30 September 2005

Danish Air Force Kills Rudolph the Reindeer...

Oh no! Not Rudolph...
No kidding folks, this one is real.

Air Force Payout Cures Santa Woes
The Danish air force has admitted causing the death of Rudolph the reindeer and has paid compensation to Father Christmas.

Olovi Nikkanoff, one of Denmark's professional Santa Clauses, says his reindeer died of shock as fighter planes flew low overhead.

The air force admitted liability and paid him 31,175 kroner (£2,850).

"We're more than happy to pay if it means children around the world will get their presents," a spokesman said.

Mr Nikkanoff said he was devastated in February when he discovered his reindeer's body.

The animal had been grazing happily, he said, when two Danish F-16s thundered overhead.

He complained to the air force, which ordered an investigation.

"We got a letter from Santa complaining about his reindeer's death and looked into it seriously," air force spokesman Captain Morten Jensen told Associated Press.

Flight data showed the jets had been in the area at the time, and a vet concluded that their deafening roar had caused Rudolph to have heart failure.

Mr Nikkanoff feared he would have only one reindeer to pull his sleigh this Christmas.

But after the air force's decision he declared himself happy with the payout and said he was looking forward to this year's festive season with a new animal on his team.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/09/30 01:22:44 GMT


Judge: "NO Abu Ghraib Censorship!"

Thank the Creator for Judge Hellerstein! The Bu$h Administration needs to be held accountable for their part in encouraging, aiding and abetting these atrocities. The People have a right to know...


Abu Ghraib Images 'Must Appear'
A judge in New York has ruled that pictures of Iraqi inmates abused by US troops should be released.

The judge made the order after a request by the American Civil Liberties Union for access to 87 unseen images.

District Judge Alvin Hellerstein rejected government arguments that this could fuel anti-US feelings.

Pictures of Iraqi inmates being abused at Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad last year have caused an outcry around the world. Several US soldiers have been jailed.

The ruling represents a huge potential embarrassment for the US administration, says the BBC's Jeremy Cooke in New York.

The government has 20 days to consider an appeal.

In a first reaction, the head of US Central Command, General John Abizaid, said publication of more pictures could distort reality.

"When we continue to pick at the wound and show the pictures over and over again it just creates the image - which is a false image - that this is the sort of stuff that's happening anew, and it's not," Gen Abizaid said.

However, the US commander in charge of Abu Ghraib at the time of the scandal said concerns that the images could trigger an upsurge in violence should not be overplayed.

"Certainly I would be concerned but I would be equally concerned... that the pictures had not been released and you allow then any opposition to say 'but there is more'," Janis Karpinski told the BBC's Today programme.

Karpinski was reduced in rank from general to colonel and found guilty of dereliction of duty. She says she has been made a "scapegoat".

Transparency versus blackmail

The Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) demanded the release of 87 photographs and four videotapes as part of a lawsuit launched in 2003 on the treatment of detainees in US custody and the transfer of prisoners to countries known to use torture.

They say prisoner abuse is systemic.

The US government argued that pictures of the abuse should stay hidden to avoid helping the insurgents.

It is "probable that al-Qaeda and other groups will seize upon these images and videos as grist for their propaganda mill", the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen Richard Myers, argued in court papers.

But in his 50-page ruling, the judge said: "My task is not to defer to our worst fears, but to interpret and apply the law, in this case, the Freedom of Information Act, which advances values important to our society, transparency and accountability in government.

"Our struggle to prevail must be without sacrificing the transparency and accountability of government and military officials," he added.

Judge Hellerstein said America "does not surrender to blackmail, and fear of blackmail is not a legally sufficient argument to prevent us from performing a statutory command.

"Indeed, the freedoms that we champion are as important to our success in Iraq and Afghanistan as the guns and missiles with which our troops are armed."

The photographs released last year showed Iraqi prisoners being physically and sexually abused or humiliated.

The images at the centre of the fresh legal battle are believed to have been taken by the same soldier as the original set.

All senior US commanders have so far been cleared of any crime. Nine junior soldiers have been convicted - some are serving jail sentences.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/09/30 07:05:40 GMT



Let's all hope that Curious George Bu$h isn't at the helm whenever this comes down...


Bird Flu 'Could Kill 150m People'
A new flu pandemic could happen at any time and kill between 5-150 million people, a UN health official warned.

David Nabarro, who is charged with co-ordinating responses to bird flu, said a mutation of the virus affecting Asia could trigger new outbreaks.

"The consequences in terms of human life when the pandemic does start are going to be extraordinary and very damaging," Dr Nabarro told the BBC.

Bird flu has swept through poultry and wild birds in Asia since 2003.

It has killed huge numbers of birds and lead to more than 60 human deaths.

Principally an avian disease, first seen in humans in Hong Kong, 1997
Almost all human cases thought to be contracted from birds
Isolated cases of human-to-human transmission in Hong Kong and Vietnam, but none confirmed

"It's like a combination of global warming and HIV/Aids 10 times faster than it's running at the moment," Dr Nabarro told the BBC.

The UN's new co-ordinator for avian and human influenza said the likelihood that the Asian virus could mutate and jump to humans was high.

Because it has moved to wild migratory birds there is a possibility "that the first outbreak could happen even in Africa or in the Middle East", he warned.

The comments came as agriculture ministers from the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) endorsed a three-year plan to combat the spread of the virus, and pledged $2m to fund research and training.

Dr Nabarro stressed he would be working hard to control bird flu through contact with farming communities and markets where birds are sold and looking at the migration of wild birds.

He said the number of deaths from any future influenza pandemic would depend on where it started, how quickly it was discovered and the kind of response they got from governments.

"The range of deaths could be anything between 5m and 150m," said Dr Nabarro.

"I believe that the work we're doing over the next few months will make the difference between, for example, whether the next pandemic leads us in the direction of 150 or in the direction of five. "So our effectiveness will be directly measured in lives saved and the consequences for the world."

The appointment of Dr Nabarro is an indication of how seriously the UN is taking the threat, the BBC's UN correspondent Suzannah Price says.

In his new role, he is meant to ensure that the UN has a co-ordinated response to bird flu and that it helps global efforts to prepare for any human flue pandemic, our correspondent says.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/09/30 08:35:07 GMT


25 September 2005

Stacy King Memorial Bike Ride

Memorial Bike Ride

Dozens of cyclists rode Saturday, in memory of a friend who was killed last year. Stacy King, an avid bike rider was killed when the bicycle she was riding was struck by a car on Union Mill Road in Jessamine County.

Many riders who took part in today's bike ride say it was worth the cause."She was a great advocate for cycling and fell in love with it, when she started it." said friend Maria Matthews.

Twenty-four year old Stacy King was hit by a car last year on Jessamine Counties', highway 169. That's where some of the cyclists rode to, to pay their respects. "I think we all reflected pretty much in our own way."

Members of the Bluegrass Cycling Club wore wristbands with the initials..S-K for Stacy King, their fellow friend. Event organizer and bike enthusiast Robert Underwood say's today's bike ride was a good way to get the word out and try to prevent another deadly biking accident. "We don't want to ride on Man O War and the big roads as much as you don't want us out there. Unfortunately, because there's not bike lanes and bike pass, we've got to cross over to get some off the county roads."

After the memorial, Robert Underwood and the rest of the cyclists gathered one last time to reinforce the meaning of today's event."We haven't forgotten them and that's what rides about, to get on the road and show solidarity towards cycling"

Po'pay Takes His Place In U.S. Capitol...

Most people do not realize that Po'pay was the first American Revolutionary...


Pueblo Leader's Statue Installed At U.S. Capitol
September 23, 2005

WASHINGTON (AP) - The statue of a pueblo leader who led a revolt against the Spanish in 1680 that changed the way the settlers treated Indians has become the 100th and final work added to the U.S. Capitol National Statuary Hall.

In a ceremony that blended patriotic music and politics with tribal dancing and prayer, New Mexico's congressional delegation dedicated the statue of Po'pay on Thursday, calling him the leader of "the first American revolution."

"Those early days were hard, and like it or not, often very brutal," Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said. "The Po'pay-led insurrection against the Spanish conquerors was at its core a basic human and American need to challenge oppressors. This statue represents not only the history of a single man but a legacy that helped ensure the survival of Pueblo and American Indian culture in New Mexico."

The statue, by Jemez Pueblo sculptor Cliff Fragua, was formally accepted by House and Senate leaders at the dedication. Although it is not the first statute of an American Indian _ others include Sakakawea and Cherokee leader Sequoyah _ it is the first by a native artist.

Each state was given a chance to dedicate two statues to stand in the National Statuary Hall. Po'pay's is the last added to the collection. New Mexico's other statue, of the late Sen. Dennis Chavez, was installed in 1966.

In 1675, Po'pay _ sometimes spelled Pope _ was one of 47 religious leaders imprisoned, hanged and tortured by the Spanish. Po'pay survived, and in 1680, joined other pueblo leaders in a bloody rebellion that drove the Spanish from the area for 12 years.

When they returned, the Spanish changed their approach to the Indians, who were mostly able to keep their religion, land and languages.

Po'pay was chosen for New Mexico's second statue by state lawmakers after a bitter debate. Critics argued he was a radical, a dictator and a murderer.

But Thursday, there was no hint of the controversy.

"The legacy of Po'pay is still with us today and is part of what makes New Mexico so different and so special," said Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M. "We enjoy a blending of cultures respectful of each other unlike anywhere else in America."

The 7-foot-tall statue of Po'pay _ Tewa for "Ripe Pumpkin" _ shows the religious leader wearing a cloak draped over his bare chest and holding a knotted rope by which the pueblo rebels counted the days until their revolt.

His eyes look forward with an almost wistful expression.

The ceremony was held in the Capitol Rotunda, a round room lined with a frieze and murals depicting the Europeans landing in America and the founding of the United States. Po'pay's statue was unveiled next to "The Landing of Columbus."

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., noted that the last depiction of American Indians in the room shows them being conquered by settlers.

"Too often that is the way they were treated in history," he said. But Po'pay's statue is a "symbol of the desire of all people everywhere to live in freedom," he said.

Indian leaders said the statue was an "overdue addition" to the hall.

"I am hopeful it will be instrumental in reminding everyone who visits here that Native Americans had a tremendous influence in shaping this country," said Jackie Johnson, National Congress of American Indians executive director.

Dozens of members of New Mexico pueblos attended the dedication. It closed with a ceremonial "Winter Buffalo Dance." Three dancers _ two in buffalo headgear decorated with feathers _ offered blessings and thanks in time to a drumbeat.

Eveli Abeyta, 16, and Naomi Cata, 17, left the ceremony proud of their pueblo heritage symbolized by Po'pay.

"Our strong beliefs and traditions and languages have brought us a long way," said Abeyta of the Santo Domingo Pueblo. "They have brightened the world and shown who we truly are."

20 September 2005

How Much Is That Froggy In the Window...?

I remember when I was a kid, walking in the woods down by the creeks... frogs were everywhere. When the sun went down in the Spring and the Summer, all you could hear sitting on the porch were the crickets and the frogs...


Global Plan To Rescue Amphibians
By Richard Black
Environment Correspondent, BBC News website, Washington DC

The price of saving the world's frogs, toads and salamanders from oblivion will top $400m (£220m) over five years.

This is the estimated cost of a global action plan drawn up during an expert summit in Washington DC, and backed by the UN's biodiversity agency IUCN.

The money would pay for the protection of habitats, for disease prevention and captive-breeding projects, and for the ability to respond to emergencies.

About a third of all amphibian species are at a high risk of extinction.

"Many species have already become extinct through habitat loss," Rohan Pethiyagoda, deputy chair of IUCN's species survival commission, told the BBC News website.

"The extent of these declines and extinctions is without precedent in any class of animals over the last few millennia."

Plotting the decline

According to the Global Amphibian Assessment, a vast and authoritative study which reported its findings last year, almost a third of the 5,743 known species are at risk of extinction; up to 122 have disappeared within the last 25 years.

The action plan emerging from this meeting lists six major reasons behind the decline:

* habitat loss and degradation
* climate change
* chemical contamination
* infectious disease, notably the fungal infection chytridiomycosis
* invasive species
* over-harvesting

Over the three days, working groups drawn from a wide range of scientific institutions and conservation organisations have established budgets for tackling each of these issues; the overall total comes to US$404m (£223m).

Chytridiomycosis, a fungal disease which emerged in the 1970s, occupied much of the delegates' attention.

It has devastated populations, particularly in south and central America, but is also firmly established in Australia, Africa and Europe.

Group includes frogs, toads, salamanders and caecilians
First successful terrestrial vertebrates 350m years ago
Adapted to many different aquatic and terrestrial habitats
Present today on every continent except Antarctica
Undergo metamorphosis, from larvae to adults

So widespread and so devastating is Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis , the fungus responsible, that one of the main recommendations emerging in the action plan is that extensive captive-breeding programmes should be established for amphibians at particular risk.

The plan envisages that, ultimately, around 1,000 species could be preserved in this way, with specialist facilities established on every continent.

But not all delegates believe this to be an effective approach.

"Many species can't be bred in captivity," Cynthia Carey, from the University of Colorado, US, told the BBC News website, "and with 99% of the species they're looking at, we just don't know how to do it.

"You can give them the right habitat and food, but they may need specific light or heat or moisture or group size, otherwise the female won't ovulate - and it can take years to study that."

The action plan sees captive breeding as a bridge to a better era when chytridiomycosis can be beaten and the amphibians returned to the wild.

"We've been running a captive-breeding programme with the boreal toad ( Bufo boreas ) since 1995," said Professor Carey.

"We've tried re-introducing them to the wild seven or eight times, but every time they die within a couple of years; if you don't get rid of the fungus, all you're doing is providing it with lunch."

Developing resistance

Part of the US$404m would be spent on investigating ways of dealing with Batrachochytrium . Ideas include researching why some species are immune, which could lead to drugs or even a vaccine, though that is considered to be a long way off.

Another idea is developing fungal resistance in captive populations through cross-breeding before returning them to the wild.

"But we also need to identify critical habitats, protect them and then enforce protection," said Rohan Pethiyagoda, who runs the Wildlife Heritage Trust in Sri Lanka.

"Where I come from, 95% of the original habitat has already disappeared; and sometimes the patches left are less than one square kilometre in size."

Other sums would go towards combating over-harvesting - the unsustainable use of amphibians for food, medicine and the pet trade - and to establishing rapid-response teams that could travel to a site when a particular population collapses.

Early warning?

All sources will be explored for funding. At the meeting, two grants amounting to a total of US$700,000 were announced, and there were indications that the powerful Global Environment Facility may be willing to invest.

Many delegates emphasised the importance of putting amphibian decline in the context of broader environmental change and its impact on human societies.


"We all know that amphibian decline is just the first manifestation of synergies between different factors," said Tom Lovejoy, the president of the Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment in Washington.

"We're living in this global soup of chemicals; there's climate change, the oceans are already a tenth of a percent more acid than they were.

"So, by finding ways to manage the first manifestation of these negative synergies, we'll be better able to deal with other manifestations what will occur in the future."

But others were less optimistic that US$404m - even presuming that it is forthcoming - can make much a difference.

"I would be optimistic if people started doing something about the underlying issues such as climate change and pollution," said Professor Tim Halliday, international director of the Declining Amphibians Task Force.

"But there's no sign that these things are changing."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/09/19 22:44:21 GMT


Vatican Accused of Hiding War Criminals...

What a contrast, coming on the same day as Wiesenthal's death...


War Crimes Chief Accuses Vatican
The Vatican is helping Croatia's most wanted war crimes suspect evade capture, a top UN prosecutor alleges.

Carla del Ponte, chief prosecutor for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, has said she believes Gen Ante Gotovina is hiding in a monastery in Croatia.

Ms del Ponte's spokeswoman told the BBC News website that the Vatican had refused to help in the search for him, despite being in a position to do so.

A spokesman for the Croatian Catholic Church rejected the charges.

The Vatican said it was preparing a statement.

Gen Gotovina has been charged with the deaths of 150 Serb civilians in 1995.

Earlier this year, the European Union cited Zagreb's failure to arrest him as the reason behind delaying talks on Croatia's entry into the bloc.

Forces under Gen Gotovina's command are accused of killing scores of Serbs and expelling up to 200,000 from the Krajina region, now part of Croatia.

Many in Croatia regard him as a national hero.

Croatian authorities have insisted they are doing everything in their power to deliver Gen Gotovina to the UN's war crimes tribunal in the Hague.

The Croatian Bishops' Conference, which heads the Croatian Roman Catholic Church, dismissed Ms del Ponte's allegations.

Its spokesman Antun Suljic said the conference "has no knowledge or indications of the whereabouts" of Gen Gotovina.

Vatican 'refusal'

Ms del Ponte wrote to Pope Benedict XVI in July this year in an effort to secure the Vatican's co-operation, her spokeswoman told the BBC News website.

The Pope has yet to reply to the prosecutor's request for a meeting, the spokeswoman said.

Ms del Ponte earlier told British newspaper The Daily Telegraph she believed Gen Gotovina was "hiding in a Franciscan monastery and so the Catholic Church is protecting him".

"I have taken this up with the Vatican and the Vatican totally refuses to co-operate with us," she said.

She is quoted as saying the Vatican's Foreign Minister, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, told her it did not know of Gen Gotovina's whereabouts and was not obliged to help her.

The BBC News website contacted Archbishop Lajolo's private secretary, who refused to comment.

Ms del Ponte's spokeswoman, Florence Hartmann, told the BBC News website that "the law applies to everyone, including the Vatican".

She said UN prosecutors faced similar difficulties in tracking down the Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic, who is thought to have sought refuge among Orthodox Christian monks in Montenegro.

"We're fully ecumenical," she said.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/09/20 13:32:47 GMT


Simon Wiesenthal (1908-2005)

A truely great man has left the Earth...


Obituary: Simon Wiesenthal

Simon Wiesenthal survived the Nazi death camps, but was haunted for the rest of his life by the need to track down those responsible for them.

Born in Lviv, then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, into a family of Orthodox Jews, Simon Wiesenthal survived the Soviet invasion of the area in the late 1930s, and suffered the arrival of the Nazis in 1941.

As a young architect, Wiesenthal watched his mother being transported away for execution. He believed his wife Cyla had died too. In fact, she had escaped persecution by pretending to be a Pole.

He spent four years in concentration camps, once spared by a firing squad that stopped before it reached him.

Unaccounted for

As the advancing Red Army pushed into Germany, Wiesenthal was forced to march westwards by his SS guards. The survivors of this arduous trek were liberated, finally, by American troops at the Mauthausen camp in Austria, in May 1945.

He cried from loneliness and then dictated a list of 91 names of camp officials. He later tracked down more than 70 of them.

In 1947, Wiesenthal helped establish a centre in Linz, Austria, devoted to collecting information for use in future war crimes trials.

Despite the successes of the Nuremberg trials, many of the Nazi regime's most notorious killers remained unaccounted for.

And while the Cold War brewed between East and West, Nazi hunting fell from the political agenda. Dispirited, Wiesenthal closed the Linz office in 1954.

Worldwide network

But his enthusiasm was rekindled with the capture by Israeli agents of Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the so-called Final Solution.

Buoyed by the trial and execution of the Nazi technocrat, Wiesenthal opened the Jewish Documentation Centre in Vienna.

Collating sightings and tip-offs from a worldwide network of sympathisers, human rights activists and even former Nazis themselves, he pursued the 90,000 people named in the German war crimes files.

His biggest success was bringing Franz Stangl to justice in West Germany in 1967. Stangl was commandant at Treblinka where an estimated 800,000 Jews died.

In all, he was believed to have brought 1100 war criminals to trial. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, set up in the United States in 1977, has pressed for the extradition of numerous war crimes suspects, as well as campaigning for the rights of Holocaust survivors and an end to pensions for SS officers.

In 1986, he succeeded in having gypsy representatives included on the Holocaust Memorial Council in Washington DC.

His biggest disappointments were his failure to secure the capture of Gestapo chief, Heinrich Muller, and Auschwitz doctor, Josef Mengele, who died in Brazil in 1978.

Dogged perseverance

Simon Wiesenthal's career was not without its controversial aspects. He was accused of egocentricity by those who claimed he took more than his fair share of credit for the arrest of Adolf Eichmann.

He was also involved in a personal spat with the former, and first Jewish, Chancellor of Austria, Bruno Kreisky.

Wiesenthal objected to Kreisky's overtures to a far-right Austrian party leader to save his coalition government. Kreisky, a socialist, falsely accused Wiesenthal of having collaborated with the Gestapo at the end of the war.

Wiesenthal also fell out with the World Jewish Congress when he refused to support their case for blacklisting the former UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim, who had sought to become Austrian chancellor.

He dismissed the WJC's allegations that Waldheim had assisted in the deportation of Jews during the war.

But his dogged perseverance in hunting down those who had colluded in the most barbarous of crimes made him a legend in his lifetime. He always claimed he sought justice not vengeance.

"I might forgive them for myself," he once said, "but I couldn't speak for the millions they killed."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/09/20 07:13:03 GMT


12 September 2005

Philip Glass Debuts New Opera...

One of my favourite composers. If I have to be drug to an opera, it must be Phillip Glass...


Philip Glass Unveils Latest Opera
Composer Philip Glass has received a 15-minute standing ovation at the world premiere of his new opera, Waiting for the Barbarians, in Germany.

The US composer earned the appreciation of the audience in Erfurt, as did his librettist Christopher Hampton.

Based on the novel of the same name by South African writer John M Colette, it was Glass' 21st work for the stage.

British baritone Richard Salter was praised for his lead role in the opera dealing with civil rights.

Examining state-sponsored torture and repression, the opera explores the way in which modern-day white society is coming to terms with its legacy of centuries of repression of indigenous black cultures.

The "Barbarians" of the title are nomadic people deemed by the "civilised" whites to be socially and racially inferior.

Glass previously said he saw the opera as a critique of President Bush's administration and its war against Iraq.

However its sets and costumes remain timeless, underlining the universality of Glass' themes. Its music contains all the characteristics of the "minimalist" style that made him famous.

Glass' 27-year career includes an Oscar nomination for his work on Martin Scorcese's film Kundun in 1998.

Waiting for the Barbarians is due to be performed six times at Erfurt Theatre before moving to Amsterdam next spring then to Austin, Texas, in January 2007.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/09/12 08:37:33 GMT


Petrol Panic Reaches UK...

The prices that Americans currently pay for petrol, pale in comparison to what Europeans have regularly paid during the last decade...


'Minimum Buy' To Fight Fuel Panic
Motorists may have to make a "minimum purchase" at petrol pumps to prevent panic-buying in the event of refinery blockades, fuel retailers have warned.

Ray Holloway, director of the Petrol Retailers Association, said drivers queued needlessly with nearly-full tanks during the fuel protests in 2000.

A government-set minimum purchase could help prevent similar scenes, he said.

Protests against the fuel tax are being planned after the price of unleaded reached £1 a litre in parts of the UK.

Mr Holloway told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that trading at the weekend was "heavy" but denied panic-buying had taken place.

Tax rises

He said there is an adequate quantity of motor fuel available in the UK.

"Learning from the lessons of last time, what happened was that motorists actually started forming queues at filling stations to buy quantities of fuel that they couldn't actually get into their tanks," he added.

"This is a case of producing a minimum purchase probably, that will mean that the motorist will actually be buying a set quantity set by the government which will reflect the crisis at a moment in time."

Mr Holloway said that unlike in 2000 the rise in the cost of fuel is being created by soaring oil prices and not taxes.

Restricted openings

The government, meanwhile, has reportedly discussed plans to deal with a threat to fuel supplies.

Ministers are said to have debated the issues - including the possibility of petrol rationing - at a meeting last week.

A Department of Trade and Industry document details measures including purchase limits, restricted opening hours, and moves "to discourage motorists from the practice of topping up their fuel tanks at frequent intervals".

Chancellor Gordon Brown told the BBC that the DTI document was about normal contingency planning to deal with a "natural problem" and not specific to any fuel protest.

"The way we will deal with this is in a common sense and stable and effective way and I think it is by identifying what the real problem is," he said.

"And I think that hauliers as well as the farmers who depend on fuel understand that the real problem is a global challenge."

Roger King, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, said there was a "very strong case" for the government to reduce fuel duty, particularly for commercial vehicle operators.

"We don't necessarily think a great deal is going to be benefited by protests as described, but we understand the feeling of hauliers and it does help to underline the difficulties the industry currently faces" he said.

He said VAT receipts on petrol purchases increased as the price went up, "so there is scope there for the chancellor to introduce a temporary measure, to take the worst of these price increases away".

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/09/12 09:30:43 GMT


11 September 2005

2nd Annual Haudenosaunee Conference

2nd Annual Haudenosaunee Conference
Syracuse University College of Law
More Information will follow! Check out our website,

Conference Abstract:
Since the arrival of Europeans on the shores of Turtle Island, Indigenous peoples have faced continuous threats to survival. Trespass followed by warfare served as the leading edge of the threat. Eventually, strange European diseases cost the lives of millions of Native peoples and the extinction of many distinct Indigenous societies. From this devastation, the colonists were eventually able to achieve the military neutralization of nearly all Indigenous nations. But they were not content with this victory to allow the surviving Natives to live in peace. Instead, the Founding Fathers of the emerging United States embarked upon a radical effort to re-engineer the Indigenous peoples into "civilized" carbon copies of themselves.

New threats, as well as intensified strains of the old, were unleashed. Christianization was promoted through government funded, missionary run boarding schools. Capitalism was promoted through land confiscation and allotment policies that destroyed the tribal land base. Education was promoted to facilitate social transition to American society. And citizenship was granted to attack tribal citizenship and undermine tribal sovereignty.

The Haudenosaunee have suffered through 400 years of such influences and yet remain distinct Indigenous societies in the present day. But the threats to Haudenosaunee survival continue. Recently, the American courts have rendered decisions that potentially represent the final move to confiscate almost all Haudenosaunee territory. In addition, New York State fueled economic and political policies have induced predatory colonizing behavior and a mentality of selling off treaty-protected tax and jurisdictional immunities. And at the individual level, health related problems such as diabetes and obesity threaten physical well-being, while the waning influence of the Longhouse and the churches opens the door to a new world of spiritual emptiness and victimization by America's mass consumer culture.

This year's conference is devoted to evaluating the "state of siege" that currently affects the Haudenosaunee and exploring pathways to potential solutions. Speakers representing a variety of Nations and perspectives will participate in this discussion with an eye towards developing long term remedial strategies at the collective and individual level.

A Word From Michael Moore. . .

A Letter to All Who Voted for George W. Bush from Michael Moore

To All My Fellow Americans Who Voted for George W. Bush:

On this, the fourth anniversary of 9/11, I'm just curious, how does it feel?

How does it feel to know that the man you elected to lead us after we were attacked went ahead and put a guy in charge of FEMA whose main qualification was that he ran horse shows?

That's right. Horse shows.

I really want to know -- and I ask you this in all sincerity and with all due respect -- how do you feel about the utter contempt Mr. Bush has shown for your safety? C'mon, give me just a moment of honesty. Don't start ranting on about how this disaster in New Orleans was the fault of one of the poorest cities in America. Put aside your hatred of Democrats and liberals and anyone with the last name of Clinton. Just look me in the eye and tell me our President did the right thing after 9/11 by naming a horse show runner as the top man to protect us in case of an emergency or catastrophe.

I want you to put aside your self-affixed label of Republican/conservative/born-again/capitalist/ditto-head/right-winger and just talk to me as an American, on the common ground we both call America.

Are we safer now than before 9/11? When you learn that behind the horse show runner, the #2 and #3 men in charge of emergency preparedness have zero experience in emergency preparedness, do you think we are safer?

When you look at Michael Chertoff, the head of Homeland Security, a man with little experience in national security, do you feel secure?

When men who never served in the military and have never seen young men die in battle send our young people off to war, do you think they know how to conduct a war? Do they know what it means to have your legs blown off for a threat that was never there?

Do you really believe that turning over important government services to private corporations has resulted in better services for the people?

Why do you hate our federal government so much? You have voted for politicians for the past 25 years whose main goal has been to de-fund the federal government. Do you think that cutting federal programs like FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers has been good or bad for America? GOOD OR BAD?

With the nation's debt at an all-time high, do you think tax cuts for the rich are still a good idea? Will you give yours back so hundreds of thousands of homeless in New Orleans can have a home?

Do you believe in Jesus? Really? Didn't he say that we would be judged by how we treat the least among us? Hurricane Katrina came in and blew off the facade that we were a nation with liberty and justice for all. The wind howled and the water rose and what was revealed was that the poor in America shall be left to suffer and die while the President of the United States fiddles and tells them to eat cake.

That's not a joke. The day the hurricane hit and the levees broke, Mr. Bush, John McCain and their rich pals were stuffing themselves with cake. A full day after the levees broke (the same levees whose repair funding he had cut), Mr. Bush was playing a guitar some country singer gave him. All this while New Orleans sank under water.

It would take ANOTHER day before the President would do a flyover in his jumbo jet, peeking out the widow at the misery 2500 feet below him as he flew back to his second home in DC. It would then be TWO MORE DAYS before a trickle of federal aid and troops would arrive. This was no seven minutes in a sitting trance while children read "My Pet Goat" to him. This was FOUR DAYS of doing nothing other than saying "Brownie (FEMA director Michael Brown), you're doing a heck of a job!"

My Republican friends, does it bother you that we are the laughing stock of the world?

And on this sacred day of remembrance, do you think we honor or shame those who died on 9/11/01? If we learned nothing and find ourselves today every bit as vulnerable and unprepared as we were on that bright sunny morning, then did the 3,000 die in vain?

Our vulnerability is not just about dealing with terrorists or natural disasters. We are vulnerable and unsafe because we allow one in eight Americans to live in horrible poverty. We accept an education system where one in six children never graduate and most of those who do can't string a coherent sentence together. The middle class can't pay the mortgage or the hospital bills and 45 million have no health coverage whatsoever.

Are we safe? Do you really feel safe? You can only move so far out and build so many gated communities before the fruit of what you've sown will be crashing through your walls and demanding retribution. Do you really want to wait until that happens? Or is it your hope that if they are left alone long enough to soil themselves and shoot themselves and drown in the filth that fills the street that maybe the problem will somehow go away?

I know you know better. You gave the country and the world a man who wasn't up for the job and all he does is hire people who aren't up for the job. You did this to us, to the world, to the people of New Orleans. Please fix it. Bush is yours. And you know, for our peace and safety and security, this has to be fixed. What do you propose?

I have an idea, and it isn't a horse show.

Michael Moore

Bu$h's Parasitic War...

How long will America slumber in the sleep of ignorant bliss...?


Mohawk: In Important Ways, War And Flood Are Connected

Posted: September 08, 2005
by: John Mohawk / Indian Country Today

At the beginning of the current war in Iraq, President Bush was adamant that Americans would be asked to make no sacrifices, pay no price, for the war. Indeed, the war would go forward along with tax relief (mostly for the wealthy). He didn't talk much about plans for reductions in domestic spending, and there was an inadequate ring of information that somebody, someday, was going to pay.

In fact, it is future generations who will pay because the war is being
fought with borrowed money, and the debt will come due for today's children
and grandchildren. And now we have Hurricane Katrina, the second disaster
during the Bush administration. It has thus far been met with the same lack
of planning as characterized the invasion of Baghdad, and this time the
American people will pay. The death toll is unknown at this time but
certain to be high. The dollar toll is going to be immense.

The hurricane dealt two blows to New Orleans. The initial blow, the storm,
was a near-miss and the city survived it largely intact. The second blow
happened when the levee walls were breached and water spilled into the
basin that is the city, which meant, in important ways, that the event was
man-made. It could turn out to be the greatest disaster in U.S. history.

The local newspapers had long complained that the levees needed
strengthening, yet the Bush administration was spent less and less money
protecting New Orleans from the water. Some complained that the war in Iraq
had left the area with fewer National Guardsmen, and that a lot of
equipment that could have been used in the rescue was overseas. Others
complained that the guardsmen and the equipment that were available were
not deployed due to a lack of leadership. People waited days for help. It
was an experience they will not forget.

As the water rose, a man calling in to National Public Radio offered an
opinion. The people trapped in the city, he said, had only themselves to
blame for their problems. What about those too poor to flee, and too sick,
and too disabled, he was asked.

It's their personal responsibility, he said.

There have always been cold-hearted people in America, but the idea that
personal responsibility cancels collective rights has grown in recent
years. The flood has revealed to the world a dark side of American life, a
spiritual flaw.

America is the most self-professed Christian nation in the world, but the
message in the New Testament that urges compassion for the poor and
powerless is unpopular. Among industrialized nations, America ranks near
the bottom in all categories on how it treats its most needy. Things are
such that just a week earlier, a national religious icon called for the
assassination of a head of state. The message in the New Testament warning
against false prophets is drowned out too.

More than one-quarter (28 percent) of New Orleans residents live in
poverty, and 84 percent of those are black. Most of the white people
escaped. Most of those left behind were black.

The last great flood, in 1927, was on the Mississippi and it left about a
million people - 1 percent of the population - homeless. The next year,
Congress passed the Flood Control Act, and the federal government assumed
full responsibility for protecting its citizens along the river. The Army
Corps of Engineers is coming under intense criticism for its management of
flood control - which has, by some accounts, been doing more harm than

People in Holland, much of which is below sea level, were astonished at the
pictures of the puny wall that protected New Orleans from the water. The
technology exists to do the job, but the administration has had other
spending priorities. It turns out that shoring up those levees would have
been money well spent. The argument that other administrations also failed
to fix it doesn't wash.

There have been strong feelings among the black community that the reason
the money wasn't spent to protect them and the reason for the slow rescue
response was racism. There was some of that, as well as discrimination
against poor people generally, but racism and classism don't explain

One can gauge the quality of leadership by how a leader wields his or her
authority, by measuring outcomes. A person who manages an institution does
so to benefit himself and his group, or to benefit the whole of society and
even the future generations. In the same week that New Orleans was filling
with water, a woman who blew the whistle on no-bid contracts awarded to
Halliburton was demoted. Bush/Cheney associates enjoy plunder, and their
critics are demoted and otherwise punished because in their view the main
purpose of government is to protect the properties and privileges of the
wealthy. This administration sees to the interests of the few at the
expense of the many.

Poor planning has also characterized the presidency of the man who takes
five-week vacations in Crawford and whose disastrous war is getting
expensive. About 14,500 U.S. troops have suffered injuries in the war that
was supposed to be a cakewalk, and the projected cost of treating those
injuries is $7 billion a year for the next 45 years. The Iraq war itself is
costing $6 billion per month and, if it lasts five more years, could cost
about $1.5 trillion.

The Bush administration, along with its allies in Congress, has facilitated
the most massive transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to the
rich in history. They had plenty of warning that the levees could be
breached by a big hurricane; but they rolled the dice, hoping it wouldn't
happen on their watch, and didn't bother to spend the money to protect
people. Instead, they carried on with their war agenda which was
accompanied by a ''starve the beast'' strategy to defund needed public
works projects, medicines and food for the poor, and other previous

It's the federal government's responsibility to build levees that do not
breach. No one wanted the flood, but flood control was their responsibility
and they failed at it. War and flood are connected disasters with their
epicenter in the Oval Office. And now, today's Americans are going to pay
in the form of a mountain of corpses and a population of displaced people,
huge property losses and higher energy bills, and the very real possibility
of recession.

John C. Mohawk Ph.D., columnist for Indian Country Today, is an associate professor of American Studies and director of Indigenous Studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

"Brownie" Benched...

This is so embarassing, having the rest of the World see us as we really are beneath the mask...


Man Who Left Poor Blacks To Their Fate

Sat 10 Sep 2005

Michael Brown has been ordered back to Washington.


THE man criticised for delays in the United States government's response to Hurricane Katrina last night paid the price for those failures, when he was removed from his role overseeing operations and sent back to Washington.

His departure came hours after former US Secretary of State Colin Powell was strongly critical of the relief operation, and said that it was the poor black population that had suffered disproportionately.

Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), had initially been backed by President George Bush, who told him: "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

But with Mr Bush's own poll ratings in freefall over the handling of the crisis, that support appeared to have evaporated yesterday.

And hours after doubts were raised about Mr Brown's qualifications for the job, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was reported to have taken the decision to replace him in charge of operations on the ground with Vice Admiral Thad Allen, chief of staff of the US Coast Guard.

Officials said Mr Brown had not been fired as FEMA director but had been told to return to Washington from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he was the primary official overseeing the federal response to the disaster. Ironically, his departure came as an initial sweep of New Orleans suggested that far fewer people than at first thought had perished as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

Pressure had been mounting on Mr Brown for days, and hours earlier Mr Powell had added his voice to those criticising the federal government's response to the disaster

Mr Powell said he believed it should have been obvious to everyone that many people would be unable to respond to the order to evacuate New Orleans. "There have been a lot of failures at a lot of levels - local, state and federal. There was more than enough warning over time about the dangers to New Orleans. Not enough was done," he said. "I don't think advantage was taken of the time that was available to us, and I just don't know why."

He said the main reason that those left behind were unable to leave was because they were poor and could not do it alone. Many did not have credit cards and only one family in ten had a car, he added.

"When you look at those who weren't able to get out, it should have been a blinding flash of the obvious to everybody that when you order a mandatory evacuation, you can't expect everybody to evacuate on their own," he said.

Mr Powell said he did not think that race was a factor in the slow response, but that many of those unable to leave New Orleans in time were trapped by poverty.

"I don't think it's racism, I think it's economic," said Mr Powell. "But poverty disproportionately affects African-Americans. And it happened because they were poor."

The pressure on Mr Brown was ratcheted up further when it emerged that five of the eight officials in charge of FEMA were political appointees who had little experience in handling disasters.

It was reported in the US that as political operatives took the top jobs in the agency, professionals and experts in hurricanes and disasters left.

There also were claims that Mr Brown's official biography released by the White House at the time of his nomination exaggerated his experience in disaster relief.

The 2001 release on the White House website said that Mr Brown worked for the city of Edmond, Oklahoma, from 1975 to 1978 "overseeing the emergency services division".

But Claudia Deakins, head of public relations for the city of Edmond, was reported to have questioned that description, suggesting that he was merely "an assistant to the city manager" from 1977 to 1980, not a manager himself.

Mr Brown was a friend of former Bush campaign director Joe Allbaugh, the previous FEMA head.

"FEMA is fully capable of handling multi-storm operations," Mr Brown said in a statement. "I am returning to Washington, DC, to resume oversight over operations for the arrival of Hurricane Ophelia and the immediate response efforts."

Public sympathy for the Bush administration over its handling of the crisis is dwindling, with one poll finding that 67 per cent of Americans thought the president could have done more to speed up relief efforts.

However, last night it appeared that initial estimates of the death toll had been grossly exaggerated.

The city major, Ray Nagin, had warned that up to 10,000 people may have died in New Orleans alone. But Terry Ebbert, New Orleans' homeland security chief, said it appeared now that the death toll may have to be revised sharply downwards.

"Numbers so far are relatively minor as compared to the projections of 10,000," he said.

Decaying corpses in the floodwaters could pose problems for engineers who are trying to pump the city dry. While 37 of the 174 pumps in the New Orleans area were working and 17 portable pumps were in place, officials said the mammoth undertaking could be complicated by corpses getting clogged in the pumps.

Some 400,000 homes in the city were also still without power, with no immediate prospect of getting it back. And fires continued to be a problem.

08 September 2005

City of Lost Children...

This is a question that has haunted and chilled me since the scale of the tragedy became known: what is the fate of the Children?

We should all Pray for the Children...


Lost Children Database Goes Live
Children separated from families after the deadly Hurricane Katrina are being helped by the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

It helps prevent child abduction and sexual exploitation and usually runs a CyberTipline to report net abuse.

It has now set up a Katrina Missing Persons Hotline and its website is also serving as an online album of children who are trying to find their families.

Rescue teams are still hunting for survivors in New Orleans.

There are thought to be several thousand still in the city, but they have been urged to leave while the massive clean-up operation starts.

Special request

The US Department of Justice asked the NCMEC to set up a coordinated missing persons process to find and reunite those caught up in Hurricane Katrina across Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama.

Photos, names, and descriptions of missing adults, children, as well as relocated children, are being posted to the website.

The NCMEC has also sent out its network of volunteers armed with mobile phones - many of whom are retired police - to affected states to help families with the technicalities of filing their missing persons alerts.

They are also helping them find and post images to the website.

Digital cameras and scanners have also been donated to help with the organisation's efforts, and a national school photographic studio has offered to release school photos of missing children, at a guardian/relative's request, where no image is available.

Many of the children who have been found alone are too young or scared to give full information to the authorities, so some descriptions are brief.

Many are marked as "missing", but there are some success stories such as "Gabby", a two-year-old girl.

The picture shows the child but has a red "Resolved" emblazoned across it. She had been found on the Causeway at I-10.

Websites, such as Craigslist, have already been proving popular as places for worried relatives to turn to.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/09/06 13:20:10 GMT



25,000 body bags sent to New Orleans. Unbelieveable.
This is the first firm acknowledgement I've seen as of yet by any federal official or agency as to the number of the dead...


New Orleans Starts to Remove Dead
Some 25,000 body bags have been sent to the New Orleans area, as authorities begin to recover the dead in the city.

The official death toll stands at 83 in the city, including 30 elderly people found in a flooded nursing home. But thousands are feared to have died.

Bodies remain in the stagnant flood waters as health fears grow for up to 10,000 people still in the city.

Three people are also known to have died from contaminated flood water, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

They are believed to have contracted infections after coming into contact with cholera-related bacteria.

New Orleans' mayor has ordered the forced evacuation of the city, which used to have a population of 450,000.

A temporary morgue in a town about 70 miles (113km) away is preparing to handle 5,000 corpses.

A state health official told the Associated Press he did not know how many bodies to expect.

The mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, has said the death toll could reach 10,000.

Fuel and sewage

Police and soldiers have been going from house to house to encourage those still in the stricken city to leave.

Many householders are fearful of losing their possessions if they go, after reports of widespread looting.

"I haven't left my house in my life," 86-year-old Anthony Charbonnet told AP.

"I don't want to leave."

The BBC's Daniela Relph in New Orleans says police do not want to drag people out - but warn that they are prepared to do so in the face of a growing public health risk.

As water is pumped out of New Orleans, the diminishing flood reveals dead bodies, raw sewage, fuel and rusting vehicles.

The US Environmental Protection Agency says the floodwaters contain unsafe levels of E.coli and other bacteria as well as high levels of lead.

The city's authorities have urged anyone left in the city to avoid all contact with water.

"This water is not going away any time soon," disease control official Julie Gerberding told reporters.

Aid package

US Vice-President Dick Cheney is due to visit the region hit by last week's hurricane.

More than 110 people are known to have died in the state of Mississippi. Hundreds of thousands from the devastated areas are living in temporary shelters in Texas and other states.

President George W Bush is to ask Congress for an extra $51.8bn to fund relief efforts.

The money - on top of $10bn that has already been granted - is destined for rescue efforts, clean drinking water, and public health needs.

Presidential and Congressional plans for inquiries into how the disaster was handled have been questioned by the opposition Democrats, who have raised the idea of an independent commission.

President Bush said on Tuesday he would lead an investigation himself as two Senate committees began separate inquiries.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that some 400,000 jobs could be lost this year because of the hurricane.

The Congressional Budget Office estimate comes as the economic impact of Katrina is put at more than $100bn (£55bn).

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/09/08 10:09:33 GMT


06 September 2005

Quote of the Day

"My shit is all apart..."

~~Henry Rollins (b. 1961), musician, actor, philosopher

05 September 2005

Red Cross Blocked From Delivering Food...

The "WTF folder" has gotten quite fat during the last couple of days...


Homeland Security won't let Red Cross Deliver Food

Saturday, September 03, 2005
By Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

As the National Guard delivered food to the New Orleans convention center yesterday, American Red Cross officials said that federal emergency management authorities would not allow them to do the same.

Other relief agencies say the area is so damaged and dangerous that they doubted they could conduct mass feeding there now.

"The Homeland Security Department has requested and continues to request that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans," said Renita Hosler, spokeswoman for the Red Cross.

"Right now access is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities. We have been at the table every single day [asking for access]. We cannot get into New Orleans against their orders."

Calls to the Department of Homeland Security and its subagency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, were not returned yesterday.

Though frustrated, Hosler understood the reasons. The goal is to move people out of an uninhabitable city, and relief operations might keep them there. Security is so bad that she fears feeding stations might get ransacked.

"It's not about fault and blame right now. The situation is like an hourglass, and we are in the smallest part right now. Everything is trying to get through it," she said. "They're trying to help people get out."

Obstacles in downtown New Orleans have stymied rescuers who got there. The Salvation Army has two of its officers trapped with more than 200 people -- three requiring dialysis -- in its own downtown building. They were alerted by a 30-second plea for food and water before the phone went dead.

On Wednesday, The Salvation Army rented three boats for a rescue operation. They knew the situation was desperate, and that their own people were inside, said Maj. Donna Hood, associate director of development for the Army.

"The boats couldn't get through," she said. Although she doesn't know the details, she believes huge debris and electrical wires made passage impossible.

"We have 51 emergency canteens on the ground in the other affected areas. But where the need is greatest, in downtown New Orleans, there just is no access. That is the problem every relief group is facing," she said.

"America is obviously going to have to rethink disaster relief," said Jim Burton, director of volunteer mobilization for the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Southern Baptists, who work under the Red Cross logo, are one of the largest, best-equipped providers of volunteer disaster relief in the United States. Most hot meals for disaster victims are cooked by Southern Baptist mobile kitchen units. Burton is a veteran of many hurricanes.

"Right now everybody is looking at FEMA and pointing fingers. Frankly, I have to tell you, I'm sympathetic. When in your lifetime have we experienced this? Even though we all do disaster scenario planning, we have to accept the reality that this is an extraordinary event. This is America's tsunami, that struck and ravaged America's most disaster-vulnerable city," he said.

Because New Orleans remains under water, it is different from other cities where Katrina struck harder, but where relief efforts are proceeding normally. Agencies place workers and supplies outside disaster areas before storms, to move in quickly. But there are always delays, Burton said, because nothing is deployed until experts survey the damage and decide where to most effectively put relief services.

The Southern Baptists operate more than 30 mobile kitchens that can each produce 5,000 to 25,000 meals daily, as well as mobile showers and communications trucks equipped with ham radios and cell phones. They are supporting refugee centers in Texas and Tennessee, and doing relief in Mississippi and Alabama. They have placed mobile kitchens around New Orleans to feed people as they come out.

Initially they tried to drive a tractor-trailer kitchen into New Orleans from Tennessee. It was stopped by the Mississippi Highway Patrol because the causeway it would have to cross had been destroyed, Burton said.

His agency has planned for missing bridges. The Southern Baptists' worst-case planning is for reaching Memphis after an earthquake on the New Madrid fault, which in 1812 whiplashed at a stone-crushing 8.1 on the Richter scale. Burton envisions the Mississippi without bridges.

So when state and local Southern Baptists raise money to build a mobile kitchen, he tells them to design it to be hoisted in by helicopter.

After Katrina, he thought he would have to airlift a feeding unit to one isolated town, but a road was cleared, he said. He doubts that dropping a kitchen into the New Orleans' poisoned waters, filled with raw sewage, dead bodies and possible industrial contaminants, would do any good. It made sense to prepare meals outside the area and truck them in or bring people out.

"The most important thing is to get the people out of that environment," he said.

He expects unusual problems to continue, because victims of Katrina flooding will need emergency food for far longer than the usual week or so. He's planning on at least two months.

Like the military, relief work requires a supply chain. Because business management favors just-in-time inventory, rather than stockpiling goods in warehouses, there isn't a huge stock of food to draw on, he said.

"When you go into a local area, it doesn't take long to wipe out the local food inventories," he said.

The Red Cross serves pre-packaged food, including self-heating "HeaterMeals" and snacks, that require no preparation. Yesterday the Red Cross was running evacuation shelters in 16 states, and on Thursday, the last day for which totals were available, served 170,000 meals and snacks in 24 hours.

While emergency shelters typically empty out days after a hurricane or other natural disaster, in Katrina's case they are becoming more crowded, Hosler said. People who had evacuated to the homes of relatives or hotels are moving in because they're out of money or want to be closer to what is left of their homes.

(Ann Rodgers can be reached at arodgers@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1416.)

NDN Country Responds...

I know who I be sending my hurricane relief check to...


Indian Country Responds to Victims of Katrina
Friday, September 2, 2005

Tribal nations across the United States are sending their support to the victims of Hurricane Katrina as federal officials pledged to help
tribes affected by a disaster that battered the Gulf Coast.

The National Congress of American Indians has set up a relief fund to
assist tribes and their members in Alabama, Louisiana and
Mississippi. Six federally recognized tribes are located in the three states, which were hit by wind, rain and flooding.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of the Indian Nations
located in the region effected by Hurricane Katrina," said NCAI
President Tex G. Hall. "It is times like this when it is important for Native people to come together to help one another out."

NCAI staff said it has reached some, but not all, of the tribes
affected by Katrina. Reports so far have indicated that the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians suffered the most damage.

The Mississippi Choctaw Reservation was hit by Katrina as it was
downgraded to a tropical depression. Several tribal communities have
suffered "extensive" physical damage, the Bureau of Indian Affairs

Telephone service and power have been lost in some areas.

"The BIA is committed to helping these communities get back on their
feet," said associate deputy secretary Jim Cason. "We will continue
to do all we can to meet that goal."

With NCAI coordinating financial assistance and the BIA addressing
public safety, emergency access and emergency service, Indian Country is helping out in other ways. The Seminole Tribe of Florida sent emergency crews to the Mississippi Choctaw Reservation earlier this week, Indian Country Today reported.

Support is coming from as far away as Oregon. The Klamath Tribes are
sending their primary physician, Dr. Curtis Hanst, and their pharmacist, Dr. Matt Baker, to New Orleans, the city that has endured some of the
worst damage. Hanst and Baker are due to leave Klamath Falls either
today or tomorrow.

"This is a devastating and traumatic event in that region and the
Klamath Tribes are honored to be able to assist," said Allison Henrie, the administrative officer for the tribe's health and family services

New Orleans is currently in a state of chaos as tens of thousands of
refugees remain stranded in a city deluged by flood waters. After
losing their homes and property to the storm, people are now running out of flood, clothing and drinkable water. The death toll could be in the

The picture isn't as grim for tribal communities but some problems
have been reported. Members of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana who live in Slidell have lost homes although the storm didn't claim any lives, NCAI said yesterday.

The tribe, meanwhile, is housing nearly 600 refugees at its
convention center. Some are residents of New Orleans who may not be able to return home for several more months, if at all.

In Alabama, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians suffered only minor

But April Sells, the tribe's management director, said members of
Southeastern tribes who live in the region have been hit hard.
"We're setting up a shelter for our members who are coming back to
the reservation because they now have no home and no place to go," Sells said.

The Poarch Creeks are also sending clothing, food and water to the
Chitimacha Tribe in Louisiana, Sells said.

The Chitimacha Tribe has already taken in 400 tribal members who
lived in New Orleans, the BIA said. Other communities affected are the
Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana and the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians.
To donate to the NCAI Hurricane Relief Fund, send donations to:

National Congress of American Indians
1301 Connecticut Ave, NW
Suite 200
Washington, DC 20036

Put Hurricane Relief in subject line of check. All donations will go
to the tribes in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
A large contribution to the fund is expected from a California gaming
tribe. The National Indian Gaming Association is helping to

"a thousand leagues away from reality..."

Too bad the Europeans didn't get to vote in our last two presidential elections, no doubt, they would have done a much better job than we did...


Press Critical of Authorities' Response
From: Agence France-Presse

September 04, 2005

MEDIA coverage of the US Government's response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has been highly critical of delays in rescuing survivors and sending in emergency supplies.
US newspapers said the scale of the disaster requires a change of policy and more leadership from President George W Bush.

"One thing is certain: if President Bush and his Republican Congressional leaders want to deal responsibly with a historic disaster of this scale, they must finally try the path of honestly shared national sacrifice," The New York Times said.

"If they respond by passing a few emergency measures and then falling back on their plans to enact more tax cuts, America will have to confront the fact that it is stuck with leaders who neither know, nor care, how to lead," the influential daily said.

"The annihilation in New Orleans is an irrefutable sign that the national tax-cut party is over. So is the idea that American voters cannot be required to accept sacrifice or inconvenience, no matter how great the crisis. This country is better than that."

Newspapers also pointed out that many of the victims of Hurricane Katrina are the poorest Americans who need help now more than ever.
"If blame is to be laid and lessons are to be drawn, one point stands out as irrefutable: Emergency planners must focus much more on the fate of that part of the population that -- for reasons of poverty, infirmity, distrust of officialdom, lack of transportation or lack of information -- cannot be counted on to leave their homes after an evacuation order," said The Washington Post.

The Boston Globe said it was time for the US to renew the "war on poverty", noting that images of the disaster showed that the poor in flooded and chaotic New Orleans "were long overlooked".

The European press panned what it called a lack of leadership by Bush and the government in their anaemic response to the disaster.

Accusing the administration of providing "a cruel lack of leadership", the daily Liberation in Paris said Bush had been slow to react to the 9/11 attacks and no quicker to respond to the tragedy of New Orleans, while presiding over an administration in which both poverty and the anger of the dispossessed were on the increase.

"On September 11, America found a common cause for pride in the bravery of its heroic firefighters," it said. "This time, there is no heroism and nothing left to see but the dark side of the empire -- that of a country gnawed away by money and segregation, in which those shipwrecked in the system are left behind, abandoned to the elements."

The disaster, said The Guardian in London, has "exposed the United States government, with George Bush at the head of it, to charges of badly mishandling one of the country's worst ever natural disasters".

The London Daily Telegraph headline described flooded New Orleans as "An American Pompeii caused by idiocy."

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in Germany said the handling of the crisis seemed "incredibly unprofessional" in a country that on other occasions is capable of deploying the transportation means of a superpower.

The Berliner Zeitung in the German capital said Louisiana was the same picture of devastation as parts of Asia after the tsunami, the one big difference being "the images of brutal combat that one has seen in New Orleans".

The Dutch newspaper Trouw said "the disorder, the incompetence and the violence had stripped away the varnish of self-importance" of the US. The daily Volkskrant said the chaos of New Orleans was a reflection of the execrable social tissue in America.
The Flemish daily De Standaard slammed Bush's performance. "Rather than being a leader capable of feeling the pulse of the nation, George Bush gives his fellow citizens the impression of being a thousand leagues away from reality and of not believing even in his own speeches," it said."

04 September 2005

Choctaw Survive Katrina...

Many thanks to the Creator for taking care of the People...


Mississippi Choctaw Hit By Tropical Depression Katrina
© Indian Country Today September 02, 2005. All Rights Reserved
Posted: September 02, 2005
by: Brenda Norrell / Indian Country Today

Seminole Tribe of Florida sends emergency crews to offer relief

CHOCTAW, Miss. - The Mississippi Choctaw were hit by Hurricane Katrina as it became a tropical depression, knocking down trees and power lines and cutting off roads as it tore through the central part of Mississippi.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida responded immediately and had an emergency team, including emergency vehicles, police officers and firemen, at the scene, said Gilbert Thompson, executive assistant to Mississippi Choctaw Chairman Phillip Martin.

Mississippi Choctaw established three emergency shelters for tribal members and other evacuees.

''As of Tuesday night [Aug. 30], we still have people in the shelters,'' Thompson told Indian Country Today on Aug. 31.

''By the time it got here, it was a Category 1 tropical depression, but still we have a lot of people without electricity.''

The eight communities of Mississippi Choctaw, comprised of 9,700 tribal members, were struggling to recover from the winds two days later.

Mississippi Choctaw were assessing the damage and had not received reports from the Choctaw community of Boguehoma, near the city of Hattisburg which was hard hit by Katrina. ''We haven't received any details from that community. A lot of things are still sketchy right now,'' Thompson said.

''We're not aware of any injuries, but there's a lot of outages in terms of power.''

Without electricity, public schools were closed, most telephones were out and refrigerated food in cafeterias was spoiling because of lengthy power outages, he said.

The tribe's hotels, the Silver Star Resort and Casino and Golden Moon Hotel and Casino, were packed with evacuees and others riding out the hurricane and the resulting storm damage.

''Fortunately, the storm got weaker when it got in this area: we are just lucky. A lot of people are sitting at home right now until their electricity comes back on.''

Still, he said, it could be as long as two weeks before electricity is restored to remote homes, which are also without telephone service.

Eva Cain, public information officer for the Seminole Tribe of Florida's Department of Emergency Services, located in the Hollywood area in southern Florida, said an emergency team was deployed as soon as Katrina struck the Southeast coast Aug. 29. The Seminole's emergency team includes 11 firefighters, Emergency Services Director Armando Negrin and the department's assistant director.

Arriving with their Trauma Hawk fire truck and an ambulance rescue unit with advanced life support, the Seminole emergency team struggled through roads closed by downed trees to reach the Mississippi Choctaw.

''A lot of the roads were closed down,'' Cain said.

''Our main concern is there are tribal communities over there. We're happy to assist in the recovery effort. We're hoping our skills can be of assistance. We'll be there as long as they need us,'' Cain told ICT.

Thompson said, as in previous emergencies, the American Red Cross is also helping meet the needs of tribal members and others in Katrina's path. He encouraged those who want to help hurricane and storm victims to donate to the Red Cross.

CNN's Anderson Cooper, struggling to make his way to Gulfport, Miss., described his stay in one of the Choctaw's casino hotels and the biscuits and gravy being served.

Cooper, loading up with Gatorade and beef jerky, said everyone in the area was searching for gas, water and food during and immediately after the storm. He nearly ran out of gas as he reached the tribe's hotel at 1:30 a.m.

''The main roads have been shut down. Right now we are trying to find out what road is open. We're trying to move our big truck.

''We're in the midst of what everyone else is facing in terms of trying to get gas and food and ice,'' said Cooper, who was surprised when he reconnected with cousins clearing the road of downed trees with chain saws.

''Along these back roads in Mississippi, you have local residents who are coming out with chain saws and clearing the roads with their neighbors.''

Mississippi Choctaw, whose language was used by the code talkers during World War II, today operate a diverse range of manufacturing, service, retail and tourism enterprises.

Throughout Mississippi, the Southeast and even Mexico, the tribe provides more than 8,000 permanent, full-time jobs for tribal members and others. The enterprises include an automotive manufacturing firm in Sonora, Mexico.

With an annual payroll of more than $123.7 million, the tribe is one of the 10 largest employers in Mississippi. In addition, tribal revenues have helped the Choctaw to reinvest more than $210 million in economic development projects in Mississippi, according to the tribe.

Justice William Hubbs Rehnquist (1924-2005)

Obituary: William Rehnquist
During nearly two decades as chief justice of the United States, William Rehnquist presided over an increasingly conservative Supreme Court.

William Hubbs Rehnquist was born in 1924 in a staunchly Republican area of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, into a well-to-do family.

Even as a child, he expressed a desire to make his mark, telling one of his teachers that his career plan was to "change the world".

During World War II he served as a volunteer civil defence officer before joining the Army Air Corps.

An extremely bright student, William Rehnquist earned degrees from both Stanford and Harvard universities before graduating top of his class at Stanford Law School in 1952.

Conservative transformation

The same year, he began his legal career, serving for 18 months as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, who had been the chief US prosecutor at the Nuremberg war crimes trials.

From Jackson, he took his favourite quote, one which followed him down the years: "We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants today is the record in which history will judge us tomorrow."

Rehnquist went on to serve as an assistant attorney general at the US Department of Justice, while also playing an active role in Republican politics.

His reward finally came in 1972, when that arch-Republican, President Richard Nixon, nominated Rehnquist to the Supreme Court.

During his time at the court, which he would head after being nominated to be the 16th chief justice by Ronald Reagan in 1986, William Rehnquist presided over a conservative transformation of what is arguably the most powerful institution in the United States.

Rehnquist's gut instincts - pro-states' rights, anti-big government and anti- affirmative action - informed his legal opinions.

He did not win every argument - voting, for instance, against the legalisation of abortion as an associate justice in 1973 - but his conservative world-view often prevailed as successive Republican appointees subtly shifted the Supreme Court to the right.

'A wiser man'

The political role of the chief justice is not confined to administering the oath of office at presidential inaugurations and, in recent years, Rehnquist found himself presiding over a number of controversial cases.

In 1988, he had voted in favour of the creation of an independent counsel, a senior prosecutor separate from the Department of Justice, charged with investigating alleged crimes at the very highest level.

And during the 1990s, special prosecutor Kenneth Starr twice investigated President Bill Clinton, over Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky. When the second case led to President Clinton's impeachment by the US Senate, it was Chief Justice Rehnquist who presided.

After President Clinton's acquittal, Rehnquist reflected to senators: "I underwent the sort of culture shock that naturally occurs when one moves from the very structured environment of the Supreme Court, to what I shall call, for the want of a better phrase, the more free-form environment of the Senate.

"I leave you now a wiser, but not a sadder, man."

Following the disputed presidential election of 2000, Rehnquist presided over the high court hearing which decided that there would be no second recount in Florida, thereby handing the White House to George W Bush.

While Rehnquist often presented a solemn and austere figure, behind the scenes, he was described by colleagues as a down-to-earth person with a good sense of humour.

William Rehnquist was diagnosed with thyroid cancer last autumn. At the start of 2005, and with the help of a walking stick, he presided over George W Bush's second inauguration, and administered the oath of office as usual.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/09/04 04:29:55 GMT


Royal Canadian Navy Responds...

Good neighbor and friends. Thank you...


The vessels will work with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard and carry Canadian Forces personnel, some of them military engineers who might be able to help restore power and generate electricity.

About 40 navy divers from both coasts were also expected to deploy with the mission, which got clearance after American officials accepted a Canadian offer of help.

Rear Admiral Dan McNeil of the Joint Task Force Atlantic said organizers of the mission, dubbed Operation Union, were compiling a list of what's needed as U.S. officials continued to assess their requirements.

The ships are expected to arrive in the Gulf of Mexico three to four days after they leave Halifax.

On the Frontlines of the Battle...

Upon the Wings of Deliverence...

Finally! Will we ever know how many perished while they waited...


Massive Airlift Rescues Thousands
Rescuers are scouring New Orleans for the last survivors of Hurricane Katrina after what has been called the largest emergency airlift in US history.

Up to 40 aircraft operating around the clock finally cleared thousands from squalid conditions at the city's Superdome and convention centre.

Survivors have been telling harrowing tales of violence.

President Bush has pledged thousands of extra troops for affected areas, amid criticism of the rescue effort.

Senior cabinet members, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld are due to tour the disaster area.

Ms Rice, the most senior black politician in government, will visit the town of Mobile in her home state of Alabama.

Harrowing tales

The streets of New Orleans were quieter on Sunday after more than 10,000 people were removed from the flood-ravaged city the previous day.

Utilities experts were preparing to enter the city for the first time to assess the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina and the failure of New Orleans' flood defences.

After spending days without food, water or medicines among rubbish and human waste, survivors appeared numb as they stumbled towards buses and helicopters.

The exact number of victims is still unknown, but thousands are believed to have died.

People who died while waiting to be rescued could be found among the survivors just outside the convention centre.

"There is no humanly possible way of knowing at this stage how many people like that still exist in this vast urban area..."
Michael Brown
Head of emergency operations

Many survivors have witnessed scenes of violence, including rapes and murders at the shelters, mainly carried out by criminal gangs.

"There is rapes going on here," Africa Brumfield, 32, who was staying at the convention centre, told Reuters news agency.

"Women cannot go to the bathroom without men. They are raping them and slitting their throats," she said.

A National Guard soldier described a similar incident. "We found a young girl raped and killed in the bathroom [at the arena]," he said.

"Then the crowd got the man and they beat him to death."


The vast majority of those stranded were poor black people who may not have had the means to leave New Orleans ahead of Hurricane Katrina.

The BBC's James Coomarasamy in the city says the arrival of thousands of soldiers has finally made a difference by bringing an overdue sense of urgency to the evacuation process.

On Saturday, in a televised address from the White House, Mr Bush acknowledged the response had been too insufficient and spoke of an "incalculable" human cost.

"The magnitude of responding to a crisis over a disaster area that is larger than the size of Great Britain has created tremendous problems that have strained state and local capabilities," he said.

"The result is that many of our citizens simply are not getting the help they need, especially in New Orleans. And that is unacceptable."

More than one million people are said to be displaced. Most of them are in Texas, Tennessee, Indiana and Arkansas.

The president has signed off a $10.5bn (£5.7bn) emergency spending package approved by Congress.

The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema), Michael Brown, said countless people across the city still needed to be rescued.

"There is no humanly possible way of knowing at this stage how many people like that still exist in this vast urban area," he said.

Mr Brown said relief workers had opened a mortuary and were collecting corpses, many of which have been floating down flooded streets.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/09/04 11:05:45 GMT


Chicago Rebuffed by Bu$h...



From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Daley 'Shocked' As Feds Reject Aid
September 3, 2005


A visibly angry Mayor Daley said the city had offered emergency,
medical and technical help to the federal government as early as
Sunday to assist people in the areas stricken by Hurricane Katrina,
but as of Friday, the only things the feds said they wanted was a
single tank truck.

That truck, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency requested to support an Illinois-based medical team, was en route Friday.

"We are ready to provide more help than they have requested. We are
just waiting for their call," said Daley, adding that he was "shocked" that no one seemed to want the help.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said he would call for
congressional hearings into the federal government's preparations and

"The response was achingly slow, and that, I think, is a view shared
by Democrats, Republicans, wealthy and poor, black and white," the
freshman senator said. "I have not met anybody who has watched this
crisis evolve over the last several days who is not just furious at
how poorly prepared we appeared to be."

Response 'baffling'

The South Side Democrat called FEMA's slow response "baffling."

"I don't understand how you could have a situation where you've got
several days' notice of an enormous hurricane building in the Gulf
Coast, you know that New Orleans is 6 feet below sea level. ... The
notion that you don't have good plans in place just does not make
sense," Obama said.

Obama said he expects his counterparts in Louisiana, Mississippi or
Alabama will call for congressional hearings, but he is ready if they
do not. "It's heartbreaking and infuriating and, I think, is
embarrassing to the American people.''

Daley said the city offered 36 members of the firefighters' technical
rescue teams, eight emergency medical technicians, search-and-rescue
equipment, more than 100 police officers as well as police vehicles
and two boats, 29 clinical and 117 non-clinical health workers, a
mobile clinic and eight trained personnel, 140 Streets and Sanitation
workers and 29 trucks, plus other supplies. City personnel are
willing to operate self-sufficiently and would not depend on local
authorities for food, water, shelter and other supplies, he said.

Flanked at a Friday press conference by a who's who from city
government, religious organizations and business, the mayor also
announced formation of the Chicago Helps Fund for storm victims.

"I'm calling upon every resident of Chicago to donate what they can
afford, whether it's 50 cents or 50 dollars," the mayor said.

People can make tax-deductible cash or check donations at any of Bank
One's 330 Chicago area branches or by check at Chicago Helps, c/o
Bank One, 38891 Eagle Way, Chicago 60678-1388. A phone line to take credit card donations will be set up.

Churches were urged to take up collections this Sunday, and
firefighters are planning to collect at major intersections this

In addition, donations will be taken at this weekend's Jazz Fest in
Grant Park, and $2 of every ticket purchased through Ticketmaster for
the Chicago Classic football game at Soldier Field today will go to
hurricane relief. The Shedd Aquarium announced it will donate $1 from
every ticket sold this holiday weekend to relief efforts and has set
up "donation stations" at the aquarium.

Homeless shelters enlisted

By midday Friday, Inner Voice, a private agency that runs 27 homeless
shelters for the city, had rounded up space in unused facilities for
about 2,000 storm refugees, should they need it, said president Brady

Ed Shurna, executive director of the Chicago Coalition for the
Homeless, suggested the city tap recently vacated units at Cabrini-
Green and Lathrop Homes that were slated for demolition but still
have heat and electricity available.

Daley reiterated that students from stricken areas are welcome to
enroll in the Chicago Public Schools and in the City Colleges.
Cardinal Francis George on Friday asked that Catholic schools in the
archdiocese waive tuition for displaced children.

More than 400 students have applied to Loyola University Chicago,
most coming from its sister Jesuit school, Loyola University New
Orleans. Half had been admitted as of late afternoon Friday.
Spokeswoman Maeve Kiley said the school "will honor their tuition
that they already paid.''

University of Illinois campuses in Urbana-Champaign and Chicago have
admitted more than 100 students, including two foreign students who
had Fulbright scholarships to attend Tulane.

Northeastern said it would waive tuition and fees for Illinois
residents who already paid another school, and would grant in-state
tuition to out-of-state students. Northwestern plans to let students
pay what they would have at their original school and forward the
money to that school.

Contributing: Andrew Herrmann, Dave Newbart