World Gone Wrong

Written by Chris Floyd 02 September 2005 11708 Hits

"Strange things have happened, like never before.."
-- World Gone Wrong, trad., arr by Bob Dylan


A roundup of stories and commentary on the Delta disaster:

Smoking guns don't come much smokier than this:
Budget Cuts Delayed New Orleans Flood Control Work (Reuters)

White Folk Gone Wild!
Aussies Loot to Survive (Sydney Morning Herald)
Really, they're just animals, these people. What would Jonah Goldberg and Michelle Malkin and Peggy Noonan say? These thugs should be shot on sight.
(Excerpt): Trapped Australian tourists describe hurricane-raved New Orleans as a war zone, with them and everyone else driven to looting just to survive. They told Channel Seven News the streets were lawless with dead bodies everywhere. Mr Jones said survivors were terrified of the violence."It's a battle zone. There's shooting, dead bodies in the street," he said, adding that he and his wife were forced to steal to survive."We're looters like everyone else," he said…

Left Behind I
Local Officials Criticize Federal Government Over Response (NYT)
(Excerpt) Meanwhile, the situation in New Orleans continued to deteriorate. Angry crowds chanted cries for help, and some among them rushed chaotically at helicopters bringing in food. Although Mr. Nagin speculated that thousands might have died, officials said they still did not have a clear idea of the precise toll.

"We're just a bunch of rats," said Earle Young, 31, a cook who stood waiting in a throng of perhaps 10,000 outside the Superdome, waiting in the blazing sun for buses to take them away from the city. "That's how they've been treating us."

Chaos and gunfire hampered efforts to evacuate the Superdome, and, Superintendent P. Edward Compass III of the New Orleans Police Department said, armed thugs have taken control of the secondary makeshift shelter at the convention center. Superintendent Compass said that the thugs repelled eight squads of 11 officers each he had sent to secure the place and that rapes and assaults were occurring unimpeded in the neighboring streets as criminals "preyed upon" passers-by, including stranded tourists. Mr. Compass said the federal government had taken too long to send in the thousands of troops - as well as the supplies, fuel, vehicles, water and food - needed to stabilize his now "very, very tenuous" city.

Col. Terry Ebbert, director of homeland security for New Orleans, concurred and he was particularly pungent in his criticism. Asserting that the whole recovery operation had been "carried on the backs of the little guys for four goddamn days," he said "the rest of the goddamn nation can't get us any resources for security."


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Filter Tips: Chemical Weapons in the Assault on Fallujah

Written by Chris Floyd 01 August 2005 5670 Hits

Original version published in The Moscow Times, March 18, 2005.

 

President George W. Bush often complains about the "media filter" that distorts the true picture of his Administration's accomplishments in Iraq. And he's right. For regardless of where you stand on Mr. Bush's policies in the region, it's undeniable that the political and commercial biases of the American press have consistently misrepresented the reality of the situation.

 

Here's an excellent example. Earlier this month, the American media completely ignored an important announcement from an official of the Iraqi government concerning the oft-maligned U.S. operation to clear insurgents from the city of Fallujah last November. Although the press conference of Health Ministry investigator Dr. Khalid ash-Shaykhli was attended by representatives from the Washington Post, Knight-Ridder and more than 20 other international news outlets, nary a word of his team's thorough investigation into the truth about the battle made it through the filter's dense mesh. Once again, the American public was denied the full story of one of President Bush's remarkable triumphs.

 

Dr. ash-Shaykhli's findings provided confirmation of earlier reports by many other Iraqis – reports that were also ignored by the arrogant filterers, who seem more interested in hearing from terrorists or anti-occupation extremists than ordinary Iraqis and those like Dr. ash-Shaykhli, who serve in the American-backed interim government vetted and approved by Mr. Bush. But while the media elite turn up their nose at such riff-raff, the testimony of these common folk and diligent public servants give ample evidence of Mr. Bush's innovative method of liberating innocent Iraqis from tyranny:

 

He burns them to death with chemical weapons.

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The Perfect Storm

Written by Chris Floyd 01 September 2005 111949 Hits
"The river rose all day,
The river rose all night.
Some people got lost in the flood,
Some people got away all right.
The river have busted through clear down to Plaquemine:
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline.

"Louisiana, Louisiana,
They're trying to wash us away,
They're trying to wash us away…."
-- Randy Newman, Louisiana 1927

The destruction of New Orleans represents a confluence of many of the most pernicious trends in American politics and culture: poverty, racism, militarism, elitist greed, environmental abuse, public corruption and the decay of democracy at every level.

Much of this is embodied in the odd phrasing that even the most circumspect mainstream media sources have been using to describe the hardest-hit victims of the storm and its devastating aftermath: "those who chose to stay behind." Instantly, the situation has been framed with language to flatter the prejudices of the comfortable and deny the reality of the most vulnerable.

It is obvious that the vast majority of those who failed to evacuate are poor: they had nowhere else to go, no way to get there, no means to sustain themselves and their families on strange ground. While there were certainly people who stayed behind by choice, most stayed behind because they had no choice. They were trapped by their poverty - and many have paid the price with their lives.

Yet across the media spectrum, the faint hint of disapproval drips from the affluent observers, the clear implication that the victims were just too lazy and shiftless to get out of harm's way. There is simply no understanding - not even an attempt at understanding - the destitution, the isolation, the immobility of the poor and the sick and the broken among us.

This is from the "respectable" media; the great right-wing echo chamber was even less restrained, of course, leaping straight into giddy convulsions of racism at the first reports of looting in the devastated city. In the pinched-gonad squeals of Rush Limbaugh and his fellow hatemongers, the hard-right media immediately conjured up images of wild-eyed darkies rampaging through the streets in an orgy of violence and thievery.

Not that the mainstreamers ignored the racist angle. There was the already infamous juxtaposition of captions for wire service photos, where depictions of essentially the same scene - desperate people wading through flood waters, clutching plastic bags full of groceries - were given markedly different spins. In one picture, a white couple are described as struggling along after finding bread and soda at a grocery store. But beneath an almost identical photo of a young black man with a bag of groceries, we are told that a "looter" wades through the streets after robbing a grocery store. 

Almost all of the early "looting" was like this: desperate people - of all colors - stranded by the floodwaters broke into abandoned stores and carried off food, clean water, medicine, clothes. Perhaps they should have left a check on the counter, but then again - what exactly was going to happen to all those perishables and consumer goods, sitting around in fetid, diseased water for weeks on end?  (The mayor now says it could be up to 16 weeks before people can return to their homes and businesses.) Obviously, most if not all of it would have been thrown away or written off in any case. Later, of course, there was more organized looting by criminal gangs, the type of lawless element - of every hue, in every society - whose chief victims are, of course, the poor and vulnerable. These criminal operations were quickly conflated with the earlier pilferage to paint a single seamless picture of the American media's favorite horror story: Black Folk Gone Wild.

But here again another question was left unasked: Where were the resources - the money, manpower, materiel, transport - that could have removed all those forced to stay behind, and given them someplace safe and sustaining to take shelter? Where, indeed, were the resources that could have bolstered the city's defenses and shored up its levees? Where were the National Guard troops that could have secured the streets and directed survivors to food and aid? Where were the public resources - the physical manifestation of the citizenry's commitment to the common good - that could have greatly mitigated the brutal effects of this natural disaster?


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The Dance of Death: Ignorance on the March

Written by Chris Floyd 30 August 2005 4237 Hits

Two stories from the Guardian today give blazing illumination to the death-dealing ignorance of that hideous conglomeration of bagmen and fanatics known as the Bush Faction.

First, Bush's hypocritical pandering to religious extremists is killing people in Africa, as the UN's special envoy for AIDS reports:
Bush Accused of AIDs Damage to Africa

Next, Bushist bagmen for Big Oil are cracking down, Joe McCarthy-style, on leading climate change experts:
Republicans accused of witch-hunt against climate change scientists

In Africa, Bush's extremist "base" is throttling condom distribution, thus crippling one of the continent's most effective anti-AIDS programs and condemning thousands of people -- mostly children -- to an early, agonizing death. This in the name of their "Christian" faith.

Of course, as anyone who has ever read the scripture knows, Jesus of Nazareth didn't apply a sexual, racial, political or sexual litmus test before helping the afflicted. Although he might give a gentle admonishment to "go and sin no more" afterwards, his ministrations were offered unconditionally. But then, as Harper's magazine recently pointed out, studies show that the majority of "Christians" in America have no idea what the Bible actually says. And it's an absolute dead certainty that the gibbering poltroon in the White House can be found among this ignorant throng.

Meanwhile, in Washington, the anti-earth faction has a new hero in Texas congressman Joe "Bonehead" Barton, left. Bonehead is a Big Oil bagman from way back, and as chairman of the House committee on energy and commerce, he's been carrying water for his masters for 11 years. Now he's taken aim at America's leading climate change scientists, demanding that they turn over all their sources of funding, methods and everything they have ever published. Barton will then hold public hearings into the "validity" of their work.

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The Not-So-Lost Cause

29 August 2005 6742 Hits

Jim Crow is back in the catbird seat:

Justice Deparment Approves Georgia Voter ID Law. (AP)

The problem for which this law was ostensibly designed is, of course, non-existent; i.e., huge numbers of illegal voters showing up at the polls with fake non-photo IDs.

But the problem for which this law was really designed is, of course, all too real: i.e., huge numbers of legal voters of dusky hue showing up at the polls and voting against Republicans.

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Ranch Hands Flatter Crawford Caligula While Real Journalists Die

29 August 2005 3585 Hits

While the fawning White House press corps chit-chats with Bush about baseball 'n kids at an intimate get-together on his fake ranch, here's what happens to real reporters who are out there reporting real news:

US Sniper Kills Reuters Soundman in Iraq (AFP)

Excerpt:
US forces in Baghdad shot dead a Reuters television soundman and wounded a cameraman, Iraqi police said.....

Two Iraqi colleagues who arrived on the scene minutes after the shooting were also briefly detained, then released, Reuters said. They said that Khaled was still alive when they reached him, and that US troops refused to give him water despite the blazing sun. "They (US soldiers) treated us like dogs. They made us, including Khaled who was wounded and asking for water, stay in the sun on the road," Reuters quoted a television crew member Mohammed Idriss as saying….

"Entry and exit wounds could be seen on the face indicating shots from the victim's right. There were several bullet holes in the windscreen and at least four wounds in the chest," Reuters quoted its correspondent as saying. "His US military and Reuters press cards, clipped to his shirt, were caked in blood. In one, there were two bullet holes," it said….

"As Waleed's tearful relatives inspected the body at the scene, a US soldier said: 'Don't bother. It's not worth it'. A few other soldiers joked among themselves just a few meters (feet) from the body", it added.

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The Commander Grovels

Written by Chris Floyd 26 August 2005 2985 Hits
From Juan Cole:
The New York Times says that President Bush called Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the Shiite leader. But the call seems to have been to no avail if the Shiites did not come to Barzani's home for negotiations. The Americans are annoyed that the Shiites recently came up with this demand for a southern confederation and are urging them to compromise with the Sunni Arabs, fearful that any other course will prolong and exacerbate the guerrilla war. Poor Bush, who once ordered mighty armies into war and tampered with the US Constitution through his Draconian "PATRIOT" act, now is reduced to pleading with a pro-Iranian cleric to please make nice with the ex-Baathists. And he isn't even succeeding in the plea!
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The Fire Sermon: A Spark is Lit in the Texas Scrub

Written by Chris Floyd 26 August 2005 4926 Hits

Published Aug. 26, 2005, in The Moscow Times

 

In his inaugural speech last January, President George W. Bush repeatedly invoked images of unbridled, ravaging destruction as the emblem of his crusade for "freedom." Fire was his symbol, his word of power, his incantation of holy war. Mirroring the rhetoric of his fundamentalist enemies, Bush moved the conflict from the political to the spiritual, from the outer world to the inner soul, claiming that he had lit "a fire in the minds of men."

 

But words are recalcitrant things; they have their own magic, and they will often find their own meanings, outside the intentions of those who use them. Bush has indeed inflamed the minds of men – and women – with his military crusade. But it is not the "untamed fire of freedom" that scorches them: it is the fire of grief and outrage at the lies that have consumed the bodies of their loved ones. This bitter flame burns in the rubble of blasted houses in Iraq and in the quiet, leafy suburbs of America, where the dead are mourned and the mutilated are left as the enduring legacy of Bush's cruel, wilful and unnecessary war.

 

This "fire in the mind" has now found its own symbol, in the unlikely figure of Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a slain American soldier. Here again, Bush's war-rousing words have gotten away from him. Sheehan's campaign – which began as a lonely vigil outside Bush's vacation ranch and has now spread across the country – centers on a single, simple request: that Bush explain to her what he means when he describes the war as "a noble cause."

 

Sheehan is no professional activist, no savvy insider or political junkie. She's an ordinary citizen, whose unadorned speech has none of the sweep and grandeur of Bush's expensively tailored rhetoric. But she has one thing that his professional scripters can never put in the presidential mouth: truth.

 

They must labor in the service of a lie, but Sheehan has read the Downing Street memos, the Duelfer WMD report, the September 2000 manifesto of a group led by Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld calling for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the top-level revelations by Richard Clarke, Paul O'Neill, Seymour Hersh and many others. She knows the mountain of freely available, credible evidence that shows unequivocally that Bush and his minions sought this war of aggression from their first day in power; that they openly longed for "a new Pearl Harbor" to use as justification for their plans; that they deliberately manipulated, "stove-piped" and fabricated intelligence to concoct a false case for war; that they used UN diplomacy as a cynical sham to mask their military intentions and then invaded before the weapons inspection process which they themselves had insisted upon was even halfway complete.

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What Fresh Hell is This?

23 August 2005 5129 Hits
These are the hells that Bush has created with his "liberation" of Iraq:

Under US noses, brutal insurgents rule Sunni citadel. (Guardian) Excerpts:

Under US noses, brutal insurgents rule Sunni citadel

The executions are carried out at dawn on Haqlania bridge, the entrance to Haditha. A small crowd usually turns up to watch even though the killings are filmed and made available on DVD in the market the same afternoon. One of last week's victims was a young man in a black tracksuit. Like the others he was left on his belly by the blue iron railings at the bridge's southern end. His severed head rested on his back, facing Baghdad. Children cheered when they heard that the next day's spectacle would be a double bill: two decapitations. A man named Watban and his brother had been found guilty of spying...

...Alcohol and music deemed unIslamic were banned, women were told to wear headscarves and relations between the sexes were closely monitored....The court caters solely for divorces and marriages. Alleged criminals are punished in the market. The Guardian witnessed a headmaster accused of adultery whipped 190 times with cables. Children laughed as he sobbed and his robe turned crimson...Two men who robbed a foreign exchange shop were splayed on the ground. Masked men stood on their hands while others broke their arms with rocks...DVDs of beheadings on the bridge are distributed free in the souk. Children prefer them to cartoons...

From the Washington Post:
Militias on the Rise Across Iraq
Excerpts: Shiite and Kurdish militias, often operating as part of Iraqi government security forces, have carried out a wave of abductions, assassinations and other acts of intimidation, consolidating their control over territory across northern and southern Iraq and deepening the country's divide along ethnic and sectarian lines, according to political leaders, families of the victims, human rights activists and Iraqi officials....

...In Basra in the south, dominated by the Shiites, and Mosul in the north, ruled by the Kurds, as well as cities and villages around them, many residents have said they are powerless before the growing sway of the militias, which instill a climate of fear that many see as redolent of the era of former president Saddam Hussein...

...Across northern Iraq, Kurdish parties have employed a previously undisclosed network of at least five detention facilities to incarcerate hundreds of Sunni Arabs, Turkmens and other minorities abducted and secretly transferred from Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, and from territories stretching to the Iranian border, according to political leaders and detainees' families...."I don't see any difference between Saddam and the way the Kurds are running things here," said Nahrain Toma, who heads a human rights organization, Bethnahrain, which has offices in northern Iraq and has faced several death threats.... Add a comment
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