As the Supreme Court confirmation hearing of John G. Roberts got under way this week in the Senate Judiciary Committee, more than one local court watcher dryly noted that barring some real "important" revelation -- like, say, that Roberts has an illegal immigrant mistress that he's kept locked in a closet for a couple of years -- it's a foregone conclusion that Roberts will be the court's new chief justice when the new term opens Oct. 3. Judging from his first two days of testimony -- during which he declined to answer most substantive questions -- no such revelations are forthcoming.
This is not because there aren't significant issues to vet, and much to discover about Roberts' legal thinking, but rather because of current national politics. In the first place, the Dems are unlikely to have the votes to block Roberts' nomination -- and it definitely won't happen without the support of 10 colleagues who face possibly tricky red-state re-election campaigns next year. Perhaps more significantly, President George W. Bush's renomination of Roberts to replace Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who died last week, leaves swing-vote Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's seat open, and thus keeps hope alive that Bush will tap a centrist candidate to take her place. In other words, swapping Roberts for Rehnquist is a fairly even trade that on its face will not cause the court to swing any further to the right.
Nonetheless, sitting on the high court is a lifetime appointment, and Roberts' relative youth means he could be in a position to significantly reshape Supreme jurisprudence. Critics say that it's imperative that the public knows as much as possible about how he would interpret and uphold the Constitution. "Roberts is 50," says Sarah Wheat, policy director for National Abortion Rights Action League Pro-Choice Texas. "He could be affecting our lives with his rulings for the next 35 years."
The above is Jordan Smith's "Who Is Mr. Roberts?" (Austin Chronicle) and was e-mailed by Austin. Thursday. It's indymedia roundup.
Brenda e-mails to note Mary Shaw's "700 Women" (Philly IMC):
Congress must renew the Violence Against Women Act, due to expire this month.
Nicole Brown Simpson. Laci Peterson. And, more recently, Philly's own Latoyia Figueroa.
All beautiful, vibrant young women, cut down in the prime of their lives by men they had loved. And most people probably don't realize that these high-profile cases represent only the tip of the iceberg.
For each case that happens to catch the attention of the mainstream media, thousands more go unnoticed, mourned only by their families and neighbors within their own communities. Yes, thousands.
In fact, more than 700 women are abused or sexually assaulted by their partner each day in the U.S.
From Boston Indymedia, note Valahll's "I just got back from a FEMA Detainment Camp" and start to question how anyone's being "helped:"
We then loaded back into our vehicles and headed toward the cabin we had been told was for women so that we could off-load our appropriate products. When we arrived there was no one in the cabin so we preceded to unload our vehicles and take the merchandise in to the cabin.
A horde of "hosts" who had been hovering at a nearby cabin head toward us."Can we help you?"
I explained to them what we were doing."Uhh... you can't just leave donated goods in the cabins. FEMA has stated they want all supplies to go to their central warehouse. They said they have had far too many supplies come in and they need to handle them. You can't leave ANY clothes."
I just stared at them.
One chubby-checker, after several moments of pregnant pause broken only by the sound of my 82 year old dad continuing to shuffle boxes out of the back of his car (GO DAD!), says "I'll call "BASE" and confirm what should happen here."
I continue to stare.
He pounds out the number on his cell phone and when some one picks up he chickens out and just asks "I need to verify that cabin 11 is a female only facility." When he hangs up he says that it is and I respond, "Well, good, we'll get on with this then."
It's at that point my son pulls me aside and says, "Every damned one of them have the same phone. That's what the comm tower is for at the amphitheater. Now we know how FEMA runs through billions, they've given every one of these people a Cingular phone when walkie-talkies would have worked just fine."
That's an excerpt, read the full article to learn that no one will be allowed to come in to the facilities for five months and any evacuees that leave are gone for good, no return.
Billie e-mails to note Jim Schutze's "Levees Are Not an Act of God" (Dallas Observer):
That wasn't nature.
It was levees.
Levees killed human beings and wiped out towns and cities on the Mississippi in the early 1990s. Levees flooded Grand Forks. Levees drowned New Orleans.
In Lambrecht's story for the Post-Dispatch, he points to the "Galloway Report"--a compendium of knowledge in flood control, soil science, engineering and meteorology ordered up by the White House after the Mississippi floods of the early '90s. The starting point was a realization that this country had spent $38 billion on flood works between 1960 and 1985, and during that time the country's losses from flood damages had tripled.
To oversimplify, the Galloway Report said the combined effect of levee-building and real estate development close to levees was making flooding worse, not better. Much worse.
That finding has been utterly ignored. Our own multibillion-dollar Trinity River project, to rebuild the river that runs through downtown, is a perfect example of why the Galloway Report died on the shelf. We are doing every single thing the report warned America not to do--jamming massive new freeway construction down cheek-by-jowl with the river, raising levees, encouraging lots of fancy new development in what would otherwise be cheap flood plain.
It's a simple principle: Squeeze the river so it runs faster and higher, creating more water pressure within the levee walls. Lure in lots of expensive construction right along those walls. Wait for the big one. It'll come. The one thing flood experts all seem to agree on: Levees are designed to fail.
Keesha e-mails to note Malik Rahim's 'This is criminal' (SF Indymedia):
I can understand the chaos that happened after the tsunami, because they had no warning, but here there was plenty of warning. In the three days before the hurricane hit, we knew it was coming and everyone could have been evacuated.
We have Amtrak here that could have carried everybody out of town. There were enough school buses that could have evacuated 20,000 people easily, but they just let them be flooded.
My son watched 40 buses go underwater - they just wouldn't move them, afraid they'd be stolen. People who could afford to leave were so afraid someone would steal what they own that they just let it all be flooded. They could have let a family without a vehicle borrow their extra car, but instead they left it behind to be destroyed.
There are gangs of white vigilantes near here riding around in pickup trucks, all of them armed, and any young Black they see who they figure doesn't belong in their community, they shoot him. I tell them, "Stop! You're going to start a riot."
When you see all the poor people with no place to go, feeling alone and helpless and angry, I say this is a consequence of HOPE VI. New Orleans took all the HUD money it could get to tear down public housing, and families and neighbors who'd relied on each other for generations were uprooted and torn apart. Most of the people who are going through this now had already lost touch with the only community they'd ever known. Their community was torn down and they were scattered. They'd already lost their real homes, the only place where they knew everybody, and now the places they've been staying are destroyed.
But nobody cares. They're just lawless looters ... dangerous.
The hurricane hit at the end of the month, the time when poor people are most vulnerable. Food stamps don't buy enough but for about three weeks of the month, and by the end of the month everyone runs out. Now they have no way to get their food stamps or any money, so they just have to take what they can to survive.
Many people are getting sick and very weak. From the toxic water that people are walking through, little scratches and sores are turning into major wounds.
People whose homes and families were not destroyed went into the city right away with boats to bring the survivors out, but law enforcement told them they weren't needed. They are willing and able to rescue thousands, but they're not allowed to. Every day countless volunteers are trying to help, but they're turned back. Almost all the rescue that's been done has been done by volunteers anyway.
At Houston Indymedia, check out RoB's "Setting up 95.3 KAMP for broacast tommorow" from Monday which is about the radio station set up for the evacuees. The article contains photos as well. (I believe also by RoB).
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