Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Democracy Now: Dr. Beverly Wright, Curtis Muhammad; Robert Parry, Danny Schechter, Rita J. King; Cedric, Rebecca & Kat talking Sojourner Truth, Mike ...


Hours After Hurricane Struck Gulf, FEMA Requested Help

Newly leaked memos are showing that FEMA waited five hours after Hurricane Katrina had struck New Orleans before requesting help to be dispatched to the region. Even then Michael Brown, the director of FEMA - the Federal Emergency
Management Agency - said that the 1,000 Homeland Security employees could take two days to show up at the disaster scene. Brown's memo to Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff politely ended, "Thank you for your consideration in helping us to meet our responsibilities." According to the Associated Press, Brown's memo lacked any urgent language besides describing the hurricane as a "near catastrophic event." Brown's memo told employees would be expected to "convey a positive image of disaster operations to government officials, community organizations and the general public." While FEMA took days to send help, tens of thousands of Gulf Coast residents were left without food, water or a safe place to stay. The memo was leaked as criticism of Brown increased. On Tuesday Democratic Senator Ken Salazar joined the growing chorus in calling for Brown's resignation. There are also many, including former President Clinton, calling for an independent investigation into the government's response.

Bush to Oversee Investigation of Hurricane Response
Meanwhile President Bush announced on Tuesday that he will personally lead an investigation into the government's response to Hurricane Katrina. "If things went wrong, we'll correct them," Bush said. President Bush spoke with reporters on Tuesday morning. Bush had invited reporters into the Cabinet Room at 11:08 yesterday morning - seven minutes before Senators Susan Collins and Joseph Lieberman had scheduled their announcement of a Senate investigation into the response.

New Orleans Police Accused of Beating/Detaining Reporters
Reporters Without Borders has issued a warning about police violence against journalists working in New Orleans. According to the group, on Sept. 1 police threatened a reporter and photographer from the Toronto Daily Star at gunpoint because they were seen covering a clash between police and looters. When police realized the photographer had snapped photos, they threw him to the ground, grabbed his cameras and removed the memory cards containing about 350 photographs. His press card was also torn from him. When the photographer asked for his photographs back, police officers threatened to hit him. Police also detained a photographer from the New Orleans-based Times Picayune after he was seen covering a shoot-out involving the police. Police smashed all of his equipment on the ground.

The above items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Liang, Abhilasha and JimmyDemocracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says)

Headlines for September 7, 2005

- Hours After Hurricane Struck Gulf, FEMA Requested Help
- Bush to Oversee Investigation of Hurricane Response
- 300,000 Households Seek FEMA Help With Housing
- Toxic Water Being Pumped Back Into River & Lake
- Pilots Reprimanded For Saving 100 Hurricane Victims
- NO Police Accused of Beating/Detaining Reporters
- Ex-FEMA Chief Tied to Hurricane Relief Lobbying
- California State Legislature Oks Same Sex Marriage
- Senate to Hold Roberts Hearings on Monday
Three Displaced New Orleans Residents Discuss Race and Hurricane Katrina

We speak with three residents of New Orleans who were forced to flee - David Gladstone, Beverly Wright and Curtis Muhammad - about who gets saved and who doesn't and even the question: will New Orleans be rebuilt?
Radio Astrodome: Independent Media to Provide Critical Info for Displaced New Orleans Residents

Independent media activists are setting up a low-power radio station at the Houston Astrodome to provide critical information to hurricane Katrina evacuees. We speak with those working on launching the station and the challenges involved.
Brad e-mails to note Robert Parry's "Rehnquist's Legacy: A Partisan Court" (Consortium News):
As the late U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist is warmly remembered for his conservatism and his defense of judicial prerogatives, a troubling part of his legacy is being ignored -- his unprecedented politicization of the American courts, at times making them little more than an enforcement arm for the Republican Party.

When the chips were down for Republican leaders -- from George H.W. Bush on the Iran-Contra scandal to George W. Bush in Election 2000 -- Rehnquist worked behind the scenes with other right-wing judges to make the federal courts the GOP's last line of defense. In doing so, these jurists made a mockery of their sworn duty to enforce the law impartially and to protect the Constitution.

Much of this history of Rehnquist's partisanship is being forgotten amid this week's eulogies about a respected Washington figure who supposedly mellowed in his later years. But the reality is that Rehnquist always remained the Republican partisan that he was in his early days in Arizona politics.

In the 1960s, Rehnquist opposed desegregation in Phoenix and worked on Republican "ballot security," a program allegedly designed to intimidate African-American and other minority voters.

According to a Senate summary of the opposition to Rehnquist's 1986 nomination to be chief justice, Rehnquist "publicly opposed a Phoenix public accommodations ordinance, and he publicly challenged a plan to end school segregation in Phoenix, stating that 'we are no more dedicated to an integrated society than a segregated society.'"

The Senate summary added that "in the early 1960s, he [Rehnquist] led a Republican Party ballot security program designed to disenfranchise minority voters. The [Senate Judiciary] Committee has received sworn testimony from numerous credible witnesses that, as part of his involvement in the ballot security program, Mr. Rehnquist personally challenged the eligibility of minority voters. Justice Rehnquist has categorically denied this. But none of these witnesses had anything to gain by misrepresenting the truth."

At News Dissector, Danny Schechter's walking you through a panel discussion on  Judith Miller.  So click here to read that and please note this:

NEW YORK -- WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception, a controversial documentary of American media's coverage of the war in Iraq, will make its exclusive television premiere on Independent Film Channel (IFC) on Sunday, Sept. 11 @ 10p Eastern. The IFC premiere is the result of an agreement announced today between the network and Cinema Libre Studio for the exclusive television rights to the film, which was produced and directed by long-time media critic Danny Schechter.

"Freedom of expression is at the heart of the American experience. A free and curious press is supposed to be the personification of that. This film takes on important questions about the American media that few, if any, other networks seem willing to address," said Evan Shapiro, executive vice president/general manager of IFC. "We are presenting it as part of IFC's mission to provide filmmakers with a voice and as reinforcement of our refusal to perpetuate the very forms of censorship depicted in this film."

Shapiro added, "We are, of course, sensitive to the emotions surrounding 9/11 and join with all Americans in sharing remembrances of that tragic day. But we believe that Sept. 11 is an appropriate day to air this film since the Administration has continually made it a point to link the war in Iraq with 9/11 and terrorism. At the same time, we believe that this is an important day to celebrate the freedoms that we in America enjoy, including that of freedom of speech and thought."

So WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception debuts on American television this Sunday, September 11th.  "10 PM ET/PT."  If you haven't seen it yet and you get the Independent Film Channel, check it out.  If you have seen it already, check it out again, maybe invite some friends over to watch.
Megan e-mails to note Rita J. King's "The Price of Corporate Welfare" (Ruminations on America):
Funding for flood control in New Orleans was cut by 44 percent to pay for the war in Iraq.

According to an article written by Sidney Blumenthal for

“In early 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued a report stating that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S., including a terrorist attack on New York City. But by 2003 the federal funding for the flood control project essentially dried up as it was drained into the Iraq war. In 2004, the Bush administration cut funding requested by the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for holding back the waters of Lake Pontchartrain by more than 80 percent.”

To kick off 2001, George W. Bush appointed fellow Texan Joe Allbaugh to head FEMA, undeterred by Allbaugh’s absolute lack of experience in disaster management. Within three months, the Bush administration decided that much of FEMA's work would be downsized and privatized. Soon after accepting the job, Allbaugh described FEMA as, an “oversized entitlement program." Allbaugh later left the job to start his own company advising corporations looking for profit in occupied Iraq.

Allbaugh’s replacement, Michael Brown, the current head of FEMA, is similarly inexperienced. An estate planning lawyer from Colorado, Brown also took served on the legal department for the International Arabian Horse Association.

The war in Iraq has already cost billions, with another $45 billion expenditure looming before Congress.
Ruth's heads up to the special presentation of Sojourner Truth yesterday evening prompted some entries.  First, we'll note Cedric's "Sojourner Truth" (Cedric's Big Mix):
Stream hasn't busted up yet again on this part and the issue of the coverage from Mississippi is being addressed. The corporate media is portraying mississippi as something that happened to white people. The man speaking is talking about the "racism of the situation" missing out the large number of African-Americans being effected. Margaret Prescod just asked "Where are the black people?" and that's a question we need to be asking.

If you want to help the communities that have been destroyed, this is a charity that was given out:

The People's Hurrican Fund
383 Rhode Island Street
Suite 301
San Francisco, CA 94103

In Greenville, Mississippi there is a fund as well:

Southern Relief Fund
P.O. Box 1223
Greenville, Mississippi 38702-1223

You can also go to
Quality Education as a Civil Right and find out more information.

Margaret Prescod asked "What now will happen to the black community?" In New Orleans, what will happen to property and land? She's talking about how there's almost an encouragement for them not to come back. That's been a worry of mine since Dr. Beverly Harris
raised the issue on Democracy Now! (and props to Betty for mentioning that report in her editorial in "The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review").

The port of New Orleans does about a 1/4 of the shipping in the United States and so one of the guests feels it will be up and running within three weeks. The other parts of New Orleans aren't as pressing to our country. This is a hard hitting discussion and if you're missing it, you're really missing out on something.

As an African-American male, I've gotten used to hearing pieces discussed, pieces of this issue, and I give a big, hearty round of applause to broadcasters like Tom Joyner who don't shy from these topics. But Tom Joyner can only do so much in a morning show that's a blend of so many topics. Margaret Prescod's show was really amazing to listen to. There was information, like about the port handling a quarter of the shipping, that I didn't know. But what stood out the most was hearing a conversation or a discussion on the radio that sounded like something I recognized. These are the kind of conversations I take part in and I see going on around me.
Next we'll note Rebecca's "what kind of country do you want to live in?" (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude)"
i think it's an amazing discussion but i'm going to bail because now i can't even get a stream to start. hopefully that means that a lot of people are trying to listen.

here's what i was able to hear so far. prescod has people on who saw it first hand. there's no point to pretty it up, they're just telling what they saw. of course, it's not part of the 'official record' because it's not printed in the new york times and it's not on cnn so i'm sure a lot of people won't hear it. i really wanted to note it for that reason because this is reality. and people can be blind to it and pretend like the program's not addressing what it is or like it's not a record of what has happened. they can pretend all they want but that won't change reality.

a man named curtis spoke of what he saw and this is a record. what prescod's doing is a record. it may not be the 1 that makes every 1 comfortable or feel good but that only makes it all the more important. the bits i heard (and sorry for not knowing curtis's last name) were very powerful as curtis spoke of how the boats would pass by with african-americans waiting for help, the boats would just pass by and head to another part of town, a white part of town.

i hope a number of people were listening because this is a dialogue we all need to be taking part in. if you're african-american, you probably grasp that more than i ever could. but for white's to put this off as a 'black thing' is for them to assume that the country is by them, for them and about them. we are a multi-cultured, multi-racial, multi-ethnic nation. we need to address issues of racism and not run from them. in the case of new orleans and other areas effected by hurricane katrina, when minorities (african-american in this case) are receiving substandard treatment it effects everyone because it effects the country.

the 'let's all pull together' spirit needs to be about us, all of us. not about supporting some bully boy. bully boy will be gone in 3 years (count the days with me) and he will have continued to do his best to rip our nation apart and to have turned us against 1 another.

instead of mocking the very real crisis that a group of people have found themselves (1 that seems planned or aided), we need to open our eyes and look at what's going on in our country.
is this okay with you? it's not okay with me. this doesn't represent what i want to stand for.

pull together, by all means, to understand and help each other. don't pull together in ignorance. don't pull together to dismiss tough questions or issues you don't want to acknowledge. ask yourself what kind of country you want to live in?

if, like me, you want this nation to be better, to be more, you're going to have start listening to others when they raise issues. and you need to be raising them yourself.
The Curtis that Rebecca spoke of was Curtis Muhammad (who's on Democracy Now! today).  Kat wrote "radio: Sojourner Truth CD: Joan Baez's Bowery Songs" (Kat's Korner):
"If the people don't stand up and step up to the plate on this, the government has no interest [in helping us] get back to our homes."

"There will be very black people in New Orleans if they can design it. There will be a number of blacks in concentration camp-style living conditions around the country. . . . Long term we've got to talk about fundamental change."

The quotes above are from guests on Margaret Prescod's Sojourner Truth on KPFK. I planned to spend the day listening to Joan Baez's Bowery Songs nonstop but I saw
Ruth's flare she sent up over at The Common Ills and I'm glad I did. Dak-Ho and Toni listened with me.

This was a really important radio broadcast. If you were in the area, like me, you could listen with just your radio. But I'm hoping that some people listened online because this is something we need to hear.

Race discussions make people nervous. You hear a lot of people talk about how class issues can't be addressed and that's true. Mainly because our "speakers" usually don't have the guts to face the attacks from the right. But when race is brought up, there's a lot of pooh-pahing if you're not of the race involved. The mainstream media ignores it because we're not supposed to have race problems anymore, the Civil Rights movement was supposed to have ended all of that.
That's the argument. That's not the reality.

I think we avoid the reality for a number of reasons. The most noble one is that we don't want to take anything away from that movement which accomplished so much. But it wasn't the end of the struggle and pretending that it was is why attacks on affirmative action and other programs can take root. The attacks come out of the echo chamber of the right. But they succeed, in part, because we don't like, as a country, to talk about race.

We need to talk about it.

The class war that Paul Krugman documents repeatedly in his writing succeeds in part because White America convinces itself that Black America is getting some easy break. Pitting the two races against one another allows Whites in low income and poverty to avoid acknowledging the reality of the economic inequality.

But racism, added with economic inequality, is another factor and we really need to address it.
We need to have a dialogue and John Edwards' "Two Americas" can be a start but the dialogue needs to go beyond that and acknowledge the economic inequalities that all races face is very real but to also address the added inequalities that come into the equation due to race.

I'm not sure how much I'm getting across here. But I'll leave it with this, racism was not conquered by the Civil Rights movement. It was a step up the ladder. But it's a big ladder and being on the lower rungs may be better than not even having a spot on the ladder, but it's by no means equality.

I'm going to be working on my review of Joan Baez's Bowery Songs tonight and tomorrow. I hope to have it completed before the end of the week and up at The Common Ills for you to read. But, whether you heard Sojourner Truth or not, I hope you'll think about the issues. Ruth sent up a flare and as a member of the community, I responded. I hope you'll do your part as well.
Kat did finish her review of Joan Baez's new CD, "Kat's Korner: Joan Baez Bringing It All Back Home on Bowery Songs."
We'll also note Mike's "Democracy Now! and meeting Nina's parents" (Mikey Likes It!):
Most of the e-mails are asking how it went with Nina's parents tonight. Nina's my girlfriend and tonight I met her parents for the first time. I'm not sure how it went for them but I felt like I was all thumbs and elbows and they were thinking, "Who is the big ox that our daughter's dating?"

I'm really tall, six foot, and Nina's a small person. Her parents are about the same height and I just felt like Gulliver and like I was taking up all this space and this wasn't anything that they did. Usually I don't mind being tall but I did feel like the big oaf. I was aware of everything tonight. Like if I laughed too quick at a joke or too hard, and I did both a lot, I would realize it like right after and think, "You are so stupid!"

They were really nice but I was too focused on worrying what they were going to think about me to relax. Hopefully next time I won't feel so awkward.

Mike Burke has a scary thing up at
CounterRecruiter about the military targeting three year olds now.

I'm really out of it tonight, I know. I just keep going over everything I did. Like I wasn't trying to shake her father's hand hard to impress him or anything but I'm shaking his hand and realize I'm gripping too tight. I keep thinking about stuff like that and thinking what an idiot I am.

Tomorrow night will probably be a little late in the posts because I'll be interviewing
Elaine at the usual time I start typing and I'll have to type that up and all.
Remember Elaine interview conducted by Mike tonight.  Tomorrow night is now tonight.  As Streisand sings in Yentl.  (A wonderful film by the way.  Yes, that is acknowledging a point members raised in e-mails a few weeks back.)  Something tells me you won't want to miss the interview so be sure to check Mikey Likes It! tonight.
Let's note an item from Democracy Now! one more time:
Bush to Oversee Investigation of Hurricane Response
Meanwhile President Bush announced on Tuesday that he will personally lead an investigation into the government's response to Hurricane Katrina. "If things went wrong, we'll correct them," Bush said. President Bush spoke with reporters on Tuesday morning. Bush had invited reporters into the Cabinet Room at 11:08 yesterday morning - seven minutes before Senators Susan Collins and Joseph Lieberman had scheduled their announcement of a Senate investigation into the response.
Now from the second entry here this morning:
"The list is wide open, which should create some good speculation here in Washington," Mr. Bush said to laughter in the Cabinet Room, with the attorney general sitting directly across from him. "And make sure you notice when I said that, I looked right at Al Gonzales, who can really create speculation."

"To laughter." That's from reporters. It sure is nice they can chuckle at his bad attempts at humor. They're the little kiss asses who got beat up after school. Then they wonder why the public holds them in so little regard today? ("They" being the White House press corps.)

They're the same ones who yucked it over Bully Boy's "
high-larious" "Those WMDs have to be around here somewhere" nonsense. Yeah, I guess it is funny. If you don't think. If you don't stop and ask yourself if the body count is "high-larious." They disgrace themselves every day so it's not all that shocking that during a period where they've supposedly come "back to life" that they're still brown nosing.
Not only were they lapping it up (DC press corps) like good lap dogs, they demonstrated they were well trained as well by following the Bully Boy's command of "heel" when they should have been present where news was happening (Collins, Lieberman, et al).  If it didn't impact our lives, it would be "high-larious."  But it does effect our lives and it's pretty sad and pretty sick.
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