Sunday, September 04, 2005

A note to our readers

If you're reading this on a Sunday, thanks for hanging in there. We've had posting problems again.

We first noticed as we were attempting to get items up and Ty and Dallas both asked, "Where's Ava and C.I.'s TV review?" Written, read and humorous. But when it went to post, it didn't hit the site. It also didn't show up anywhere else. The other entries were in draft. Including a lengthy roundtable that we attempted to test by submitting it to post only to lose it again.

That's not post and also disappear from the drafts. We decided to forget the roundtable but Ava and C.I. were already at work recreating their review. They aren't sure whether this one is the better of the two or not. They had their notes on the show and some jokes they wanted to work in but they were starting all over in terms of writing the review. Having read both versions, we think the one being published is a stronger, tighter version. We are, however, aware that not only are Ava and C.I. very tough on their own TV reviews (if you think they skewer some shows, you should hear them talk down their reviews) but that both Ava and C.I. were falling asleep as they wrote. It was an all nighter for all of us but due to other issues, Ava and C.I. had been going since early Saturday morning. (The rest of us try to sleep in on Saturdays.)

They're not thrilled with the review but we think it's actually better than the earlier version. They're taking on Fox's new Prison Break which Ty says the network is advertising as a huge hit, so check out their review.

Our "Third Estate Sunday Review News Review" went up when we completed it. The editorial also made it up on the site and while we were having problems, we took comfort in the hope that readers seeing those two things would know we weren't taking the weekend off. We also felt that the issues addressed in those were important. How important?

Dona waived the one hour limit and we went ninety minutes on the news review. We could have gone on for two.

We also feature "5 CDs, Five Minutes." Jess pointed out that we're not doing enough on music and that's been echoed in some e-mails so we'll attempt to refocus.

As Ruth pointed out, Pacifica will air the John Roberts Jr. hearings so you can listen via them online or over the airwaves.

Thanks to Isaiah (and C.I.) for permission to repost his comic. Thanks to Maria for the Democracy Now! headlines. Thanks to Dallas for not only being the "link king" but also for speaking in the news review. That's the first time he's agreed to do that. Perhaps we should all pull a C.I. and just put him on the spot? We think he did a great job and gave us all a good idea of what the area two shelters for refugees are in.

Thanks to Cedric for his help with the news review. Thanks to Betty, Kat, Elaine, and Mike and for their help on all the features.

Thanks to C.I. for suggesting that we delink our new round of links. We have left one in because we like the site and had told the person who runs it that we'd include it. We're not sure if the new round of links caused the problems or not. We only know that after we added them, the problems started and when we took them down, we could post again.

Ava and C.I. had planned to do a DVD review of The Morning After this edition (as well as another feature they did solo that's lost and they'll try to recreate it at a future point). But when that came up, Ty informed us that it was his favorite Jane Fonda film. So this is a Third Estate Sunday Review piece done by The Third Estate Sunday Review (Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I. Yes, we say C.I. is a Third Estate Sunday Reviewer.)

We have great blog spotlights but we especially hope you'll check out "Food For Thought" (read our opening) which highlights C.I.'s "Should This Marriage Be Saved?"

Hopefully there is something here that you'll enjoy or that will enrage you. See you next week.

-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: Let's play politics

Like a really bad road company Rizzo, forgetting her blocking and stumbling around stage, Bully Boy spent most of last week singing "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" repeatedly and hitting the same three sour notes constantly.

As Lucy Bannerman notes in The Scotland Herald, "Bush pleads 'don't play politics' as blame lands at Washington." Bully Boy pleads it and a whiner calling into C-Span's Washington Journal all but spat at The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel that she was "being 90% negative." Ironically, vanden Heuvel had taken the high road (and remained on it).

We won't high road it here. It is playing politics? Is the truth political?

The truth is very political in any period but especially in a time when "up" is called "down," when fiction is passed off as reality.

How do you play the truth game in these distorted times? We'll do it by spitting out the obvious, Bully Boy is no leader. He can marshall the usual subjects to chant "we have to pull together!!!"
Those who seem him as King George are more than happy to be loyal subjects.

Us, we've never forgotten that he's supposed to be working for us. And we'll pull together -- behind the truth. We won't, however, (to paraphrase Susan Sontag) all be stupid together.

What we saw last week was a national disaster hit New Orleans. And, just like on 9/11, the nation was left to await the Bully Boy's actions. And wait and wait. No one expected that he'd grab a shovel and dig in, please that family doesn't work (well, dirty work . . .). But we did expect that the former cheerleader would grab the pom-poms in some attempt to comfort the nation.

Didn't happen. We waited. We waited. And saw the dull witted Bully Boy respond in slow mo yet again. Which, by the way, is why we were never surprised to learn about the years of planning that went into the invasion of Iraq.

So truth telling involves stating the obvious, while the nation was in shock, while Americans were in disbelief that their own citizens could be referred to as "refugees." The nation's jaw dropped further as footage from New Orleans dominated the news cycles.

Truth telling involves faulting him for his lack of response to the nation and to the areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Unlike Bill Clinton, he does not feel your pain, nor is he concerned with it.

Also slow in response was our national agencies. FEMA was rightly noted for its disgraceful behavior by Terry Ebbert, head of emergency operations in New Orleans, and for its late to dinner appearance in Mississippi. FEMA's response was a disgrace. Homeland Security, the much ballyhooed agency created under the Bully Boy's watch, wasn't any better. So who's responsible?

We realize that basic question is a "political" one. It always is. But especially when you're dealing with an administration that's refused accountability regardless of the situation. Lies that took us into war? "Didn't happen." Smears against those who told the truth (and in the case of Valerie Plame, the spouse of someone who told the truth)? "It wasn't us." And when it turns out that, yes, indeed it was them? "We can't comment due to the ongoing investigation." 9/11?
"No one could have guessed . . ." Condi's statement is the fallback for everything apparently.
"No one could have guessed."

And here's where it gets especially ugly, this truth telling, because in the case of the devastation that followed Hurricane Katrina, it could have been guessed, in fact, it was predicted.

Bully Boy's not responsible for the hurricane hitting the United States. He is responsible for the lack of preperation, for the slow response and for ignoring the needs of the areas hit throughout his previous term.

Playing "politics?" Isn't that what got us into our current crisis?

Politics, not the hurricane is at the root of the current crisis. Politics determined who headed the agencies that should have been responding immediately. Politics determined which monies went where and which priorities were recognized and which weren't. Politics determined that the Bully Boy yet again pushing his privatization of Social Security in a state not hit by the hurricane was more important than his demonstrating to the public that he was actually on the job.

A natural disaster (the hurricane) hit the United States. That's about the only issue in this tragedy that's nonpolitical. The ignoring of preparation, the misguided budget policies, the lack of leadership and the lack of response are all political issues.

The Bully Boy's not beyond playing politics (he excells especially in dirty politics) but watch the goon squad come out and try to hush the questions and try to distort the truth. Why? Because the emperor has no clothes. After 9/11, they were able to silence important questions. They can't do it this time. The nation has grown weary of the politics coming out of the White House and we're not in the mood to play follow the faltering leader.

It's time for some accountability and that's the ugly truth.

[This editorial was written by the following: The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ty, Jess, Dona, Jim and Ava, C.I. of The Common Ills, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Kat of Kat's Korner, Elaine substituting for Rebecca at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude and Mike of Mikey Likes It!]

Third Estate Sunday Review News Review 9-04-05

C.I.: Welcome to The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review this September 4, 2005. Let's start off with the peace report from Jess of The Third Estate Sunday Review.

Jess: Peace takes a hit in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. The Glenwood Springs Post Independent reports that the First United Methodist Church has retracted their invation to Cindy Sheehan to speak after some members began objecting to her scheduled appearance there on September 16th. Mo Barz, one of the members objecting, felt that the church needed to stay out of politics. Barz also told the paper that it would welcome the Bully Boy as a speaker because: " After all, he was voted in as the president and we should treat him as such."
Which seems to imple that at the First United Methodist Church, you are welcomed not as a result of your faith or beliefs, but based upon whether or not you have a title. It may be harder for a rich man to enter heaven but, apparently, not to enter the First United Methodist Church in Glenwood Springs.
In Austin, the reception was warmer as Cindy Sheehan reports in "How Does Scotty McClellan Live with Himself? Bring Them Home Now Bus Tour - Day 1 and 2" at

We marched from the state capitol to Austin city hall. It was quite a sight as many hundreds of people followed us down Congress Street behind our "Support our troops, Bring Them Home Now" banner. We sang and chanted as we walked. People were joining us for our march from the sidewalks. It was the most remarkable march I have ever been a part of.
For the rally at City Hall, we were greeted by easily 2000 plus people, whom I joked with about moving to Austin and running for mayor. Most of the crowd had been to Camp Casey at one time or the other. We had VFP, IVAW, MFSO and GSFP members speak. My friend, David Rovics played a couple of songs, including: Every Mother's Son about Casey. My friend, Jim Hightower also spoke. It is always a treat to hear him.
I spoke and I talked about how George couldn't come out and see me when I was in Crawford, because he didn't have an answer for me: there is no "Noble Cause" so how could he answer me. He admitted the other day that it was for oil. I don't consider that a good enough reason for so many people being dead. Iraq could and would sell us their oil. I really believe immoral criminals are running our country and it is making me even more determined to save it with millions of my fellow citizen's help.

For more information on the bus tour, you can check out Bring Them Home Now. Upcoming stops on the tour this week include:

Indianapolis, IN: Mon, Sep. 5th - Wed, Sep. 7th a number of events scheduled and more on the way
Cincinnati, OH: Wed, Sep. 7th - Thu, Sep. 8th events being planned
Columbus, OH: Thu, Sep. 8th - Fri, Sep. 9th FROM BUSH'S DOORSTEP TO D.C.! BRING THEM HOME NOW TOUR
Cleveland, OH: Fri, Sep. 9th - Sun, Sep. 11th events being planned
Pittsburgh, PA: Sun, Sep. 11th - Wed, Sep. 14th events being planned

I know we're trying to move into the Hurricane coverage and everyone's rushing on that so I'll close by noting Military Families Speak Out's Nancy Lessin and Charley Richardson's "National Guard, the Gulf Coast and the War in Iraq" which is posted at Bring Them Home Now.

"Stay at home and serve your country" was the slogan used to attract men and women into service to their communities and their country in the National Guard. The promise to the men and women of the Guard was also a promise to citizens of the various states that they would have a force available to them in time of emergency.
One weekend a month, two weeks each year, those who signed up to serve in the state militia known as the National Guard trained to protect Country and Constitution and to provide aid in times of local emergencies such as forest fires, floods, hurricanes, blizzards, and civil unrest. National Guard soldiers have specifically been trained to assist in emergencies such as the one that Hurricane Katrina brought to the Gulf Coast on August 28-29, 2005.
Unfortunately, about 35% of Louisiana's and 40% of Mississippi's National Guard troops have been deployed to Iraq -- to a war that has nothing to do with protecting Country and Constitution. Along with the troops who have been deployed is much of the heavy equipment -- vehicles, generators, air support -- that is needed along the Gulf Coast today. While the Bush Administration claims that this in no way impeded rescue efforts along the Gulf Coast, those residents who waited days for water, food, shelter, medical assistance and evacuation -- and those who are still waiting, and those who watched this horror unfold across the nation -- have a very different view of the situation.

C.I.: Thank you Jess for the report and the transition. We now go to Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix.

Cedric: Well C.I. England's The Independent is reporting that "Warnings went ignored as Bush slashed flood defence budget to pay for wars." Geoffrey Lean notes that:

Vital measures to protect New Orleans from "catastrophic" hurricane damage were scrapped by the Bush administration to pay for its wars on terror and in Iraq, despite official warnings of impending disaster.
Funding for flood prevention was slashed by 80 per cent, work on strengthening levees to protect the city was stopped for the first time in 37 years, and planning for housing stranded citizens and evacuating refugees from the Superdome were crippled. Yet the administration had been warned repeatedly of the dangers by its own officials.

That's not surprising to anyone who's followed this story on Democracy Now!
Thursday, Democracy Now! broadcast "Homeland Emergency: Disaster Relief is Suffering Under New DHS Bureaucracy:"

AMY GOODMAN: Matthew Brzezinski, I mean, we know a lot about the Department of Homeland Security because of monitoring -- some say “spying on” -- people here in this country, dealing with issues of terrorism, as they define it, but this -- isn't this the first major test of the Department of Homeland Security? Whether this was a bomb or a hurricane, it's being in charge of all of the forces to deal, and the question is: Where were all of those forces? I watched an interview with Michael Green* last night, the head of FEMA, and it was astounding to see that he said when he woke up on Monday morning, he understood -- Michael Brown -- he understood that this was going to be a catastrophe. President Bush was at Crawford for two more days. He said he understood on Monday that this could be a massive disaster. Now they're talking about bringing in the National Guard, now, with so much of the National Guard all over this country in Iraq. But what about this?
MATTHEW BRZEZINSKI: Well, I mean, I think -- you know, I think that you raise a good point. And I think we have been a little slow off the ball here, and, you know, this is one of the criticisms levied against the Department of Homeland Security is that it tries to be sort of all things to all problems. You know, DHS does everything from tracking foreign sex offenders to levying taxes on goods coming into the country, to, as you said before, monitoring, you know, potential terrorists, and you know, now disaster relief.
AMY GOODMAN: Defining affirmative action groups as terrorists. That's the latest.
MATTHEW BRZEZINSKI: And you know, and so it's got this huge agenda, and the problem is maybe it's just not focused enough. And I think something like this will highlight not only the need for perhaps a refocused either Department of Homeland Security, where you hive off certain duties from it or you just narrow it, and I think it will also highlight something that's extremely important and that's been overlooked in Washington for a number of years now, and that is the importance of first responders. You know, this catastrophe, like the subway bombing in London, showed that, you know, either terrorist acts or acts of nature, while they're not preventable, but you can mitigate the consequences if you’re prepared. And getting people timely medical attention can save lives. And I think we saw that in London.

Here in this country, the Associated Press reports, we're only now sending in more National Guard. 10,000 will be added to bring the total to 40,000.

C.I.: Cedric, you have relatives in Louisiana?

Cedric: Yes, I do. And they are very disastisfied with the response from the federal government. They also feel, that like the people in Mississippi, they're largely overlooked by the government and the media, that the effects go beyond New Orleans but the reporting seems to be based there. My relatives are just outside of Baton Rouge. Another thing ignored, and thanks to Dallas for providing me with an article from his hometown paper, is that the two areas set up to house the evacuated people are near capacity at present and buses are still being routed to Dallas. That article, by the way, is Emily Ramshaw's "Dallas makes desperate plea for help" from The Dallas Morning News. Where the coordination failed, who knows? But I think some would wonder how more people than a city could house were being sent to an area.

C.I.: Cedric, Common Ills community member Billie has been critical in her e-mails to me about the situation in Dallas. According to her, the sites being used were not the original site discussed, that originally a space utilized to store records had been selected but was abandoned due to issues of safety. Once that site was ruled out, on a Wednesday, according to Billie, new sites were selected and she feels that they appear to have been selected for their close proximity to City Hall in downtown Dallas. One site, The Convention Center, is next door to City Hall and the other, Reunion Arena, is further down the street. She asks specifically why the Cotton Bowl is not being utilized and wonders if that has to do with the fact that Dallas will be holding it's State Fair shortly and the Cotton Bowl is utilized for big game between Oklahoma and Texas, football game, each fall. Did you find anything about Dallas offering additional spaces, Billie has a list of fifteen empty spaces owned by the city that are unoccupied currently?

Cedric: No, C.I., I didn't. The Dallas Morning News story did note that Dallas was appealing to surrounding communities for assistance and that they were "scrambling" to provide a new site, and that "it would likely be near the Convention Center."

C.I.: Thank you, Cedric. And let's bring Dallas in here because he lives in that area. Dallas, I know you haven't planned to speak but is Billie correct regarding the proximity of The Convention Center to City Hall?

Dallas: Yes, she is. A street runs between The Convention Center, a two-way street, and City Hall. City Hall is a multi-storied building, and one that Howard Dean spoke in front of when he was running for the Democratic nomination, the mayor's office and the city council's offices are in that building. Like yourself, I don't have any knowledge of any earlier site that might have been selected before Reunion Arena and The Convention Center.

C.I.: So what's the area like? Can you explain any positives or negatives to the area?

Dallas: Well there's a large fountain in front of City Hall. City Hall itself is a glass and concrete building that juts out with rising floors. I'm trying to think here, sorry.

C.I.: You're doing fine.

Dallas: The fountain. When children take field trips to downtown Dallas, they're discouraged from touching the water in the fountain because the homeless bathe in it.

C.I.: Does Dallas have a large homeless problem?

Dallas: I don't know the figures on it but I would say yes. I can tell you that if I were walking through the area, the immediate area in front of City Hall, the east side, I'd pass probably fifty homeless people sitting on benches underneath the trees. It's not uncommon to see drugs used openly, pot for instance, in that area underneath the trees.

C.I.: Right out in front of City Hall?

Dallas: Yes, but again, I'm only saying what I've seen. I've probably been in that area five or six times this year alone. Including in June to renew my driver's license which is on the east side, bottom floor of City Hall, in the back of the building. Now right across from City Hall, and possibly this is why they chose The Convention Center, is the main branch of the public library. They have multiple computer stations on each floor with web access and that would be a positive to the location, that the refugees could utilize the computers to check in and check up on other family members. The library system doesn't require that you have a library card to utilize their computers. If they did, I'm sure they'd waive it for the refugees, but they are open to all. There is no sleeping in the library because there have been problems with the homeless people. That's thought by some to result from the fact that the homeless shelters are basically over night areas and as the day begins, the homeless are forced to leave them and return in the evening.

C.I.: So we've got the library across from City Hall and The Convention Center and refugees will be able to access computers and check national lists and send e-mails, etc. What else is there for them?

Dallas: The federal building's on that street. Two or three blocks up you have a bus and train station, the West End Station. So if they are looking for jobs or needing to get away or explore, they've got access to that. The museum's downtown and after five, I believe, it's free to the public. Prior to that there is a cost.

C.I.: Okay, and we're dealing with individuals and families, what about grocery stores? Yeah, they're providing food but my six-year-old is nervous, scared and upset. All that's on my mind is getting the kid a candy bar. What's the status there?

Dallas: I'm not aware of a grocery store in downtown Dallas. The Convention Center was serving food prior to this so they do have facilities that they can prepare hot meals for the people. I don't know that they will use them but I know I've eaten lunch there before. If you want booze or cigarettes, you can buy them at one of the many hole in the wall stores there but there's not a grocery store that I've ever seen. You could buy candy for your kids at one of those booze and cigarette stores. There are places to eat but they do cost money. The Greyhound Bus Station is downtown. The bus and train station that I was talking about before is local buses and trains that run in the DFW area. But Greyhound, if some friend or family said to one of the refugees, "Come stay with me," they could buy a ticket for the person and the person could easily walk to the Greyhound Bus Station.

C.I.: A zoo?

Dallas: The zoo is in Oak Cliff, that's south of downtown Dallas, across the Trinity River. They could catch a local bus or train to the zoo but they couldn't walk it. There is a cost for admission but the city owns the zoo and they could waive the fee.

C.I.: A park?

Dallas: There's a tiny cemetary on the Convention Center grounds or right next to it. I have no idea from what period. There's also some metal statues of bulls in the same areas. I'm not aware of any park downtown.

C.I.: You spoke of trees earlier, that the homeless people generally sat on the benches underneath the trees. Are there many trees downtown?

Dallas: No. There's not a lot of shade other than from the tall buildings and skyscrapers. It is very hot right now, in Dallas, but another plus for the area is that it is pedestrian friendly and you can't say that about many other areas in Dallas. I'd said earlier, about the zoo, that the city could waive the fees because they own it. They may also own the museum downtown because council members have held Town Hall meetings there. There are positives and negatives to the area. I'm not sure that would have been my first choice to place them if only because of the homeless population that's really centered in downtown Dallas.

C.I.: Is there another area you would have selected?

Dallas: In the city limits proper, I would've, and I don't know what the city owns where, I'm just going by what's in the area, I would've gone with Turtle Creek, White Rock Lake or a number of places in East Dallas simply because they do have more trees and parks. It's really hot in Dallas right now. I don't think I could stay in The Convention Center 24/7 without going crazy and if you're just looking for a cool space outside to get away, you're not going to find it in that area. The photo-op issue that Billie raises is valid but it's also true that down the street from City Hall and The Convention Center you have the Belo building and that's the home of WFAA, channel eight, and The Dallas Morning News. Anything that happens, good or bad, should be well reported if only for proximity and I would assume that reporters, at least from channel 8, that's WFAA, and The Dallas Morning News would be there constantly.

C.I.: Is there anything you'd like to add?

Dallas: I'm sure I've forgotten something but I'm not thinking of anything right now. The area is concrete. Parking lots and buildings. And in the Texas heat, it's gets very hot outside. The area is very white, I'm referring to the concrete sidewalks around City Hall and The Convention Center, and the sun just bounces off it causing a lot of glare. I don't go down there without sunglasses unless I want a headache just from the glare.

C.I.: Thank you, Dallas. We'll now go to Betty, of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, who's addressing the issues of race and the hurricane in an editorial format.

Betty: Well C.I., at the risk of being accused of breeching some sort of "liberal intelligence," whatever that means, this Black woman will state that I remain outraged that on the same day the Associated Press ran two photos of looting but a White couple was foraging and an African-American couple was looting. This is not insignifcant and it's at the root of the coverage. On The Today Show, I saw two police officers in a Wal-Mart looting, though one told the camera, as they stuffed their shopping cart, that they were doing their job. But somehow the whole looting story gets portrayed in the standard stereotype of "those shiftless, lazy, jobless Black people out for a free ride again." And that's what those pictures, the captions to them, demonstrate. One couple, the White couple, forages like Grizzly Adams or something. The other couple, the Black couple, loots. Now let's talk about the people who were there, some of whom remain there, when the hurricane hit. Like Cedric, I have huge praise for the fine work done by Democracy Now! but I don't see the same consistency elsewhere. I'll note "Race in New Orleans: Shaping the Response to Katrina?" from Friday's Democracy Now!:

DR. BEVERLY WRIGHT: I hear people say, you know, well, people shouldn't live there. People have been living here for more years than the United States has been in existence. This is the first time we are having something this catastrophic. This is after learning how to build dams and sending people to the moon. You know, so, as a citizen of New Orleans, I am very angry, and I really, really believe that it's driven by race. People can say what they want, but when you look at who is left behind, it is very -- it is very disturbing to me, not to mention the fact of what's going to happen afterwards. Who will be involved in the rebuilding, and the redesigning of New Orleans? Just before the hurricane, African-Americans, middle class African-Americans, our grassroots people were basically fighting for their life. We were fighting gentrification at a rate we have never seen before. We were fighting the takeover of our public schools. We were fighting the dropping of the residency requirement. Hope Six wiped out a housing project that had 7,000 African-Americans. They were displaced the same way that we have been displaced. Crime and violence was rampant because of the displacement of about 7,000 people, poor people who had no place to go. All of this discussion about what's going on, crime and violence in the city, well, that was going on before the hurricane and we didn’t get the attention or help we needed to deal with a looming drug addiction problem, and a small number of people who are thugs and murderers and drug dealers. Well, they're there now. What you are seeing now is no more than what we saw then, and these people were also preying on our communities before the hurricane. Now, we have to deal with the rebuilding. Who will be involved in the rebuilding of New Orleans, in the clean-up, you know, in the construction, and what I am experiencing, trying to find housing, the discrimination is rampant.


Why didn't they get out of New Orleans, as they were told, before Hurricane Katrina hit? Because, many of them said, they didn't have the money or the means. Most of them were black. As they waited to be taken somewhere, anywhere, they felt deceived and discarded by the rest of the country.
"It's because we're not important enough," said Tanya Miller, 37, who along with her family had spent days floating on an air mattress and a powerless boat before being picked up.
Around the perimeter of Miller's temporary new home stood several dozen police officers, mostly white, holding their rifles at the ready.
"We just don't want anybody to get out of hand in this heat," said Louisiana state trooper Chance Thomas, who stood on the bridge pointing the muzzle of his M-16 at the crowd below. "I'm just doing crowd control."
But Steven Mullcur, 36, a construction worker, said that when he and his wife wanted to visit his father, who lives not far from the camp, to use his shower, "two cops pulled up and said that if we didn't go back they'd put a bullet in me or worse."
"The statement that ticked me off the most was, 'You should've left before -- now stay here,' " Mullcur said.
One police officer, who declined to be identified, confirmed that the residents were not allowed to leave their garbage-strewn wasteland except on helicopters, which took only the severely ill, or on buses, which were not there.
"They're treating us like criminals here," said Miller's son, Danard, 13. "They're not letting us leave."
Cynthia Walton, 47, a diabetic with high blood pressure, wondered whether race played a role in their fate.
"We've been very patient and polite," said Walton, who has walked on crutches since her spinal surgeries four years ago. "I'm not doing anything wrong. Is it because we're black?"

As the AFP reports Jesse Jackson saying, "There is a historical indifference to the pain of poor people, and black people ... we seem to adjust more easily to black pain." So to those that would dismiss discussions on race and the hurricane, I would ask, "Is it because it doesn't effect you that you can be so easily dismissive?"

C.I.: Thank you, Betty. We now go to Elaine, who just completed a month and two weeks substituting for Rebecca at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude with reporting on the hurricane from outside the U.S.

Elaine: Cedric noted the lack of coverage on areas other than New Orleans so I'm going to begin with Scotland's Sunday Herald's "EYEWITNESS: By Toxy Morris, a surgeon in Hattiesburg, Mississippi:"

The conditions are extremely bad here. There are murders, looting and vandalism. Every tree in sight is down and there’s no electricity or water. The army is issuing water to us and we have to use lamps. About 80% of the state has no power and it will be a month until we get it back.
There’s four of us in the household. Me, my wife and two sons, one of whom, Ben, is still en route from Edinburgh. He has been studying there and is in Florida right now . My other son, Rob, is a newspaper reporter and is stationed with the police in Mississippi. He’s very busy right now.
We have had three killings in our neighbourhood. One of the people killed was a friend of mine, an Anglican priest. He was shot down for his car and its contents. He leaves behind a wife and six children. It’s a very sad situation. I have also heard that a lady was shot to death for a bag of ice. Can you believe that? Over a bag of ice!
These three murders haven’t been reported in the media here – I think they are trying to avoid ill feeling and panic. But we have a serious crisis on our hands. There are some bad apples, although it’s not as bad as New Orleans. Everyone is very distressed but they are pulling together, trying to be courageous.
We are cooking on charcoal. We have enough food but it is going to become a problem because there are very few stores open and all the perishables have been destroyed. You can’t get any gasoline either. On the upside, people are getting hold of generators so the 500-bed city hospital now has power again.

Australia's Sydney Morning Herald reports that evacuees have been taken out of New Orleans "leaving the heart of New Orleans to the dead and dying, the elderly and frail stranded too many days without food, water or medical care."

C.I.: Elaine, the difference between the terms?

Elaine: I'm honestly not sure. But at some point the press began using "evacuees" instead of "refugees." Possibly during the evacuations. However, transporting a refugee to a stadium doesn't alter the refugee status.

Jim: I'm going to interrupt for a moment.

C.I.: Jim of The Third Estate Sunday Review.

Jim: Australia's ABC carries a Reuters report that United States Chief Justice William Rehnquist died.

C.I.: Thank you for that, Jim. Elaine, can you sum up the coverage from outside the United States.

Elaine: I'd characterize it as far more skeptical than the reporting coming out of this country.

C.I.: Okay. Well stay right there and we'll bring Ava out to join you and we'll discuss the news Jim just informed us of. Ava of The Third Estate Sunday Review. Elaine, Ava, your thoughts on where the battle to preserve reproductive rights stands.

Ava: Well obviously, Rehnquist was no friend of the reproductive rights. But the issue here, and this is something that has come up in all of our, C.I., Elaine and myself, all of our volunteer work we've been doing on the choice issue, it's not just an issue of one vote staying the same.

Elaine: Right. With John Roberts, Bully Boy has signaled that he'll pick young. These are lifetime appointments. It's very easy to say, "Oh the vote didn't change." But the larger issue is that someone of Rehnquist's beliefs appointed to the bench will likely be serving for many, many years.

C.I.: Rehnquist's health problems were known. By the way, we're not discussing Rehnquist, this about the Court and the make up of it. Anyone needing or wanting a look back at Rehnquist can consult their daily paper. I'm sure, for instance, that the Times will feature many stories on him. Roberts is, for a Supreme Court Justice, relatively young. Other names mentioned prior to the announcement of Roberts were also young. Elaine, address that.

Elaine: John Kerry didn't make reproductive rights a campaign issue. Any of us around in 1992 were aware that Bill Clinton did. John Kerry touched on it only when it was brought up and then attempted, my opinion, to justify his position instead of making a strong argument. Katha Pollitt at The Nation addressed the disconnect between the Kerry campaign and women.
There's a tendency for the party, The Democratic Party, to use Roe v. Wade as an election issue.
Strong talk during an election cycle and then weak support from many in the party. In 2004, it wasn't used as a campaign issue, they didn't trot it out. And what we've seen since is certain leaders within the party appear to back off of support for the issue, we've seen the party elevate an anti-choice person, Harry Reid, to Senate Minority Leader and we've seen candidates such as Bob Casey Jnr. pushed in place of pro-choice candidates. Sorry for the background there. But the hope itself is that each presidential election year we can get a Democrat into office who will nominate Justices who see Roe v. Wade as established law. The hope is that Democratic leadership will fight to preserve Roe v. Wade but that hope appears to be a false one this year.

Ava: Right. We saw it with the tarring and feathering of NARAL over their previous ad. I'm not remembering the media demanding that Republicans denounce the band aids with little purple hearts drawn on that many wore at the GOP convention. Nor am I remembering any right wing bloggers dismissing those people as "military studies majors." But those who support Roe often find themselves dismissed as "women's studies majors." The crowd that came of age with triangulation see it as an easy road to victory, despite the results there, and there is serious concern that the party has not only moved away from strong support for Roe but also began to waffle on the issue.

C.I.: While Bob Casey Sr. alleged that he'd been denied a prominent platform at the 1992 convention, Democratic convention, due to his anti-choice stance, in 2005, his son, also anti-choice, Bob Casey Junior is someone we're supposed to rally around?

Elaine: Correct. And I know all three of us have taken the pledge not to give the Democratic Committe for the senate elections for that reason. But a stronger message needs to be sent out and that's what groups are cooridinating now.

Ava: And where we stand right now is with all eyes on Diane Feinstein. Some are more hopeful than others. The smiling photo-op after the announcement was made didn't help. His comments on the man who died in the Jonestown Massacre should have received a prominent rebuke from Feinstein. When that didn't happen, hopes that she was going to seriously address the nomination grew thinner.

Elaine: And let's note, and you noted it the Saturday after Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement, Feinstein is the only woman serving on the Judiciary Committee. Over a decade after Anita Hill faced the Senate, only woman serves on the committee. That's unacceptable.

Ava: Elaine mentioned Katha Pollitt and I'll note that she's one of the few writers seriously questioning the embrace of Jim Wallis and his position on the issues. In an editorial, The New York Times scolded people who saw Hillary Clinton's remarks last spring as a stepping back from reprodutive freedom. Forget that Democrats should worry anytime the paper praises a Democrat, the events since have not brought about any kind of reassurance for choice supporters from the party.

Elaine: And, outside of Pollitt and a few others, it's become the issue that the press doesn't touch unless to applaud someone "moderating" a stance. John Roberts Jr.'s confirmation hearings start Tuesday but Meet the Press has provided no forum for a debate on his positions regarding choice or what it could mean to women's health.

C.I.: Thank you Elaine and Ava. We'll leave it there since we do have other reports. Ty of The Third Estate Sunday Review will now bring us up to date on events outside the United States.

Ty: In China, the death toll mounts for victims of Typhoon Talin. Australia's ABC reports the count has now climbed to 54 and that 1,024 people are dead from flooding this year.
The BBC reports that "Vladimir Kuznetsov, the elected head of a key UN budget oversight committee, had been arrested in an FBI raid." He was arrested Thursday and for those wondering why the Russian was not entitled to diplomatic immunity, UN Secretary Kofi Annan had waived Kuznetsov's right to that immunity. The New York Times reports that France's President Jacques Chirac has been hospitalized and will remain there for a week. The reason given is "vascular trouble." In Columbia, the Associated Press reports, "greed grew to great" for U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Rosas who is awaiting a court martial for drug smuggling.

C.I.: Allged smuggling?

Ty: No, Rosas has signed a document where he confessed and stated "Greed overtook my state-of-mind. I saw an opportunity and took advantage of it." England's The Independent reports that in Afghanistan, kidnapping victim David Addison is dead. Addison was kidnapped last Wednesday and was in Afghanistan to assist with road building. Aljazeera reports that "Taliban rebels have killed a kidnapped election candidate as well as a senior district official and three policemen, a Taliban spokesman said." The BBC reports that in Uganada a court battle is likely if the government continues to refuse to release condoms that they are storing and refusing to allow distribution of. The Associated Press reports that in Russia, two men released to them from Guantanamo Bay where they were held for suspected terrorism have been released after the Russian authorites "found no evidence of their involvement in terrorism-related activity, prosecutors said."

C.I. Thank you Ty. And now Mike, of Mikey Likes It!, will quickly bring us the latest from Iraq.

Mike: Aljazeera reports that talks over the Iraqi constitution have begun again:

The Congress of the People of Iraq on Saturday called for amendment of the new draft constitution to be affirm the Arab identity of the country and rejected the "division of Iraq and squandering of its wealth and resources under the pretext of federalism”. The group, in a statement, urged the principle of decentralization as a temporary alternative to federalism.
In deference to Kurish sensitivities, the current text refers only to Iraq's Arab population as part of the Arab world, a clause that has angered the Arab League, of which Iraq was a founding member.
The statement also stressed what it called resistance to occupation through the use of all means as a legitimate right.

On the resistance, the Associated Press reports that they have killed 19 "Iraqi security forces."
Bring the troops home now? Not really. But 300 troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan will be returning state side to aid with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, according to the Associated Press.

C.I.: Thank you Mike. For our final report, we got to Kat of Kat's Korner.

Kat: C.I., two quick stories in entertainment news. First, the government of Zimbabwe is publicly alleging that the Nicole Kidman film The Interpreter is CIA propaganda. In this country, the film tanked which might suggest to some that the claim is true. The Associated Press reports that NBC is attempting to raise a wall between themselves the statements of Bully Boy's lack of caring and concern for African-Americans made by rapper Kanye West. They are stating that West had been provided with scripted remarks and did not use them. Always one to cower, Matt Lauer stated on the special that, "Sometimes that emotion is translated into inspiration, sometimes into criticism. We've heard some of that tonight." Lauer's unaware that criticism can be inspiring so possibly he's losing brain cells now that his hair is pretty much gone. Among West's statements were "George Bush doesn't care about black people" and "I hate the way they portray us in the media. If you see a black family, it says they're looting. See a white family, it says they're looking for food." Kayne West's latest album, Late Registration, came out Tuesday.

C.I.: Thank you, Kat. And thank you to Dallas for hunting down links as well as participating in remarks this time. Thank you also to Dona for overseeing the entire review and, with Jim, for helping find and assemble reports. Dona and Jim of The Third Estate Sunday Review. Thanks also to Jess' parents who helped hunt down stories.

TV Review: Prison Break Tease

Ever run a program on your computer to check for viruses? You really don't want to find anything but when two minutes turns into ten, turns into twenty, you start feeling like something, anything, has to happen to make the time you're expending worthwhile.

That's what Fox's new Monday night show Prison Break which stars Wentworth Miller as Michael, was like. A lot of exposition, a lot of chatter, a lot of "back when"s, but not a lot of forward momentum.

Let's get our exposition out of the way. These are the Prison Break basics: Michael's an engineer. His brother Lincoln (Dominic Purcell) is on death row and due to be executed shortly. Being a good brother, Michael doesn't want that to happen. Being a character in the high concept land of Fox TV, Michael decides the only way to save his brother is to get in the prison and break him out.

Now some might get in via a weekend visit or possibly apply for a job as a prison guard. Those thoughts don't appear to have crossed Michael's mind. Instead he does the "logical only on Fox TV" thing of attempting to hold up a bank at gun point to gain entry to the prison. Well if the mountain won't come to Muhammed . . .

A lot things don' t make sense in this show (which broadcast two episodes last Monday). For instance, we were perplexed by all the comments onscreen about Wentworth Miller's good looks which, honestly, aren't all that. Besides the bald spot beginning at the back of his head, Miller also sports a bit of a belly. (We're being generous.) You'll note that belly in his one and only shirtless scene. (Better posture would eliminate much of the belly but Miller's one of those tall men who's gone through life slouching.) Sporting a Sinead O'Connor haircut circa 1991 also does him no favors and only highlights the bald spot.

As characters rush to weigh in on (and shore up) his looks, you may not immediately notice that he's not acting. He's posing. And mistaking a pout for a sneer as he delivers every line in the same self-amused manner. (Even when being slammed around.)

Maybe we missed the memo declaring pursed lips the new Method?

Armed with a pout and delivering every line in some sort of tribute to Cher's variety hour work,
while the big talk inside the prison is Michael's looks, we kept expecting Miller to hop ontop of an upright piano and break into a few verses of "I Saw A Man And He Danced With His Wife."

A friend swears that Miller's playing Michael as a "power bottom" and the character is just waiting for the "right man to call his bluff." We'd argue that our friend put way too much thought into the series -- far more, in fact, than the writers have.

As we continued to wait for the show to pick up the pace, somewhere into hour two, we realized it was chugging along and circling back in slow-mo. Repeatedly. Nothing changes if . . . nothing changes.

In two hours, Michael went to prison, offered romantic advice to his cell mate, began a flirtation with the female doctor at the prison, had a jealous man die in his arms and was hit on by the jealous man's partner.

You'll notice, if you pay attention, how uncomfortable same-sex relationships make the people behind this show. The entire first hour goes by without any allusion to same-sex sex. Haven't they seen Oz?

Almost three decades ago, in Charlie's Angels' infamous "Angels in Chains" episode, a female guard slammed Sabrina (Kate Jackson) down on a bed and leered, "I'm going to be watching you, sweetcakes, watching you real hard." Nothing in Prison Break approaches that level. The scene that finally addresses the elephant in the prison yard plays out as though it were a "Pax Time" broadcast.

The show treats same-sex relations as something that only happens on a rainy day when there's nothing else to do. And seems determined to reassure viewers that the show wouldn't, in the words of Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby, decide "to go gay all the sudden!"

That explains why less than three minutes after the elephant that dares speak its name scene, we're suddenly in bed with Lincolon and Veronica (Robin Tunney). It's a flashback that pops up only to reassue viewers who get the willies over same-sex topics.

Veronica's not only Lincoln's ex-girlfriend, she's also Michael's lawyer. And her life is in danger beginning in the second hour. Why? She might find out what's really going on.

This need to punish anyone attempting to figure out the plot happens onscreen and off as writers mistake obscurity for suspense. Let's trot out Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock was always fond of stating that you could show two people seated at a table and surprise the audience by having a bomb go off. But if you wanted to build suspense, you let the audience in on the fact that there was a bomb under the table while the scene played. This is a concept the writers of Prison Break fail to grasp.

We're trying not to provide any "spoilers" here but what exactly is the point of hiding the face of the woman who tells the two cronies (we could explain all this, but again no spoilers) that Veronica, that anyone, is expendable?

Let's quote the mystery woman:

You can handle a girl who graduated in the middle of her Baylor law school class. At least I'd like to think so given the stakes of what we're dealing with here. Anyone that's a threat to what we're doing is expendable. Anyone. Do what you need to do to make this go away.

The mystery woman is an example of all that is wrong with Prison Break. For starters, if you didn't immediately recognize Patricia Wettig's voice (thirtysomething, Alias, etc.), you're not watching enough TV. (Words we never thought we'd say.) Besides concealing her face onscreen, there's also an effort to keep her name out of the publicity materials for the show. Wettig being in the cast isn't a matter of national security, but the show's treating it as such. (Reminds us of J-Ass retroactively classifying Sibel Edmonds testimony.) As though mentioning her name will give the "big secret" away.

The "big secret" (as portrayed onscreen -- we're not doing spoilers) is that Lincoln's on death row after being convicted of murdering the brother of the vice-president. In the second hour (which is actually the second episode), you finally learn that Lincoln didn't kill the man. (The sort of detail that The Fugitive addressed in the first minutes of the very first episode.) Lincoln did enter the parking garage with a gun, Lincoln did intend to kill the man (to pay off a debt), but when he got to the car, the man had already been killed.

Lincoln was set up! (Seems rather lame if you spend too much time thinking about it. Lincoln was prepared to kill the man. But those involved in pulling off the "big secret" apparently had as little faith in Lincoln as the writers of this show have in the audience.) Which leaves Lincoln to sing the sad sack song of "I'm On Death Row For Killing A Man Someone Else Rubbed Out Before I Got There." In the amoral world of Fox TV, this passes for complexity. (In the real world, it's no get-out-of-prison-free card but leads to charges of participating in a criminal conspiracy.)

Again, that emerges in the second hour. So much more is still kept hidden that we're picturing desperate viewers demanding Congressional hearings to get to the bottom of the plot.

Will people watch? We did. We were actually excited by the show's debut . . . until we watched.
As the summer progressed and our review choices continued to dwindle, we were wondering if our next stop would be the game shows of daytime TV? We can picture viewers, longing for new programming, willing to spend a few hours with this show but we can't imagine many hanging around once the fall season is officially underway if the show doesn't become a little more forthcoming. (We're told that "Cute Poison," episode four airing Monday after next, really "gets things moving.")

What we're dealing with is a show that confuses the viewers intentionally by not, to put it bluntly, putting out. It's all tease thus far and forgive us for not wanting to shove dollar bills into Wentworth Miller's g-string. Purcell has a bit of a cult following but watching the show you may be confused as to why. That's because this is one of the worst visual looks a show has had in years: badly lit, flatly photographed, and a wardrobe department that doesn't grasp the basics. (Clue: Robin Tunney has no waist. Her rib cage is too low and her hips are too high. As with Judy Garland or Tom Cruise, the illusion of a waist must be created.)

Though we're having a hard time seeing the attraction to Miller (you really need a British accent to convincingly pull off crying out, "Oh Wentworth! Oooooh, Wentworth!"), we'll also add that if you're one of the niche audience members whom Miller appeals to, don't get your hopes up over the prospects of non-stop shirtless scenes. Miller's Michael has smuggled in the building plans of the prison via tattoos on his arms and upper torso (front and back). The "tattoos" take over four hours (and two people) to apply. (Partial versions can be done in less time.)

Maybe the show will improve in later episodes? Maybe the writers will stop playing I've Got a Secret? If so, it better happen soon, otherwise, when new programming is offered on all the networks, the headlines may read, "Viewers Make a Break from Prison Break!"

Send in the Fem-bot!

Bully Boy's polls are miserable. When that happens, it means there's only one thing to do, "Send in the fembot." Thanks to Isaiah for permission to reprint his The World Today Just Nuts. Get ready for another attempted "charm offensive" (which really will be offensive) and don't say we didn't warn you.

John Roberts Jr. hearings broadcast live on Pacifica starting September 6th

Via Ruth's latest Ruth's Morning Edition Report (which entertains and informs) we offer this heads up to the John Roberts Jr. hearing coverage:

I believe most of the Pacifica stations will be interrupting programming this week to broadcast the John Roberts, Jr. Supreme Court confirmation hearings live.

Houston's KPFT has this announcement posted:

Hearings for Supreme Court nominee John Roberts
Tuesday-Thursday, September 6-8
Tuesday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Wednesday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thursday: TBA; shows may go on, but hearings could continue.

Those are Central Times.

Tuesday's live coverage will begin at noon EST, eleven a.m. Central and nine Pacific continuing through six EST, five Central and three p.m. Pacific. Wednesday's live broadcast will begin at nine EST, eight Central and six in the morning Pacific continuing through six p.m. EST, five p.m. Central and three p.m. Pacific.

DVD review: The Morning After

The Morning After . . . can be murder.

That was the tag line on the posters for Jane Fonda's 1986 film The Morning After. The film, directed by Sidney Lumet and co-starring Jeff Bridges, just made it's DVD debut and if you've missed it, here's what you're missing.

The DVD extras include the original trailer for the film and a commentary by Lumet. We're not impressed with many commentaries and think the best ones are frequently the ones where two or more commentators provide laughs throughout. (The worst commentary? Probably on a DVD collection of a TV series where a momentary TV star who still hasn't made it as a film actress repeatedly insults the show that's on her only claim to fame and the audience who watched it.)

Lumet's commentary is actually worth checking out. He provides details of his own career, of what was necessary to get certain shots, contrasts filming in Los Angeles to filming in New York, of the performers, the genre, and seriously addresses where he feels mistakes were made. Note that the commentary is available only in English and French. The film is availabe in both languages as well as Spanish.

The film itself? Lumet rightly notes it's melodrama. A number of critics, when the film was released, praised the performances but felt the identity of the killer was too obvious. That's because they thought the film was intended to be a thriller. (Many of those critics compared it to Fonda's Klute.)

This is a character study and for that to work you need strong characters. They're fleshed out by, among others, Kathy Bates, Raul Julia, Bruce Villanch, Richard Foronjy, and, in a tiny role that still demonstrates more range than anything her daughter's done in years, Frances Bergen (mother of Candice).

The main characters are Fonda's Alex Sternbergen and Bridges' Turner Kendall. Turner's an ex-cop and recovering alcoholic. Alex is a faded actress and a practicing alcholic. The Morning After opens with a TV set illuminating a darkened room where two bodies are sprawled on a bed. One, Alex, begins coughing as she wakes up. Disoreinted from a night of boozing, she soon discovers blood on the sheets and a dead body in bed next to her.

As she later explains it to Raul Julia's Joaquin Manero ("Jackie") who asks, over the phone, if the man died of a heart attack, "Yeah. From a knife in his chest."

Alex, for a number of reasons including a past history of violent episodes when drunk, quickly leaves the crime scene and attempt to flee the city. Problems ensue due to the day, Thanksgiving, which prevents her from getting a last minute flight out of Los Angeles.

Leaving the airport, she meets Turner. Did Alex kill her bed mate? Is she being set up? Is Turner involved?

Those are the questions dealt with as the two damaged characters come together. Bridges is at his most appealing and Fonda's simply amazing. (She earned her seventh Oscar nomination for this film.)

Playing an actress allows Fonda to hit a wide range of notes and deliver one of her finest performances. It's a powerhouse role filled with moments of rage, doubt and humor. Few ever burrow as deeply into a role and even fewer have the talent to pull it off.

The scene at Turner's where Alex is confronted with the front page stories of the murder ("You think they could have mentioned the one fucking good film I made!") and Turner's straight truth ("You're a lush, Alex.") explodes and it's all the more amazing when you note that you're seeing Fonda actually drunk. (And still delivering an amazing performance.)

The DVD transfer reclaims the rich colors of the film. (They're flattened on the earlier video tape version.) The commentary is truly a bonus. Bridges is at his finest. But the main reason to watch is quite simply Fonda who reaches a level of acting that's a benchmark.

We'll close by swiping from The Common Ills to note this:

If you missed them, The Third Estate Sunday Review reviewed all the Fonda comedies on DVD. That was a group effort many times but near the end, it became Ava and myself. You can check their [note to the readers] to find out which was which:

DVD review: Cat Ballou"
DVD Review: Barefoot in the Park "
DVD review: Barbarella"
DVD review Jane Fonda's Fun With Dick & Jane"
DVD review: Jane Fonda in California Suite"
DVD review: The Electric Horseman"
DVD review: Nine to Five"

We'll also swipe this about Monster-In-Law:

Film reviews aren't done at The Third Estate Sunday Review. It's for the same reason that cable TV shows aren't reviewed. They're trying to reach a wide audience and be aware (and respectful) that money is an issue. (In our TV reviews, Ava and I knocked out the majority of shows broadcast Friday evening's due to the requests of parents with young children who wrote in requesting that due to the fact that Fridays is a stay-at-home night for many of them.)
But when a number of silly reviewers seemed to be seeing things that weren't in the film (David & Lisel) we did weigh in. In addition, every community member that had a site also did. Folding Star shut down A Winding Road, but you can read Folding Star's comments via The Third Estate Sunday Review repost. (All other ones listed below will take you to the members own site.)

"8 Days on the road to hell and heartland" (Betty, Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man)
"Film: Folding Star on Monster-in-Law" (Folding Star, A Winding Road)
"monster-in-law is now playing don't miss it" (Rebecca, Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude)
"Film: Rebuttal to Davey and Lisel half-baked Monster-In-Law reviews" (Ava and myself, The Third Estate Sunday Review)
(Mike hadn't started Mikey Likes It! when Monster-In-Law came out, but you can find his comments on the film in "Everybody Likes Mike: the man behind Mikey Likes It!" -- The Third Estate Sunday Review)
[. . .]
"Shirley rightly points out that Monster-In-Law was one of the topics in "Roundtable III" at The Third Estate Sunday Review."

Thanks to Isaiah for allowing us to rerun his drawing of Jane Fonda.

Five CDs, Five Minutes

As summer draws to a close we turn our attention to music with Jess selecting five CDs he dubs overlooked essentials. Participating are Jess, Ty, Dona, Jim and Ava of The Third Estate Sunday Review, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Kat of Kat's Corner (of The Common Ills), Elaine who's been substituting for Rebecca at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Mike of Mikey Likes It! and C.I. of The Common Ills.

Jess: First up is Pearl Jam's 16/6/00 Spodek, Katowice. This is part of the official bootleg CDs documenting Pearl Jam's 2000 concerts. From their June 16th concert in Poland, this is a double disc set.

Kat: I agree with this selection. It's my favorite of the Pearl Jam live albums. There's a real mood being set in their unrushed delivery and choice of beginning the set with ballads.

Ty: "Soldier of Love" is amazing.

Jim: And "Jeremy" is my favorite performance.

Kat: Unlike the other live releases in this series, this one really stands out. This last minute concert is about the group playing the songs that they want and performing them the way they want to perform them. If you want to understand where they're coming from, this album remains a must.

Jess: Next up we have Sarah McLachlan's Surfacing from 1999.

Betty: This one was one of my favorites. I checked it out at the library and enjoyed it from the start. When "Full of Grace" came on, I remembered that song from the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The whole album has a haunting and haunted quality.

Kat: The album, the finest thing McLachlan's done, is near perfect. For me, "Sweet Surrender" spoils it. The arrangement doesn't fit with the other songs. A mood's created throughout but "Sweet Surrender" mars it with the dance beat.

Jim: This is the kind of CD I'd put on if I was feeling bad or low.

Jess: Yeah. Lights out, under the covers, this is the album.

Elaine: Alone or with someone?

Jess: Either way.

Dona: This doesn't strike me as a "summer album." It's more of a fall or spring one when things are dying or beginning.

Jess: Interesting. Next up we have Lenny Kravitz's 5 from 1998.

Mike: This one was my favorite! "Fly" and "Black Velveteen" and "Supersoulfighter." I love Kravitz and I love it when he really jams.

Betty: I love Lenny and like a lot of songs on this album but for me his greatest hits is the album.

Jess: Really?

Betty: Well that and Let Love Rule. That one had a theme to it and it all fell together beautifully. Too often with Lenny's later albums, I'm picking out my favorite tracks and programming them to play. This isn't an album that I'd just pop in the player and push play on.

Jim: I'm completely the opposite. This is probably my favorite Lenny Kravitz CD.

Ty: Which is why you're always walking off with Jess' copy of it.

Jim: True.

Jess: Next up we have Ani DiFranco's Living In Clip from 1997 which is a double disc live album.

Kat: This is the album that really helped get the word out on Ani. It's amazing and shows her talents off in ways that studio albums hadn't.

Betty: This is one of the artists I didn't even know about until I started helping out here and have ended up just loving. On Jess' advice, this was the album I started with to add Ani to my collection. I can listen to this over and over.

Mike: Do you prefer the bass and guitar on this version of "Napolean" or on the one from Dilate, Jess?

Jess: On Dilate, it's so heavy, it's like a bass built song almost. I think both work and it depends on my mood for which one is my favorite.

C.I.: My favorite song from the album was "Napolean" for years. This is a CD I've listened to repeatedly. I preferred the first disc so much that I rarely listened to the second disc. Then one day I was in the mood for "Untouchable Face" --

Kat: Brilliant song.

C.I.: Yeah, and I put on disc two and fell in love with "Both Sides." Since then, any version of "Both Sides" has been my favorite song of her 90s work.

Ava: "Both Sides," which is a favorite of Betty's as well, is just an amazing song. Lyrically and musically. It pulsates.

Kat: At her best, Ani DiFranco is a story teller so when she's doing a "Both Sides" or an "Untouchable Face" or a "Welcome To:" she's doing what she does best. She's honestly someone that I don't access easily. I'm only now able to get into Knuckle Down, her latest album. She's not an instant listen for me. I have to play her repeatedly to really get what she's attempting. She's one of a handful of artists to emerge in the last two decades.

Elaine: What I'm wondering, and I love Ani, is what was going through Jess' life in the last part of the nineties since all four picks are from that period?

Jim: Good point. I hadn't even noticed that. What was going on in that period, Jess?

Jess: Huh. I don't know. I hadn't even noticed that. I just selected at random.

Elaine: Or thought you did.

Jess: Let me ponder that. Our final CD is not from that period. It's Carole King's The Carnegie Hall Concert: June 18, 1971.

Elaine: Which was released in?

Jess: 1996. My God. Why did I do that?

Dona: Before you hop on the couch and Elaine starts racking up billable hours, I'll offer that this the perfect James Taylor album.

Ty: Huh?

Dona: He comes on for background vocals and duet near the end and then he's, thankfully gone.
He's not singing his own doodles striving to be songs. No "limosine driver, big Cadillac man" or boasts of being a "Steamroller." For me, he's the weakest of the singer-songwriters.

C.I.: Frequently with bad intonation.

Dona: Yes.

Betty: For me, the big surprise was "Child of Mine." I didn't know that song and I really love it. It's just such a gentle song.

Ava: And musically, it moves like a child taking it's first steps. I really enjoy it as well.

Kat: This is the sort of live album that The Living Room Tour should have been. It's Carole King, at the piano, singing songs and not attempting to be trendy or provide laughter, just about the music.

Ty: I agree. And I loved Betty and Ava's comments about "Child of Mine." It really is about a child growning up and it really is musically taking the first steps. "Although you see the world" step, "different than me" step, "Sometimes I can touch upon" step, "The wonders that you see."
That's a really great point. It and "No Easy Way Down" are probably my two favorite songs on the CD.

Jim: I think Jess selected the five because they all speak to a committment to music.

Elaine: (laughing) Rescuer.

Betty: Jess?

Jess: I'm stuck trying to figure out what's so significant about that period to me.

Mike: (laughing) Good. You're freaked out like I was when you were all bringing up the Chinese Zodiac.

Jess: Way to get my back, Mike. I guess, and I'm not sure, that this was a period where I lost all interest in the radio. I grew up with music being played all the time. The radio or vinyl or cassette or CD. And what I remember most, if I think about it, is that these are all CDs that I started playing really heavily. Radio was really sucking bad. I grew up using the radio the way most people do the TV. Walking down the hall of my home, you'd hear my mother's radio on one station and my sister's on another and sometimes the one in the living room on as well. All different stations, because we listened to a wide range of music. And I had probably three favorite stations one year and then the next they were all gone. Interesting, I hadn't thought of that. How does that sound Elaine?

Elaine: Good but like only part of the answer. But Dona's indicating that we're out of time so we'll continue this in another session.

Jess: Good. The point to this feature was to make sure music was discussed here. Mid-week, Mike interviewed me and I realized that I felt like we could do more music here and really wanted to. There wasn't enough time to pull off much so this is a start. We may do cuttings or roundtables or just work more songs into what we write, but we're all agreed that we to shine more of a spotlight here on music.

Altos funcionarios del Ejecutivo criticados por seguir de vacaciones

"Altos funcionarios del Ejecutivo criticados por seguir de vacaciones"

Maria: Hola. De parte de "Democracy Now!" quince cosas que vale hacer notar este fin de semana. En español, usted puede leer o puede escuchar en línea en "Democracy Now!"Nuestros pensamientos y las oraciones están con las víctimas de Huracán Katrina. Paz.

Principal funcionario de la ciudad critica a FEMA: "Es una vergüenza nacional"
El jefe de operaciones de emergencia de Nueva Orleans, Terry Ebbert, criticó al gobierno federal y a la FEMA por la lentitud de su respuesta a la crisis.
El funcionario dijo "Es una emergencia nacional y una vergüenza nacional".
Ebbert añadió: "La FEMA ha estado aquí durante tres días, y sin embargo no tiene dominio ni control de la situación. Podemos enviar grandes cantidades de ayuda a las víctimas del tsunami, pero no podemos salvar a la ciudad de Nueva Orleans".
También dijo: "Es criminal que dentro de los límites de Estados Unidos, a una hora de viaje del lugar del huracán, no nos enviaran ayuda. Es como si la FEMA nunca hubiera estado en un huracán".
La agencia federal también fue muy criticada en Mississippi, donde algunas localidades aún esperan que llegue la ayuda federal.
James Gibson, habitante de Lakeshore, Mississippi, dijo: "No hay FEMA. No hay Cruz Roja. No hay ayuda. La gente está enferma. El agua es como un caldo tóxico. Somos el pequeño pueblo olvidado que fue destruido".
El estado de Mississippi informa que en un área de 80 kilómetros a lo largo de la costa, el 90 por ciento de las edificaciones fueron destruidas.Recién comienza a sentirse gran parte de los esfuerzos de ayuda del gobierno federal. El Wall Street Journal informa que el Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos prometió establecer 40 estaciones de ayuda de emergencia. Al día de ayer, sólo una funcionaba, y estaba ubicada a 130 kilómetros de Nueva Orleans. Recién el miércoles el Pentágono activó un importante buque hospital de la Armada, pero ese barco podría demorar días en llegar a la región devastada.

Altos funcionarios del Ejecutivo criticados por seguir de vacaciones
Por otra parte, aumentan las críticas al modo en que el gobierno de Bush afronta la crisis. El Presidente Bush no volvió de sus vacaciones hasta el miércoles, y varios altos funcionarios siguen de vacaciones veraniegas. La Secretaria de Estado, Condoleeza Rice, estaba de vacaciones en Nueva York pero volvió a Washington el jueves. Mientras tanto, el Vicepresidente Dick Cheney ha estado en Wyoming, y el Jefe de Personal de la Casa Blanca, Andrew Card, en Maine.

Gobierno de Bush recortará gasto para control de inundaciones
Se pregunta si el gobierno federal podría haber hecho más para proteger a la región de las mortales inundaciones. En 1995, el Congreso autorizó el Proyecto Urbano de Control de Inundaciones del Sureste de Louisiana, y el Cuerpo de Ingenieros del Ejército gastó 430 millones de dólares en levantar represas y construir estaciones de bombeo de agua en la última década. Pero faltaron obras por valor de otros 250 millones de dólares. Según informes periodísticos, el financiamiento federal se congeló en 2003. En los últimos dos años, el diario Times-Picayune publicó por lo menos nueve artículos que mencionaron el costo de la invasión de Irak como un motivo de que faltaran fondos para controlar los efectos de huracanes e inundaciones. A principios de este año, el Presidente Bush propuso reducir significativamente, a 10 millones de dólares, la cantidad de dinero federal destinada al proyecto. Funcionarios locales dijeron que se necesitaba seis veces más.

Seis mil miembros de la Guardia Nacional local están en Irak
La Guardia Nacional ha participado en operaciones de rescate y mantenimiento del orden en la zona del desastre, pero unos seis mil miembros de la Guardia de Louisiana y Mississippi tuvieron que ver la catástrofe desde 11.200 kilómetros de distancia, en Irak. El cuarenta por ciento de la Guardia Nacional de Mississippi y el 35 por ciento de la Guardia de Louisiana están en Irak. En los últimos ocho meses, 23 miembros de la Guardia Nacional de Louisiana murieron en Irak. Sólo la unidad de la Guardia de Nueva York ha sufrido tantas bajas en Irak.

Equipamiento de la Guardia Nacional de Louisiana está en Irak
La guerra en Irak también estuvo relacionada con la recuperación y limpieza del huracán. A principios de este mes, la Guardia Nacional de Louisiana se quejó públicamente de que la mayoría de su equipamiento estaba en Irak. La filial local de la cadena de noticias ABC informó que decenas de vehículos anfibios, jeeps Humvee, unidades abastecedoras de aeronaves y generadores están fuera del país.

Alcalde de Nueva Orleans envía desesperado mensaje de auxilio al país
Decenas de miles de refugiados permanecen en Nueva Orleans, cuatro días después de que el huracán Katrina devastara la región de la costa del Golfo de México. El jueves, el alcalde de Nueva Orleans, Ray Nagin, envió un desesperado mensaje de auxilio al país, solicitando más ayuda.La ciudad reconoce que algunos sobrevivientes no han ingerido alimentos ni bebido agua por tres o cuatro días. Los cadáveres flotan en el agua de la inundación. Miles de personas en todo el país buscan a sus familiares y amigos, y desconocen si han sobrevivido a la catástrofe.Casi dos millones de personas aún carecen de energía eléctrica. La Guardia Costera informó que todavía hay habitantes de la ciudad atrapados sobre techos, a la espera de ser rescatados.Funcionarios temen que haya miles de muertos.El titular principal de la edición de hoy del diario Time-Picayune es: "Por favor, ayúdennos".

Aumenta número de muertes causadas por Katrina
El número de muertes por el Huracán Katrina sigue en dramático aumento. El alcalde de Nueva Orleans calcula que el número de muertos en la ciudad podría contarse en miles. Señaló que los cadáveres que aún no han sido recuperados flotan en las calles inundadas de Nueva Orleans. La Casa Blanca declaró una emergencia de salud pública en toda la costa del Golfo de México, mientras que el secretario del Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos de Estados Unidos, Mike Leavitt, advirtió acerca de posibles brotes de epidemias de cólera y fiebre tifoidea. El presidente Bush acortó sus vacaciones en Crawford, Texas. De regreso en Washington, se dirigió al país en un discurso transmitido por televisión:
El Presidente dijo: "Mientras nos dirigíamos en avión aquí, le pedí al piloto que sobrevolara la región de la Costa del Golfo, para poder ver directamente el alcance y la magnitud de la destrucción. La gran mayoría de Nueva Orleans, Louisiana, está bajo agua. Decenas de miles de hogares y comercios sufrieron daños irreparables. Gran parte de la Costa del Golfo en Mississippi se destruyó por completo. La ciudad de Mobile está inundada. Hacemos frente a uno de los peores desastres naturales en la historia del país".

Nueva Orleans tóxica: "el peor de los casos"
El Washington Post señala que Nueva Orleans está inundada por aguas que contienen toneladas de sustancias químicas tóxicas y otros contaminantes, desde metales pesados e hidrocarburos a desechos industriales, materias fecales y restos humanos y animales. Los especialistas dicen que la contaminación afectará a la región del Golfo de México por más de una década. Un analista de políticas de alta jerarquía de la Agencia de Protección Ambiental dijo al Post "Es el peor de los casos... No hay suficiente dinero en el producto interno bruto de Estados Unidos para disponer de la suma de material contaminante en el área".

Aumenta número de muertos en Mississippi
Mientras tanto, en el estado vecino de Mississippi, las autoridades dicen que al menos 185 personas murieron. Sólo en el condado de Hancock, el comisario Eddie Jennings calculó que las muertes fueron 85, con 60 en Pearlington, 22 en Waveland, dos en la Bahía de Saint Louis, y un cuerpo que se halló flotando en la playa. En el condado cercano de Harrison, donde se encuentran las ciudades de Gulfport y Biloxi, funcionarios dicen que se encontraron 100 personas muertas. Se prevé que estas cifras aumentarán a medida que continúen las operaciones de búsqueda y rescate. La ciudad de Gulfport está prácticamente destruida, y Biloxi sufrió daños graves. Decenas de pacientes de un hospital de Biloxi fueron evacuados el miércoles por la Fuerza Aérea estadounidense. Los pacientes, entre ellos mujeres con embarazos de alto riesgo, fueron llevados de la zona más afectada a San Antonio, Texas, en aviones de carga de la Fuerza Aérea. El gobernador de Mississippi, Haley Barbour, sobrevoló la costa del estado, que sufrió graves daños, y la comparó con Hiroshima en 1945. En Alabama, más de 400.000 hogares y comercios carecen de energía eléctrica, mientras que Florida informó sobre 11 muertes.

Combustible alcanza el precio más alto en la historia
Los precios del combustible en muchas ciudades de Estados Unidos superan los anteriores máximos, alcanzados en 1981. Algunos conductores de Atlanta tienen que pagar más de cinco dólares por un galón de gasolina (3,8 litros). Los precios aumentaron pese a que el secretario de Energía, Samuel Bodman, dijo el miércoles a CNBC que el gobierno estaba extrayendo crudo de la Reserva Estratégica de Petróleo, donde más de 700 millones de barriles de crudo, de 159 litros, están almacenados en cavernas para uso de emergencia. El Departamento del Interior calcula que el 95 por ciento de la producción del Golfo de México fue suspendida a causa del huracán. Algunos analistas prevén que los precios del combustible en todo el país podrían superar los cuatro dólares por galón.

Crean nueva coalición antirreclutamiento en Los Ángeles
En Los Ángeles, una nueva coalición anunció sus planes para realizar una campaña nacional contra el reclutamiento militar de estudiantes de color en las escuelas. Entre los integrantes de la alianza están los grupos Latinos por la Paz y la Coalición Contra el Militarismo en las Escuelas. El anuncio se realizó en el Parque Salazar, en el 35 aniversario de la Moratoria Chicana, cuando 20.000 manifestantes tomaron las calles de Los Ángeles para protestar contra el número desproporcionado de latinos que morían en la Guerra de Vietnam. El Parque Salazar fue nombrado en honor al periodista Ruben Salazar, que cubría la Moratoria y murió tras recibir un disparo de la policía. La coalición convoca a los estudiantes a que firmen formularios para impedir que los militares reciban su información personal, y para evitar que se les someta a la batería de pruebas de aptitud vocacional de los servicios armados.

Comisión de Derechos Humanos pide investigación de tortura policial en Chicago
En Chicago, víctimas de maltrato policial solicitan a la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos que investigue las acusaciones de que la policía de Chicago golpeó y torturó sistemáticamente a estadounidenses afrodescendientes para lograr confesiones. Casi 140 víctimas alegaron haber sido maltratadas y torturadas por la policía de Chicago en las últimas décadas. Los abogados de las víctimas se quejaron de que un fiscal especial ha demorado demasiado en realizar procesamientos penales por las acusaciones de tortura. Los abogados solicitan a la Comisión Interamericana que examine las pruebas en su sesión de octubre. Esa comisión tiene el cometido de investigar casos de violación de derechos humanos, por mandato de la Organización de Estados Americanos y de la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos.

Periodista de Reuters asesinado por fuerzas estadounidenses es sepultado en Irak
En Irak, el lunes se realizó el funeral de Waleed Khaled, el técnico de sonido que trabajaba para la agencia de noticias Reuters y fue asesinado el domingo por las fuerzas estadounidenses. Khaled, de 35 años de edad, recibió disparos en la cara y al menos otros cuatro en el pecho. Según Reuters, se escuchó a soldados estadounidenses burlarse cuando la familia de Waleed Khaled apareció en la escena del crimen. Mientras que los familiares acongojados inspeccionaban el cadáver, un soldado estadounidense dijo "No se molesten. No vale la pena." Otros soldados hacían chistes entre sí a unos metros del cadáver. Según Reporteros Sin Fronteras, Khaled es el periodista número 66 que muere en Irak desde que comenzó la invasión en marzo de 2003. En toda la Guerra de Vietnam murieron 63 periodistas.

Reuters exige liberación de segundo periodista detenido por fuerzas estadounidenses
Un colega de Waleed Khaled, el camarógrafo Haider Kadhem, de Reuters, permanece detenido por las fuerzas estadounidenses. El también recibió un disparo de un francotirador estadounidense y fue el único testigo de la muerte de Khaled. Reuters exige su liberación inmediata. El editor mundial de la agencia, David Schlesinger, dijo: "No podemos entender qué razón existe para mantener a este periodista detenido por más de veinticuatro horas, luego de que fuera víctima inocente de un hecho en que su colega fue asesinado". El Comité para la Protección de los Periodistas también exigió la liberación inmediata de Khadem. Mientras tanto, un tercer periodista iraquí que trabaja para Reuters lleva tres semanas incomunicado en la prisión de Abu Ghraib, sin que se hayan presentado acusaciones en su contra.

Funcionaria del Pentágono destituida por criticar acuerdo de Halliburton
Una funcionaria de alta jerarquía del Pentágono fue destituida luego de criticar públicamente la decisión del Pentágono de otorgar contratos millonarios a Halliburton en Irak, sin llamar a licitación. La funcionaria, Bunnatine Greenhouse, había trabajado 20 años en el Pentágono. Desde 1998 se desempeñaba como jefa supervisora de contratos en el Cuerpo de Ingenieros de Ejército. El año pasado, Greenhouse criticó públicamente los contratos con Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR), una filial de Halliburton. Dijo "Puedo decir sin equivocarme que el abuso relacionado con los contratos otorgados a KBR es el más descarado y deshonesto que he visto".

Maria: Hello, in English, here are sixteen reports from Democracy Now! Remember you can listen or read Headlines in Spanish online at Democracy Now! Please get the word out. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Peace.

Top City Official Blasts FEMA: "This Is A National Disgrace"
The head of New Orleans' emergency operations blasted the federal government and FEMA for its slow response. The official Terry Ebbert said "This is a national emergency. This is a national disgrace." Ebbert went on to say "FEMA has been here three days, yet there is no command and control. We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims, but we can't bail out the city of New Orleans." Ebbert said "It's criminal within the confines of the United States that within one hour of the hurricane they weren't force-feeding us. It's like FEMA has never been to a hurricane."

No FEMA Officials Reported in Mississippi
FEMA has also been widely criticized in Mississippi where some towns are still waiting for federal aid to arrive. Lakeshore, Mississippi resident James Gibson said "There's no FEMA. No Red Cross. No help. People are sick. The water is like toxic gumbo. We're the forgotten little town that got blown away." The state of Mississippi is reporting that there is a 50 mile stretch of coastline where 90 percent of the structures are destroyed.

Bush Officials Criticized For Staying On Vacation
Criticism is also mounting over the Bush administration's handling of the crisis. President Bush didn't return from his vacation until Wednesday and several other top officials remain on summer breaks. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice had been vacationing in New York City but returned to Washington on Thursday. Meanwhile Vice President Dick Cheney has been in Wyoming and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card has been in Maine.

Bush Administration Cut Back Flood Control Spending
Questions are also being raised if the federal government could have done more to protect the region from the deadly flooding. In 1995 Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project. Over the past decade the Army Corps of Engineers has spent $430 million on shoring up levees and building pumping stations. But another $250 million in work remained. According to press accounts, the federal funding largely froze up in 2003. Over the past two years the Times-Picayune paper has run at least nine articles that cite the cost of the Iraq invasion as a reason for the lack of hurricane and flood control funding. Earlier this year President Bush proposed significantly reducing the amount of federal money for the project. He proposed spending $10 million. Local officials said six times as much money was needed.

6,000 Local National Guard Members In Iraq
While the National Guard has been taking part in rescue operations and law enforcement, some 6,000 members of the Louisiana and Mississippi Guard have been forced to watch the catastrophe from 7,000 miles away in Iraq. 40 percent of Mississippi's National Guard force and 35 percent of Louisiana's is in Iraq. Over the past eight months 23 members of the Louisiana National Guard have died in Iraq - only New York's Guard unit has suffered as many deaths.

Louisiana National Guard Equipment in Iraq
The war in Iraq may also play a role in the recovery and cleanup of the hurricane. Earlier this month the Louisiana National Guard publicly complained that too much of its equipment was in Iraq. The local ABC news affiliate reported dozens of high water vehicles, Humvees, refuelers and generators are now abroad.

New Orleans Mayor Sends "Desperate SOS" To Nation
Tens of thousands of refugees remain in New Orleans - four days after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region. On Thursday New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin sent a desperate SOS to the country for more aid. The city is admitting that some survivors have not eaten or had water in three or four days. Corpses are floating in the floodwater. Thousands of people across the country are searching for relatives and friends -- not knowing if they have survived the catastrophoe Nearly 2 million people remain without power. The Coast Guard reports there are still many residents stuck on their roofs seeking to be rescued. Officials fear thousands may be dead. The banner headline in this morning's Time-Picayune newspaper reads "Help Us, Please."

Katrina Death Toll Rising
The death toll from Hurricane Katrina continues to climb dramatically with the mayor of New Orleans estimating that the number of dead in his city could well be in the thousands. He described dead bodies yet to be recovered floating through the water-soaked streets of New Orleans. The White House has declared a public health emergency for the entire Gulf Coast, as the US Department of Health and Human Services secretary Mike Leavitt warned of potential outbreaks of cholera and typhoid. President Bush cut short his vacation in Crawford, Texas. Upon his return to Washington, he addressed the nation on television: "As we flew here today, I also asked the pilot to fly over the Gulf Coast region so I could see firsthand the scope and magnitude of the devastation. The vast majority of New Orleans, Louisiana is under water. Tens of thousands of homes and businesses are beyond repair. A lot of the Mississippi Gulf Coast has been completely destroyed. Mobile is flooded. We are dealing with one of the worst natural disasters in our nation's history."

Toxic New Orleans: 'The Worst Case'
The Washington Post points out that New Orleans is now flooded by water spiked with tons of toxic chemicals and contaminants ranging from heavy metals and hydrocarbons to industrial waste, human feces and the decayed remains of humans and animals. Experts say the contamination will continue to poison the Gulf of Mexico region for more than a decade. A senior policy analyst at the Environmental Protection Agency told the Post "This is the worst case...There is not enough money in the gross national product of the United States to dispose of the amount of hazardous material in the area."

Mississippi Death Toll Rises
Meanwhile, in neighboring Mississippi, authorities now say that at least 185 people have died. In Hancock County alone, Sheriff Eddie Jennings put the death toll at 85, with 60 people dead in Pearlington, 22 in Waveland, two in Bay St. Louis and one body that had washed up on the beach. In neighboring Harrison County, which is home to Gulfport and Biloxi, officials say that 100 bodies have been found. All of these numbers are expected to grow as search and rescue operations continue. The city of Gulfport was almost destroyed, and Biloxi was heavily damaged. Dozens of patients from a Biloxi hospital were evacuated by the U.S. Air Force on Wednesday. Patients including a ward full of women with high-risk pregnancies were transported from the hard-hit area by Air Force cargo planes to San Antonio, Texas. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour flew over his state's ravaged coastline and likened it to Hiroshima in 1945. In Alabama more than 400,000 homes and businesses are without power, while Florida reported 11 deaths.

Gas Prices Hit Highest Price Ever
This comes as gasoline prices in many U.S. cities spiked past the all-time highs set in 1981 with some drivers in Atlanta facing prices above $5 a gallon. Prices also rose significantly in many populated urban centers across the nation. Prices jumped just as Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said Wednesday on CNBC that the government was releasing crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, where more than 700 million barrels of crude oil are stored in caverns for emergency use. The Department of Interior estimates that 95 percent of Gulf of Mexico production has been shutdown by Katrina. Some analysts are now predicting that gas prices nationwide could soar to more than $4 a gallon.

New Anti-Recruiting Coalition Forms in Los Angeles
In Los Angeles, a new coalition announced plans for a national campaign to fight military recruitment of students of color in the nation's schools. Members of the coalition include Latinos for Peace and the Coalition Against Militarism in our Schools. The groups made the announcement at Salazar Park on the 35th anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium, when 20,000 protesters took to the streets of Los Angeles to protest the disproportionate number of Latinos being killed in the Vietnam War. Salazar Park is named after journalist Ruben Salazar who was shot dead by police after covering the Moratorium. The coalition is calling on students to sign forms that would block the military from receiving personal information about them as well as not to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test.

Human Rights Commission Asked to Investigate Police Torture in Chicago
In Chicago, victims of police abuse are asking the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to investigate their claims that the Chicago police routinely beat and tortured African Americans to get confessions. Nearly 140 different victims have alleged abuse and torture at the hands of the Chicago police over the past few decades. Attorneys for the victims have complained that a special prosecutor has taken too long to launch any criminal prosecutions into the torture claims. The Attorneys are asking the international commission to hear evidence during its October session. The commission is mandated by the Organization of American States and the American Convention on Human Rights to investigate human rights violations across the world.

Reuters Journalist Killed By U.S. Buried In Iraq
In Iraq, a funeral was held Monday for Waleed Khaled, the sound technician working for the Reuters news agency who was shot dead by U.S. forces on Sunday. The 35-year-old Khaled, was shot in the face and took at least four bullets to the chest. According to Reuters, U.S. soldiers were heard joking around when Waleed Khaled's family came to the scene of the shooting. As his tearful relatives inspected his corpse, a U.S. soldier said "Don't bother. It's not worth it." A few other soldiers joked among themselves just a few feet from the body. According to Reporters Without Borders Khaled is the 66th journalist to be killed in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion. In comparison, a total of 63 journalists were killed in the Vietnam War.

Reuters Demands Release of Journalists from U.S. Detention
Waleed Khaled's colleague -- Reuters cameraman Haider Kadhem -- remains in U.S. detention. He too was shot by an American sniper and was the only eyewitness to the killing of Khaled. Reuters is calling for his immediate release. Reuters Global Managing Editor David Schlesinger said, "We fail to understand what reason there can be for his continued detention more than a day after he was the innocent victim of an incident in which his colleague was killed." The Committee to Protect Journalists also called for Khadem's immediate release. Meanwhile a third Iraqi journalist working for Reuters has now been held incommunicado in the Abu Ghraib prison for three weeks without facing charges.

Pentagon Official Demoted After Criticizing Halliburton Deal
A high-level Pentagon official has been demoted after she publicly criticized the Pentagon's decision to give Halliburton no-bid contracts in Iraq worth billions of dollars. The officer -- Bunnatine Greenhouse -- had worked at the Pentagon for 20 years. Since 1998 she has served as the chief overseer of contracts at the Army Corps of Engineers. Last year Greenhouse went public to criticize the contracts involving Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root. She said, "I can unequivocally state that the abuse related to contracts awarded to KBR represents the most blatant and improper abuse I have witnessed."

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