Monday, November 28, 2005

Katrina Encours et Toujours XXVIII

1) Katrina relevant links definitely worthy of checking up:

This entire blog is devoted to Katrina and NO reconstruction:

This is NYC for NOLA website, including an Onion takeoff:

Here's the most comprehensive Katrina info blog I've seen yet:

Here's a local website devoted to reconstruction (another appropriate destination for donations):

Here's a relief website devoted to local arts phenom "Blue Dog":

2) As I mentioned in a previous posting, last week I tried to argue MESA's [Middle East Studies Association] holding it's 2012 convention in NO. The results were mixed, with one of the staff asking what MESA would do if there were to be another hurricane in 2012. I mentioned that Miami, Orlando, SF, and LA all suffer from potential hurricanes or earthquakes, and that Katrina's damage had never been seen in NO history. That was the negative point. On the positive point, she did say that the MESA powers-that-be are seriously considering NO for 2012. Let's hope they decide to hold the convention in NO. For encouragement, let's start by posting this article, stating that the DNC will hold its 2006 meeting in NO. Let's hope the Dems' 2008 convention will be in NO as well. As always, nag your local Dems:

Democratic National Committee to meet in N.O.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Democratic National Committee will bring about 400 people to New Orleans for its first meeting of 2006 to help rebuild the Gulf area devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

DNC chairman Howard Dean says the three-day meeting will begin April 20, the weekend of the French Quarter Festival.

Dean say the group usually uses only union hotels, but got a special dispensation from labor officials to book the downtown Sheraton.

Dean says the Sheraton is the only full-service hotel that' reserving rooms and can handle a convention.
The American Library Association, which has to book years in advance because it brings about 20,000 people to its midyear conference, confirmed early this month that it will keep its June 24-27 dates in New Orleans.

Dean says New Orleans is also among 33 cities invited to compete for the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

The April meeting is the major one before the midterm elections.

3) As another point pushing MESA to hold its 2012 convention in New Orleans, here's an announcement by the APA, or American Psychological Association. I should point out that the APA will be holding its convention in NO during the height of hurricane season with what will be a weakened levee system. First of all, kudos to the APA. Secondly, let this be an example to MESA, whose conventionas are always in mid-late November, or long after hurricane season. Thirdly, NO had better not screw this one up -- the APA will be a large convention and will be a test case for post-Katrina NO convention viability:

The American Psychological Association

The 2006 annual meeting of the American Psychological Association will be held in New Orleans, August 10 - 13, 2006, the APA Board of Directors announced today. The decision to keep the meeting in New Orleans was made by unanimous vote.

APA has been actively monitoring the New Orleans storm recovery,including a site visit on October 31. A number of factors went into the Board's decision to keep the 2006 meeting in New Orleans, including:

* Parts of the city most critical to our meeting, the convention center area, our convention hotels, and the French Quarter, did not sustain any damage due to flooding and suffered much less serious storm damage than other parts of the city. These areas are well on their way to full recovery;
* Air quality tests conducted by federal, state, and private entities have shown that the air in New Orleans is safe;
* As of October 6, the Louisiana Office of Public Health announced that tap water is safe to drink in the convention center, downtown, and the French Quarter areas;
* In February New Orleans will host its annual Mardi Grascelebration. This spring and summer the city will also host a number of large conventions and society meetings. These events and others are expected to increase staffing and service levels across the city.

All indications are that New Orleans is on a strong trajectory ofrecovery and will be well prepared to host our meeting next summer. Our top priority in making the decision about New Orleans was the health and safety of meeting attendees and the city's ability to provide the services necessary for a high-quality meeting. Based on health reports and our own site visit, we are pleased with the progress of the recovery effort. We look forward to a very successful meeting in New Orleans and to being part of the revival of the city.

For more information about convention planning, go and as a reminder, convention programsubmissions are due to divisions on December 2.

Hope to see you in New Orleans!

Norman B. Anderson, PhD, CEO
The American Psychological Association
750 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
Phone: 202-336-6020

4) This is a long auto-biographical diary detailing an absolutely outrageous story concerning the conjunction between Katrina, failed government relief efforts, and the war of terror:
Thursday, November 24, 2005

Rescue efforts lead to arrest nightmare for N.O. businessman

Abdulrahman Zeitoun of New Orleans writes about his experiences rescuing storm victims, and about his arrest and ordeal on suspicion of terrorism and looting:

My name is Abdulrahman Zeitoun. I am the owner of Zeitoun A. Painting Contractors LLC, and Zeitoun Rentals LLC. I have been in business in New Orleans for almost 12 years. I have a very good reputation through out the City of New Orleans, and I am listed with the Better Business Bureau.

I am originally from Syria, and I came to the United States in 1973. I started my life from scratch, and worked my way up to where I am now. I am married to Kathryn M. Richmond, I have 3 daughters and a son with her....

5) If you really want to help NO, forward this op-ed as far as you can, and urge everyone you know to contact the following Congressional members after the posting, especially if you are a constituent. Tell them that NO needs their commitment to levee strengthening, coastal restoration, and reconstruction:

An Editorial: It's time for a nation to return thefavor
Sunday, November 20, 2005

The federal government wrapped levees around greaterNew Orleans so that the rest of the country couldshare in our bounty.

Americans wanted the oil and gas that flow freely offour shores. They longed for the oysters and shrimp andflaky Gulf fish that live in abundance in our waters.They wanted to ship corn and soybeans and beets downthe Mississippi and through our ports. They wantedcoffee and steel to flow north through the mouth ofthe river and into the heartland.

They wanted more than that, though. They wanted toshare in our spirit. They wanted to sample the joyousbeauty of our jazz and our food. And we were happy tooblige them.

So the federal government built levees and convincedus that we were safe.

We weren't.

The levees, we were told, could stand up to a Category3 hurricane.

They couldn't.

By the time Katrina surged into New Orleans, it hadweakened to Category 3. Yet our levee system wasn't asstrong as the Army Corps of Engineers said it was.Barely anchored in mushy soil, the floodwalls gaveway.

Our homes and businesses were swamped. Hundreds of ourneighbors died.

Now, this metro area is drying off and digging out.Life is going forward. Our heart is beating.
But we need the federal government -- we need ourCongress -- to fulfill the promises made to us in thepast. We need to be safe. We need to be able to goabout our business feeding and fueling the rest of thenation. We need better protection next hurricaneseason than we had this year. Going forward, we needprotection from the fiercest storms, the Category 5storms that are out there waiting to strike.

Some voices in Washington are arguing against us. Wewere foolish, they say. We settled in a place that islower than the sea. We should have expected to drown.

As if choosing to live in one of the nation's greatcities amounted to a death wish. As if living in SanFrancisco or Miami or Boston is any more logical.

Great cities are made by their place and their people,their beauty and their risk. Water flows around andthrough most of them. And one of the greatest bodiesof water in the land flows through this one: theMississippi.

The federal government decided long ago to try to tamethe river and the swampy land spreading out from it.The country needed this waterlogged land of ours toprosper, so that the nation could prosper even more.
Some people in Washington don't seem to remember that.They act as if we are a burden. They act as if we woreour skirts too short and invited trouble.

We can't put up with that. We have to stand up forourselves. Whether you are back at home or still inexile waiting to return, let Congress know that thismetro area must be made safe from future storms. Calland write the leaders who are deciding our fate. Getyour family and friends in other states to do thesame. Start with members of the Environment and PublicWorks and Appropriations committees in the Senate, andTransportation and Appropriations in the House. Floodthem with mail the way we were flooded by Katrina.

Remind them that this is a singular American city andthat this nation still needs what we can give it.

Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn.; 509 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510; (202) 224-3344; Web site: .

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss, chairman; 113 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510; (202) 224-5054; e-mail address: .

Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., ranking member; 311 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510; (202) 224-3954; e-mail address:

Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska; 522 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510; (202) 224-3004; Web site:

Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., chairman; 393 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510; (202) 224-3324; Web site:

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., ranking member; 530 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510; (202) 224-2043; Web site:

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman; 453 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510; (202) 224-4721; Web site:

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., ranking member; 511 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510; (202) 224-2651; e-mail address:

Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.; 235 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515; (202) 225-2976; Web site:

Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; 217 Cannon House Office Building; Washington, D.C. 20515; (202) 225-6536; Web site:

Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., chairman; 2112 Rayburn House Office Building; Washington, D.C. 20515; (202) 225-5861; Web site:

Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., ranking member; 2314 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515; (202) 225-3365; Web site:

Rep. Jim Nussle, R-Iowa, chairman; 303 Cannon House Office Building; Washington, D.C. 20515; (202) 225-2911; e-mail:

Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C., ranking member; 1401 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515; (202) 225-5501; Web site:

6) Here's another activist posting by Jordan Flaherty, concerning Katrina activism, reconstruction, and local politics:

Community and Resistance
by Jordan Flaherty
November 23, 2005

A couple months before New Orleans flooded, I remember walking through my neighborhood on a beautiful weekend afternoon and hearing music.

I followed the sound a couple blocks, to where about thirty people, all of them Black, followed a few musicians through the streets. They were mourning the death of a loved one, New Orleans-style. Most folks were wearing custom t-shirts with a picture of the deceased. Next to the photo were the words “sunrise” along with the date of his birth, and “sunset,” above the date of his (recent) death - he was 20. Also on the shirt were the words, “No More Drama.”

On the back, the shirts were individualized, with the relation of the wearer to the deceased. One woman’s shirt said “momma.” A few teenagers had shirts that said “cuz.” A small child’s shirt said “daddy.”

Despite their loss, they were dancing through the streets. When the band finished their final song, everyone danced their hearts out. I don’t know what else to say, except that's how we do it in New Orleans, and the image of those people mourning through celebration sticks with me as I see New Orleans today, struggling with so much loss and tragedy.

Cornel West, who has visited New Orleans often, said shortly after the city was flooded, “New Orleans has always been a city that lived on the edge, with Elysian Fields and cemeteries and the quest for paradise. When you live so close to death, behind the levees, you live more intensely, sexually, gastronomically, psychologically. Louis Armstrong came out of that unbelievable cultural breakthrough unprecedented in the history of American civilization. The rural blues, the urban jazz. It is the tragicomic lyricism that gives you the courage to get through the darkest storm. Charlie Parker would have killed somebody if he had not blown his horn. The history of black people in America is one of unbelievable resilience in the face of crushing white supremacist powers.”

More than anywhere else in the US, New Orleans is a city where people live in one neighborhood their whole lives, where generations live in the same community. According to a recent census, of all US cities, New Orleans ranked second in the percentage of its population born in the state, at 83 percent. (Santa Ana, Calif., was first; Las Vegas last.) 54 percent of the residents of the Lower Ninth Ward had been in their homes for 10 years or more, far above the national average.

All of this is to say that New Orleans is not just a tourist stop. New Orleans is a unique culture, one that is resilient, and with a history of community and resistance. And, despite everything, resistance continues.
The People’s Hurricane Fund has been doing direct outreach and organizing in cities across the US for their People’s Tribunal and March for Justice, scheduled for December 8-10 in Jackson, Mississippi and New Orleans. They have organized communication centers in Jackson and New Orleans with plans for centers in Houston, Baton Rouge and Atlanta.

On a national level, organizations such as have mobilized thousands of people to pressure politicians, and the Congressional Black Congress has worked to keep this issue alive, both through legislation, and through joining protests, as Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney did by showing up for a march from New Orleans to Gretna a few weeks ago.

Meanwhile, just days after DC organizers announced plans for a protest at FEMA headquarters, FEMA officials announced that they were pushing back the date after which they would stop paying for hotels for Gulf Coast evacuees from December 1 to December 15. Continued pressure from across the US caused them to move the date again, to January 7.

Here in New Orleans, volunteers with the Common Ground Collective have set up neighborhood distribution centers with food and supplies, have served hundreds of people in their free health clinic, setup a media center complete with a community radio station, and embarked on a project to rehabilitate houses in the Ninth Ward. This week, hundreds of volunteers have arrived to continue this work, most of them staying on mattresses on the floors of warehouses and houses, sometimes thirty or more to a room.

Any convergence of hundreds of mostly young and white activists in a overwhelmingly Black community is bound to bring skepticism and controversy, and Common Ground has received criticisms from some local organizers. However, Common Ground in many ways represents a big step forward for the global justice movement. Rather than coming in, leading a protest, and leaving, activists were invited by Malik Rahim, a longtime community organizer, and have followed through and done real work in communities. They have been true to their commitments, and have shown by example that people with a vision of radical change and social justice can put FEMA or Red Cross to shame.

Finally, yesterday saw a major legal victory in the struggle for housing.

According to the statement from the New Orleans Grassroots Legal Network, lawyers representing a range of organizations, “brought suit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, Orleans Parish, and Jefferson Parish on behalf of the People's Hurricane Relief Fund, UNITE-HERE Local 50-2, SEIU Local 21, ACORN New Orleans, and individual tenants being victimized by landlords post-Hurricane Katrina. Because of the immense pressure that has been placed on the government and the landlords by the people, Plaintiffs were able to achieve the following result from this lawsuit: (1) All evictions in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes are immediately stayed — meaning, all eviction proceedings in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes stop immediately against residents who are not in the area and whose whereabouts are unknown to landlords.
(2) Under the judge's order, FEMA is required, upon request, to provide to the Orleans and Jefferson Parishes, current contact information for the tenants who landlords are seeking to evict. Upon this contact information being provided by FEMA, the Parishes have to provide written notice of eviction to the tenants at the tenants' most current addresses. Tenants then have at least 45 days from the date of the mailing of the notice respond to the eviction action.

“This victory means that displaced people have an almost two-month reprieve from having to face loss of their personal property and their homes. This victory also means that for the first time FEMA has finally agreed to provide information to protect survivors. This is huge.

“But overall, this case is just another step that the Grassroots Legal Network has taken to bring recognition that people who have suffered the worst impact by the natural and government disaster of Hurricane Katrina have a right to return to their homes. This victory also provides an opportunity for political and social rights activists to organize with grassroots people to assert pressure on those in power to respect their humanity.”
All of this leaves me feeling, for the first time in a while, that all of this fighting really does mean something, and New Orleans lives on.

Jordan Flaherty is a union organizer and an editor of Left Turn Magazine. This is his eleventh article from New Orleans. You can contact Jordan at Jordan’s previous articles from New Orleans are at =====================================
Based on conversations with organizers and community members, Left Turn Magazine has compiled a list of grassroots New Orleans organizations focused on relief, recovery, social justice and cultural preservation that need your support. The list is online at =====================================

7) Here's an article on Gulf Coast Zoning changes being considered right now. It goes without saying that
the local govts have to clean up what has been an abominably lax zoning system (which is itself a problem throughout the country, and is due to developers' interests). I've been nagging here frequently about what the feds have to do, but this is something that the locals must do at the same time. People may not rebuild much until they know that their construction will match whatever new codes are enacted, as well as knowing that the Cat 5 annoucement is made...

Gulf Coast States Consider Code and Zoning Change
November 18, 2005

While still picking through the debris from hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Gulf Coast states have begun reexamining their building codes. The disasters have strengthened calls for areas without codes to adopt them, and for consistent codes within states.

"Every state should have a statewide minimum code," says James Lee Witt, CEO of the International Code Council (ICC) and former FEMA director. "It's critical. It's a form of mitigation."....

8) This from NO's local Offbeat magazine, on the role that the music industry is poised to play in NO's reconstruction:

RANDOM NOTES The Edge Commits to NOLA...Music Retailers Reopen...Music Coalition News
Reid Wick, saxophonist, publicity guru for Loyola University Music Business Program and recent MusiCares administrator tells OffBeat that he's made a new friend: The Edge of U2. He reports: "Yes, I spent the whole day with Edge. I took him to meet with musicians (Deacon John, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Brian "Breeze" Cayolle, and Joe Krown--he even had a jam session with Walter). I took him on a tour of much of the devastated areas, including the 17th Street Canal levee break, Lakeview, NO East and Chalmette. Later that night, we had dinner with Quint Davis [Jazz Fest producer] and Mitch Landrieu [Louisiana Lieutenant Governor] showed up for a little while. Rolling Stone magazine was in tow the entire day. An article should appear in next week's issue. It all totally blew his mindl He called me on Friday evening to thank me for what he called 'one of the most moving days of his life.' I then got a call from [producer] Bob Ezrin, saying that Edge had called him earlier that morning and that I blew his mind with the great musicians he met and the first hand view of the city. Bob and I are working to find a time for him to visit the city."

Obviously, Edge's first-hand experience with New Orleans' devastation has led to his conviction that (according to USA Today) "music is key to New Orleans' survival. So The Edge is launching Music Rising, a campaign to replace instruments that were lost after hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck. He and producer Bob Ezrin have joined forces with VH1, MTV, Ticketmaster, SpinCo, MusiCares and others to provide up to 3,000 instruments for players, plus gear for churches, schools, repair shops and music academies. Lead partners Gibson Guitar and the Guitar Center are pledging $1 million and issuing a limited-edition guitar to benefit the program. 'We can't overdo this,' says Edge, who spent Thursday in the Crescent City meeting musicians and surveying the devastation on the ground and by helicopter. 'Anyone who has earned money from music owes a huge debt to New Orleans. It's the birthplace of jazz, it has origins of rock 'n' roll, and it's spawned some amazing hip-hop. The music culture is so rich and unique that it's absolutely crucial to support it.' Recalling the area's vitality before Katrina, he says: 'You'd see and hear things you'd get nowhere else. We all need New Orleans. We can't let that culture vanish in the flood.'"

The Louisiana Music Factory opened with a bang on October 31 and is open and ready for business this Thanksgiving weekend. Ditto Tower Records at 408 N. Peters Street. “Nearly three months since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Tower Records is thrilled to bring music and spirit back to the city that we so love,” stated Kevin Cassidy, Executive Vice President of Retail for Tower Records. “The people of New Orleans, our customers and employees alike, have been through so much. Their perseverance and dedication to re-build is a great inspiration to us all. It therefore gives Tower Records great satisfaction to re-open our French Quarter store,” said Kevin Cassidy, Regional Tower manager.

The New Orleans Music Coalition is seeking information on where New Orleans musicians have relocated for the Louisiana Music Directory database. If you are a musician or music business, and haven't posted your new contact information (including mailing address, cell phone, contact phone and email address), don't wait. There are opportunities you may be missing. Tipitina's has begun listing available housing at Come Home New Orleans

9) Another music industry article, this time from Biz New Orleans:

Music download leader compiles N.O. fundraiser

LOS ANGELES —, the leader in live music downloads, has assembled an all-star compilation of live tracks to raise money for several New Orleans charities benefiting local musicians. The music service provider’s artist partners donated the recordings for the compilation, including an exclusive release from Widespread Panic's archives, hand-picked by Panic front man John Bell and an exclusive, never-before-released song, "Low," from former Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio and his new band 70 Volt Parade. and the 17 artists featured on the benefit release organized the effort to provide continued support for this vital American music community. Other artists contributing to the benefit compilation include Dave Matthews Band, Phish, Jerry Garcia Band, David Grisman Quintet, The String Cheese Incident, Gov't Mule, Yonder Mountain String Band, Mike Gordon and the Benevento/Russo Duo, Umphrey's McGee, Tea Leaf Green, Particle, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Outformation, and local New Orleans legends The Radiators and Galactic. and all the artists involved will donate 100 percent of the money raised from the sales of this hurricane benefit compilation to the following registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit charities: Tipitina's Foundation, New Orleans Musician's Clinic, New Orleans Musician's Hurricane Relief Fund and Conscious Alliance.
"(W)e are empowered that so many people in our country recognize the importance of New Orleans' own music heritage and its talented musicians,” said Bill Taylor, director of the Tipitina's Foundation. “Monies raised from these efforts go immediately to help support displaced musicians as well as our greater mission to support the music and culture of New Orleans as we rebuild in the years to come."

This two CD benefit compilation album will be available for $10.95 as MP3 downloads and $15.95 as CD-quality FLAC downloads. To purchase, go to and help support's efforts to rebuild the New Orleans community of musicians.

Dave Malone of The New Orleans Radiators expressed his thanks and said: "Everybody knows that the swamp and river have popped out some pretty incredible musicians! Now is your chance to give back to some of those great musicians who are in need and get some ultra-cool music as well." offers high-quality, mastered soundboard recordings of all tracks in MP3 and lossless CD-quality FLAC formats. All download files are compatible with Windows, Mac and Unix, allowing for maximum flexibility and ease of use. Once downloaded, these files can be burned to CD an unlimited number of times, transferred to portable audio players such as Apple's iPod, or played through a computer.


Music service provider enterprises, LLC offers a turn-key solution for online music distribution. The currently delivers music downloads for over 100 artists

10) Here's another story about music revival efforts in NO:

Raising up a city through jazz

Irvin Mayfield's rousing return brings down the cathedral

Saturday, November 19, 2005
By Keith Spera
Music writer

To stand on the steps of Christ Church Cathedral on Aug. 31 was to witness a city at its most desperate.
To return to the 2900 block of St. Charles Avenue 11 weeks later was to share in the same city's rebirth.
On Aug. 31, that first terrible Wednesday after Hurricane Katrina, looters roamed at will as shell-shocked residents filed out of Central City, paused briefly on the Christ Church steps, then pressed on toward the unfolding crisis at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

On Thursday, an overflow crowd filled the 119-year-old sanctuary as trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra unveiled "All the Saints," a triumphant new composition of grief and resolve. It was a defining moment for Mayfield, the orchestra and post-Katrina New Orleans.

11) Activist posting:

The People's Hurricane Relief Fund & The Mississippi Distress Relief Coalition presents


State of Emergency Survivor's Conference Thursday & Friday - December 8 & 9, 2005 in Jackson, Mississippi& Saturday, December 10, 2005 - March & Rally in New Orleans, LA
Conference Agenda:

State of Emergency People's Conference - Youth Speak Out December 8, 2005 - 7:00 - 9:00pmJackson State University School of Business - 1300 Lynch Street

Survivor's Assembly & ConferenceDecember 9, 2005 - 9am - 6pm at Anderson United Methodist Church6405 Hanging Moss Road
December 9, 2005 - 8pm - 11pmRally/Cultural Program featuring AMIRA BARAKA, SONYA SANCHEZ, DEAD PREZ, & Louisiana & Mississippi Artists

Survivor's March For Self Determination & Right to ReturnDecember 10, 2005Gathering at Congo SquareNew Orleans, LAcall 1-888-310-7473

Remembering the horrors of Katrina and the history of racial and class oppression is not enough. The time has come to turn outrage to action.

On December 8, 2005 through December 10, 2005 scores of survivors and their supporters, people who believe in freedom and justice, will gather in Jackson, MS and New Orleans.

We will gather for the National State of Emergency Conference in Jackson on the 8th and 9th of December. Supporters and representatives and leaders from over 50 black organizations, and labor unions and their third world and anti-racists allies will meet in support and solidarity of the survivors initiate an action plan to rescue the black population and all oppressed populations from their dependency on racist and incompetent governments. Most important the Katrina Survivors will gather at the same place and time to form a General Assembly to speak for themselves and to exercise their rights to self determination.

Survivors have raised the demands are for immediate jobs, education, housing, clothing and food. Survivors have made the demand to place the control and direction of Gulf Coast reconstruction in their hands.

Survivors demand opportunity to exercise the right to return to the Gulf Coast with dignity and without poverty. Survivors have demanded a complete investigation into and prosecution of all government agencies for crimes against humanity and human rights violations.

OBJECTIVESThe Objectives of the December 8-10, 2005 Assembly/Conference and the Demonstration are as follows:

1. To build a Hurricane Katrina Survivors General Assembly which will speak for the Gulf Coast Survivors and which will demand and exercise the peoples right to self determination in New Orleans and other effected gulf coast areas in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

2. To demand the people's right to return to New Orleans and to the Mississippi and Alabama Gulf Coast with dignity and without poverty.

3. To demand reparations for the governments' criminal indifference, negligence, and malicious actions towards the Victims and Survivors, before, during and after Katrina.

4. To demand, launch and/or continue investigations, law suits and prosecutions of governments, agencies and persons responsible for the human rights violations and crimes against humanity committed before, during and after Katrina.

5. To build a national united front in support and solidarity with the self determination and reparation demands of Katrina Survivors, and through this front to design and initiate a plan of action and institutions which will allow black people to fortify themselves and serve their own needs in the face of future disasters which are either natural or by human hands.

6. To link today's demands for reparations and self determination to the historical and future struggle of black people and other oppressed populations for self determination and reparations.

CONTACT INFORMATIONFor further information call 1-888-310-PHRF(7473), or call 601-353-5566, or email

12) This from LA Democrats list, which partially explains why I sometimes advocate a secession referendum for the Gulf Coast if Congress refuses to commit necessary reconstruction funds:

LOUISIANA GENERATES $5 BILLION PER YEAR IN OIL and gas revenues for the United States. When Louisiana is allowed to receive 50% of the oil and gas revenues it generates, like the other 49 states, our coastal wetland restoration and the levee systems needed for protection against Category 5 hurricanes will be adequately financed. Congressman Jindal and other Louisiana legislators may be finally taking up the call by Senator Landrieu and former-Senator Breaux to rectify this injustice. Join the spontaneous Louisiana-to-the-Nation letter-writing campaign to make our case to other Americans.

13) Here's an initiative by a New York University PhD Candidate, Departments of Middle East Studies/History:

Hi Folks. Gobble gobble.

(I apologize for having massed you all together here. But it does raise the question: do the masses have a voice?)

I'm writing to you in the spirit of the holiday.

Many of you will know about the pending House bill that presumes to cut $50 billion from social service programs like food stamps and Medicaid, as well as slashing education and labor programs. According to the House Agriculture Committee, this would result in at least 220,000 Americans losing food assistance. These reductions were proposed to pay for the bulk of a $70 billion tax break for the wealthiest Americans, which will be considered after Thanksgiving.

All of you know about the suffering of hurricane survivors on the Gulf Coast. A lot of these people, in particular, now depend on the government programs currently on the chopping block.

I would like you to know about an effort some Princetonians and I have put together to address this cruel juxtaposition. We are asking Americans to give back their tax cuts in order to help lessen the vulnerabilities of the people on the Gulf Coast. Because our current government has disowned its responsibility to its citizens, our only real option is giving to private relief funds. But private charitable giving affirms the anti-government philosophy that allowed the tragedy in the first place. A dilemma, all right.

Our solution is to ask people to give in the context of an argument that government should accept its responsibility to act as a steward for the community. I am asking you to help us make this argument. Please visit and make a donation -- whatever you can -- to one of the participating charities. We have three goals:

1. Start a new round of charitable giving. America has changed the channel on Katrina. Private relief efforts are drying up a lot faster than the needs created by the flood waters.
2. Provide the rhetorical platform those Congresspeople need, who are seeking to repeal the tax cuts to the wealthiest 1% of Americans. This is the way democracy works.
3. Encourage people to think differently than they do now about their relationship to federal govt, taxation, and spending. Taxes are a moral issue -- how we pool our resources in order to purchase fundamental public goods -- not just a question of individual financial savings.

I would also like to ask two other things of you.

First, please let your family, friends, and colleagues know about this initiative. When we worked on the filibuster last spring, we were successful because of grassroots word-of-mouth ( The goal of this campaign is to impact public debate. It can be successful, too, if enough people articulate their individual support. (Here's a sense of scale: if a Senator receives 2000 phone calls in a couple of weeks on an issue, that issue gets on her agenda. We can get to that number with your help, no question.)
Second, when you visit the website, view it critically. What does it do poorly, need to do better? Let me know by responding (Notate bene: NOT REPLY-ALL) to this email. If you have any other suggestions or contacts, please let me know. It is all very much a work in progress.

There are two other very important holidays this week. My brother's birthday was yesterday and mine is Saturday. Consider the donation-making/word-spreading/improvement-suggesting a triple birthday present to us.

Thanks a lot.

With much affection,Peter (and brother Chris)
Peter Turner609 933 7544

14) Here's an idea for the Creole Tomato, from a friend:

Another message from another displaced lawyer in Texas. I'm sorry you didn't cotton to my idea for a story about building levees out of Mardi Gras beads, but I must say, Roman candy is probably a better substance and one you would only know about if a local. My new idea is below. Today Mary Landrieu said she would keep the Congress from going home unless they addressed flood protection. This brings to mind the classic movie "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington", and I think Mary should be compared to Jimmy Stewart!

The thing that would clinch the deal, straight off, would be Mary's reading a confession by the Canal Street brothel madam of all the names in her little black book, which as I understand may contain some nationally prominent figures (rumored to be very prominent)!! That's the way to get the funding!! The madam that saved a city! Make her the Queen of one the crews or something!! Why not have Mary bring the little black book to read out names during the filibuster (sic. if incorrect, lost the bound O.E.D. in the flood and spell check didn't have the damn word), just like Jimmy did when he read great documents from American history? I personally think the little black book is a prominent document in American history, or why would the feds supress it? I hope you like this idea for a new story. Keep up the good work. I check in every other day and you lift my very low spirits!

15) Here's a Thanksgiving rumination on Katrina:

I am a very lucky survivor of Hurricane Katrina and I have a lot to celebrate this Thanksgiving.

First, I am thankful for technology.

I am thankful for the computer models that surprised me Friday afternoon when they had moved from Pensacola to New Orleans since that morning. My co-workers and I thought maybe it was a glitch and said casual good-byes with chuckles about evacuating. I am thankful for the radio to which I listened while I filled my car with gas - just in case they were right. I am thankful for the self-serve checkouts so I didn't have to stand in the long lines to get water.

I am thankful for the television that I turned on at 5am Saturday morning because I couldn't sleep. I am thankful for the Internet on which I searched for a hotel room at 5:15am and for the ATMs that are open early Saturday mornings when banks are not. I am thankful for the car that carried me, a friend, pets, my family recipe book, some favorite pictures, and my address book away from Katrina. I am thankful for the cell phone on which I called my parents and some friends to let them know I was heading to Houston and not to worry.

I am thankful for all the gizmos that kept me in communication for the five weeks I was there. For the text messaging that worked when cell phone service did not. For cameras that showed the pictures. For webcast of local TV station WDSU that helped me to feel connected to my great city even through I was so far away.

Second, I am thankful for people.

Thankful for the woman in Houston who welcomed her son, me, my friend, and two birds into her two bedroom condo with two cats, two dogs, and a recuperating husband and said "stay as long as you need." I am thankful for my parents who needed me to call every day to let them know that I was still "safe and well-fed in Houston."

I am thankful for my friends from around the country who called, text-messaged, and emailed to see if I was okay and to offer me places to stay and to help me find a job.

I am thankful for the brave people who stole boats and busses to bring humans out of that terrible mess that my city had become.

I am thankful for a hot shower.

I am thankful for the Adventures in Birds store in Houston that gave me a bigger cage for my flock when we realized that we were going to be there a while and who allowed me to come in when I wanted and visit with all their noisy birds. I am thankful for a big green bird named Maddy who sings, "Glory, Glory, Halleluuuuuuuuujah" and made me laugh. I am thankful for the owner of the store and for all the Houston people who came for ten days to rescue hundreds birds from the snakes, alligators and other water creatures who were invading the birds' homes.

Thankful for the people in Houston who gave me discounts... Wattaburger, Academy Sports, Fuddruckers. Thankful for the associate at Sam's who gave me a hug when I burst into tears in the middle of the aisle for no real reason nearly three weeks after Katrina. Thankful for the people behind me in the checkout at the grocers who didn't look at me funny when I screamed "I just want to go home!" two weeks after that.

I am thankful for the counselors who talked with the young doctors I know after they worked for nearly a week at flooded and powerless Charity Hospital in downtown New Orleans. For the people who put the electricity back on. People who cleared the streets. People who passed out water and food to my friends in Kenner when they went back early.

I am thankful for the people who invented all the technology and bleach, rubber gloves, back hoes, chain saws, fire hoses, dump truck covers, water bottles, and those 2000 pound sand bags that temporarily plugged the holes in the broken levees. I am thankful for the ships, trailers, and relatives who house roughly 85% of the New Orleanians that I know.

I am thankful that my apartment was undamaged and that I could call my Florida friends before hurricane Wilma and let them know that they had a place to stay. And thankful that they didn't need it. Thankful that people finally realize that they needed to open shelters for people with pets.

I am thankful that I have a job- especially when they laid off the other four people who worked on my program and thankful that I don't have to commute to Baton Rouge from New Orleans - a 75 mile trip that recently took me nearly three hours.

I am thankful for all the people who gave money to the Red Cross and to the Louisiana SPCA. I am thankful for the people who contributed to my Katrina Toy and Book Drive and sent over 1,000 items, many of them individually packaged with a note, and a SASE and pen to write back. Thankful for the strangers from whom packages "just arrived;" for the girl's hockey team from Rochester, NY who spent their fundraising money on porcelain dolls; for the Trak Microwave folks in Tampa who put together an office drive; for the neighbors who put together boxes and sent them to me.

I am thankful for the thousands of people who left their homes and their families to come help us rebuild.
I am thankful for New Orleanian who spray-painted "Do not open. FEMA director inside" on the taped up refrigerator on the side of Carrolton Avenue. And for the people who created the T-shirts that say, "Make levees not war." And for the person who put the scarecrow in their front yard holding a blue tarp in one hand and an MRE in the other.

I am thankful that some of the food and the culture that I love in New Orleans are slowly returning. For the Chicken Bon Femme that I had the other night at Tujaques on Decatur Street and for the café au lait and beignets at Café Du Monde afterward. Thankful that WWOZ is back webcasting all of our great NOLA music throughout the city and throughout the world. Thankful that most of my favorite New Orleans musicians are safe Cowboy Mouth, Kermit Ruffins, Fats Domino...

Thankful that Mardi Gras parades will roll again - even if it is for six days instead of 12. Thankful for the history of the season and for the people making that possible.

I am thankful for the resilience, strength, and humor of the people of New Orleans. I am thankful that I live in one of the greatest cities in the world and that it will come back better and stronger than ever.
As we say in New Orleans, "Laissez les bon temps rouller" encour en Nouvelle New Orleans! ("Let the good times roll" again in New New Orleans!)


Gale Marie Abbass lives in New Orleans and is organizing the Black Iron Skillet Project to get seasoned, cast iron fry pans to the people who lost theirs in the hurricanes. This is the favorite kitchen tool of southern cooks and thousands of these that had been passed on for generations, were lost. How can you have a good fried chicken without a well-seasoned skillet? She can be reached at

16) Time Magazine on Katrina (and all the rest):,9263,1101051128,00.html

17) Katrina dislocation costs Jesuit High School (my school) its first State Swimming Championship for nearly 20 years..We only had 12 swimmers. We usually have 60.

18) Here's a Katrina commentary by Chris Wiseman that aired over a week ago:

Comrades & Family,

Just found out via the web that my commentary ran today (Friday, November 18, 2005) on Marketplace’s evening show.

For what it’s worth, the link is here:

Special thanks to my friend Deborah Clark for helping me get a little word out about the Gulf Coast. Very special thanks to my friends Armand St. Martin and Patty Lee for recording my bit in their recently flooded and now under-repair home.

Chris Wiseman
New Orleans

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