September 17, 2005

The Big Scoop Series #7: Important Developments and News

Hello everyone!

It has been tough for me this week to find time to sit at the computer and prepare this compilation.

Jean Hudon
Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator

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Worthy of Your Attention

Impeach Bush

EarthDance 2005
3 day Camp Out Celebration for World Peace and Unity, set amidst a beautiful old growth oak forest, featuring 5 Stages of Entertainment uniting Jamband, World, Conscious Lyricism, Electronica, Reggae and Folk. Also featuring Global Artisans Market, Late Night Cinema, Healing Village, Kidlandia, Speakers Forum, Activist Alley, Workshops, All Night Music Cafés and much more... WHAT IS EARTHDANCE? The Earthdance event in Laytonville is one of over 150 global events celebrating peace on September 17, 2005 - Earthdance, the Global Dance Festival for Peace has grown to become the world's largest simultaneous music and dance event. Founded in 1997, with 22 cities and 18 countries participating, Earthdance events have occurred in over 240 cities in 50 countries, with locations ranging from the club-lands of New York to the rainforests of Brazil. Every year, in alignment with the International Day of Peace, over 200,000 people unite in dance with hundreds of thousands more joining online in support of global peace and humanitarian aims. The defining moment of each Earthdance event is a synchronized link-up, (4pm Pacific Standard Time) when every event around the world plays a specially produced song called "The Prayer for Peace" at exactly the same time. Earthdance has been described by the music industry as the "Dance Aid" for the new millennium. The aim of the event is to bring together global communities to create a synchronized global festival and dance event to help fund humanitarian causes and develop an environment of peace throughout the global community. Please visit the Earthdance International Website at: to see what cities are participating in 2005, to find out which charities are being supported, and to find out more about the Global Webcast. The highlight of the Earthdance International event is a synchronized dance floor link-up, when the specially created song, "The Prayer for Peace" is played at every event across the world at exactly the same time. Morning in Australia, sunrise over the Himalayas, midnight in London, afternoon in California - the universal prayer is a powerful moment that unifies our intention for a peaceful world.

"We are one global family
All colors, All races
One world united.
We dance for peace and the healing of our planet Earth
Peace for all nations.
Peace for our communities.
And peace within ourselves.
As we join all dance floors across the world, let us connect heart to heart.
Through our diversity we recognize Unity.
Through our compassion we recognize Peace.
Our love is the power to transform our world
Let us send it out NOW..."

-- Recommended by "Susan R. Jason"> who wrote: "I wanted to let you know that will be broadcasting LIVE, the music and festivities from the Northern California Earth Dance celebration, off and on, all week-end... starting NOW. I hope you and your readers will tune in, listen online and ENJOY! and ENJOIN! Love-Light, and Peace, Susie"

Please Help Us Gather 144,000 Signatures for Peace
International Peace Troubadour James Twyman's Beloved Community and Earthdance have joined forces for an unprecedented peace mission uniting over 144,000 global citizens to sign a declaration of peace. This is a profound opportunity for everyone dedicated to creating a world of compassion and peace.Our goal is to gather 144,000 signatures (in this case electronic signatures) which will be presented to Pope Benedict as well as to officials from the UN gathering in Assisi on September 21, the United Nation's International Day of Peace. Help us send a strong message to the leaders of the world proclaiming our intent for creating a New World.To sign the declaration today, please go to
James will lead a peace walk from Assisi to Rome September 12th - 21st ending with a Papal audience where he, joined by Earthdance International founder, Chris Deckker, will present the names of those asking for peace to the Pope. The following day they will take the list of names to the United Nations peace conference taking place in Assisi.

You are the Light of the world
An inspiring message recommended by Phyllis Montague>


1. The New New Deal: Learning the Lessons of Katrina
2. A Fatal Incuriosity
3. Impeachment Movement Responds to Bush's Speech
4. Reckoning in New Orleans
5. The Voice of the White House
6. UN Health Chief Sounds Alarm on Bird Flu
7. Pick a Dream and Follow It - Ryan Hreljac Interview
8. Left Behind: Bush's Holy War on Nature
9. Believe it or not, more rain would benefit New Orleans, ecologist says
10. Sharon UN Speech Turns Israeli Politics on Its Head
11. Letter to the President... Bill Maher

See also:

Not the New Deal (16 September 2005)
Now it begins: America's biggest relief and recovery program since the New Deal. And the omens aren't good. It's a given that the Bush administration, which tried to turn Iraq into a laboratory for conservative economic policies, will try the same thing on the Gulf Coast. The Heritage Foundation, which has surely been helping Karl Rove develop the administration's recovery plan, has already published a manifesto on post-Katrina policy. It calls for waivers on environmental rules, the elimination of capital gains taxes and the private ownership of public school buildings in the disaster areas. And if any of the people killed by Katrina, most of them poor, had a net worth of more than $1.5 million, Heritage wants to exempt their heirs from the estate tax. Still, even conservatives admit that deregulation, tax cuts and privatization won't be enough. Recovery will require a lot of federal spending. And aside from the effect on the deficit - we're about to see the spectacle of tax cuts in the face of both a war and a huge reconstruction effort - this raises another question: how can discretionary government spending take place on that scale without creating equally large-scale corruption? CLIP

44 Oil Spills Found in Southeast Louisiana (16 September 2005)
More than 500 specialists are working to clean up 44 oil spills ranging from several hundred gallons to nearly 4 million gallons, the US Coast Guard said in an assessment that goes far beyond initial reports of just two significant spills.

Hurricane Forecasters Were Quite Accurate (September 16, 2005)
MIAMI (AP) -- For all the criticism of the Bush administration's confused response to Hurricane Katrina, at least two federal agencies got it right: the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center.They forecast the path of the storm and the potential for devastation with remarkable accuracy.The performance by the two agencies calls into question claims by President Bush and others in his administration that Katrina was a catastrophe that no one envisioned. For example, Bush told ABC on Sep. 1 that ''I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.'' In its storm warnings, the hurricane center never used the word ''breached.'' But a day before Katrina came ashore Aug. 29, the agency warned in capital letters: ''SOME LEVEES IN THE GREATER NEW ORLEANS AREA COULD BE OVERTOPPED.'' National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield also gave daily pre-storm videoconference briefings to federal officials in Washington, warning them of a nightmare scenario of New Orleans' levees not holding, winds smashing windows in high-rise buildings and flooding wiping out large swaths of the Gulf Coast. A photo on the White House Web site shows Bush in Crawford, Texas, watching Mayfield give a briefing on Aug. 28, a day before Katrina smashed ashore with 145-mph winds. The National Weather Service office in Slidell, La., which covers the New Orleans area, put out its own warnings that day, saying, ''MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS ... PERHAPS LONGER'' and predicting ''HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS.'' Mayfield and Paul Trotter, the meteorologist in charge of the Slidell office, both refused to criticize the federal response.But Mayfield said: ''The fact that we had a major hurricane forecast over or near New Orleans is reason for great concern. The local and state emergency management knew that as well as FEMA did.'' And the risk to New Orleans in particular was well-recognized long before Katrina. CLIP

I just got back from a FEMA Detainment Camp
I'm extremely depressed to report that things seem to only be getting sadder concerning the people so devastatingly affected by Katrina last week. (...) The occupants of the camp cannot leave the camp for any reason. If they leave the camp they may never return. They will be issued FEMA identification cards and "a sum of money" and they will remain within the camp for the next 5 months. CLIP

Dahr Jamail | Meanwhile, in Iraq...
For the last several days at least 6,000 US soldiers along with approximately 4,000 Iraqi soldiers (read - members of the Kurdish Peshmerga and Shia Badr Army) were laying siege to the city of Tal-Afar, near Mosul in northern Iraq. It is estimated that 90% of the residents have left their homes because of the violence and destruction of the siege, as well as to avoid home raids and snipers.

Death Toll Mounts in Tal Afar
Insurgents staged a classic guerrilla retreat from Tal Afar on Sunday, melting into the countryside through a network of tunnels to escape an Iraqi-US force that reported killing about 150 rebels while storming the militant bastion.

Meet the F**kers - from Comedy Central
TDS-oh so subtle, oh so sweet-and oh so visciously takes apart the idiots who are supposed to protect us during a time of crisis.

The Storm That Ate The GOP (September 14, 2005)
Who will pity the soulless Republican Party now that Katrina is mauling their regime? Can you hear that? That low scraping moan, that painful scream, that compressed hissing wail like the sound of an angry alligator caught in a vise? Why, it's the GOP, and they're screaming, "No, no it can't be, oh my God, please no, this damnable Katrina thing is just an unstoppable PR disaster for us!" (...) But something has shifted. Something is ugly and toxic in the water. This is what, I imagine, the GOP overlords are asking each other over cocktails and baby seal kabobs and whale-blood transfusions: Do you think the people are finally beginning to sense it? Are they finally waking up? You think they know that the fact that Bush is finally taking a modicum of responsibility for his administration's failure -- something he never, never does -- is a sign of true GOP desperation? Do you think they recognize that BushCo isn't really spending a dime on Katrina relief, that the $52 billion they just crammed through Congress without any discussion isn't actually going toward repairs and rebuilding at all? You think people sense that all of it, every single dime, is going toward -- you guessed it -- PR? Spin control? You know it's true. Every government truck and every National Guardsman and every aid package and every miserable FEMA agent you see is merely in place to try and shore up Bush's miserable poll numbers, his dwindling support. Hell, it's the only reason Bush -- or his party -- does anything for the "good" of the nation. But holy crap, it sure is expensive. It sure is annoying. It sure takes the GOP off its game of warmongering and finger-pointing and padding the pockets of the rich and pulverizing the economy like a ... like a ... yes, OK, like a hurricane. Damn you, Mother Nature.

More Strong Katrina-Like Hurricanes Reported (September 16, 2005)
WASHINGTON - The number of strong hurricanes -- like the devastating Katrina -- significantly increased in the last 35 years, fueled by hotter seas that have been linked to global warming, researchers reported on Thursday. Twice as many of the most powerful hurricanes, those ranked Category 4 or 5, have been detected since 1990 as were seen in the period from 1970 to 1985, scientists found in a global survey. CLIP

Global warming 'past the point of no return' (16 Sep 2005)
A record loss of sea ice in the Arctic this summer has convinced scientists that the northern hemisphere may have crossed a critical threshold beyond which the climate may never recover. Scientists fear that the Arctic has now entered an irreversible phase of warming which will accelerate the loss of the polar sea ice that has helped to keep the climate stable for thousands of years. They believe global warming is melting Arctic ice so rapidly that the region is beginning to absorb more heat from the sun, causing the ice to melt still further and so reinforcing a vicious cycle of melting and heating. The greatest fear is that the Arctic has reached a "tipping point" beyond which nothing can reverse the continual loss of sea ice and with it the massive land glaciers of Greenland, which will raise sea levels dramatically.Satellites monitoring the Arctic have found that the extent of the sea ice this August has reached its lowest monthly point on record, dipping an unprecedented 18.2 per cent below the long-term average. Experts believe that such a loss of Arctic sea ice in summer has not occurred in hundreds and possibly thousands of years. It is the fourth year in a row that the sea ice in August has fallen below the monthly downward trend - a clear sign that melting has accelerated. CLIP

Why Is the Ozone Hole Growing?
The ozone over the South Pole currently measures about 25 million square km and may grow to become the biggest hole in history. While this seems at odds with recent announcements that the amount of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the lower atmosphere has finally started to decline, those chemicals will remain in the atmosphere for many decades.

Pentagon Revises Nuclear Plan

Proposal advocates use of nuclear weapons to preempt attack by a nation or a terrorist group. Strategy includes preemptive use against banned weapons 11 Sep 2005 The Pentagon has drafted a revised doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons that envisions commanders requesting presidential approval to use them to preempt an attack by a nation or a terrorist group using weapons of mass destruction. The draft also includes the option of using nuclear arms to destroy known enemy stockpiles of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. 

Pentagon Drafts Permeative Nuke Policy
The US Defense Department has written a draft revision of its nuclear operations doctrine that outlines the use of nuclear weapons to pre-empt an enemy's attack with weapons of mass destruction.

Where Is Osama bin Laden? Day 1,461 and Counting

Access denied (September 11, 2005),6903,1566979,00.html
This is the golden age of the internet, a time of glorious anarchy where information is free and anyone, rich or poor, can blog their views to the world. But government and big business are moving in - the clampdown has started.

Fuel protests 'will bring Britain to a standstill' (11/09/2005)
Fuel protesters vow to bring Britain to a standstill this week as the cost
of petrol sits at a record £5 a gallon. Protests outside oil refineries will be followed by motorway blockades and, campaign groups say, will escalate unless the Government agrees to cut the duty on fuel. Protesters promise a return to the blockades of 2000.

Halliburton Gets Contract To Pry Gold Fillings From New Orleans Corpses' Teeth (Sept 14)
HOUSTON—On Tuesday, Halliburton received a $110 million no-bid government contract to pry the gold fillings from the mouths of deceased disaster victims in the New Orleans-Gulf Coast area. "We are proud to serve the government in this time of crisis by recovering valuable resources from the wreckage of this deadly storm," said David J. Lesar, Halliburton's president. "The gold we recover from the human rubble of Katrina can be used to make fighter-jet electronics, supercomputer chips, inflation-proof A-grade investments, and luxury yachting watches." (THIS IS A FAKE NEWS OF COURSE ;-)

Hurricane Bolton Threatens Havoc on the Global Poor
Unbeknownst to the US public, at the very time impoverished Americans are being showered with support from the world community, the Bush administration's newly appointed UN ambassador, John Bolton, has been waging an all-out attack on the global poor, Medea Benjamin explains. John Bolton's slash-and-burn style has convinced many global leaders that the US agenda is not to reform the United Nations but to gut it.

Meet the Fakers
The biggest gathering of leaders in history unfolds this week at the United Nations, as they preen and boast about how much they're helping the world's poor. Nicholas D. Kristof says that, it may be the greatest assembly in history - of hypocrites. The fact is that with just a few exceptions, the presidents and prime ministers coming to the UN summit are doing a disgraceful job in helping the poor.

FEMA, La. outsource Katrina body count to firm implicated in body-dumping scandals
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has hired Kenyon International to set up a mobile morgue for handling bodies in Baton Rouge, Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina, RAW STORY has learned. Kenyon is a subsidiary of Service Corporation International (SCI), a scandal-ridden Texas-based company operated by a friend of the Bush family. Recently, SCI subsidiaries have been implicated in illegally discarding and desecrating corpses. Louisiana governor Katherine Blanco subsequently inked a contract with the firm after talks between FEMA and the firm broke down. In other words, FEMA and then Blanco outsourced the body count from Hurricane Katrina -- which many believe the worst natural disaster in U.S. history -- to a firm whose parent company is known for its "experience" at hiding and dumping bodies. CLIP

The Mayor of New Orleans Takes on Bush and Tells It Like It is! Listen to the Audio (Sept 3)
Looking in the rear view mirror...

Cover-Up: Toxic Waters 'Will Make New Orleans Unsafe for a Decade'
Toxic chemicals in the New Orleans flood waters will make the city unsafe for full human habitation for a decade, a US government official has told The Independent on Sunday. And, he added, the Bush administration is covering up the danger.

Love Canal-type landfill submerged in New Orleans floodwaters
Overlooked in many news reports about the unfolding storm disaster in the southern United States, especially in the City of New Orleans, in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, is a potentially dramatic pollution issue related to a toxic landfill that sits under the flood waters right in the city's downtown, according to map overlays of the flooded area. The situation could exacerbate the already dire threat to human health and the environment from the flood waters.

German TV: Bush staged food distribution (September 03, 2005)
If he could go to Baghdad, why didn't Bush go to the New Orleans Superdome or the Convention Center? It was bizarre for all of the country and much of the world to be watching those scenes for days on our TVs and news reports, and for Bush's photo ops to be in areas that were far less critical. I know there are security considerations but his visit seemed extraordinarily hollow even by this administration's standard of ultra-stage managed events. Dutch viewer Frank Tiggelaar writes: There was a striking discrepancy between the CNN International report on the Bush visit to the New Orleans disaster zone, yesterday, and reports of the same event by German TV.ZDF News reported that the president's visit was a completely staged event. Their crew witnessed how the open air food distribution point Bush visited in front of the cameras was torn down immediately after the president and the herd of 'news people' had left and that others which were allegedly being set up were abandoned at the same time.The people in the area were once again left to fend for themselves, said ZDF.

Secret Flight Brings Deadly Ex-Soviet Germs To US (Sept 11)
BAKU, Azerbaijan -- More than 60 dangerous and deadly bacterial strains that are a legacy of the former Soviet Union's elaborate biological weapons program were transferred Friday to the United States from Azerbaijan as part of the two countries' joint fight against the threat of biological terrorism.   Copies of the strains, including bacteria that cause plague and anthrax, left Baku aboard a U.S. military aircraft in a mission cloaked in secrecy. The pathogens were scheduled to arrive at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware by Saturday, officials said, and government scientists will begin their analysis next week in Washington. CLIP

Global Warming 'Past the Point of No Return'
A record loss of sea ice in the Arctic this summer has convinced scientists that the northern hemisphere may have crossed a critical threshold beyond which the climate may never recover.

Toyota Says It May Put Gas-Electric Engines in All Its Vehicles (Sept. 13)
Toyota Motor Corp., the world's second-largest automaker, said all of its vehicles may eventually be run by hybrid gasoline-electric motors, as record fuel prices curb demand for conventional automobiles.Toyota, the world's first and largest maker of so-called hybrid cars, said it's aiming to increase hybrid production by 60 percent in 2006 and will cut costs and prices to make them more affordable."In the future, the cars you see from Toyota will be 100 percent hybrid,'' Toyota Executive Vice President Kazuo Okamoto said in Frankfurt, declining to give a time for achieving the target. ``We believe that in 10 years the world will be filled with hybrids.'' CLIP


Date: 11 Sep 2005
Subject: The New New Deal: Learning the Lessons of Katrina
From: Curtis Lang>

Jean -- How are you doing?

Curtis Lang here with Satya Center in New York.

I’ve just written a 30 page story about New Orleans, my home town, and Katrina, and a progressive agenda for the aftermath.

It’s at

There’s a timeline with key quotes and clickable links.

I’d be happy to let anyone use it in part or parts or whole, or to revise it as needed.

If you know folks who are concerned about the New Orleans disaster, and who might find this useful, please do forward it to them.




Forwarded by "Lotus">


A Fatal Incuriosity


September 14, 2005

I hate spending time in hospitals and nursing homes. I find them to be some of the most depressing places on earth.

Maybe that's why the stories of the sick and elderly who died, 45 in a New Orleans hospital and 34 in St. Rita's nursing home in the devastated St. Bernard Parish outside New Orleans, haunt me so.

You're already vulnerable and alone when suddenly you're beset by nature and betrayed by your government.

At St. Rita's, 34 seniors fought to live with what little strength they had as the lights went out and the water rose over their legs, over their shoulders, over their mouths. As Gardiner Harris wrote in The Times, the failed defenses included a table nailed against a window and a couch pushed against a door.

Several electric wheelchairs were gathered near the front entrance, maybe by patients who dreamed of evacuating. Their drowned bodies were found swollen and unrecognizable a week later, as Mr. Harris reported, "draped over a wheelchair, wrapped in a shower curtain, lying on a floor in several inches of muck."

At Memorial Medical Center, victims also suffered in 100-degree heat and died, some while waiting to be rescued in the four days after Katrina hit.

As Louisiana's death toll spiked to 423 yesterday, the state charged St. Rita's owners with multiple counts of negligent homicide, accusing them of not responding to warnings about the hurricane. "In effect," State Attorney General Charles Foti Jr. said, "I think that their inactions resulted in the death of these people."

President Bush continued to try to spin his own inaction yesterday, but he may finally have reached a patch of reality beyond spin. Now he's the one drowning, unable to rescue himself by patting small black children on the head during photo-ops and making scripted attempts to appear engaged. He can keep going back down there, as he will again on Thursday when he gives a televised speech to the nation, but he can never compensate for his tragic inattention during days when so many lives could have been saved.

He made the ultimate sacrifice and admitted his administration had messed up, something he'd refused to do through all of the other screw-ups, from phantom W.M.D. and the torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo to the miscalculations on the Iraq occupation and the insurgency, which will soon claim 2,000 young Americans.

How many places will be in shambles by the time the Bush crew leaves office?

Given that the Bush team has dealt with both gulf crises, Iraq and Katrina, with the same deadly mixture of arrogance and incompetence, and a refusal to face reality, it's frightening to think how it will handle the most demanding act of government domestic investment since the New Deal.

Even though we know W. likes to be in his bubble with his feather pillow, the stories this week are breathtaking about the lengths the White House staff had to go to in order to capture Incurious George's attention.

Newsweek reported that the reality of Katrina did not sink in for the president until days after the levees broke, turning New Orleans into a watery grave. It took a virtual intervention of his top aides to make W. watch the news about the worst natural disaster in a century. Dan Bartlett made a DVD of newscasts on the hurricane to show the president on Friday morning as he flew down to the Gulf Coast.

The aides were scared to tell the isolated president that he should cut short his vacation by a couple of days, Newsweek said, because he can be "cold and snappish in private." Mike Allen wrote in Time about one "youngish aide" who was so terrified about telling Mr. Bush he was wrong about something during the first term, he "had dry heaves" afterward.

The president had to be truly zoned out not to jump at the word "hurricane," given that he has always used his father's term as a reverse playbook and his father almost lost Florida in 1992 because of his slow-footed response to Hurricane Andrew. And W.'s chief of staff, Andy Card, was the White House transportation secretary the senior President Bush sent to the rescue after FEMA bungled that one.

W. has said he prefers to get his information straight up from aides, rather than filtered through newspapers or newscasts. But he surrounds himself with weak sisters who don't have the nerve to break bad news to him, or ideologues with agendas that require warping reality or chuckleheaded cronies like Brownie.

The president should stop haunting New Orleans, looking for that bullhorn moment. It's too late.



Impeachment Movement Responds to Bush's Speech

George Bush went to New Orleans tonight. In the devastated city, he brought generators to provide electricity solely for his elaborate photo-opportunity.

Those guilty of criminal negligence rarely have an opportunity to go on national TV for nearly a half an hour to camouflage and conceal their criminal conduct. This is precisely what George Bush did tonight on prime time national television. Two weeks after the fact, Bush and the spin doctors at Fox News and other corporate media are now attempting to do damage control - that is, political damage control, not human damage control.

Bush's handling of the Katrina catastrophe, and the actions of the administration prior to the hurricane, constitute a clear pattern of criminal negligence and gross misconduct.

Here are just a few of the facts that highlight the criminal negligence and Presidential misconduct:

* The Bush administration is spending $200 million each day or $1.4 billion each week for its criminal war of aggression in Iraq

* Despite the fact that scientific experts had widely publicized predictions of the coming catastrophe in New Orleans, the Bush administration was hell bent on diverting resources to the Iraq war, while it slashed funds for flood control operations in New Orleans.

* Bush's war on Iraq left the Corps of Engineers only 20% of the needed funding to protect New Orleans from flooding from Lake Pontchartrain. Before the Iraq war, FEMA officials warned of a looming disaster in New Orleans. The Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project (SELA) is authorized by Congress to protect the people of New Orleans and the port facilities as well as oil refineries. After the start of the shock and awe invasion of Iraq however, SELA's monies were diverted. The Times-Picayune, the daily newspaper of New Orleans, published numerous articles during the last two years citing the danger caused by the loss of hurricane protection funds to the war in Iraq.

Bush has taken the money needed to protect and serve the needs of society and spent it on his war of aggression against the people of Iraq, on multi-billion dollar contracts for his corporate friends, and on tax cuts for the super-rich. Although he turned away as hundreds of people - including babies and the elderly - drowned and starved, now he is compelled to at least pretend to take action. This is not out of concern for the well-being of the suffering people, but concern for his popularity - the people of the United States have turned against his criminal administration.

The impeachment movement has responded powerfully to the criminal neglect and subsequent charade of the administration. Thousands of organizers around the country are preparing to make the trip to Washington DC on September 24. Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark will be speaking at the White House on the Ellipse calling for Impeachment.

You can help mobilize a massive contingent for the September 24 National March on Washington DC. This is a demonstration initiated by the peace movement and is shaping up to be the largest demonstration since the beginning of the Iraq war. We will make the demand "Impeach Bush" highly visible throughout the day. The ImpeachBush movement will be assembling at the south side of the White House (an area called the Ellipse at 11:00 am). You can pick up ImpeachBush banners, placards, signs, literature, hats, and petitions. We need volunteers to help us dispatch people and materials starting in the early morning of September 24. If you can help out, please send an email letting us know your availability to be an volunteer.

We have one week left - we need your help today to make impeachment resound at the White House and throughout the streets of Washington on September 24. In the last few weeks, 30,000 new people have voted to impeach in our grass-roots referendum. Every day people are taking petitions and literature and spreading the word.

Others are making generous donations to help this work continue. We are asking you to make a contribution today. If you have never made a donation please consider doing so now. If you have donated before, please help again. You can make a donation by clicking here where you can also get information to write a check.


See also:

A Message from Ramsey Clark

McKinney Impeachment Order Censored!


Forwarded by Ed Elkin> on September 16

Reckoning in New Orleans

by Marianne Williamson

Something very important is happening here -- something more than simply a hurricane, or the suffering of thousands who were neglected by their government during a time of great need. Most worldly occurrences reflect deeper truths. What is happening is a gigantic reckoning, as Americans are forced to come to terms with how very, very naked is the Emperor who we thought had such incredible clothes.

We are raised in the United States of America to believe that our government is the strongest in the world, that as Americans we are basically protected, and that our country is basically good. It is cognitive dissonance for us to be confronted with evidence to the contrary, and yet such evidence has been piling up fast and furiously during this odd and potentially catastrophic phase of American history.

There is nothing strong about rushing into a unilateral war based on faulty intelligence, thereby squandering the resources necessary with which to take care of your own people; there is nothing protective about a government that apparently didn’t monitor events on the ground in New Orleans any better – in fact, less well! – than the average viewer of CNN; and there is nothing good about taking care of the rich at the expense of the poor. If it took a Level 5 hurricane and the huge suffering of thousands to bring those facts to light, then at least it can be said that there is value in this horror. If enough Americans are beginning to wake up and face the awful fact that our country’s basic functioning has become infected by a soulless sensibility, then perhaps the suffering on the Gulf Coast will not have been in vain.

Regarding the abysmal response of our government to the hurricane’s aftermath, there is a lot of talk right now about accountability. Some argue we should have the discussion today, while others argue that that discussion should wait for a more propitious time. But there is a danger in waiting, for a governmental status quo has talent for co-opting criticism as long as it can buy enough time. Passions cool; memories become revised and faded. Six months after a disaster, the government appoints an independent commission to find out what really happened but by the time the commission releases its final report there is not much sense that too many people are listening. The people are exhausted by then; they’re trying their best to move on.

And the status quo knows this; that’s part of its game. Do whatever you want; act horrified and remorseful for a minute whenever too much suffering results as a part of your actions; then put off the accountability conversation until people are too tired to care anymore. This is not a new pattern in America. What might be new – what I sense might be happening – is that people are waking up to it now. And as soon as we wake up, then the pattern will end.

Abraham Lincoln said there is not too much evil any American government can perpetrate, as long as the people remain vigilant. He was referring to the fact that we have federal elections every two years, through which we can replace the entirety of the House of Representatives and one-third of the U.S. Senate. The ultimate accountability conversation is written into the U.S. Constitution; it is called elections. At this particular juncture, that means the mid-term elections of 2006.

The president prides himself on running the government like a well-run business. That of course makes him the chief executive. And if the government failed, then he failed.

Fool us once, and maybe their tricks were dirty; fool us twice, maybe their PR was too good; fool us now, and perhaps we just deserve to be fooled. From war to hurricanes, oh America, the alarm bells of needless human suffering are going off everywhere. A nation who refuses to wake up at this point is in a dangerous slumber. The nightmares are upon us now. They will remain until our eyes are opened and we have awakened to the truth.


From: "Mark Graffis">
Subject: The Voice of the White House
Date: 10 Sep 2005


The Voice of the White House

September 8, 2005: “What the scrotum-heads in the power elite (a la C. Wright Mills) are doing now vis a vis New Orleans is this: First, all of the poor blacks (and other unproductive and non-spending individuals) will be forced out of their sodden homes because of ‘health reasons.’ Then, if fires don't level whole poor neighborhoods, FEMA will order these buildings raised to the ground as 'unhealthy" and 'uninhabitable.'

The owners, or residents, will have been dispersed throughout the country but will be duly notified by a proper advert placed in an obscure official New Orleans legal paper that the houses are being torn down and that the owners will be liable for the costs of destruction. Naturally, these people will not read the legal notices and their houses will be smashed flat and the remains put into trucks and used for landfill somewhere else.

Following this, liens will be placed on the property for the costs of tearing down the homes and again, the owners will not be aware of this and will not pay. The vacant lots will then be siezed by the authorities for non-payment and put up for sale. And a cartel, already formed, will purchase these vacant lots for five cents on the dollar and after this, the government will proudly announce that "new, affordable, housing will be built for the citizens of New Orleans."

Bids will be let, contests held for the designing of attractive buildings and much hype will follow with, no doubt, a smirking President telling the world, and potential voters, that he and his people are indeed showing rare compassion and concern for the dispossessed. Of course, 'affordable housing' does not mean cheap housing and the new homes, built out of government (read taxpayer) money will be sold, or leased, through another government agency, to affluent members of the middle class, businesses and others. In one stroke, undesirable welfare blacks will be chased off of valuable lands and the many friends of the current Administration will become further enriched.

As far as the helpless and exploited exportees are concerned, the President will thank, on behalf of the American people, all those wonderful communities who now house and clothe the dispossessed and newly-homeless of New Orleans and, most especially, pay for their food and living out of local, and not Federal, funds.

And of course, the levees will quickly be rebuilt, by Republican-friendly and well-paid contractors, and New Orleans, like the phoenix, will be reborn  from the shit-filled mud, commerce will blossom and thanks to FEMA and the President, the Administration will be much richer on a personal basis.

Isn't capitalism wonderful?

And note how the glow of Celestial Approval will beam like rays of sunshine out of the President's raddled fundament.”



UN Health Chief Sounds Alarm on Bird Flu

September 16, 2005

UNITED NATIONS - Avian flu will mutate and become transmissible by humans and the world has no time to waste to stop it becoming a pandemic, the head of the UN World Health Organization said on Thursday.

Lee Jong-wook, a South Korean doctor, delivered his stark warning as the United States worked to rally states behind a new US plan to fight the disease, which has already killed more than 60 people in Asia and spread to Russia and Europe.

"Human influenza is coming, we know that, and no government, no leaders can afford to be caught off-guard," Lee said.

"We must pounce on human pandemic outbreaks with all medicines at our disposal and at the earliest possible moment," he told a news conference in New York.

"When the pandemic starts, it is simply too late."

US President George W. Bush unveiled a plan at the United Nations on Wednesday under which countries and international agencies would pool resources and expertise to fight bird flu.

His International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza reflects growing concern that avian flu could becomes a human pandemic, a threat Bush said the world must not allow.


Andrew Natsios, head of the US Agency for International Development, said the risk of bird flu was even worse than HIV/AIDS. He urged nations to cooperate fully and not to hide knowledge of the disease when it struck.

"The consequences for the global economy could be massive," Natsios told a small group of reporters. "Without international and national responses we will not stop the disease."

Most of the people killed in Asia since 2003 caught the virus from infected birds. Health experts say the greatest worry is that the highly pathogenic strain of the disease known as H5N1 could mutate and become transmissible between people.

Lee said H5N1 "will acquire this capability -- it's just an issue of timing." Countries far from heavily hit Southeast Asian states would not be safe because the disease was spreading through migratory wildfowl, Lee added.

He urged states like Japan, Switzerland and France with stockpiles of anti-flu drugs to make medicines available for international emergencies.

Paula Dobriansky, US Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, said the United States would convene a senior officials meeting in Washington soon to coordinate policy. Canada will host a global health ministers in the coming weeks to support the US initiative, she said.

Partner countries and agencies include Argentina, Australia, Britain, Canada, China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Russia, as well as WHO, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and UNICEF, Dobriansky said.



Pick a Dream and Follow It - Ryan Hreljac Interview

by Isabella Welsapar  

He has been called the Messiah for water and the “water boy”, one thing is at least for sure that he is one of the most successful young fundraisers this world has ever seen. Starting with the only desire to build a well in an African country, Ryan Hreljac has seven years later raised over $ 1 million, built 169 wells and provided clean water for 300.000 people in undeveloped countries as Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Guatemala. Having received an enormous embracing by media and a non-stop interest from people all over the world, 14 year old Ryan is determined to continue on this path till he reaches his dream to provide clean water to everyone in the world.

He has been called the Messiah for water and the “water boy”, one thing is at least for sure that he is one of the most successful young fundraisers this world has ever seen. Starting with the only desire to build a well in an African country, Ryan Hreljac has seven years later raised over $ 1 million, built 169 wells and provided clean water for 300.000 people in undeveloped countries as Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Guatemala. Having received an enormous embracing by media and a non-stop interest from people all over the world, 14 year old Ryan is determined to continue on this path till he reaches his dream to provide clean water to everyone in the world.

It all started in 1998 when the six year old Ryan intently listened to his first-grade teacher telling about how people in Africa had to walk many kilometers every day just to get water. The teacher also told him that it would only take $70 dollars to build a well for an entire village. Hearing this, Ryan decided he had to build a well and asked his parents as soon as he got home for $70 dollars. Since he was only six years old his parents didn’t listen to him right away but eventually Ryan started doing chores around the house to earn some money. Four months later Ryan had saved $70 dollars and went to leave the money at the charity WaterCan in Canada, specialized on building wells in undeveloped countries.

The story spreads like a dandelion

When they told him that $70 dollars only was enough to build a hand pump but that it took $2000 dollars to build a well his answer was “I’ll just have to do more chores”. Having collected $100 dollars Ryan realized he couldn’t do it on his own and started having speeches at a local level in service clubs and churches. The story about the little boy fundraising for a well in Africa spread and soon he was also having speeches nationally and internationally.

At the age of nine in 2001, Ryan’s Well Foundation was established and Ryan went to Uganda to see his first well ever, this is one of the best memories Ryan has.

I’m most proud of the trip to my first well, it’s also my best memory because I met my pen pal Jimmy (Akana, editor’s note) there. Not only did Ryan start learning about the vast importance of clean water due to his work, but also he experienced how his friend Jimmy was abducted by the guerrilla group LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) known for kidnapping thousands of children, forcing the girls into sexual slavery and the boys to become child soldiers. After a time of anxiousness the message arrived that Jimmy had escaped and Ryan, his two brothers and parents took the decision to adopt Jimmy. Turn dreams into reality

Bearing in mind that Ryan Hreljac has been interviewed by hundreds of medial publications, held hundreds of speeches, been awarded continuously, met Pope John Paul II, Prince Charles, environmentalist Jean-Michael Cousteau and Dr. Jane Goodall, he still gives the impression of just being a regular guy still dreaming the same dream.

With his unique and captivating story Ryan inspires and motivates children, youth and adults to follow their dreams.

Find your passion, believe in your power and then turn your dreams into reality.

(Source: Positive News:


Forwarded by "Mark Graffis">


Left Behind: Bush's Holy War on Nature

by Chip Ward

September 16, 2005

Hurricane Katrina showed us how difficult it has become to distinguish between natural disasters and man-made ones. First, the Army Corp of Engineers decides it can build a better river than Mother Nature and in the process deprives the delta of storm-absorbing wetlands and barrier islands while allowing the ground under New Orleans to subside into a suicidal bowl. Then a storm hits and... well, you know the rest of the story. The lesson is simple: we are embedded in natural systems and whether we acknowledge that or not can be a matter of life and death.

What follows next you've heard a hundred times: the Bush administration's environmental record is lousy. More than lousy, it is potentially disastrous. But why? At first glance, it's easy enough to understand. Philosophically, Republicans believe in the power of the marketplace to shape behavior. Their animosity toward government regulation is long-standing. They emphasize the rights of private-property owners over any notion of the commons, and so are comfortable letting corporations pursue profit at the expense of air or water quality. Obviously, a Texas oilman like George W. Bush and a former Halliburton CEO like Dick Cheney aren't about to object to opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. Caribou, they certainly believe, are expendable if they get in the way of our urge for faster-bigger-more.

The Bush administration's assault on environmental quality has, however, been so deliberate, destructive, and hostile that the usual explanations -- while not wrong -- are hardly adequate. During their time in power, Bush's officials have worked systematically and energetically to undo half a century of environmental law and policy based on hard-learned lessons about how to sustain healthy environments. Strikingly, they have failed to protect the environment even when they could have done so without repercussions from special-interest campaign contributors. Something more is going on.

The notion that the environment matters is ingrained in Americans, even those of us who do not think of ourselves as environmentally inclined or sympathetic. Democrats and Republican alike have learned the hard way that the decisions we make about what we allow into our air, water, and soil get translated into our blood and bones. As polls regularly indicate, most Americans agree that it is wise and prudent to collectively practice restraint and precaution when making environmental decisions. This is one of the great accomplishments of the environmental movement. We are no more likely to hear someone question the importance of a healthy and functioning environment than we are to hear someone question the wisdom of child labor laws or the ending of racial segregation. The environmental policies of the Bush administration are hard to fathom exactly because they fly in the face of these shared values and beliefs.

To Hell with Public Health

Just consider the Bush record. Take toxins, for instance. Most of us already carry "body burdens" of mercury, dioxins, and lead that are close to or above what sound science considers safe. Today, one in six American women has so much mercury in her womb that a child she carries is at risk for a grim inventory of afflictions, including blindness, mental retardation, kidney disease, and possibly even autism. These are expensive problems to treat and we all share the costs.

All fish in 19 states are now unsafe to eat because of mercury contamination and at least some fish in 48 states are unsafe. We know where most of the mercury comes from -- coal-fired power plants -- and we know how to clean it up. The technology is available and affordable. But the first thing Bush did when he entered office was to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency's mercury-emissions rules.

As with mercury, so it goes with a long list of other environmental toxins. Bush-appointed bureaucrats now allow into our drinking water: higher levels of arsenic; 20 times the levels of perchlorates that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends using the best science available; and 12 times the levels of contamination allowed by law for the herbicide atrazine. The chemical captan, which is typically found in household pesticides and fungicides, has been downgraded from a "probable" human carcinogen to "not likely" -- without any new evidence being produced. Standards have been relaxed for the release of selenium, which we know causes massive deformities and deaths in waterfowl. Fertilizers that grow our food can now contain much higher levels of toxic residues. Likewise, the EPA has used a 3-fold safety standard rather than the typical 10-fold test to determine that organophosphorous pesticides pose no danger for children. By rewriting the New Source Review provision of the Clean Air Act, the Bush administration has permitted industrial polluters to pump additional ozone and particulates into the air that aggravate millions of cases of asthma and cause thousands of deaths each year.

Creative environmental regulators have become an endangered species under this President. Federal watchdogs have turned into lapdogs, so superfund sites -- lands contaminated by enough hazardous waste to pose a risk to human health -- no longer get cleaned up; old coal-fired power plants are not fixed; SUVs belch smog; and polluters cheat. New environmental problems are not identified, researched, or targeted. The best example of this is global climate disruption. In the West, erratic, quick melting snowpack results in record spring floods that are becoming as common as the massive wildfires we now expect during our increasingly parched summers.

CLIP - Read the entire article at

And You Can Go to Hell, Too

Elected on the premise that government is ineffective, incompetent, and wasteful, the Bush administration has devoted its time in office to proving its own point -- something Hurricane Katrina brought home to Americans with a resounding bang. But the Bush record on the environment is in a category all its own. Only when we begin to grasp that those who are driving Bush environmental policies do not share the most basic values and beliefs that have guided such policy-making for over half a century, does their behavior start to make sense.

This much is clear: The Bush administration does not respect a broad American consensus that the quality of our lives is directly linked to the integrity and health of the environment. Differences in philosophy about property rights, the role of government, and the best means to change self-destructive behaviors will translate into different approaches to environmental policy -- for example, whether to curb pollution by creating market incentives or by passing tough laws. But until now Republicans did not reject the need for environmental policy altogether. What happened?

The answer is a familiar one: Bush's righteous base, the rightwing fundamentalist Christians, are having their way -- the zealots who think Revelations is the only guide to foreign policy and that Nature is a mere stage for their personal salvation drama -- men like Majority Leader Tom DeLay who have publicly proclaimed that they do not believe in evolution, or other Republican congressional leaders who got 100% ratings from the powerful Christian Coalition, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert, presidential hopeful Bill Frist, Policy Chair Christopher Cox, National Leadership Chair Rob Portman, powerful senators like Mitch McConnell, Kay Hutchinson, Rick Santorum, George Allen, and many more who are, environmentally speaking, the American Taliban.

Our President himself recently declared "the jury is still out" on evolution. The administration's push to satisfy its base by devaluing and discrediting evolutionary theory has profound implications for environmental policy and law. If you don't believe in the evolutionary sciences, chances are you also don't heed or trust the ecological sciences that underlie environmental law and policy. When conservation biologists talk about keystone (or endangered) species, fundamentalists are far more likely than most Americans to listen skeptically. The value of biodiversity as a measure of ecosystem health is going to be of little concern to those who do not understand or accept the critical role that species interaction plays in keeping ecosystems resilient in the face of disturbance and stress.

In fact, fundamentalist Christians often have only contempt for ecological science, which they view as nothing more than the cover Pagans use to push a godless, nature-worshiping agenda. To many fundamentalists, enviros are the new commies. Utah's righteous patriarchal politicians cannot even utter the term "environmentalist" (usually pronounced environ-MENTAL-ist, as if it were a psychological disorder) without attaching the adjective "extreme" to the term.

If you believe that God made the world for you and instructed you to dominate it and be fruitful, then you are likely to see yourself as above and beyond the natural world. If you are God's chosen, then how can you fear that he will not provide for you no matter how large your numbers grow or what you do to your surroundings? God, after all, can change nature's laws, which are part of his "intelligent design" in the first place. So you are unlikely to fret about practicing environmental restraint or worry about environmental toxins -- righteousness being the best prophylactic against disease in a world where God's will is done.

If you believe that the world's end is imminent, then why not use it before you lose it? If you believe that when the world-ending moment arrives, you will be "raptured" away and Christ will return to rule at last, then, hey, bring it on! Those who are "left behind," as fundamentalist Tim Lehaye describes it in his bestselling novels, deserve to suffer because they failed to accept Christ as their personal savior. So the President's fundamentalist base favors the present over a future they disown.

Perhaps the greatest gap between the belief systems of fundamentalists and environmentalists is the difference between hubris and humility. Fundamentalists have a death grip on truth and do not entertain doubt; while one of the key insights of the ecological sciences is that nature may not only be more complex than we thought, but more complex than we can think. Conservation biologists respect the intricate and reciprocal nature of living systems and realize that even the most seemingly insignificant species may turn out to play an unexpected and important role in them. Such insights underlie precautionary approaches.

According to Bush's political base, the future is theirs; nature was put here for us to use as we please; God will provide; and foolish unbelievers will be abandoned, like those desperate refugees at the New Orleans Super Dome, in a trashed and shredded world. We had our chance, but decided to listen to scientists, believe in dinosaurs, hug trees, and wring our hands over pupfish, spotted owls, and the odd centipede or two. While our jaws drop at their arrogant and reckless behaviors, they just shake their heads and chuckle condescendingly at all of our "liberal whining." It's a holy war, after all, and they are most righteous.

Bush's assault on the environment makes perfect sense once you see the bargains that drive it. The fundamentalists give Bush political power; his corporate cronies get free reign to plunder the land for their profit; and the fundamentalists get the heads of nature-worshipping enviros on an arsenic platter. The rest of us, of course, get left behind.

Chip Ward, assistant director of the Salt Lake City Public Library System, is a political activist and leader in the struggle to keep the Great Basin Desert from becoming a nuclear waste dumping ground. He is the author of (Island Press).


See also:

The News Media Are Knocking Bush - And Propping Him Up
Norman Solomon notes that by avoiding even the hint that President Bush and Vice President Cheney should be ousted from office, major news outlets are circumscribing public discourse and limiting the prospective remedies. Meanwhile, we hear about low-level resignations, official investigations and proposals for blue-ribbon commissions.


Forwarded by "Mark Graffis">


Believe it or not, more rain would benefit New Orleans, ecologist says


Sept. 16, 2005

CHAPEL HILL – In the wake of Hurricane Katrina -- probably the greatest natural disaster in U.S. history -- a leading ecologist says that one of the best things that could happen to New Orleans and the rest of southern Louisiana and Mississippi would be more rain.

"People might think I’m kidding, but I’m not," said Dr. Seth R. Reice, associate professor of biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s College of Arts and Sciences.

"The floodwater still covering much of New Orleans and elsewhere is full of everything people store under their sinks in their kitchens and bathrooms. It’s also full of coliform bacteria from backed-up human waste, plus gasoline, oil and countless other pollutants. It is a really toxic stew."

An intense rain would dilute the water and could make it possible to varying degrees for organisms -- both large and small -- to cope with it better, Reice said.

Dilution is much needed, he said. Standing water in New Orleans streets was found late last week to carry 10 times the maximum safe level of fecal coliform bacteria to say nothing about the non-organic pollutants, the scientist said. He likened those streets to open sewers.

Reice is the author of The Silver Lining, subtitled "The Benefits of Natural Disasters." Published in 2001 by Princeton University Press, the book received much attention when it first appeared and later following the tsunamis in 2004 in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean.

It details how, usually, hurricanes and lesser storms, volcanoes, earthquakes, floods and other apparently catastrophic events renew life and boost diversity in ecosystems throughout the world.

But authorities in New Orleans are making a large mistake by pumping the floodwater into Lake Ponchartrain, Reice said.

"They have no business doing this," the biologist said. "It is going to cause tremendous pollution and probably big fish kills. Instead, they should have pumped it as far out to sea as they could or at least into the Mississippi where the current would dilute it. Or they could have treated it in wastewater treatment plants. They over-reacted to the need to drain the streets and gave no thought to the severe environmental damage to the lake and its fishes."

The second largest problem -- one that most Americans didn’t realize until the hurricane -- is that New Orleans has been sinking for decades, Reice said. That’s because it was built on Mississippi Delta silt, which built up over millions of years by the sediments carried by the Mississippi River and deposited during floods. By isolating New Orleans from flooding, engineers robbed the delta of its sedimentary deposits.

"This natural disaster was partially the result of engineering designed to prevent flooding," he said. "Natural flooding would have been less severe and would have allowed for a buildup of new sediments."

Instead, what happened was that as the skyline rose, buildings got heavier and heavier and pushed the city downward into the soft earth, Reice said. The same is true for the entire Mississippi Delta region of southern Louisiana.

"What we are looking at now is a catastrophe for the shellfish industry since Louisiana oysters have become contaminated," he said. "Would you want to eat fish from Lake Ponchartrain or shellfish from the Gulf anytime soon? I certainly wouldn’t.

"The scale of this thing is simply enormous and, of course, we had essentially no emergency preparedness for it," Reice said. "Perhaps one of the few positive things that will come out of the Hurricane Katrina disaster is that voters and politicians will start paying more attention to the environment."

The biologist said the American people share part of the blame for what happened in Louisiana and Mississippi since they keep buying gas-guzzling automobiles that waste gasoline and contribute heavily to global warming. He considers SUVs, for example, a "crime against nature."

"American automakers have the capacity to build fuel-efficient cars, but they just won’t do it because the federal government puts no pressure on them," Reice said. "In Europe, people have been paying $5 a gallon of gasoline for years. Do I resent $3 a gallon for gas here? Not a bit. I say put a tax on it to get the price up to $4 a gallon because we have got to stop wasting fuel."

Among the UNC scientist’s recommendations are to get researchers out to Lake Ponchartrain to assess insults to that vast body of water, which could take years to recover completely. He recommends developing an ecological remediation plan for it and for the coastal zone as well. He also said he believes FEMA should be taken out of Homeland Security and led by an expert with cabinet-level authority.

"We need an almost radical reconsideration of nature and a resolve not to muck things up as we have in the past," he said. "Just about every time we get in the way of nature, we create more problems for nature and for ourselves."

Among topics Reice tackles in his book are how paving over the landscape for malls, subdivisions and highways leads to more frequent and severe flooding of urban streams.

Niles Eldredge of the American Museum of Natural History called The Silver Lining highly accessible and said "the chapters on fire and floods are brilliant."


Note: Reice can be reached at (919) 962-1375 (w), 967-6670 or A Katrina-related tipsheet of UNC experts is available at

News Services contact: David Williamson, (919) 962-8596



Sharon UN Speech Turns Israeli Politics on Its Head

16 September 2005

Jerusalem - Turning Israeli politics on its head, Ariel Sharon drew attacks from the right and praise from the left on Friday after taking to the world stage and voicing recognition of Palestinians' right to statehood.

Sharon's speech to the UN General Assembly on Thursday calling for compromise to "end this bloody conflict" was more conciliatory than many had expected from an Israel leader long vilified internationally as an intransigent hardliner.

Sharon held firm on his insistence that it was now up to the Palestinians to prove they want peace by cracking down on militants following Israel's pullout from Gaza earlier this week after 38 years of occupation.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Sharon's rival in their Likud party, accused the prime minister of turning his back on his rightist roots, and Interior Minister Ophir Pines, of center-left Labor, said he had "unconditionally joined the peace camp".

Palestinians saw it as a propaganda ploy to mask Sharon's intention to keep a permanent hold on Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, continue expanding settlement blocs there and forestall a return to final-status negotiations.

Just a few months ago, it would have been unthinkable for the burly, 77-year-old ex-general to stand before the world forum that many Israelis see as a bastion of anti-Israel sentiment.

But implementation of his "disengagement" plan has softened his image as Israel's uncompromising "Bulldozer" and drawn accolades from the international community, which hopes the Gaza withdrawal will serve as a catalyst for renewed peacemaking.

"The man who for the past four decades has intimidated, threatened, torpedoed, prevented, wagged his finger and thundered with a parched throat, restarted the clock yesterday and redefined himself," wrote Ben Caspit, a political columnist for the daily Maariv.

Still, Sharon said little to suggest he planned any conciliatory moves toward the Palestinians anytime soon. "We do not see anything positive (in Sharon's speech)," said Palestinian Planning Minister Ghassan al-Khatib.

Praise, Criticism

Sharon's UN address drew harsh criticism from rightist opponents who brand him a traitor to the settlement movement he once championed. They see the Gaza pullout as a betrayal of Jewish biblical claims and a reward for Palestinian violence.

"In his speech, Sharon has finally clarified that he is turning to the left and will continue to make concessions," Netanyahu, who is trying to unseat Sharon as Likud chief for the next general election, said in a statement.

On the left, Labor minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer was quoted as saying: "The prime minister affirmed openly the policy of the Labor Party, which contends that in order to achieve real peace it is necessary to give up the dream of Greater Israel."

Israeli media took note that previous UN speeches by Israeli prime ministers had always been accompanied by mass walkouts by Muslim and Arab delegations, but this time only a few exited, led by Israel's arch-foe Iran.

"The Palestinians will always be our neighbors. We respect them and don't aspire to rule over them. They also deserve freedom and a sovereign national entity in their own country," Sharon told the General Assembly.

It was not the first time Sharon had accepted eventual Palestinian statehood but, as the Haaretz daily's diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote, it was always as "a forced compromise, not as the natural right of a neighboring nation".

Palestinian leaders said the only solution was a complete withdrawal from all occupied territories including the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem, captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

Palestinian distrust runs deep for Sharon, who made his name in war and politics for never giving an inch.

He drew Arab enmity for directing Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon, in which Christian militia allies massacred Palestinian refugees at the Sabra and Shatila camps, and later for his crushing response to a Palestinian uprising that erupted after he visited a sensitive Jerusalem shrine in 2000.

But Sharon astonished friend and foe alike in 2003 when he said Israel would have to evacuate some enclaves to "disengage" from conflict with the Palestinians and safeguard its demographics as a Jewish state.

He spoke before the UN on Thursday of a "window of opportunity", but Palestinians remain wary.


From: Ed Elkin>
Date: 14 Sep 2005
Subject: Letter to the President... Bill Maher

In case you missed last Friday's HBO's "Late Night with Bill Maher," here was his open letter to the President:

Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you any more. There's no more money to spend--you used up all of that. You can't start another war because you used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people. Listen to your Mom. The cupboard's bare, the credit cards maxed out. No one's speaking to you. Mission accomplished.

Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service and the oil company and the baseball team. It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or space man? Now I know what you're saying: there's so many other things that you as President could involve yourself in. Please don't. I know, I know. There's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela. Eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church. And Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote.

But, Sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poorly I'm surprised that you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man. Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire city to rising water and snakes.

On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans. Maybe you're just not lucky. I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side.

So, yes, God does speak to you. What he is saying is: "Take a hint."


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