Tuesday, November 20, 2007

WeAreNotBuyingIt.org 2 days of shopping left--yep... A Whole Lotta Info too! Please don't spend $ on CorporateXmas!

The Boycott Begins-November 23rd, 2007.
Happy Holidays. This will be my final message to all of those thousands who have signed up at www.wearenotbuyingit.org since last January. Since beginning this project I have been alternately disheartened by the fractured manner in which the opposition has been working to oust the Bush Administration and end the war, and filled with hope by the hundreds upon hundreds of messages and conversations I have had with concerned people around the globe.

I understand now that even if the 'leadership' of our progressive, liberal and libertarian organizations cannot set aside their personal differences and agree on a coordinated set of actions then at the very least the 'membership' is more than ready to take whatever steps are necessary to not only bring Bush and Co. to justice and end this horrific travesty of a war-but to fundamentally reform the economic, political and social systems that have brought us to this point.

We are ready to put our money where our hearts are and to take action every day to erode the base of support for the policies that appall us. We are not doing it by making contributions to non-profits or trying to buy a candidate, we are doing it by drawing down our economic activity to the point where there will be no more 'business as usual'. And it all starts this Friday. Black Friday 2007 marks the beginning of a change in the behavior of what Madison Avenue calls 'consumers' and what we call human beings.

The message has spread and it has taken on a life of its own. In Austin a 70 year old grandmother has made signs saying "Boycott Bush" and is working with her community to stop corporate greed and at the same time support Ron Paul. In Santa Rosa California a group of students and retired people are protesting in front of the local mall, handing out homemade flyers and holding signs promoting an old-fashioned greed free Christmas season:

Subject: Sonoma County "No Buy Day" action - Friday, 11/23

Hi all - we are organizing a "No Buy Day" action in front of the Santa Rosa Plaza shopping mall (in front of the hand sculpture on the public sidewalk) for the Friday after Thanksgiving. It will begin at noon and last until 2:00 or later if there's energy and weather permitting. We will provide signs to hang around your necks which will read "Homo sapien" with the "sapien" crossed out and replaced with "accumulatus." Bring a sign with a simple message such as "Give the Gift of Time, Not Money", "If You Must Buy, Please Buy Local", etc. You get the picture. I plan to wrap a few empty boxes with Christmas paper, attach them to my back and be weighted down by them. Feel free to do the same. We'll be offering free presents, so if you have a good quality item you'd like to donate to the free table, please bring it along. And if you want to make signs at the Peace & Justice Center that morning, just let me know and we'll have supplies and companionship. Pass this on and we hope you can join us.

In Pittsburgh a group of spiritual activists are putting their ethics into action by organizing at every level to promote a non-corporate holiday season and are providing alternatives to corporate grocery stores for peoples everyday needs during this process:

Hello Mr. Brown,

My name is Rose Lord. I'm an associate of Victor Landa. I've been working at promoting the corporate boycott here in Pittsburgh. Victor thought you might be interested in knowing what I'm doing. After an initial announcement sent out on October 22nd, I've been sending out weekly reminders/words of encouragement to my local mailing list. I'm using your list of 11 things we can do but I modified it a bit and took it down to 8 things so that it will take us from our starting date through the Christmas holiday. I send these weekly e-mails to Victor as well and he forwards them to his mailing list, which is much more extensive then mine.

I also made up flyers which are being distributed at our local co-op, and a poster with many of the points that are outlined on your power point presentation.

I've been trying to contact the East Coast coordinator for the United States Social Forum to encourage all the people who attended that event in July to participate but I haven't been successful yet.

I hope this boycott will be very successful but even if it doesn't have the impact that we are hoping for, I'm sure that it will start a significant number of people thinking and acting differently and I hope we can keep it going throughout the coming year.

If you would like, I will include you on my weekly reminder e-mail list so that you know what's going on here in the Burgh.

In peace,

Rose "Mirabai" Lord

Global Coalition for Peace

Online new twists on the idea have been springing up since the summer including this series of responses on a bulletin board that networks community minded people:

Hello Lew,

This thread on Waccobb.net, Sonoma County's "conscious community," seems to be related to your boycott project. If you have info on the boycott that you would like me to post in response to this thread, I'd be happy to do so. If you're not a member of Waccobb, you might consider joining or at least trolling.

Q: How to Hack the Holidays...? A: It's Festivus for the Rest of Us!

"Together, we boycott Christmas Shopping, Christmas decorations, Christmas cards, and every variety of Christmas Crap. We refuse to support the Holiday Industry. We show our love for friends and family by giving our time and care, not by purchasing consumer goods. We maintain the integrity of giving by giving spontaneously and from our hearts, rather than during a specified season."

Hate the holiday hype?
Want to create lasting family traditions this holiday without all the pointless shopping, killing trees, or creating piles of trash?

Try Festivus!

Here's another helpful hint: it's about the spirit, ambiance, and embraces of the season, but it's not about the stuff. Not shopping not only eliminates a big source of stress that makes most people crazy and cranky, it is good for the planet and a good way of removing power from the corporations that are fueling and profiting from the resource wars that are the hallmark of the empire of overconsumption--which is to say that opting out of the shopocalypse is a great way of promoting "peace on Earth."

Or, as someone else put it:

You know holiday shopping is offensive and wasteful. You know Christmas "wish lists" and "gift exchanges" degrade the concept of giving. You know Christmas marketing is a scam, benefiting manufacturers, stores, and huge corporations, while driving individuals into debt. You know this annual consumer frenzy wreaks havoc on the environment, filling landfills with useless packaging and discarded gifts.

Yet, every year, you cave in and go shopping.

The relentless onslaught of advertising exerts constant pressure. So do the unified bleatings of herds of shoppers, who call you "Scrooge" if you fail to enthusiastically join their ritual orgy of consumption. Friends and family needle you with gift requests, store windows beckon with shiny colorful packages, the same "classic" holiday jingles are piped constantly through every speaker in town.

How can you resist? Join the Christmas Resistance Movement!

The growing CHRISTMAS RESISTANCE MOVEMENT is joined in solidarity against the Shopping Season. For every 100 automatons who call you "Scrooge," there's a sparkly-eyed CHRISTMAS RESISTOR who supports YOU in NOT BUYING INTO THE HOLIDAY HYSTERIA.

Together, we boycott Christmas Shopping, Christmas decorations, Christmas cards, and every variety of Christmas Crap. We refuse to support the Holiday Industry. We show our love for friends and family by giving our time and care, not by purchasing consumer goods. We maintain the integrity of giving by giving spontaneously and from our hearts, rather than during a specified season.

You are not alone. Together, we can RESIST CHRISTMAS!

And even if your choice of winter holiday celebration and observance has nothing to do with Christmas, you, too, can be a part of the resistance to the shopping frenzy being pushed on us against our better judgment. Just give a moment's thought to all that you can do to have a loverly time and express joy and gratitude with others without loading up on consumer goods and the associated waste that come with them when you set out to make the most of this special season. Put a little extra care into the healthy, sumptuous food you prepare. Lighten your load by giving away something you don't need to someone who does. Make a special place in your home and your heart for the spirit you wish to share. And remember, the true gift of the winter holidays is something to be, not something to buy.

Best wishes to all!


All around the country and all around the world people are waking up to the idea that money is what makes the world go around and that money comes from us and goes to the people with the real power through corporate fronts.

We are awake, we are communicating and we are taking action by doing with less, doing without and promoting a positive, safe and healthy holiday season. It is wonderful to see the message spreading from mind to mind, group to group. My work here is done I do wish all of you a wonderful season and would remind you to spread the message far and wide. I have included a number of essays, lectures and articles with this e-mail that you can use freely to promote this action through your e-mail list and social networking contacts.

Visit the website at www.wearenotbuyingit.org for more information and join our completely non-corporate social network at www.wearenotbuyingit.ning.org to share information about how you are working personally to organize in your community.

Thank you for all that you have done and all that you will do in the future-together we can end the war and bring Bush and Co to justice, together we can rebuild America into a force for peace and healing throughout the world.

Happy Holidays
Lew Brown
National Coordinator

Can you imagine just saying NO?

We all know what the problems are. We all can see that protests and letters, elections and phone calls and every other form of grass roots or net roots activism has so far produced absolutely nothing, in terms of movement towards peace or impeachment.

Yet there is a tool still left that we can use and if we stand firmly together for just a little more than a month we may well be able to bring the system to its knees. Are you ready to try it? Are you prepared to REALLY strike a blow for freedom and aim at the heart of corporate control?

Since early in 2005 I have been constantly in communication with a host of economists, political scientists, psychologists, sociologists and journalists. People who have held high positions within Banking and industry have lent me their ears and offered their advice and insight. Ordinary run of the mill citizens of the world from Biloxi, Canberra, Glascow, Paris, New York and hundreds upon hundreds of communities in between have flooded me with ideas and suggestions about how to not only bring the Bush Administration to justice and end the war, but how to change the very basis of our civilization and pave the way for a new age of peace, prosperity and community for our grandchildren to inherit.

I have had some trepidation in proposing this solution and promoting it as vigorously as I could. In fact it scares me a little the potential we have together to stop the world from turning and to take back the power from those "malefactor of great wealth" who run our corporations and governments. It scares me because there is a little uncertainty in what will fill the place of the devil we know. It scares me because I, like most people, like to know what to expect. I like a sense of certainty and security but am I willing to trade not only freedom but hope for that security? My answer is no. No, because I know that the future, should we lose this fight, is characterized just as Orwell predicted, by the image of a boot stomping on a human face¡K.forever.

So what do we do?

Do Not Participate!

To paraphrase Einstein you cannot simultaneously change a corrupt system while at the same time perpetuating it. Every time we buy a product or service that profits a corporate shareholder we tighten the chains that bind us to the machine. By striking back through non-participation we weaken those chains and make it more and more difficult for those who hold the reigns of power to maintain their control.

Christmas is the key.

We all know that the Christmas season has come to mean not charity and goodwill towards all humanity, but rather a media fueled corporate feeding frenzy where our good intentions are exploited to make the rich and powerful even richer and more powerful. So this year lets simply observe an Old Fashioned Christmas. Presents may be hand made or purchased used and fixed up. We could spend more money buying locally grown food and having feasts with our family and friends rather than diving into the madness of malls and box stores. Give your time and good intentions to charity. Feed, clothe and house those who are poor and incapable of fending for themselves. Let the kindness and compassion that lies locked within you shine through and build community with neighbors you may have never even said hello to. In everything you do spread the wealth and the benefit to those who truly need it and starve the system in any way you can.

We tried this already earlier this year, and it worked. From April 15th until April 22nd I organized an across the board boycott of all corporate goods and services to promote peace and impeachment. There is a summary report and a full report available for downloading on the website at www.wearenotbuyingit.org-but here is an excerpt with the relevant news articles for your review:

"Did we have an impact in economic terms? The short answer is yes, though the economists and retailers were not aware of our campaign they did become cognizant of the effect. The following news articles illustrate that the professionals were aware of an anomaly in April, though they could only reach for explanations that they expected to account for the drop off in growth during that month. It is impossible to tell with any degree of accuracy how much of the $1.157 Billion in lost anticipated revenue was a result of the boycott, though we do know that for the week of the boycott itself (April 15th-22nd) revenues were down by approximately $740 Million. (all estimates are based on an average of retail sales over the course of the previous quarter at $350 Billion per month). This ripple in the economic waters has caused a bit of speculation in regards to the Federal Reserve's stand on interest rates and other potential moves by regulators and industry to prepare for a loss of consumer confidence.

It is that elusive phrase "consumer confidence" that provides us with the target to aim at when we consider the use of economic force in pursuit of a political or social agenda. We cannot predict with any great accuracy what the domino effect of a truly organized economic resistance would be, but we can say with some certainty that each sector of the financial world would suffer some ill effect and the majority shareholders would feel nervous enough to either change their positions drastically or, if they were aware enough of the link between the economic action and the move for impeachment and peace, encourage their political connections to negotiate and meet our demands. Bear in mind that 2/3 of the economy is based on consumer spending and any effect we have that slows the constant expansion of economic indicators, or better yet reverses that decades long trend even for a short time, will be seen as a serious threat. No matter how you slice it, even if the actual impact of this opening salvo was only half of $740 Million, that represents a significant amount of economic force wielded by only a few people."

By the time the Christmas shopping season arrives we should be able, by working together and spreading the word, to garner a far more significant number of people willing to participate in an Old Fashioned Christmas. Together we may be able to do something marvelous, something magnificent and even magical. Together we may truly be capable of unleashing the power of the true spirit of Christmas across the world. A spirit of love and peace, charity and goodwill that can sweep aside the darkness and fill our hearts and communities with light and joy.

I thank you again for the genuine human compassion that you have shown and for your desire to make a better world for the children of the future. I have included a few graphics and other tools for you to use as you see fit and I have created a public social network where we can all create a home page, share materials and generally touch base as this proposal takes wings and begins to fly. Visit us at www.wearenotbuyingit.ning.com.

Lew Brown
National Coordinator

A Time for Conscience
By Peter Phillips and Dennis Loo

We are in a time of extremism, permanent war, and unilateral power managed by a small cabal of people in the US government. These power elites have been in operation for decades and are set on nothing less than the total US military domination of the world.

In October, Congress legalized torture and stripped habeas corpus rights (the right to due process and to challenge your detention) from anyone the President deems to have "materially contributed to hostilities against the United States." This means you or anyone else could be locked up indefinitely without charges and without any legal recourse to secure release.

The UK Lancet medical journal reports that over 650,000 civilian deaths have occurred because of our invasion of Iraq. Over a quarter million of these deaths were the direct results of US aerial bombings. Nearly 3000 American service personnel have died in this war against a country that posed no threat to us. Yet the war goes on with no end in sight. How many more must die, how many more tortured, how many more imprisoned before our moral consciences wither to nothingness?

Of the 80,000 Arabs and Muslim nationals who were required to register after 911, the 8,000 brought in for FBI interviews, and the 5,000 locked up in "preventive detention," none have been convicted of a terrorist crime.

There are words to describe these terrible things: war crimes and tyranny. Yet, like 'Good Germans" we watch in the hope that the country couldn't possibly get any worse.

Many people have been trying to understand why the Democratic Party has been so futile and even worse, complicit, in the face of war crimes and tyranny. The Democrats have been given an unmistakable mandate by the November 2006 elections to get the U.S. out of Iraq and to hold the White House accountable. Yet the Democratic Party leadership continues to speak softly and admonish those who call for impeachment ¡X the people's action for wrongful government.

The Bush White House represents a convergence of two tendencies ¡X radical know-nothing religious zealotry and imperialist empire. The clamping down on the borders, the militarizing of the police and the creation of a spy state, the public-order policies that criminalize the mere presence of groups of youth, minorities, and immigrants and the repression of legitimate forms of political protest are not designed to prevent terrorism. This rapidly evolving police state is designed primarily to both repress and coerce domestic and international populations who would challenge this American Empire.

As we travel and speak on impeachment around the country the most asked question is, "what can we do?" Letter writing, protesting, organizing are all good things. However, we say it is now time for the American people to act with conscience in a larger way. Of the 100 largest economic entities in the world, 51 were transnational corporations. Wal-Mart is larger, in economic terms, than 182 countries. After 9/11 Bush told us that the best thing was to go quietly shopping. We can collectively say no to being quiet by saying no to shopping. We propose that Americans take a holiday break and stop all corporate shopping, delay major purchases, stay out of shopping malls, and avoid national chain stores. People of conscience can send a message to corporate America and Congress to end the war in Iraq and move forward immediately on the impeachment of Bush and Cheney.

The political leadership of this country has not been willing to halt the military predations of Bush and Cheney. We the people must now act in as many ways as possible. As the World Can't Wait people have said: "If not us, who? If not now, when?"

Peter Phillips is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and director of Project Censored. Dennis Loo is an Associate Professor of Sociology at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. They are co-editors of Impeach the President: The Case Against Bush and Cheney. For more on the National Shopping Boycott see: http://www.wearenotbuyingit.org

Lecture on Refusal, the Transpersonal Dimension of Progressive Action-9/21/2007
Sonoma County, California

Rev. Lew Brown

"So here we are, on the eve of destruction. Once again the human species finds itself divided and in conflict. Not even a basic sense of unity or purpose can be found among the nations of the world. On the grand scale we have the specters of war and famine, disease and untimely death stalking the ancient lands of the Middle East and mother Africa. Ignorance has been passed on from generation to generation and now we once again have billions who have grown up with erroneous assumptions about what it means to be a human being, assumptions taken at face value and codified into moral imperatives that give license to kill at will.

Once again but will it be this way forever? Will our species ever find itself at odds with its place in the natural order? Will the constructs of culture: religion, nationality, race and all of the other labels we are given that identify and diversify us ever dissolve before the light of reason, or be blown away by the warm wind of compassion?

Look. For just once look around you. If you live in the western world, so prideful of what it believes to be 'civilization' you may be able to see the truth. The awful truth that all of the efforts and intentions of the people who have come before us have led to a system of waste and corruption, that those who sought to conquer the world have left us lives of meaningless work and intractable conflict.

We are being consumed and transformed into something far removed from a human being. Our essential dignity has been stripped away in the name of the common good. Our benevolent nature and healing relationship to this planet have been obscured, obfuscated, by the false teachings of the past. Our lives, in the western world, are truly meaningless. We wake up, go to work for some corporation or the other, devote our precious life force to making somebody else rich at the expense of ourselves and our 'customers'. We marry and have children who we then raise in the same way that we were raised and who carry forward any errors we received from our teachers, parents or social leaders. We die and leave behind memories that will fade within a generation and the work we spent our lives engaged in, those innumerable days and hours of toil, the deadlines and commitments that seemed so important but leave us no legacy. To dust we return and to dust go all of our efforts.

Perhaps some sense of discomfort rises within us from time to time. Perhaps a story on the news captures our imagination and brings up feelings of fear or anger, sadness or despair. Sometimes we just try to ignore those feelings and go about our daily lives secure in the illusion of stability that surrounds us. Perhaps we react with anger and direct our outrage at whatever target we are given by those who profit richly from our control: immigrants, terrorists, child molesters, drug dealers or any other group of people that have been defined as acceptable for us to hate.

Same as it ever was. Same as it was in Rome when the empire fought the Celts. Same as it was in Egypt when an entire people were enslaved for the benefit of the Pharoh. Same as it was in Greece, same as it was in ancient Persia, same as it was in China¡Xsame as it has ever been since the ice last thawed and our people were scattered around the globe-disconnected from our roots and divorced from our heritage.

Can we not see it? Have we not the heart to understand that this life we are living is a brutal and dark shadow of the potential we possess? We, all of humanity, are bigger than this. We are bigger than nationality and religion, we are bigger than race or creed, we are more powerful than history and capable of far more than simple survival. We are the caretakers of all life on this planet and the harbingers of a true civilization. Our uncertain destiny is beyond description and the lives and natures of our great great grandchildren can be so far removed from the bestiality that we consider to be advanced that they will be as indistinguishable from us as we are from angels.

Our hearts may sometimes ache at a sense of loss that we do not understand. That pain becomes an impetus to action. Some people engage in a raging destructiveness, an orgy of vices based in hopeless selfishness and greedy lust. Some people open their heart and minds and with compassion reach out to the world with a healing intent. Perhaps they want to save the whales, perhaps the outrages of war are an anathema to them, perhaps they wish to protect the children or promote the arts. All of these actions are piecemeal and vain attempts at redressing a wrong that is not symptomatic, but rather systemic.

The disease is our way of thinking. The disease is our assumptions about what life means, what god wants and what our proper role is on earth. Men of pride have gone to great lengths to soothe their lack of esteem, they have lied and propagated their lies through the creation of innumerable religions and sects. Yes our religions are based on lies. Didn't you know that? Joseph Smith was a liar and a con man, L. Ron Hubbard made it all up, so did Paul-well he actually plagiarized most of the story-you do know that right? Why do you think that Moses or Mohammed, or Smith or Hubbard were somehow special? Do you really think that you can trust the word of a man who , unobserved, claims to have received communion from God or its representatives? Can you trust someone who uses such a story to try to gain power over a people? Do you really believe that God likes torture and pain? That any offense can give you license to engage in bestial evil? That anything can trump the edict to not kill?

There is a god. There is an amazing and beneficent force within this universe that loves us all and that exists within each unit of matter and energy. There is indeed an all seeing and all hearing intelligence that infuses the entire universe-but it is not what we have been led to believe. Shall I tell you my story of going up the mountain to receive communion? Would you believe what I tell you in regards to gods will and wishes? Can I at least tell you that it is not happy with us-but that it has hope? Shall I pull aside the veil a bit for you who have eyes to see, and you who have ears to hear? Are you ready for the reality of this incredible universe?

No. There is no prophecy to be had from me-only this one fundamentally true fact that we must all understand unless we repeat the cycle of utter destruction in the days ahead. We must free the children of the future from the chains of the past. We are called to sacrifice all that we cherish, all of our precious illusions and desperate self-interest in order to break this cycle of torment. Our leaders will not do it for us, they rule in hell because they are not fit to serve heaven.

So what do we do? What is proper action in a world that is so upside down and backwards? How can we know whether our acts are good when our basis for understanding is so corrupt?

That is the point. The entire system of global economics and governance that we are living in is false and evil. Exploitation of others forms the basis of each of our societies. Division and competition have kept us apart for millennia and as long as we continue to participate without question within our cultures we will continue to spread suffering from one generation to the next.

So what is right action? That is the wrong question. Right action is no action at all.

You must sit down and refuse to participate.

You must lay down your weapons and refuse to fight.

You must embrace your enemy and swear friendship.

You must not work for those who care for nothing but themselves.

You must not allow your needs to outweigh the future of our species.

You must teach the young the meaning of love and cooperation.

You must shame those who spread evil

Shame on the millionaires for their greed and selfishness.

Shame on the murderers in uniform who kill without question.

Shame on those who kill for "god".

Shame on those whose hearts are shriveled.

Shame on those who love power.

Shame on those who lie.

Shame on the prideful and ignorant who have floated to the top.

Refuse, resist.

Thank You."

Rev. Lew Brown

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Repost:Please comment at LTR - Liberal Talk Radio - The alternative media resource

LTR - Liberal Talk Radio - The alternative media resource
R!: "Here is the image that I can't add in response to the lack of appreciation of fart jokes with real news on the StephanieMillerShow--check out the above link for my comments on whether a "TheDailyShow" radio program would work..."

"Thanks Kurt for all the WORDS!", R!

Good NEWS! 11/6

Victor just called from the Courthouse --
He'll be flying back tonight c/o the DEA.

Ever talked to someone just released? Wow, what a joyful soul!!!

Now playing: 1480 KPHX - The Valley's Progressive Talk
via FoxyTunes

From UnreportedNews.Net November 6, 2007

"BREAKING NEWS!!! Victor Lopez will be released from prison soon. Sarge reported (and just mentioned on the Mike Malloy Show on Nova M Radio) that in a h earing today the sentence for Victor's wriiting of bad checks was commued to five years - including time served. According to Sarge, Victor should be released by Thanksgiving.
Victor's blog is featured on Unreported News.Net. You can write him now at Victor E. Lopez Reg# 07239-094 Metropolitan Detention Center - Guaynabo P.O. Box 2005 Catano, PR 00963-2005
Victor would like to thank everyone who has written him. Soon, we will have an address for Victor's attorney. He would like people to write her for doing an excellent job on his behalf - free of charge by the way. So, Victor will be free very soon.
Sarge also invited Mike to a future airing of the Unreported News.Net Radio Show with him and Victor."

via Cliff Schecter by Paddy on 11/6/07

while Mitch McConnell piddles himself.

Name Party Votes Vote %
Beshear , Steven Dem 534,895 59%
Fletcher , Ernie (i) GOP 369,484 41%

via Deep Confusion by HopeSpringsATurtle on 11/6/07
Dennis Kucinich's H.Res 333 "Articles of Impeachment Against Vice President Richard B. Cheney." Has cleared the first obstacle to becoming. Next it goes to the house judiciary committee.
After Downing Street has a live blog of the attempt to kill the bill. Impeach Cheney Now! Read the Dennis Kucinich essay on why Cheney should be impeached, contact the members of the house judiciary committee. Here are the current members who will be voting on whether it will go up to the full house for an up or down vote.
The painful truth about today's vote is more republicans voted to send this resolution to committee than democrats. Call your rep and tell them you want them to vote to impeach Cheney.

UPDATE: Okay...my take on the sudden change of heart by the rethuglicans in voting to send this resolution into committee: David Swanson's live blog of the vote opines,
"No doubt the Republicans want to get the Dem leaders on tape on the floor defending Cheney against impeachment."
Or could it be that impeachment has been off the table because the Dems are afraid the truth will come out about their complicity in the very crimes Cheney is accused of. If an investigation gets underway into Cheney's role in lying us into war, the Dems collusion will begin to show. Their constant whining, "we didn't know" will be exposed. The back room deals will come to light. The utter spinelessness of the Dems, repeatedly complained about by the American public, will suddenly make sense.
I believe the mask of connivance is slipping as demonstrated by Dianne Feinstein's vote for Mukasey. Her vote is part of the price she's paying to her master the BushCo war-mongering, war services industry which directly benefits her war-profiteering husband Richard Blum, a 75% partner in Perini Corporation. Perini is a construction company that has received nearly a billion dollars in Iraq reconstruction funds.
There are a number of theories running around the blogosphere, from The GOP is trying to embarrass the Dems, to a thug trick that backfired on them. I'm sticking to my guns. I think this is the reason dems have been so weak since they took the house.
Whatever the case, I hope the truth comes out, for the very survival of our country.
I gave my opinion to Mike Malloy and WaPo, for what it's worth."

via The Gavel by Speaker Pelosi on 11/6/07

Congress overwhelmingly overturned President Bush’s ill-advised veto of the Water Resources Development Act and reaffirmed our commitment to protect Americans from natural disasters such as floods and hurricanes. This long overdue legislation will allow for critical investments to protect communities from flooding by building and repairing floodwalls and levees, as well as restoring wetlands that absorb floodwaters.

Much of our nation’s infrastructure is outdated and in some cases crumbling, placing lives, property, and commerce at risk. The President argues that $23 billion over 15 years is too much to spend on Hurricane Katrina recovery, flood control, navigation, hurricane protection, and environmental restoration across the country. Yet we are spending almost as much on the disastrous war in Iraq every two months.

The New Direction Congress will not put our nation at continued risk so the President can mount a disingenuous bid to appear fiscally responsible. This Congress pays for the priorities of the American people. This President has not.

As Veterans Day approaches, Congress is considering legislation that would provide the greatest increase in funding for veterans programs since the Veterans Administration was created 77 years ago. "Congress is finally making great strides in the effort to keep faith with our veterans," said Senator Bernie Sanders, a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee. A bill before Congress this week represents the work of the nation's major veterans service organizations, which banded together to produce the Independent Budget for veterans programs. Their recommendations take into account many factors that affect veterans spending, including changes in the size and age of the veteran population, the rising cost of inflation and cost of living increases and trends in health care costs and delivery. Unfortunately, partisan wrangling and a veto threat from President Bush threaten to waylay the bill.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

from AM in the Morning! Bush's Veto Overridden!!! *Good News

Senate overrides Bush's water bill veto

Story Highlights

  • Senate negates veto of bill that helps Gulf Coast, Everglades, Great Lakes
  • White House says "no one is surprised that this veto was overridden"
  • Bill funds projects including the reconstruction of levees around New Orleans
  • President Bush has called the measure too costly
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Senate on Thursday handed President Bush his first veto override -- authorizing $23 billion in new water projects.

The vote was 79-14. Approval by two-thirds of the Senate, 67 members, was required for passage.

Bush spiked the measure Friday despite its overwhelming bipartisan support, calling it too costly and complaining that the 900 projects it authorized would overtax the Army Corps of Engineers.

But the House of Representatives passed it again Tuesday on a 361-54 vote -- well beyond the two-thirds margin needed for an override -- and the White House said it was resigned to seeing the bill become law.

Supporters said the projects authorized under the Water Resources Development Act are necessary to rebuild the Gulf Coast after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, restore the Everglades and Great Lakes fisheries and build flood-control projects nationwide.

They said it has been more than seven years since Congress passed a major water resources bill.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Democrat from California who was responsible for shepherding the bill through the Senate, said the Senate was sending the president a message.

"You should respect the Senate, the House, the Congress and American people because we are elected, too," Boxer said. "We are close to the people. We know what their needs are."

Florida Sens. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and Mel Martinez, a Republican, said they also decided to vote to override the veto, noting that the bill authorizes nearly $2 billion for Florida projects, most of it related to the Everglades.

"It's time for us to save one of the great natural wonders of the world," Nelson said at a news conference.

Before Thursday's vote, two senators from states hard-hit by Hurricane Katrina -- a Republican and a Democrat -- urged their peers to override the veto.

"This is about flood protection, this is about water and sewer projects, it is about doing something about water and the proper salinity in the Gulf of Mexico.

"These are good, deserved, justified projects that should go forward," said Sen. Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, whose home in Pascagoula was wiped out by the storm.

"A quarter of the state probably wouldn't even exist if we didn't have flood control projects," Lott said. Nearly every president has had trouble with water resource programs, and Bush was "just trying to hold the line on spending."

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, said the bill has overwhelming support from both sides.

Landrieu said the bill will lay a foundation for reconstruction after the storm, which killed more than 1,800 people in Louisiana and Mississippi.

The measure will fund projects including the reconstruction of levees around New Orleans, Louisiana, and closing off the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet -- a manmade channel blamed for funneling Katrina's storm surge into the city's Lower 9th Ward and neighboring St. Bernard Parish.

In his veto message, Bush complained that Congress added about $8 billion in projects to the bill in committee after each house had passed its own version. "American taxpayers should not be asked to support a pork-barrel system of federal authorization and funding where a project's merit is an afterthought," he said.

In a statement issued after Thursday's vote, the White House said,"No one is surprised that this veto was overridden."

But, White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore said in the statement, "It's obvious that the bill doesn't make difficult choices and doesn't set spending priorities. We don't believe it's a responsible way to budget."

Bush's veto of the water projects bill was the fifth veto of his presidency. All of those came in his second term, according to Senate data.


Bush has vetoed fewer bills than any president since James A. Garfield, who issued no vetoes during his seven months in office in 1881.

Congress unsuccessfully attempted to override three of the president's previous four vetoes.

Return to A.M. in the Morning! Home

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

~Alliance for a New Humanity~Care2.com "Commitment to change humanity"

"At this moment, nothing is more important for healing the world than to link all those who believe that we must set forth a new narrative and create a new world where hope, social justice, peace and a sense of the sacredness of life prevail. For this, we need to form a critical mass of humanity that influences change at a global scale, to bring together the inner streams of sensitive human beings."

That's philosophy behind the Alliance for a New Humanity, created by Deepak Chopra with other visionary leaders to unite humanity to change the world.

Watch this short and uplifting video from the Alliance for a New Humanity, narrated by Deepak!

The Alliance is a global network that inspires and connects people to be the change the world so desperately needs.

Every year the Alliance puts on a conference called The Human Forum. The 2008 offering, “A Symphony of Transformation,” will take place March 11-13 in San Jose, Costa Rica.

The forum will explore how the world is moving away from four prevailing myths that still define human relationships amongst themselves and with nature: Money brings happiness, technology yields well-being, weapons provide security and natural resources are unlimited.

Learn more about The Human Forum, 2008!
Find out more about the Alliance and how you can help.

Please add my other site to your bookmarks and consider joining Care2
http://my.care2.com/radine and if you haven't seen it yet look for TheShiftMovie -- I have a blog on it here somewhere...will update if asked...

Water Boarding : Watch for yourself. Please tell your Rep's DO NOT confirm Mukasey

Dear World Can't Wait Supporter,

Monday outside the Justice Department, on the eve of the Senate Judiciary Committee vote on the confirmation of Judge Michael Mukasey to be Attorney General, anti-torture activists put on a fully realistic display of waterboarding.

Iranian-born actor/activist Maboud Ebrahimzadeh, wearing an orange jumpsuit and hands bound, was dragged to an inclined board by interrogators dressed as "civilian contractors." When he could not give the names demanded by his interrogators, a towel was placed over his face and gallons of water were poured over his head.
Dozens of reporters and cameramen pushed forward to capture the scene. Emerging from the experience coughing and shaken, Ebrahimzadeh told reporters that it was the most terrifying experience of his life, even though a piece of plastic behind the towel protected him from the full force of the water.
Introducing the demonstration, C. Clark Kissinger pointed out that media who describe waterboarding as "simulated drowning" are themselves practicing "simulated journalism." He pointed out that waterboarding is universally understood to be torture, and the United States had even prosecuted as war criminals Japanese officers who had waterboarded U.S. prisoners of war.
Kissinger pointed out that in refusing to acknowledge that waterboarding is torture Mukasey seeks to legitimate its continuation, and when people in this country refuse to take up the fight against Mukasey and the Bush administration, they become complicit.
Director, The World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime

Monday, November 05, 2007

Ways to Make a Difference: KPHX Holiday Miss. Mission and WinterDrive for the Homeless

The Unreported News.Net Radio Show
The Unreported News.Net Radio Show - A Few Ways to Make A Difference

A Few Ways to Make a Difference
1480 KPHX Phoenix, the flagship station of the Nova M Radio, has a few projects to make a difference in Phoenix and in Mississippi.
The 2nd Annual 1480 KPHX Winter Drive for the Homeless will allow Phoenix area residents to donate new or gently used coats, blankets, sweaters and other items. Items can be donated at Nova M Radio's offices at 824 East Washington Street in Phoenix or at Associated Appliances,
4139 W. Bell, in Phoenix. Nova M Radio producer Sean Ryan will distribute the items to homeless residents in Phoenix.
Additionally, the station is sponsoring the 1480 KPHX HOLIDAY MISSISSIPPI MISSION where listeners can buy gift cards from Home Depot and send them to the Jackson County Community Services Coalition in Mississippi. Home Depot has agreed to match donations up to $3,000 and people can write JCCSC on the receipt to make a tax deductible donation from the cards mailed to or brought to the station. Follow the links for details. You can also download a copy of a promotional spot featuring Sean Ryan and Jim Yancey, executive director of the Jackson County Community Services Coalition.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Tell Your Senators "Honor the promise of helping all Katrina survivors come home!"

There's a bill in Congress that would honor the promise of helping all Katrina survivors come home. But a group of senators is standing in the way.

You can help by calling on your senators to support S.1668 now: There's a bill in Congress that would honor the promise of helping all Katrina survivors come home. http://www.colorofchange.org/housing/?id=2142-501452

The Gulf Coast Housing Recovery Act of 2007 (S.1668) would re-open desperately needed housing and make sure there is no loss of affordable public housing in New Orleans.1

Unfortunately, the Bush administration and several senators are opposing its passage, paving the way for a whiter, wealthier New Orleans and Gulf Coast.2

Can you add your voice to those calling on the Senate to pass S.1668?

Saving Affordable Housing in New Orleans
New Orleans public housing residents have been fighting for over two years to return to their homes. Many of their units were minimally damaged by the storm, but the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has shut them out. HUD plans to demolish most available public housing units and replace them with mixed-income housing.3 While there are good arguments for mixed-income housing, HUD's plan calls for far fewer total units of affordable public housing, and it completely ignores short-term housing needs. The inevitable result will be thousands of low-income residents--most of whom are Black--pushed out of the city.

S.1668 honors the right to return of all New Orleans public housing residents and takes steps to preserve affordable housing in New Orleans. It requires the re-opening of at least 3,000 public housing units and ensures that there is no net loss of units available and affordable to public housing residents. The bill quickly passed in the House earlier this year, and after thousands of ColorOfChange.org members pushed for the Senate to take action, the bill was introduced to the Senate by Senators Landrieu and Dodd. Now the bill is in danger of dying.

Last month, the Bush administration came out against the idea of reopening public housing units in New Orleans, with a HUD representative making the dubious claim that HUD "can't get people into" existing housing units because "they won't come home."4 Louisiana Senator David Vitter opposed the plan on the grounds that it would "re-create the New Orleans housing projects exactly as they were," which is simply not true.5 What no one can dispute is that the failure to provide affordable housing for low-income residents has contributed to the huge drop in the Black population in the city.6,7 Whether they'll admit it or not, opponents of S.1668 are working to reinforce this trend.

The Gulf Coast needs a housing policy that welcomes all citizens home, not just those who are wealthy, privileged, or White. The Gulf Coast Housing Recovery Act is the last great hope for New Orleans public housing residents who want to come home. But it won't pass if we don't fight for it. Please join us in demanding that your senators support S.1668.

Thank You and Peace,

-- James, Van, Clarissa, Gabriel, Mervyn, and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
November 2nd, 2007

1. S.1668 Hurricane Housing Recovery Act of 2007-- Congressional Research Service Summary
2. Feds oppose full replacement of N.O. public housing units, The Times-Picayune, 9-26-07.
3. New Orleans: HUD Policies Limiting Housing for Poor, Truthout.org, 12-29-06
4. see reference 2
5. see reference 2
6. Data confirm New Orleans' Black exodus, Los Angeles Times, 9-12-07
7. In New Orleans, Smaller May Mean Whiter, The New York Times, 1-22-06

Remember, Remember, The Fifth of November *~*~*V*~*~*

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Unfiltered Blogs

Unfiltered Blogs
The Unreported News.Net Radio Show - November 4, 2007

November 4, 2007

Unreported News.Net Radio Show logoJoin Sarge this Sunday morning on U-Haul International's The Unreported News.Net Radio Show. This week, Sarge welcomes fellow Nova M Radio host Jeff Farias and Brice Phillips of WQRZ- FM in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. They will discuss the role of media in our society, with a focus on Hurricane Katrina and recovery efforts.

Phillips served his community heroic during Katrina, but now finds his station fighting for it's very life against the FCC and groups that would rather not see him stay on air, in spite of his station saving lives during Katrina. Awards be damned, got to have corporate radio or right wing religious radio instead of live saving information. WQRZ-FM was one of four radio stations operating along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina hit, and the only one in the center of the devastated parts of the Gulf Coast.

Jeff Farias was a major force in the 2007 Mississippi Mission, and frequently talks about media issues on his program, which airs during the afternoon on 1480 KPHX Phoenix and on Nova M Radio.

The Unreported News Radio Show will air this Sunay at 8 AM Arizona time, 7 AM Pacific Time, 9 AM Central and 10 AM Eastern.

You can listen to the show live on Nova M Radio and KPHX 1480 Progressive Talk Phoenix.

You can call Sarge live at 1-800-989-1480 or 602-258-8800.

King Daevid Mackenzie will also have a special commentary during the show, and Audible Scribblings, his own half-hour show, airs one hour earlier on Nova M and KPHX Phoenix.

UnreportedNews.Net 10/30-11/2 Summary of GulfCoast and Katrina related news

November 02, 2007
Bush vetoes water bill with hurricane repair money
By JENNIFER LOVEN The Associated PressThe Times-Picayune

WASHINGTON (AP) — An increasingly confrontational President Bush on Friday vetoed a bill authorizing hundreds of popular water projects even though lawmakers can count enough votes to override him.
In doing so, Bush brushed aside significant objections from Capitol Hill, even from Republicans, in thwarting legislation that provides projects for a host of aims, including those that would repair hurricane damage, restore wetlands and prevent flooding in communities across the nation.
This level of opposition virtually assured that Bush would have a veto overridden for the first time in his presidency. He has used the veto very sparingly for most of the time he has been in office, but has made more use of it recently.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Bush's veto indicates that he's out of touch with the American people and their priorities.
"When we override this irresponsible veto, perhaps the president will finally recognize that Congress is an equal branch of government and reconsider his many other reckless veto threats," he said.
Read more in the Times-Picayune

Jindal, Louisiana lawmakers react to President Bush's veto
The Associated PressThe Times-Picayune

(AP) — Reaction from Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal, Gov. Kathleen Blanco and members of Louisiana's congressional delegation on President Bush's veto Friday of the Water Resources Development Act, or WRDA, bill. The bill would provide perhaps $7 billion for projects in the state, according to U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu's office.
_"This long overdue bill has bipartisan support in Congress and authorizes billions of dollars to help protect our state from future hurricanes and flooding. The WRDA bill will help bring funding to all corners of the state, and is critical to our state's future." — Gov.-elect Bobby Jindal, a Republican congressman who said he plans to return to Capitol Hill next week to vote to override the veto.
_"I am extremely disappointed President Bush has chosen to veto this critical legislation." — Gov. Kathleen Blanco.
_"This is the wrong bill to try to regain the mantle of fiscal responsibility." — Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., on Bush, saying the president's commitment to rebuilding the Gulf Coast from hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 "could be questioned" as a result of the veto. She pledges to vote to override the veto.
_"If the president and his administration are serious about addressing the infrastructure problems all over the country, from the Gulf Coast to the recent tragedy in Minnesota, then vetoing WRDA sends the wrong message." — U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., who says he will "enthusiastically" work to override the veto

State Farm sues Miss. attorney general over criminal probe By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN The Associated PressThe Times-Picayune

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — State Farm Insurance Cos. is suing Mississippi's attorney general for allegedly violating an agreement to end a criminal investigation of the insurer's handling of claims on the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, according to court papers unsealed Friday.
State Farm's lawsuit claims Jim Hood reopened a criminal probe of the Bloomington, Ill.-based company and its employees "for the purpose of harassment" and to coerce the insurer into settling civil litigation spawned by the Aug. 29, 2005, hurricane.
State Farm says Hood agreed in January to end his office's criminal probe as part of a settlement agreement that called for the company to reopen and possibly pay thousands of policyholder claims. The company also says it paid Hood's office $5 million to cover the costs of his investigation.
A state grand jury was hearing evidence when State Farm reached its agreement with Hood and attorneys for hundreds of State Farm policyholders. Hood has said he was probing allegations that State Farm and other insurers fraudulently denied claims.
That deal later fell apart after a federal judge refused to endorse it. However, State Farm later reached a separate agreement with Mississippi's insurance commissioner to reopen and pay claims.
Read more at the Times-Picayune

Tenants ask federal judge to stop demolition of public housing
The Associated Press The Times-Picayune
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — In the latest move to save the aging brick complexes that make up New Orleans public housing, former residents on Friday asked a federal judge to halt any demolition plans by the Housing Authority of New Orleans.
Residents of the sprawling complexes prior to Hurricane Katrina, filed a federal lawsuit in June, days after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced it would tear down the city's four largest developments: St. Bernard, Lafitte, B.W. Cooper and C.J. Peete.
Only Cooper has re-opened to some residents. All four, however, will eventually be torn down and replaced with "mixed income" neighborhoods.
Without court intervention, HUD and HANO will be free to destroy much needed housing and leave displaced New Orleanians stranded hundreds of miles from home," said Judith Browne-Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project, which is helping represent public housing tenants in the lawsuit filed in June.
U.S. District Court Judge Ivan Lemelle has ruled that only certain tenants may sue as a class against HANO — those who have been forced to pay utility bills while living in private market apartments, an expense not placed on public housing tenants before the storm. But the plaintiffs lawyers, led by Loyola Law School professor Bill Quigley, haven't backed down from trying to stop HANO's redevelopment plans.
Read more at the Times-Picayune

Rev. Jackson seeks Congressional probe into CCC bridge blockade
Posted by West Bank bureau The Times-Picayune

The Rev. Jesse Jackson is seeking a Congressional hearing on the police blockade that kept evacuees fleeing New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina from crossing the Crescent City Connection.
Jackson's call came one day after an Orleans Parish grand jury refused to indict a Gretna police officer for firing a shotgun in the air as evacuees attempted to cross. Gretna police along with deputies from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office and Crescent City Connection police officers decided to close the bridge Sept. 1, 2005 amid the chaos in New Orleans and a fire that looters set at Oakwood Center in Terrytown.
The grand jury's action Wednesday essentially ended the criminal case in New Orleans.
On Thursday, Jackson, founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, said that federal funding to Louisiana should be stopped "until officials can ensure freedom of movement.''
"The Crescent City Connection is a state bridge and was built with federal funds,'' Jackson said. "The Gretna Police Department did not have the authority to barricade the bridge and prevent citizens from seeking safe ground.''
Read more in the Times-Picayune

Hope after Katrina: Gulf Civic Works bill introduced
By Chris Kromm Facing South

One of the biggest problems in the post-Katrina recovery that we found in our recent report, Blueprint for Gulf Renewal, was jobs. According to Institute analysis, there are still about 100,000 fewer jobs in the Gulf than there was pre-Katrina -- a major barrier to families trying to get home. What's more, many of the rebuilding jobs are unstable and low-paying.
It wouldn't be hard to tackle the problem. As we've mentioned before, a Gulf Coast Civic Works program could quickly put 100,000 people to work rebuilding their communities at a living wage. All for not a lot of money -- less than $4 billion, half what we spend in Iraq every month.
That's why it's encouraging to see the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act introduced by Reps Zoe Lofgren (CA), Charlie Melancon (LA) and Gene Taylor (MS)in Congress. Here's the announcement from ACORN, the RFK Memorial and Scott Meyers-Lipton, a tireless advocate of the Civic Works idea (visit his site here):
This legislation would create stronger and more equitable communities by funding and implementing critical infrastructure projects, directly creating 100,000 jobs for displaced and current residents. The bill creates partnerships to rebuild neighborhoods across the region devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, including Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
“Communities across the Gulf Coast suffer from crumbling roads and water systems, ill constructed flood protection, and closed police stations, fire house, schools and hospitals,” says Stephen Bradberry, head state organizer of ACORN Louisiana, the region’s largest association of low and middle income families. “We have an opportunity to jumpstart the recovery by empowering communities with the resources they need to lead.”
Read more at Facing South

Hurricane Noel to dump rain along East Coast
Caribbean death toll rises to 124; storm deadliest in Atlantic for 2007
Associated Press MSNBC

NASSAU, Bahamas - Hurricane Noel, the deadliest storm to hit the Atlantic this year, paralleled the U.S. coast on Friday, losing strength as it headed north toward Nova Scotia.
Noel slammed the Caribbean earlier this week with heavy rains that caused flooding and mudslides, leaving 124 dead, officials said.
After drenching the Bahamas and Cuba on Thursday, the Category 1 hurricane’s sustained winds were at 80 mph on Friday and its center was about 425 miles south of Cape Hatteras, N.C., the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said. Noel is moving to the north-northeast at about 17 mph but was expected to pick up speed.
Jack Beven, a hurricane specialist at the center, said Friday that “we don’t expect the center to cross the U.S. coast. The track would take the center of the system over Nova Scotia.”
But Beven also noted that the storm “is going to increase rather significantly in size” and that its effects would be felt in the U.S. Forecasters say 2 to 4 inches of rain could fall in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, while isolated areas of New England might see 6 inches.
Read more at MSNBC

Mexican region at least 80 percent submerged
Thousands stranded on rooftops or in homes; president pledges to rebuild
Associated Press MSNBC

VILLAHERMOSA, Mexico - Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans fled a flooded region of the Gulf Coast Friday, jumping from rooftops into rescue helicopters, scrambling into boats or swimming out through murky brown water.
President Felipe Calderon called the flooding in Tabasco state one of Mexico’s worst recent natural disasters and pledged to rebuild.
A week of heavy rains caused rivers to overflow, drowning at least 80 percent of the oil-rich state. Much of the state capital, Villahermosa, looked like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, with water reaching to second-story rooftops and desperate people awaiting rescue.
At least one death was reported, and nearly all services, including drinking water and public transportation, were shut down. The flood affected more than 900,000 people in the state of 2 million — their homes flooded, damaged or cut off by high water.
A 10-inch natural gas pipeline sprang a leak after flooding apparently washed away soil underneath it, but it was unclear if other facilities operated by the state-run Petroleos Mexicanos were damaged or if oil production was affected. Read more at MSNBC

November 01, 2007
So much more than a bridge
By STAN TINER The SunHerald

It's just a bridge, isn't it?
Like any other bridge, a man-made physical structure. Conceived in someone's mind, put on paper with specifications, renderings and the like, beginning at point A and ending at point B.
Oh, you may speak of the blood, the toil and the tears that are a part of the alchemy of such a thing, but in the end it is a man-made object intended to transport cars and trucks and motorcycles and the people who drive them, and their passengers, over a particular body of water to destinations they have chosen. That is the way of humankind; we are captains of our universe, determined to overcome the impediments to our own inconvenience in such ways as the bridge provides.
We enjoy the sense of dominion these edifices provide.
So for all of those years before Katrina we drove across the bridge that spanned Biloxi Bay almost oblivious, even indifferent, to its physical presence, noticing it only occasionally when it opened its jaws wide to allow a boat to pass, slowing the rush of life to a standstill, requiring us to stop and to rest above the tranquil bay, perhaps to spy a gull or a fisherman and to envy their freedom. Read more at the SunHerald

November 01, 2007
Gulf Coast marks milestone in Katrina recovery with opening of bridge to Mississippi's casinos
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN Associated Press Writer The SunHerald

BILOXI, Miss. --Two years ago, cities on the opposite sides of Biloxi Bay clashed over blueprints for a wider, taller bridge to replace a highway span demolished by Hurricane Katrina's storm surge.
Those divisions were an afterthought for the thousands of Gulf Coast residents celebrating the partial opening of the six-lane bridge between Biloxi and Ocean Springs. The new 1.6-mile bridge, which opened to the public early evening Thursday, restores the last broken link in coastal U.S. 90, a landmark in the region's recovery from the Aug. 29, 2005, hurricane.
"Water under the bridge," Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway said of his disagreement with his Ocean Springs counterpart, Connie Moran.
Two of the bridge's six lanes opened following a daylong celebration at both ends of the $338 million structure. The span reconnects the casino resorts of Biloxi with the quaint shops and tree-lined streets of Ocean Springs, on the eastern side of the bay.
In Katrina's early aftermath, the size of the new bridge was a sore spot for some in Ocean Springs. Moran had pressed the state to limit the bridge to four lanes - the same number as on the drawbridge that Katrina reduced to mounds of concrete and pilings.
Moran, an advocate of the "New Urbanism" architectural movement's emphasis on creating compact, walkable cities, said she feared that a bigger, wider bridge would turn her city's center into an expressway.

November 01, 2007
Gulf Watch: Criminal Justice Meltdown in New Orleans?
By Bill Quigley, Guest Contributor Facing South

We are faced with the daily reality of an imminent collapse of our criminal justice institutions." -- New Orleans Police Chief Warren Riley
NEW ORLEANS -- Some say crime causes a city to be under siege; others say crime is the symptom of a city under siege. Either way, New Orleans is in serious trouble. Our criminal justice system is in unprecedented crisis.
Thursday there were four murders in 24 hours in New Orleans. Over the weekend three more people died from gunshots. So far this year, 170 people have been murdered in New Orleans -- a rate seven times the national average.
The District Attorney of New Orleans just resigned at the insistence of the Mayor, the Attorney General and several legislators. His office owes a group of discharged employees a federal civil rights judgment of over $3 million -- and neither the City nor State was willing to pay unless he resigned. There is high turnover in the office and thousands of people arrested have been released because the office could not timely decide whether to charge them with crimes or not. His resignation will not make New Orleans any safer.
Katrina severely damaged an already dysfunctional criminal justice in New Orleans. In fact, what has occurred and is happening now in New Orleans is really neither "justice" nor a "system."
Before Katrina, New Orleans averaged 1,000 violent crimes each quarter. In the second quarter of 2007, New Orleans reported over 1,300 violent crimes -- despite the fact that not many more than half the people of New Orleans are back. Read more at Facing South

October 30, 2007
Study: Most students in South are poor
By Halimah Abdullah McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — For the first time in more than 40 years, the majority of children in public schools in the South are poor, according to a report released Tuesday.
In 11 Southern states, including Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida, a significant increase in the number of poor children attending public school has sent district officials scurrying for solutions on how to best educate kids who are coming from economically disadvantaged homes.
"The future of the South's ability to have an educated population is going to depend on how well we can improve these students' education," said Steve Suitts, a program coordinator with the Atlanta-based Southern Education Foundation, a non-profit organization that focuses on Southern educational issues and conducted the study.
In places like Memphis, where roughly 80 percent of students come from low-income homes, that has meant adopting models that address teaching children in poverty. In Miami-Dade, where 61 percent of students are on free or reduced-price lunch, that has meant strengthening efforts to improve all students' math and reading scores and curb dropout rates.
"The reason this presents a profound challenge for us is that low-income students as a group begin school least ready," Suitts said. "They are the students most likely to drop out of school. They perform at the lowest levels on tests that decide graduation and advancement. They have the least access to college." Read more in the McClatchy Newspapers

Posted by Will in Chicago