Friday, September 2, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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"You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you'll stop the terrorism." - Cindy Sheehan

P I C T U R E   O F  T H E  D A Y



New Orleans in Anarchy With Fights, Rapes
Sep 1, 11:04 PM (ET)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - New Orleans descended into anarchy Thursday as corpses lay abandoned in street medians, fights and fires broke out, cops turned in their badges and the governor declared war on looters who have made the city a menacing landscape of disorder and fear.

"They have M-16s and they're locked and loaded," Gov. Kathleen Blanco said of 300 National Guard troops who landed in New Orleans fresh from duty in Iraq. "These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so, and I expect they will."

Comment: "Fresh" from duty in Iraq?? Given the situation in Iraq, including the deaths of countless innocent Iraqi civilians at the hands of US forces, we really have to wonder what is going on in the minds of Bush administration officials. Getting troops who are more than willing to shoot and kill into New Orleans doesn't seem to be a problem - but getting emergency supplies and enough helicopters and other equipment to evacuate stranded residents does seem to be an issue. As such, perhaps the plan was never to rescue anyone. Many people are beginning to speculate that the levees were intentionally sabotaged 9/11 style. In a SkyNews survey, 90% think that Bush's response to Katrina is entirely too slow. In the same broadcast, an American who lost his home stated that if the US can go into Iraq and rebuild the country as Bush claims, why isn't the same being done in the region ravaged by Katrina?

When we read that only seven helicopters were available to rescue an estimated 200,000 people stranded in the New Orleans area alone, and that the National Guard troops sent in just got back from Iraq, we have to wonder if perhaps US forces are stretched so thin that there simply aren't enough troops and equipment to conduct a full-scale rescue operation. If the Bush Reich knew this, they would certainly allow or help the levees to break, creating such a huge disaster that anarchy would result. They could then release a story about abandoned residents shooting at rescue helicopters, impose martial law, send in the big guns, and not really have to worry about actually saving anyone. Besides, the majority of those people stranded appear to be lower class citizens who are primarily African American, and the Powers that Be have been historically less than helpful to that portion of the population. As an added bonus, the US economy would crash, and the administration could blame Mother Nature.

So, what do US authorities have to say for themselves? Well, Bush urged the people of New Orleans to remain patient. Yesterday, an AFP article also reported the following:

With 80 percent of New Orleans submerged, authorities blamed the floods for their inability to get the relief operation into high gear.

"For those who wonder why it is difficult to get these supply and medical teams into place, the answer is, they are battling an ongoing dynamic problem with the water," said Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff.

This is the best explanation they could come up with?! An "ongoing dynamic problem with the water"?? Does this statement mean that the Office of Homeland Security and the military don't have any boats or helicopters available to rescue people? Most of the people stranded in New Orleans seem to still be surviving despite a lack of food, clean water, medicine, shelter, and the ongoing dynamic problem with the water - yet a massive collection of government and military agencies just stands around and watches helplessly.

We suspect that either Bush's Brain has made an extraordinarily huge miscalculation, or there is much more to Katrina than meets the eye...

Four days after Hurricane Katrina roared in with a devastating blow that inflicted potentially thousands of deaths, the fear, anger and violence mounted Thursday.

"I'm not sure I'm going to get out of here alive," said Canadian tourist Larry Mitzel, who handed a reporter his business card in case he goes missing. "I'm scared of riots. I'm scared of the locals. We might get caught in the crossfire."

The chaos deepened despite the promise of 1,400 National Guardsmen a day to stop the looting, plans for a $10 billion recovery bill in Congress and a government relief effort President Bush called the biggest in U.S. history.

Comment: Again, the primary focus is National Guard troops to stop the "looting". The hurricane victims having food, water, and medicine is not anywhere near as important as the "moral" question of whether or not taking such items for the survival of one's family is considered "wrong". Perhaps someone should ask Bush what he really expects stranded Americans to do since he can't seem to get any relief efforts started.

New Orleans' top emergency management official called that effort a "national disgrace" and questioned when reinforcements would actually reach the increasingly lawless city.

About 15,000 to 20,000 people who had taken shelter at New Orleans convention center grew ever more hostile after waiting for buses for days amid the filth and the dead. Police Chief Eddie Compass said there was such a crush around a squad of 88 officers that they retreated when they went in to check out reports of assaults.

"We have individuals who are getting raped, we have individuals who are getting beaten," Compass said. "Tourists are walking in that direction and they are getting preyed upon."

Col. Henry Whitehorn, chief of the Louisiana State Police, said he heard of numerous instances of New Orleans police officers - many of whom from flooded areas - turning in their badges.

"They indicated that they had lost everything and didn't feel that it was worth them going back to take fire from looters and losing their lives," Whitehorn said.

Comment: All the better for the Bush gang... Now they'll just have to send in the marines!!

A military helicopter tried to land at the convention center several times to drop off food and water. But the rushing crowd forced the choppers to back off. Troopers then tossed the supplies to the crowd from 10 feet off the ground and flew away.

In hopes of defusing the situation at the convention center, Mayor Ray Nagin gave the refugees permission to march across a bridge to the city's unflooded west bank for whatever relief they could find. But the bedlam made that difficult.

"This is a desperate SOS," Nagin said in a statement. "Right now we are out of resources at the convention center and don't anticipate enough buses."

At least seven bodies were scattered outside the convention center, a makeshift staging area for those rescued from rooftops, attics and highways. The sidewalks were packed with people without food, water or medical care, and with no sign of law enforcement.

An old man in a chaise lounge lay dead in a grassy median as hungry babies wailed around him. Around the corner, an elderly woman lay dead in her wheelchair, covered up by a blanket, and another body lay beside her wrapped in a sheet.

"I don't treat my dog like that," 47-year-old Daniel Edwards said as he pointed at the woman in the wheelchair.

"You can do everything for other countries, but you can't do nothing for your own people," he added. "You can go overseas with the military, but you can't get them down here."

The street outside the center, above the floodwaters, smelled of urine and feces, and was choked with dirty diapers, old bottles and garbage.

"They've been teasing us with buses for four days," Edwards said. "They're telling us they're going to come get us one day, and then they don't show up."

Every so often, an armored state police vehicle cruised in front of the convention center with four or five officers in riot gear with automatic weapons. But there was no sign of help from the National Guard.

At one point the crowd began to chant "We want help! We want help!" Later, a woman, screaming, went on the front steps of the convention center and led the crowd in reciting the 23rd Psalm, "The Lord is my shepherd ..."

"We are out here like pure animals," the Issac Clark said.

"We've got people dying out here - two babies have died, a woman died, a man died," said Helen Cheek. "We haven't had no food, we haven't had no water, we haven't had nothing. They just brought us here and dropped us."

Tourist Debbie Durso of Washington, Mich., said she asked a police officer for assistance and his response was, "'Go to hell - it's every man for himself.'"

"This is just insanity," she said. "We have no food, no water ... all these trucks and buses go by and they do nothing but wave."

FEMA director Michael Brown said the agency just learned about the situation at the convention center Thursday and quickly scrambled to provide food, water and medical care and remove the corpses.

Comment: Horse hockey. The situation at the convention center has been broadcast over every major news network for days. CNN has some other interesting remarks made by Brown:

The director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Thursday those New Orleans residents who chose not to heed warnings to evacuate before Hurricane Katrina bear some responsibility for their fates.

Michael Brown also agreed with other public officials that the death toll in the city could reach into the thousands.

"Unfortunately, that's going to be attributable a lot to people who did not heed the advance warnings," Brown told CNN.

"I don't make judgments about why people chose not to leave but, you know, there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans," he said.

"And to find people still there is just heart-wrenching to me because, you know, the mayor did everything he could to get them out of there.

"So, we've got to figure out some way to convince people that whenever warnings go out it's for their own good," Brown said. "Now, I don't want to second guess why they did that. My job now is to get relief to them."

FEMA isn't doing anything to save the mostly poor people trapped in New Orleans who couldn't get out of the city before Katrina because the agency certainly didn't help them get out then, either. Nevertheless, it's not FEMA's fault - it's the poor people themselves who are to blame. Spoken like a true psychopath...

Brown was upbeat in his assessment of the relief effort so far, ticking off a list of accomplishments: more than 30,000 National Guard troops will be in the city within three days, the hospitals are being evacuated and search and rescue missions are continuing. [...]

Within three days? Gee, that's only one week after the storm hit...

Asked later on CNN how he could blame the victims, many of whom could not flee the storm because they had no transportation or were too frail to evacuate on their own, Brown said he was not blaming anyone.

"Now is not the time to be blaming," Brown said. "Now is the time to recognize that whether they chose to evacuate or chose not to evacuate, we have to help them."

Note how Brown twists things to blame the victim at first, and when confronted with it, he blatantly lies. Again, spoken like a true psychopath...

Getting back to the original article:

Speaking on CNN's "Larry King Live," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the evacuation of New Orleans should be completed by the end of the weekend.

At the hot and stinking Superdome, where 30,000 were being evacuated by bus to the Houston Astrodome, fistfights and fires erupted amid a seething sea of tense, suffering people who waited in a lines that stretched a half-mile to board yellow school buses.

After a traffic jam kept buses from arriving for nearly four hours, a near-riot broke out in the scramble to get on the buses that finally did show up, with a group of refugees breaking through a line of heavily armed National Guardsmen.

One military policeman was shot in the leg as he and a man scuffled for the MP's rifle, police Capt. Ernie Demmo said. The man was arrested.

Some of those among the mostly poor crowd had been in the dome for four days without air conditioning, working toilets or a place to bathe. An ambulance service airlifting the sick and injured out of the Superdome suspended flights as too dangerous after it was reported that a bullet was fired at a military helicopter.

Comment: On CNN, we read:

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- The evacuation of patients from Charity Hospital was halted Thursday after the facility came under sniper fire twice. [...]

"A single sniper or two snipers shouldn't have to shut down a hospital evacuation for two hours now," Dr. Ruth Berggren told CNN. "I look outside, I'm not seeing any military."

Berggren's husband, Dr. Tyler Curiel, witnessed both incidents.

"We were coming in from a parking deck at Tulane Medical Center, and a guy in a white shirt started firing at us," Curiel said. "The National Guard [troops], wearing flak jackets, tried to get a bead on this guy. "

One man in a white shirt fires twice at National Guard troops, and the entire operation is called off because of the "sniper"? Something simply doesn't add up here.

Perhaps the next step is to declare all those left in New Orleans to be "insurgents" with ties to al-Qaeda and send in the stealth bombers...

"If they're just taking us anywhere, just anywhere, I say praise God," said refugee John Phillip. "Nothing could be worse than what we've been through."

By Thursday evening, 11 hours after the military began evacuating the Superdome, the arena held 10,000 more people than it did at dawn. National Guard Capt. John Pollard said evacuees from around the city poured into the Superdome and swelled the crowd to about 30,000 because they believed the arena was the best place to get a ride out of town.

As he watched a line snaking for blocks through ankle-deep waters, New Orleans' emergency operations chief Terry Ebbert blamed the inadequate response on the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"This is not a FEMA operation. I haven't seen a single FEMA guy," he said. He added: "We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims, but we can't bail out the city of New Orleans."

FEMA officials said some operations had to be suspended in areas where gunfire has broken out, but are working overtime to feed people and restore order.

A day after Nagin took 1,500 police officers off search-and-rescue duty to try to restore order in the streets, there were continued reports of looting, shootings, gunfire and carjackings - and not all the crimes were driven by greed.

When some hospitals try to airlift patients, Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Cheri Ben-Iesan said, "there are people just taking potshots at police and at helicopters, telling them, 'You better come get my family.'"

Outside a looted Rite-Aid drugstore, some people were anxious to show they needed what they were taking. A gray-haired man who would not give his name pulled up his T-shirt to show a surgery scar and explained that he needs pads for incontinence.

"I'm a Christian. I feel bad going in there," he said.

Comment: Is the National Guard really going to arrest people like this poor man for looting??

Earl Baker carried toothpaste, toothbrushes and deodorant. "Look, I'm only getting necessities," he said. "All of this is personal hygiene. I ain't getting nothing to get drunk or high with."

Several thousand storm victims had arrived in Houston by Thursday night, and they quickly got hot meals, showers and some much-needed rest.

Audree Lee, 37, was thrilled after getting a shower and hearing her teenage daughter's voice on the telephone for the first time since the storm. Lee had relatives take her daughter to Alabama so she would be safe.

"I just cried. She cried. We cried together," Lee said. "She asked me about her dog. They wouldn't let me take her dog with me. ... I know the dog is gone now."

While floodwaters in the city appeared to stabilize, efforts continued to plug three breaches that had opened up in the levee system that protects this below-sea-level city.

Helicopters dropped sandbags into the breach and pilings were being pounded into the mouth of the canal Thursday to close its connection to Lake Pontchartrain, state Transportation Secretary Johnny Bradberry said. The next step called for using about 250 concrete road barriers to seal the gap.

In Washington, the White House said Bush will tour the devastated Gulf Coast region on Friday and has asked his father, former President George H.W. Bush, and former President Clinton to lead a private fund-raising campaign for victims.

The president urged a crackdown on the lawlessness.

"I think there ought to be zero tolerance of people breaking the law during an emergency such as this - whether it be looting, or price gouging at the gasoline pump, or taking advantage of charitable giving or insurance fraud," Bush said. "And I've made that clear to our attorney general. The citizens ought to be working together."

Donald Dudley, a 55-year-old New Orleans seafood merchant, complained that when he and other hungry refugees broke into the kitchen of the convention center and tried to prepare food, the National Guard chased them away.

"They pulled guns and told us we had to leave that kitchen or they would blow our damn brains out," he said. "We don't want their help. Give us some vehicles and we'll get ourselves out of here!"

Comment: Speaking of the National Guard...

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Hurricane Donald: How Rumsfeld Smashed the National Guard
September 1, 2005

"Free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. For suddenly the biggest problem in the world to be looting is really notable."
- Sec-Def Donald Rumsfeld 4-11-03; comments on the looting of Baghdad

The changes that are taking place in the military under the deceptive name of "transformation" have nothing to do with national defense. Rather, the military is being converted into a taxpayer-subsidized security apparatus for multinational corporations. Its primary task is to seize dwindling resources through force of arms and crush indigenous movements that resist US aggression.

On the home front, the changes brought on by transformation are equally dramatic. Traditional defenses provided by the National Guard have been substantially weakened to allow the Pentagon to insert itself into domestic affairs and establish an ongoing military presence within the United States. Donald Rumsfeld has already stated that the military will play a greater role in dealing with the aftereffects of any future terrorist attack. There's no doubt that he will honor that commitment.

The media has echoed the government line that transformation is simply intended to revamp the military for the wars of the next century. They have highlighted the effects of base closures on local economies and unemployment. They have also emphasized the Pentagon's intention to create smaller, more agile military units that can be quickly deployed anywhere around the world in less than 48 hours. But, the media have avoided analyzing the overall objectives of these changes or their effect on homeland security.

Rumsfeld has savaged the National Guard; 40% of who are now serving in Iraq. That means, that the American people are 40% "less safe" in the event of terrorist attack or a natural disaster, like Hurricane Katrina, regardless of how one looks at it. Instead of strengthening the damaged Guard, Rumsfeld is executing a plan that will wreak further havoc on domestic preparedness and expose the American public to even greater risk.

For example, "Rumsfeld called for 30 Air Guard units scattered around many states to lose their aircraft and flying missions." (Liz Sidot; Ass Press 8- 27-05) How can the states be expected to conduct routine patrols or reconnaissance missions if their planes have been taken by Washington? And, why would Rumsfeld want to take them when more terrorist attacks are expected in the future?

In Pennsylvania Rumsfeld tried to "dissolve the Pennsylvania Air National Guard division without the Governor's authority". (Ass Press)


The move was a conspicuous attempt to undermine Pennsylvania's defenses and put more power under the direct control of the Defense Dept.

Rumsfeld also tried to "transfer" all 15 "Pacific Northwest and Oregon National Guard fighter jets that patrolled Seattle's skies after 9-11"; leaving the region with no protection from aerial assault. (Northwest's F- 15's Should Stay Put" Seattle PI staff, 8-27-05) Consider the risk to a "target-rich" area like the Pacific Northwest, with its exposed industries, harbors and nuclear power plants, if it was stripped of its first line of defense?

Rumsfeld's behavior has been identical everywhere across the country. He is determined to undermine the National Guard and limit the states' ability to protect themselves against attack. His intention is to smash America's internal defenses, which are currently under control of the states' governors, and introduce the military into homeland security. It is a clear attempt to centralize authority and further militarize the country.

By weakening America's defenses, Rumsfeld has paved the way for deploying troops and aircraft within the country and setting the precedent for a permanent military presence within the nation. It is one giant step towards direct military rule.

There is no other conceivable reason for weakening national defense during a period when there is an increased likelihood of a terrorist incident.

Rumsfeld's conduct is hardly surprising. He has a long history of support for military regimes. Just months ago he was coaching South American leaders to resume their use of the military in domestic policing activities to undercut the Leftist political movements that are at the forefront of change throughout the region. It's clear that he has something similar in mind for the American people.

Are we talking about the possibility of martial law?

We only need to look at developments in England to know what Americans could be facing following another terrorist attack. Tony Blair has managed to manipulate the London bombings into a mandate for regressive "anti-terror" legislation that suspends habeas corpus, due process, and the presumption of innocence.

Blair is now claiming the right to deport Muslims without judicial review, suspend free speech, and use deadly force against terrorist suspects. At the same time, he has concealed his motives behind a public relations smokescreen that make his actions look like they are a reasonable response to a national security threat. In fact, Blair's actions are part of a broader strategy to eviscerate civil liberties for the Islamic community. The Prime Minister's "The rules of the game have changed" speech; was a carefully scripted declaration of martial law for Muslims.

The American people can expect similar edicts from Washington following the next terrorist attack at home.

Transformation and Foreign Policy

When the military is adapted to the narrow interests of elites it becomes little more than a resource-acquisition tool; a bloody-weapon to be used by private industry. We can see the effects of this in both Iraq and Afghanistan, where the military is providing security for the corporations that are extracting the regional resources. It's nothing more than massive "protections-racket" designed to legitimize theft.

The goal of transformation is to make the military conform to the corporate model; converting it into a top-down, highly-technological mechanism programmed for maximum efficiency and lethality. The Pentagon is no longer expecting to fight large territorial conflicts, but instead is developing a fighting force to "preemptively" attack those nationalist or revolutionary forces that may disrupt global commerce.

When Bush says, "We will confront emerging threats before they fully materialize," he is articulating the theory of aggression on which transformation is based. The new military is designed to initiate hostilities wherever America can expand its grip on vital natural resources. This is the only way that Washington can maintain its dominant position in the world economy.

The Cost of Global War

One official from the World Bank estimated that the US will spend in excess of $900 Billion per year to maintain the global military presence that the Bush administration has in mind; nearly double the current Pentagon budget.

This is probably accurate. The New World Order requires a gluttonous, iron-fisted military to maintain its supremacy and to preserve the existing economic paradigm.

So far, the dream of a transformed military has proved to be a dismal failure. The insufficient number of soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq has spawned violent resistance-movements in both countries that show no sign of abating. Rumsfeld's dream of small groupings of elite warriors striking with lightening speed and subduing entire populations has turned out to be a catastrophic fantasy. America now has 8 battalions bogged-down in a desert maelstrom where high-tech wizardry is less help than a few more "boots on the ground". At home, the National Guard is in a shambles. The men who would normally be assisting the victims of America's greatest natural disaster are now hunkered-down in encampments outside Baghdad and Falluja unable to help in the task for which they were trained. As the costs and casualties of the Iraq debacle continue to mount, Rumsfeld's crazed vision of transformation will be exposed as one of the principle theories that led the country down this ruinous path.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at:

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Stadium hurricane refuge like a 'concentration camp'
Fri Sep 2, 2:52 AM ET

NEW ORLEANS - Dirty, fearful and exhausted, they pressed their faces against the metal gates, begging and pleading for the chance to board a bus and get away from a refuge that had become a nightmare.

After five days in the stinking, crowded and sweltering confines of the New Orleans Superdome, the thousands of people who emerged formed a slow-moving tide of desperation looking for escape and relief.

The Superdome was meant to be a hurricane refuge, but those who sought shelter there described a lawless "concentration camp" where two children were reportedly raped and other refugees terrorized by rioters.

Around 40 National Guard, armed with assault rifles, guarded the door to a shopping mall through which the packed crowds were being slowly filtered to buses waiting in ankle-deep flood waters outside.

"Make a hole!" one guardsman shouted, as he carried the limp and sweaty body of a woman -- one of many who collapsed from dehydration and exhaustion.

People held children and dogs over their heads to keep them from getting crushed, as babies were passed forward into the waiting arms of guardsmen who cradled them and fed them water.

Those lucky enough to get out told tales of rapes, child molestations, shootings, a man who jumped off the roof and a fire that broke out in the giant sport arena where up to 20,000 people had taken shelter from Hurricane Katrina.

The floors of the stadium were soaked from the rain that seeped in during the storm after part of the roof collapsed, and a pervading stench testifid to the overflowing toilets that had forced people to relieve themselves in hallways and stairwells.

"The odor from that place would knock you off your feet," said Lorraine Banks as she made her way past the dozens of police officers and soldiers trying to keeping order and handing out water in the shopping mall.

"They had bowel movements on the floor this high," the 53-year-old nurse said, as she gestured to her knee.

One 13-year veteran of the New Orleans police force said he and other officers who had been at the Superdome since Sunday were outraged at what they saw as a lack of preparation that allowed the situation in the covered stadium to deteriorate so badly and so quickly.

"This city knew something like this would happen a long time ago. They did nothing to prepare for this. They just rolled the dice and hoped for the best," said the officer who asked not to be identified.

"People were raped in there. People were killed in there. We had multiple riots," he said, adding there was no way to police the mass of up to 20,000 people suddenly thrown together in such a confined space and such horrific conditions.

"You can't be trapped in there for so long without going crazy. People were locked in the dome like prisoners," he said. "There was no ventilation. We had 80-, 90-year-old people who needed medication and couldn't get it."

According to Baron Duncan, the nights inside the arena were the worst, with the pitch darkness and debilitating humidity accentuating the rank smell from backed up toilets.

"The stench was unbearable. We were treated like animals," Duncan said. "There was shooting ... our lives were in danger. A seven-year-old girl and an eight-year-old boy got raped."

Medics brought the worst cases out to a cordoned-off hallway for treatment before they were loaded onto the buses.

Latanya Howard, 34, was using a piece of cardboard to fan a woman who had collapsed against a wall.

"People have been passing out left and right and we had limited medical supplies," she said, describing the scene inside the arena. "Then we come out and they talk to us like dogs. No wonder they were fighting."

The evacuation of the Superdome began late Wednesday for those with serious health problems. Officials would not estimate how long it would take to empty the arena completely.

"People are still walking in here as fast as we can get them out," said Lieutenant Colonel Scott Elliot of the Texas National Guard.

The Superdome was opened Sunday as a refuge of last resort. After the flooding, thousands more came or were brought there in hopes of making it onto the first buses out of the city.

Maintaining order had been difficult, Elliot said as he surveyed the swarm of angry, shouting people pressing up against the barricades between the shopping mall and the buses.

Despite one guardsman being shot in the leg, he said the general feeling among the troops was that they were happy to be able to help.

"This is the most important thing they've ever done," Elliot said. "I just got back from Iraq last month. It's nothing like this. These are our people."

Comment: What does Bush's slow response say as to how he really feels about "our people"??

Much of the frustration voiced by the evacuees concerned the lack of information. People were prevented from leaving the arena because of the flooding and were desperate for news of what had happened to their friends, neighbors, family members and homes.

One woman, Judy Smith, sat sobbing in a chair in the mall with her four grandchildren sitting on the floor next to her.

"I've lost my children," Smith sobbed. "You've got to find my daughter, Ashley Smith .... You've got to tell her her babies are alright. One almost drowned but we saved him."

Many blamed the officials for failing to give them any updates on the situation.

"We didn't have anyone telling us anything," said Rosemary Atkins, 60, as she waited with her grandson for her daughter and other grandson to make their way through the barricades.

"We kept asking the guards (what was going on) and they said they didn't know."

Norma Blanco Johnson, waiting for a bus with her daughter and infant grandaughter, said her main concern was her three sons, who she hadn't seen since before the hurricane hit.

"I don't know what happened to them," Johnson said, adding that her anxiety and fear had only been multiplied by the experience of sheltering in the Superdome.

"This was no way to treat a human being. I lost everything and then I went through hell. I have no place left. I have nowhere to go and all I have are these," she said, pointing to her soiled clothes.

Audrey Jordan vented her anger at New Orleans officials, saying they had known for years that a hurricane of Katrina's intensity could cause a breach in the low-lying city's water defences.

"They wanted to pay millions of dollars to rebuild a stadium, but they couldn't even fix the levee," Jordan said.

"We were treated like this was a concentration camp," she said of the Superdome. "One man couldn't take it. He jumped over the railing and died."

Comment: In a radio interview, New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin had the following to say:

In the radio interview, Nagin's frustration was palpable.

"I've been out there man. I flew in these helicopters, been in the crowds talking to people crying, don't know where their relatives are. I've done it all man, and I'll tell you man, I keep hearing that it's coming. This is coming, that is coming. And my answer to that today is BS, where is the beef? Because there is no beef in this city. "

Nagin said, "Get every Greyhound bus in the country and get them moving."

Nagin called for a moratorium on press conferences "until the resources are in this city."

"They're feeding the people a line of bull, and they are spinning and people are dying," he said.

"I don't know whether it's the governor's problem, or it's the president's problem, but somebody needs to get ... on a plane and sit down, the two of them, and figure this out right now," Nagin said.

"They thinking small, man, and this is a major, major deal," he said.

"Get off your asses and let's do something."

The mayor said except for a few "knuckleheads," the looting is the result of desperate people just trying to find food and water to survive.

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How to Create a Crisis
By Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Pacific News Service
Posted September 2, 2005

The deplorable looting in New Orleans puts an ugly public face on a crisis that Bush administration policies have made worse.

Two things happened in one day that tell much about the abysmal failure of the Bush administration to get a handle on poverty in America. The first was the tragic and disgraceful shots of hordes of New Orleans residents scurrying down the city's hurricane-ravaged streets with their arms loaded with food, clothes, appliances, and in some cases guns, looted from stores and shops. That same day, the Census Bureau released a report that found the number of poor Americans has leaped even higher since Bush took office in 2000.

While criminal gangs who take advantage of chaos and misery did much of the looting, many desperately poor, mostly black residents saw a chance to grab items they can't afford. They also did their share of the looting. That makes it no less reprehensible, but it's no surprise. New Orleans has one of the highest poverty rates of any of America's big cities. According to a report by Total Community Action, a New Orleans public advocacy group, nearly one out of three New Orleans residents -- the majority of whom are black -- lives below the poverty level. A spokesperson for the United Negro College Fund noted that the city's poor live in some of the most dilapidated and deteriorated housing in the nation.

But New Orleans is not an aberration. Nationally, according to Census figures, blacks remain at the bottom of the economic totem pole. They have the lowest median income of any group. Bush's war and economic policies don't help matters. His tax cuts redistributed billions to the rich and corporations. The Iraq war has drained billions from cash-starved job training, health and education programs. Increased American dependence on Saudi oil has driven gas and oil prices skyward. Corporate downsizing, outsourcing and industrial flight have further fueled America's poverty crisis. All of this happened on Bush's watch.

The two million new jobs in 2004 Bush touts as proof that his economic policies work have been mostly smoke and mirrors number counting. The bulk of these jobs are low-paying jobs with minimal benefits and little job security in retail and service industries. A big portion of the nearly 40 million Americans who live below the official poverty line fill these jobs. They're the lucky ones. They have jobs. Many young blacks, such as those who ransacked stores in New Orleans, don't. The poverty crisis has slammed them the hardest of all. Even during the Clinton-era economic boom, the unemployment rate for young black males was double, and in some parts of the country, triple that of white males.

During the past couple of years, state and federal cutbacks in job training and skills programs, the competition for low- and semi-skilled service and retail jobs from immigrants, and the refusal of many employers to hire those with criminal records have further hammered black communities and added to the Great Depression levels of unemployment among young blacks. The tale of poverty is more evident in the nearly one million blacks behind bars, the HIV/AIDS rampage in black communities, the sea of black homeless persons, and the raging drug and gang violence that rips apart many black communities.

Then there are the children. One third of America's poor are children. Worse, the Children's Defense Fund found that nearly one million black children live in extreme poverty. That's the greatest number of black children trapped in dire poverty in nearly a quarter century.

Bush officials claim the poverty numbers do not surprise them. They contend that past trends show that poverty peaks and then declines a year after the jump in new job growth. But the poverty numbers have steadily risen for not one, but all five years of this administration. There has been no sign of a turnaround. For that to happen, Bush would have to reverse his tax and war spending policies, and commit massive funds to job, training and education programs, as well as providing tax incentives for businesses to train and hire the poor. That would take an active, national lobbying effort by congressional Democrats and civil rights and anti-poverty groups. That's not likely either. The poor are too nameless, faceless and numerous to target with a sustained lobbying campaign.

While the NAACP hammers Bush on the war and his domestic policies, poverty has not been their top priority. The fight for affirmative action, economic parity, professional advancement and busing replaced battling poverty, reducing unemployment, securing quality education, promoting self-help and gaining greater political empowerment as the goals of all African-Americans. That effectively left the one out of four blacks who wallow below the official poverty level out in the cold.

The looting in New Orleans, though deplorable, put an ugly public face on a crisis Bush administration policies have made worse. The millions in America who grow poorer, more desperate, and greater in number, are bitter testament to that.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is the author of 'The Crisis in Black and Black' (Middle Passage Press).

Comment: Meanwhile, the hostility against Bush is rising rapidly because of the continued tepid response to the areas hit by the hurricane...

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Anarchy in New Orleans

Chaos rules with 200,000 still stranded in the city. Looting, gunfire and a death toll still unknown
By Andrew Buncombe in New Orleans and Andrew Gumbel
The Independent
02 September 2005

The effort to rescue as many as 200,000 people left stranded and hungry in the sinking city of New Orleans ran the risk of catastrophic breakdown last night, as under-prepared and under-resourced federal authorities faced the hostility of heavily armed residents seemingly bent on shooting their way out of town if necessary. [...]

Survivors grew increasingly panicky last night as the transport they had been promised out of the city failed to materialise. "We are out here like pure animals. We don't have help," an elderly pastor told the Associated Press outside the city's Convention Centre, where corpses were laid out directly in front of the living. From the centre, a line of buses could be seen along the interstate highway, but they were going nowhere. [...]

The Bush administration hurriedly sent a fresh consignment of 10,000 National Guardsmen into the disaster area to try to maintain order - bringing the total number of men in uniform to 28,000. President George Bush himself said he would adopt a "zero tolerance" attitude to lawlessness and urged people to work together. "I understand the anxiety of people on the ground," he told a television interviewer. "So there is frustration. But I want people to know there's a lot of help coming."

But the President found himself the target of an unusual degree of anger from across the political spectrum, as editorial writers demanded to know why he had sat out the first full day of the disaster, and present and former government officials detailed the numerous ways in which Congress and the White House has cut funding for the very emergency management programmes that the New Orleans area so desperately needs.

Despite the administration's efforts to catalogue the naval ships, helicopters, floating hospitals and essential supplies it was deploying, reports from along the Gulf Coast suggested it was not arriving nearly fast enough. "We're not getting any help yet," the fire chief in Biloxi, Mississippi, told the Knight-Ridder news service. "We need water. We need ice. I've been told it's coming, but we've got people in shelters who haven't had a drink since the storm."

Local officials already overwhelmed by the scale of the catastrophe said they were particularly bewildered by the failure of the Army Corps of Engineers to stem the gush of water pouring into New Orleans through broken levees protecting the city from both the Gulf to the south and Lake Ponchartrain to the north. "I'm extremely upset about it," said Louisiana's Governor, Kathleen Blanco.

The Army Corps, like every other authority charged with preventing the flooding of New Orleans, has had its budget cut repeatedly in recent years. The Federal Emergency Management Administration has had its resources diverted towards the Bush administration's "war on terror", and many of the National Guardsmen who might have been in place to intervene sooner have been diverted to Iraq.

The prospect of an ugly, elemental battle for survival in New Orleans was made worse by the fact that even before Hurricane Katrina it was the poorest urban area in the United States. The ghastly spectacle of overwhelmingly black residents caged in an unsanitary sports stadium and left almost entirely to their own devices could not but evoke memories of the darkest days of segregation and overtly racist Jim Crow laws in the American South. The potential for racial conflict has been quietly side-stepped in much of the US media coverage to date, but it is also impossible to ignore.

Tales of gun stores being looted and armed gangs roaming the streets were reminiscent of the opening salvos of the Los Angeles riots of 1992. Police said their officers had been shot at, and news crews for at least one major national network let it be known that they had hired private security guards to guarantee their safety.

Looters raided shops and public buildings and used either rubbish bins or inflatable mattresses to float their takings down the water-filled streets.

The prospect of a major societal breakdown was not restricted to the disaster area. As the first evacuees were welcomed to their new temporary home, the Astrodome in Houston, officials felt obliged to deny that the dispossessed were being held in prison-like conditions. The Astrodome was "not a jail", the chief executive of Harris County, which encompasses Houston, insisted at a news conference.

Comment: An Associated Press report includes the following:

The Astrodome's new residents will be issued passes that will let them leave and return as they please, something that wasn't permitted in New Orleans. Organizers also plan to find ways to help the refugees contact relatives.

Officials from President Bush down to Marc Morial, a former mayor of New Orleans, said the impact of Katrina was worse than that of the 11 September attacks on New York, and so required an even more energetic response. "So many of the people who did not evacuate could not evacuate, for whatever reason," said Mr Morial. "They are people who are African-American, mostly but not completely, and people who were of little or limited economic means. They are the folks, we've got to get them out of there."

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'Casual to the point of careless' - Bush under fire for slow reaction
By Andrew Gumbel
The Independent
02 September 2005

President Bush faced not only the fallout of Hurricane Katrina but also an intense political storm yesterday as relief experts, government officials and newspaper editorials criticised everything from his administration's disaster preparedness policies to the manner in which he made his public entry into the growing crisis on the Gulf coast.

The New York Times said of a speech he made on Tuesday: "Nothing about the President's demeanour yesterday - which seemed casual to the point of carelessness - suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis."

No less trenchant - and more heartfelt - was the Biloxi Sun Herald in Mississippi which surveyed the disaster around its editorial offices and asked: "Why hasn't every able-bodied member of the armed forces in south Mississippi been pressed into service?"

As when the Asian tsunami hit last year, Mr Bush found himself on holiday at his Texas ranch when disaster struck. As with the tsunami, he was soon in the firing line for reacting slowly - he spent Monday on a fundraising tour of the American West - and failing to provide adequate leadership. As survivors complained of a lack of water, food and medical supplies yesterday, fingers from across the political spectrum were pointed at the White House.

Experts on the Mississippi Delta pointed out that a plan to shore up the levees around New Orleans was abandoned last year for lack of government funding. They noted that flood-control spending for south-eastern Louisiana had been chopped every year that Mr Bush has been in office, that hurricane protection funds have also fallen, and that the local army corps of engineers has also had its budget cut. The emergency management chief for Jefferson parish told the Times-Picayune newspaper: "It appears that the money has been moved in the President's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay."

The torrent of criticism contrasted sharply to the reaction to the 11 September attacks, when political sniping was put on hold and dissenters were told their complaints were both unwelcome and unpatriotic. The change in tone partly suggests a growing disenchantment with Mr Bush.

The usually restrained New York Times said: "Why were developers permitted to destroy wetlands and barrier islands that could have held back the hurricane's surge? Why was Congress, before it wandered off to vacation, engaged in slashing the budget for correcting some of the gaping holes in the area's flood protection?"

Comment: Some commentators have pointed out that Clinton recently remarked that the government never expected hurricane damage to New Orleans to be so severe, a claim which has been repeatedly proven to be a lie by even the mainstream US media. The idea is that we shouldn't blame Bush or the Neocons for the disaster in the Southern United States because of personal political bias. In the following article, however, Molly Ivins points out that the increasing hostility towards Bush is not just a political blame game. It is a much deeper and more important matter...

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A Flood of Bad Policies
By Molly Ivins
September 2, 2005

While Katrina's dead have not yet been counted, it's not too soon to hammer home a point: government policies have real consequences in people's lives.

Like many of you who love New Orleans, I find myself taking short mental walks there today, turning a familiar corner, glimpsing a favorite scene, square or vista. And worrying about the beloved friends and the city, and how they are now.

To use a fine Southern word, it's tacky to start playing the blame game before the dead are even counted. It is not too soon, however, to make a point that needs to be hammered home again and again, and that is that government policies have real consequences in people's lives. This is not "just politics" or blaming for political advantage. This is about the real consequences of what governments do and do not do about their responsibilities. And about who winds up paying the price for those policies.

This is a column for everyone in the path of Hurricane Katrina who ever said, "I'm sorry, I'm just not interested in politics," or, "There's nothing I can do about it," or, "Eh, they're all crooks anyway." Nothing to do with me, nothing to do with my life, nothing I can do about any of it. Look around you this morning. I suppose the NRA would argue, "Government policies don't kill people, hurricanes kill people."

Actually, hurricanes plus government policies kill people. [...]

It is a fact that the Clinton administration set some tough policies on wetlands, and it is a fact that the Bush administration repealed those policies -- ordering federal agencies to stop protecting as many as 20 million acres of wetlands. Last year, four environmental groups cooperated on a joint report showing the Bush administration's policies had allowed developers to drain thousands of acres of wetlands.

Does this mean we should blame Bush for the fact that New Orleans is underwater? No, but it means we can blame Bush when a Class 3 or Class 2 hurricane puts New Orleans underwater. [...]

In fact, there is now a government-wide movement away from basing policy on science, expertise and professionalism, and in favor of choices based on ideology. If you're wondering what the ideological position on flood management might be, look at the pictures of New Orleans -- it seems to consist of gutting the programs that do anything.

Unfortunately, the war in Iraq is directly related to the devastation left by the hurricane. About 35 percent of Louisiana's National Guard is now serving in Iraq, where four out of every 10 soldiers are guardsmen. Recruiting for the Guard is also down significantly because people are afraid of being sent to Iraq if they join, leaving the Guard even more short- handed.

The Louisiana National Guard also notes that dozens of its high-water vehicles, humvees, refuelers and generators have also been sent abroad. (I hate to be picky, but why do they need high-water vehicles in Iraq?) This, in turn, goes back to the original policy decision to go into Iraq without enough soldiers and the subsequent failure to admit that mistake and to rectify it by instituting a draft.

The levees of New Orleans, two of which are now broken and flooding the city, were also victims of Iraq war spending. Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, said on June 8, 2004, "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq."

This, friends, is why we need to pay attention to government policies, not political personalities, and to know whereon we vote. It is about our lives.

Molly Ivins writes about politics, Texas and other bizarre happenings.

Comment: It seems Bush's plans may come back to bite him. Not to worry, though, because some fresh terror attacks should help whip everyone back into line...

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Rand: U.S. next for suicide hit, 'the ultimate smart bomb'
Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A new Rand Corp. report warns that the United States is next in line for a major suicide attack.

The report, authored by Bruce Hoffman, said the most likely attacks would target mass transit such as the ones that rocked London in July 2005 and inspired by Al Qaida's 2001 suicide strikes in New York and Washington.

The report said suicide attacks have increased sharply since September 11. In the 1990s, suicide attacks averaged 2.5 per year. The number jumped to 41 in 2001; 45 in 2002; 57 in 2003, and more than 100 in the first quarter of 2004 alone.

"Suicide attacks are perhaps the ultimate 'smart bombs,''' the report said. "They can cleverly employ disguise and deception and effect last-minute changes in timing, access, and choice of target. Finally, suicide attacks guarantee media coverage. They offer the irresistible combination of savagery and bloodshed."

"From a tactical standpoint, suicide attacks are attractive to terrorists because they are inexpensive and effective - with an extremely favorable per-casualty cost benefit for the terrorists," the report continued.

"Moreover, they are less complicated and compromising than other lethal operations. No escape plan is needed because, if successful, there will be no assailant to capture and interrogate."

"It seems very likely that we will see more suicide attacks in the United States in the future," the report, entitled "Defending America Against Suicide Terrorism," said. "The suicide aspect of the 9/11 [2001] attacks was essential to their success and stunning impact."

Rand said the United States could come under three types of suicide strikes. The first would be designed to incur mass casualties and target high-value, symbolic targets such as the White House, the U.S. Capitol building and the Defense Department.

Another such target would be a major bridge or tunnel. Rand cited the George Washington Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge and Holland Tunnel. "The second type of suicide attack would aim at high-value, symbolic targets against specific persons," the report said. "The president, Cabinet members, Supreme Court justices, senators and congressmen, mayors - all could be marked for political assassinations."

The report also suggested that Al Qaida and other Islamic insurgency groups could select soft targets. They would include bus, train and subway bombings as well as attacks on shopping malls.

Rand said suicide attacks have grown in lethality. With the exception of the Al Qaida strikes in 2001, in which about 3,000 people were killed, the lethality from suicide attacks has grown steadily over the last three years.

"Within the first quarter of 2004, the number of fatalities from suicide attacks has exceeded 1,100 - and none of these numbers include fatalities in Iraq," the report said.

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Bush says results of hurricane response 'not acceptable'

President prepares for post-Katrina photo op to attempt to boost his pitiful ratings
Friday, September 2, 2005; Posted: 9:52 a.m. EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush, facing blistering criticism for his administration's response to Hurricane Katrina, said Friday "the results are not acceptable" and pledged to bolster relief efforts with a personal trip to the Gulf Coast.

"We'll get on top of this situation," Bush said, "and we're going to help the people that need help."

He spoke on the White House grounds just boarding his presidential helicopter, Marine One, with Homeland Security Department secretary Michael Chertoff to tour the region. The department, which oversees the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has been accused of responding sluggishly to the deadly hurricane.

"There's a lot of aid surging toward those who've been affected. Millions of gallons of water. Millions of tons of food. We're making progress about pulling people out of the Superdome," the president said.

For the first time, however, he stopped defending his administration's response and criticized it. "A lot of people are working hard to help those who've been affected. The results are not acceptable," he said. "I'm heading down there right now."

Bush hoped that his tour of the hurricane-ravaged states would boost the spirits of increasingly desperate storm victims and their tired rescuers, and his visit was aimed at tamping down the ever-angrier criticism that he has engineered a too-little, too-late response.

Four days after Katrina made landfall in southeastern Louisiana, Bush was to get a second, closer look at the devastation wrought by the storm's 145 mph winds and 25-foot storm surge in an area stretching from just west of New Orleans to Pensacola, Florida. In all, there are 90,000 square miles under federal disaster declaration.

In Mobile, Alabama, the president was to get a briefing on the damage, followed by a helicopter survey of areas along the Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana coasts. He was to walk through hard-hit neighborhoods in Biloxi, Miss.

But Bush was avoiding an in-person visit to the worst areas of New Orleans, mostly drowned in rank floodwaters and descending in many areas into lawlessness as desperate residents await rescue or even just food and water. Instead, the president was taking an aerial tour of the city and making an appearance at the airport several miles from the center of town. [...]

So Bush has tried to respond to Katrina in a way that evokes the national goodwill he cultivated after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- and that does not recall the criticism his father, former President Bush, endured after Hurricane Andrew slammed Florida in 1992.

But he began facing questions about his leadership in the crisis almost immediately. New Orleans officials, in particular, were enraged about what they said was a slow federal response.

"They don't have a clue what's going on down there," Mayor Ray Nagin told WWL-AM Thursday night.

Seeking to deflect the criticism, Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, asserted earlier Friday: "In this catastrophic event, everything that we had pre-positioned and ready to go became overwhelmed immediately after the storm." [...]

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U.S. spy satellites aid Katrina recovery
By Reuters
September 1, 2005, 5:33 AM PDT

WASHINGTON--U.S. Spy satellites have been called into service to help federal emergency officials cope with the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, officials said Wednesday.

The little-known National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which analyzes satellite images for the espionage community and combat troops, has provided scores of images of hard-hit areas, including New Orleans, before and after the storm struck.

The agency said one of its main aims is to survey damage to regional transportation for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which can then use the data to organize relief efforts. FEMA officials could not be reached for comment.

"NGA can determine the overall damage to a transportation network infrastructure--what bridges are out, what roads are flooded--which is critical for FEMA getting relief supplies into the disaster area," said NGA spokesman Stephen Honda.

The Pentagon agency, previously known as the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, joined the hurricane effort on Friday when it gave FEMA 100 graphic images showing the location of hospitals, police stations, highways, and schools in the storm's path along the Gulf coast.

After the storm, the agency gave FEMA its first cloud-free satellite image of downtown New Orleans. The image was snapped by a commercial satellite.

NGA, which once concentrated wholly on overseas targets, has become more involved in domestic security and relief efforts since the September 11, 2001, attacks on Washington and New York.

NGA analysis has aided security efforts at large public events including the Super Bowl and the 2004 presidential conventions. Its satellite imagery has also provided assistance to Asian tsunami relief efforts and in fighting forest fires.

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Katrina: a shock too many for economy?
By Mike Dolan
Reuters Economics Correspondent
Thu Sep 1, 5:54 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Hurricane Katrina's second wave -- soaring gasoline and home-heating prices -- may be less deadly and destructive than the storm itself but poses much greater risks to the world's biggest economy.

U.S. economic health is so dependent on keeping its increasingly indebted households shopping that another drain on their already-stretched budgets could batter the economy.

American consumers, whose spending on goods, services and houses accounted for 76 percent of U.S. gross domestic product in the second quarter, have shrugged off many shocks over the past decade -- most notably the bubble burst of 2000 and the September 11, 2001 attacks.

They have done so largely by accumulating more and more relative cheap debts.

But economists worry that a fresh, even temporary, spike in energy costs as a result of damage to the Gulf region's oil infrastructure may be a shock too many.

"This is a very delicate moment," said Nouriel Roubini, economics professor at New York University. "The economy is already very imbalanced. On top of that, we've had a massive oil shock and now we have a natural disaster that might be something of a tipping point."


As the loss of life and scale of the damage to local housing and commercial infrastructure becomes clear, muttering of recession was not far from the lips of some economists.

Policy-makers insist, with some justification, that with economic growth well above 3 percent so far this year, talk of a nationwide contraction is far-fetched. Income and jobs are rising, corporate profits are high and inflation and long-term borrowing costs are low.

President George W. Bush met with Federal Reserve Chairman
Alan Greenspan on Thursday and, analysts reckon, will likely have heard that message from the central bank chief.

To be sure, the Gulf region will see a sudden sharp shock that will feel and look like one of the deepest recessions they have known.

Initial estimates of the cost of replacing insured property and goods in the area is as high as $26 billion, higher than the $22 billion of damage incurred by 1992's Hurricane Andrew -- America's costliest storm to date.

This huge bill has even more historical resonance when compared with the $32 billion of insured losses following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

And total damage from Katrina, including uninsured items, could be as high as $40 billion, according to Merrill Lynch.

Yet, the most affected states -- Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama -- account for less that 3 percent of overall U.S. gross domestic product.

Comment: The author seems to ignore the fact that Katrina also took out the largest shipping port in the US...

And, despite the huge losses, reconstruction and rebuilding will most certainly boost activity sharply there by yearend.


But with gasoline prices set to soar and remain above $3 per gallon and amid pre-winter fears of rising home heating costs, the timing of this regional catastrophe could have massive ripple-effect.

If this new national energy shock -- crude oil prices had already doubled in 18 months prior to Katrina -- adds to growing fears of a housing bubble, rising short-term interest rates and swelling trade deficits, the nationwide horizon darkens significantly.

"The oil price impact will be the biggest for the national economy," economists at Goldman Sachs said in a research note.

Goldman estimates average U.S. crude oil prices of $70 per barrel for September -- close to Thursday's level of $69.45 -- could force a rise of $50-$60 billion annualized in energy spending that would force cutbacks in spending on other goods and knock half a percentage point off third-quarter GDP.

But they outlined a worst-case scenario of fuel rationing.

"Demand rationing, not seen in this country since 1979, would certainly lower consumer confidence and cause a much more widespread hit to the economy," they added, saying this could force the Fed to pause its campaign of raising interest rates.

Bush on Thursday urged Americans to not to buy gasoline if they do not need it but stopped short of raising the prospect of rationing.

Rationing or not, the soaring consumer oil bill remains the biggest national economic burden.

As the price of houses and equities held by many Americans continue to rise, families are saving nothing from their after-tax incomes and incurring greater amounts of debt to fuel seemingly insatiable consumption habits.

Figures released on Thursday show the national household saving rate, at minus 0.6 percent, was the lowest on record -- falling negative for only the second time ever.

With household debt now up 60 percent in just five years, rising short-term interest rates will already be crimping wallets. Consumer mortgage interest payments alone were up 14 percent in the last year.

And, as with the devastation on the ground, poorer Americans will take a disproportionate hit from the energy price spike.

Consumer spending on gas, fuel oil and natural gas accounts for just 2.4 percent of the income of the richest fifth of households but 11.2 percent of the poorest fifth, said David Kelly, Senior Economic Advisor at Putnam Investments

"Sadly, it is the poorest Americans in the regions and areas that have seen the weakest recovery from the recession of 2001 who are being hurt most by higher oil prices," he said.

Comment: The US rush to resupply the neighborhood gas station as Americans continue to fill their tanks in a state of panic is causing price hikes in Europe...

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Petrol to hit £1 a litre after US buys up supplies
Ashley Seager
The Guardian
Friday September 2, 2005

Motorists were warned last night that petrol prices seem certain to pass £1 a litre within days after Hurricane Katrina wiped out many of the oil refineries on the US Gulf coast.

As US oil companies bought up 20 shiploads of European petrol yesterday, the wholesale price of petrol on the Rotterdam spot market soared to a record of $855 a tonne (more than $100 a barrel), up more than 20% in two days and something experts said would feed through to the forecourt within days.

Article continues The Petrol Retailers' Association calculated that the spot price rise could add almost 10p a litre to pump prices if it were passed on in full to consumers, something the oil companies may be reluctant to do.

Prices yesterday were around 92p a litre for unleaded and 96p for diesel. Wholesale diesel prices in Rotterdam also set record highs yesterday, so the £1 a litre diesel price could be seen by the weekend and by Monday at the latest, a PRA spokesman, Ray Holloway, said. [...]

Petrol prices in Britain are among the highest in Europe because of the duty and VAT charged on them but are still cheaper than Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands.

Pump prices in the US, where fuel taxes are much lower, have risen to over $3 a gallon (42p a litre) in many states.

A White House economic adviser, Ben Bernanke, said yesterday they would rise further but then fall back as the situation in Louisiana became more stable.

Hurricane Katrina forced the closure of about nine refineries in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, which together refine about 10% of America's gasoline. However, demand is slowing as the US holiday season ends.

Oil prices, by contrast, fell back slightly yesterday from record highs earlier in the week. US crude futures fell below $69 after setting a record just below $71.

Traders said oil supplies were not the big problem, especially as the US government on Wednesday promised to release some of the country's 700m barrel strategic petroleum reserve, some of which is stored in old salt mines in Louisiana. That was because of a disruption to crude production offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, where rigs were torn adrift by the storm. Some have since washed up onshore.

But the strategic reserve contains only oil, not gasoline or diesel, hence the scramble to buy from Europe.

The Treasury responded to the rising fuel price by stressing it had announced in July that a duty increase planned for yesterday would be scrapped because of high oil prices. Fuel duty, now 47.1p a litre, has not risen for two years.

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Fears of Economic Slowdown Grow
By Peter G. Gosselin and James F. Peltz
LA Times Staff Writers
September 2, 2005

WASHINGTON - Concerns grew Thursday that Hurricane Katrina could have wide-reaching effects on the nation's economy, causing record gasoline prices to surge even higher, key agricultural crops to rot in Midwestern fields and warehouses, and some of the nation's troubled airlines to collapse.

As estimates of the economic damage mounted, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan came under increasing pressure to scrap or delay further Fed interest rate increases. In a hastily arranged White House meeting, President Bush summoned the Fed chief to discuss what could be done to lessen the hurricane's economic toll.

Details of the meeting were not disclosed, but many experts predicted that Greenspan would work to avoid a possible economic slowdown.

Experts warned that gasoline prices - driven higher because of storm-related damage to the Gulf Coast's energy infrastructure - were the greatest concern and might be approaching levels that would soon ripple through the economy.

If that happens, prices of basic items could soar, pushing up inflation. The Gulf Coast accounts for about 20% of the nation's oil and natural gas supplies.

High gasoline costs - and accusations of gouging amid prices as high as $5 a gallon - also appeared to be fueling a consumer backlash. But the Bush administration took no immediate steps Thursday to halt the run-up in pump prices.

After a lunch with Greenspan, Bush warned of temporary gas shortages in the coming weeks and called on Americans to conserve energy.

"Don't buy gas if you don't need it," the president said at a White House appearance.

With eight major refineries incapacitated, Bush said, "It's going to be hard to get gasoline to some markets."

He did not elaborate, but oil industry experts said the Midwest, the South and perhaps the Atlantic seaboard would probably experience shortages.

Some economists said Katrina's toll could be more far-reaching than the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, for example, because of its potential effects on trade and key sectors of the U.S. economy.

The U.S. is the world's biggest agricultural exporter. Most crop exports float down the Mississippi River on barges and then are transferred to ships at one of the Gulf Coast ports.

Massive damage to the region's ports would idle the barges that transport oil, sugar and grain along the Mississippi River.

That would mean that farmers in the South and Midwest who depend on the waterway to ship their goods to foreign markets would lose a cheap shipping route. On Thursday, many fully loaded barges drifted with nowhere to go.

Retailers who use Gulf Coast ports to receive their imports also have to scramble to find alternative docks.

Although they generally aren't predicting a recession soon, many economists have lowered their estimates for economic growth, in part because of Katrina. Experts who previously predicted that growth in the current quarter would exceed an annualized rate of 4% now expect the pace to fall below 3.5%. Others think growth could fall below 3%. The economy expanded by 3.3% in the April-June quarter.

Federal Reserve policymakers have raised their benchmark short-term rate 10 times, by a total of 2.5 percentage points, since June 2004 in an effort to control inflation.

Until recently, most analysts had thought the Fed would boost its key rate an additional three-quarters of a point before stopping. But now many traders are betting that there will be only one more quarter-point increase - from 3.5% to 3.75% - in the so-called federal funds rate, the interest banks charge each other for very short-term loans. The central bank's next rate-setting meeting is Sept. 20.

"What Katrina has done is shift the economic focus from inflation to growth," said David M. Jones, a Denver economic consultant and veteran Fed watcher.

"I think what you'll see is the Fed pausing at its next meeting, citing special circumstances," he said.

The crisis has hit the airlines particularly hard, with a surge in jet fuel prices and the loss of passenger traffic in the Gulf Coast region. Carriers such as Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines already were perilously close to filing for bankruptcy protection, and Northwest said Thursday that it now had even less time to slash costs if it hoped to avoid a filing.

Concerned about a possible economic slowdown triggered by high energy costs, investors have driven down bond interest rates this week. That also represents an immense bet that the Federal Reserve's rate-raising days are coming to a swift close as a result of the hurricane.

Greenspan had no comment after meeting with Bush. The central bank, however, joined other federal regulatory agencies late Thursday in issuing a plea that banks in the affected region help people get back on their financial feet by doing such things as waiving ATM fees, increasing the amount allowed for daily cash withdrawals and permitting people to get at their savings without having to pay penalties.

Comment: There's only one problem: most Americans don't have much - if anything - in the way of savings. Their spending is fueled by debt. The primary means of incurring this debt are credit cards and borrowing money on their houses. Unfortunately, their homes were wiped out by Katrina, and they don't have jobs any more with which they can earn money to service their debt. It's going to take a lot more than just waiving ATM fees to help Americans affected by Katrina to get back on their financial feet.

Although Greenspan is much praised as an economic crisis manager, his ability to cope with the current threat to growth may be much more limited than in such upheavals as the Mexican peso crisis, the Asian financial panic and the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

That's because in each of these previous events, the Fed chairman's primary focus was on the health of the nation's financial markets, something he could readily affect by announcing the Fed's readiness to open the spigot on credit.

By contrast, the key problem now is the physical condition of oil and gas drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as refineries and pipelines in Louisiana and Mississippi - something that no amount of money can immediately improve.

Analysts said again Thursday that it could be weeks before energy industry executives assessed the condition of their facilities. But these analysts warned that if the damage was substantial, it could have significant and long-lasting repercussions.

The biggest danger is that Katrina has seriously damaged Gulf Coast refineries, which account for 10% of U.S. refining capacity. Without these refineries, the oil being drawn from government stockpiles can't be turned into useable products for the areas they serve. [...]

There was some promising news. Valero Energy Corp. said power was restored to its big St. Charles, La., refinery, enabling employees to start repairs. Two of the major pipelines that distribute oil and gasoline from the gulf also were back up, but running well below their normal capacity.

The White House, in another step aimed at easing the crisis, waived rules requiring that only U.S.-flagged ships could carry oil between U.S. ports so that foreign vessels could help get products to refiners faster.

Bush also has temporarily lifted clean-air rules for gasoline and lent crude oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Valero, whose Gulf Coast refineries are low on crude.

Gasoline prices had been rising in California and nationwide because of tight supplies even before the hurricane hit. Hawaii had taken the unusual step of imposing caps on its gas prices.

Bernard Picchi, senior managing director at Foresight Research Solutions, said the surge in gas prices was causing "a huge drain in people's disposable incomes," and could soon become "exactly the kind of wake-up call" that would spark widespread conservation.

Gosselin reported from Washington, Peltz from Los Angeles. Times staff writers Edwin Chen and Richard Simon in Washington, Claire Hoffman in Los Angeles and special correspondent Dana Calvo in Houston contributed to this report.

Comment: The oil companies are doing a better job rescuing their platforms, refineries, and pipelines than the Bush government is doing rescuing stranded Americans.

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The "Good News" From Baghdad
By David Michael Green
Sep 01, 2005

George Bush says we must honor the sacrifice of those who have given their lives in Iraq. At last we agree on something. Mr. Bush, of course, is famously unable nowadays to articulate just what honorable cause our soldiers have been killing and dying for, despite the hundreds at Camp Casey demanding of him precisely that.

Perhaps I can be of some service to the president. I'd like to offer him an answer he can give to Cindy Sheehan's simple question. You see, in a sense, Mr. Bush was right to analogize Iraq to World War II. Just as in that horrific war, Americans soldiers have been sacrificing their lives in Iraq to save the world from the scourge of a ravenous imperialist with the power to destroy millions of lives.

No, I'm not talking about Adolf Hitler. And I'm not talking about Saddam Hussein. The menace to world peace these soldiers are saving us from is none other than their commander-in-chief, George W. Bush. The political present in America is replete with the strangest and most intense ironies, but surely there is no greater one than this. For the truth is that the greatest service being performed by American soldiers in Iraq is the dismantling of the very evil regime which sent them there in the first place.

Let there be no mistake - ironies and counterintuitions aside - that this is precisely what they are doing. Every day now, and with every additional soldier senselessly blown to eternity, George W. Bush's nightmarish experiment in proto-fascism sinks deeper into the grave to which it so deservedly belongs. Chickenhawks like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the rest love to wrap themselves up in the flag and call our troops heroes at every public relations opportunity. Off stage, however, it is probably too much to assume that they even bother to sneer contumeliously at these foolish hoi polloi, these cannon fodder for the sport of kings. A more likely guess is that they don't have the time or concern even for contempt.

But these soldiers are indeed heroes, and not only because they have the courage to grapple with hellish conditions their pampered political leaders could never begin to survive. They are heroes because they are sacrificing to save more of their brothers and sisters from dying for a lie, and they are heroes because they are saving the world from the creation of an American empire.

This is no exaggeration. Empire is precisely what is detailed in the Project for a New American Century playbook. As if one was even necessary. As if the organization's very name didn't scream imperialism from the get-go. These are the same people who brought us the Iraq debacle. The same people who have been agitating for this war for a decade. The same people who were calling for attacking Iraq on September 12, 2001. The same people who were so hungry to do so they left Afghanistan an unfinished mess and Osama bin Laden a free man. The same people who carelessly send other people's kids off to fight their war for American hegemony, but never their own.

The whole rest of the world understands this, of course, and has done so from the beginning. Only shallow and intellectually lazy Americans were ever fooled by the Bush administration's palpably deceitful and ridiculously urgent case for war (oh, and cowardly Congressional Democrats - forgive the redundancy in terms - as well). World opinion always opposed this war, rightly perceiving it as no less a case of naked aggression than Saddam's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Even after kicking out the jams to hurl every conceivable carrot and stick at often vulnerable UN member-states, BushCo Inc. could never muster more than three other votes (one being the British poodle) out of fifteen Security Council members to fig-leaf its lust for war.

The reason was obvious. There was no case for war. Saddam had never attacked America. Saddam had never threatened America. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, and even had hostile relations with al Qaeda. Saddam was sanctio ned and boxed-in, lacking control of most of his own national territory. When he had previously used weapons of mass destruction, it had been under American acquiescence, if not sponsorship and supply. The inspectors were finding no evidence of WMD, and thus had to be yanked off-site urgently, before Bush's casus belli was proven the bogus crap that it transparently was anyhow, for anyone who would look.

And, even disregarding all of that, what made Saddam any more immune from the laws of political physics than anybody else? Had he had WMD, he would have well understood that the repercussions of using such weapons against the US would have been the complete and literal atomization of himself and of Iraq. This is no more or no less than the simple concept of deterrence, the fundamental keystone of American defense policy for half a century . It is the same reason the Soviets - with their stockpile of over 20,000 strategic nuclear warheads - never attacked the US, or vice versa. It is the same reason we don't worry that China or Pakistan might attack us today. Why isn't their very real WMD an urgent problem for US security (when Saddam's non-existent arsenal was)? The answer is deterrence (and lies).

In short, the French were right. And every contemptuous insult ugly Americans angrily flung across the Atlantic was a marker of our shame, not theirs. This war was based on a pack of lies, a fact the Downing Street revelations served only to reaffirm for those who had already been paying attention from the beginning.

And so it is that Americans are not dying meaningless deaths in Iraq today, but are heroes in the truest sense of the word. Their sacrifices make clear to all but those dwindling numbers locked in the deepest state of denial just how callous, cowardly, selfish and dishonest is their president. Their sacrifices are driving George Bush's credibility crisis skyward in equal proportion and rapidity to the free fall of his job approval ratings .

What their sacrifices mean, ultimately and crucially, is that Iranians and Syrians and North Koreans and Cubans and Venezuelans (and Americans) don't have to die in the future, as Iraqis and Americans have died in the past. Because, above all, the sacrifices of these soldiers mean that Americans will no longer follow this infantile Caligula of the New World off on his dress-up soldier's Fun Adventures in (Other People's) Death and Destruc tion.

Even Americans - so indolent and insolent, so self-reverential, so clueless about the destructive side of their impact in the world - even Americans have now had enough.

The era of George Bush is over. The emperor has no clothes, and everyone can now see it. America is finally awakening, its head pounding and its stomach churning, from the 9/11-induced credulity binge of the last half dec ade. The shrillness with which the Limbaughs and the O'Reillys attack the truth-speaking mother of a deceased US serviceman is but a measure of their panicked desperation as they watch the wheels coming off the wagon in e very imaginable way, and as they stand helpless to stop it. None of the old bad magic works anymore - not the lies, not the diversions, not the endless repetition of hollow slogans, and not the character assassination of White House 'enemies'. Game over.

So rest in peace, brave and noble American soldiers, so vastly the moral superiors of your political superiors. Odd as it may seem, and inadvertent as the effects may be, you have done humane and necessary work in Iraq, despite the disaster it has become and despite the complete disingenuousness of its premise. You have made the supreme sacrifice for the greatest of imaginable purposes. With each of your lives prematurely ended, you bring closer the end of the Bush presidency, and the end of manic American aggression in the world. With your sacrifice in war, you are making peace, no less than your grandfathers did at Normandy or Guam.

It is sad beyond words that it took your lives to stop this juggernaut of greed and violence, but not nearly as sad as what would now be happening had you not given them.

We humbly and gratefully thank you.

David Michael Green can be reached at

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London Bomber Appears in Farewell Tape
Associated Press
September 2, 2005

One of the four suicide attackers who bombed London's transit system on July 7 made a dramatic farewell in a videotape that also included al-Qaida's No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri calling the subway attack "a slap to the face" of Britain and warning of more bloodshed.

Mohammad Sidique Khan, a Briton of Pakistani ancestry, said in the tape broadcast on Thursday that Westerners had failed to heed previous warnings. "Therefore we will talk to you in a language that you understand. Our words are dead until we give them life with our blood."

The two men did not appear together in the tape - instead, shots of each were edited together - and al-Zawahri did not mention Khan. A newscaster on al-Jazeera, which aired the tape, said Khan's last "will" came as part of a long tape that consisted mostly of al-Zawahri talking.

But the association of the al-Qaida leader and the 30-year-old suicide bomber was the strongest link yet of a role by the terror organization in the attacks on three subway trains and a double-decker bus, which killed 56 people.

It was not clear where or how long before the July 7 bombings the tape of Khan had been made.

Khan did not claim responsibility in the tape for the impending bombings in the name of al-Qaida. But he said he was inspired by al-Zawahri, by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, and by the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi.

"Until we feel security, you will be our targets," he said, addressing himself to Westerners. "Until you will stop the bombing, gassing, imprisonment and torture of my people, we will not stop this fight."

Apparently foreshadowing his plan to die, he said: "I'm sure by now the media has painted a suitable picture of me. Its predictable propaganda machine naturally will tack a spin on things to suit the government and scare the masses to conform to their power- and wealth-obsessed agenda."

Khan spoke with a heavy Yorkshire accent, sported a trimmed beard, wore a red-and-white checked keffiyeh and a dark jacket and appeared to be sitting against a wall lined with an ornate carpet.

In his remarks, al-Zawahri did not say outright that his terror group carried out the bombings but said the attacks were a direct response to Britain's foreign policies and its rejection of a truce that al-Qaida offered Europe in April 2004.

He threatened the West with "more catastrophes" in retaliation for the policies of President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

"I talk to you today about the blessed London battle, which came as a slap to the face of the tyrannical, crusader British arrogance," al-Zawahri said. "It's a sip from the glass that the Muslims have been drinking from."

"Blair," he said, "not only disregards the millions of people in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he does not care about you as he sends you to the inferno in Iraq and exposes you to death in your land because of his crusader war against Islam."

Al-Zawahri appeared in black turban and white robes with an automatic weapon leaning against the wall beside him, as he did in a previous tape aired Aug. 4 when he made similar threats. He and bin Laden are both thought to be hiding along the rugged Afghan-Pakistani border.

Khan, a 30-year-old resident of the English city of Leeds, reportedly traveled to Pakistan before he died in the bombing of the London Underground train near Edgware Road.

Khan said he had forsaken "everything for what we believe" and went on to accuse Western civilians of being responsible for the terror attacks against them.

"Your democratically elected governments continuously perpetuate injustice against my people all over the world, and your support of them makes you directly responsible, just as I am directly responsible for protecting and avenging my Muslim brothers and sisters," he said.

In London, a police spokeswoman said authorities would consider the tape "as part of our ongoing investigation." Blair's office refused to comment.

Two U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the message's sensitive nature, said al-Qaida would regard the London bombings as a victory whether or not they were involved.

The deputy chief editor of al-Jazeera, Ayman Gaballah, said the broadcaster received the tape Thursday by means it would not disclose. The tape was 15 minutes long and contained several clips of fighting in Iraq and the Palestinian territories. Gaballah spoke to The Associated Press in a call from Doha.

Comment: A QFS member writes:

It must be obvious to people by now that these tapes are a "great work of fiction". There is ample evidence to suggest that the 7/7 attacks were not suicide attacks, so it remains quite possible that the Khan element of the tape was made after the event and that Khan is alive (or was). The additional fact that the tape is said to be spliced adds to the fact that it is a really cheap propaganda shot. Could this perhaps be designed to pull the "news" focus away from why New Orleans is under water?

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U.S. Sells the Most Weapons to Others
Associated Press
Tue Aug 30, 9:05 PM ET

WASHINGTON - The United States is the largest supplier of weapons to developing nations, delivering more than $9.6 billion in arms to Near East and Asian countries last year.

The U.S. sales to the developing countries helped boost worldwide weapons sales to the highest level since 2000, a congressional study says.

The total worldwide value of all agreements to sell arms last year was close to $37 billion, and nearly 59 percent of the agreements were to sell weapons to developing nations, according to the Congressional Research Service report.

The weapons being sold range from ammunition to tanks, combat aircraft, missiles and submarines.

As economic pressures led to a worldwide decline in weapons orders - from about $42 billion in 2000 to $37 billion last year - competition is forcing the U.S. and European countries to forge agreements to develop weapons jointly.

The CRS report released Monday said worldwide arms deliveries to developing nations rose from $20.8 billion in 2003, to $22.5 billion last year. Agreements to sell weapons, meanwhile, shot up from $15.1 billion to nearly $21.8 billion last year. China, Egypt and India were the heaviest buyers of the weapons.

Last year, for example, the U.S. completed agreements to sell helicopters and other weapons to Egypt, radar systems to Taiwan, helicopters to Brazil and Israel and other weapons systems to Oman and Pakistan.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack explained the transfers as "a very serious national security and a foreign policy matter" carried out under "a very rigorous set of rules and regulations and laws."

"And just as we exercise restraint in our own transfers, we encourage restraint by other countries," including the
European Union, which McCormack said should reconsider its decision to resume arms shipments to China.

Developing countries are the weapons' primary buyers. And the U.S. has been the most active seller for the past eight years, resulting mainly from agreements made in the aftermath of the first Gulf War. The U.S. was responsible for more than 42 percent of the deliveries to developing nations in 2004.

Russia, which ranks second, sells mostly to China and India, as well as a number of smaller, poorer countries.

The CRS study, which is done each year, was written by national defense specialist Richard Grimmett. He said in the study that developed nations have tried in recent years to emphasize joint projects rather than simply buying the weapons from each other, so they can preserve their own industrial bases.

Comment: If the Gulf War is any indication, it seems the kind of war going on in Iraq right now will also prove to be highly profitable for the US arms industry and its supporters in the White House.

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Quake swarm rattles experts

Activity is near faults capable of unleashing massive temblors
Benjamin Spillman
The Desert Sun
September 2, 2005

Since Sunday a swarm of about 300 earthquakes has struck the Brawley Seismic Zone near the southern shore of the Salton Sea.Most of the quakes were too small for people to feel, but five were magnitude 4.0 or greater. The strongest was a magnitude 4.6 on Wednesday.

One of California's most active seismic zones of the 1970s is rumbling again, causing concern among scientists who study and residents who live in the fault-strewn desert region.

A series of earthquakes - the strongest with a magnitude of 5.1 on Thursday evening - are shaking near the southeast shore of the Salton Sea, about 86 miles from Palm Springs.

The earthquake swarm between the San Andreas and Imperial faults is turning heads among researchers in Pasadena. But they stopped short of saying the rumbling temblors are an indication of something greater on the way.

Donna Dearmore, 64, and a 61-year resident of Niland, says people there think the swarm could be significant.

"From what we hear this is supposed to be a good one," Dearmore said. "But we have heard that most of my life around here."

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Series of Earthquakes Strikes Indonesia
September 2, 2005

Magnitude 5.3 Earthquake - NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA

A moderate earthquake occurred at 08:04:06 (UTC) on Friday, September 2, 2005. The magnitude 5.3 event has been located in NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA. The hypocentral depth was estimated to be 154 km (96 miles).


A moderate earthquake occurred at 16:42:39 (UTC) on Thursday, September 1, 2005. The magnitude 5.3 event has been located in NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA.


A light earthquake occurred at 10:39:11 (UTC) on Thursday, September 1, 2005. The magnitude 4.7 event has been located in SIMEULUE, INDONESIA.


A moderate earthquake occurred at 09:56:15 (UTC) on Thursday, September 1, 2005. The magnitude 5.0 event has been located in HALMAHERA, INDONESIA. The hypocentral depth was estimated to be 58 km (36 miles).

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Three Quakes Strike Fiji in Eight Minutes
September 1, 2005


A light earthquake occurred at 11:30:10 (UTC) on Thursday, September 1, 2005. The magnitude 4.5 event has been located SOUTH OF THE FIJI ISLANDS. The hypocentral depth was estimated to be 516 km (321 miles).


A moderate earthquake occurred at 11:23:07 (UTC) on Thursday, September 1, 2005. The magnitude 5.1 event has been located SOUTH OF THE FIJI ISLANDS.


A light earthquake occurred at 11:22:11 (UTC) on Thursday, September 1, 2005. The magnitude 4.9 event has been located SOUTH OF THE FIJI ISLANDS. The hypocentral depth was estimated to be 534 km (332 miles).

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NASA'S Durable Spirit Sends Intriguing New Images From Mars
Sep 02, 2005

Pasadena CA (JPL) - Working atop a range of Martian hills, NASA's Spirit rover is rewarding researchers with tempting scenes filled with evidence of past planet environments.

"When the images came down and we could see horizon all the way around, that was every bit as exhilarating as getting to the top of any mountain I've climbed on Earth," said Chris Leger, a rover planner at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif.

The summit sits 82 meters (269 feet) above the edge of the surrounding plains. It is 106 meters (348 feet) higher than the site where Spirit landed nearly 20 months ago. Spirit and twin rover, Opportunity, successfully completed their three-month prime missions in April 2004.

They have inspected dozens of rocks and soil targets since then, continuing their pursuit of geological evidence about formerly wet conditions on Mars. [...]

Volcanic rocks covering the plain Spirit crossed on its way to the hills bore evidence of only slight alteration by water. When Spirit reached the base of the hills five months after landing, it immediately began finding rocks with wetter histories. [...]

"We're finding abundant evidence for alteration of rocks in a water environment," said Ray Arvidson of Washington University, St. Louis, Mo. Arvidson is deputy principal investigator for the rovers' science instruments. [...]

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Ancient Brits had a way with mummies
New Scientist
03 September 2005

BRONZE-AGE Britons practised the art of mummification at the same time as the Egyptians. And it appears that the ancient Britons invented the skill for themselves.

Archaeologists unearthed the skeletons of a man, a woman, and a 3-year-old girl under the floor of a prehistoric house at Cladh Hallan on the Scottish island of South Uist. Although no mummified body tissue remained, other evidence was found. The adults' corpses were locked with their knees close to their chests, similar to Peruvian "mummy bundles". "The bodies must have been trussed up that way because you can't bend a body like that normally," says Jen Hiller, a biophysicist at the University of Cardiff, UK, who examined the skeletons.

Hiller thinks that the bodies were immersed in an acid peat bog for a few months - long enough to remove some of the soft tissue but keep the tendons and ligaments intact. The acid would also slowly demineralise the bones, an effect that could be tested. Hiller's analysis showed a breakdown of minerals in the outer 3 millimetres of the bones (Antiquity, vol 79, p 529).

This is the only example of mummification in Europe, she says. "It's nothing like the techniques used in Egypt. People used the natural resources available to them to carry out this incredibly sophisticated process."

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Religious leader blames hurricane on gays
September 1, 2005

An antigay activist group based in Philadelphia says that the disaster wrought by Hurricane Katrina reflects God's judgment on New Orleans for hosting the gay Southern Decadence party.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Repent America described "homosexuals engaging in sex acts in the public streets" at the annual event, which draws some 125,000 revelers to the Big Easy each Labor Day weekend.

"Although the loss of lives is deeply saddening, this act of God destroyed a wicked city," said Repent America director Michael Marcavage. "May it never be the same."

Marcavage is a notorious foe of gays. He and three other Repent America members were charged with felonies last year connected with a demonstration they staged at Philadelphia's gay pride observance. A judge dismissed all charges in February.

The head of the predominantly gay Metropolitan Community Church responded to Marcavage's assessment of the tragedy. The Reverend Doctor Cindy Love said she doesn't believe God punishes anyone with natural disasters. "I really believe that the use of scripture in this way is an affront to the life and love of Jesus Christ," she said. (Sirius/OutQ)

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New Song! Signs of the Times

As featured on our latest podcast page, Relic has written, produced, and performed a new song called "Signs of the Times".

"Signs of the Times" words & music by Relic

There are UFOs over Mexico
Hurricanes in Florida
You may be surprised to know
It's raining frogs in Serbia

Tornadoes over Texas
California quakes
The ring of fire is the next to blow
And all of Europe is left to bake


These are the Signs of the Times
The world is burning, yeah
These are the Signs of the Times
The tides are turning, yeah
See the signs

The weather's changed
Everything is strange, somehow
It's all connected

Our leaders lie
Our children die, somehow
It's all connected

Locust plagues and wildfires
Ice age follows climate change
What to do with the avian flu
And HAARP is turned on again

The beast of revelation
Is living in the states
Jesus seen in a grilled cheese
Virgin Mary's on the interstate


Butterfly wings
Start so many things, somehow
It's all connected

Gravity waves
Change your DNA, somehow
It's all connected

There's drought in Australia
While China floods
Tsunami wash it all away
Persian rivers run with blood

The sun's dark companion
Comes around again
Auroras in the atmosphere
Meteors falling down like rain


So raise your voice
Time to make a choice, somehow
It's all connected


Copyright 2005 Relic

Download MP3 (Right click and "Save link as...") (6 MB)

Let us know what you think.

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NEW! Signs Commentary Books are Now Available!

For the first time, the Signs Team's most popular and discerning essays have been compiled into book form and thematically organized.

These books contain hard hitting exposés into human nature, propaganda, psyop activities and insights into the world events that shape our future and our understanding of the world.

The six new books, available now at our bookstore, are entitled:

  • 911 Conspiracy
  • The Human Condition
  • The Media
  • Religion
  • The Work
  • U.S. Freedom

Read them today - before the book burning starts!

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