Sunday, September 18, 2005

Middle East Again

This Middle East and globally-concerned posting returns to the normal content of this blog -- Katrina #19 was posted right before this one, so there's new Katrina content right below this one. Blogspot apologizes for the lack of spacing and paragraphs on this posting. It's too late at night for me to reinsert such basic necessities...The Katrina blog to follow is cleaner...


1) This is about as "in your face" a speech as onecould imagine -- and most of his points are right onthe mark. Clearly, "the natives are restless":

People with blood-soaked hands.The following is the text of a controversial speech byMahathir Mohamad at Suhakam’s Human Rights Conferenceon 09/09/05, which led to the walkout of a number ofdiplomats and made news all over the world.By Mahathir Mohamad09/16/05 "ICH" -- -- I would like to thank Suhakam forthis honour to address you on a subject that you havemore knowledge and experience than I do. You are concerned with human rights or hak asasimanusia. And it is only right that as a civilisedsociety and nation we should all be concerned withhuman rights in our country and in fact in the world.But human rights should be upheld because they cancontribute to a better quality of life. To kill100,000 people because you suspect that the humanrights of a few have been denied seem to be acontradiction. Yet the fanaticism of the champions ofhuman rights have led to more people being deprived oftheir rights and many their lives than the numbersaved. It seems to me that we have lost our sense ofproportion.With civilisational advances it is only right that thehuman community try to distinguish itself more andmore from those of the other creatures created by Godwhich are unable to think, to reason and to overcomethe influence of base desires and feelings. Submissionto the strong and the powerful was right in the animalworld and in primitive human societies. But the moreadvance the society the greater should be the capacityto think, to recognise and evaluate between right andwrong and to choose between these based on higherreasoning power and not just base feelings anddesires. The world today is, in the sense of the ability tomake right choices, still very primitive. For examplethose who claim to be the most civilised still believethat the misfortune which befall them as a result ofthe actions by their enemies are wrong but themisfortune that they inflict on their enemies areright. This is seen from the concern and anger overthe death of 1,700 US soldiers in Iraq but the deathof a hundred times more of Iraqis as a result of themilitary invasion and occupation of Iraq and the civilwar precipitated by the imposition of democraticelections are not even mentioned.There is no tally of Iraqi deaths but every singledeath of a US soldier is reported to the world. Theseare soldiers who must expect to be killed. But theIraqis who die because of US action or the civil warin Iraq that the US has precipitated are innocentcivilians who under the dictatorship of Saddam Husseinwould be alive.You and I read reports of the death of Iraqis withequanimity as if it is right and just. You and I donot react with anger and horror over this injustice,this abuse of the rights of the Iraqis to live, to befree from terror including state initiated terror.Prior to the invasion of Iraq on false pretences,500,000 infants died because sanctions deprived themof medicine and food/ Asked by the press, MadeleneAlbright, then US secretary of state, whether shethought the price was not too high for stopping SaddamHussein’s dictatorship, she said it was difficult butthe price (death of 500,000 children) was worth it.At the time this was happening where were the peoplewho are concerned with human rights? Did they exposethe abuses of Britain and America? Did they protestagainst their own governments? No. It is because they,the enemy, are killed. That is acceptable. But theirown people must not be killed. To kill them is tocommit acts of terror.Yet what is an act of terror. Isn’t it any act thatterrifies people? Are not the people terrified at theidea of being bombed and killed? Those who are to bekilled by exploding bombs know they would have theirbodies torn from their heads and limbs. Some will dieinstantly no doubt. But many would not. They wouldfeel their limbs being torn from their bodies, theirguts spilled on the ground through their tornedabdomen. They would wait in terrible pain for helpthat may not come. And they would again experience theterror, expecting the next bomb or rocket. And thosewho survive would know the terror of what would, whatcould happen to them personally when the bombers comeagain, tomorrow, the day after, the week or monthafter.They would know that they could be next to have theirheads torn off from their bodies, their limbs too.They would know that they would die violently or theywould survive in horrible pain, minus arms, minuslegs, maimed forever. And yet the bombings would goon. In Iraq for 10 years between the Gulf War and theIraq invasion, the people lived in terrible fear. Theywere terrorised. Have they any rights? Did the peopleof the world care?The British and American bomber pilots came,unopposed, safe and cosy in their state-of-the-artaircrafts, pressing buttons to drop bombs, to kill andmaim real people who were their targets, just targets.And these murderers, for that is what they are, wouldgo back to celebrate ‘Mission accomplished’.Who are the terrorists? The people below who werebombed or the bombers? Whose rights have been snatchedaway?I relate this because there are not just doublestandards where human rights are concerned, there aremultiple standards. Rightly we should be concernedwhether prisoners and detained foreign workers in thiscountry are treated well or not. We should beconcerned whether everyone can exercise his right tovote or not, whether the food given to detainees arewholesome or not, indeed whether detention withouttrial is a violation of human rights or not.But the people whose hands are soaked in the blood ofthe innocents, the blood of the Iraqis, the Afghans,the Panamanians, the Nicaraguans, the Chileans, theEcuadorians; the people who assassinated thepresidents of Panama, Chile, Ecuador; the people whoignored international law and mounted militaryattacks, invading and killing hundreds of Panamanianin order to arrest Noriega and to try him not underPanamanian laws but under their own country’s law,have these people a right to question human rights inour country, to make a list and grade the human rightsrecord of the countries of the world yearly, thesepeople with blood-soaked hands.They have not questioned the blatant abuses of humanrights in countries that are friendly to them. In factthey provide the means for these countries to indulgein human rights abuses.Israel is provided with weapons, helicopter gunships,bullets coated with depleted uranium to wage waragainst people whose only way to retaliate is bycommitting suicide bombing. The Israeli soldiers werewell-protected with body armour, operated fromarmoured tanks and armoured bulldozers, to rocket andbomb the Palestinian and demolish their houses whilethe occupants were still inside.Israel has nuclear weapons but it was provided withbombers to bomb so-called nuclear research facilitiesin other countries. And as with American and Britishactions, the Israeli bombs and rockets tore up theliving Palestinians, Iraqis and soon Syrians andIranians, without the slightest consideration that thepeople they killed have rights, have human rights totheir lives, to security and peace.Then there are other friends of these terroristnations who abuse the rights of their own people, denythem even the simplest democratic rights, jailing andexecuting their people without fair trial but are notcriticised or condemned.But when countries are not friendly with these greatpowers, their governments claim they have a right toexpend money to subvert the government, to support theNGOs to overthrow the government, to ensure onlycandidates willing to submit to them win. Already weare seeing elections in which candidates wanting tostay independent being rejected while only those readyto submit to these powers being allowed to contest andto win.There was a time when nations pledged not to interferein the internal affairs of other countries. As aresult many authoritarian regimes emerged whichcommitted terrible atrocities. Cambodia and Pol Pot isa case in mind. Because of the principle ofnon-interference in the internal affairs of countries,two million Cambodians died horrible deaths.There is a case for interference. But who determineswhen there is a case? Is this right to be given to aparticular superpower? If so, can we be assured thesuperpower would act in the best interest of thecountry concerned, in order to uphold human rights.Saddam Hussein was tried by the media and found guiltyof oppressing his people. But that was not the excusefor invading Iraq. The excuse was that Iraq threatenedthe world with weapons of mass destruction (WMD).Specifically Britain was supposed to be threatenedwith WMD capable of hitting it within 45 minutes ofthe order being given by Saddam.As we all know it was a lie. Every agency tasked withverifying the accusation that Saddam had weapons ofmass destruction could not prove it. Even theintelligence agencies of the US and Britain said thatthere was no weapon of mass destruction that Saddamcould threaten the US or Britain or the world with.And today, after months of thorough search withoutSaddam and his people getting in the way, no WMD hasbeen found.Yet the US and UK took it upon themselves to invadeIraq in order to remove an allegedly authoritariangovernment. The result of the invasion is that manymore people have been killed and injured than Saddamwas ever accused of. Worse still, the powers which aresupposed to save the Iraqi people have brokeninternational laws on human rights, by detainingIraqis and others and torturing them at Guantanamo,Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.So can we accept that these big powers alone have aright to determine when to interfere in the internalaffairs of other countries to protect human rights?Malaysia is concerned about human rights within itsborders. It does not need the interference of foreignpowers before it sets up Suhakam, a body dedicated tooverseeing and ensuring that there are no abuses ofhuman rights within its borders.People in Malaysia seem to be quite happy. They canwork and do business and make as much money as theylike. There is no restriction on the freedom to moveabout, to go abroad even.They have political parties that they are free tojoin, whether these are pro-government oranti-government. They can read newspapers, whichsupport or oppose the government. While the localelectronic media is supportive of the government, noone is prevented from watching or listening to foreignbroadcasts which are mostly critical of thegovernment.Foreign newspapers and magazines are freely available.In fact many foreign papers, like the InternationalHerald Tribune and Asian Wall Street Journal areprinted in Malaysia and are freely available toMalaysians. Then there is the Internet which no oneseems able to stop even if libelous lies are screened.Periodically, without fail there would be elections inMalaysia. Anyone and everyone can participate in theseelections. The campaigns by both sides are vigorousand hard-hitting. And the results show quite clearlythat despite accusations against the government ofundemocratic practices, many opposition candidateswould win. In fact several states were lost to theopposition parties. Not one of the winning oppositioncandidates has been charged in court and found guiltyof some minor breaches of the election procedure andprevented from taking his seat in Parliament ashappens in a certain country.But all these notwithstanding, Malaysia is accused ofhaving a totalitarian government during the 22 yearsof my premiership. That I had released detainees onassumption of office as prime minister and I had usedthe ISA sparingly does not mitigate against theaccusation that I was a dictator, an abuser of humanrights.And not using the ISA, not detaining a person withouttrial would not help either. And so when a former DPMwas charged in court, defended by nine lawyers andfound guilty through due process, all that was saidwas that there was a conspiracy, the court wasinfluenced and manipulated and the trial was a sham.So you are damned if you use the ISA, and you aredamned if you don’t use the ISA.In the eyes of these self-appointed judges of humanbehaviour worldwide, you can never be right no matterwhat you do, if they do not like you. If they likeyou, a court decision in your favour, even onlaughable grounds, would be right.Those are the people who now seem to appropriate tothemselves the right to lay down the ground rules forhuman rights and who have appointed themselves as theoverseers of human rights credentials of the world.And now these same people have come up with what theycall globalisation. In the first place who has theright to propose and interpret globalisation? It iscertain that globalisation was not conceived by thepoor countries. It was conceived, interpreted andinitiated by the rich.The globalised world is to be without borders. But ifcountries have no borders surely the first thing thatshould happen is that people would be able to movefrom one country to another without any conditions,without papers and passports. The poor people in thepoor countries should be able to migrate to the richcountries where there are jobs and opportunities.But it has been made clear that globalisation,borderlessness are not for people but for capital, forcurrency traders, for corporations, for banks, forNGOs concerned over so-called human rights abuses,over lack of democracy, etc. The flow is, as you cansee, only in one direction. The border crossing willbe done by the rich so as to be able to benefit theirbusiness, banks, currency traders, their NGOs, forhuman rights and for democracy.There will be no flows in the opposite direction, fromthe poor countries to the rich, the flow of poorpeople in search of jobs, the NGOs concerned withhuman rights abuses in the rich and powerful countrieswhere the media self-censors to promote certainparties, where dubious voting results are validated bytame courts. There will be no flow of coloured peopleto white countries. If they succeed they would beapprehended and sent to isolated islands in the middleof the ocean or if they manage to land, they would beaccommodated behind razor-wire fence. It is all verydemocratic and caring for the rights of man.If we care to look back, we will recogniseglobalisation for what it is. It is really not a newidea at all. Globalisation of trade took place whenthe ethnic Europeans found the sea passages to theWest and to the East. They wanted trade, but they camein armed merchantmen with guns and invaded, conqueredand colonised their trading partners.If the indigenous people were weak, they would just beliquidated, shot on sight, their land taken and newethnic European countries set up. Otherwise they wouldbe made a part of empires where the sun never sets,their resources exploited and their people treatedwith disdain.The map of the world today shows the effect ofglobalisation, as interpreted by the ethnic Europeansin history. There was no US, Canada, Australia, LatinAmerica, New Zealand until the Europeans discoveredthe sea passages and started global trade.Before the Europeans, there were Arab, Indian, Chineseand Turkic traders. There was no conquest orcolonisation when these people sailed the seas totrade. Only when the Europeans carried out world tradewere countries invaded, human rights abused, genocidecommitted, empires built and new ethnic Europeannations created on land belonging to others.These are historical facts. Would today’sglobalisation not result in weak countries beingcolonised again, new empires created, and the worldtotally hegemonised. Would today’s globalisation notresult in human rights abuses?In today’s world 20 percent of the people own 80percent of the wealth. Almost two billion people liveon one US dollar a day. They don’t have enough food orclothing or a proper roof over their heads. In winter,many of these people would freeze to death. The peopleof the powerful countries are concerned about ourabuses of human rights.But shouldn’t we be concerned over the unevendistribution of wealth which deprived two billionpeople of their rights to a decent living, deprived bythe avarice of those people who seem so concernedabout us and the unintended occasional lapses that hasresulted in abuse of human rights in our country.We should condemn human rights abuses in our countrybut we must be wary of the people who want todestabilise us because we are too independent and wehave largely succeeded in giving our people a goodlife, and despite all the criticism, we are moredemocratic than most of the friends of the powerfulnations of the world.The globalisation of concern for the poor and theoppressed is sheer hypocrisy. If these people whoappears to be concerned are faced with the situationthat we in Malaysia have to face sometimes, theirreactions and responses are much worse than us. AtGuantanamo detention camp the detainees, some of whomare not even remotely connected with terrorism, aretortured and humiliated. At Abu Ghraib, the mostsenior officers actually sanctioned the inhumantreatment of the detainees.When forced by world opinion to take action againstthose responsible for these reprehensible acts, theculprits were either found not guilty or given lightsentences. They were tried by their own courts undertheir own laws. Their victims were not represented.The countries where the crimes were committed weredenied jurisdiction. Altogether the whole process wasso much eyewash. Yet these are the countries and thepeople who claim that Malaysian courts are manipulatedby the government, that abuses of rights are rampantin Malaysia. And Malaysian NGOs, media and otherslapped it up.We must fight against abuses of human rights. We mustfight for human rights. But we must not take away therights of others, the rights of the majority. We mustnot kill them, invade and destroy their countries inthe name of human rights. Just as many wrong thingsare done in the name of Islam and also otherreligions, worse things are being done in the name ofdemocracy and human rights. We must have a properperspective of things. Two wrongs do not make oneright. Remember the community have rights too, notjust the individual or the minority.We have gained political independence but for many theminds are still colonised.Dr Mahathir Mohamad is a former prime minister ofMalaysia------------------------------------------------------

2) Neo-Conservatives' Analysis:America Has Fallen to a Jacobin CoupBy Paul Craig Roberts09/16/05 "ICH" -- -- The most important casualties ofSeptember 11 are respect for truth and Americanliberty. Propaganda has replaced deliberation based onobjective assessment of fact. The resurrection of theStar Chamber has made moot the legal protections ofliberty.The US invasion of Iraq was based on the deliberatesuppression of fact. The invasion was not the resultof mistaken intelligence. It was based on deliberatelyconcocted "intelligence" designed to deceive the USCongress, the American public, and the United Nations.In an interview with Barbara Walters on ABC News,General Colin Powell, who was Secretary of State atthe time of the invasion, expressed dismay that he wasthe one who took the false information to the UN andpresented it to the world. The weapons of massdestruction speech, he said, is a "blot" on hisrecord. The full extent of the deception was madeclear by the leaked top secret "Downing Street Memos."Two and one-half years after the March 2003 invasion,the US Congress and the American people still do notknow the reason Iraq was invaded. The US is boggeddown in an expensive and deadly combat, and no oneoutside the small circle of neoconservatives whoorchestrated the war knows the reason why. Manyguesses are rendered – oil, removal of Israel’s enemy– but the Bush administration has never disclosed itsreal agenda, which it cloaked with the WMD deception.This itself is powerful indication that Americandemocracy is dead. With the exception of rightwingtalk radio, everyone in America now knows that theinvasion of Iraq was based on false information. Yet,40 percent of the public and both political parties inCongress still support the ongoing war. The CIA has issued a report that the war is workingonly for Osama bin Laden. The unprovoked Americanaggression against Iraq, the horrors perpetratedagainst Muslims in Abu Ghraib prison, and theslaughter and mistreatment of Iraqi noncombatants,have radicalized the Muslim world and elevated binLaden from a fringe figure to a leader opposed toAmerican hegemony in the Middle East. The chaoscreated in Iraq by the US military has provided alQaeda with superb training grounds for insurgency andterrorism. Despite overwhelming evidence that the "waron terror" is in fact a war for terror, Republicansstill cheer when Bush says we have to "fight them overthere" so they don’t come "over here."If fact played any role in the decision to continuewith this war, the US would not be spending hundredsof billions of borrowed dollars to provide recruitsand training for al Qaeda, to radicalize Muslims, andto destroy trust in the United States both abroad andamong its own citizens. American casualties (dead and wounded) of thisgratuitous war are now approximately 20,000. In July,Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said the war might continuefor 12 years. US casualties from such protractedcombat would eat away US troop strength. Consideringthe well-publicized recruitment problems, Americawould require a draft or foreign mercenaries in orderto continue a ground war. Like the over-extended RomanEmpire, the US would have to deplete its remainingwealth to pay mercenaries.Dead and wounded Americans are too high a price to payfor a war based on deception. This alone is reason toend the war, if necessary by impeaching Bush andCheney and arresting the neoconservatives for treason.Naked aggression is a war crime under the Nurembergstandard, and neoconservatives have brought this shameto America.There is an even greater cost of the war – the legalsystem that protects liberty, a human achievement forwhich countless numbers of people gave their livesover the centuries. The Bush administration usedSeptember 11 to whip up fear and hysteria and toemploy these weapons against American liberty. TheOrwellian-named Patriot Act has destroyed habeascorpus. The executive branch has gained theunaccountable power to detain American citizens onmere suspicion or accusation, without evidence, and tohold Americans indefinitely without a trial. Foolishly, many Americans believe this power can onlybe used against terrorists. Americans don’t realizethat the government can declare anyone to be aterrorist suspect. As no evidence is required, it isentirely up to the government to decide who is aterrorist. Thus, the power is unaccountable.Unaccountable power is the source of tyranny.The English-speaking world has not seen such powersince the 16th and 17th centuries when the Court ofStar Chamber became a political weapon used againstthe king’s opponents and to circumvent Parliament. TheStar Chamber dispensed with juries, permitted hearsayevidence, and became so reviled that "Star Chamber"became a byword for injustice. The Long Parliamentabolished the Star Chamber in 1641. In obedience tothe Bush regime, the US Congress resurrected it withthe Patriot Act. Can anything be more Orwellian thanidentifying patriotism with the abolition of habeascorpus?Historians are quick to note that the Star Chamber wasmild compared to Gitmo, to the US practice of sendingdetainees abroad to be tortured, and to the justice(sic) regime being run by Attorney General "Torture"Gonzales and his predecessor, "Draped Justice"Ashcroft, who went so far as to say that opposition tothe Patriot Act was itself the mark of a terrorist.The time-honored attorney-client privilege is anothercasualty of the "war on terror." Taking their cue fromthe restrictions placed on lawyers representingStalin’s victims in the 1930s show trials, Justice(sic) Department officials seek to limit attorneysrepresenting terrorist suspects to proceduralniceties. Lynn Stewart, attorney for Omar AbdelRahman, was handed a letter by a Justice (sic)Department prosecutor instructing her how to representher client. When she did what every good lawyer woulddo and represented her client aggressively, she wasarrested, indicted and convicted. Many conservative lawyers have turned a blind eye,because Stewart is regarded as a leftwing lawyer whomthey dislike. Only a few civil libertarians, such asHarvey Silverglate, have pointed out that prosecutorscannot create felonies by writing letters toattorneys. Stewart was convicted for violating aprosecutor’s letter (technically, a SpecialAdministrative Measure). This should make it obviouseven to the blind that American democracy has lost allcontrol over law.Federal officials have sensed the sea change inAmerican law: arbitrary actions and assertions byfederal officials are taking the place of statutorylegislation. We saw an example recently when theFederal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announcedthat news media covering the New Orleans hurricanestory were prohibited from taking pictures of thebodies of inhabitants drowned when the levees failed.Nowhere is FEMA given authority to override the FirstAmendment. Yet, FEMA officials saw no reason not toissue its decree. Rome had one caesar. America hasthem throughout the executive branch.We see the same exercise of arbitrary authority inbreak-ins by police into New Orleans homes in order toconfiscate legally owned firearms. No authority existsfor these violations of the Second Amendment. Noauthority exists for the forceful removal of residentsfrom non-damaged homes. Tyrannical precedents arebeing established by these fantastic abuses ofgovernment authority.In the US today nothing stands in the way of thearbitrary exercise of power by government. Federalcourts have acquiesced in unconstitutional detentionpolicies. There is no opposition party, and there isno media, merely huge conglomerates or collections offederal broadcasting licenses, the owners of which areafraid to displease the government.The collapse of the institutions that confinegovernment to law and bind it with the Constitutionwas sudden. The president previous to Bush wasimpeached by the House for lying about a sexualaffair. If we go back to the 1970s, President RichardNixon had the decency to resign when it came to lightthat he had lied about when he first learned of aminor burglary. Bush’s failures are far more seriousand numerous; yet, Bush has escaped accountability.Polls show that a majority of Americans have lostconfidence in the Iraq war and believe Bush did a poorjob responding to flooded New Orleans. Many Americanshope that these two massive failures have put Bushback into the box of responsible behavior from whichSeptember 11 allowed him to escape. However, there isno indication that the Bush administration sees anyconstraints placed on its behavior by these failures. The identical cronyism and corrupt government contractpractices, by which taxpayers’ money is used to rewardpolitical contributors, so evident in Iraq, is nowevident in New Orleans. Despite having been fought to a stalemate by a fewthousand insurgents in Iraq, the Bush administrationcontinues to issue thunderous threats to Syria andIran. To press its fabricated case against Iran’s allegedweapons of mass destruction program, the Bushadministration is showing every foreign diplomat itcan corral an hour-long slide show titled, "A Historyof Concealment and Deception." Wary foreigners arereminded of the presentations about Iraq’s WMD andwonder who is guilty of deception, Iran or the Bushadministration.Now that the war in Iraq has established that USground forces cannot easily prevail againstinsurgency, the Bush administration is bringing newmilitary threats to the fore. The neocon orchestrated"Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations" abandons theestablished doctrine that nuclear weapons arelast-resort options. The Bush administration is soenamored of coercion that it is birthing the doctrineof preemptive nuclear attack. US war doctrine is beingaltered to eliminate the need for a large invasionforce and to use "preventive nuclear strikes" in itsplace.Is this the face that the American people want topresent to the world? It is hard to imagine a greaterrisk to America than to put the entire world on noticethat every country risks being nuked based on meresuspicion. By making nuclear war permissible, the Bushadministration is crossing the line that dividescivilized people from barbarians. The United States isstarting to acquire the image of Nazi Germany.Knowledgeable people should have no trouble drawing uptheir own list of elements common to both the Bush andHitler regimes: the use of extraordinary lies tojustify military aggression; reliance on coercion andthreats in place of diplomacy; total belief in thevirtue and righteousness of one’s cause; the equatingof factual objections or "reality-based" analysis totreason; the redirection of patriotism from country toleader; the belief that defeat resides in debate and aweakening of will; refuge in delusion and denial whenpromised results don’t materialize.As Professor Claes Ryn made clear in his book, Americathe Virtuous, the neoconservatives are neo-Jacobins.There is nothing conservative about them. They arecommitted to the use of coercion to impose theiragenda. Their attitude is merciless toward anyone intheir way, whether fellow citizen or foreigner. "Youare with us or against us." For those on the receivingend, the Nazi and Jacobin mentalities come to the samething.The Bush administration has abandoned Americanprinciples. It is a Jacobin regime. Woe to itscitizens and the rest of the world.Dr. Roberts <paulcraigroberts@yahoo.com> is John M.Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy andResearch Fellow at the Independent Institute. He is aformer associate editor of the Wall Street Journal,former contributing editor for National Review, and aformer assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury. He isthe co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.


3) Phoenix and the Salvador Option - Non-transparentCIA 'precedents' in Iraq's torrent of bloodshed"Developed by the Central Intelligence Agency in 1967,the Phoenix Program is considered the single-greatestAmerican human-rights aberration of the Vietnam War.Its purpose was to "neutralize" the Vietconginfrastructure. (emphasis added)As Valentine underlines, due process was completelynon-existent under the Phoenix Program and suspects,real or imagined, could be murdered, blackmailed,tortured or detained at will. At one point the programimposed monthly ""neutralization" quotas that led tofurther abuses in the field. The number of victims wasnever established but is estimated at between 40,000and 60,000, of which many were innocent.While recruitment for the Phoenix Program spreadacross all the branches of the US government, not allthose approached accepted to serve. One Air Forceofficer who refused as a matter of conscience wasJacques Klein, who later rose to the rank of generaland became one of the most respected UNtroubleshooters in conflict areas. French-born, Kleinreportedly commented that he would not join Phoenixbecause the means and methods used were "similar tothose used by the Nazis in World War II".Refugees awaken ghosts of Vietnam September 14, 2005Thememoryhole.org describes the Phoenix Program inVietnam as follows: "Created by the CIA in Saigon in1967, Phoenix was a program aimed at 'neutralizing' -through assassination, kidnapping, and systematictorture - the civilian infrastructure that supportedthe Viet Cong insurgency in South Vietnam. It was aterrifying 'final solution' that violated the GenevaConventions and traditional American ideas of humanmorality." "The following article examines evidence that the'Salvador Option' for Iraq has been ongoing for sometime and attempts to say what such an option willmean.It pays particular attention to the role of theSpecial Police Commandos, considering both thebackground of their US liaisons and their deploymentin Iraq.The article also looks at the evidence for death-squadstyle massacres in Iraq and draws attention to thealmost complete absence of investigation. As such, thearticle represents an initial effort to compile andexamine some of these mass killings and is intended tospur others into further looking at the evidence.Finally, the article turns away from the notion thatsectarianism is a sufficient explanation for theviolence in Iraq, locating it structurally at thehands of the state as part of the ongoing economicsubjugation of Iraq." For Iraq, "The Salvador Option" Becomes Reality June2, 2005The above subject matter was dealt with previously onthis site: CIA terrorism in Iraq ... Who? US? June 1,2005 (see attached)Imad Khaddurihttp://abutamam.blogspot.com


4) Bill Moyers takes on US religious extremism:
http://www.tompaine.com/articles/20050909/911_and_the_sport_of_god.php

At the Central Baptist Church in Marshall, Texas,where I was baptized in the faith, we believed in afree church in a free state. I still do.My spiritual forebears did not take kindly to livingunder theocrats who embraced religious liberty forthemselves but denied it to others. “Forced worshipstinks in God’s nostrils,” thundered the dissenterRoger Williams as he was banished from Massachusettsfor denying Puritan authority over his conscience. Baptists there were a “pitiful negligible minority”but they were agitators for freedom and thereforedenounced as “incendiaries of the commonwealth” forholding to their belief in that great democracy offaith—the priesthood of all believers. For refusingto pay tribute to the state religion they were fined,flogged, and exiled. In l651 the Baptist ObadiahHolmes was given 30 stripes with a three-corded whipafter he violated the law and took forbidden communionwith another Baptist in Lynn, Mass. His friendsoffered to pay his fine for his release but herefused. They offered him strong drink to anesthetizethe pain of the flogging. Again he refused. It is thelove of liberty, he said, “that must free thesoul.”...


5) Former Iraqi President's Chief Translator emergesas a negotiator:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5268938,00.html

Saddam's Translator Emerges From Obscurity Saturday September 10, 2005 4:16 PMBy SLOBODAN LEKIC Associated Press Writer BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - A familiar face is a rarity inIraq's newly installed political leadership, but atleast one participant in the recent constitutionaldebates was recognizable to television viewersthroughout the country. Sadoun al-Zubaydi, once Saddam Hussein's officialtranslator and a fixture on TV screens during thestrongman's frequent meetings with foreigndignitaries, has emerged from self-imposed obscurityfollowing the dictator's fall, disproving rumors hehad been executed, fled the country or had joined theU.S. occupation authority. Nearly two and a half years after the U.S.-ledinvasion, the articulate and urbane diplomat -considered one of Iraq's leading foreign policyanalysts - now advises Sunni negotiators in talks overIraq's new constitution. Although his current work as a Sunni legislator bringshim into contact with U.S. diplomats in Baghdad, heremains implacably opposed to the Bushadministration's policy in Iraq and the Middle East. ``We're under occupation of a great power that caresnot a bit about Iraq but only about its owninterests,'' he said. ``Nobody in Iraq believes theideological hubris that America is trying to do goodhere.'' He says he has no concrete plans for the future, buthopes to remain in diplomacy or at the university. ``I'm a government animal, I can't work for theprivate sector,'' said the 57-year-old al-Zubaydi. Al-Zubaydi has returned to the limelight as an adviserto the Sunni Arab delegation at the constitutionaltalks, which ended recently when the charter wasadopted by the majority bloc composed of Kurds andShiite Arabs. Although the secular al-Zubaydi refuses to describehimself as either a Sunni or a Shiite, he shares Sunniopposition to Kurdish and Shiite demands that Iraq -traditionally a highly centralized secular state - betransformed into a loose, heavily religiousfederation. ``Federalism would mean fragmentation and the eventualdisintegration of Iraq,'' al-Zubaydi said. ``We wouldend up in civil war like former Yugoslavia.'' Al-Zubaydi, who says he was a low-ranking member ofSaddam's Baath Party, also opposes the purge ofBaathists first initiated by the U.S. occupation andnow backed by the Shiites and Kurds who suffered mostunder Saddam's regime. The United States introduced the policy of``de-Baathification'' soon after the 2003 invasion andit has continued under the current government. Underthe policy, anyone who held a senior position inSaddam's party is barred from government employment.Rank-and-file members are excluded. Al-Zubaydi maintains that the Baath was originally asecular Socialist party deformed by Saddam's rule. Still, al-Zubaydi refrains from direct criticism ofSaddam, saying only that he was ``shrewd andwell-framed intellectually,'' but that he succumbed tothe influence ``of a number of factors, mainly hisfamily and the cronies who surrounded him.'' ``When I met him again in early 2002, he was a changedman - much less focused,'' al-Zubaydi said. ``That's all I will say. One day you'll be able toread all this in detail in my book - if I actuallywrite it.'' He says he is especially skeptical of U.S. intentionsnow in Iraq because he was present at some of the mostcrucial talks between Saddam and U.S. envoys duringthe Iran-Iraq War, in the run-up to the attack onKuwait in 1990, the 1991 Gulf War and again in the 18months preceding the 2003 invasion. ``The meetings were very revealing about U.S.policy,'' is his cryptic comment about what helearned. Al-Zubaydi was present during the pivotal meetingbetween Saddam and U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie onJuly 25, 1990, just prior to Iraq's invasion ofKuwait. Al-Zubaydi maintains that throughout the discussionSaddam never actually told Glaspie of his intention toinvade Kuwait. And when Egyptian President HosniMubarak happened to call from Cairo during thediscussion to talk about the crisis, Saddam moved theAmerican ambassador from the conference room into asecretary's office so she would not overhear himtelling Mubarak about his plans. That meeting later became the source of a heatedcontroversy over whether Glaspie intentionally impliedthat the United States would not intervene if thedictator moved to take over his tiny, oil-richneighbor. The Iraqi transcript of that meeting saidGlaspie told Saddam Washington would not take sides in``Arab-Arab disputes like your border disagreementwith Kuwait.'' But according to al-Zubaydi, Glaspie was in the darkabout the invasion plans when she made that comment. Aweek later, an estimated 100,000 Iraqi troops and 300tanks crossed the Kuwaiti border. Al-Zubaydi - a British-educated English literatureprofessor at the University of Baghdad - served asIraq's ambassador to Indonesia from 1995 to 2001. During his tenure in Indonesia, Zubaydi was involvedin two diplomatic run-ins with then-Secretary of StateMadeleine Albright and Paul Wolfowitz - who laterbecame a chief architect of the invasion of Iraq. The episodes - during which al-Zubaydi challenged theU.S.-backed sanctions regime against Iraq thataccording to U.N. reports resulted in the deaths ofthousands of children - earned him the nickname``Voice of the Arabs'' in Jakarta. The Cairo-basedVoice of the Arabs, or Saut el-Arab, was a wildlypopular radio station that trumpeted Arab unity andopposition to foreign rule during the 1950s and 60s. Al-Zubaydi said he was astonished to receive a call inmid-2003 from Indonesia's then-president MegawatiSukarnoputri who told him she heard he had beenexecuted. ``I told her no, I've just been staying home andwaiting for things to settle a little after theinvasion.''


6) Move-On Announcement for anti-war march in DC nextSaturday:A solid majority of Americans now believe we shouldbegin to bring troops home from Iraq. And, despitecontinued calls across party lines for an exit planfrom Iraq, President Bush continues to insist on"staying the course." The war has drained the federalbudget—forcing us to face Hurricane Katrina with a$352 billion budget deficit1, a degraded and de-fundedFederal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)2 and athird of the National Guard in affected areas deployedoverseas.3 To date, nearly 1,900 American andcountless Iraqi lives have been lost, with thousandsmore maimed and injured.4Next weekend on Saturday, September 24, there is amassive "End the War on Iraq" peace march and rally inWashington, DC organized by United for Peace andJustice (UFPJ). The weekend of activities will make itunmistakably clear to President Bush and Congress thatthe American people want an exit plan with a timelineto end the war in Iraq. Join United for Peace andJustice next weekend.Saturday, September 24, 2005 :: Washington, DC10:00 AM All-Day Peace & Justice Festival Begins,Washington Monument Grounds on the National Mall onWashington, D.C.11:30 AM Rally at Ellipse across the street from theWhite House in Washington, D.C.12:30 PM March steps off from the EllipseLearn more about the March and rally here:http://www.unitedforpeace.org/article.php?i%64=3091 .If you're coming from a far distance there are busesfrom some cities.3:00 PM Closing Rally and beginning of the "OperationCeasefire" Concert—a ten-hour, free concert at theWashington Monument on the National Mall inWashington, D.C. featuring Joan Baez, Steve Earle,Thievery Corporation, LeTigre and other performers andwith special guest Cindy Sheehan. Learn more about theconcert at the link below.http://www.opceasefire.org/MoveOn.org Political Action is not part of thecoalition organizing the peace march. And among thegroups organizing the rally are some with whom we havedisagreements on a range of issues. But this is amoment when thousands of concerned and reasonableAmericans from all walks of life will come together toprotest the war in Iraq, and we know that many MoveOnmembers will want to be there. We believe the Saturdaymarch and rally will be peaceful and effective. Pleaseconsider attending.Also that weekend—September 24 and 25—the GreenFestival comes to the Washington, D.C. ConventionCenter. The festival is focused on the 'how-to' ofsustainability: how to make sure the money in yourchecking account is not supporting war or oppressiveregimes here and around the world, how to make yourhome more green, how to green your career, how to stopclimate change with simple decisions you make everyday and how to be a great parent in challenging times.Learn more about the Green Festival at the link below.http://www.moveon.org/r?r=913Thanks for all you do.–Tom, Eli, Joan, Rosalyn and the MoveOn.org PoliticalAction Team Friday, September 16th, 2005Sources1. "A Congressional Budget Office Analysis,"Congressional Budget Office, September 7, 2005http://www.moveon.org/r?r=9142. "FEMA's subordinate status may have caused sluggishresponse" Eat Valley Tribune, September 6, 2005http://www.moveon.org/r?r=8823. "Troops Head Home To Another Crisis," TheWashington Post , September 1st. 2005http://www.moveon.org/r?r=8864. Iraq Coalition Casualty Counthttp://icasualties.org/oif/


7) Iraq war commitment quote:From the 9/14 NY Daily News...FIGHTING WORDS: That was funnyman Damon Wayans inOrlando the other day going nuclear on President Bush- and twins Jenna and Barbara - over the war in Iraqand the possible reinstatement of a military draft."I'll send my sons if he sends his daughters," Wayanstold the crowd, including Daily News contributor JawnMurray, at Tom Joyner's Family Reunion in Disneyworld."Put those two drunk b-s on a plane and let them gofight. At least I know my sons would be getting someon the way." By way of White House reaction, FirstLady Laura Bush's press secretary, Susan Whitson,gasped yesterday and told me: "I wouldn't dignify thatwith a response."


8) Galloway - Hitchens Debate in NYC last week:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,11069-1781608,00.html

Galloway and Hitchens get down and very dirty Tworival titans of the raging row over Iraq engaged in anintellectual prize fight in New York last night thatquickly degenerated into knock-down, drag-out bar-roombrawl


9) Good thing they're going after the bad guyseffectively:Arrest of US peace activist sparks row in Australia The arrest and planned deportation of a peace activistfrom the United States sparked a political row inAustralia, with an opposition leader accusing thegovernment of pandering to Washington.Greens Party leader Bob Brown said he had seriousconcerns about the reasons for the arrest of ScottParkin given his history of activism against USmilitary contractor Halliburton, which has close tiesto US Vice President Dick Cheney."I think the big question here is whether it's apolitical arrest and deportation," Brown said. "Itseems to have nothing to do with terrorism."The (Prime Minister John) Howard government will dowhatever Washington asks of it and I am very concernedthe request for his arrest came in the wake ofinformation from Washington ... because he's anabsolute thorn in the side of Dick Cheney, Halliburtonand profit-making deals that apply in Iraq."Parkin, who has reportedly been arrested in the US inthe past and took part in a recent protest in Sydneyagainst Halliburton, was detained Saturday as he satat a cafe in Melbourne where he was teaching at peaceactivism workshops.Howard is a close ally of US President George W. Bushand Australia contributed troops to the US-ledinvasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq.Brown said he doubted the order for Parkin's arresthad come from Australia's security services, giventhat he was cleared for a visa months ago.Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said ImmigrationMinister Amanda Vanstone had made the decision todetain the American after a security check.Parkin has been in Australia since June, and prominenthuman rights lawyer Julian Burnside said he wanted toknow why it took so long for authorities to act if hewas a security threat."They've got the right but the question is whetherthat right has been exercised in a way that providessufficient protection for ordinary citizens ofAustralia," he said.Parkin's arrest came days after Howard announced plansfor tough new legislation aimed at curbing terrorism,including detention without charge for up to twoweeks and the electronic tagging of suspects for up toa year.



10) Sharon at the UN:“A Defiant Sharon at the United Nations”Information Brief No. 122 (16 September 2005)By Samar Assad*Overview: On 15 September 2005, Israeli Prime MinisterAriel Sharon disregarded the opinions of the 60year-old United Nations (UN) and other internationalpeacekeeping bodies when he stated, moments into hisspeech before the fully-convened UN General Assembly,that Jerusalem will remain the "undivided and eternalcapital of the State of Israel." During his speech, healso stated, wrongly, that Israel ended its control ofand responsibility for the Gaza Strip with the "lastIsraeli soldiers leaving Gaza last week." Sharonfurther disregarded numerous UN resolutions when heannounced that Israel will complete the constructionof the separation wall it is building in the OccupiedPalestinian Territory ("the Wall").The UN Position on JerusalemThe United Nations recognizes East Jerusalem asoccupied territory in accordance with the provisionsof the Fourth Geneva Convention. It therefore rejectsIsraeli claims of full sovereignty over EastJerusalem. Moreover, customary international law, asreflected in the UN Charter (Art. 2, Para. 4), rejectsthe admissibility of acquisition of territory byforce, making Israel's annexation and authority overEast Jerusalem illegal under international law.In 1967, in response to Israel's occupation of theWest Bank and East Jerusalem, the UN Security Councilcalled for the "withdrawal of Israeli armed forcesfrom territories occupied in the recent conflict"through its adoption of Resolution 242. The followingyear, the Security Council stated its opposition toIsrael's expansion of Jerusalem's borders when itadopted Resolution 252, which "considers thatall…actions taken by Israel…which tend to change thelegal status of Jerusalem are invalid and cannotchange that status." Thirteen years later, the Security Council againstated that "all…actions taken by Israel, theoccupying Power, which purport to alter the characterand status of…Jerusalem have no legal validity andconstitute a flagrant violation of the GenevaConvention relative to the Protection of CivilianPersons in Time of War and also constitute a seriousobstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just andlasting peace in the Middle East" (UNSCR 476).Gaza Still Occupied TerritoryOnly hours after Sharon delivered his address at theUnited Nations, the Israeli Defense Ministry announcedplans to establish a new "security zone" 150 meterswide in the south of the Gaza Strip. Even asPalestinians are rejoicing that Israeli soldiers nolonger control Gaza's roads and traffic intersectionsthrough the checkpoints once bisecting the improvisedand densely populated Strip, they must now prepare fora new "security zone" that violates Palestiniansovereignty in the region.Regardless of this new development, the departure ofIsraeli soldiers from within Gaza did not end Israel'scontrol over the territory, contrary to Sharon'sstatement. Israel continues to control the borders andpeople of the Gaza Strip militarily and politically.In particular, the Israeli army controls the northernErez crossing between Gaza and Israel even as it doesthe southern Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt. Italso patrols the sea waters and airspace around Gaza.Israel has not started talks with the PalestinianAuthority over the reopening of either, despite theirsingular importance to Palestinians' economicdevelopment and freedom of movement. Israel also maintains its control over the fate of theErez Industrial Estate as well as the "safe passage,"or territorial link that once existed between Gaza andthe southern West Bank. People and goods wanting toleave or enter Gaza still need Israel's permission,must apply for Israeli-issued permits, and must passthrough border checkpoints. As Karen Koning AbuZayd,Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agencyfor Palestine Refugees in the Near East, saidrecently, the only thing Israel did in Gaza during itsoccupation of the territory was to protect thesettlements and build checkpoints. The causes ofPalestinian poverty and statelessness thus remaindespite the removal of its soldiers and settlers frominside the Gaza Strip. The WallIn his speech, Sharon also told the General Assemblythat the Wall is "vitally indispensable," and "saveslives." The statement is the first public admissionfrom Israel that the Wall is not a temporary fixturebut rather a permanent fact on the ground. Thismirrors Israel's public statements regarding its planto retain and expand the West Bank settlements. By announcing that his government intends to completethe construction of the Wall, Sharon brazenlyreaffirmed Israel's dismissal of the advisory opinionthat the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issuedon 9 July 2004, in response to UN General AssemblyResolution Es-10/14. The ICJ ruled that, inter alia,the construction of Israel's Wall in the OccupiedPalestinian Territory contravenes international lawand that Israel is obliged to stop construction andmake reparations for all the damage it has caused. Sharon's claim that the Wall has saved lives ispremised on the belief that the only lives who matterare Israeli's. The Wall impairs access to hospitalsfor Palestinians' living in isolated areas, such asEast Jerusalem and the northern West Bank cities ofTulkarem and Qalqilya. The Ramallah-based Health, Development, Information &Policy Institute has found that 71 primary healthclinics are isolated from the rest of the West Bankbecause of their location between Israel's border andthe Wall. These clinics are under-funded andinadequately equipped to serve their constituenciesdespite the essential service they provide. They oftendo not have delivery rooms or specialized doctorsbecause of their limited financial resources. The Wallthus increases the likelihood of Palestinian deathsdue to preventable causes-whether a lack ofspecialized doctors, inaccessibility to hospitals forthe injured and sick, or a stagnant economy.* Samar Assad is Executive Director of The JerusalemFund and its educational program, The PalestineCenter. The above text does not necessarily reflectthose of the Fund. This Information Brief may be usedwithout permission but with proper attribution to ThePalestine Center.


11) ATFP Gaze Disengagement Analysis:'REAL ESTATE AND DIGNITY' DEFINE ISRAELI-PALESTINIANCONFLICTExpert Briefing by Dr. Ziad Asali Daily Star (Lebanon)September 17, 2005http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_ID=10&article_ID=18560&categ_id=2Editor's note: The following presentation by AmericanTask Force on Palestine President Dr. Ziad Asali wasmade at the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations'14th Annual Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference onMonday. Appearing with Dr. Asali on theIsrael/Palestine panel were Dr. Aaron Miller,president, Seeds of Peace; and the Honorable ElizabethDibble, deputy assistant secretary for Near EastAffairs/Arab-Israeli Affairs, U.S. State Department.In its bare essence, the Palestine/Israel conflict isabout real estate and dignity. The interconnectednessof these two issues, and the need to make progress onboth, have rendered the conflict intractable andreduced it to a zero-sum game. Historically, anyplayer could exercise veto power on compromise, byinflaming passions that no politician could control,and bring progress to a halt.The most interesting feature of the disengagement planwas that it offered enough incentives to each party toimplement policies that denied veto power to anyspoiler. The inherent imbalance of power between theparties was reflected in the unilateral conception andexecution of the disengagement by the Israelis;however, it afforded the Palestinians enough to remainengaged and reap as many benefits as possible withoutofficially compromising their goal of achieving aviable state in the land occupied since 1967.The salient features, with practical and symbolicsignificance, of the disengagement are as follows:1. The evacuation of settlers from their homes is aclear acknowledgement of the end of the dream ofGreater Israel.2. The northern West Bank withdrawal, with no pretenseof a meaningful security link, breaks the metaphysicalbond to the land and sets a precedent.3. The settler movement has engendered sympathy andexhibited hooliganism, but proved no match to themight of the government. The taboo on future Israeliwithdrawals from the West Bank has been broken.4. The Palestinian leadership has delivered on apeaceful withdrawal, something Israel itself was neverable to achieve by force.5. Intra-Palestinian conflict remains one of the mostserious potential problems and the challenge for thePalestinian leadership to manage the takeover andreconstruction is daunting.6. The international community continues to play acrucial role in providing pre- and post-withdrawalsupport. An engaged American administration madedisengagement possible, without which gains cannot besustained.7. Egypt played a pivotal role in security, economicand border agreements. While future violence in Gazacould force excruciating choices on Egypt with majorpolitical consequences inside Egypt, a prototype mayhave been set for a future Jordanian role regardingwithdrawal from the West Bank.The disengagement is an interim step, and its lastingsignificance will depend on steps to follow: Willpolitical realities in Palestine, Israel and theUnited States allow the making of decisions that willeventually lead to peace and to a viable Palestinianstate alongside Israel?The Palestinians must establish a central authoritythat provides security to its citizens and to itsneighbors. Asking President Mahmoud Abbas to disarmhis opponents without providing him the tools to doso, and without giving him and his people a politicalsense of their future independence in a viable state,is neither realistic nor achievable.A democratically elected president has the legitimacy,but no matter how courageous he might be, he needs tohave the means to impose his will as he upholds thelaw. This cannot be accomplished presently inPalestine without outside assistance in terms ofweapons and economic aid. The present Palestinianleadership understands that without security therewill be no state and no peace. The crimes committed inGaza recently, and the lawlessness, could lead toanarchy if not confronted by the might of a stateauthority.Israel overall, acknowledges the difference betweenpresidents Abbas and Yasser Arafat. For it to continueto deny Abbas a genuine partnership role, willinevitably lead to his defeat at the hands of moremilitant and noncompromising opponents. Security ofthe Palestinians and Israelis is indivisible andgovernments of both sides have to coordinate toachieve it. Partnering with moderate Palestinians isin the national interest of Israel if it wants toretain a clear Jewish majority in a democratic state,but its political system may trump its nationalinterest. This is the where the United States can render themost valuable service: with the goodwill that it hasearned in Israel, it can prevent the dynamics ofIsrael' s political system from enacting measures thatwould damage the cause of peace. It can do so bypublicly and clearly drawing red lines on Jerusalem,settlements and borders, that must not be crossed topreserve the viability of a Palestinian state. FewIsraeli politicians will publicly defy this presidentof the United States. The difference between pressureand advice amongst allies and friends should not behard to tell. The coming period of internalstocktaking and political maneuvering cannot be usedto establish more facts on the ground, and the UnitedStates can help responsible Israeli politicianssurvive the attacks of demagogues by assuming theresponsibility for this decision. The international community has a clear interest inestablishing peace on the basis of a viable Palestinealongside Israel. Its involvement in Palestinianeconomic development and security enhancement is beingsupervised by Jim Wolfensohn and General Ward.Economic assistance provided immediately, withconcrete results on the grounds, will greatly reducethe chances of Gaza descending into extremism andviolence. Some Arab and Muslim nations and the G8 havemade commitments of assistance, but much more needs tobe done. However, no amount of external assistancewill do without free access to people and goodsbetween Gaza, the West Bank and the rest of the world.Palestinian corruption can be remedied by stringentmeasures to provide accountability and transparency.The competent management of finance minister SalamFayyad has given comfort to all relevant internationalagencies. The Palestinian private sector has alreadycommitted $100 million to Gaza, however much remainsto be done to gain the confidence of outsideinvestors.Resolution and progress on these and other issues willgreatly impact Palestinian legislative elections setfor January 2006. Excluding Hamas and others bysetting unachievable criteria for inclusion, as someIsraelis have suggested, is a sign of weakness. Havingthem compete in elections against credible candidateswho promise a future of hope and prosperity is a muchbetter alternative. The clock is ticking on winningthe hearts and minds of the people and the challengeis to put the remaining time to best use.It seems clear that there remain many challengesbefore a two-state solution can be implemented.Indeed, an ever-increasing number of people areconvinced that Israeli settlements have alreadyforeclosed a viable Palestinian state. We should ask,what are the other possible options if this one fails?Option one: A one-state solution with one-manone-vote. The political realities facing such anoption in Israel are insurmountable. The Jewish peoplewho wanted to have a state of their own for ages arenot going to volunteer to give it up without a fight.No matter what the future may bring, in the near termthis proposal means continued conflict.Option two: Separating Gaza from the West Bank: Thiscan be done by failure to establish easy communicationand transportation to the West Bank, by making nopolitical progress on the road map, by implementingpolicies that favor Gaza economically, or by allowingit to descend into chaos and instability. This optionwill leave all the ingredients of the conflictunresolved.Option three: Establishing new borders for Israelunilaterally, as defined by the barrier annexingaround 15 percent of the land and separating Jerusalemfrom Palestine. Such a state will not be viable and nopolitical leadership in Palestine can accept it.Significantly, it keeps the problem of Jerusalemunresolved and invites the jihadis across the Muslimworld to call for its liberation for generations tocome. It will redefine the conflict as a holy warbetween Muslims and Jews.Option four: A variation on pre-1967: by letting Gazadrift to the Egyptian sphere of influence and havingthe majority of the West Bank and its people revert toJordan, perhaps even by "making Jordan Palestine."This will add to the present mix a conflict with, andwithin, Jordan and will expand the geographic area ofconfrontation and strife. It too will hand the issueof Jerusalem to the holy warriors of the 21st century.Option five: A provisional Palestinian state withoutborders. This is an acknowledgement of the politicalimpossibility of dealing with permanent status issuesat this point in time. Managing a protracted processto lead to peace will take a level of coordination anddiscipline on the part of so many parties that ignoresthe historical record. Any option that extends theuncertainty about the end game will guaranteecontinued conflict.Having outlined these options, I submit that theprudent course of action would be to empower thepresent Palestinian leadership to control and managethe transition to a state, to encourage the trendtoward compromise and withdrawal in Israel initiatedby Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and to havethe international community guide the massive effortto rebuild a peaceful viable Palestine alongside asecure Israel. Such a formula is a bargain at today'sprices. Human passions run amuck at a large scalecould make tsunamis and hurricanes seem like minorevents.



12) Israeli researcher collects statistical evidencefor banking bias in the US:Interesting statistical report by an Israeli gradstudent at U. of Washington and follow-up articlesin the seattlepi.com, about pay-day loan branchestargeting afro-american populations in washingtonstate.http://www.stat.washington.edu/assaf/WashPayDay.pdfhttp://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/225559_payday24.htmlhttp://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/225524_paydaymilitary24.html


13) Blair relished war:http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article313548.eceDowning Street furious as official's diary accusesBlair of 'relishing' Iraq invasion By Colin Brown, Deputy Political Editor Published: 19 September 2005 Labour insiders were furious last night over claims bya former No 10 official that Tony Blair "relished"ordering British forces to attack Iraq as part of his"coming of age" as Prime Minister. Lance Price, the former deputy to Alastair Campbellwhen he was the Prime Minister's director ofcommunications, has been accused of "betrayal" by theCabinet Secretary after writing a "tell-all" diary.The ex-BBC reporter, who worked at Downing Street forthree years, had his account of the war on Iraqcensored by the Cabinet Office, but his original diarynote was published yesterday in The Mail on Sunday,which has bought the serial rights to his book, TheSpin Doctor's Diary.Mr Price's account confirms there is some truth to thebelief that Mr Campbell treated Mr Blair withcontempt. He noted in his diary that Mr Campbell hadcalled Mr Blair a "dickhead" to his face, and refusedto take calls from ministers who had annoyed him. MrPrice said his boss made personal attacks on MoMowlam, the former Northern Ireland Secretary, whodied last month, noting her performance on oneoccasion had been "two out of 10".One former ally of Mr Price said: "We are verysurprised at what he has done. We are even moresurprised that he chose to give it to The Mail onSunday, which is not exactly the most supportive ofthe Labour Party."Sir Gus O'Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, has takensteps to stop the most damaging claims beingpublished. In a letter to Mr Price's publishers, SirGus accused him of "betrayal".Mr Price, 47, was obliged to submit his manuscript tothe Government for clearance under the civil servicecodes of practice. Three passages were toned down onthe orders of No 10 and the Cabinet Secretary.In his entry for Christmas 1998, when Mr Blair firstauthorised UK air strikes against Iraq, Mr Pricewrote: "I couldn't help feeling TB was ratherrelishing his first blooding as PM, sending the boysinto action. Despite all the necessary stuff abouttaking action 'with a heavy heart', I think he feelsit is part of his coming of age as a leader."The Cabinet Office ordered the entry to be toned downto read: "I couldn't help feeling TB had mixedemotions about sending the boys into action. He saidhe did with a 'heavy heart' but at the same time, hemust have known it would happen sometime and maybeit's part of the coming of age as a leader."The Cabinet Office also toned down a reference to MrBlair's "f-ing and blinding" over the prospect of aLabour defeat in the 1999 Welsh Assembly elections. MrPrice wrote: "'Fucking Welsh', repeated many times byTB." That was changed to: "TB f-ing and blinding aboutthe whole thing."Claims that Mr Blair had promised to tell RupertMurdoch, the Australian-born media mogul, beforeannouncing a change of policy on Britain's entry tothe euro were also toned down.In his original diary entry, Mr Price said No 10 was"very edgy" after pro-euro comments by Mr Mandelson"because apparently we've promised News Internationalwe won't make any changes to our Europe policy withouttalking to them." The censors ordered it to be changedto say: "Apparently News International are under theimpression we won't make any changes without askingthem."Downing Street has refused to comment on the diaries."We don't want to get drawn into this book at all,"said an official.Downing Street also refused to deny unrelated claimsthat Mr Blair was furious with the "anti-US bias" ofthe BBC in its coverage of the New Orleans flooddisaster. It was widely reported yesterday that MrBlair had denounced the BBC's reporting of HurricaneKatrina as "full of hatred of America" and "gloating"at the plight of the US.Mr Blair allegedly made the remarks at a privatemeeting with Mr Murdoch.How Downing Street changed the diaryORIGINAL VERSION:"I couldn't help feeling TB was rather relishing hisfirst blooding as PM, sending the boys into action.Despite all the necessary stuff about taking action'with a heavy heart', I think he feels it is part ofhis coming of age as a leader."CENSORED VERSION:"I couldn't help feeling TB had mixed emotions aboutsending the boys into action. He said he did it with a'heavy heart' but at the same time, he must have knownit would happen some time and maybe it's part of thecoming of age as a leader."ORIGINAL VERSION:'"Fucking Welsh', repeated many times by TB."CENSORED VERSION:"TB f-ing and blinding about the whole thing."ORIGINAL VERSION:"No 10 were very edgy because apparently we'vepromised News International we won't make any changesto our Europe policy without talking to them."CENSORED VERSION:"No 10 were very edgy because apparently NewsInternational are under the impression we won't makeany changes without asking them." Labour insiders were furious last night over claims bya former No 10 official that Tony Blair "relished"ordering British forces to attack Iraq as part of his"coming of age" as Prime Minister. Lance Price, the former deputy to Alastair Campbellwhen he was the Prime Minister's director ofcommunications, has been accused of "betrayal" by theCabinet Secretary after writing a "tell-all" diary.The ex-BBC reporter, who worked at Downing Street forthree years, had his account of the war on Iraqcensored by the Cabinet Office, but his original diarynote was published yesterday in The Mail on Sunday,which has bought the serial rights to his book, TheSpin Doctor's Diary.Mr Price's account confirms there is some truth to thebelief that Mr Campbell treated Mr Blair withcontempt. He noted in his diary that Mr Campbell hadcalled Mr Blair a "dickhead" to his face, and refusedto take calls from ministers who had annoyed him. MrPrice said his boss made personal attacks on MoMowlam, the former Northern Ireland Secretary, whodied last month, noting her performance on oneoccasion had been "two out of 10".One former ally of Mr Price said: "We are verysurprised at what he has done. We are even moresurprised that he chose to give it to The Mail onSunday, which is not exactly the most supportive ofthe Labour Party."Sir Gus O'Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, has takensteps to stop the most damaging claims beingpublished. In a letter to Mr Price's publishers, SirGus accused him of "betrayal".Mr Price, 47, was obliged to submit his manuscript tothe Government for clearance under the civil servicecodes of practice. Three passages were toned down onthe orders of No 10 and the Cabinet Secretary.In his entry for Christmas 1998, when Mr Blair firstauthorised UK air strikes against Iraq, Mr Pricewrote: "I couldn't help feeling TB was ratherrelishing his first blooding as PM, sending the boysinto action. Despite all the necessary stuff abouttaking action 'with a heavy heart', I think he feelsit is part of his coming of age as a leader."The Cabinet Office ordered the entry to be toned downto read: "I couldn't help feeling TB had mixedemotions about sending the boys into action. He saidhe did with a 'heavy heart' but at the same time, hemust have known it would happen sometime and maybeit's part of the coming of age as a leader."The Cabinet Office also toned down a reference to MrBlair's "f-ing and blinding" over the prospect of aLabour defeat in the 1999 Welsh Assembly elections. MrPrice wrote: "'Fucking Welsh', repeated many times byTB." That was changed to: "TB f-ing and blinding aboutthe whole thing."Claims that Mr Blair had promised to tell RupertMurdoch, the Australian-born media mogul, beforeannouncing a change of policy on Britain's entry tothe euro were also toned down.In his original diary entry, Mr Price said No 10 was"very edgy" after pro-euro comments by Mr Mandelson"because apparently we've promised News Internationalwe won't make any changes to our Europe policy withouttalking to them." The censors ordered it to be changedto say: "Apparently News International are under theimpression we won't make any changes without askingthem."Downing Street has refused to comment on the diaries."We don't want to get drawn into this book at all,"said an official.Downing Street also refused to deny unrelated claimsthat Mr Blair was furious with the "anti-US bias" ofthe BBC in its coverage of the New Orleans flooddisaster. It was widely reported yesterday that MrBlair had denounced the BBC's reporting of HurricaneKatrina as "full of hatred of America" and "gloating"at the plight of the US.Mr Blair allegedly made the remarks at a privatemeeting with Mr Murdoch.How Downing Street changed the diaryORIGINAL VERSION:"I couldn't help feeling TB was rather relishing hisfirst blooding as PM, sending the boys into action.Despite all the necessary stuff about taking action'with a heavy heart', I think he feels it is part ofhis coming of age as a leader."CENSORED VERSION:"I couldn't help feeling TB had mixed emotions aboutsending the boys into action. He said he did it with a'heavy heart' but at the same time, he must have knownit would happen some time and maybe it's part of thecoming of age as a leader."

Katrina Encours et Toujours XIX

A lot of today's postings are just reading from the Sunday T-P. If you're checking NOLA.com on your own, then there's less interesting stuff today than most days:

1) As far as I'm concerned here's the Katrina quote of the day (as excellent a quote as the one I heard on the Wednesday after the storm -- "they'd better do something quick, 'cause people gettin' medieval around here"):

http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5286726,00.html

..."The Wal-Mart store in uptown New Orleans, built within the last year, survived the storm but was destroyed by looters.

``They took everything - all the electronics, thefood, the bikes,'' said John Stonaker, a Wal-Martsecurity officer. ``The only thing left are thecountry-and-western CDs.''..."



2) It's clear that NO needs a few visionaries rightnow, and there's literally not a moment to lose because reconstruction events will start to move very quickly now. I hope a few local visionaries step up to the plate, because otherwise a mess will emerge:

http://www.nola.com/newslogs/tporleans/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_tporleans/archives/2005_09_18.html#080770

Rebuilding plans confront turf wars, political strife

Racial tension mars initial discussions

By Robert Travis Scott
Capital bureau

BATON ROUGE - Twelve days after Hurricane Katrina, asthe worst of the storm's physical perils subsided,about 60 business people and public officials from NewOrleans gathered in Dallas with Mayor Ray Nagin todiscuss the future of the city.

The room full of "type A" personalities, as oneparticipant described them, showered advice on themayor. But it was New Orleans-born trumpeter andcomposer Wynton Marsalis, one of several peopleparticipating by phone, who passionately made thepoint that seemed to resonate most with the group: NewOrleans must rebuild its cultural, as well as itseconomic, strength.

For a city suffering an almost total exodus ofresidents and standing on the precipice of historicchange in its population size and demographic makeup,the challenge of Marsalis' message struck deeply,according to people who attended the Dallas meetingSept. 10. One huge concern is the potential loss of adisproportionately large number of African-Americanswhose neighborhoods endured some of the most damagingflood waters and whose low incomes hinder theirreturn.

Reaching agreement on how to rebuild New Orleans won'tbe easy. Nagin's effort already has run up against aLouisiana political environment rife with historicaldivisions and turf wars. The city's initiative alsowill face a headstrong wave of federal aid andfree-market forces that will play a role in making orbreaking a new grand plan, whatever it turns out tobe.

"We can talk in the abstract about what a rebuilt NewOrleans would look like," said Jim Schwab, seniorresearch associate with the American PlanningAssociation. "In the end that is not going to matternearly as much, I hope, as what the people of theregion themselves decide they want."

And while critics from across the political spectrumdarkly warn about the dangers of "social engineering"as a strategy for rebuilding the region, costs, safetyissues and what insurance companies are willing tounderwrite may be the determining factor in manydecisions.

Urban planners who have studied the history ofcommunities struck by disaster recommend they begin bybuilding a consensus about what they want to preserveand create, Schwab said. But Katrina makes that jobespecially difficult.

"Every time you've done it before, you still hadpeople in the community," Schwab said.

In Dallas alone, as the mayor's group met, thousandsof evacuated citizens from New Orleans filled sheltersand hotels, including about 2,000 people being placedthere in federally subsidized housing. Nagin was inDallas primarily to rent a place for his family and tosettle his children into school until they canre-enroll in a New Orleans school.

Marsalis and others participating in the Dallasmeeting predicted that if the diverse peoples of NewOrleans do not return, its distinctive neighborhoods,musical inspirations and culinary traditions probablywon't, either.
Confusion, hard feelings

The Dallas meeting was an early lesson in thedifficulties facing those who seek a consensus on aplan for the future. It quickly ignited a controversyand led to miscommunication and hard feelings amongsome political leaders.

One of its organizers was Nagin's RegionalTransportation Authority chief, Jimmy Reiss, a whitebusinessman who was quoted that week in the WallStreet Journal saying that some people who want torebuild the city foresee a town with a new demographicof fewer poor people. To some in the city, the storypainted an impression of an elitist cadre of white NewOrleans leaders callous to the plight of the city'spoor.

"It was an extremely unfortunate article," said BillHines, a lawyer and leader of the economic developmentgroup Greater New Orleans Inc. who attended the Dallasmeeting.

The story enraged a number of black state lawmakersand New Orleans City Council members, includingCouncil President Oliver Thomas, state Rep. CedricRichmond, D-New Orleans, and Sen. Diana Bajoie, bothD-New Orleans, who confronted Nagin in a publicmeeting Sept. 12 at the state Capitol. They expressedconcern that Nagin and the Dallas group of mostlywhite businessmen were coordinating a recovery programassuming that a large portion of poorAfrican-Americans would be discouraged from returningto the city.

As the legislative hearing room gained the air of aformal inquiry, Nagin responded sharply that he had nosuch intention and said he had made that point clearat the Dallas gathering.

"So don't worry about this city being hijacked by asmall group of people who are trying to take usbackward," said Nagin, who is black.

Reiss, contacted at his home in Aspen, Colo., wouldnot comment. In a letter to The Times Picayune, hesaid, "there was no selfish politics, no parochialgoals" at the Dallas meeting. "We all shared the sameobjective: Make New Orleans a prosperous city thatprovided jobs and a high quality of life for all ofits citizens, and preserving the diverse cultural andethnic heritage that makes us special."

Some of those who joined the Dallas meeting, whichlasted several hours, said it was positive andunified, and that Nagin persuasively articulated hisdream for a prosperous city. In addition to Marsalis,there were other African-Americans who participated,including Entergy New Orleans chief Dan Packer, who isthe board chairman of the Louis ArmstrongInternational Airport, businessman David White andstate Sen. Derrick Shepherd, D-Marrero.

Still, the event fed Nagin's reputation as an aloofleader indebted to the white business establishmentthat helped elect him. Nagin himself is a businessmanwith no prior experience in elected office. Few haveforgotten that Nagin, a Democrat, endorsedconservative Republican Bobby Jindal in the 2003governor's race over Kathleen Blanco, the Democrat whowon. His relations with Blanco - and hence relationsbetween New Orleans and state government - have beencool ever since.

He also has strained relations with council membersand the black legislative delegation from New Orleans,many of whom feel shut out by his administration,especially in this time of crisis. Those same peoplewere unaware of the Dallas meeting until it was over.

"You don't need to fight these battles by yourself,"Thomas told Nagin at the Capitol hearing.

"You may have done it that way in the past," stateRep. Karen Carter, D-New Orleans, told Nagin. "But youdon't have to do it that way in the future."

Nagin explained that he had been dealing with urgentand stressful conditions hampered by dysfunctionalcommunication systems. He made his mea culpa andannounced he would appoint a racially balanced taskforce dedicated to planning the city's revival. He wasadamant that New Orleanians, not state or federalofficials, will determine the new plan for NewOrleans.

Limited local leadership

Bernie Pinsonat, a consultant with Southern Media &Opinion Research in Baton Rouge, said the publicperceives the Katrina political landscape as devoid ofoutstanding leadership from the president on down.

"Louisiana produced no Giuliani figures for the restof the country," Pinsonat said, referring to formerNew York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's much-lauded handlingof the 2001 terrorist attacks on his city.

Leadership is critical to the recovery process, andNagin seems determined to emerge as the one settingthe agenda for the future.

But the city has long been limited in determining itsown affairs and revenue base. For example, statecommissions own the Superdome and the Ernest N. MorialConvention Center, and the Legislature ultimatelydecides how much room tax New Orleans hotels willcharge to pay for the buildings. The state,represented by the governor, is the primary negotiatorin deals with the New Orleans Saints. Local sales andproperty taxes are capped by state law.

The city's public housing authority, which hastemporarily moved to Houston, is under the control ofthe federal Department of Housing and UrbanDevelopment because of past financial problems.Financing for future public housing projects willdepend largely on the impetus of the federal agency.

Last week, the state Bond Commission, acting on arequest that preceded Katrina, approved a federallybacked $49 million financing package to continue aredevelopment program for three of the city's majorpublic housing developments, one of which was severelyflooded. It won't matter if people don't come back tooccupy the apartments; the federal financing is notbased on occupancy.

One senator on the commission questioned whether thepanel was moving too fast considering the manyunknowns about New Orleans' public housing scene. Butthe commission decided it was better to have the moneyin the pipeline than to derail the projects whilewaiting for a grand new plan for public housing.
The federal government has its own recovery agenda,announced by Bush last week, and it plans tocontribute billions of dollars. There has been muchtalk about the possible appointment of a federal tsarfor the recovery effort.

Federal Emergency Management Agency money for the citywill pass through state agencies. It remains to beseen whether state or federal authorities willinterfere or attempt to dictate the city's plan.

The state at times has been possessive of the city'srevenue. For example, the state is the main taxcollector for Harrah's New Orleans Casino downtown.Blanco has refused to release millions of dollars ofHarrah's tax money that was supposed to be passed onto the city, and pleas from city officials andlawmakers have not convinced her to let it go.

Blanco wrote President Bush this week requesting thatfederal dollars cover 100 percent of the cost forKatrina recovery, and lawmakers at the state Capitollast week were nearly universal in their expectationthat federal money would take care of New Orleans,leaving state budgets to continue providing the sameservices and projects elsewhere in Louisiana.

Whitney National Bank President King Milling, whoparticipated in the Dallas meeting, said that despiteall the obstacles, he is hopeful consensus can beformed on a recovery plan.

"We can create a better community in the long run withthe same sensibilities and culture," said Milling, whois white.

Late last week, Nagin spent considerable time buildingpolitical allies and staking out a national mediapresence to put a confident face on the dauntingrecovery effort. Now out of crisis mode, he can spendmore time on the future.

"We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rebuildthe greatest city in the world," Nagin said. "It'sbeen a wild ride, and we're getting ready to get onanother wild ride."



3) I don't really agree with the premise of thisarticle -- namely that LA might go Republican due tothe potential loss of all those African-AmericanDemocratic voters. First of all, such voters won'tjust disappear -- they may swing TX Democratic, forexample (not addressed in this article). Secondly, anawful lot of NO locals who might've voted Republicanthree weeks ago might be reconsidering their vote now-- and that could change yet again depending on howBush's reconstruction plan plays out...

http://www.nola.com/newslogs/tporleans/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_tporleans/archives/2005_09_18.html#080770

Evacuations throw wrench into Democratic strategy

Return of reliable voter base uncertain

Those in Houston shelters skeptical of government

By Laura Maggi
Capital Bureau

BATON ROUGE - With so many New Orleans residents inevacuation centers and temporary housing arrangementsacross Louisiana and the rest of the country,political analysts say that Hurricane Katrina couldprove a turning point in the state's politicalhistory.

The potentially permanent diaspora of voters -especially the poor and black residents who make upthe Democratic Party's most loyal constituency and maylack the resources needed to return - could change thecalculations for getting elected to statewide officefor years to come.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco and other leaders are beginningto assess the task of rebuilding the city andsurrounding region, emphasizing that they want all ofthe Louisiana citizens to come back home. Thosedisplaced lower-income residents currently withoutjobs, they say, can be put to work on the massiveconstruction projects that are soon to come to thearea.

The city of New Orleans has always been key instatewide elections, where well-established politicalmachines have historically been able to turn out alarge Democratic vote.

African-American voters make up about 63 percent ofthe registered voters in the city and 29 percent inthe state. They have historically vote overwhelminglyfor Democrats, making them essential to a winningstrategy.
The well-organized black voters in New Orleans havebeen an essential factor in statewide elections,allowing Democrats to compete in a way that theyhaven't been able to in neighboring Deep South statessuch as Mississippi and Alabama, said Jim Nickel, aformer chairman of the party.

"Unless there is a very significant, almost completereturn, the math gets very complicated for Democrats,"Nickel said.

It is unclear exactly how many people from southeastLouisiana have left the state since Katrina struck thecoast three weeks ago, although Blanco estimates that1 million residents from the region have beendispersed. Many of them are now out of state,including an estimated 250,000 in Texas alone.

Which of those Louisianians choose - or are able - toreturn will set the political landscape.

Residents already have begun to return to St. Tammanyand Jefferson parishes, which have majority whitepopulations that often back Republican candidates.Both parishes went for Blanco's GOP opponent, currentU.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal, in the 2003 governor's raceand gave Republican George W. Bush some of his highestpercentages in the state in 2000 and 2004.

People from the flood-ravaged parishes of St. Bernardand Plaquemines are unlikely to be able to return asquickly because of the extensive flood damage. Butthose rural parishes, which are almost entirely white,are less politically predictable, evenly split betweenDemocrats and Republicans in competitive races.
The real question mark remains Orleans Parish, even asresidents are being allowed back this week into dryneighborhoods such as the Central Business Districtand Uptown. Heavily black neighborhoods such as theLower Ninth Ward and eastern New Orleans sufferedextensive flooding, which could take months, if notyears, to rebuild.

At the same time, thousands of lower-income NewOrleanians, most African-American, who were unable toleave the city before the storm waited for days to beevacuated, often without food, while increasingviolence dominated the streets. Many have expressedanger at their state and local leaders and reluctanceabout returning to the area. One recent poll ofevacuees at shelters in Houston found that 44 percentintended to permanently relocate outside New Orleans.

State Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, said thatit may be too soon to tell whether people will beunwilling to return to the city because of theirexperiences during Hurricane Katrina. AnAfrican-American politician, Richmond acknowledgedthat the exodus of large numbers of black voters wouldbe significant for state Democratic politics.

"If we don't get people home, it is going to be veryhard for Democrats to be elected," he said, whileemphasizing that politics isn't the priority rightnow. "The main goal is to create a new city thateverybody who was displaced would want to come hometo."

Bernie Pinsonat, a pollster and political consultantwith Southern Media & Opinion Research in Baton Rouge,said it likely won't be clear for at least threemonths how the storm will impact the voter base in NewOrleans. For example, if those who evacuated toHouston find it a more appealing and safer place fortheir families, the new lifestyle might keep themthere, Pinsonat said.

Roughly speaking, if New Orleans loses more than40,000 black voters, then the impact will be felt insome local elections. Once more than 50,000 AfricanAmericans leave the state, the departure will impactstatewide elections, Pinsonat said.

Recent statewide elections won by Democrats broke downalong 52 percent to 48 percent lines: U.S. Sen. MaryLandrieu beat her Republican challenger Suzanne HaikTerrell by 42,012 votes in 2002, while Blanco beatJindal by 54,874 votes in 2003.

For current leaders, the political impact of HurricaneKatrina could be problematic even if people do returnto the state. A survey of 680 people at shelters inHouston, almost all of them from New Orleans, foundthat evacuees were critical of politicians at everylevel.

Fifty-eight percent disapproved of Blanco's handlingof the storm's devastating aftermath, when floodingand violence overtook the city and thousands of peoplewere stranded with little assistance for days. About53 percent disapproved of New Orleans Mayor RayNagin's actions, while 70 percent found fault withPresident Bush.

The survey showed that people experienced a totalcollapse of local and state services, said RobertBlendon, professor of health policy at the HarvardSchool of Public Health, who helped conduct thesurvey, along with the Kaiser Family Foundation andThe Washington Post.

Only 7 percent of respondents said they were helped bythe New Orleans police or fire departments or a stateagency, compared with 25 percent who said theyreceived assistance from the National Guard or othermilitary units.

"There was a real skepticism about the ability torebuild and make things work in the future at thestate and local level," Blendon said.

As the survey polled only people in emergencyshelters, it is not a representative sampling of allNew Orleans-area people who have evacuated to Houston,capturing generally low-income people who stayed inthe city during the storm and needed government helpto get out. More economically well-off evacuees, whoare typically paying for their own housing or stayingwith family and friends, were not included.
Capital bureau reporter Robert Travis Scottcontributed to this report.



4) Here's to plans to keep Louisianans home:

http://www.nola.com/newslogs/tporleans/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_tporleans/archives/2005_09_18.html#080770

State looks at ways to keep folks in La.

Businesses, homeowners could receive tax credits

Blanco says she has repaired fractured friendship withNagin
By Laura Maggi
Capital Bureau

BATON ROUGE - State officials are working on aneconomic development package they want Congress toconsider to help jump-start businesses in New Orleans,as well as encourage people to rebuild their homes inthe area, Gov. Kathleen Blanco said in an interviewSaturday.

Based on the tax breaks and other incentives that werecreated for New York City after the Sept. 11 terroristattacks, the state is trying to craft "sellable" taxcredits program for homeowners and businesses thatwould benefit anyone who rebuilds in the 10-parisharea affected by the storm, Blanco said.

The package is still in its conceptual stages, Blancosaid, being worked out in partnership with Mississippiofficials, who will have similar problems rebuildingalong the coastline.

"A lot of the details are not yet identified, but wewant it as liberal as possible," Blanco said, addingthat any incentives would likely have to be in placefor as long as a decade. "We want it to work forre-employing our people."

Among the ideas:

* A $50,000 tax credit for homeowners who rebuild inthe area or a $20,000 tax credit for renters whoreturn. People whose tax liability is less than thoseamounts would be allowed to sell those credits.

* An accelerated depreciation schedule for businesses,allowing them to write off 50 percent of theirinvestment in the first year.

* A $30 billion bond issue allowing businesses thatwant to rebuild to get tax-free bonds, as well asproviding businesses that reopen in the New Orleansarea with a $100,000 tax credit.

The state already is working with large companies toget their work forces back into the area, Blanco said,by helping set up temporary housing at facilities.This will help get the larger employers up andrunning, she said, providing a boost for the stalledeconomy.

In a phone interview before she traveled to Alexandriato meet with troops coming back from the war in Iraq,the governor said she had a good meeting Wednesdaynight with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. The mayor hasbeen critical of the state's post-hurricane response,saying that he did not get enough support as floodingswamped the city and violence became more pervasive.

"We began the process of debriefing each other,sharing what our unique experiences were," Blancosaid. "I know the mayor felt very desperate in hishour of need."

But Blanco said that because of the communicationsnetwork breakdown, Nagin was unaware of all that wasgoing on at the state level to deal with the crisis."We came to some new levels of understanding that wereabsolutely necessary," she said.

Although Nagin endorsed opponent Bobby Jindal duringthe 2003 governor's race, Blanco said she hasdeveloped a good working relationship with the mayorsince she took office. "We re-established ourfriendship," Blanco said of their conversation.



5) Here's a disaster assistance website:

Sorry, all.

D'oh! Jimbo

This is a site my friend has set up for victims of Katrina in New Orleans. It is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping out the city that everyone on this list has enjoyed. Check it out, purchase a bracelet and wear them with pride. Every little bit helps. Take care, all. Jim Brooks ps. I never ask anyone to do this, but send it to as many people as you can on your email lists. The money needs to be raised and people need to be helped. The message is ready to be sent with the following file or link attachments:

Shortcut to: http://www.renewnola.org/



6) New Orleans' Vietnamese will be back -- they've started from scratch once before, and can do it again:

http://www.nola.com/newslogs/tporleans/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_tporleans/archives/2005_09_18.html#080770

Vietnamese businesses must start over - again
Many made homes in eastern N.O.
Businessman says many residents will return
By Doug MacCash
Staff writer

The grass in the neighborhoods along Chef MenteurHighway beyond Interstate 510 is a cadaverous graycolor, seemingly lifeless after being submerged fordays beneath floodwaters.

Bass boats, V-bottomed pleasure craft and even oneforlorn Sunday-in-the-park paddleboat are grounded onthe four lanes' shoulders, medians and side streets -evidence of a hectic exodus. Car washes, mobile homesand threadbare motels dating from the era when ChefMenteur, also known as U.S. 90, was a thoroughfare tothe Gulf Coast, seem to have exploded into rubblealong the roadside.

Other, more substantial architecture is merely scouredby the wind, missing shingles and gutters. Cypress andcedar trees are bent to the ground, their roots pulledsummarily from the earth like garden weeds. As otherNew Orleans neighborhoods seem poised for aspeedier-than-expected comeback, eastern New Orleansis still utterly humbled by Hurricane Katrina's power.

Near the corner of Chef Menteur and Alcee FortierBoulevard, where for 30 years Vietnamese lettering hasreplaced English on the roadside shop marquees,businessman Huang Tran, 49, surveyed the damage withnervous dismay Friday.

"I feel very down," he said. "It's so terrible. BeforeI came back I thought I could rebuild in a few weeks.Now I think it will take five or six months."

Tran pointed to several of the storefronts in theblock-long strip malls that line the intersection,each owned by a member of his immediate or extendedfamily, all of them damaged. His younger sister ownsthe jewelry store, his wife's older sister owns thepharmacy, and his older sister owns the Vietnamese hamfactory, where, he said, the hundreds of pounds ofmeat have certainly spoiled.

Other family members ran small businesses inneighborhoods across New Orleans, most, he said,damaged to some degree by the storm. Everyone, hesaid, escaped to Carrollton, Texas, near Dallas, wherethey waited for his report on the damage.

Tran's own business, a second-story video rentalstore, had survived both wind and floodwaters.Ironically, this fact only seemed to add to hisfrustration, since somehow he'd misplaced the keys,making the long drive from Texas to retrieve valuablesand begin the repair process in part useless.

"I've almost lost my mind," he said, patting hisforehead, the heat of the midday sun rippling from themuddy, littered pavement around him.

As a 19-year-old, Tran was one of thousands ofVietnamese who escaped their war-ravaged homeland totake permanent asylum in the somewhat familiar heatand fecundity of the reclaimed wetlands in NewOrleans' eastern reaches. There they'd established alargely self-sufficient Southeast Asian communitysuperimposed on a typical American suburb of tracthouses, modest yards and chain-link fences.

"I feel the same thing as then," he said. "I have tostart at the beginning, just like when I came here in1975."

A fishy smell filled the air from the nearby bayou,which had returned to its banks only days before. Thestaccato pulse of helicopter blades could be heard inthe distance. The streets of the neighborhood werealmost completely vacant, except for a rare passingcar with wide-eyed occupants inspecting what the floodhad left behind.

Tran had not abandoned his neighborhood and businesseasily. He drove through the limb-strewn streets whileKatrina's winds still wailed. He forded the samestreets as the tide rose, leaving only when thewaist-deep water threatened to drown the engine of hisFord pickup. Now he was among the very first to stealback in for a peek. He said he believes that many ofhis Vietnamese neighbors will return.

"The young people are gone, he said. "The old people,yes, they'll come back for the church."

He was referring to Mary Queen of Vietnam Church onDwyer Boulevard a few blocks away, a modernsheet-metal structure adorned with subtle Asianmotifs, but with part of its roof torn away anddropped like a shed snakeskin in the adjacent parkinglot.

"Now I have to go back to Dallas to see what to donext," he said.

Unexpectedly, Tran went to the back of his truck,returning with cold Cokes to share.

Inside the truck's large cab, two of Tran's employees,Willie Watson, 56, and Michael McKinley, 22, waitedsomewhat impatiently, dust masks pasted to theirforeheads with sweat. In the front seat sat PhatQuach, 26, introduced as Tran's daughter's boyfriend,a newly minted Xavier University pharmacist.
The next and last stop on Tran's expedition wasQuach's house, a mile away down Chef Highway on ashort cul-de-sac that was no longer marked with streetsigns.

The modest low-slung ranch house had one of thenow-familiar rescue schematics spray- painted on thedoor, a crossed circle indicating no one was foundinside, dated 9-10. The house had taken in a foot ofwater that drew a greasy brown tidemark around theinside of the living room. The floor was slick withmud, the walls polka-dotted with quarter-sized moldcolonies. Scenes of Vietnam's long-ago war with Chinaand da Vinci's "Last Supper," rendered in mother ofpearl, shared the wall with formal, old-world, familyphotos.

"I just kind of expected it," Quach said of his musty,waterlogged home. "But it's just now hitting me thatit's real. You have to step into your house and see itfor yourself."

Quach was most interested in retrieving two articles.The first was a sheaf of papers including the permitsand licenses for the pharmacy he and Tran were on thebrink of opening in Mid-City when the storm struck.
"We were going to open in October," he said, a faintsmile of pride, or perhaps irony, lighting his face ashe handed the documents to Tran for safekeeping.

"I work 365 days," said Tran, standing in the doorway."I never close. In the evening I go fishing for acouple of hours. I go home and have a couple of beersand go to bed and get up again every day."

"He's a good boss," Watson said. McKinley nodded inagreement. "But it's going to be a long while beforewe're back. Just look at the place."

Quach clutched the other object he hoped to salvage, asuit he said he'd recently paid $1,000 for, stored ina now-dripping vinyl carrying bag. No one stated theobvious, that the suit was a lost cause.

Unexpectedly, there was the sound of another vehicleon the road and a heavily accented voice called out toTran's party.

Three police offers had arrived, parking their blackpickup across the driveway, trapping Tran's vehicle.One wore an NOPD T-shirt. The other two, a man andwoman, wore black and khaki combat gear, complete withflak jackets, spare clips and leather-sheathed gearclustered on their belts. He carried an assault riflewith sniper scope; she, a bulky pistol.

Special Agents Kim Wright and Manual Noudewo,accompanied by officer Douglas McGowan, were on looterpatrol. They politely asked for ID, never assuming athreatening posture - never needing to. In theirregular life, they said, they are Drug EnforcementAdministration officers in Miami. Agent Noudewo, withthe distinct accent, was born in Cameroon.

Once the IDs were produced, the officers chatted for afew minutes with Tran's expedition party. "It's thebad luck of our people," Tran said, explaining hisbelief that every 30 years the Vietnamese have beenforced to leave behind one life for another. In 1945they escaped Japanese occupation; in 1975 they fledthe communist takeover; now it's Katrina.

His father, he said, had seen it all, but since he isnow in his 80s, Katrina will probably be the old man'slast exodus.

Heading back to the black pickup, Wright said,"Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

"You'll get it, you'll get it," Watson saidreassuringly as Tran and the others stepped to theFord, preparing for the long trip to their temporaryhome. "You're a businessman; you've seen hard times."



7) Wetlands article:

http://www.nola.com/newslogs/tpsports/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_tpsports/archives/2005_09.html#080775

Bob Marshall: Lessons to be learned from Katrina
By Bob Marshal
lOutdoors editor

The dividing line between good and bad could not havebeen starker.

Inside the levees that formed the border of PortSulphur - the Mississippi River levee on the east, theso-called hurricane protection levee on the west - thescene was one of utter, ugly ruin. Islands of debristhat had once been homes, marinas and schools floatedin a sickening black sea of fetid water. Even at 300feet in a seaplane, the odor of what had happenedthere permeated the humid air.

It was a different story outside the levees. On oneside green oyster grass sliced by bayous rested underthe sun, clean and quiet. One the other the big riverflowed easily toward the Gulf. Nature seemed at peace.

We all saw the contrast. Wildlife biologist ScottBurdett spoke first. “There’s a lesson to be learnedfrom that picture, and some serious questions to beasked,” he said.

Indeed.

In the immediate wake of Katrina, the obvious questioncoming from all parts of the country went like this:Why rebuild a city that sits on sinking lands in ahurricane zone?

The answer is equally obvious. For the same reasonwe’re not moving Los Angeles or San Francisco, whichsit on major fault lines. Or Miami or Tampa, which sitright on the coast in hurricane zones. Or Denver andLas Vegas, which are sucking local aquifers dry.

It would be too expensive and far too inhuman toattempt to move a million or more people. Further,those cities represent important cogs in the nation’seconomy. In our case, the city’s port is indispensableto the economies of all those states that touch theMississippi River and its tributaries, easilyone-third of the nation.
That said, this disaster should finally teach thenation a lesson it has refused to learn for 200 years:Our communities must live within the infrastructure ofthe ecosystems upon which they are built. If we allowourselves to grow beyond those limits we are courtingdisaster, whether on the Gulf Coast, the Great Plainsor the arid west.

We can live safely in New Orleans, but only if werespect the natural storm defenses that once existed.If we hadn’t allowed industry to destroy half themarshes that were found south of the city 100 yearsago, Katrina’s blows would have been much less severe.If we had put parochial concerns aside 20 years agoand united behind plans to rebuild those marshes, manymore of us would be dry today, and the nation would be$100 billion richer. If we hadn’t allowed developersto put houses and businesses in areas prone toflooding, we would have a smaller city – but we wouldhave had much less death and destruction.

We can live here in safety, but not if we try toignore nature. Yes, we will need to build levees thatare high enough and strong enough to withstand aCategory 5 storm, but we must also rebuild thewetlands we’ve destroyed, even if that means removingsome old developments and curtailing future growth. Ifnot, we’ll soon be an island in the Gulf toovulnerable for levees of any height to protect.

This lesson isn’t only for New Orleans. Disasters on asimilar scale are building across the nation, justfrom different forces of nature, and all because ourplanners put “growth” ahead of respect for theirecosystems. Western cities like Denver and Las Vegasthat were built on dry or semi-arid landscapes havebeen allowed to grow without limits. Now they face theprospect of running out of water in 30 or 40 years,leaving millions of people homeless.

Yet the solutions being discussed point to furtherdevelopment – trapping water in endless reservoirs,piping it down from Canada, taking it from the sea.Even if possible, those ideas would cost billions andstill not solve the problem, because the continuedgrowth would soon out-pace the new supply.

They can have their cities in the desert just as wecan have our city on the delta – but only if werespect the natural systems we’re building on. Thepenalties we court for ignoring and destroying thosesystems can be found in New Orleans today.



8) NO area university news:

http://www.nola.com/newslogs/tporleans/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_tporleans/archives/2005_09_18.html#080770

Colleges to seek billions in federal assistance

Officials hope aid strengthens systems
By Coleman Warner
Staff writer

A tattered American flag was tacked to a thin plank ofwood just inside the door of Delgado CommunityCollege's main administration building, a hurricanerelic that soldiers from the Oregon National Guardplucked from a tangle of storm debris.

The shredded flag could serve to symbolize the blowsuffered by several campuses that are beginning torestore crippled physical plants. Preliminaryassessments of damage to campus buildings, equipmentand lab materials has set the stage for a historicrequest of as much as $5 billion in federal aid.

Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education JosephSavoie said Saturday that congressional staffers areworking out the details but that the request should beintroduced in Congress as soon as Monday. Savoie saidthe total is "subject to all sorts of strategicdecisions they're going to have to make." In additionto rebuilding damaged buildings, the money would beused for scholarships, faculty stabilization, economicdevelopment and to restore damaged research, Savoiesaid.

To fine-tune the damage assessment, "we're hoping tohave people on site this week looking at all thosecampuses," Savoie said.

But in interesting ways, despair over the havocwrought among institutions so important to NewOrleans' economy and culture is giving way to optimismthat the storm may have provided an opportunity.College and university leaders meeting regularly inBaton Rouge as part of the higher education responseteam have begun talking about how wise use of federalaid could ultimately strengthen the institutions,Savoie said.

"There's a growing sense of opportunity; people arethinking of ways they can improve theircircumstances," he
said.

Last week, conditions at several campuses appearedgrim. A sheen of white and brown muck marked buildingwindows and was cracking in the sun.

Floodwaters covered two-thirds of the TulaneUniversity's Uptown campus between Freret Street andSouth Claiborne Avenue, to depths of three or fourfeet in many places. The brackish water tossed debrisabout a baseball stadium that was under renovation,ruined virtually all of the university's vehicle fleetand spilled into the basement of Howard-TiltonMemorial Library, where a world-famous jazz musicarchive is stored, officials said. The universityhired a document salvage firm, but it was unclearSaturday how much of the archive will be saved. Muchof the campus was strewn with large tree limbs.

"We're going to be buying a lot of stuff," said SeniorVice President Yvette Jones. "We're moving quickly."

Floodwaters still covered most of the SouthernUniversity at New Orleans campus Wednesday, the firstday anyone representing SUNO could access the propertynear the Lakefront to check on its condition, interimChancellor Robert Gex said. There were reports ofwater as deep as 14 feet around the campus after thestorm, and by Wednesday the receding water was stillan inch deep in the administration building. A statedamage assessment team hadn't yet begun its work, hesaid.

"In every building, some damage has taken place. Weneed people to look at foundations and things," hesaid Thursday. "It's been hard on everybody. We'retrying to make the best of the situation."

At the University of New Orleans, floodwaters at somepoint covered about a third of the Lakefront campus,mostly on its south and west sides, invading the firstfloor of a dorm and the city's premier high school,Ben Franklin, at the edge of the college campus. But"most of the academic buildings didn't have water,"Chancellor Timothy Ryan said. Still, he estimated thatbuilding repair and equipment replacement needs willtop $100 million.

Storm refugees brought from rooftops by helicopter toopen ground at UNO broke into many buildings and spentdays on campus, with the bulk of them, 1,500 or more,apparently sleeping at Kirschman Hall, a newmulti-story business complex, Ryan said.

"Apparently there was some miscommunication, becausethey were left there for several days," Ryan said,adding there was "some substantial damage done, butreparable damage." Some of the displaced residentsapparently broke into soft drink machines, he said.

Cleanup workers on Wednesday said they found humanfeces and mounds of trash inside the business hall,and more than 100 chairs from the building had beendragged out and left in a grassy field.

"For somebody to have that much trash in there, it hadto be a whole, whole bunch of them," said Ricky
Burch,director of a private cleanup crew hired by UNO. "Itlooked like Mardi Gras inside."

Xavier and Dillard universities, both hit hard by whatappeared to be at least a few feet of flooding onground floors, were strewn with tree limbs and otherdebris last week. Damage at Xavier, near SouthCarrollton Avenue and the Pontchartrain Expressway,had yet to be formally assessed, Savoie said.

In addition to flood damage, Dillard lost threebuildings to fire, said Savoie, who did not know whichbuildings burned. A drive past the campus suggestedthat the stately buildings along Gentilly Boulevardhad been spared. But dried muck and downed tree limbsacross much of the campus gave it a look ofdevastation.
Dillard and Xavier officials weren't immediatelyavailable for comment.

"Dillard requires significant cash investments fromalumni, government, foundations, corporations andfriends to restore the physical facilities andinfrastructure, equipment and academic instructionalmaterials," Dillard's Web site says. "We are dedicatedto the success of our students and the entire Dillardcommunity, and all of us eagerly await our return tofair Dillard."

Floodwaters invaded ground-floor medical facilities ofTulane University and Louisiana State University in theCentral Business District, damaging records, killinglaboratory animals and disrupting hundreds of researchprojects, Savoie said. Money for shoring up suchresearch projects will be sought from Congress, hesaid.

Nunez Community College in Chalmette, part of a swathof destruction caused by storm surge in St. BernardParish, saw six to seven feet of water on the bottomfloors of its four buildings, spokeswoman Teresa Smithsaid. Some of the buildings also sustained roofdamage, and mud from the storm waters filled parkinglots, one of which was littered with marooned boats. Adamage assessment for Nunez was incomplete last week.

Delgado received some flooding on the back sections ofthe City Park campus, and soldiers from the OregonNational Guard found in the main administrationbuilding trash that appeared to have been left behindby a small colony of storm refugees. But the unit,which had more than 240 soldiers camped out at thecampus, found no major damage or evidence of looting,said its spokesman, Sgt. 1st Class Cameron Hanson.
"I've only seen one broken window, and that was from abullet hole," he said.

Using Delgado equipment, the Oregon soldiers mowed thelawn.

Other than minor wind damage, Our Lady of Holy Cross,located in Algiers, and Loyola University, off St.Charles Avenue Uptown, were left relatively unscathedby Katrina, officials said. Serving as theheadquarters for Texas National Guard units, Loyolabenefited from its location on the river side ofFreret Street, avoiding the water damage that willrequire months of repair at neighboring Tulane.



9) Jefferson Parish Update:

http://www.nola.com/newslogs/tporleans/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_tporleans/archives/2005_09_18.html#080770

Jefferson Parish springs to life
Residents come back, businesses reopen
By Mary Swerczek
Kenner bureau

Backing away from a phased return order that hadstretched through next Wednesday, Jefferson ParishPresident Aaron Broussard announced that all JeffersonParish residents are welcome to return this weekend.

"He feels the parish has come back enough," saidWalter Maestri, the parish's Director of EmergencyManagement. "That was his commitment that he couldbring more and more people in as the infrastructurewould admit."

Maestri estimated Saturday that about 75 percent ofelectricity and sewerage is working in the parish. Buthe said the hardest-hit areas of Old Metairie,Bucktown and Terrytown remain without those services.Parish officials say about 65 percent to 70 percent ofthe parish's residents have already returned.

Beginning Monday at 5 a.m., residents will have totalaccess to the Causeway bridge, said Causeway GeneralManager Robert Lambert. Previously, the commission hadrestricted access to emergency personnel and thosewith special business permits, in an effort to helpadhere to the curfews enforced in various parishes,Lambert said.

But as of Monday, each parish will have to decide howit wants to handle the curfews in light of theCauseway's opening, he said. "The parish will have toenforce (curfews), not the Causeway Commission," hesaid.

With more and more residents arriving, Maestri saidthe biggest challenge facing the parish now is findingtemporary housing for thousands of citizens lefthomeless by the storm. West Bank residents have beenallowed to return, with the main problem area beingTerrytown, Maestri said.

Also, the parish is lifting the restriction againstrecreational vehicles and trailers in driveways, aslong as residents get a permit from the JeffersonParish Department of Inspection and Code Enforcement,Maestri said. There is no charge for the permit.

He didn't have an estimate of how many businesses havereopened, but said more are springing to life everyday.

"Today's the first active day," said River Ridgeresident Sandra Couvillion, standing outside aMcDonald's on Jefferson Highway on Saturday.

The fast-food restaurant's lobby was closed atlunchtime, but the line for drive-through stretchedonto the highway.

Many businesses advertised not just that they wereopening, but that workers were needed.

"We're hiring for every position," said Lowe's zonemanager Dwayne Dempster, at a Veterans MemorialBoulevard location. Employees from Lowe's storesthroughout the country and Lowe's vendors are helpingout at New Orleans area stores, Dempster said.

In addition to the new businesses opening, there wereother signs of life returning closer to normal.
In River Ridge, only the crumpled awnings and damagedsigns signaled the storm that came through nearlythree weeks ago.

Traffic was brisk along Jefferson Highway where themedian was dotted with spray-painted signs announcingthat various restaurants were open for business.

At Colonial Lanes bowling alley in Harahan, ownerChuck Ferrara threw a party for police andfirefighters who hepled the city reopen. "It's just alittle bit of appreciation for the people who helpedget us back on our feet again," said Ferrara, as theemergency workers bowled and ate pizza.

An RTA bus that was commandeered by New Orleansevacuees to escape the city in the days after thestorm is parked in front of City Hall. The dozenpeople on the bus weren't booked with a crime, butwere brought to the evacuation center at LouisArmstrong International Airport.

"I understand why they did what they did," PoliceChief Peter Dale said.

Staff writers Matt Scallan and Jenny Hurwitzcontributed to this report. Mary Swerczek can bereached at
mkswerczek@hotmail.com.



10) Another response analysis - looks like the city turned down that empty Amtrak train after all. Guess it wasn't part of the evacuation plan:

http://www.nola.com/newslogs/tporleans/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_tporleans/archives/2005_09_18.html#080770

Need and response proved out of sync
Initial confidence rooted in ignorance
Getting 'boots on the ground' proved particularlydifficult
By Bill Walsh
Washington bureau

WASHINGTON - It was 8:30 a.m., shortly after HurricaneKatrina made landfall Aug. 29, and Donald Bordelon wasfeeling pretty good.

Katrina's 145-mph fury was still raging outside hisArabi home. But in St. Bernard Parish, where residentslook up at the Mississippi River, the real worry iswater. Always, the water.

For the time being, the levees were holding back theforces of nature that daily threatened to render hisneighborhood just one more south Louisiana swamp. Hisrelief didn't last long.

Forty minutes later, water swirled up around the stovein his kitchen. He jumped into his boat and gave uphis home to the storm.

Elsewhere in the hurricane's tailwinds, a brief senseof security swept across much of southeasternLouisiana and the nation. In the early afternoon ofthat Monday, it seemed, the 287-year-old city had onceagain been spared a direct hit by a major storm. Aheadline in a national press service assured, "NewOrleans Weathers the Storm."

That assumption was dead wrong.

As surely as water seeks the lowest level, Katrina wasabout to lay bare the shortcomings of disaster plansby local, state and federal officials.

And as levees were breached around a city restingmainly below sea level, years of disaster planninggave way to finger-pointing, legal wrangling anddenial that things were as bad as they clearly were -even as residents suffered through unimaginableconditions just to survive.

A million evacuate

Days before it struck, Hurricane Katrina commanded afear and respect uncommon along the Gulf Coast, whereresidents are annually menaced by several hurricanesthat are often false alarms and near misses.
More than 1 million people fled the region ahead ofthe massive storm under a new evacuation plan. Manyhad heeded New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's stern warningto "treat this one differently." Those left behind -some who chose to stay, others who couldn't afford toleave - were promised a shelter of "last resort" inthe Superdome. Nagin said the city "planned for themto be in there for four of five days."

Amtrak offered its last train out of town Saturdaynight, which had room for several hundred passengers.A railroad spokesman said the city declined and thetrain left empty.

On Sunday, Nagin ordered the first-ever mandatoryevacuation of New Orleans. Police with bullhornscombed neighborhoods for stragglers.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco also issued a mandatoryevacuation and Michael Brown, director of the FederalEmergency Management Agency, described "a phalanx ofsupplies" positioned in a semi-circle around the cityready to deploy once the storm had passed. PresidentBush had taken the extraordinary step Saturday ofdeclaring a state of emergency, activating for thefirst time the much-vaunted National Response Plancreated in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

"We've planned for this kind of disaster for manyyears because we've always known about New Orleans andthe situation," FEMA's Brown said on NBC's "Today"show as the hurricane made landfall. "We actually didcatastrophic disaster planning for this two years ago,so we've put all of those in place. One year ago weactually did a tabletop exercise with the state ofLouisiana, so they've been through this drill."

But, as Nagin had said in urging residents toevacuate, this was not a drill.

FEMA's role

His frequent public pronouncements notwithstanding,Brown clearly saw himself in a supporting role in thedisaster drama. He issued a directive to FEMAemployees Monday not to respond to hurricane-ravagedareas "without being requested and lawfully dispatchedby state and local authorities."

The directive revealed an allegiance to bureaucraticprocesses that proved maddening to some as FEMAdemanded written requests for food, troops and fuel. AFlorida congressman said the agency turned down anoffer for flat-bottomed air boats because it didn'twant to sign a contract with the supplier.

Save for the Coast Guard's dramatic air rescues, adetached, legalistic approach set the tone for thefederal government's response. Brown is a lawyer as ishis boss, Department of Homeland Security SecretaryMichael Chertoff. And the founding document of U.S.disaster planning reads like a legal brief.

The National Response Plan is chock full of legalese,case law and statutes, but it doesn't clearly spellout something as basic as who is responsible forgetting food and water to flood victims. The 426-pageplan was supposed to have remedied thecommand-and-control problems that plagued the responseto the terrorist attacks in New York City. But it'shardly a model of clarity. Its authors thought itnecessary to attach an 11-page glossary of "key terms"and a three-page explanation of acronyms. On theseminal question - Who's in charge? - the FederalResponse Plan is murky.

It says incidents are "typically" managed at thelowest levels of government. On the same page,however, it says that "Incidents of NationalSignificance" put the secretary of the Department ofHomeland Security in charge. The next page seems toreverse course again. It says that "Incidents ofNational Significance," emergencies declared by thepresident, puts the federal government in a supportingrole to protect state sovereignty. That is, unless thepresident decides he wants to be in charge, in whichcase the governor is secondary. Under thosecircumstances, the plan says, the president willconsult with the governor, "if practicable."

Desperate situation

Legal nuances meant little to those in the disasterzone. In many parts of New Orleans, the water was onthe rise.

Three breaches in the Industrial Canal levee pouredwater into the Lower Ninth Ward and Bywater. Twoothers breaks along the London Avenue Canal sent adeluge into Gentilly. Another along the 17th Streetcanal levee flooded Lakeview, City Park and Mid-City.As long feared, the barriers that had been built tokeep the water out were now trapping it in.

The thousands of people who hadn't evacuated scrambledto keep above the rising water. By mid-afternoonMonday along Claiborne Avenue, a man and his familycould be seen peering out a window from his attic as12 feet of water churned below. Many people wereforced to cut their way through their roofs to escapethe rising tide. Some were being plucked off roofs byCoast Guard helicopters or lifted into boats, bothwhich were suddenly in short supply.

By nightfall, a helicopter pilot flying over thedarkened city reported seeing dozens of flickeringlights below, signals from desperate flood victimshoping for a ride. Most would spend the first nightafter Katrina on their roofs. Some would be there fordays.

Rule of law falters

Lawlessness became the story Tuesday. Looters smashedstore windows and pried open doors. Some of thelooters sought food and health supplies. Others wentfor the big-ticket items.

New Orleans Police Chief Eddie Compass said that his1,500 officers were too busy rescuing people to worryabout looting. But some officers took more than apassing interest. At the Wal-Mart on TchoupitoulasStreet, an officer was seen loading a shopping cartwith a 27-inch flat-screen television and a
personalcomputer.

Some residents began arming themselves. Keith Williamssaid he began carrying a handgun in his Uptownneighborhood after seeing the body of a gunshot victimslumped on a sidewalk.

"What I want to know is why we don't have anyparatroopers with machine guns on every street,"Williams said.
Nowhere was the need for law and order more acute thanin the Superdome. About 25,000 people had taken refugein the domed stadium and the situation quicklydeteriorated. The lights went out. Theair-conditioning stopped. The plumbing failed.

Violence, deprivation and worse were widely reportedinside. Thousands were trapped.

Buses that the city was to have provided to get peopleout had been parked on low ground and were now stuckin water. It took at least three days for Blanco andfederal officials to round up enough buses and driversto haul people out.

For the moment, Nagin remained calm. Asked whether hehad enough troops to keep order, he answered:"Absolutely. There are 3,500 National Guard officersthat are on their way and should be here tomorrow. Sowe have enough resources to get the job done."

What Nagin didn't know was that the rescuers werehaving problems of their own.

The National Guard staging area at Jackson Barrackshad flooded, and a downed radio tower crippledcommunications. The water in many parts of the regionwas too deep to drive in trucks pulling rescue boats,yet too shallow for top-grade Coast Guard vessels.

"No one is satisfied with the response early on," saidRuss Knocke of the Department of Homeland Security.
Third World scenes

By Tuesday afternoon, the enormity of the disaster wasbecoming clear to almost everyone. It seemed to knockofficials back on their heels. After a helicoptertour, Blanco called the devastation "untenable" and"heartbreaking." FEMA's Brown predicted it would be"weeks and weeks" before people could return home.
On national television Americans watched Third Worldscenes play out in a beloved American city.

Viewers couldn't help but notice that the vastmajority of those pleading for help from atop roofs oroutside the Superdome were African-American. Some ofthe victims asked whether the response would have beenquicker had their skin color been lighter. Althoughmany white residents were stranded in other placesoutside the majority-black city, race became anundercurrent of criticism of the federal response.

On Wednesday, Bush cut short his Texas vacation andwent back to Washington. On the way, he peered outover the disaster zone from Air Force One as it passedhigh above.

At the White House, Bush hastily convened a Cabinetmeeting and appointed Chertoff to the helm of a newhurricane task force. The political master stroke,though, was the appointment of Army Lt. Gen. RusselHonore, a brash, media-savvy Louisiana native, as thefederal government's new face in New Orleans.
The imposing three-star general barked out orders tosoldiers and obliged countless reporters enthralled byhis cigar-chomping style. Even Nagin was impressed,calling him "that John Wayne dude."

Assessing the federal government's response from thecomfort of the Department of Homeland Security inWashington, Chertoff on Wednesday liked what he saw.

"We are extremely pleased with the response that everyelement of the federal government has made to thisterrible tragedy," Chertoff said.

Dangerous refuge

Chertoff, he would later confess, had not yet seenwhat was unfolding at the Ernest N. Morial ConventionCenter.

Thousands of people since Tuesday had begun seekingrefuge in the Convention Center in the high groundalong the Mississippi River. The massive halls soonbecame desperate scenes of deprivation.
Outside, the body of a 91-year-old man slouched in alawn chair. His wife said he died in the back of aRyder van during the evacuation and was deposited onthe neutral ground.

Inside, there were reports of armed men from rivalpublic housing developments in an atmosphere teemingwith danger. A doctor said he saw at least four deadbodies uncovered, uncared for.
Help, it turned out, was only a few doors away. Acontingent of 250 armed National Guardsmen haddecamped in one of the convention halls nearby. But aGuard spokesman said that they held back attempting toquell the violence awaiting reinforcements.

Getting enough "boots on the ground" proved adifficult task in the aftermath of Katrina. Legalisticwrangling between Gov. Blanco and the White Housewould keep active-duty soldiers out of the disasterzone until five days after the hurricane had passed.

Blanco said she expected to see a heavy federalmilitary presence soon after she spoke with PresidentBush on Sunday.

"I asked him, 'Send me everything he's got,'" shesaid.

But the administration said Blanco hadn't been clearon what she needed. On Wednesday, she asked for 40,000troops. Bush administration officials say Blancowanted active-duty soldiers, who aren't by law allowedto act as police. But, Blanco aides said she requestedany combination - National Guard or regular Army -just as long as there were enough to help restoreorder and help in the rescue effort.

"She didn't know what she wanted or what she needed,"an administration official said.

In between television interviews, Blanco wasquestioning herself.

"I really need to call for the military," she could beheard telling an aide. "We should have started that inthe first call."

On Wednesday, the Guard force in the New Orleans areanumbered nearly 500. It swelled to 6,500 by Thursdayand 7,767 by Friday. But it wouldn't be until Fridaythat the Guard troops believed they had enough backupto seize the Convention Center. When they did, agrateful and mostly passive crowd greeted them.

Fire and water

Soon after Katrina blew through, the U.S. Army Corpsof Engineers had been trying to repair the breaches inthe levees. Their main worry was a yawning, 200-foothole in the 17th Street canal dike that was pouringmillions of gallons of Lake Pontchartrain into thecity.

They had dropped 3,000-pound bags of sand into thebreach, but it did little good. On Wednesday, MotherNature brought some relief. A shift in the tidesstabilized the water in the city, a glimmer of goodnews in a city that was sinking into anarchy.

Fires burned out of control. Hospitals refused to takeemergencies as staffers prepared to evacuate withpatients. Two police officers committed suicide.

'There is frustration'

Thursday dawned with a familiar refrain: Help is onthe way.

President Bush was asked on "Good Morning America" whyaid was so slow. "I understand the anxieties of peopleon the ground. There is frustration," Bush said."There is a lot of help coming."

But there remained signs that officials weren'tcompletely aware of what was happening in the city.
Despite years of warnings that the city's leveescouldn't withstand a hurricane as strong as Katrina,Bush said, "I don't think anyone anticipated thebreach of the levees."

Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff told a reporterthat he hadn't heard reports of thousands of peoplehungry and thirsty at the Convention Center. FEMAChief Brown said the government had learned of it onlythat day.

Terry Ebbert, the city's disaster planner, voiced acommon sentiment inside the disaster zone Thursday.
"This is a national disgrace," he said. "FEMA has beenhere for three days and there is no command andcontrol. We send massive amounts of aid to tsumanivictims, but we can't bail out the city of NewOrleans."

By Friday, the Coast Guard had rescued more than 7,000people, 5,500 by helicopter. Dozens were confirmeddead, but everyone expected the toll to rise.

President Bush visited Mississippi to survey thedamage. He walked past demolished homes and huggedhurricane victims. He gave Brown, the FEMA director, avote of confidence.

"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job," he said.

In a matter of days, Brown would be removed as head ofthe Gulf Coast relief effort and then resign his postat FEMA. Bush and Blanco would, in quick succession,publicly take responsibility for the mistakes thatwere made in the response effort.

It seemed that another corner had been turned fromassessing blame to focusing on rebuilding the city.Nagin and leaders from surrounding parishes begantaking steps so that residents could return.

Bush came back to New Orleans. Ahead of him andthrough deep water, a long-awaited convoy of food,supplies and troops rumbled into New Orleans. At theairport, the president reaffirmed the government'scommitment.

"In America," he said, "we do not abandon our fellowcitizens in their hour of need."



11) Nobody got hit harder than St. Bernard:

http://www.nola.com/newslogs/tporleans/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_tporleans/archives/2005_09_18.html#080770

Sunday, September 18, 2005
EMPTY HANDS, BROKEN HEARTS
St. Bernard dwellers return to collect belongings andfind there's little left

'It's only going to get worse,' sheriff says

By Paul RiouxSt. Bernard/Plaquemines bureau

The once-tidy cottage on Lebeau Avenue in Arabi hadbeen home to five generations of Susan Probst'sfamily, from her grandparents to her 9-year-oldgrandson. So Probst made sure she was among the firstin line Saturday at dawn when St. Bernard Parishofficials allowed residents in her neighborhood toreturn and salvage the few possessions that HurricaneKatrina had spared.

Despite dire warnings about the devastation throughoutthe parish, Probst and her husband, Tony, held outhope and had even rented a small moving van to haulaway their possessions. But that all changed with oneglimpse through the home's windows.

"Oh, my God! Oh, my God!" she screamed as she fell toher knees and her words dissolved into a piercingwail.

The refrigerator lay in the middle of the kitchenfloor, surrounded by slimy muck. The living room was ajumbled mess of mildewed furniture tossed about byfloodwaters that had nearly reached the tops ofdoorways. Mold was spreading on the walls andceilings.

Once she gathered herself enough to go inside, Probstdiscovered more heartbreak. Her collection of MickeyMouse memorabilia was destroyed, and the water hadsmeared the ink on scores of pictures of her fivegrandchildren, blurring theirfaces so she couldn'trecognize them.

"I tried to prepare myself for what I might see, but Inever imagined this," she said. "Maybe I was justtrying to fool myself."

"Looks like we won't be needing the truck after all,"Tony Probst said.

Similar scenes played out throughout Old Arabi asabout 300 carloads of residents returned to the parishSaturday to see what they could salvage. Most leftvirtually empty handed.

"People are shocked by what they're seeing and this isthe least impacted area," Sheriff Jack Stephens said."It's only going to get worse."

In the coming days, residents will be allowed toreturn in stages to other areas of the devastatedparish, where virtually all 27,600 homes flooded,including hundreds that were simply washed away ineastern St. Bernard.

On Saturday, warped doors and jammed locks forced manyresidents to break into their own homes.

Residentswore masks, rubber gloves and knee-high boots as theydragged moldy furniture to the curb. Soggy
photoalbums and other valuables were delicately placed intoplastic bags.

Mary Ann Hoover, 79, insisted on personally inspectingthe damage to the Friscoville Avenue home, where shehas lived for more than 50 years. "She's got thingsstashed away in there that only she knows how tofind," said her son, Jesse Hoover.

Wearing a flowered shirt and matching slacks, Mary AnnHoover donned a white mask and green rubber gloves.She then shuffled toward her side door past arefrigerator filled with rotten food. "Good thing Ilost my sense of smell," she said.

"What in the world is that?" she said, looking at alarge mold-covered object in her darkened living room."That used to be your coffee table," Jesse Hooversaid. "You've got to be kidding me," she said.

Authorities have estimated that 75 percent or more ofSt. Bernard's homes will have to be razed. ParishCouncilman Craig Taffaro said an informal poll ofresidents returning to the 800-home Old Arabineighborhood suggested that six out of 10 don't planto rebuild.

Even so, Councilman Mark Madary, whose districtincludes Arabi, said he saw some encouraging signs."It was uplifting to see people cleaning out theirhomes," he said. "The rebirth of St. Bernard dependson people coming back. And like childbirth, it ain'talways going to be a pretty sight."

Carol Becnel said she can't imagine rebuilding hershotgun in the 300 block of Angela Drive, which tookon precisely 36 2/3 inches of water, according to herhusband's tape measure.

"I spent the first half of my life renovating thishouse. I'm not going to spend the rest of my lifedoing it all over again," she said, holding backtears. "I try not to cry because if I start, I mightnever stop."

Displaced from the close-knit parish where peoplepride themselves on looking out for each other, Becnelsaid she has had to rely on the kindness of strangers:The waitress in Houma who tore up their dinner billwhen she heard their house had flooded. The woman whooffered to replace the shoes Becnel bought for herson's wedding next month. Even the postal clerk whohanded her a phone book brought tears to her eyes.

"I wish I was the one being kind," she said. "I don'tlike being on the receiving end, but God is workingthrough these people." Children were conspicuouslyabsent from Saturday's recovery efforts, which took onthe feel of a reunion as neighbors spoke to oneanother for the first time since before the Aug. 29storm.

For safety reasons, parish officials had urgedresidents to not bring their children. BrendaSchaubhut, whose recently restored shotgun double wasruined by the storm, left her two children withfriends at a Shreveport hotel. She said they are doingwell and have treated the family's evacuation,including a week at a makeshift shelter in Chalmette,as an adventure. Mallory, 7, told her grandmother howthey "got" to sleep on cardboard at the shelter. AndDylan, 5, was thrilled by the sight of helicoptersbuzzing over New Orleans as the family was evacuatedon a crew boat up the Mississippi River to BatonRouge.

But Schaubhut said the children's resilience is beingstretched thin as the days have turned into weeks."Dylan just about broke my heart the other day when heasked me, 'Does Santa Claus come to hotels?' '' shesaid.



12) Survivor stories:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5286734,00.html

After Storm, Survivors Learn to Improvise

Sunday September 18, 2005 6:46 PM
By DEBORAH HASTINGS
AP National Writer

In devastated Chalmette, La., at Lehrmann's bar andseafood restaurant just across the street from arefinery, pool tables were converted to beds for thosewho lost their homes but refused to leave flooded St.Bernard's parish.

In New Orleans, mattresses became life rafts andplastic storage bins were floating baby strollers.
Without electricity and running on sheer adrenaline,survivors of Katrina quickly learned that making domeant making use, in an entirely different way, ofwhatever was at hand.

Their improvisations serve as valuable lessons - andtestaments to the human spirit and adaptability. Ababy can be delivered by the illumination of a singleflashlight. A raft of two-by-fours can be a funeralbarge. Anti-bacterial dishwashing liquid can cleanyour dentures. And an exotic dancer's garter belt canbecome a headband.

``That's called the ingenuity of survivors,'' saidJoanna Dubreuil, standing outside what used to beWaffles Plus restaurant in Bay St. Louis, Miss., agulf-front town that is basically gone. Her sons hadjust secured a length of pipe to an erupting artesianwell, creating a blessed outdoor shower in the middleof widespread wreckage.

In New Orleans' French Quarter, where flooding wascomparatively minimal but running water nonexistent,personal hygiene took a great deal of improvising.Carolyn Krack, 76, used dishwashing liquid to brushher dentures.

Ron Seitzer, 61, took up residence on the roof ofChris Owens' transvestite cabaret on Bourbon Street.Just outside the quarter, in the Mississippi River, hejoined others who came to wash their clothes, theircookware, and themselves.

His detergent was a mix of dish soap and ``cool oceanscent'' floor cleaner. ``I feel sort of bad that it'sgoing to be going into the river,'' he said. ``But I'msure there are a lot worse things at this point.''

After Katrina, even death required improvising. In NewOrleans, a woman's body lay outside for days.Eventually, bricks were stacked to form a makeshiftgrave. A bedsheet became a tombstone. ``Here LiesVera,'' it said. ``God Help Us.''

Xavier Bowie died while his common-law wife was outlooking for help. No one would come get his body, soEvelyn Turner wrapped a sheet around him and floatedhim down to the main road on a raft of two-by-fours. Atruck finally stopped and its driver was persuaded tocarry Turner and her dead companion to CharityHospital.

There, doctors had enlisted bystanders and relativesto squeeze portable air bags for patients - ademanding and tedious job - who had been onventilators that gave out when the generators died.Boats became gurneys, transporting the sick out of thedamaged hospital. ``The patients were being treatedwith not even what you'd have in a field hospital,''said Dr. L. Lee Hamm.

At University Hospital, in a dark and airlessthird-floor room, Dr. Stacey Holman held a flashlightwhile her colleague delivered a baby. The mothercouldn't have epidural anesthesia because there was nopower.

Ferries became giant relief rafts. In Chalmette,would-be evacuees waited in a storm, wearing garbagebags as rain ponchos. Standing in line, exotic dancerCortny Elder, 24, used her garter belt to hold backher hair.
On Canal Street, in the heart of New Orleans' centralbusiness district, relief workers who had journeyedfrom cities across the country - to improviseeverything from meals to housing to rescues - foundthey had to improvise again when they had nowhere toturn for church.

So volunteers stood in the bed of a pickup truck, tookup a bullhorn and led about 100 worshippers in prayer.
``We want to thank you for bringing peace and love andhope to this community,'' said one.

On the fringes of downtown Dallas, at the DeckerDetention Center, a minimum-security prison, 750inmates were removed so the dispossessed of HurricaneKatrina could have a place to sleep. The refugees alsogot new clothes to wear, with ``PRISONER'' runningdown the leg of loose-fitting pants and ``DallasCounty Jail'' printed across the back of shirts.

Some weren't so appreciative, even though a countysheriff's spokesman insisted authorities were doingall they could to make it feel like home. Computerswith Internet access were brought in. Phone calls werefree.

``We don't want them to feel like it's a jail,''said Sgt. Don Peritz.

Which is much easier to say when one doesn't have tosleep there.

``Why we got to stay in a prison cell?'' asked38-year-old Norris Gullo, a New Orleans constructionworker.

``Why we getting strung out like this?''
---
Associated Press writers Allen G. Breed, MarilynnMarchione, Erin McClam, Matt Sedensky and Vicki Smithcontributed to this story from Louisiana andMississippi.



13) Another survivor story:

http://www.nola.com/newslogs/tpsports/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_tpsports/archives/2005_09.html#080775

Katrina's might surprised the Campo clan

3:47 p.m. Saturday
By Bob Marshall
Outdoors editor

After living in the St. Bernard marshes all of his 87years, Blackie Campo thought he’d probably seen andheard it all – even when it came to hurricanes. It wasa hubris Campo earned by watching storms wipe homesaway in 1947 and 1956.

So as he and his son Ken waited in the Poydras home ofhis grandson Kenny for Katrina to pay her visit on thenight of Aug. 28 Blackie – arguably the best-knownmarsh man in south Louisiana - thought there could beno surprises.

He was wrong.

“This was worse than everything I’ve ever seen beforecombined,” Blackie said Friday from his refuge inBaton Rouge. “I thought we’d have some water. Ithought there would be winds. But I never thought itwould be like this – just all gone.

“I’ll tell you, we’re lucky we got out of there withour lives.”

They have little else left.

Katrina already is being called the most destructivenatural event in the nation’s history, a storm thatspawned a million stories of horror, escape and livessuddenly changed. The Campos have one such story.If a family and a place can be an icon for a traditionas old and cherished as fishing in southeast

Louisiana, it has always been the Campos and Blackie’sShell Beach hoist. They have been fixtures not just onthe Lake Borgne fishing scene, but in the hearts anddreams of three generations of metro-area residents.

Saying “Blackie’s” in a New Orleans crowd is almostlike saying “Archie”. The name brought instantrecognition, and visions of a place as much a part ofthe local culture as Jackson Square. The Campo clanhad been there since the 1800s, running their hoistsince 1931. They seemed permanent, even in a regionwhere land disappeared at the rate of 35 square milersa year.

Today they are gone, and the future is uncertain.Blackie and his wife Mabel are staying with family inBaton Rouge. Ken, 57, and Kenny, 33, are earning awage working on hurricane clean-up crews in St.Tammany Parish.

“We’re making a living, and happy to have it,” saidKenny. “But did I ever dream it would come to this?Not until that day.

“And I can tell you exactly when everything changed.”It was 11 a.m. on Monday Aug. 29, and the Campo menwere in a celebratory mood. Katrina’s eye and itsvicious 145-mph winds had passed close to the area butthey had come through unscathed in the house just 200yards from the river levee. They really weren’tsurprised.

“When I built my house, I chose that land in Poydrasbecause everyone said it had never flooded there,ever,” Kenny said. “That’s why we evacuated there. Wehad locked down grandpa’s house, the hoist and thebusiness on Sunday, our families had gone to BatonRouge, and we’d come to my house because – likegrandpa said – it never floods in Poydras.

“And after the first part of Katrina passed, it stillhadn’t flooded.”

With a new generator purring, the men watched thestorm’s progress on TV and were preparing to have somelunch. Kenny went outside bare-chested and bare-footedto pick up the few shingles blown off his roof.

That’swhen he heard a peculiar hissing sound, and looked upthe street.

“Water was coming down the street, then from the otheryards, then up the street, it was just pouring in fromeverywhere,” he said. “By the time I got back to thehouse, it was up to my knees.”

His alarms dumbfounded his father and grandfather.

“Kenny comes in yelling ‘We got to get out of here! Wegot to go!’ and I didn’t know what he was talkingabout,” Ken Sr. said. “Then, the water started comingin the house.”

The men ran to their two pickup trucks, Blackiejoining Kenny in one, Ken Sr., in the other, and withthe water rising fast made a hurried, fatefuldecision.

“As we’re getting in the pickups, I’m thinking aboutwhere we should go,” Ken recalled. “At first I thoughtwe should try to get to St. Bernard High School, thenmaybe the courthouse. But the levee was right there,so we just took off and drove up to the top of thelevee.

“Let me tell you, maybe 15 minutes had passed sinceKenny saw that water until the time we got to the topof the levee, but by then there was seven feet ofwater in his house, and it was still rising. We wereon the only high ground left. If we’d tried to goanywhere else, we would have all drowned.”

They were safe, but only for the moment. Katrina’swinds returned blowing from the northwest with avengeance.

“It was so strong it was rocking those pickup trucks,and several gusts almost rolled us completely over,”Ken said. “We finally decided we had to drive part waydown the river-side of the levee. That got us someprotection, but we were still being bounced by thegusts.

“We stayed like that for two hours, but it seemed likeweeks. It was really, really scary. Several times Ithought we’d be rolled into the river.”

When the wind and rain finally eased they drove northon the levee to Violet, where Ken’s brother, F. J.,had planned to ride out the storm in his 55-footshrimp trawler. What they saw along the way made themanxious.

The parish was a lake broken only by theroofs of homes, many holding people begging for help.They rescued a few, including several relatives.Each mile made them fear the worst for Violet andF.J.. But he was fine, and the shrimp boat becametheir home for the next three days.

“We had a whole bunch of people living on boats,waiting to find out just what had happened,” Kennysaid.
The survivors helped open the Violet flood gates withhand power and on Wednesday the Campos motored downthe MR-GO to check on their business and homes inShell Beach. It was a short voyage, but one they willnever forget.

“The (MR-GO) levee was gone, and that’s what probablyflooded St. Bernard and Poydras,” Kenny reasoned.

“Thechannel was twice as wide as it was before the storm.

“When we made that turn from the channel into thebayou (Ycloskey), we couldn’t believe our eyes –because there was nothing to see. The steel beams andthe roof on the hoist were still standing, but therewas nothing else left. It was total devastation.”

Blackie’s home that had withstood everything naturehad thrown its way since 1956, the marina store, theboat sheds, and almost every home on nearby Proctor’sLanding and Beauregard Estates were gone. Only slabsremained.

“My house was built strong, with the idea ofhurricanes hitting,” Ken Sr. said. “The pilings weredriven deep, and they were anchored in the slab, andthen bolted to the frame of the house. Everything wasbolted and anchored down. And there’s noting left.

“I don’t mean it was torn down. I mean it’s nowhere tobe found. I don’t know what hit us, but it had to be ahell of a lot of water, and an incredible amount ofwind.”

Blackie looked at the scene through eyes that havewatched nature play violent games with his nativemarshes for 87 years, and was still shocked.

“I knew it would be bad, especially after the floodingat Kenny’s house, but I’ve never seen anything likethis,” he said. “You put all the other stormstogether, and they don’t equal this.

“I don’t know where my house is, or even its roof.Nothing’s left. It’s almost like we were never there.”By the end of the week the family had affected arescue thanks to friends in Covington, and cousinDavid Snyder, a native who had relocated to BatonRouge more than 15 years ago. Like hundreds ofthousands of other evacuees, their immediate concernwas getting work, and their vast extended fishingfamily was ready to help.
“We got offers to work, places to stay, people havejust been unreal,” said Ken. “We’re OK for now.”But the future is in question. The infrastructure ofthe fishing business – roads, fuel, ice and customers– is in shambles.

“Sure, we’d like to rebuild the business, but even ifwe could do that next week – they could open theroads, fix the bridges, get power and fuel - wherewould our customers come from?” Kenny pointed out. “Ican’t see us staying out forever, but for right now Idon’t see how any of that’s going to get done verysoon.”

Ken agreed, but said his clan is struggling with thesame emotions all Katrina evacuees are saddled with.He and Kenny will look for work and places to livewith their families as close to home as possible, andmake the best of it.

Blackie and his wife of 65 years will remain for nowwith his cousin in a Baton Rouge subdivision calledCamelot. He knows it’s too far from the marsh to liveup to that name.

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