In important ways, war and flood are connected
September 08, 2005
by: John Mohawk / Indian Country Today

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

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

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

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

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

It's their personal responsibility, he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's the federal government's responsibility to build levees that do not breach. No one wanted the flood, but flood control was their responsibility and they failed at it. War and flood are connected disasters with their epicenter in the Oval Office. And now, today's Americans are going to pay in the form of a mountain of corpses and a population of displaced people, huge property losses and higher energy bills, and the very real possibility of recession.
© Indian Country Today
Hopi prophecy pointed to climate change
November 05, 2004
by: John Mohawk / Indian Country Today

Beginning about 70 years ago, some traditional Hopi formulated a message to the rest of the world that there was a rising danger that humankind's lack of spiritual attention to the world was going to lead to disaster. The form this disaster would take was that there would be violent storms and all kinds of disruption that would eventually threaten human beings around the world. It had happened before, they said, and all signs, including ancient prophecies, are that it will happen again. The individual who emerged as spokesperson for this was Thomas Banyacya. A very interesting element to the message was that proof of their message was to be found in the American's own libraries and scientific papers.

There is every evidence that this is happening, just as the traditional Hopi predicted, and the major leadership of the world is not acting in an effective way to meet the threat. This August, the Bush administration finally issued a statement acknowledging that human activity may be contributing to global warming. If you think that radical Islamic terrorism is scary, wait until you see global warming.

Scientists are certain that greenhouse gasses, especially CO2, have a history of altering global climate patterns, a history that goes back perhaps at least 900 million years. A dramatic but widely-held theory is that 600 million years ago the earth was an ice ball trapped in a glacial period and that it escaped this seemingly permanent condition when volcanoes released enough CO2 into the atmosphere to create a greenhouse effect which warmed things up to perhaps an average temperature of 120 F, causing hundreds of thousands of years of rain which trapped the CO2 and put it back in the earth. Eventually the earth stabilized. That was when the dramatic proliferation of life forms, including multi-cellular animals, appeared. There is pretty good evidence to support this theory. The ice may have been a kilometer thick. Greenhouse gases do cause climate change.

The earth is getting warmer and its average temperature has risen about one degree Fahrenheit since 1830 - at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The last 20 years have been the warmest in 12,000 years and the warming trend is worldwide. People who study tree rings find evidence that in the last 20 years there has been an unprecedented rate of change in the climate and among the best evidence for the effect of this change is that glaciers, worldwide, are receding and disappearing. There are glaciers in the Central Andes. Even there, glaciers have been retreating dramatically. Some are retreating at the rate of almost 100 feet per year. They could be gone entirely in 50 years. Forty percent of the ice has disappeared in some places. In others, numerous glaciers have already disappeared. For thousands of years, glaciers have maintained a record of what has happened over the centuries. Scientists collect ice cores from the tropics and the polar regions. They contain the history of climate going back to a half million years. Ice cores record that CO2 never got higher than 300 parts per million. Today, we find 360 ppm, strong (even irrefutable) evidence that humans are contributing to dramatic changes in the composition of the atmosphere. Scientists suspect there is a threshold beyond which dramatic and irreversible and unpredictable climate change could be triggered.

The impact of the climate change we have already can be seen in Alaska. In just 30 years, Alaska's temperature has risen an average of five degrees and glaciers there are melting. Since 1995 some have receded 10 to 20 feet a year. And the rate of change may be accelerating. Climatologists are alarmed. In 50 years there may be no glaciers in Glacier National Park. Fossil fuels are changing the chemistry of the atmosphere. It is the northern areas that will experience this warming first. In Alaska, the first thing is the melting of the permafrost. This thawing could spread in just five years. Already telephone poles are leaning and the ground is opening up in places, leaving holes in the land. The Alaska pipeline was built on the permafrost, but there was no planning for the possibility the permafrost might melt and the pipeline is threatened.

But the most devastating short-term impact may be from the unexpected. There are 120 million acres of forest in Alaska, and these forests are beginning to die on millions of acres. The destruction has been rapid and devastating and trees on three million acres have already been killed by insect infestation. Some species which threaten forests thrive in warmer weather, like the spruce bark beetle, which eats the bark. These beetles arrived with the onset of warmer weather and in some places there are so many beetles that people have been forced to abandoned their homes and cabins. In southern Alaska, more trees have died in a few years than in the previous 70 years.

In East Africa it rained excessively in traditionally arid lands and this led to extensive flooding which overwhelmed the water management systems. One result was a cholera epidemic from contaminated water. The mosquito population exploded and a malaria epidemic ensued in places in Kenya where mosquitoes were previously rare or unknown. People blamed El Nino, but global warming probably had a hand in the disasters. The problems didn't end there. As the earth heats up, the land dries up. Moisture is released through evaporation into the atmosphere, making it available for weather events. Thus there is flooding, record rainfalls and sometimes storms stronger than previously. While one place is experiencing flooding, other places experience drought. California is flooded, while Indonesia experiences drought. It is just like the Hopi warned.

The natural climate system can change rapidly. If it happened rapidly in the past, it could happen in the future. Temperature records are being broken. It seems inevitable that we will reach four times the CO2 levels in the atmosphere from a century ago and maybe soon. Of all the emissions sent up today, fully half will still be in the atmosphere 100 years from now. By the time we can prove beyond a doubt that human activity is causing the warming, it will be far too late to do anything about it. American politicians, who compete among themselves selling visions of wishful thinking from everything from the economy to terrorism have not performed well in facing this threat. Earlier this year a movie, ''The Day After Tomorrow'', dramatized (and action-adventurized) sudden global freezing (an after effect of warming), but even if the climate changes are much less dramatic than depicted in this movie, the question arises: what about the day after the day after tomorrow? The U.S. government does see climate change as a national security threat, but it's actually much greater than that. It is a threat to species survival. Ours, and many others.
© Indian Country Today
John C. Mohawk Ph.D., columnist for Indian Country Today, is an associate professor of American Studies and director of Indigenous Studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo.


EDITOR'S NOTE: URGENT=>Please read the breaking news story at the end...

Wake Up

by Cindy Sheehan

t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Monday 19 September 2005

So we have come to cash this check - a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.
-- Martin Luther King Jr., August 28, 1963, "I Have a Dream" speech

What Bush's Katrina shows once again is that my son died for nothing. If you listen to Bush - and fewer and fewer are, thank goodness - we are in Iraq in part due to 9/11. All our president has been talking about has been protecting this country since 9/11. That's why people voted for him in the last election. Katrina shows it's all as sham, a fraud, a disaster as large as Katrina itself.
Hundreds of billions and tens of thousands of innocent lives wasted later, what have we achieved? Nothing. Casey died for nothing and Bush says others have to die for those that have died already.
Enough, George! What is disgusting is not, as the first lady says, criticism of you, but rather the crimes you've committed against this country and our sons and daughters. Stop hiding behind your twisted idea of God and stop destroying this country.
This week I arrive in Washington DC to begin my Vigil at the White House just like I did in Texas. But this time I'll be joined by Katrina victims as well. In your America we are all victims. The failed bookends of your Presidency are Iraq and Katrina.
It is time for all of us to stand up and be counted: to show the media, Congress, and this inept, corrupt, and criminal administration that we mean business. It is time to get off of our collective behinds to show the people who are running our country into oblivion that we will stand for it no longer. That we want our country back and we want our nation's young people back home, safe and sound, on our shores to help protect America. That it is time for a change in our country's "leadership." That we will never go away until our dreams are reality.
We have so-called leaders in our country who are waiting for the correct "politically expedient" time to speak up and out against the occupation of Iraq. It is no sweat for our politicos to wait for the right time, because not one of them has a child in harm's way. I don't care if the politician is a Democrat or a Republican, this is not about politics. Being a strong leader to guide our country out of the quagmire and mistake of Iraq will require people of courage and determination to stand up and say: "I don't care if I win the next election, people are dying in Iraq every day and families are being decimated." We, as the 62% of Americans who want our troops to begin coming home, will follow such a leader down the difficult but oh-so-rewarding path of peace with justice.
It is no longer time for the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. It never has been the time for that. Our "now" is so fiercely urgent. Like my daughter, Carly, wrote in the last verse of her poem:

"A Nation Rocked to Sleep"
Have you ever heard the sound of a Nation Being Rocked to Sleep?
Our leaders want to keep us numb so the pain won't be too deep,
But if we the people allow them to continue, another mother will weep,
Have you heard the sound of a Nation Being Rocked to Sleep?

Wake up: See you in DC on the 24th.

For more information on September 24th go to:
Source: TruthOut.org http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/091905Z.shtml

URGENT PLEASE NOTE: This recent communique.....

Forwarded with Compliments of Government of the USA in Exile (GUSAE):
Free Americans Resisting the Fourth Reich on Behalf of All Species.


September 19, 2005 03:49PM EDT

Police Forcibly Break Up Cindy Sheehan Rally
By Pete Dolack

The New York City Police Department forcibly broke up this afternoon's rally for Cindy Sheehan, moving in as Cindy was speaking at about 3 p.m. in Union Square. The rally had been underway for about an hour, and was about to conclude as Cindy spoke following several other speakers, including a few who are traveling with her on her caravan.

As Cindy was speaking, a large platoon of police massed behind from the interior of the park, then formed a circle behind her, the speakers' area and a few dozen people who were deployed in an arc behind her. Overall, about 200 people were in attendance, with the crowd steadily increasing in size as the rally progressed. As the police formed their arc just behind, the men and women immediately behind Cindy linked arms. A captain made a cutting motion at his throat, signalling he wanted no more free speech. He waited about 30 seconds, then the police moved in. They didn't dare arrest Cindy, but they immediately moved in and grabbed zool, the event's organizer and one of the main organizers of Camp Casey-NYC, pulling him away and arresting him. I do not believe anyone else was arrested; at least I didn't see any other arrests. I was nearby, and there was no hesitation on the part of the police in specifically targetting zool.

The police also took the microphone and sound system. The crowd shouted "Shame! Shame!" at the police and asked what they were so afraid of, but made no response. There was a moderate press presence, even a bit of corporate media there, although the only television crew covering the rally was RTV from Russia.

No warning of any kind was given, and this was a permitted rally. Other than the captain making his cut motion, 30 seconds before forcibly breaking up the rally, there was no warning, verbal or in any other fashion. The police had massed perhaps three or four minutes before moving in. Until then, the rally had gone smoothly, starting just after 2 p.m. as scheduled. Cindy and the rest of the caravan arrived sometime after 2:30; the rest of the rally was comprised of speakers from the caravan. Many groups were in attendence besides Camp Casey-NYC, including Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families for Peace, the Troops Out Now Coalition, the No Police State Coalition and the Green Party, among others.

As several people confronted the police in the minutes following the arrest of zool and the stealing of the sound equipment, a woman from the caravan said they had done more than 100 events in 51 cities, and nothing like this had ever happened to them. There is no free speech in Crawford, Texas -- Camp Casey has been under attack there -- and there is no free speech in New York City. The police have attacked Camp Casey-NYC on at least two previous Mondays, have taken the camp's tents, confiscated banners and made arrests. This is merely the latest example of Bloomberg's contempt for opinions that challenge the authorities, particularly Republican Party authorities. And where are our supposed political leaders? Nothing but silence.

Free zool now! Defend free speech in New York City!

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From: "Graham Jukes"
Date: September 20, 2005 6:32:20 AM PDT
Subject: Cindy Sheehan arrested in Manhattan -- Sounds Like The First Amendment!


Update: BREAKING (Manhattan): Cindy Sheehan ushered away and rally organizer arrested by police

BREAKING (Manhattan): Cindy Sheehan ushered away and rally organizer arrested by police.
by Five of Diamonds
Mon Sep 19th, 2005 at 12:42:39 PDT

I witnessed this with my own eyes. Here is my account. Other accounts are popping up elsewhere on the blogosphere. For example, Here Here. These other sources clarify that Cindy was rushed away and an event organizer was arrested (things I couldn't see through the crowd).

Please "unrecommend" this diary and continue conversation in the new thread in the "recent diaries" section. This thread is too long and bogs down the system.

A small group of police began to congregate around 2:00 on the southeast corner of Union Square. Cindy and her peace entourage were slightly late to the event, contending with public transportation.

Upon her arrival, applause and cheers filled the crowd awaiting her speech. A few other members of the tour movement spoke. Afterward, about 2:50, Cindy began her speech. It was friendly and empowering. She was grateful for the support and urged everyone to go to Washington DC on the 24th of September for a march on Washington.

At the conclusion of her speech, from my perspective, a few loud and impassioned boos erupted, then I saw a hand come from behind Cindy and grab her shoulder-strap on her backpack. The arm jerked her backwards, with such force as to snap her head forward, and she fell from my view.

The crowd erupted in booing and jeering. The crowd rushed the elevated park where she once stood, not to fight but to witness what was happening. People crowded the police, who had formed a semi-circle around what was happening to Cindy (which I could not witness from my vantage point).

"Nazis," "Gestapo," "free speech," "burn the constitution," "traitors," "you can't have her," could be heard from all sides of the angry crowd. The police stood shoulder-to-shoulder with emotionless looks on their faces. One woman from the tour, I did not see who, urged everyone to that it is a waste of energy to yell at the police, we can't stop it from happening, but what we can do is trumpet this event to the rest of the United States.

Many media cameras were there. One New York Times (cameraless) reporter was also there (at least), and she was moving around the crowd asking questions. Upon the arrest, she inserted herself into the middle of the screaming, recording it all with her mini-voice-recorder.

I'm not sure the details of the permit situation. The announcer said they sought a permit for weeks with no response from the city government.

Spread the word Kossaks! More as it unfolds.

UPDATE: Details prompted by comments: There was no violence, no violent rhetoric, and the spirit of the event was positive and strong. She was only there for about 10 minutes before she spoke, and spoke for about 5 minutes. The crowd was respectful and peaceful. Cindy and the other speakers were using a microphone and speakers, which may have caused the problem with the permits. The announcer told the crowd that they had been officially warned before Cindy got there. I'm trying to find out the permit stuff right now. She was speaking at "Camp Casey NYC" in Union Square. It was a planned event, advertised in the newspaper. And from what I heard (Union Square is a noisy place), they tried to get a permit but did not get a response from city government after many messages were left. My view was not the best, so I did not see if it was a cop behind her that jerked her away. The immediate booing and rushing of the "stage" (a large part of the park raised by about 3 steps) made me believe it was the police. I could not see if she resisted or not. Sorry for the bad view...I wish I had more. Watch the wires, this will be out soon.