Human Rights

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Necessary truths

Scot Lehigh, Boston Globe, September 13, 2005

With the nation dismayed by the laggardly, inept response to the devastation of New Orleans, there's an obvious need to identify all that went wrong.

That need is so obvious that the president himself last week promised to investigate, so obvious that the Republican congressional leadership postponed its latest spate of tax-cutting and announced a joint House-Senate inquiry.

Now, why does that look like an attempted whitewash? ... Reid wants an independent panel like the 9/11 Commission - and he's exactly right. ... Necessary

Activist persecuted for participation in nurses protest

Jakub Grzegorczyk, Red Collective - Leftists Alternative, September 13, 2005

... Red Collective/Leftist Alternative wish to address all labour, leftist and anarchistic organizations and movements for supporting our campaign of defence of our friend and member Andrew Smosarski “Smolen” who must appear before the court of the second instance on 27.09. inst. accused of battery of policeman during the mass manifestation of polish nurses on 18.12.2000. in Warsaw. ... Activist

National Urban League Calls for a 'Katrina Victims Bill of Rights'

National Urban League, September 8, 2005

New York - Marc H. Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League called on Congress to immediately pass and fully fund comprehensive disaster assistance legislation that protects the rights of the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

"While I applaud Congress for providing much-needed funding for FEMA and other government agencies to continue their relief efforts, this is only a small part of what is needed in the short and long term," said Morial, the former mayor of New Orleans. ... National

Nursing home owners charged over hurricane deaths

Mark Simkin & Reuters, ABC Online, September 14, 2005

The owners of a New Orleans nursing home where dozens of people died in the floods caused by Hurricane Katrina have been charged with criminal negligence.

Thirty-four people died in St Rita's nursing home when the levees broke and New Orleans was flooded.

The owners of the home have been arrested and charged with negligent homicide. ... Nursing

Church, state, and Katrina

James Carroll, Boston Globe, September 12, 2005

The disaster on the Gulf Coast is the occasion for public prayer. President Bush invites the nation this week to place the victims of Katrina in the hands of an all-loving God, an impulse many of us share. In Boston and other cities, religious figures have been at the forefront of welcome expressions of concern. On the scene of the catastrophe itself, religious organizations have provided heroic relief, often in stark contrast to hesitant government agencies. ... Church

Exiles from a city and from a nation

Cornel West, Observer, September 11, 2005

It takes something as big as Hurricane Katrina and the misery we saw among the poor black people of New Orleans to get America to focus on race and poverty. It happens about once every 30 or 40 years.

What we saw unfold in the days after the hurricane was the most naked manifestation of conservative social policy towards the poor, where the message for decades has been: 'You are on your own'. Well, they really were on their own for five days in that Superdome, and it was Darwinism in action - the survival of the fittest. ... Exiles

'Take my hand, let me help'

Persevering survivors and selfless volunteers.
JM Brown, Vallejo Times Herald, September 11, 2005

New Orleans - Silence.

That's all that can be heard here despite the constant chopping buzz of a dozen helicopters as they hover simultaneously over miles of putrid muck, where an untold number may yet be buried underwater.

The streets, especially those that are freshly dry but still toxic, are deserted save for police, soldiers and other rescuers in boats and on foot, moving house to house hunting for hold-outs, dead bodies and abandoned pets.

How many lives were lost? How will it ever be rebuilt? How could it have been prevented? ... 'Take my hand, let me help'

What is to be Done?

The American Left and the Battle of New Orleans.
Steven Sherman, Counterpunch, September 9, 2005

About ten years ago, Michael Moore complained that while US leftists raced to Nicaragua to pick coffee, they did not come to his hometown of Flint Michigan when it was being destroyed by plant closures. There was some truth to this. The Central America solidarity movement, which consumed quite a bit of the energy of the predominantly white progressive movement in the eighties, was far better organized and dynamic than any parallel movement against plant closures (and other effects of Reaganism) domestically. But Moore's statement has always struck me as unfair. ... What

Levees breached; time to impeach

James Davies, Beverly, Boston Globe, September 9, 2005

We are now reminded that the Bush administration last year drastically cut funds from projects that the Corps of Engineers was undertaking to strengthen the levees around New Orleans. As a consequence, the corps stopped major hurricane and flood protection projects, including the strengthening of the 17th Street levee in New Orleans, which collapsed last Monday and allowed the city to flood, leading to thousands of deaths, immense human misery, and billions in economic loss.

The funds cut from the levee projects reportedly were moved in the president's budget to pay for homeland security and the war in Iraq. We don't know what the ''homeland security" part would be in this case, since apparently it doesn't include security against hurricanes, but we do know about the money spent on the Iraq war.

Disaster's disquieting reality

Ellen Goodman, Boston Globe, September 9, 2005

This is the phrase repeated again and again when Katrina broke through the levees of denial: ''I can't believe this is America."

The mantra of disbelief echoed from a veteran of the war in Afghanistan to the president of Jefferson Parish to mothers and fathers in the Superdome to families around their television sets: ''This doesn't happen here." ... Disaster's

Repairing the Breach

It's Time for a New "New Deal"
Katrina Vanden Heuvel, The Nation, September 8, 2005

New Orleans is destroyed, the Gulf Coast's infrastructure is in tatters and tens of thousands of citizens are without jobs as gas prices nationwide rise to record levels. Television sets brought the destruction into all of our homes. But this White House seemed unable to grasp the misery unfolding before its own eyes. ... Repairing

Mexican troops cross into US for hurricane relief

Associated Press, September 8, 2005

Laredo, Texas - A Mexican army convoy began crossing into the United States on Thursday to bring aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Carrying water treatment plants and mobile kitchens that can feed 7,000 people daily, the convoy bound for San Antonio is the first Mexican military unit to operate on US soil since 1846.

The first of 45 vehicles in the convoy crossed the international bridge at Laredo at about 8:15 AM. Military engineers, doctors and nurses are among the 200 people headed to San Antonio. ... Mexican

Hurricane Katrina - Our Experiences

Paramedics Larry Bradsahw & Lorrie Beth Slonsky, EMSNetwork News, September 6, 2005

Two days after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the Walgreen's store at the corner of Royal and Iberville Streets remained locked. The dairy display case was clearly visible through the windows. It was now 48 hours without electricity, running water, plumbing. The milk, yogurt, and cheeses were beginning to spoil in the 90-degree heat. The owners and managers had locked up the food, water, pampers, and prescriptions and fled the City. Outside Walgreen's windows, residents and tourists grew increasingly thirsty and hungry. ... Hurricane

Don't Blame the Victims, Get to Work

In the immediate days after Katrina, we saw the best of America as millions of people stepped forward to offer help. Meanwhile, the Bush administration failed at their most important job: keeping America safe. The federal effort was too little, too late and the fact that the White House would blame state and local officials after they had begged for help is appalling.

"President Bush should stop blaming the victims of Hurricane Katrina and get to work helping them." ... Don't Blame

A paralyzed government

Paul Krugman The New York Times, September 6, 2005

Princeton, New Jersey Each day since Katrina brings more evidence of the lethal ineptitude of federal officials. I'm not letting state and local officials off the hook, but federal officials had access to resources that could have made all the difference, but were never mobilized.
Here's one of many examples: The Chicago Tribune reports that the USS Bataan, equipped with six operating rooms, hundreds of hospital beds and the ability to produce 100,000 gallons of fresh water a day, has been sitting off the Gulf Coast since last Monday - without patients. ... A paralyzed government

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