LLC

Hurricane Katrina Remembered at Twelve

Katrina Remembered Again at Twelve

by C. L. Cook -

Aug. 28, 2017

It seems impossible more than ten years have passed since the storm that sank New Orleans.

Everything seemed impossible then; the casual neglect of the warning signs, and failure of the federal government to respond; the horror of realization at the nature of that belated response when it did finally come.

As I have for a number of years now, here is presented a timeline of articles produced before and during the great storm in 2005. Some I wrote, others are aggregated from other places.

Incredibly, the lessons of this greatest of hurricanes at the time are yet to be learned. As another major American city lay under water today, both the Governor of Texas, and the President of the United States are avowed climate change skeptics. Whether those who continue to deny the reality painfully apparent will ever see is becoming less relevant, as the time to effect a change of course is seemingly passing.

Hurricane Harvey over Texas 2017

Meanwhile, here in British Columbia, another face of climate change, unprecedented drought and most severe fire season ever, complement the record rainfalls brought to Texas with Hurricane Harvey.

[Sadly, the links at the bottom are dormant, but the synopses should give some indication of the disaster as it unfolded then. - Ape]

Florida Smote by 'Stealth' Storm

by C. L. Cook 

PEJ News
Aug. 30, 2005

In a record year of tropical storm warnings in Florida, many in southern Florida took the approaching Katrina casually. But, what came ashore, killing several people and wreaking havoc with the state's power grid, was no mild blow.

The storm now dubbed, "Little Andrew," in reference to the worst hurricane event in the state, has Floridians picking up the pieces, more than a million of them in the dark, and asking, "How the hurricane savvy locals could be taken by surprise?"

Many, expecting tropical storm Katrina to come and go as benignly as the ten T.S. category events preceding it this year, didn't bother to prepare. Jaded storm veterans, though well equipped with the usual disaster kits, failed to shutter homes, or secure outdoor material possessions. There were none of the familiar hardware store stampedes, or laying in of water and canned goods. What they didn't realize was, Katrina's pass over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico magnified its power enough to upgrade it to an official hurricane; a hurricane heading straight for south Florida and its unofficial capital city, Miami and its three million inhabitants.

For those in the city receiving news of Katrina's promotion to Class 1 Hurricane status was not a big deal; the city survived Class 5 Andrew and its 200 mile an hour winds ruffled but shaken. But, Katrina's nature was wholly different from the rampaging Andrew, that killed 67 and created more than 26 billion dollars worth of damage claims in 1992. This was a slow moving system, heavily laden with the oily waters of the Gulf. Where Andrew raced across the city and state, Katrina lingered, dumping more than twenty inches (500 centimeters) in just six hours.

The torrential rain and high wind brought down trees and power lines. Almost a third of Miami lost power. The National Hurricane Center in West Miami had a front row seat, Katrina's eye passing directly over their building. Said one scientist working in the building at the time; "We have monitored scores of hurricanes here, but never been this close," said one scientist. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew tore off the building's storm shutters and forced its temporary evacuation.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. He also serves as contributing editor to PEJ News. You can check out the GR Blog here.

SuperDome Lockdown

by C. L. Cook

PEJ News
August 30, 2005

At this hour, more than 80 are feared dead in New Orleans, while reports coming from neighbouring Biloxi, Mississippi say "hundreds" may have been killed by a massive storm-surge wave. Looting and rising water has prompted curfews and a declaration of martial law. Car-jackings have been reported, allegedly by "refugees" desperate for a way out New Orleans. City jails too were evacuated, adding some 5,000 inmates to the growingly chaotic scene there. Thousands of National Guard, who would normally be in place to aid in resuce and evacuations, are currently stationed in Iraq.

The water is still rising in hard-hit New Orleans, as one of the city's levees gave way today, sending millions of gallons of storm water into the sub-sea level metropolis. It's merely more misery for the citizenry. But none are suffering in quite the way as the thousands who took refuge from Katrina in the Superdome.

An estimated 10-12 thousand people unable to evacuate prior to Katrina's landfall in the historic city and forced to seek shelter in the football stadium today find themselves locked down and under armed guard. The situation inside the dome is grim. Gaping holes torn from the roof of the decades-old structure allowed cascades of rainwater in, flooding the field and sending refugees scrambling for the nose-bleed seats. But, from the beginning, the Superdome operation was miserable.

In the hours leading to the landfall of the, ultimately Class 4 hurricane, thousands were left waiting for hours in the open while security checks were laboriously undertaken, with National Guard and police searching and confiscating liquor, guns, and other contraband. Though no comments have yet emerged, the racial dimension to the exodus was immediately apparent on television. Corporate newscasts of the long lines snaking around the Dome revealed the overwhelmingly Black cast of the evacuees. A cast contradicted by that of police and National Guard sent in to oversee the operation.

Trapped in the stifling heat and humidity of the Dome, Guardsmen allowed some access to the concourse winding around the building to get fresh air and relief. But, the Guard in still under orders to bar exit to those stuck for the second day. Utilities and waste-disposal systems inside are currently overwhelmed, with reports of the failure of air-conditioning and overflowing toilets and garbage bins adding to the people's trials. One woman, frustrated with the situation would rather take her chances outside, saying; "I don't care how bad my house is. It's got to be better than this."

One man was reportedly injured this morning in a fall from the heights of the Dome. It's unclear at this hour whether this was an accident, or intentional. Survivors today also learned they are to be sequestered until at least next Monday. Guard spokesperson and commander of Guard troops deployed to the Dome, General Ralph Lupin says he knows the situation is bad, but ruled out release, saying;

"We're doing everything we can to keep these people comfortable. We're doing our best. It's not getting any better, but we're trying not to let it get any worse." Adding; "I know people want to leave, but they can't leave." He said, "There's three feet of water around the Superdome."

Part of the concern is looting. National Guard are trying to get into the streets, while helicopter over-flights are reporting scavengers roaming the flooded city in search of anything they can find. There are also reports of grocery and convenience stores being looted in New Orleans and outlying towns.

The Superdome, billed as "hurricane proof" at the time of its construction faired less well than its architects hoped, with the outer skin peeling away in the high winds, with several large holes opened in the roof when panels were torn loose.

The Dome was opened in 1980.

[CNN is now reporting, those rescued from rising waters, plucked from roofs and trees are being transported to the Dome, swelling the numbers inside to an estimated 20,000. ]

[Blog's Eye view of Katrina's landfall.]

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. He's also a contributing editor to PEJ News. You can check out the GR Blog here.

The Golden 72 Hours

by C. L. Cook

PEJ News
September 2, 2005

Well known to any familiar with disaster relief, the "Golden 72 Hours" refers to the timeline where catastrophe becomes desolation. Over the first 72 of the unprecedented natural destruction reaped against the continental U.S. the federal infrastructure did nothing.

While the leader of the nation strummed guitar in San Diego, sneaking in a round of golf on Wednesday, the message to "Outre" Americans was: "You're on Your Own."

This lame abandonment comes after the billions of dollars diverted in recent years to the military and Homeland Defense, and drastic cuts to budgets requested for the shoring up of the city's defensive network of levees. Now, with roving gangs, reportedly heavily armed thanks to the easy availabilty of firearms at such family centered vendors as WalMart, and tough talk coming from governing figures in the form of deployments of "Shoot-to-Kill" National Guard troops to curb looting and lawlessness, an impression of impending calamity none of the "pundocracy" wish to examine, per se a race/class war in America, is poised to leap across the country.

New Orleans is one of America's "majority black" cities. Wealth disparity and high unemployment levels make the tourist Mecca a poster child of all that's worst about the emerging economic order of America in the 21st century. But, the disaster unfolding in Louisiana cannot be looked at solely through an economics lens.

Just across the waters in Cuba, a country economically ravaged by serial illegalities on the part of the United States, where they too were hit by the Katrina, more than a million Cubans were safely evacuated beforehand. There, in a nation driven to its economic knees for decades, they still managed to care for the people.

But, this is really an expression of intent.

The Cubans, unlike those ruling today's America, believed it the duty of government to pursue the well-being of the people. Clearly this is a concept the illegitimate leadership currently ensconced in Washington, D.C. today do not share. The ragged and off-colour survivors of Katrina, not provided an avenue for escape before the fact, denigrated by the press for their shiftless determination to disobey evac. orders, are now threatened with a Fallujah-like assault. One politico apologist even managed to recycle the language uttered by U.S. military flacks prior to one of the horrendous "shoot-to-kill" assaults on the Iraqi city of Fallujah said those remaining in the city are "the worst of the worst."

So, is an 'American Fallujah" to be expected next?

The situation in New Orleans, so hauntingly familiar when viewed from the comfortable distance created by the media and the television glass separating it from we fortunates for away, reminds of the effects of the "Bush Doctrine." Now, as the scenes once reserved to those far-flung places are being burned into America's self-consciousness, it begs the question:

"Will this horror serve as catalyst for further examinations of America's policies at home, and abroad?

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. He also serves as a contributing editor at PEJ News. You can check out the GR Blog here.

Guns Not Butter

by C. L. Cook

PEJ News
September 9, 2005

esterday, the Bush administration requested the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) provide aid to the stricken Mississippi delta region. As with the rest of this incredible spectacle unfolding in the aftermath of the killer hurricane, Katrina this belated move by Bush has a queer ring.

Neglecting to respond to numerous offers from around the world these painful past days, and actually "deporting" a foreign rescue team of the highest calibre, what's now thought required by the White House is military reinforcements, drawn from allies. The military hue to the Bush "relief" operation in Louisiana gets greener by the moment.

And, there's an even more macabre side to this fiasco. While refusing an offer of doctors and nurses from less politically incorrect Thailand, the dispatch of coroners and forensic experts from the far off nation was welcomed.

That be just prudent planning, finally, on the part of the official responders to the unprecedented calamity. After snubbing offers of the usual types of assistance from Poland, Denmark, (Sweden), Cuba, Venezuela, and a host of nations too minor to merit, the need for legions to deal with the dead is the most sensible thing done by this baffling band of buffoons yet.

According to the Associated Press' Matt Moore, the clarion call that eventually blew from Pennsylvania Avenue was a call for the elite, mobile military strike force, NATO Response. NATO describes the saviours of New Orleans on their website thus:

"The Nato Response Force will consist of air, maritime and ground forces which will be rotated on assignment over a period of six months. The size of the force applied will be dependant on the mission that is to be carried out, but rough estimates indicate the following as a guideline:

  • Nato Land forces up to Brigade size. 
  • Maritime forces up to the size of a Nato Standing Naval Force
  • Command and Control capabilities and Air assets capable of carrying out and supporting up to 200 combat sorties daily. 
  • It is expected that such a force will number roughly 21,000 personnel.


Those forensic experts are really going to have their hands full! You see, the remaining citizens of New Orleans are not quite dead, yet. But they number in the thousands; thousands living under Falluja-like conditions of deprivation, curfews, and harassment by heavily armed police, National Guard, reputed "contractors," and various military and State agency enforcers patrolling their neighbourhoods. Add to that mix willing coalition of foreign military forces and the analogy is complete.

Already, the corporate press is working overtime, in tandem with their erstwhile Iraq embed partners in the Pentagon to paint a picture of those American citizens too afraid, or mule-headed to leave, as the dregs of society, not worthy of concern.

The administration has also attempted, with near complete success, to pull the plug on differing versions of the reality of the situation that may emanate from "unapproved" sources through intimidation of journalists trying to stay in, or get into the city. And, the language used to refer to this draconian turn of events through the usual media mouthers is eerily identical to the talk we've heard so often before, if only directed at the distant "others" facing this treatment, and worse.

According to history, the curse of empire is always an imposition of the cruelty and barbarity meted on the reluctant citizens of its distant colonies and outposts coming home with equal force to be landed upon the heads of its own. This is generally during the final desperate throws of its power. One can only hope, the desperate men running the Hell on Wheels show that has been America's recent history are not so determined that they would launch similar "aid" models to other cities following natural, or otherwise disaster.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria. He also serves as a contributing editor at PEJ News. You can check out the GR Blog here.

9/11 and Katrina: 

True Culprit Revealed!

by C. L. Cook
 PEJ News
 Sept. 18, 2005
Following what has become the worst natural disaster in U.S. history, many have sought answers to the serial failures at all levels of government that magnified Katrina's devastation. Fingers have been pointed, and at least one mid-level bureaucrat has been axed, but none 'til now has correctly identified the true culprit behind this, and the 9/11 attacks.

9/11 and Katrina:
True Culprit Revealed!
C. L. Cook

PEJ News
September 18, 2005

There are powerful forces at work in today's American; devious, perverse entities that seek nothing less than the destruction of the soul of the nation. Chief among these conspirators is the deceptively benign sounding Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Their machinations are, incredibly, at the heart of America's twin disasters.

In 2001, just weeks before the infamous September attack against the nation, the ATAS announced the emcee of their annual awards gala; it was to prove a fateful decision. The Academy chose as their presenter, against the dictates of decency and decorum, the celebrated sexual deviant, Ellen Degeneres. In so choosing Degeneres, the unapologetic lesbian television star, the Academy doomed New York City, the venue of the Godless Bacchanalia that is the Emmy's.

Flaunted, God reached down to Earth, and through the instruments of religious fanatics, struck a terrible warning in the form of flame and ruin. HIS message is clear: God don't tolerate lesbos!

But the twisted ATAS defied HIM, and this year again elected Degeneres to host the Emmy Awards, thus dooming the host's hometown, New Orleans.

Yes, if we wish to discover the true origin of this double blow to America, we need look no further than Ellen Degeneres and the degenerate Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Or so says Pat Robertson, pastor of the Christian Broadcasting Network and host of its flagship program, The 700 Club. Robertson, who recently garnered headlines for his televised call for the assassination of Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavas, now declares Ellen a threat to American national security. The good minister told his (reputedly) million strong television audience Degeneres' obstinate refusal to apologize for the 9/11 attacks led to Katrina and the failure of New Orleans' levees. Says the Reverend Pat:

“This is the second time in a row that God has invoked a disaster shortly before lesbian Ellen Degeneres hosted the Emmy Awards.” "America is waiting for her to apologize for the death and destruction that her sexual deviance has brought onto this great nation.”

But it gets worse!

Mindless of the anger her wanton girl-on-girl lifestyle provokes in the Almighty, Hollywood, through its promotion of Ellen's talk show, thus heightening of her television profile in 2003, just so happens to coincide with America's unprovoked and illegal war and occupation of Iraq, and the gathering strength of the insurgency!

There's a lot of Hell being paid by good Americans because of one Ellen Degeneres. Yet, she remains silent, neither accepting, or even acknowledging her culpability.

Robertson though will not let America stand naked before the wrath of God. He's going after the infernal ATAS, as witnessed from his electronic pulpit, and directed the CBN's crack team of "researchers" to compile a list of the decadent homosexuals the infest the airwaves. So far, his list is 283 names long, and growing. He believes this list will spare other awards shows from kinky contagion. Bear witness:

“God already allows one awards show to promote the homosexual agenda, but clearly He will not tolerate such sinful (sic) behavior to spread beyond the Tonys.”

Thank God for small mercies!

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. He also serves as a contributing editor to PEJ News. You can check out the GR Blog here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Katrina's Prisoners: SuperDome Lockdown

Katrina's Prisoners: SuperDome Lockdown

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - New Orleans' least fortunate, those too poor or infirm to flee Monday's killer hurricane, taking refuge in the city's Superdome football stadium today find themselves prisoners in a fast deteriorating situation.

[breaking 2:06pm pdt- Louisiana Governor announces an evacuation of one of New Orleans' emergency shelters due to rising water caused by the failure of a second levee protecting the city. Water too is accumulating in the biggest area of refuge, the SuperDome. Says situation "untenable" and the entire city must be evacuated as levee waters rise. And the rains have begun again.]

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Katrina's Patsy: Who Are You, Mr. Brown?

Katrina's Patsy: Who Are You, Mr. Brown?

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - The guillotine blade is risen and heads will roll. Though the melons most suited to fill those baskets will be spared, it may provide solice that those that do, vile co-conspirators of the authors of Katrina, the crime that dwarfed 9/11, and eclipsing for now the toxic legacy of that other criminal quagmire, Iraq. Michael Brown, current head of FEMA and odds on favourite for first tete in the bucket, is tonight revealed by TIME On-line as having "discrepancies" in his resume.

Katrina's Patsy:
Who Are You, Mr. Brown?
C. L. Cook

PEJ News
September 8, 2005

Brown's appointment in to succeed his Federal Emergency Management Agency boss and Bush crony, Joe Allbaugh in 2003 seemed a no-brainer to most casual observors. The Number Two at the agency would make an easy appointment, passed over the beltway with a yawn. So, who's paying attention to minor details like qualifications, work record, and all those annoying details the unconnected hoi polloi are forced to endure to secure a job?

But "Brownie," as "Dubya" would have, ain't little people. In fact, he thinks Brown is doing great work! And, as he picked the guy in the first place, Bush knows he's qualified.

TIME's Daren Fonda and Rita Healy looked a little deeper into the bona fides of the lawyer and former Horse Show circuit luminary and came up with some things Brown would likely prefer left in the paddock. It turns out, of the several versions of his resume and official bio information, the one that landed him the deputy chief gig at FEMA, his staircase to the top, was a little more manure than hay. Not that his conflation amounted to much anyway.

Touting Brown as formerly "overseeing the emergency services division" for the bedroom community of Edmond, Oklahoma, while a student at Central State University. His Assistant City Manager job is a position described as more resembling a "internship" than leadership role, according to the city's current PR head, Claudia Deakins. But, to his credit, his former boss, city manager Bill Dashner claims Brown was a good worker who was punctual and, "always had on a suit and a starched, white shirt." Dashner further praises his administrative assistant as a "loyal" aide who wrote speeches for him. Basically a communications guy who had a way with words and could type.

Fair enough. Hardly damning stuff. But, "Mike" has accused TIME's story, through FEMA's public affairs officer Nicol Andrews, of inacuracy. She says, he says, "a large portion is very inacurate."

But, there's more.

Lawyer Brown list among his accomplishments at, a professional web listing site, TIME reports the curious entry, "Outstanding Political Science Professor, Central State University." While Central State lists him as a former student, there's no record of his professorial "achievements." In fact, U. of Central Oklahoma, the former Central State, lists Brown as having studied there, and may perhaps, according to Charles Johnson of the University Relations office, have served as an "adjunct professor," something less than a professor. As far Mike's self-proclaimed scholastic position, former poli-sci professor at Central, Carl Reherman says Brown was never a member of the faculty.

Brown claims the FindLaw listing is wrong, and that he never claimed to be on Central's faculty, but was instead an adjunct professor at Oklahoma City School of Law and his "Outstanding" citation was earned as a "senior" at Central.

Mistakes happen. But, according to FindLaw, mistakes seem to be the hallmark of Mr. Brown's incredible career that culminates at the apex of the colossal government agency. They also list him as a director of the Oklahoma Christian Home. Administrators however have no recollection of him; not in the claimed twenty-plus year association with them.

Jumping to Brown's defense, Andrew's says he "never claimed to be the director of the home; something neither TIME, nor FindLaw asserted. But, she reiterates his claim as having served "on the board directors, or governors of the nursing home." It's a claim a long-time employee refutes, saying Brown "was never director here, was never on the board of directors, was never executive director. Adding, "He was never here in anycapacity. I never heard his name mentioned here."

Even Brown's much quoted connection with the International Arabian Horse Association now seems murky. The FindLaw profile citing that relationship was deleted today. There had been a media debate as to whether he had resigned his position with the horse breeders under pressure, or been fired outright. Now, he seems to have become something of a spectre there too.

At best, government response to the disaster in Louisiana represents a catastrophic systems breakdown rivalling 9/11. There's plenty of blame to spread around here, and it seems unlikely none will walk the plank this time, and the sharks are already circling for Mr. Brown.

Chris Cook host Gorilla Radio, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. He also serves as a contributing editor at PEJ News. You can check out the GR Blog here.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Pointing Fingers in the Wake of the Flood

by C. L. Cook

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - While the waters still rise in New Orleans and the monumental task of evacuating the entire city and environs begins, already accusing fingers are pointing directly to the White House and George W. Bush.

Pointing Fingers
In the Wake of the Flood
C. L. Cook

PEJ News
August 31, 2005

The job at hand has, by turns, been described as overwhelming and impossible. Will New Orleans be rebuilt? And, how to protect it from hurricanes that are both more frequent and more powerful than ever?

Hurricanes are nothing new to those Americans living in Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. But Katrina, easily the most damaging storm to have ever hit the United States, befuddled many in all three of them. The states most effected were all, in one way or another taken off guard.

Though Floridians were warned when the approaching Tropical Storm Katrina became a full-blown hurricane, many hadn't bothered to take appropriate defensive measures. Louisianans kept a sharp eye as Katrina meandered the Gulf of Mexico, growing to its Category 5 peak, before wheeling back to the coast, but thousands of them failed to heed official advisories to evacuate the city.

How bad could it be?

We now know just how bad it could be. In fact, had Katrina's course been slightly closer to New Orleans and neighbouring Lake Pontchartrain, things could have been far worse. But, as it stands, one of the nightmare scenarios dreaded by SELA, the failure of the levees and subsequent flooding of the city has come to pass. The Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project is a joint federal, state, and local task force designed to mitigate just such an event. So what went wrong?

The imagined New Orleans catastrophe has been a topic of concern for decades, but in 1995, following rain floods that killed a half dozen people, SELA was set up by congress. For ten years, the Army Corp of Engineers spent close to half a billion dollars, shoring up levees, dykes, providing disaster relief, and building pumping stations. They had done a lot, but there was still more to do, a lot more.

Then, the money dried up.
In 2003, the effects of George Bush's tax cuts, the ongoing war in Iraq, and the implementation of the gargantuan Homeland Security bureaucracy put the Army in a pinch. The Corps cited the war in Iraq, directly blaming it for SELA's effective shutdown.

Local papers wrote extensively, in the years leading to disaster, complaining about the lack of hurricane and flood control funds. The Times-Pacayune wrote no less than nine articles on the subject, and on Tuesday night (Aug. 29) the now abandoned paper's web site posted a poignant reminder, saying:

"No one can say they didn't see it coming. ... Now in the wake of one of the worst storms ever, serious questions are being asked about the lack of preparation."

Early last year, President Bush's budget proposed spending less than a fifth of the money the Army Corp of Engineers requested for precisely the purpose of reinforcing the Lake Pontchartrain levee system. In June 2004 Emergency Mangement Chief for Jefferson Parish remarked on the budget reductions for his area, saying:

"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."

Likewise, last year, the Corps' project manager Al Naomi went begging to a local agency, the East Jefferson Levee Authority, saying $2 million was urgently required because Washington wasn't willing to pony up. He said then:

"The system is in great shape, but the levees are sinking. Everything is sinking, and if we don't get the money fast enough to raise them, then we can't stay ahead of the settlement."

"The problem that we have isn't that the levee is low, but that the federal funds have dried up so that we can't raise them."

Naomi got his money, only to find the Fed had ducked out of a 15 million dollar project to shore up the banks of Lake Pontchartrain in the 2005 budget. And, just months ago, despite 2004 being the most lively hurricane season in memory, a further 26 million dollars was being withheld from SELA.

It was the largest budget reduction for preparedness every made.

For New Orleans, the irony couldn't be greater; just last year, recognizing the growing number and magnitude of hurricanes, a study was proposed by the Corps that would examine how the city would handle Category 4 and 5 storms. But that too was shot down by the Bush administration. Again citing the cost of the war in Iraq, the New Orleans office was ordered to undertake no new studies.

There was, at the same time, a growing recognition that more research was needed to see what New Orleans must do to protect itself from a Category 4 or 5 hurricane. But once again, the money was not there. As the Times-Picayune reported last Sept. 22. A Newhouse News Service article published on the Times-Picayune website Tuesday noted:

"The Louisiana congressional delegation urged Congress earlier this year to dedicate a stream of federal money to Louisiana's coast, only to be opposed by the White House. ... In its budget, the Bush administration proposed a significant reduction in funding for southeast Louisiana's chief hurricane protection project. Bush proposed $10.4 million, a sixth of what local officials say they need."

Senators in Washington had been working on a proposal to reverse the heavy budget cuts to the hurricane and flood programs for fiscal year 2006.

No word if that effort will continue now.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. He also serves as a contributing editor to PEJ News. You can check out the GR Blog here.

Happy Hurricane Season!

by C. L. Cook

PEJ News
June 2, 2006

They're likely not singing Auld Lang Syne in Florida, Louisianna, Alabama, Texas, or anywhere else that felt the effect of last year's Gargantua, Hurricane Katrina, but the newborn hurricane season marks beginnings, and reminds of Fate's uncertainties.

The wind is blowing hard here tonight. The Pacific has been slow to force her hand against the withering-cold Arctic stream. The swallows fly well through it, those most masterful aviators, but one wonders if they're not thinking they came North too soon. There are few insects worthy to be called a meal able to take to the air with this blow.

And it is too, to the larger animals seeming unseasonal.

The weathermensch predict hurricanes a-plenty for the Gulf this year, some saying New Orleans is the dead-on favourite for another hurricane hit; but, they won't predict of what size. Devastating Katrina has broken the bottle, and now all bets are off. Some worry, the lack of concrete progress made in the rebirthing of the 'Big Easy' over the last nine months leaves it vulnerable again to failing levees, and failing governments: Ray Nagin's failure to fail to win re-election aside.

What likely will not be predicted in the corporate press, etc. is: When in the Future will the Past be addressed? When will accountability for crimes both of commission and omission be heard? Judging by the course of events these recent sad years past, the smart money says:

"Never - 10 will get you five."

And, when will the real murder weapon be identified?

We know, those who shun gloves in summer for no need of protecting their knuckles a-tarmac scrapings, as they scuttle their mindless way through existence, 'Climate Change' defined the colossal parameters of Katrina's power. We know, nothing has been achieved in the interim to lessen the theorized meterological effects seen last year. In fact, the opposite is true. The citizens of the Gulf, some who have seen their 'Hurricane Insurance' balloon, depending on the proximity of the ocean, or rivers, or lakes, to their property, triple, and more over the last year are no better protected today than last year.

Listening to lefties and greenies on enviromental issues is one thing easily dismissed in the press and around the water cooler, but these buttoned down, corporate loyalists are putting the money where only the politics exist, and selling short.

The money says:

"Climate Change is real!"

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are in full flower North of the border. While the nation witnesses this year's glories on the diminishing ice, and listen to 'Don' Don Cherry, the Mafia-esquely dressed clown giving praise the Canadian soldiers' march to empire, ignoring "new marching orders" issued those "heroes" from another capitol, as the world grows a little warmer.

And, so for war be damned; it's the Finals!

God, She must laugh. The Mistress of Irony. Laid out plain as day before eyes too blind to see, a killing joke. And, it seems such with this year's Cup finalists: the Carolina Hurricanes v. the Emdonton "Oil Town" Oilers.

Big nature v. Big World.

Who do you bet wins?

North America's (unified) political consensus has turned away from Kyoto, and made clear they stand with corporate interest, regardless of their effects on the biosphere. Through George W. Bush, Tony Blair, a cast of Canadian transient politicos, and myriad other enablers across the world, it has been decided:

"Earth Smurth!"

There is a titanic battle to come. Hard combatants, determined they vie for the ultimate trophy. June 6th, Lord Stanley's Cup will again be placed in the middle of the ring. And, this year, the vyers will be: the Edmonton's Oilers v. the Carolina's Hurricanes.

My money is on storms to come.

C. L. Cook is a contributing editor to PEJ News, and host of Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/web/cast from the University of Victoria, the Nation Formerly Known as Canada (NFKAC). You can check out the GR Blog here.

Katrina: A Two-Week Timeline

by C. L. Cook

PEJ News
September 11, 2005
Florida Smote by 'Stealth' Storm
August 26, 2005

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - In a record year of tropical storm warnings, many in southern Florida took the approaching tropical storm Katrina casually. But, what came ashore, killing several people and wreaking havoc with the state's power grid, was no mild blow.

New Orleans Sinking? Mammoth Katrina Spurs Evacuations
August 28, 2005

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - The storm Floridians discounted as minor last week has spent the weekend gathering strength over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Katrina has now ballooned to an unprecedentedly large and powerful Catagory 5, with sustained wind speeds nearing 280 kph, and gusts topping 300kph.

SuperDome Lockdown: Katrina's Prisoners
August 30, 2005

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - New Orleans' least fortunate, those too poor or infirm to flee Monday's killer hurricane, taking refuge in the city's Superdome football stadium today find themselves prisoners in a fast deteriorating situation.

[breaking 2:06pm pdt- Louisiana Governor announces an evacuation of one of New Orleans' emergency shelters due to rising water caused by the failure of a second levee protecting the city. Water too is accumulating in the biggest area of refuge, the SuperDome: Says situation "untenable" and the entire city must be evacuated as levee waters rise. And the rains have begun again.]

New Orleans Funeral March a Funeral for America?
August 30, 2005

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - It is a total disaster. The slow death of New Orleans, though defying worst case scenarios that have furrowed the brows of experts for years, is nevertheless a fait accompli. The failure of two vital levee guardians of the sub-sea level city means one of America's cultural icons, and arguably most important commerce ports is, as Louisiana Governor, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco says, "untenable." As analogue, the demise of the Big Easy mirrors the disaster that is George W. Bush's America.

Orleans Down the Drain, But Who's to Blame?
August 31, 2005

Media Channel - Danny Schechter - "You didn't hafta have been there in the past two days to be stung by what happened. Anyone who walked the streets or partied in NO, or watched Angel Heart (the movie), or walked the dusty roads along the Gulf saw an America that won't ever be again..." - Da'ud X Mohammad, New Orleans refugee

From Baghdad to Biloxi: Bringing Home the Guard

August 31, 2005

WarMadeEasy - Norman Solomon - The catastrophic hurricane was an act of God. But the U.S. war effort in Iraq is a continuing act of the president. And now, that effort is hampering the capacity of the National Guard to save lives at home.

Pointing Fingers in the Wake of the Flood
August 31, 2005

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - While the waters still rise in New Orleans and the monumental task of evacuating the entire city and environs begins, already accusing fingers are pointing directly to the White House and George W. Bush.

The "Disaster" President
August 31, 2005

thiscantbehappening - Dave Lindorff - The destruction of New Orleans--a catastrophe far worse than anything Osama Bin Laden could hope to wreak, considering the number of deaths, the closing down of a major U.S. port city for months, the destruction of an urban environment that will take years to repair, and the devastating disruption of one-fourth of the nation's oil production, which is likely to initiate a national recession--gives final proof of the stupidity and criminality of the Bush Administration's invasion of Iraq and of the bankruptcy of the Democratic so-called opposition.

Fallujah, Louisiana
September 1, 2005

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - Night is falling again in New Orleans, and reports aired by CNN paint a desperate picture. Without water, power, and hope for immediate rescue, the people stranded in the city face another night of thirst, hunger, deprivation, and now, reportedly, marauding armed gangs, and at least one insane sniper.

The Battle of New Orleans

September 1, 2005

Media Channel - Danny Schechter - Goaded perhaps by looped television footage of "looting" amongst the ruins of New Orleans, overwhelmingly displaying non-white participation, police and military spokespersons say "law and order" will take precedence to rescue missions as evacuation efforts continue in the stricken city. {lex}

"The Name of This Hurricane is Global Warming"
September 1, 2005

Democracy Now! - Shortly after he took office, the President reneged on his campaign promise to cut emissions from power plants. He then ordered the EPA to remove all references to the damages of global warming from its website. Vice President Cheney came out with his energy plan calling for 1,900 new power plants, most of them coal. This is the fast track to climate hell. And, of course, the President withdrew us from the Kyoto Protocol, so he is really going in the opposite direction from the rest of the world, and he really is following the dictates of the fossil fuel lobby. There's no question about it.

The Big "O": Abandoning New Orleans
September 2, 2005

Media Channel - Danny Schechter - DAY 5: No more water; the fire this time. Explosions rock and illuminate the darkness of New Orleans -- some from exploding gas lines and some from gunfire. Another night in a wet and dangerous town that is quickly coming to resemble a war zone in the Third World. It is a place filled with angry and hungry people, people who have felt abandoned and been abandoned for a long time-- even as help is said to be finally on the way.

The Hurricane and Bush's Criminal Negligence
Sepetember 2, 2005

IAC - September 1, 2005--With every hour that passes, we see and hear new stories of the horror and devastation in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. What makes these images more shocking is the realization that much of the death and destruction could have been prevented. Almost all of the death and destruction arising from the hurricane is the direct result of criminal neglect by the Bush Administration. This crisis was predicted in numerous reports and news articles and little, if anything, was done.

International Action Center

The Golden 72 Hours
September 2, 2005

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - It seems now to many, the "Plan" worked out by the myriad minions working at the Department of Homeland Security for disaster relief in America can most charitably be described as benign neglect. Much as the Bush administration has starved the very agencies that could and would have averted the current disaster in New Orleans, the reaction of the multi-billion dollar entities created in the wake of 9/11 instructs all citizens: "In case of disaster: You are on your own!"

"Take Your Rightful Share!"
September 2, 2005

Greg Palast - As the waters rose, one politician finally said, roughly, "Screw this! They're lying! The President's lying! The rich fat cats that are drowning you will do it again and again and again. They lead you into imperialist wars for profit, they take away your schools and your hope and when you complain, they blame Blacks and Jews and immigrants. Then they push your kids under. I say, Kick'm in the ass and take your rightful share!" - [roughly] Huey Long, 1927

"They're Washing Us Away"
September 3, 2005The Moscow Times - Chris Floyd - The destruction of New Orleans represents a confluence of many of the most pernicious trends in American politics and culture: poverty, racism, militarism, elitist greed, environmental abuse, public corruption and the decay of democracy at every level. Much of this is embodied in the odd phrasing that even the most circumspect mainstream media sources have been using to describe the hardest-hit victims of the storm and its devastating aftermath: "those who chose to stay behind."

"Them" Coming Home: Third World Redux in America
September 3, 2005

The Jazzman Chronicles - Jack Random - It is happening and my heart, like every ordinary American, has broken a thousand times. It does not look like America, no less the soul of America, but it is. Ultimately, it occurred to me that the sorrow of New Orleans bore a striking resemblance to an entry in recent history, one that should still be fresh in every mind and heart: It looked like Port au Prince, Haiti.

No News is Bad News: CNN's Evacuation of New Orleans
September 3, 2005

PEJ News - C. L. Cook ? The message has trickled from the Atlanta corporate head office of CNN: In the Age of Rage, the flagship of American television journalism is to desert its post; as have hundreds of police and fire-fighters in New Orleans. If you have, as have I, been monitoring the coverage of the unprecedented disaster unfolding in the American south these last days, you may have noticed: CNN?s coverage consists today of almost entirely re-cycled footage and heart-tearing stories, while ignoring the real situation on the ground in that God-damned city.

Halliburton to Orleans' Rescue
September 4, 2005

ADE - Kurt Nimmo - It is mighty suspicious the New Orleans "refugees" (as the corporate media call the Americans removed from the disease-ridden swamp left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina) are being relocated far and wide. Most of them will probably never return and will end up in ghettoes in Baton Rouge, Houston, and elsewhere (it appears Baton Rouge is being groomed as an expansive slum, since the rebuilt New Orleans will be a casino and tourist destination with time-share condos and luxury housing).

Whose Desire Would Burn the World
Sept. 4, 2005

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - Speechless. The television remains off, I can't take it today. In print, the rolling misery of America, its veneer scraped as effectively as the Superdome's roof, revealing all many have known all along; but, seeing it is something else again. And behind this ghastly production, George W. Bush and his now infamous coterie stand in the wings, authors of this through their insatiable cravenous appetite, poised to profit the calamity.

Dear PEJ News: Full of Bewildered Anger
September 4, 2005

From: Cameron McLaughlin - To: "lex at pej" - Date: Sun, 04 Sep 2005 21:20:41 -0500 - I can't watch or hear news of New Orleans without breaking down right now. The best I can hope for is that the extremist right-wing radio stations here on the Gulf Coast are full of bewildered anger. So are many of the journalists who have seen the carnage and devastation for themselves.The sleeping giant may be waking, and the helpless ones may be beginning to realize that they and their cities may be the next to be sacrificed. Big Daddy not only can't and won't protect them, he will mock them by pretending to be their savior while privately affirming his indifference to them. Big Daddy is a reptilian psychopath who will let New Orleans drown while he strums the guitar and plays golf and his cabinet members attend Broadway shows and shop for shoes. He will reward gross incompetence and literally give the despairing victims of New Orleans the finger.

Black Nightmare
September 4, 2005

PEJ - The Red Cross spends 40% on administration according to their website. The number two organization that FEMA supports is "Operation Blessing" founded by Pat Robertson who 2 weeks ago said "Lets go and assassinate Hugo Chavez".

"Thanks, But No Thanks!" U.S. Rejects International Aid Offers
September 5, 2005

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - The gross incompetence displayed by the Bush administration and it's budget-heavy Homeland Security, in these days, a week past the disastrous landfall of Hurricane Katrina, a week of inexplicable inaction on the part of the federal government, is now compounded as Bush thumbs his nose at international offers of aid.

Reverse Triage: An Inhumane Policy
Sepetember 5, 2005

PEJ News - F.H. Knelman, Ph.D. - The Katrina disaster is a classical case of reverse triage of class and colour. Triage is a French word referring to the priority with which a mixed group of wounded are divided into three groups and which group is the first to receive medical services. These three groups are (1) the severely wounded or ill; (2) those less seriously wounded and (3) those who have not been wounded or hurt. According to the principle of triage it is the first group that is initially evacuated for medical treatment. Reverse triage simply reverses this order. Under certain fairly unique conditions, reverse triage is practiced in war conditions, i.e. the non-wounded soldiers are evacuated first and the severely wounded are abandoned. In summary triage is a natural humane order of emergency needs, whereby the most vulnerable are treated first. In the case of New Orleans, we faced the need for mass triage. Instead it was a case of reverse triage as well as an exercise in bureaucracy.

US Troops in New Orleans Are Treating Hurricane Victims as Members of Al QaedaUrgent International Appeal
September 5, 2005

Wayne Madsen - U.S. troops in New Orleans are treating hurricane victims as members of "Al Qaeda." Reports coming to WMR report that the greater New Orleans area has been turned into a virtual military zone where troops threaten bewildered and hungry survivors who approach them for help. One resident of the unflooded Algiers section of New Orleans on the west bank of the Mississippi River reports that the 65,000 population of the neighborhood has been reduced by forced evacuations to 2000 even though there are relatively undamaged schools, parks, and churches available to house the homeless. The remaining population of Algiers is in urgent need of medical supplies. The same situation exists in Jefferson Parish and other areas in the greater New Orleans area. U.S. troops are treating the remaining people in New Orleans nd its suburbs as "suicide bombers," according to the Algiers resident.

"We're Angry, Mr. President"
An Open Letter to George W. Bush from New Orleans

Sept. 5, 2005

Times-Picayune - We're angry, Mr. President, and we'll be angry long after our beloved city and surrounding parishes have been pumped dry. Our people deserved rescuing. Many who could have been were not. That's to the government's shame.

[Note: The Times-Picayune also authored an award-winning series of articles over the last two years questioning, and criticizing, the federal governments budget cuts and failures in providing New Orleans with the much needed funds for levee reconstruction, citing precisely the disaster New Orleans now face. - lex]

"Have You No Blame, Sir?"
September 7, 2005

The Nation - Katrina vanden Heuvel - As Republicans desperately cry out of one corner of their mouths to stop the blame game, they have been blaming everyone but themselves since this catastrophe.

No Cameras Please: Journalism Under Attack in New Orleans
September 7, 2005

Reporters Without Borders - In the days following the devastation of New Orleans, running battles between police and what they described as "looters" were strictly off-camera; a situation today extended to a ban on images of the bodies being recovered there. That there have been conflicting reports about who these "looters" were, most based on fleshtones, the real issue not yet at issue here is, "When is it O.K. to shoot a starving citizen in search of food?" - {lex}

Surviving the Flood
September 7, 2005

CounterPunch - This is a transcription of an interview Charmaine Neville, of New Orleans's legendary Neville family, gave to local media outlets on Monday, September 5.

Trapped in New Orleans: First By Floods, Then Martial Law
September 7, 2005

Counterpunch - LARRY BRADSHAW and LORRIE BETH SLONSKY - The owners and managers of Walgreen's in New Orleans had locked up the food, water, pampers and prescriptions, and fled the city. Outside Walgreens' windows, residents and tourists grew increasingly thirsty and hungry. The much-promised federal, state and local aid never materialized, and the windows at Walgreens gave way to the looters.

Destroying the City to Save It: Hurricane Cassandra
September 7, 2005

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - News descending at this hour, fuelled by the relentless wind of CNN, and the rest of the elements comprising the agit-prop pretending to journalism (and serving the public weal) in that Untied State of America, currently relating the grim realities of the "graveyard that is New Orleans," exemplified best by five-star reporter and favoured hand-maiden to orchestrated calamity everywhere, Christiane Amanpour, would have the world believe, there is little option left for the beleagured government forces massed ready to pounce on the funereal remains inconveniently still assembled in New Orleans, but to massacre the remnants, witnesses of the Great Flood and its aftermath. The long awaited saviours must now 'Destroy the City in Order to Save It.'

Katrina Evacuees: FEMA Internees
September 8, 2005

ADE- Kurt Nimmo - Asked by Senator Nancy Pelosi if he'd call for FEMA head, Michael Brown's resignation, George Bush asked, "Why would I do that?" When prompted, it may be appropriate in light of the agency's disastrous performance during the crisis in New Orleans and all that went wrong, all that didn't go right, the President asked, "What didn't go right?" - {lex}

Katrina's Patsy: Who Are You, Mr. Brown?
September 8, 2005

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - The guillotine blade is risen and heads will roll. Though the melons most suited to fill those baskets will be spared, it may provide solice that those that do, vile co-conspirators of the authors of Katrina, the crime that dwarfed 9/11, and eclipsing for now the toxic legacy of that other criminal quagmire, Iraq. Michael Brown, current head of FEMA and odds on favourite for first tete in the bucket, is tonight revealed by TIME On-line as having "discrepancies" in his resume.

[update: Sept. 10, 12:00 p.m. - Mr. Brown is now in the eye of the sh*t storm. He's been relieved of responsibilities overseeing the next phase of the Bush administration's management of the disaster.- lex]

Guns Not Butter for Louisiana
September 9, 2005

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - Befitting the conduct of this emergency promising disaster, the Bush administration has only now, nearly a fortnight following the unleashing of chaos, decided to accept foreign aid for the victims of Katrina and the consequent New Orleans Flood. But, it's not the doctors and medicines promised by Castro, or the subsidized fuel offered by Chavez, or even the Urban Search and Rescue team unceremoniously sent packing back to Canada from the epicentre of the catastrophe they want; the intrepids at Camp Bush have put out a mayday to NATO, in the form of a deployment of its freshly minted military strike force.

"Go F**K Yourself, Mr. Cheney!"
September 9, 2005

Jackson Thoreau - Dr. Ben Marble, a young emergency room physician who plays in alternative rock bands and does art on the side, needs our help. Since he was the one who told Dick Cheney to "go fuck yourself" on Thursday, that's the least we can do.

The Nauseating Mrs. Bush
September 10, 2005

WMR - Wayne Madsen - Famous already for the nauseating response to a reporter's question concerning Iraqi civilian casualties that would result her little boy George's campaign there at the start of the carnage that is America's gift to the world, Barbara Bush, doyen of the Bush dynasty replied, "Why would I want to waste my beautiful mind thinking about that?" Responding to the plight of the displaced casualties of the great New Orleans flood "Babs" said, as she stood amongst the human chattel filling Houston's Astro Dome: ""What I?m hearing is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality . . .And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this --this is working very well for them." Compassionate Conservatism in full Texas Rose bloom. {lex}

Martial Law America
September 10, 2005

ADE - Kurt Nimmo - New Orleans is no longer part of America. It is a brave new world devised by FEMA and the Ministry of Homeland Security. In the new New Orleans, there are no constitutional rights. Not only are soldiers allowed to break down doors (as they do in Iraq) in violation of the Fourth Amendment and even ?shoot to kill? if they believe they are threatened (as soldiers in Iraq ?shoot to kill? grandmothers and kids at Israeli-styled checkpoints), now the Second Amendment no longer exists.

Of Alligators and Crocodile Tears: Bush Katrina Aid Plan
September 10, 2005 - Dave Lindorff - The Republican Congress (and their conservative Democratic quislings) have decided to show a little compassion for the victims of Bush Administration incompetence and nature's revenge by including a waiver in the bankruptcy bill to exempt them from losing their shirts along with their houses. They've also decided to postpone cuts in Medicaid, so as not to gut what little public healthcare remains in Louisiana during this crisis. 

Katrina: Next Phase September 10, 2005

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - Michael Brown, lately chief of FEMA's hurricane response efforts, has been 'redeployed." Perhaps in like-manner to tend the animals, as was the Navy pilot punished for the temerity of defying orders and actually rescuing people. Sadly, Michael Brown is no hero. But, neither is he the true goat. - {lex}

New Orleans Unmasks "Apartheid, American Style"
September 11, 2005

PEJ News - Jason Miller - What is the recipe for a toxic sludge potent enough to destroy a heavily populated city and inflict infection with a mere splash? Start with a force of nature powerful beyond belief. Mix in an ample supply of sewage, garbage, brackish water from Lake Ponchatrain, floating corpses of humans and animals, and various and sundry noxious chemicals. Blend well with a system of seriously inadequate levees resulting from cuts in federal funding. Of course this concoction would not be complete without heaping portions of racism, spiritual emptiness, and avarice fueling slow and inadequate federal relief efforts.

Orleans Doctors "Put Down" Terminal Patients at Height of Flood September 11, 2005

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - George W. Bush arrives in Louisiana today as relevations of further horrors during the flood that followed hurricane Katrina's August 30 landfall. Doctors, caught between the rising waters and drug seeking hospital looters, were forced to make "unbearable" decisions during the evacuation.

A Martial Plan for Orleans
September 12, 2005

Paul Craig Roberts - Lawlessness, the eruption of which was guaranteed by delayed relief, provides cover both for martial law, which suspends constitutional protections, and for the confiscation of legally owned private firearms in violation of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Everyone has by now seen the images of troops and police breaking into New Orleans homes and pointing weapons in the faces of residents. U.S. military even described survivors as "insurgents." (At time of writing news reports are confused whether martial law exists in New Orleans.