Friday, September 16, 2005

Democracy Now: New Orleans militarized & journalists harassed; Cindy Sheehan, A New Leif, The Smeal Report, Murray Waas ....

6.5 Million Gallons of Oil Leak in Gulf Coast Region
In other news on the hurricane, The Guardian of London is reporting that the gulf Coast region is suffering from one of the worst oil spills in the country's history. Over the past two weeks a total of 6.5 million gallons of oil has leaked into the waters of the region. In addition, more than 250,000 cars were submerged underwater from the flooding as were many gas stations. This marks the country's most severe oil spill since the Exxon Valdez went ashore in 1989 leaking 11 millions gallons of oil in Alaska.

73-Year-Old Held w/ $50K Bail for "Looting" Sausages
More information is emerging from New Orleans over how the police are treating people accused of looting. A 73-year-old woman remains in jail on a $50,000 bond after police arrested her for looting sixty dollars worth of sausage. At the time of her arrest, the woman -- Merlene Maten -- was staying in a hotel with her 80-year-old husband. She said they had followed orders to stock up on food and had stored some sausage in her car. After she took the sausage from the car, she says police handcuffed her and threw her in jail. A judge then set the bail at $50,000 -- 100 times the maximum $500 fine under state law for minor thefts.

Bush: "I Think I May Need a Bathroom Break"
And in other news from the United Nations, a short note written by President Bush to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice during the UN summit is making international headlines. A Reuters cameraman snapped a photograph of Bush writing the words "I think I may need a bathroom break. Is this possible?" The note appears on the cover of today's Times of London under the headline: "Leaked UN Memo: What did President Bush ask Condi Rice?"

The above items are from Democracy Now!'s Headlines and were selected by Joan, End Zone and Taylor. Democracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):

Headlines for September 16

- Bush Vows To Rebuild New Orleans
- 6.5 Million Gallons of Oil Leak in Gulf Coast Region
- Army Corps of Engineers Admits Mistakes Were Made
- 73-Year-Old Held w/ $50K Bail for "Looting" Sausages
- Louisiana Families Sue Over Insurance Policies
- O'Reilly: Many Katrina Survivors "Drug-Addicted"
- John Roberts Hearings Close
- Mass. Gov Calls For Wiretapping of Mosques

New Orleans Police Harass Independent Journalist

As President Bush says he'll rebuild New Orleans, we speak with Hip Hop activist and independent journalist Rosa Clemente about the crackdown in the shelters. She describes being harassed by a New Orleans police officer while doing interviews at a Red Cross shelter.

The Militarization of New Orleans: Jeremy Scahill Reports from Louisiana

We go to Louisiana to speak with Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill who has been in New Orleans this past week. He has been looking into how the city has changed to a militarized zone and what that means for the residents who left.

George Galloway vs. Christopher Hitchens on the Bush Administration Response to Hurricane Katrina

We play an excerpt of a fiery debate Wednesday between British antiwar MP George Galloway and columnist and author Christopher Hitchens discussing the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina.

Trapped in New Orleans: Emergency Medical Worker Describes How Police Prevented Evacuation

We speak with emergency medical worker Lorrie Beth Slonsky who was in New Orleans attending a conference when hurricane Katrina hit. She describes how she spent most of the next week in New Orleans trapped by the flooding - and the police.

Todd e-mails to note Cindy Sheehan's "A Bright Spot in Bush World Amid the Miserable Failures on the Same Planet" (The Huffington Post):

It has been one month and one week since I sat in a ditch in Crawford, Tx. I can hardly believe it when I think of it myself. So much has happened in that time, and really, so little.
I got to Camp Casey III in Covington, La today, after getting up at 3am to head for the airport. Now it is 3am the next day and we are driving in a car to try and find a hotel to sleep anywhere around Jackson, Miss. I was prepared to be shocked by what I saw in Louisiana, but I guess one can never really fully prepare for such devastation and tragedy. After living in a country your entire life it is so difficult to see such callous indifference on an immense scale. When I reflect on how the mother of the imbecile who is running our country said that the people who are in the Astrodome are happy to be there, it angers me beyond comparison. The people in LA who were displaced have nice, if modest homes that are perfectly fine. I wonder why the government made them leave at great expense and uproot families who have been living in their communities for generations.
After we arrived at Camp Casey III, we took the Veterans for Peace "Impeachment Tour Bus" into New Orleans after stopping at the distribution center to pick up some supplies in Covington. The stench and the destruction are unbelievable. I saw some hurricane zones in the panhandle of Florida last year that were pretty bad but that couldn't have prepared me for this.
I saw in the paper that George Bush said the recovery in the Gulf States would be "hard work." That's what he said about sending troops to Iraq and looking at the casualty reports everyday: "It's hard work." That man has never known a day of hard work in his life. The people on the ground in Covington scoffed at George's little junket to Louisiana yesterday. He stayed in the French Quarter and a Ward that weren't even damaged a bit. The VFP took me to the city of Algiers on the West Bank. The part of Algiers we went to was very poor and black. The people of Algiers know what hard work is.
Algiers had no flooding. All of the damage was from winds. There are trees knocked over and shingles off of roofs. There are signs blown over and there was a dead body lying on the ground for 2 weeks before someone finally came to get it. Even though Algiers came through Katrina relatively unscathed, our federal government tried to force (mostly successfully) the people out of the community. Malik Rahim, a new friend of ours and resident of Algiers, told us stories of the days after the hurricane. The government declared martial law, but there was no effective police presence to enforce it. Malik said the lawlessness was rampant. People were running out of food and water and they were being forced to go to the Superdome. They didn't want to go to the Superdome, because their homes were pretty intact: they wanted to stay and have food and water brought to them. A town of 76,000 people dwindled down to 3,000. The die hards were rewarded last Wednesday when the VFP rolled into town with food and water. The Camp Casey III people were the first ones to bring any relief to Algiers. The people who were supposed to look after its citizens, our government, failed them.

Lynda e-mails to note Carol's "Smooth Operator?" (A New Leif):

I know John Roberts likes analogies. I've got one. John Roberts is the frat guy trying to get you to leave the kegger with him.

This guy is good. "That's a nice sweater. It would look even better crumpled up next to my bed." He is smooth. "Are you tired? Because you've been running around my head all night." I am actually about to go home with him. "Come on. It's totally cool. We can just talk." Only this particular guy is John Roberts and it's not me he's trying to talk into bed, it's the entire Senate Judiciary Committee.

"Do you believe in a right to privacy?" Arlen Specter, the girl in our scenario, asks smooth talking frat boy John "The Judge" Roberts. He looks sincerely into her eyes. "I do," he assures her. Cheesy, but it seems to be working. Maybe he does believe what I believe after all. I can trust him.

Saying you believe in the right of privacy is about as telling as asking you your sign. Arlen Specter, Aquarius, bought it. "Saying there is a right to privacy goes a long way on... a woman's right to choose." She's un-doing her bra hooks for him.

That's Carol Ann Leif and her blog, A New Leif, joins Christine's Ms. Musing as one of the three blogs Ms. now provides. The third blog is Eleanor Smeal's The Smeal Report and here's an excerpt of "More Stonewalling: Roberts Hearings, Day Four:"

Over the past four days, Judge Roberts has repeatedly refused to answer questions about his views on Roe v. Wade and the right to privacy and has given confusing and misleading answers to questions on Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment as it pertains to sex discrimination.

And the Bush Administration has continued to refuse to release Roberts' papers and memos when he was deputy solicitor general under Bush the First. Even when Democrats pared their request down to documents dealing with only 16 cases in which he played a key role, the Bush Administration refused to hand them over, despite the fact that similar documents were released for the confirmation hearings of Chief Justice Rehnquist.

Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), understandably frustrated, asked Roberts today, "What kind of a justice would you be, John Roberts?"

Roberts said, "I would hope you'd look at my briefs and my arguments before the Supreme Court..."

Yes, we have looked at his briefs. Roberts co-authored a brief arguing that Roe should be overturned in Rust v. Sullivan. Yes, we have looked at his arguments before the Supreme Court. In Bray v. Alexandria, Roberts argued on behalf of anti-abortion extremists, including a convicted clinic bomber, who were blockading access to women's health clinics and harassing health care workers and patients. His arguments led to preventing the National Organization for Women (NOW) and women entering the clinics from using civil rights statutes to protect themselves. Shortly after the Supreme Court decision against NOW, the clinics, and women patients in Bray, violence at clinics escalated.

Carol will make you laugh as she details the outrages, Eleanor will walk you through. Which brings us to Christine who is the template and then some. Day in, day out, she's raising issues and voices at Ms. Musing. Christine's a community favorite, so take some time to check out the two newest blogs from Ms. and see what you think.

And thanks to Melissa who e-mailed about them Wednesday to ask that they be noted. (Being part of Ms. makes them part of a magazine, so no committee decision was needed since I pick mags and orgs for our permalinks.) She also asked if other community members with sites could link to them. I believe everyone linked yesterday.

Remember, on Air America Radio, Laura Flanders is supposed to be filling in for Randi Rhodes today. Starts at 3:00 pm Eastern and ends at 7:00 pm.

Don't miss Betty's "Friedman and His Ego" (Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man).

Lyle e-mails to advise Susan to check out Murray Waas' site. Here's an excerpt of "House Intelligence committee votes down Plame" (Whatever Already!):
The House Intelligence Committee earlier today became the third congressional committee to derail a "resolution of inquiry"that would have required the Bush administration to turn over to Congress sensitive information and records relating to the outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame.

The 11-9 vote by the committee earlier today to adversely report H. Res. 418 follows similar votes yesterday (see post immediately below) by the House Judiciary and House International Relations Committee.

Had the resolutions of inquiry been adopted, they would have lead to the first independent congressional inquiries of the Plame affair, and perhaps even the public testimony of senior Bush administration aides, such as Karl Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff, and I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, about their personal roles.

Republicans argued that any vote in favor of the resolution might impair the ongoing federal grand jury probe by special prosecutor Fitzgerald. In the case of the House Intelligence Committee, they were aided, when at the very last minute, the Justice Department informed the committee that Fitzgerald himself opposed any independent inquiry at this time by Congress.

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