Saturday-Sunday, September 24-25, 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


PODCAST September 24, 2005

Signs of the Times

The world as seen from around the kitchen table

The USA Viewed from Afar

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In our latest podcast, (left to right) editors Henry See, Scott Ogrin, and Joe Quinn chat with three guests, from Mexico, Canada, and Australia, about the influence of the USA on their countries.

Topics include the effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which is being offered as the neo-liberal model for the rest of the world to follow, Australian PM John Howard's new "anti-terror" laws, the recent exposure of British SAS false flag operations in Iraq, and the possible effects of Hurricane Rita.

If you have any questions for the Signs Team or would like to suggest a topic for future Podcast discussion, you can write us at:


If your only source of the news was Fox, CNN, or the major networks, you'd think that the people who stayed in New Orleans, whether huddled up at the Superdome, the Convention Center, or in their homes, were so devoid of initiative that they simply sat on their bums waiting for the government to come in and save them: exactly the image of the poor that the media and the elite wish you to have. You know, the welfare bums who have chosen to be lazy and not get a job, preferring government handouts to the menial work for minimum wage that gives your life value and promotes self-esteem; the sort of people who will capitalise on a disaster by looting in order to get all those gadgets and goodies they aren't willing to earn themselves.

We have collected today some of the stories that have appeared that show a different view of the survivors, stories of people banding together and cooperating, sharing resources and skills, in order to make it through the aftermath of Katrina.

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Surviving in New Orleans
Peter Berkowitz

Peter Berkowitz is a staff attorney at a Massachusetts prison. He was traveling in New Orleans with his wife Bruni & son Ernesto when the hurricane hit. They were there because Ernesto was planning to start his freshman year at Loyola of New Orleans. What follows is his letter to his 80-something mother. It was forwarded to the PEACE-LIST at Syracuse University by Carole Resnick <> on Wednesday, September 14, 2005.


Dear Mom:

This is pretty much what happened to us as far as I can remember it. Some of it is probably off because we lost track of time and days and nights blended. I'm still feeling very angry and sad. Watching the news outrages me. I see "Dr. Phil" opining on why people didn't evacuate New Orleans. He says they didn't believe there would be a hurricane, or they didn't want to leave, etc. Well there was no way to leave. We had no way out. People with families and no resources had no way out. There were no buses coming for people, or shelters to take people to. Just announcements to leave. So naturally, the poorest, sickest, etc. were left behind. No one, as far as I could see, wanted to be there or elected to be there. No one really allowed them to get out!

Anyway, we began hearing hurricane news on the television. By Saturday, we were hearing insanely frightening news of a direct category 5 hurricane hit and projections of massive flooding and deaths of up to 30,000 people. Despite being through several hurricanes, this seemed worse than imaginable. We were pretty scared. Bruni and I had tickets out for Sunday, 828 at 2 pm so we weren't worried. I called all the airlines and finally got Ernesto a ticket to Chicago for 1 pm the next day.

Sunday morning we sent Ernesto back to school to get his things. I called to check on my reservation and was told the flight was cancelled. Bruni and I had no way out. Ernesto's flight was never cancelled, but there were no taxis, buses, etc., or any way to get to the airport.

So we bought some wine and canned goods and waited out the storm in the hotel. With all the dire predictions, it was pretty nerve-wracking to wait. I don't remember the storm too well. The winds picked up at night and really roared during the day Monday morning. The electricity went, but we had water. We watched the hurricane from our room and from the lobby of our hotel. The two restaurants attached to the hotel made coffee and sandwiches for the guests. The bar was opened. Everyone cooperated, so it was not nearly as bad as predicted. Being in the city, the hotel was pretty well protected by other buildings. It was not nearly as bad (or impressive) as the hurricanes we passed in Cupey.

So everything was fine and we were just waiting for the next day to see when the airport would open and when we could get out. It was quite a relief.

Tuesday morning at about 8 am, the hotel people knocked on our door to say we were evacuating the hotel immediately for their sister hotel the Saint Marie. The wanted to get all the guests together for protection from looters at nighttime, because the Saint Marie had a generator, and because it was 5 stories high, and there was lots of talk of floods of up to 20 feet. So we left for the Saint Marie, two blocks away. When we got there, we were herded into the ballroom and told to stay there. As I kept inquiring about our room, I was finally told there were no rooms, that we could stay in the ballroom if we wanted as the flood waters poured in, or we could go to the official evacuation center at the Convention Center. We were effectively kicked out of the hotel.

So we left with about 15 other guests and walked through the streets, about 10 blocks to the Convention Center. Water was clearly coming down the streets from the direction of Lake Ponchartrain, and the flood news was terrible. At the front door, the workers there told us to go around to the side. At the side, we were informed that the Convention Center was not an evacuation center, and that no one was permitted inside.

There was no one else there except for our group. Our concern at the moment was not to be caught up in the flood. Behind the Convention Center ran the "Riverwalk", a Mall and outside walkway along the Mississippi. Right on the side of the Convention Center was an escalator that ran up to a maybe 100 foot long covered walkway that led into the Mall. The walkway was about thirty feet high. We decided that it was the best place for now to ride out the flood.

So we all went up and put down our bags. Ernesto and I walked to the mall entrance, but the doors were locked. We thought maybe moving into the mall might be better and safer. At the very corner of the front windows to the entrance to the Mall, we found a window shattered on the bottom by the storm. I broke the rest of the window out so we could walk in. The Mall was full of shops and food and drink kiosks. We showed it to the other people with us. Since it was hot inside the Mall and the people were still afraid of getting in trouble for "trespassing", they elected to camp outside.

We decided to stay all together as a group. Since we had no food or water and no way to get any, we went into the Mall and began "looting", gathering food and water for our survival.

At this point, there was no communication with anyone. No one knew what was happening. There were no police. There was nothing other than news of terrible floods. Everyone was on their own.

So now, with some food and water, we sat down to wait. The entrance to the Riverwalk had part of the roof still intact, so we were able to wait in the shade.

Shortly after, we noticed a man with a rifle and duffel bag walk up to the door to the Mall. We see him try the door and find it locked. Then he simply smashed out the door with the butt of his rifle and walked in. We, of course, decided to not enter again until he left. Maybe half an hour later, he marched past us and was gone. His duffel seemed a bit fuller.

We went in again and explored more, located where the food was, found stores on a lower floor, etc. Some time passed, and then the person with the rifle returns again. This time we notice he is a cop, and he is with four other cops, and they all have arms and duffel bags. And their only purpose is to get whatever they can.

That really opened up the Mall for us. We gathered food, drinks, and explored the stores. Some other tourists appeared and joined us. We took chairs and tables out of the mall. The police had "opened up" Footlocker and other stores, so there were shoes and clothes available for the taking. I wandered through looking for bedding and ways to set up camp. I took the covers off of some kiosks to use as a bed. Bruni found some semi-cushioned furniture and we took cushions. One day we found pillows in a store.

Our group grew as new people came looking for ways to get out of the expected flooding. At some point, I started to walk back to our hotel to find out if we could stay there. On the way, I ran into an employee of the hotel and her family who had also been kicked out of the hotel. They came up and joined us as well.

The first night, there were about thirty of us up on the bridge. The next day, some others arrived. I think the second day, Wednesday, might be when the Convention Center opened, because one family decided to move down there. I think it was one of the families of the hotel employees. They had been enjoying the provisions of the Mall with us. Once they moved down to the Convention Center, word spread, and there was a steady stream of people coming up and sacking the Mall. People came out with everything, as did we. More stores were broken into, and people came out with bags and bags of goods. And it spread and spread. We went in systematically all day long taking out food and provisions.

During all of this, there were no police around. There were no authorities around. There was no food. There was no water. There was no information, other than the hysteria and rumors from the radio. No one knew how long we'd be there. No one knew when the floods would reach us. The news indicates that the airport is under ten feet of water, that the main shelter, the Superdome, has lost part of its roof and is flooding, that there is killing, and looting, and who knows what else. Everything is rumor. No one knows anything. If you see a cop, they are on their own. They are also homeless, and if they talk to you, it is to say you are on your own.

By Wednesday, the streets were filled with people who are at the Convention Center. There are thousands of people in the streets. No one has food or water. It is hot and miserable. It was maybe Wednesday or Thursday that some people on the street began yelling about dead bodies, and tossed a body wrapped in a sheet on the side of the Convention Center just below us. A little later a wheelchair with a dead woman appears there as well. Again, everything is rumor. People are saying that the dead woman in the wheelchair was bludgeoned to death in the Convention Center. At the same time, hordes of people are coming up the steps past us and into the Mall. They are breaking into all the stores, smashing cash registers, etc. There is desperation all around. And anger. And violence.

Our group is about 50. We are mostly tourists from the US, Australia, England etc. There are also several families from New Orleans who were flooded out who have joined us. Two of the people are nurses. The bathrooms in the mall have overflowed. There has been no water since Tuesday night. Food is rotting. Everything smells, as do we. But we are organized. We have set up buckets behind broken pieces of zinc roofing as bathrooms. We have sodas and water stacked up in our kitchen. While there is still ice in the Mall, we have some hams buried there. We have umbrellas and trash cans and trash bags ... even disposable gloves to help avoid disease. We also have dead bodies, dead rats, and shit and stink all around. And we have no idea how long we are here for.

Our group is mostly white and from Middle America. They decide that the blacks (the Convention Center is 99% black obviously) are planning to murder us to get attention and help). There is mass hysteria in the group, and racism is rampant. People don't know where to flee. Rumors are everywhere about murder, rape, etc. There are shots during the night Thursday or Friday. At 2 am, there is a huge explosion across the river, and a huge fire. Smoke pours in from fires in every direction.

There is some nasty racism in our group. One day, when the hysteria is greatest, a black man stands up and says, "Why do you think these people want to kill you? They are surviving just the same as you. Struggling just the same. Just as desperate as you. They don't care anything about you. They are concentrating on surviving, etc." That calmed people a bit and made them feel particularly foolish.

At the same time, more and more families from the Convention Center were moving up to the walkway with us. Our group grew to about 80. Each morning, people began to bag the garbage. Others swept the walkway. Some set out breakfast for everybody. Two women who were home care workers for the elderly emptied and cleaned the shit buckets. A group would go into the Mall and forage for provisions. Then we would sit all day and wait.

I think on Friday the helicopters began to arrive dropping water and MRE rations in the parking lot in front of us. It was the first and only food and water ever to arrive -- three days after the hurricane. And it was just tossed from the helicopter for people to run after and gather. The old and the sick had nothing. Again, no one knew what was happening. Fires were burning all around. Everyone was desperate and frightened. Everyone was just trying to survive. And everyone, other than us tourists, was there because they had been completely wiped out -- had lost their homes and every possession and had young kids and elderly parents to feed.

As the helicopters arrived, we also ran down and gathered what we could. We began to survive on the army rations. Ernesto and I became friendly with the man who had given the speech chastising our group. He invited me to go with him to the Convention Center and distribute whatever Army rations we could pick up from the next helicopter to the disabled there, since they had no way to get rations. We gathered about 30 meals off of the next drop.

The drops were scandalous -- throwing food and water out of a hovering helicopter -- people scrambling for food to survive. Reduced to animals foraging -- when the copters could have landed, imposed order with guards, and distributed food with some respect and humanity.

Anyway, we walked through the Convention Center distributing food. The Center takes up about eight city blocks. There must have been 25,000 people camped out there without provisions, without bathrooms, without water or electricity ... with no means of survival. Families with little kids. Old people. People in wheelchairs. There was no medicine. No nurses or doctors. There was filth and garbage everywhere. Some people asked for food, and we gave it. Others said they were fine and had eaten. Some pointed out others who needed food. Like our group, they were doing their best to survive, and sharing whatever they had. We kept walking. The crowds went on and on. People with nothing. Every one of them had lost everything. Abandoned. Not knowing how they would eat, how they would survive. It was the most disgraceful, sad, infuriating thing I had ever seen in my life. Poor people discarded like garbage because they were poor people.

Everybody was waiting for the promised buses to evacuate us. Every day there were rumors of buses. Every day we waited and watched. Nothing ever came. Every day there was more filth. More people fainting from dehydration. Children were getting sick. Disease was becoming a bigger worry.

Our community on the walkway was interesting. One day a reporter came by and asked me if we had a "mayor" ... we didn't. Everyone worked. Everyone joined in. Everyone did the job that made them most comfortable. And everything functioned. And as people joined us, they automatically joined in the work. There were differences, but everyone worked. When there was talk about leaving or looking for ways out, it was discussed collectively. There was always a sense of staying together and getting out as a group. There was also nastiness, and racism, and comments about "the people down there" in the Convention Center. We intervened with a lot with people in our group who were blaming all the "people down there" for the violence. We intervened when reporters started to come and were told that "the people down there" were looting and killing. We told them that they were doing just what we were doing -- doing what was necessary to survive in desperate circumstances.

I don't know what else to say. We were anxious all the time. The nights were the worst ... partly because nights are generally more frightening, but also because there were often shots or explosions. There was always a surprise, and it was always bad news. It seemed like it would never get better. We just waited and scavenged. We worried that things would get more violent as they got more desperate. We also made incredible friends and saw amazing acts of kindness.

One morning, we woke and packed at 3 am because of a rumor that the buses were coming early in the morning. We waited and hoped. No buses came. We cleaned up camp and sat down to wait again, hoping to get through another day without tragedy.

It was Friday or Saturday that we heard the news that Bush was coming to view the disaster. That was when I first thought we would be getting out. I knew that New Orleans was another stage, and that the president wasn't going to show up unless the troops were coming and the mess was going to be cleaned up. Here was a chance to improve his ratings. Here was a place where an appearance without an immediate success would be a political disaster. Here was another excellent political stage. And of course we looked down the next day at noon and there were the troops. And a perimeter was set up. And piles of water and food were set up in the parking area. And that was the beginning of the evacuation. By the next day, the buses arrived. I think we finally left at around 4 pm on Saturday.

Once the troops arrived, the general anxiety level went down. Now it was just a question of getting out. Fires were burning. When the wind shifted it was hard to breathe, but we knew if no other disaster hit, we would get out soon. As always, they told us the buses were coming. We didn't believe it for a minute. The National Guard told us we had to vacate the walkway and go down onto the street to await the buses. Of course we refused. We told them we had a community here that was self sufficient. There was no need for us to be on the street and in the sun for nothing. That here, we were supplying food, medical services, etc to ourselves and to anyone who had a need. By this time, we had about five or six elderly and incapacitated people in our group. They had been left behind by a hospital when they evacuated. They were with a nurse who had been abandoned with them. We pointed out that our sick could not go down. We had another nurse in our group who was very well-spoken, and helped convince the National Guard that we had to stay for reasons of the health of the children and the elderly. So we stuck together and stayed on the walkway. Nobody left until we finally saw the buses, and were assured that everyone would get out. And then we marched out together as a group, with much of the group still intact.

In convincing the National Guard to let us stay, one of the more hateful and delusional of our group argued to the Guard that we should be left on the walkway because of "racial tensions". This was the same woman who had been telling everyone who would listen that the blacks would slaughter us to gain media attention so they would be evacuated. Anyway, between all the arguments, we were allowed to stay. And it also resulted in one of the most shameful moments of our stay. When the meals were distributed in the parking lot, several distribution lines were formed. We were given a separate line. Our line was escorted to and from the food by Guardsmen. No one from our group was ever able to walk alone. As always, it is the racist hysterical argument that prevails. It was better not to get food then to pass through that disgrace.

We were amazed when we walked down to the corner where the bus was supposed to be that there was actually a bus. It took an hour to get out of the city. The driver did not know where we were going. As usual, we knew nothing. At some point, the cop leading the line of evacuating buses informed us that we were going to Fort Chafee, Arkansas. All we wanted was an airport, but there was no way off a moving bus. Later, we were told we were going to Fort Smith, Arkansas, even farther away. We demanded to be let off. The cop told us that we would stop to eat in Shreveport, Louisiana and we could get off there. Of course the bus didn't stop. It did stop just across the Texas border, where a group of people had voluntarily set up tables to distribute food and help to the refugees.

We grabbed our bags and decided to find a ride into Shreveport. There was no good reason for us to go to Fort Smith. Ernesto found a volunteer to take us to a motel by the airport. Our first priority was to bathe by this point. An airplane was next. Of course no motels were available. So we decided to spend the night at the airport. Another man offered to take us. As we were getting in his car, he also offered us a shower at his house. We took him up on it and headed off. We showered, chatted, etc. I made plane reservations for 7 am the next morning. They invited us to stay and sleep for the hour and a half that remained of the night. They gave us food and little presents, a tee-shirt from their local high school baseball team, etc. They were kind, concerned, and really wanted to help and do the right thing. As we talked it was also clear that they were religious conservatives, racist, homophobic, etc. East Texas ... kindness and hatefulness on the same plate.

Anyway, we're home. We're still angry and anxious. Writing all this makes me relive it. Reading it makes Bruni cry. What we saw was just too raw. Poor people abandoned because they were poor. Poor people treated as trash. Poor people being branded as looters and thieves for trying to survive. Our own country treating us just as we treat the Iraqis, Palestinians, and every other country that we exploit or invade. How can we ever deny class warfare?

The other thing that struck me were the contradictions in people ... how the kindest people in our group who gave aid and compassion individually to blacks and whites, rich and poor, also painted all those people at the Convention Center with the same brush -- animals, looters, ignorants.

And it is no wonder when all the papers write and all the news reports is looting and violence -- as if there was no need or reason to "loot". Sure, there were some violent people there. There are everywhere. But this handful gets turned into "those people", and everyone gets branded. So no compassion is needed for the poor. After all, "they brought it on themselves ... they wouldn't let the government help, even though the government tried so hard". And that becomes what this country believes. And then of course the government can "morally" do nothing for the poor -- which is what it intended in the first place.

That's all I have for now. After you read this, give me a call and we can talk.


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Time for a Truth & Justice Commission
Back Inside New Orleans

September 14, 2005

What actually happened in New Orleans these past two weeks? We need to sort through the rumors and distortions. Perhaps we need our version of South Africa's Truth And Reconciliation Commission. Some way to sort through the many narratives and find a truth, and to find justice.

I spent yesterday inside the city of New Orleans, speaking to a few of the last holdouts in the 9th ward/ bywater neighborhood. Their stories paint a very different picture from what we've heard in the media. Instead of stories of gangs of criminals and police and soldiers keeping order, there were stories of collective action, everyone looking out for each other, communal responses.

The first few nights there was a large, free community barbecue at a neighborhood bar called The Country Club. People brought food and cooked and cooked and drank and went swimming (yes, there's a pool in the bar).

Emily Harris and Richie Kay, from Desire Street, traveled out on their boat and brought supplies and gave rides. They have been doing this almost every day since the hurricane struck. They estimate that they have rescued at least a hundred people. Emily doesn't want to leave. She is a carpenter and builder, and says, "I want to stay and rebuild. I love New Orleans"

Emily describes a community working together in the first days after the hurricane. She also describes a scene of abandonment and disappointment. "A lot of people came to the high ground at St. Claude Avenue. They really thought someone would come and rescue them, and they waited all day for something - a boat, a helicopter, anything. There were helicopters in the sky, but none coming down"

So people started walking as a mass uptown to Canal Street. Along the way, youths would break into grocery stores, take the food and distribute it evenly among houses in the community.

"Then they reached Canal Street, and saw that there was still no one that wanted to rescue them. That's when people broke into the stores on Canal Street"

I asked Okra, in his house off of Piety Street, what the biggest problem has been. He said, "It's been the police - they've lost the last restraints on their behavior they had, and gotten a license to go wild. They can do anything they want. I saw one cop beat a guy so hard that he almost took his ear off. And this was someone just trying to walk home"

Walking through the streets, I witnessed hundreds of soldiers patrolling the streets. Everyone I spoke to said that soldiers were coming to their house at least once a day, trying to convince them to leave, bringing stories of disease and quarantine and violence. I didn't see or speak to any soldiers involved in any clean up or rebuilding.

There are surely reasons to leave - I would not be living in the city at this point. I'm too attached to electricity and phone lines. But I can attest that those holdouts I spoke to are doing fine. They have enough food and water and have been very careful to avoid exposing themselves to the many health risks in the city.

I saw more city busses rolling through poor areas of town than I ever saw pre-hurricane. Unfortunately, these buses were filled with patrols of soldiers. What if the massive effort placed into patrolling this city and chasing everyone out were placed into beginning the rebuilding process?

Some neighborhoods are underwater still, and the water has turned into a sticky sludge of sewage and death that turns the stomach and breaks my heart. However, some neighborhoods are barely damaged at all, and if a large-scale effort were put into bringing back electricity and clearing the streets of debris, people could begin to move back in now.

Certainly some people do not want to move back, but many of us do. We want to rebuild our city that we love. The People's Hurricane Fund - a grassroots, community based group made up of New Orleans community organizers and allies from around the US - has already made one of their first demands a "right of return for the displaced of New Orleans.

In the last week, I've traveled between Houston, Baton Rouge, Covington, Jackson and New Orleans and spoken to many of my former friends and neighbors. We feel shell shocked. It used to be we would see each other in a coffee shop or a bar or on the street and talk and find out what we're doing. Those of us who were working for social justice felt a community. We could share stories, combine efforts, and we never felt alone. Now we're alone and dispersed and we miss our homes and our communities and we still don't know where so many of our loved ones even are.

It may be months before we start to get a clear picture of what happened in New Orleans. As people are dispersed around the US reconstructing that story becomes even harder than reconstructing the city. Certain sites, like the Convention Center and Superdome, have become legendary, but despite the thousands of people who were there, it still is hard to find out exactly what did happen.

According to a report that's been circulated, Denise Young, one of those trapped in the convention center told family members, "yes, there were young men with guns there, but they organized the crowd. They went to Canal Street and looted,' and brought back food and water for the old people and the babies, because nobody had eaten in days. When the police rolled down windows and yelled out the buses are coming,' the young men with guns organized the crowd in order: old people in front, women and children next, men in the back,just so that when the buses came, there would be priorities of who got out first" But the buses never came. "Lots of people being dropped off, nobody being picked up. Cops passing by, speeding off. We thought we were being left to die"

Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky, paramedics from Service Employees International Union Local 790 reported on their experience downtown, after leaving a hotel they were staying at for a convention. "We walked to the police command center at Harrah's on Canal Street and were told ...that we were on our own, and no they did not have water to give us. We now numbered several hundred. We held a mass meeting to decide a course of action. We agreed to camp outside the police command post. We would be plainly visible to the media and would constitute a highly visible embarrassment to the City officials. The police told us that we could not stay. Regardless, we began to settle in and set up camp. In short order, the police commander came across the street to address our group. He told us he had a solution: we should walk to the Pontchartrain Expressway and cross the greater New Orleans Bridge where the police had buses lined up to take us out of the City...

"We organized ourselves and the 200 of us set off for the bridge with great excitement and hope. ...As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions...

"Our small group retreated back down Highway 90 to seek shelter from the rain under an overpass. We debated our options and in the end decided to build an encampment in the middle of the Ponchartrain Expressway on the center divide, between the O'Keefe and Tchoupitoulas exits. We reasoned we would be visible to everyone, we would have some security being on an elevated freeway and we could wait and watch for the arrival of the yet to be seen buses.

"All day long, we saw other families, individuals and groups make the same trip up the incline in an attempt to cross the bridge, only to be turned away. Some chased away with gunfire, others simply told no, others to be verbally berated and humiliated. Thousands of New Orleanians were prevented and prohibited from self-evacuating the City on foot. Meanwhile, the only two City shelters sank further into squalor and disrepair. The only way across the bridge was by vehicle. We saw workers stealing trucks, buses, moving vans, semi-trucks and any car that could be hot wired. All were packed with people trying to escape the misery New Orleans had become"

Media reports of armed gangs focused on black youth, but New Orleans community activist, Black Panther, and former Green Party candidate for City Council Malik Rahim reported from the West Bank of New Orleans, "There are gangs of white vigilantes near here riding around in pickup trucks, all of them armed" I also heard similar reports from two of my neighbors - a white gay couple - who i visited on Esplanade Avenue.

The reconstruction of New Orleans starts now. We need to reconstruct the truth, we need to reconstruct families, who are still separated, we need to reconstruct the lives and community of the people of New Orleans, and, finally, we need to reconstruct the city.

Since I moved to New Orleans, I've been inspired and educated by the grassroots community organizing that is an integral part of the life of the city. It is this community infrastructure that is needed to step forward and fight for restructuring with justice.

In 1970, when hundreds of New Orleans police came to kick the Black Panthers out of the Desire Housing Projects, the entire community stood between the police and the Panthers, and the police were forced to retreat.

The grassroots infrastructure of New Orleans is the infrastructure of secondlines and Black Mardi Gras: true community support. The Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs organize New Orleans' legendary secondline parades - roving street parties that happen almost every weekend. These societies were formed to provide insurance to the Black community because Black people could not buy insurance legally, and to this day the "social aid is as important as the pleasure.

The only way that New Orleans will be reconstructed as even a shadow of its former self is if the people of New Orleans have direct control over that reconstruction. But, our community dislocation is only increasing. Every day, we are spread out further. People leave Houston for Oregon and Chicago. We are losing contact with each other, losing our community that has nurtured us.

Already, the usual forces of corporate restructuring are lining up. Halliburton's Kellogg Brown & Root subsidiary has begun work on a $500 million US Navy contract for emergency repairs at Gulf Coast naval and marine facilities damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Blackwell Security - the folks that brought you Abu Ghraib - are patrolling the streets of our city.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the rich white elite is already planning their vision of New Orleans' reconstruction, from the super-rich gated compounds of Audubon Place Uptown, where they have set up a heliport and brought in a heavily-armed Israeli security company. "The new city must be something very different, one of these city leaders was quoted as saying, "with better services and fewer poor people. Those who want to see this city rebuilt want to see it done in a completely different way: demographically, geographically and politically"

While the world's attention is focused on New Orleans, in a time when its clear to most of the world that the federal government's greed and heartlessness has caused this tragedy, we have an opportunity to make a case for a people's restructuring, rather than a Halliburton restructuring.

The people of New Orleans have the will. Today, I met up with Andrea Garland, a community activist with Get Your Act On who is planning a bold direct action; she and several of her friends are moving back in to their homes. They have generators and supplies, and they invite anyone who is willing to fight for New Orleans to move back in with them. Malik Rahim, in New Orleans' West Bank, is refusing to leave and is inviting others to join him. Community organizer Shana Sassoon, exiled in Houston, is planning a community mapping project to map out where our diaspora is being sent, to aid in our coming back together. Abram Himmelstein and Rachel Breulin of The Neighborhood Story Project are beginning the long task of documenting oral histories of our exile.

Please join us in this fight. This is not just about New Orleans. This is about community and collaboration versus corporate profiteering. The struggle for New Orleans lives on.

Jordan Flaherty is a union organizer and an editor of Left Turn Magazine ( He is not planning on moving out of New Orleans. He can be reached at:

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Swimming to New Orleans -- One Man's Search for Friends and Family
Pacific News Service, First-person narrative, Nick Glassman, Sep 07, 2005

Editor's Note: A Bay Area man goes to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and finds a war zone of floating bodies, armed and angry survivors and threatening policemen.

I just returned this past weekend from my first trip to Louisiana since Katrina. It's beyond what you can imagine -- it's hell on Earth.

I flew into Baton Rouge, which sits about 80 miles northwest of New Orleans, and the city is destroyed, but not by the storm. There are hundreds of thousands of refugees from New Orleans in Baton Rouge. People are camping on the side of the roads, in their cars if they have them, and all over the LSU campus. The first thing you notice is how outraged everyone is.

The people of Baton Rouge don't want us here, and you can't blame them. There seems to be no plan for the New Orleaneans once they are dropped off in Baton Rouge, and locals are confused, horrified or worse. They know this is potentially a permanent situation, or at least the way it will be for the next several months. It's safe to say they're as scared as the homeless and exhausted refugees that litter their streets.

We rented four houses in Houma, La., which is about 50 miles south of Baton Rouge or about 30 miles west of New Orleans. We spent the weekend moving our family there, then our friends, and then people we met who had no other options. When I left, we had perhaps 40 people and another 20 on the way. It's an amazing thing to see -- your best friends, family and everyone in between huddled on floorboards, makeshift beds and sleeping bags. It's truly like a nuclear bomb hit our city, and we are doing everything we can just to keep everyone housed, fed and with clean water.

I decide to go into New Orleans as there are far too many people from our home unaccounted for. It's Saturday, September 3.

There is no way to get into the city. The roads that are open are being used to bring people out, and no traffic is headed in. I drive a rental car 30 miles on backroads that I guess won't be flooded. I make it about half way until can no longer get into the city by car. With a backpack loaded with as much water as I can carry, two packs of breakfast bars, three canisters of bug spray, and an extra pair of shoes, I start walking.

First, there's the climate. It's almost 90 degrees, and the humidity and the still water have made the swamp come alive with bugs. The mosquito swarms and other bugs make sound like a blizzard. I have to wear long-sleeve shirts and pants, and I'm drenched with sweat.

The first group of people I meet are very friendly. I trade my ipod for a kid's dirt bike so I can make better time, and they give me extra water. They try to warn me it isn't safe to head into the city. They warn me about what neighborhoods to avoid, and that above everything else, it was critical to stay away from the police. They'll force you to leave by putting you on a bus destined for who knows where, and if you resist, they'll arrest you. It's the first time I sense that the police and government are seen as enemies by Katrina survivors. At first, I simply consider that shortsighted, but over the next two days, I start to understand why they think that way.

I get to the outskirts of the city by about 2 p.m. -- an upscale neighborhood called Metaire, where most of the money of New Orleans lives. To get that far already involved about half a mile of swimming. Everything is destroyed. The area isn't just underwater, it's more that the swamps have risen over New Orleans. There are snakes and alligators everywhere, and the more you see, the more you realize the city isn't going to be livable for who knows how long.

Then there are the bodies. I first start seeing them as I cross from Metaire into what is called Midcity, the neighborhood you drive through to get to Jazz Fest and the fairgrounds. Until now, I've only seen a few dead bodies in my entire life. Some have been pushed against dry spots by, I presume, rescue workers. Others are just floating in the water. There are houses with red marks on them, meaning there's someone dead inside. The most horrifying part of all is what happens when a body is floating in the water for two or three days. It's barely recognizable as a person. When you see one, it's riddled with mosquitoes and who knows what else.

The city is not at all empty as the news says it is. I find hundreds if not thousands of people in all the different neighborhoods, and they have no intention of leaving. First and foremost, they have nowhere to go. Many people don't want to leave. They don't trust they'll ever be let back in, and they certainly aren't going to allow their homes to be pillaged by people crafty enough not to get kicked out. Finally, they just don't believe the argument that the city will be unsafe and infested with disease.

They're armed and angry. They have already survived five straight days of no food and no water, and they don't believe those who haven't gotten them food or water are going to find a place for them to live.

I grew up in the 9th Ward, one of the lowest income areas in the city and the site of the first levee break. To get to my childhood home, I would have to dive underwater just to get to the roof. I go to the second house we lived in. Its roof has been torn off and there's a body floating not 50 feet away from the front porch. I wish I can say my friends' houses fared better. Most were either completely submerged in 10 to 15 feet of water or just not standing anymore. I find three people I know, and they set off for Houma that afternoon.

People are furious. They feel they've been abandoned. You have to understand, there's no power anywhere. The rescue crews are going through New Orleans proper but not all the neighborhoods where people live. Most people don't even think there's a rescue effort underway at all. It becomes clear to me the one thing people need is communication; without it fear takes over. There's nothing more important to restoring order than giving the leaders an ability to get messages to everyone.

I know everyone has heard about people firing on helicopters. I'm certainly not saying it is right, but after being there, I understand. For five days, helicopters are flying overhead, but none of them are dropping water or food down for anyone. They fly by using load speakers saying that anyone found looting or stealing will be arrested, and those are the helicopters that are followed by gunshots, from what I see.

The only government group anyone has seen are the police with sawed-off shotguns threatening to arrest everyone who is walking around on the streets.

Everyone is fearful for his future, and fear leads people to do amazing, extraordinary things. It's a state of war. People don't even know who they're fighting, but they know they're at war. Twice, I bike away at full speed from people that come at me. Before I leave the city, my cash, backpack loaded with food and change of clothes and my camera are stolen. The final time, two people robbed me of my water. They didn't even ask for cash or my watch, just my water. It is desperation, and the last thing I could ever feel is anger.

I'll never forget this weekend. I'll probably spend years wishing I could. You just can't describe what it's like to see the hometown that you love, that's a part of everything you are, littered with floating dead bodies, and to see "your people" firing guns at strangers and hating everyone and everything. It's one of the worst things I've ever felt or seen. It's a war being fought against no one.

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Flashback: Earth Trembles As Big Winds Move In

Hurricanes can trigger swarms of weak earthquakes and even set the Earth vibrating, according to the first study of such effects.

When Hurricane Charley slammed into Florida in August 2004, physicist Randall Peters of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, had a seismometer ready to monitor any vibrations in the Earth's crust. He did so for over 36 hours as Charley travelled briefly over Florida, then slid back out into the Atlantic.

As the hurricane reached land, the seismometer recorded a series of "micro-tremors" from the Earth's crust. This happened again as the storm moved back out to sea. Then, as Charley grazed the continental shelf on its way out, it caused a sharp seismic spike. "I suspect the storm triggered a subterranean landslide," says Peters.

More surprisingly, the storm also caused the Earth to vibrate. The planet's surface in the vicinity of the hurricane started moving up and down at several frequencies ranging from 0.9 to 3 millihertz. Such low-frequency vibrations have been detected following large earthquakes, but this is the first time a storm has been found to be the cause.

Comment: For many months we have been predicting that the American economy will collapse before the end of 2005. Given the available signs and evidence we are now of the opinion that the current severe hurricane season, triggering a major earthqake and volcano on the US mainland, may well be the precursor to just such a collapse and it's dire consequences for millions of American people. In essence, the scenes at the end of last month in New Orleans will soon be common throughout large areas of the North American continent.

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Earthquakes Up to 4.9 Strike Near L.A.
September 22, 2005

METTLER, Calif. - A series of earthquakes ranging up to magnitude 4.9 shook an area north of Los Angeles on Thursday. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The temblors in the San Joaquin Valley about 70 miles northwest of Los Angeles began with a magnitude-4.0 jolt that was quickly followed by the 4.9 at 1:24 p.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena.

Seismologists recorded at least five aftershocks ranging between magnitudes 3 and 3.7.

"The only things we're getting reported is that some items toppled over on shelves, but we've gotten no reports of damages or injuries," said Kern County fire Capt. Doug Johnston.

Johnston said the area contains mostly dairies and farmlands.

Comment: As of this morning, another 3.6 magnitude quake has hit the L.A. area.

Look at this map of one of the North American fault lines:

Map of North American Fault Lines

Then re-read the article about hurricanes causing earthquakes. Then imagine a massive subduction quake in the pacific North West, and Mount Rainier blowing its top for real this time. 500 foot Tsunami in Puget Sound anyone?

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British Government's Agent Provocateurs Exposed

There is a saying of sorts that "if you are going to do something, do it well", and given the serious consequences, nowhere is that more true than when you plan to engage in criminal activity. Today in Basra, Southern Iraq, two members of the British SAS (Special Ops) were caught, 'in flagrante' as it were, dressed in full "Arab garb", driving a car full of explosives and shooting and killing two official Iraqi policemen.

This fact, finally reported by the mainstream press, goes to the very heart of and proves accurate much of what we have been saying on the Signs of the Times page for several years.

The following are facts, indisputable by all but the most self-deluded:

Number 1:

The US and British invasion of Iraq was NOT for the purpose of bringing "freedom and democracy" to the Iraqi people, but rather for the purpose of securing Iraq's oil resources for the US and British governments and expanding their control over the greater Middle East.

Number 2:

Both the Bush and Blair governments deliberately fabricated evidence (lied) about the threat the Saddam posed to the west and his links to the mythical 'al-Qaeda' in order to justify their invasion.

Number 3:

Dressed as Arabs, British (and CIA and Israeli) 'special forces' have been carrying out fake "insurgent" attacks, including 'car suicide bombings' against Iraqi policemen and Iraqi civilians (both Sunni and Shia) for the past two years. Evidence would suggest that these tactics are designed to provide continued justification for a US and British military presence in Iraq and to ultimately embroil the country in a civil war that will lead to the breakup of Iraq into more manageable statelets, much to the joy of the Israeli right and their long-held desire for the establishment of biblical 'greater Israel'

Coming not long after the botched London bombings carried out by British MI5 where an eyewitness reported that the floor of one of the trains had been blown inwards (how can a bomb in a backpack or on a "suicide bomber" INSIDE the train ever produce such an effect), more than anything else today's event in Basra highlights the desperation that is driving the policy-makers in the British government.

British intelligence would do well to think twice about carrying out any more 'false flag' operations until they can achieve the 'professionalism' of the Israeli Mossad - they always make it look convincing and rarely suffer the ignominy of being caught in the act and having the faces of their erstwhile "terrorists" plastered across the pages of the mainstream media.

The REAL face of "Islamic Terror" - Two SAS agents caught carrying out a false flag terror attack in Basra, Iraq September 20th 2005.

Official: British troops freed in jailbreak


BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A British armored vehicle escorted by a tank crashed into a detention center Monday in Basra and rescued two undercover troops held by police, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official told CNN.

British Defense Ministry Secretary John Reid confirmed two British military personnel were "released," but he gave no details on how they were freed.

In a statement released in London, Reid did not say why the two had been taken into custody. But the Iraqi official, who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity, said their arrests stemmed from an incident earlier in the day.

The official said two unknown gunmen in full Arabic dress began firing on civilians in central Basra, wounding several, including a traffic police officer. There were no fatalities, the official said.

The two gunmen fled the scene but were captured and taken in for questioning, admitting they were British marines carrying out a "special security task," the official said.

British troops launched the rescue about three hours after Iraqi authorities informed British commanders the men were being held at the police department's major crime unit, the official said.

Iraqi police said members of Iraq's Mehdi Army militia engaged the British forces around the facility, burning one personnel carrier and an armored vehicle.

Video showed dozens of Iraqis surrounding British armored vehicles and tossing gasoline bombs, rocks and other debris at them.

With one vehicle engulfed in flames, a soldier opened the hatch and bailed out as rocks were thrown at him. Another photograph showed a British soldier on fire on top of a tank.

"Many of those present were clearly prepared well in advance to cause trouble, and we believe that the majority of Iraq people would deplore this violence," Reid said. [...]

From the Washington Post

Iraqi security officials on Monday variously accused the two Britons they detained of shooting at Iraqi forces or trying to plant explosives. Photographs of the two men in custody showed them in civilian clothes.

When British officials apparently sought to secure their release, riots erupted. Iraqi police cars circulated downtown, calling through loudspeakers for the public to help stop British forces from releasing the two. Heavy gunfire broke out and fighting raged for hours, as crowds swarmed British forces and set at least one armored vehicle on fire.

Witnesses said they saw Basra police exchanging fire with British forces. Sadr's Mahdi Army militia joined in the fighting late in the day, witnesses said. A British military spokesman, Darren Moss, denied that British troops were fighting Basra police.

From China View (orginally pooled from the BBC)

Iraqi police detained two British soldiers in civilian clothes in the southern city Basra for firing on a police station on Monday, police said.

"Two persons wearing Arab uniforms opened fire at a police station in Basra. A police patrol followed the attackers and captured them to discover they were two British soldiers," an Interior Ministry source told Xinhua.

The two soldiers were using a civilian car packed with explosives, the source said. He added that the two were being interrogated in the police headquarters of Basra.

The British forces informed the Iraqi authorities that the two soldiers were performing an official duty, the source said. British military authorities said they could not confirm the incident but investigations were underway.

Interestingly, on the same day as this botched covert operation, the CIA and Mossad's number two bogeyman, al-Zawahri, pipes up and reminds the world that 'al-Qaeda' was responsible for the London bombings. How very decent of him.

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Al-Qaeda claims responsibility for London bombings
20 September 2005

Al-Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahri said his terror network carried out the July 7 London bombings in a statement broadcast on an Arab satellite television station, marking the group's first direct claim of responsibility for the attacks that killed 52 people.

The Egyptian-born militant also criticised the legitimacy of Sunday's Afghanistan parliamentary elections and condemned Pakistan -- the one-time ally of Afghanistan's deposed Taliban regime -- for forging strong ties with the United States.

"The blessed London attack was one which al-Qaeda was honoured to launch against the British Crusader's arrogance and against the American Crusader aggression on the Islamic nation for 100 years," al-Zawahri said in the tape aired on Monday on Qatar-based al-Jazeera TV.

"In their final testament, the heroic brothers in the London attacks ... provided great lessons to the Islamic nation and Muslims in Pakistan to oppose the infidels," said al-Zawahri, who wore a black turban and white shirt and spoke to someone off-camera who was interviewing him.

In another tape aired on September 2, al-Zawahri, who is thought to be hiding along the rugged Afghan-Pakistani border, issued a veiled claim of responsibility for the attacks that also killed the four bombers.

"This blessed attack revealed the real hypocritical face of the West," said the gray-bearded al-Zawahri in his latest tape, which included English subtitles and credits saying it was produced and translated by al-Sahab Media Production House, a shadowy purported al-Qaeda media organisation.

While there was no immediate way to verify al-Zawahri's claim, the coordinated attacks on three London underground stations and a double-decker bus bore all the hallmarks of the group that has claimed responsibility for numerous bombings, including the September 11 2001 attacks.

Shortly after the London bombings, which were carried out by four bombers including two of Pakistani descent, two militant Islamic groups said they were responsible, but both had made dubious claims in the past.

A spokesperson for London's metropolitan police had no immediate comment on al-Zawahri's latest tape.

Comment: Of course, we don't doubt that 'al-Qaeda' really was responsible for the London bombings, but the crucial question as always is: who and what IS 'al-Qaeda'...

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Agents Provocateurs?
William Bowles, I'n'I
September 22, 2005
Fascinating. No really, the ‘evolution’ of state disinformation has probably never been better displayed than in the case of the two (more than likely) SAS soldiers who were ‘liberated’ after being arrested by the Iraqi police on 19 September by a phalanx of tanks and helicopter gunships that stormed the police station where the two undercover soldiers were being held after they allegedly failed to stop at an Iraqi police roadblock and subsequently opened fire on the Iraqi police, killing one and wounding another.

The car they were travelling in was loaded with weapons including allegedly, assault rifles, a light machine gun, an anti-tank weapon, radio gear and a medical kit (’standard’ SAS issue according to the BBC). According to at least two reports, the car they were traveling in (A Toyota Cressida) was “booby-trapped”.

Subsequent accounts vary according to the source but according to the initial story broadcast on the BBC (19/9/05), the two men wore traditional Arab dress but then this changed to “civilian dress” (BBC TV News).

As more information trickled out, a BBC story reported that the men were freed after the police station had been attacked by British tanks, a report that the British government initially denied saying that “the release of the soldiers had been negotiated” (BBC Website 20/0/05).

Britain’s Ministry of Defence says the release of the two soldiers had been negotiated and it did not believe the prison had been stormed.

“We’ve heard nothing to suggest we stormed the prison,” a ministry spokesman said.

“We understand there were negotiations.”

Lisa Glover, spokeswoman for the British embassy in Baghdad, says three people have been wounded in the operation to free the soldiers.

She did not give further details of how the soldiers were freed.

Then the story changed yet again, only now the ‘official’ story, dutifully reported by the British State Broadcasting Company (BSBC), was that “negotiations broke down” and that the two men were in the hands of the Mehdi Army in another building, in which case, why was the police station stormed?

Then yet another version was issued by the British government only now the police station was indeed attacked but only after “negotiations broke down”. So were the two SAS men in the police station or not?

According to yet another BSBC report, after breaking into the police station, the Brits discovered that they had been moved to a Mehdi Army house for “interrogation”. Yet subsequent accounts revealed that they had in fact, been in the police station all along and, according to a CNN report, were being questioned by an Iraqi judge, not, as the British government alleged, by the ‘insurgents’.

By now, in a classic disinformation campaign, so many stories were being circulated that sorting out the truth from fiction was virtually impossible unless one is prepared to dig and dig deep.

What is clear is that the two SAS “undercover operatives” had been caught red-handed by the British government’s alleged allies, the Iraqi police, dressed as Arabs, replete with wigs and armed to the teeth and in a car which according to one report, was packed with explosives (the car by the way, has been taken away by the British occupation forces).

The question the BSBC was not and still is not asking, is what were they up to, creeping around dressed up as Iraqis in what is meant to be a relatively peaceful Basra?

Once more the BSBC answered the question, sort of, courtesy yet another ‘official’ story, one that was to emerge only after a very angry crowd attacked two British armoured vehicles, setting at least one on fire. The “mob”, as the BSBC described them, were according to the report, angry over the arrest of two Mehdi Army members, also on 19 September, and that it had nothing to with the freeing of the two SAS. In reality of course, the ‘mob’ had already been informed about the two SAS undercover guys and were understandably upset.

So now, the two undercover SAS men were, it is imputed, searching for ‘insurgents’ as part of a counter-insurgency operation, which if true, what were they doing dressed as Iraqis?

Were they on some kind of provocative operation? According to one report, this is exactly what they were up to. Fattah al-Shaykh, a member of the Iraqi National Assembly told this account to al-Jazeera

If you really want to look for truth, then we should resort to the Iraqi justice away from the British provocations against the sons of Basra, particularly what happened today when the sons of Basra caught two non-Iraqis, who seem to be Britons and were in a car of the Cressida type. It was a booby-trapped car laden with ammunition and was meant to explode in the centre of the city of Basra in the popular market. However, the sons of the city of Basra arrested them. They [the two non-Iraqis] then fired at the people there and killed some of them. The two arrested persons are now at the Intelligence Department in Basra, and they were held by the National Guard force, but the British occupation forces are still surrounding this department in an attempt to absolve them of the crime.

And in yet another report from Syrian TV we read

[Al-Munajjid] In fact, Nidal, this incident gave answers to questions and suspicions that were lacking evidence about the participation of the occupation in some armed operations in Iraq. Many analysts and observers here had suspicions that the occupation was involved in some armed operations against civilians and places of worship and in the killing of scientists. But those were only suspicions that lacked proof. The proof came today through the arrest of the two British soldiers while they were planting explosives in one of the Basra streets. This proves, according to observers, that the occupation is not far from many operations that seek to sow sedition and maintain disorder, as this would give the occupation the justification to stay in Iraq for a longer period.

When viewed in the context of all the stories that have been circulating about the mythical ‘al-Zarqawi’ and the alleged role of al-Queda, the events in Basra are the first real evidence that we have of the role of occupation forces in destabilising Iraq through the use of agents provocateurs masquerading as ‘insurgents’.

And, as I have long alleged here, it is now almost certain that ‘al-Zarqawi’ is probably long dead. An AFP story tells us

[The] Imam of Baghdad’s al-Kazimeya mosque, Jawad al-Kalesi said, that “al-Zarqawi is dead but Washington continues to use him as a bogeyman to justify a prolonged military occupation…He’s simply an invention by the occupiers to divide the people.” Al-Kalesi added that al-Zarqawi was killed in the beginning of the war in the Kurdish north and that “His family in Jordan even held a ceremony after his death.”

And indeed, last year, in a piece I wrote about ‘al-Zarqawi’, I referred to a report about ‘al-Zarqawi’ being killed when the US flattened the ‘base’ of his group Ansar al-Islam in northern Iraq in early 2003, a report that actually originated with the US government.

Yet the BSBC, along with the rest of the Western media continues to put out endless reams of disinformation about ‘al-Zarqawi’ and his connection to the fictitious ‘al-Queda in Iraq’. Given the long-held assertion by the West that goes back to 2003, that Iraq was on the verge of ‘civil war’, it’s instructive to note that as the military situation of the occupation forces has deteriorated, so too has the level of so-called al-Queda operations increased, in a transparent attempt to divide the Iraqi national resistance, thus the increasing stories about impending civil war and the wave of ‘suicide’ bombings.

The exposure of the undercover SAS operations will only add to the resolve of Iraqi resistance forces to step up their campaign to expel the occupiers regardless of what kind of blatant propaganda line the UK government puts out.

It furthermore exposes the untenable position of the Iraqi ‘government’ which is now being squeezed by both sides, thus we get contradictory positions from the Iraqi ‘government’, with one denying that the SAS operatives had been handed over to ‘Shiite militia’ and the other trying desperately to tread an almost invisible line between condemning the actions of the British government whilst blaming the actions of the Iraqi police in Basra on ‘insurgents’ who have ‘infiltrated’ the police force. Yet it is a fact that at best, perhaps only 25% of the Iraqi military can be relied upon to serve their colonial masters.

Continuing to call them insurgents is itself an admission that the majority of Iraqis are opposed to the occupation and indeed, the bulk of the fighting is being carried out by the Kurdish Peshmerga as Iraqi forces simply cannot be relied on. It’s a classic situation that the US and UK military top brass know only too well having ‘been there and done that’ before.

Thus the occupiers become more desperate to destabilise the situation and no doubt we’ll see more SAS and US provocations revealed over the coming weeks as the situation continues to deteriorate.

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Basra warrant for two UK soldiers
BBC News

A Basra judge has issued an arrest warrant for two British soldiers after an Iraqi civilian was reportedly killed and a police officer injured.

The two servicemen - believed to be undercover SAS officers - were detained after a confrontation on Monday.

UK troops later freed the soldiers from Iraqi custody after storming a police station in the southern Iraqi city.

Defence Secretary John Reid said no warrant had been received - and British personnel were immune from Iraqi laws.

"The MoD has not received any arrest warrant relating to any British personnel in Iraq," he said.

"Iraqi law is very clear: British personnel are immune from the Iraqi legal process; they remain subject to British law."

Comment: "Iraqi law" that was recently made by British and US diplomats.

"Even if such a warrant was issued, it would therefore be of no legal effect."

British forces spokesman Major Steve Melbourne said the two men had immunity from prosecution under an arrangement between the Iraqi government and coalition forces.

It was widely believed that the soldiers on an intelligence mission in the city when they were challenged by Iraqi police officers, our correspondent said.

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Flashback: U.S. Bartering Arms for Soldiers for Iraq

By Thalif Deen
Wednesday 30 July 2003

UNITED NATIONS - Faced with a rising death toll among its soldiers in Iraq, the United States is trying to "buy" foreign troops for a proposed 30,000-strong multinational force in Baghdad.

"When they were seeking U.N. support for a war on Iraq, they were twisting arms," one Asian diplomat told IPS. "Now they are offering carrots in exchange for our troops."

The inducements -- including weapons and increased military aid -- have apparently been offered to at least three countries whose troops Washington desperately needs to bolster the fledgling multinational force in Iraq and relieve the pressure on U.S. forces in the war-ravaged country.

  The administration of President George W. Bush has intensified efforts to seek troops from India, Pakistan and Turkey in order to bolster a
multinational force that now includes troops mostly from former Soviet republics and Latin American nations.

The Indian government, which withdrew its offer of 17,000 troops under heavy domestic political pressure in New Delhi, is being lobbied once again with an offer of sophisticated military equipment.

The quid pro quo, according to diplomatic sources, is approval of the proposed sale of the state-of-the-art Arrow-2 missile defence system by Israel. Since the 100-million-dollar system includes U.S. components and funding, Israel needs U.S. approval to close the deal.

  General Richard Myers, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, is now in New Delhi to try and convince the government of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to change its stance on troops for Iraq.

The London 'Financial Times' said Tuesday that the Bush administration has also pledged to further relax the sale of dual-use technology to India in return for that country sending troops to Iraq.

France, Germany, India, Pakistan and several other nations have declined to provide troops unless there is a new U.N. resolution authorising the proposed multinational peacekeeping force in Iraq.

  But India could change its position, according to Professor Stephen Cohen, director of the South Asia programme at the Brookings Institution.

  "For all we know, they are still talking about terms under which India might come," he said in an interview. "That's part of the bargaining game that's going on."

Since the war on Iraq began Mar.19, 244 U.S. soldiers have died -- 163 from hostile actions and 81 from accidents. The rising death toll looms as a political liability for Bush who faces re-election next year.

The 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq are backed by 12,000 from Britain.

Among the key countries that have pledged troops for the new multinational force are Spain, Poland, Japan and Ukraine.

Washington is also expecting smaller units from Hungary, Romania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovakia, Honduras, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Mongolia, the Philippines and Nicaragua. It has logistical support from Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and South Korea.

The 'Washington Post' reported Tuesday that some of the countries were providing troops only at a cost to U.S. taxpayers.

  The Bush administration has agreed to pay 240 million dollars in support costs to the Polish contingent of about 9,000 troops. The costs will cover airlift transportation, meals, medical care and other expenses.

The proposed Indian contingent of 17,000 troops would have been the largest single foreign force, exceeding the 12,000 troops from Britain, Washington's coalition partner in the war against Iraq.

  But the move to provide Indian troops generated strong political and public opposition in New Delhi, threatening a government that faces elections next year.

India's neighbour and foe Pakistan has been offered three billion dollars in U.S. aid over the next five years, of which 1.5 billion dollars will be in military aid.

And according to the Ankara-based 'Hurriyet' newspaper, the United States has been lobbying the Turkish government for about 10,000 troops for Iraq.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday the administration was discussing troop deployments both by Pakistan and Turkey.

  "The Bush administration is doing the right thing in looking for
additional help in Iraq, " says Natalie J. Goldring, executive director of the Programme on Global Security and Disarmament at the University of Maryland.

"But the U.S. government should be seeking that help through the United Nations. Instead, U.S. political and military leaders are once again trying to buy countries' cooperation with weapons transfers and military aid," she told IPS.

Goldring added that there is no evidence that providing India with a missile defence system will decrease the level of conflict in the unstable South Asian region.

"Quite the contrary. Past attempts by India or Pakistan to gain military advantage have inevitably been matched or countered by the other country, continuing and often accelerating the already dangerous arms race in that part of the world," she added.

At a press conference Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that he believes the international community is seeking to
"internationalise" the Iraqi operations under a U.N. umbrella.

"It is important for them -- not just for Europe or India, but also for the region. The Arab states will feel more comfortable" to provide troops under U.N. auspices, he added.

The United States has refused to seek approval for a U.N. peacekeeping force because it may have to concede some of its military authority to the United Nations.

Wolfowitz told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Washington would agree to a U.N. resolution only if it did not curtail U.S. military authority.

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The Unraveling of the US Military
September 14, 2005 by Zia Mian

In a recent speech at Fort Bragg, a major U.S. military base, president Bush declared, "There is no higher calling than service in our armed forces." It seems fewer and fewer young Americans and their parents agree with him. The U.S. military is finding it increasingly difficult to sustain itself. This is despite what at first sight should be fruitful conditions for military recruitment: the events of Sept. 11 and the fears about terrorism; the argument by the Bush administration that the global war on terrorism must be fought in Afghanistan and Iraq and other such faraway places, or it will end up having to be fought at home; and America's ongoing wars that bring to the screens daily stories of heroic "warriors" liberating and defending the innocent.

Troop Shortages

Newspapers describe the U.S. Army as "facing one of the greatest recruiting challenges in its history." The U.S. military is deeply worried. General Barry McCaffrey, now a professor at the West Point, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the U.S. is in a "race against time" in Iraq because of the strains on the military – the military is "starting to unravel." He argues that, "The U.S. Army and the Marines are too under-manned and under-resourced to sustain this security policy beyond next fall." The consequences are great. For McCaffrey, the U.S. military in Iraq is "the crown jewel of our national security guarantee to the American people in the war on terror." This threatens the future of the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and as McCaffrey puts it, "Failure would be a disaster for U.S. foreign policy and economic interests for the next 20 years."

Sending in more troops, the American solution year after year in the Vietnam War, does not seem to be an option. President Bush has said that he would send more troops to Iraq if the military commanders in the field asked for them. He claims that they have not done so. But others suggest a more serious obstacle. Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Senate minority leader, has said that U.S. military commanders in Iraq have told him that they need more troops but they know none are available. Reed has said, "The conclusion I reach is that they know the soldiers aren't there, so why ask for something you know doesn't exist?"

A recent study by the RAND Corporation, a military think-tank, "Stretched Thin: Army Forces for Sustained Operations" found that the troop shortage in the Army is so severe that it calls into question the Pentagon's policy of being able to fight two major regional wars at the same time while also having sufficient soldiers for the war on terrorism and providing security in America. A recent meeting of the National Governors' Association, which brings together the governors of the states, registered the governors' concern that deployment of National Guard soldiers in Iraq was leaving their states unable to deal with possible natural disasters and other emergencies, with one governor exclaiming that "we don't have personnel – whether it is full time or part time – to take care of all the needs and concerns of Americans."

Recruitment Problems

Little of this seems to resonate with the public. So far this year, the U.S. Army is reported to be 40 percent short of its recruitment target. The Army has failed to meet its monthly recruiting goals in each of the preceding four months. In mid-July, the U.S. military reported that the Army National Guard, which makes up more than one-third of the U.S. soldiers in Iraq, had missed its recruiting goal for the ninth straight month. This was an understatement of the larger trend. The Army National Guard has apparently missed its recruiting targets for at least 17 of the last 18 months.

U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker told the Senate "We've got enormous challenges" when it comes to recruitment of new soldiers. The Army's goal of 80,000 new recruits for this year "is at serious risk," and next year "may be the toughest recruiting environment ever." These recruiting problems, he believes, are likely to stretch "well into the future."

These problems are despite the enormous incentives now being offered to join the military. There is a joining bonus of $90,000 paid over three years, of which $20,000 is in cash and $70,000 in benefits, along with a canceling of the loans many a young American must take to afford to go to college. There are reports also that people almost 40 years old are now eligible to join the military, and that the physical and intellectual standards for recruits have been lowered.

The fall in recruitment is strongest in the African-American community (12 percent of the U.S. population) and among women. African-Americans made up almost a quarter of Army recruits in 2000, now their numbers have fallen to less than 14 percent. The number of women Army recruits has dropped from 22 percent in 2000 to about 17 percent. Women make up about 15 percent of the military in total.

The Military Path to Citizenship

About 7 percent of the U.S. military are not citizens. There are about 30,000 foreign soldiers in the U.S. military from more than 100 countries; more than a third are Hispanic. To encourage recruitment, in 2002 the Bush administration made it easier for foreign-born U.S. troops to become naturalized citizens. Now, any legal resident who joins the military can immediately petition for citizenship rather than wait the five years required for civilians to start this process. They do not even have to pay the several hundred dollar fee for this process. As an added incentive, if a foreign-born soldier who is a U.S. citizen dies in the line of duty, the foreign-born members of his or her family can now seek citizenship, even if they are not legal residents. It is also possible for soldiers to be made citizens after they have died in service and for their families to then become eligible for citizenship.

Despite all this, the numbers of non-citizens joining the military is falling fast. The number has fallen by 20 percent since 2001. It is not slowing down, as much of the decline came last year.

It is not just those would be foot soldiers who are staying away. Those with the most to defend are less willing to do so. Army's Reserve Officers' Training Corps, which trains and commissions more than 60 percent of the new Army officers each year, has been facing similar problems. It now has the fewest participants in nearly a decade, with recruitment having fallen by more than 16 percent over the past two years. In a recent article in Harpers, Lewis Lapham pointed out that there is a longer-term process at work here, noting that almost half of the 1956 graduating class from Princeton University went into the military (400 out of a total of 900 students), but from the class of 2004, there were only nine students who joined out of a class of 1,100.

The children of America's elite see no future for themselves in the military. And there are some soldiers who see this. The story is told of a U.S. Marine who returned to California after a tour of duty in Iraq and was invited to speak at a "gated community" in Malibu as a war hero. He told his audience "I am not a hero. … Guys like me are just a necessary part of things. To maintain this way of life in a fine community like this, you need psychos like us to go and drop a bomb on somebody's house."

In its efforts to find out why there are now such problems with recruitment, the Army called in the research company Millward Brown to do a study. It found that the resistance was due to popular objection to the war in Iraq, the casualties, and media coverage of the torture at Abu Ghraib. The study reportedly concluded that, "Reasons for not considering military service are increasingly based on objections to the Iraq situation and aversion to the military."

In short, the Bush administration has failed to make its case for the war in Iraq. Now, people see and read about what really happens in war, and towns and cities are facing the reality of the 1,900 or so American military deaths and well over 14,000 wounded so far in Iraq. A June 2005 Gallup poll found that in the past five years the proportion of Americans who said they would support their child's entering the military has fallen from two-thirds to about half. This has not all happened spontaneously. Across the U.S., there is a growing campaign against military recruitment that is bringing parents, teachers, and peace activists to protect students from military recruiters.

Retention Also a Problem

It is not just recruitment. The military has been having problems keeping its soldiers. Almost 30 percent of new recruits leave within six months. Some of this is at least due to the vast gap between the day-to-day experiences of young people before they join up and the life of a recruit during training. Stories talk of recruits who "can't eat, they literally vomit every time they put a spoon in their mouths, they're having nightmares." Bonuses are being offered to encourage soldiers to re-enlist once their service is over. It is reported that re-enlistment bonuses can be as high as $150,000, depending on the specialty and length of re-enlistment.

Some reports suggest the Army has started to lower its standards for soldier performance, and so reduce losses. The Wall Street Journal has reported a military memo directing commanders not to dismiss soldiers for poor fitness, unsatisfactory performance, or even for pregnancy, alcoholism, and drug abuse.

There are problems with desertion. The Pentagon has admitted that more than 5,500 soldiers have deserted since the start of the Iraq war. In comparison, 1,509 deserted in 1995. The cases that have become public have said that they did so because they are opposed to the war. A telephone hotline to help soldiers who want to leave the military has reported that the number of calls it is receiving is now double of what it was in 2001 – the hotline answered 33,000 calls last year.

A New Army of Mercenaries?

Max Boot, a prominent military commentator, named among "the 500 most influential people in the United States in the field of foreign policy," has offered his solution for the problem of finding people to fight America's wars. In a recent article, Boot proposed that the path to a bigger American Army lay in offering a new deal, "Defend America, Become American." Boot has proposed that the U.S. should look beyond just U.S. citizens and permanent, legal residents for soldiers to fight in its military.

He has proposed a "Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act," a DREAM Act, as he puts it, that would offer legal status to the children of illegal immigrants residing in the U.S. and eligibility for citizenship if they can meet a number of conditions, including graduating from high school, and if they go to college or choose to serve in the military. A bill to this effect was introduced in the U.S. Senate but has not been voted on yet.

Even this may not be enough, though. Like many others who argue that America should embrace fully and enthusiastically its imperialism, Boot believes there is a need to dramatically increase the size of the U.S. military, and military spending will have to rise to pay for an Army able to put and keep troops on the ground in faraway countries. He has proposed that the U.S. should "offer citizenship to anyone, anywhere on the planet, willing to serve a set term in the U.S. military."

Boot asks, "Would foreigners sign up to fight for Uncle Sam? I don't see why not, because so many people are desperate to move here. Serving a few years in the military would seem a small price to pay and it would establish beyond a doubt that they are the kind of motivated, hardworking immigrants we want." The nightmare of war is offered as the prelude to the "American dream."

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Woman says Army backed out of repaying son's loan
The Patriot News, July 29, 2005

Tony Allwein owed $19,000, so it sounded like a good deal when a recruiter told him the Army would pay off his student loans if he would enlist. Allwein, who is stationed in Germany after spending nearly a year in Iraq, has yet to see the money, and it's unlikely he will. The problem is that he had loans with private lenders, and the Army only pays off government-backed loans...

...The recruiter who the family said gave Allwein the bad advice retired three weeks ago and is being INVESTIGATED BY THE ARMY, according to Army officials. Spc. 1st Class Allwein's family says they're left with the debt and anger. The 24-year-old's mother, Kathy Allwein of Lebanon, has joined MILITARY FAMILIES SPEAK OUT, a group that opposes the Iraq War and has complained about improper recruiting practices...

...According to a letter from the Army to U.S. Rep. Tim Holden, who is trying to help the family, there is little chance the Army will reverse its decision. Even if the recruiter is found at fault, "the outcome of the investigation may not have any effect on the decision," the letter said...

... Tony Allwein, who will be returning stateside in August, put his life on the line as the rear gunner on a convoy in Iraq, his mother said. "My son, after serving his country honorably, GETS SMACKED IN THE FACE," she said.

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Over 8,000 US Dead in Iraq?
Dandelion Books – August 3, 2005

Actual death toll of US Military in Iraq is in excess of 8,000, “far more realistic than the government’s current official number of 1,800-plus,” according to ‘Deep Throat’ data researcher Brian Harring.

Dandelion Books has just signed a contract with TBR News to publish Prelude to Disaster: The Harring Report – Complete Official DoD Iraq & Afghanistan US Military Casualty List, by TBR News ( It will be available in September at , and other participating websites.

According to Brian Harring, a computer data specialist who obtained this report for, a popular Internet news website, of the 158,000 US Military shipped to Iraq, 34,000 have either deserted, were killed or seriously wounded. DoD lists currently being quietly circulated indicate almost 9,000 dead, over 23,000 seriously wounded and a large number of suicides, forced hospitalization for ongoing drug usage and sales, murder of Iraqi civilians and fellow soldiers, rapes and courts martial.

Prelude to Disaster also includes Russian daily military intelligence reports of the Iraqi War from March 17 – April 8, 2003. “These reports are certainly far more informative and accurate than the heavily edited and controlled material now appearing in the various branches of the American media,” states TBR News. “We’ve also included Russian intelligence analysis of ‘two enormous mistakes made by the U.S. command during the planning stages of this war that resulted in obvious strategic failure.’”

“President Bush personally ordered that no pictures be taken of the coffined and flag-draped dead under any circumstances,” says Harring. “He claims this is to comfort the bereaved relatives, but is designed to keep the huge number of arriving bodies secret.

“Bush has never attended any kind of a memorial service for his dead soldiers,” states Harring. “He never will because he is terrified some parent might curse him in front of the press, or, worse, attack him.”

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NEW! 9/11: The Ultimate Truth is Available for Pre-Order!

On the fourth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, Laura Knight-Jadczyk announces the availability of her latest book:

In the years since the 9/11 attacks, dozens of books have sought to explore the truth behind the official version of events that day - yet to date, none of these publications has provided a satisfactory answer as to WHY the attacks occurred and who was ultimately responsible for carrying them out.

Taking a broad, millennia-long perspective, Laura Knight-Jadczyk's 9/11: The Ultimate Truth uncovers the true nature of the ruling elite on our planet and presents new and ground-breaking insights into just how the 9/11 attacks played out.

9/11: The Ultimate Truth makes a strong case for the idea that September 11, 2001 marked the moment when our planet entered the final phase of a diabolical plan that has been many, many years in the making. It is a plan developed and nurtured by successive generations of ruthless individuals who relentlessly exploit the negative aspects of basic human nature to entrap humanity as a whole in endless wars and suffering in order to keep us confused and distracted to the reality of the man behind the curtain.

Drawing on historical and genealogical sources, Knight-Jadczyk eloquently links the 9/11 event to the modern-day Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She also cites the clear evidence that our planet undergoes periodic natural cataclysms, a cycle that has arguably brought humanity to the brink of destruction in the present day.

For its no nonsense style in cutting to the core of the issue and its sheer audacity in refusing to be swayed or distracted by the morass of disinformation that has been employed by the Powers that Be to cover their tracks, 9/11: The Ultimate Truth can rightly claim to be THE definitive book on 9/11 - and what that fateful day's true implications are for the future of mankind.

Published by Red Pill Press

Scheduled for release on October 1, 2005, readers can pre-order the book today at our bookstore.

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