Five years ago this week, a beast drowned New Orleans. Don’t blame Katrina: the lady never, in fact, touched the city. The hurricane swept east of it.
You want to know the name of the S.O.B. who attacked New Orleans? Locals call him “Mr. Go” – the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet (MR-GO).
MR-GO was undoubtedly the most bone-headed, deadly insane project ever built by the Army Corps of Engineers. It’s a 76-mile long canal, straight as a gun barrel, running right up from the Gulf of Mexico to the heart of New Orleans.
In effect, MR-GO was a welcome mat to the city for Katrina. Experts call it “the Hurricane Highway.”
Until the Army Corps made this crazy gash in the Mississippi Delta fifty years ago, Mother Nature protected the Crescent City with a green wreath of cypress and mangrove. The environmental slash-job caused the government’s own hydrologist to raise alarms from Day One of construction.
Unless MR-GO was fixed or plugged, the Corps was inviting, “the possibility of catastrophic damage to urban areas by a hurricane surge coming up this waterway.” (I’m quoting from a report issued 17 years before The Flood.)
A forensic analysis by Dr. John W. Day calculated that if the Corps had left just 6 miles of wetlands in place of the open canal, the surge caused by Katrina’s wind would have been reduced by 4.5 feet and a lot of New Orleaneans would be alive today. …more
Just in! Our plea to send medicine to a friend’s father in Haiti was answered by Democracy Now! producer Sharif Abdel-Kouddous who will make the delivery in Port-au-Prince. Apparently DN, unlike the US government, doesn’t require armed “Security” to save lives.
1. Bless the President for having rescue teams in the air almost immediately. That was President Olafur Grimsson of Iceland. On Wednesday, the AP reported that the President of the United States promised, “The initial contingent of 2,000 Marines could be deployed to the quake-ravaged country within the next few days.” “In a few days,” Mr. Obama?
2. There’s no such thing as a ‘natural’ disaster. 200,000 Haitians have been slaughtered by slum housing and IMF “austerity” plans.
3. A friend of mine called. Do I know a journalist who could get medicine to her father? And she added, trying to hold her voice together, “My sister, she’s under the rubble. Is anyone going who can help, anyone?” Should I tell her, “Obama will have Marines there in ‘a few days”? …more
I still get a thrill whenever I get my hands on a confidential memo with “The White House, Washington” appearing on the letterhead. Even when – like the one I’m looking at now – it’s about a snoozy topic: This week’s G-20 summit.
But the letter’s content shook me awake, and may keep me up the rest of the night.
The 6-page letter from the White House, dated September 3, was sent to the 20 heads of state that will meet this Thursday in Pittsburgh. After some initial diplo-blather, our President’s “sherpa” for the summit, Michael Froman, does a little victory dance, announcing that the recession has been defeated. “Global equity markets have risen 35 percent since the end of March,” writes Froman. In other words, the stock market is up and all’s well. …more
I searched all over the newspapers and TV transcripts and no one asked the President what is probably the most important question of what passes for debate on the issue of health care reform: $80 billion of WHAT?
On June 22, President Obama said he’d reached agreement with big drug companies to cut the price of medicine by $80 billion. He extended his gratitude to Big Pharma for the deal that would, “reduce the punishing inflation in health care costs.”
Hey, in my neighborhood, people think $80 billion is a lot of money. But is it?
I checked out the government’s health stats (at HHS.gov), put fresh batteries in my calculator and totted up US spending on prescription drugs projected by the government for the next ten years. It added up to $3.6 trillion.
In other words, Obama’s big deal with Big Pharma saves $80 billion out of a total $3.6 trillion. That’s 2%.
Hey thanks, Barack! You really stuck it to the big boys. You saved America from these drug lords robbing us blind. Two percent. Cool! …more
Virtually the entire mainstream electronic media drank ACORN Kool-Aid this month brewed up by the Republican National Committee. Almost no one seriously challenged John McCain’s comical assertions that ACORN, a grassroots voter registration group, “is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.”
While the Republicans had the distracted media searching for links between Obama and ACORN, RNC operatives were busily completing one of the most massive voter suppression and purging efforts in American history, stealing hundreds of thousands of Democratic votes across the embattled swing states and striving to arrange chaos and endless lines at the voting booths next week.
First the facts about ACORN. Months ago, we obtained, as part of our investigation for Rolling Stone magazine, the Republican’s list the GOP alleged were the very worst cases of vote and registration fraud by ACORN and similar groups. We went through the names the GOP asserted were “obviously, undeniably and clearly fraudulent” voter registrations.
First, there was Melissa Tais, a dubious ACORN registrant. Her two voter registration forms show, admittedly, suspiciously different signatures. Republicans suggested Melissa was part of a massive fraud to allow Democrats to vote twice.
They were wrong. Ms. Tais, a Cerrillos, New Mexico, waitress, told us she had signed one form on a table and one form holding the paper in her hand. Hence, a second, wobbly signature.
Then there was Patricia White, who Republicans claimed was a fictitious voter. When we filmed her at home in Albuquerque, she seemed real enough.
And so on, through the entire GOP list — not one fraud. And these were their best cases out of the five million “illegal voters” who Republican leaders claim have infiltrated America’s voting rolls.
The overblown histrionics about ACORN do not surprise those of us who have been watching the RNC’s election manipulation antics. For eight years White House operatives have been trying to gin up press stories about voter fraud. David Iglesias of New Mexico was one of seven U.S. Attorneys fired by the White House for their refusal to bring voter fraud prosecutions. “We took over 100 complaints,” from the GOP, he told us, “We investigated for almost 2 years, I didn’t find one prosecutable voter fraud case in the entire state of New Mexico.”
Iglesias, a McCain supporter, has, for the first time, leveled a new and serious charge: Despite finding none of the 200 voters guilty, he says the White House nevertheless ordered him to illegally prosecute baseless cases against innocent citizens, just to gin up voter fraud publicity. His refusal, he says, cost him his job. “They were looking for politicized — for improperly politicized US attorneys to file bogus voter fraud cases.”
Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. are authors of an investigation of vote suppression in the current Rolling Stone, and a comic book voter guide, “Steal Back Your Vote,” both available for download at StealBackYourVote.org.…more
(Visit the HuffingtonPost.com article to listen to exclusive audio interviews with Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.)
The perennial issues of vote fraud and voter suppression are becoming front-page news as several states conduct early voting and as Election Day itself nears. The candidates themselves will continue to stump, trying to win votes in contested states, but after tonight’s final debate, the parties will focus less on persuading undecided voters and instead put more and more energy into “get out the vote” or “GOTV” efforts or, more ominously, into “voter suppression” efforts, which discourage or bar the other side’s likely voters from casting ballots.
GOTV includes simple acts like helping homebound voters obtain and cast absentee ballots or driving voters who don’t have cars to the polls on Election Day. More broadly, the concept also can include all kinds of efforts to increase voter turnout: voter registration drives, websites that help voters confirm that they’re still registered in time to fix any problems (one good, nonpartisan example is the National Association of Secretaries of State’s CanIVote.org), and public service announcements reminding voters that Election Day is approaching.
Voter suppression practices are the flip side of such efforts. Suppression efforts can appear innocuous, such as requiring voters to show photo I.D.s – a requirement that excludes a surprising number of poor, minority, very young and very old voters and kept several elderly nuns from voting in Indiana’s Democratic primary this year. Suppression can pose as false righteousness, such as Fox News’s 342 negative mentions of a single voter-registration group in just four days (casting the group’s efforts to register underrepresented demographics as a threat to democracy, and frightening voters registered by that group into thinking that their registrations might be unlawful), or the past Republican practice of stationing armed, uniformed “Ballot Integrity” personnel in minority polling places (again, tamping down turnout).
Good news from the edge of reality: Exxon has changed its mind. It was only days ago that they were employing the help of their subsidiary known as the Department of Homeland Security to put a Gitmo scare into Greg Palast and Matt Pascarella for filming the oil powerhouse’s Baton Rouge refinery — and about a thousand Katrina refugees being held behind barbed wire near it …more