[It may not happen next year. But it will certainly happen within ten. It may not be called secession. It may also be called fragmentation, Balkanization, or a mandatory breakup into ten regions under FEMA that will have many unintended consequences and may not be controllable. As Peak Oil hits, as globalization dies a slow death behind soaring fuel costs, as the US government becomes increasingly and progressively ineffective at managing America, and especially as food production and industry refocus along local lines, some form of secession -- as Richard Heinberg here suggests -- is inevitable.
Already I have heard passing conversations from California north to Seattle describing the region as Cascadia. It may not have reached mainstream news yet, but since when has that meant anything relevant to us? The breakup of the United States in one way or another will be an inevitable outgrowth of the relocalization dictated by survival needs as planet earth plunges off the Peak Oil and climate collapse cliffs. – MCR]
Katrina, New Orleans, and Peak Oil
by Richard Heinberg
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
Like just about everyone else, I was transfixed by news reports from New Orleans and the Gulf coast of Mississippi and Alabama last week. My wife Janet grew up in New Orleans, most of her family members still live there (to the degree that anyone can for the moment say they live in the Big Easy), and we visit the city every year. The scenes were heart-wrenching and mind-boggling: an entire modern American metropolis had effectively ceased to exist as an organized society. The tens of thousands of survivors who had been unable or unwilling to evacuate prior to the storm were utterly helpless as they awaited rescue from the outside, some of them reduced to looting stores to obtain food and other necessities, a few even joining armed gangs.
Soon the Internet began pulsing with stories of how the Bush administration had exacerbated the tragedy by encouraging the destruction of wetlands and barrier islands, by appointing FEMA heads with no experience in disaster management, by focusing the agency’s resources on counter-terrorism rather than disaster relief, by refusing funds for upgrading New Orleans’ levees, and so on. By the end of the week, mainstream media had begun picking up on some of these stories.
However, when it came to reporting on the damage to oil production and refining facilities, most media outlets took at face value the glib and non-specific assurances of the petroleum industry that damage was relatively minor and temporary. Meanwhile, however, one report, allegedly from an unnamed industry insider, described at least 20 oil platforms as missing and presumed sunk, with others drifting, having sustained serious damage. Port Fourchon, the hub for oil and gas production in the gulf, likewise appears severely damaged, according to this source, along with the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), which is the only port in the nation designed to receive supertankers. In addition, most of the region’s refineries were closed, with some likely to be shut down for many weeks or months.
Whether or not this description exaggerates the damage, repair efforts will be hindered by the lack of a nearby functioning port or city from which to base operations.
And all of this is occurring at a time when the global supply of oil is barely able to meet demand. Indeed, many petroleum analysts were already looking to the fourth quarter of 2005 as the likely moment of the all-time world oil production peak.
The head of International Energy Agency forecast on Saturday that Hurricane Katrina could spark a worldwide energy crisis. “If the crisis affects oil products then it’s a worldwide crisis. No one should think this will be limited to the United States,” Claude Mandil told the German daily Die Welt. That same day, 26 nations—including the United States—agreed to release 60 million barrels of oil, gasoline, and other petroleum products from their emergency reserves over the next 30 days. This nearly unprecedented move (the IEA also opened its taps during the first Gulf War) was surely a measure of the seriousness with which national leaders viewed the problem.
While the bringing to market of a few tens of millions of barrels of stored oil and gasoline may temporarily calm speculators and thus prevent dramatic price spikes, it cannot balance the global supply-and-demand equation for more than a few weeks (the world uses 84 million barrels of oil each day, after all). And once these stores are gone, few nations will have any cushion in the event of other supply threats. Hence Katrina may mark the beginning of the inevitable unraveling of the petroleum-based industrial world system.
The United States is the center of that system. Think of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast as a gaping wound in the national body. Organisms need a steady flow of energy in order to maintain their ordered existence; a wound is like an intrusion of entropy within the system. When wounded, the body essentially takes energy away from other parts of itself to restore order at the site of injury. In ordinary times, nations as “organisms” do this very well. But in this case the timing is bad, as energy is scarce anyway (the wound was incurred at the onset of what will soon become a global energy famine); the nation has already been hemorrhaging materiel and trained personnel in Iraq for three years; and the site of the wound couldn’t be worse: it is in the part of the national body through which much of its energy enters (the region is home to half the nation’s refining capacity and almost 30% of production). Thus it seems likely that the available energy may not be sufficient to overcome the entropy that has been introduced; rather than being contained and eliminated, disorder may fester and spread.
New Orleans will be rebuilt. It must be: the nation needs a port at the mouth of the Mississippi, and the port needs a city to support and service it. It is one of the few US cities with character and charm, and people will desperately want to return to their homes. The only event likely to prevent rebuilding would be another strong hurricane hitting Louisiana later this season. However, rebuilding will proceed in the context of a national economy that is crippled and perhaps mortally wounded, and a global complex system of production and trade that is starting to lose its battle against entropy.
During the week of the disaster a mass-mailed letter arrived in my box, obviously composed and sent prior to Katrina (at the time it arrived, I was in Guatemala—one of the many beautiful and resource-rich but fiscally poor Latin American nations still run by remote control from Langley, Virginia). The letter was from the Middlebury Institute, which “hopes to foster a national movement in the United States” that will “place secession on the national political agenda; develop secessionist and separatist movements here and abroad; . . . create a body of scholarship to examine and promote the ideas of separatism; and work carefully and thoughtfully for the ultimate task, the peaceful dissolution of the American Empire.” The authors, Kirkpatrick Sale and Thomas Naylor, note that “the national government has shown itself to be clumsy, unresponsive, and unaccountable in so many ways” that “power should be concentrated at lower levels.” They also point out that “the separatist/independence movement is the most important and widespread political force in the world today,” with the United Nations having grown from 51 nations in 1945 to 193 nations in 2004.
How long can the center hold?
Please visit or subscribe to Richard Heinberg's Museletter for more analysis and responses to Peak Oil.
[The “S” word, secession, raises its head yet again. – MCR]
Crossing the Rubicon: An Interview with Michael Ruppert
Written by Rob Williams
Tuesday, 13 September 2005
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
Most people I know have some intuitive sense that the stories told about the way the world works in our culture of daily "news" (and I use the term loosely) are suspect. The real stories about power and the ways power is exercised lie buried beneath the surface. But how deep, to quote The Matrix’s Morpheus, does this rabbit hole go? For those willing to crawl down the hole, U.S. investigative journalism has its own Morpheus, and his name is Michael Ruppert.
A UCLA political science honors graduate and former LAPD narcotics investigator, Ruppert is the editor/publisher of From the Wilderness (www.fromthewilderness.com), a monthly newsletter now read by more than 16,000 subscribers in forty countries, including forty Congressmen, both Houses’ intelligence committees, and professors at more than thirty universities around the world. He is also author of a new and startling book called Crossing the Rubicon, in which he draws on From the Wilderness’s seven years of research to tell a disturbing story about the way the world really works.
What Ruppert shares is not for the faint of heart. He asserts, as other researchers have, that key members within the U.S. intelligence community and the Bush administration helped engineer the 9/11 terrorist attack in order to build U.S. public support for a military invasion and occupation of the greater Middle East. But Ruppert goes way beyond 9/11, arguing that the U.S. economy, built on an unsustainable "growth through debt" model and fed by more than $500 billion a year of laundered C.I.A.-controlled global drug money, is about to crash. Beyond the obvious—massive consumer debt, tremendously high levels of federal borrowing and spending, and spectacular corruption (more than $4 trillion have gone missing from the U.S. Treasury)—lies the specter of "Peak Oil."
What dire news could possibly motivate any political official to consider supporting terrorist attacks on our native soil? The concept of Peak Oil, simply stated, suggests such a terrifying prospect: the planet is rapidly running out of hydrocarbon energy resources. Using geologist M. King Hubbert’s statistical model, which accurately predicted to within one year the coming of Peak Oil in the United States (1970), members of the world’s geological community argue that the world has now reached Peak Oil; less than 50 percent of the globe’s fossil fuel energy remains, and these hydrocarbon resources are the most inaccessible and expensive to locate, extract, refine, and transport to market.
For a world economy powered, literally, by fossil fuel energy, this is sobering news. Our food and clothes are produced with oil (for every calorie of food Americans eat, we burn 20 calories of the stuff); most of the world’s 600 million internal combustion engines run on oil, and the energy to power our home and businesses are sustained on the black gold. No combination of alternative energy sources—nuclear, coal, wind, water, solar, geothermal, hydrogen—come close to matching the ubiquity of oil and natural gas. Pull fossil-fuel energy out of the equation, and our global economy will collapse. Trillions of dollars will evaporate. Billions of people will starve. Many more millions will experience "severe dislocation." How’s that for a euphemism?
Despite mounting evidence on a wide variety of fronts, Americans are in denial about Peak Oil’s impact, and our political leaders, for the most part, have refused to acknowledge the gravity of our situation. "The apparent crisis is about terrorism," summarizes Ruppert. "The real crisis is about energy scarcity." The crisis of Peak Oil, Ruppert suggests, explains why the U.S. government is willing to engage in global drug trading and money laundering to fund illegal covert operations around the globe, to spy on its own citizens, to undermine Constitutional freedoms, and to support attacks by terrorists like Osama bin Laden (himself a CIA intelligence asset). The result? The U.S. government has created a "War on Terror" to justify spending 1 billion a week fighting simultaneous wars ("a war that will not end in our lifetimes," as Dick Cheney says) in Afghanistan and Iraq, two countries central to strategic control of the world’s remaining energy reserves. Trillions of dollars and billions of lives are at stake, and instead of developing alternatives to our fossil-fuel powered way of life, our federal government is squandering what remaining time, energy, and money we have to solve the Peak Oil dilemma by choosing to fight expensive and bloody foreign wars around the globe.
Perhaps Dick Cheney said it best when he stated that "the American way of life is not negotiable." But what about Vermont? Are we willing to work to find solutions? I talked with Michael Ruppert about Peak Oil, 9/11, and Vermont independence.
RW: In Crossing the Rubicon, you provide a book’s worth of evidence to suggest that key players within the Bush administration helped engineer the 9/11 terrorist attacks to provide a pretext for securing the globe’s remaining fossil-fuel energy reserves. What evidence has emerged since your book’s publication that further bolsters this argument?
MR: I think we’ve seen evidence emerging on two fronts. The first is oil and energy: Peak Oil is extremely real and threatening, and it’s more imminent than most people thought. We are looking at serious major energy shortages this year, earlier than we anticipated, and the oil production numbers continue to perform as we thought they would, with decreasing supply, increasing demand, and rising prices.
Secondly, on the military front, we’ve seen retrenchment, globally, in terms of the world’s support of Iran in anticipation of a possible U.S. military occupation of that country, which I don’t think will happen. The world needs Iranian oil; China has invested $200 billion in Iran, India has invested $40 billion, and Germany has invested $8 billion. The rest of the world is making it very clear to the U.S. that we will not be allowed access to Iranian oil, at least, not without a big fight.
We’re also, by the way, seeing plans emerging to balkanize Iraq—suggestions to carve up Iraq into oil-rich and oil-poor regions; with the U.S. controlling oil-rich regions and making occupation that much more affordable, at least in the short term.
RW: You recently suggested that the "window of opportunity" has closed, as far as using emerging truths about the Bush administration’s complicity in 9/11 to bring about political reform. Speak more about this.
MR: With the 2004 presidential election and the 2005 inauguration of Mr. Bush, any window has closed. The 9/11 Commission and Congress have conducted all of their hearings, and the political and legal will to address the truth about 9/11 has evaporated. 9/11 has become history. To focus on 9/11 is a waste of energy.
RW: What of the "9/11 Truth" community?
MR: I appreciate any efforts to educate people about the truths regarding 9/11. I also see the 9/11 Truth community as fragmented, well-intentioned, and politically naïve, sometimes belligerently so. Teaching the truth about 9/11 for historical purposes is important, but to make it the primary focus of our educational efforts right now is a waste of time, with the reality of Peak Oil on the horizon.
RW: In Rubicon, you note that eminent geologist M. King Hubbert’s prediction about the U.S. reaching Peak Oil in 1970 were dead on. Have we reached Peak Oil globally? What evidence is there to bolster this claim?
MR: We will never know for certain until we see Peak Oil in the rearview mirror. Rapid decline of major oil fields indicates that our predictions are much more accurate and more serious than we anticipated.
RW: The British news magazine The Economist recently did a feature issue on oil in which they referred to Colin Campbell and Matthew Simmons, two researchers whose evidence you cite in Rubicon, as "petro-pessimists" who paint a far-too-urgent picture regarding Peak Oil. Your response?
MR: Here we are two months after The Economist published that issue, and our predictions seem dead on. Remember, The Economist has a vested interest in maintaining existing markets as long as possible, and that includes reporting on stories in a way that benefits the status quo.
RW: What concrete steps can all of us take to prepare for Peak Oil?
MR: Peak Oil is here, and will turn out to be the single most important event in human civilization. The subsequent energy shortfall will take us back to a carrying capacity of two billion people. It won’t be pretty. There will be survivors, who will figure out how to manage through place-based local cooperative efforts. I’m beginning to see this all over the country. The question is: Can people organize themselves in time?
RW: You’ve suggested, in your writings and talks, that American political culture is more and more resembling fascism. What recent evidence do you see?
MR: The list of things happening within the U.S. is truly frightening, in terms of both volume and speed. Congress is moving to throw out the 22nd Amendment, which imposes a two-term limit on sitting presidents; the FBI can now issue its own subpoenas, without court involvement; It has just been proposed that U.S. military intelligence should work with local law enforcement agencies to weaken "posse comitatus"; Congressman James Sensebrenner has now introduced legislation—HR 1528—to impose a mandatory five-year prison sentence for failing to inform on family members or friends guilty of marijuana possession or minor drug use; I predict we will soon see a national draft, and Canada will not harbor U.S. deserters as it did during Vietnam, as it is now a virtual U.S. colony. The list goes on and on.
RW: Paint a picture of our near-term future.
MR: We’ll see major blackouts, the dollar will collapse, we’ll experience massive unemployment, the housing market will tank, and there will be a national "fire sale" as people and businesses are stripped of their assets. My best financial advice, acknowledging that there is no "one size fits all" plan, is to stay liquid, get out of debt while you still can, and decide if your most valuable assets, including your own home, are worth hanging on to. If your home is on a few acres with running water and rich soil, then sit on it. If it’s a condo in downtown Manhattan, you might consider moving.
RW: What are your thoughts regarding Vermont independence and secession—the voluntary breakup of U.S. Empire through peaceful and cooperative means?
MR: The U.S. Empire will tank one way or another. I love Vermont, and have some old friends there. Any project that encourages cooperative efforts to reinvent some of our most basic and fundamental social and political policies around energy, agriculture, money, etc., is the best hope we have.
Historian, media educator, and musician Rob Williams works with the Action Coalition for Media Education (ACME at http://www.acmecoalition.org) and Vermont Commons (www.vtcommons.org). Read, listen to and watch at www.robwilliamsmedia.com.
Rep McKinney Special Order Censored?
By Rep Cynthia McKinney
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
House of Representatives - September 08, 2005
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The SPEAKER pro tempore (Miss McMorris). Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 4, 2005, the gentlewoman from Georgia (Ms. McKinney) is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the minority leader.
Ms. McKINNEY. Madam Speaker, I have got a lot of papers and a lot of posters. One hour will in no way accommodate all that needs to be said tonight about the tremendous challenges that face our country today, including how we conduct ourselves in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
While my remarks tonight in no way should be construed as encompassing all of my thoughts on the very important issues that I discuss tonight, just mark this down as a start.
First, let me say that I am especially proud of the way the people of my district and of this country have wrapped their arms around the victims of Hurricane Katrina. At this time, we have a healthy contingent of expert Georgians in the traumatized gulf States, and we have received thousands of Katrina's victims into our cities, churches, and homes.
I have come to this floor on many occasions. People around the world have commented on how shocked they are to see such poverty in America. While cities and localities pass anti-panhandling measures that criminalize begging tourists and visitors in downtown areas asking for help, Hurricane Katrina washed away America's veneer of populist opportunity, a country that has overcome its racist, slave-holding past, a country ready for world dominion because it has learned how to uplift the human spirit at home.
Katrina, in images as stark and undeniable as could be, has laid bare the Republican lie that its policies promote growth and prosperity for all Americans and leave no child behind, while Katrina put into our living rooms and the world's living rooms the cruel hoax that has been played on America and those who love America by the ruthless sybaritic power player elites who are as responsible for the conditions endured by too many Americans as they are for the embarrassing and breathtaking incompetencies we all witnessed just before Labor Day.
Almost 30,000 New Orleans households live on less than $10,000 per year. More babies and young kids are going hungry in our country. Eleven percent of our families experienced hunger in 2003. One million more Americans are living in poverty today than there were 1 year ago. Income distribution has become obscenely skewed toward the rich during the Bush years. In Manhattan, the poor make two cents for each dollar that the rich make. This places Manhattan on par with Namibia for income disparity.
Interestingly, in the financial capital of the world, New York City, the Bronx is the poorest urban county in the country, and New York State is being depleted of its middle class.
America is being depleted of its middle class. Over 50 percent of America's income goes to the top 20 percent of households. With even more tax cuts for the wealthy on the horizon, coupled with real budget cuts for the programs that are forced to take care of more and more Americans, the situation can only be expected to get worse, sadly.
Incomes for 95 percent of American households are flat or falling. Only the top 5 percent are experiencing the growth that we hear the Republicans talk about.
Now, I have got tons of documentation to offer for all of the statistics that we cite, but let me take a moment and reiterate where we are for all the people who are listening tonight.
Let me recall for just a moment the America they might not know but that more of us are coming all too well to know.
I will start with this poster, which depicts a black man hanging from a tree. The caption says "The body of Robert McNair is seen here as residents and schoolchildren in the Georgetown community saw it between about 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. last Thursday.'' This was on the front page of the Jackson, Mississippi, Advocate the week of October 23 to 29 when I was in Mississippi for a speaking engagement. This was what I saw.
Sadly, it is what the children in the neighborhood saw, a black man hanging from a tree. A lynching. That is 2003. I am not talking about 1903. This is 2003. Sadly, in 2005, we have two lynchings being investigated in the State of Georgia, my home State, and both of them are supposed to have been suicides. In this story it was reported that this poor Mr. Robert McNair committed suicide, hanging from a tree.
When I come to the floor and do these monthly talks, some way or other we get around to the state of black America because it is important for us to understand that there are many Americans, and some of those Americans we do not see and we do not know. But we need to know how all Americans live so that we can make sure that no American is left behind.
On some indices, even today, it is true that the racial disparities are worse today than they were at the time of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. People would say it is not true, but, alas, it is true. And, of course, the statistics document that sad truth. United for a Fair Economy gives us these statistics in its State of the Dream report on imprisonment. To close the racial gap, it will take 190 years just so that black people are imprisoned for the same crime at the same rate as white people are imprisoned.
What about poverty? We saw a lot of that. Overall poverty, the racial disparity, 150 years to close the gap. Why does that have to be? At the slow rate that the black-white poverty gap has been narrowing since 1968, it would take 150 years to close the gap.
What about child poverty? Two hundred ten years to close the gap. Almost one-third of black children live in poverty. The child poverty gap would take 210 years to disappear, not reaching parity until 2212.
I would like to thank the National Council for La Raza that provided us with these statistics, the proportion of children without health insurance in the United States, home ownership rates. Look and you can see the proportion of children without health insurance in the United States. Look at the Hispanic figures. Look at that. Twenty-five percent of young Latino children do not have health insurance in this country.
What about home ownership rates, because we hear a lot of talk about the growth economy, and the Republicans and the President talk about promoting home ownership, home ownership, the first tier toward building wealth, okay? Well, if you are lucky enough to be able to own a home, sadly black and Hispanic home ownership rates are low. How low? To close the home ownership gap, the disparity between white home ownership and black home ownership, the first tier toward wealth building, it will take 1,664 years to close the home ownership gap.
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This is something that so many Americans take for granted. Yet so many Americans still have a dream for home ownership.
Now, what about income? It will take 581 years for us to close the per capita income gap. Since 1968, we have only been able to close the gap 2 cents. Black people make 55 cents for every dollar. That was in 1968. In 2001, it was 57 cents. Two cents, so 581 years to close the gap.
When some people start talking about how we want to build, rebuild, and provide for folks, that is what this Congress is supposed to do. We should build lives, we should build communities, build neighborhoods, and protect our people.
When it comes to the economic conditions that are prevailing for so many Americans, it is almost a joke. Here is a cartoon from the Washington Post. This is the sybaritic power player who is pulling the strings behind the scene, calling the shots, dictating politics and policy; and he is saying, "It is not trickle down economics. We got the plumbing fixed.'' Here is the poor little fella down here, little panhandler trying to wait to get some of the stuff that is trickling down, and it is not trickling down any more.
Poverty is up. Median income down. That is the result of the policies of the Bush administration since 2001.
What about all these tax cuts? New Orleans has got a lot of attention now because of what has happened, and we hear and we will hear some of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle suggesting that we need to do more tax cuts. Well, the faces of the people that came into our living rooms from Hurricane Katrina got this much from George Bush's tax cuts. But if you happened to make over $200,000 a year, you got this much from George Bush's tax cuts.
It is so clear that the administration wants to serve some of the people all of the time and fool the rest of us all of the time. The tax cuts, we should not hear another word uttered about the need for more of the kind of tax cuts that the Bush administration has given us thus far. This insensitive policymaking that ends up hurting real people leads to a kind of callousness within our society that we do not recognize sometimes, that we do not notice sometimes.
It is easy to pass an anti-panhandling ordinance in the city of Atlanta because we do not feel the pain of the people who do not eat at night. So it is also easy to demonize people. It is easy to demonize people that you do not know.
This made it around the Internet until Agence France-Presse pulled their photo off. But how is it that we can have a media in this country displaying one young man wading through that putrid water and the American press, the Associated Press, says that he is "looting.'' Then you have two people who are obviously not black and they are "finding.'' This young man, according to the Associated Press, walks through chest-deep floodwater after "looting'' a grocery store. Two residents wade through chest-deep water after "finding'' bread and soda.
This is the America of those statistics. This is the America that all Americans need to know and see. This is the America that too many of us have borne the brunt of generation after generation after generation after generation.
And then, they called them "refugees.'' Some bright light in the media came up with that one to further dehumanize poor black people in New Orleans. I had some New Orleans residents in my congressional office in Georgia who said that they had never, ever thought that they would be called refugees in their own country. Other insensitive language just shows how totally out of touch the leadership of this country is with the American people.
While the city was still flooding, Speaker Hastert suggested that New Orleans should not be rebuilt.
As the mostly black people were herded into what looked like concentration camps, Barbara Bush suggested that they were really better off now than they were before. Well, maybe she has got something there, because it took losing an entire city for the "compassionate conservatives'' in Washington, D.C., to finally get some compassion in the laws they pass, in the policies they enact, in what they do around here.
And you can imagine my surprise to hear the very people who chose not to adequately fund education, health care, affordable housing, now saying we have got to have Pell grants, Section 8 vouchers, schooling for children. It is what some of us have been saying all along.
Now, you can just about bet your bottom dollar that the Karl Rove spin machine is working overtime to whitewash the Bush administration preparations for the response to Katrina. Let us remember as we go through this that the State and local responders were victims too. That is why it is critical that the feds act. But they did not act, notwithstanding anything that comes out of the spin machine.
Kathleen Blanco, the governor of Louisiana said, "We wanted soldiers, helicopters, food and water. They wanted to negotiate an organizational chart.'' This is from the New York Times. "Far from deferring to State or local officials, FEMA asserted its authority and made things worse,'' according to Mr. Broussard, and I will talk about him a little bit later, who complained on Meet the Press.
Mayor Nagin said, "The root of the breakdown was the failure of the Federal Government to deliver relief supplies and personnel quickly. They kept promising and saying things would happen. I was getting excited and telling people that. They kept making promises and promises.''
MSNBC informs us that FEMA Director Michael Brown waited 5 hours after the storm's landfall to get agency assistance, to get agency aid from the Department of Homeland Security.
Now, another thing that we need to know about, there are so many things that our government does in our name with our tax dollars, on our behalf supposedly, that we do not know about. The Bush administration has opened up these biodefense labs all over the country. In about 20, 25 universities around the country we have got biodefense labs studying I do not know what.
I can remember the Tuskegee Study. I remember MK-Ultra as an African American. I remember Paul Robeson. But Tulane University is under water, and Tulane University houses one of these biodefense labs. We need to know what the heck was in that lab, what was going on in that biodefense lab.
Some of the headlines. Notwithstanding what you may hear from the other side of the aisle or coming out of the White House about how everyone has to share the blame, these are some of the headlines.
"FEMA won't accept Amtrak's help in evacuations.''
"FEMA turns away experienced firefighters.''
"FEMA turns back Wal-Mart supply trucks.''
"FEMA prevents Coast Guard from delivering diesel fuel.''
"Homeland Security won't let Red Cross deliver food.''
"FEMA bars morticians from entering New Orleans.''
"FEMA blocks 500-boat citizen flotilla from delivering aid.''
"FEMA fails to utilize Navy ship with 600-bed hospital on board.''
"FEMA to Chicago: Send just one truck.''
"FEMA turns away generators.''
"FEMA first responders urged not to respond.''
Those are just a few of the headlines. I have got all of the documentation, of course.
There is also a story about three U.S. Customs Blackhawk helicopter crews that are absolutely livid because they had been directed not to provide full-time support for the hurricane relief effort in the Gulf.
"Navy ship nearby underused.'' This is from the Chicago Tribune. A craft with food, water, doctors. All it needed was the orders. It never got the orders.
"Federal agency slow to accept business help.'' This is from the Financial Times, "Federal agency slow to accept business help. From Wal-Mart's satellite-based communications system to FedEx's aircraft, U.S. business has in some cases managed to provide a swifter response to the initial impacts of Hurricane Katrina than the Federal and State authorities.''
This is from the Salt Lake City Tribune: "Frustrated fire crews to hand out
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fliers for FEMA. Many of the firefighters assembled from Utah and throughout the United States by FEMA thought they were going to be deployed as emergency workers. Instead, they have learned they are going to be community relations officers for FEMA, shuffling throughout the gulf coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number, 1-800-621-FEMA,'' which does not work most of the time.
Now, I know that American children can do better in geography, but you would think that at least our emergency management people would get their geography right. CNN.com says, Well, they were supposed to go to Charleston. My colleague from Charleston, we were in a meeting on Tuesday night, and he said they had the shelter all set up with supplies, cots, blankets and everything, and nobody came. Now we find out that this is why they did not come. They were supposed to be in Charleston, South Carolina. Guess where FEMA took them? Charleston, West Virginia. What incompetence. Right city, wrong State. CNN.com.
I cannot even imagine. No one should imagine. It is ridiculous. But they are going to tell you everything is all right.
The New York Times tells us, "Navy pilots who rescued victims are reprimanded.'' What? "Two Navy helicopter pilots and their crews returned from New Orleans on August 30 expecting to be greeted as lifesavers after ferrying more than 100 victims to safety. Instead, they were reprimanded.''
Well, we are working on this, since I serve on the Committee on Armed Services. But the sad thing about it is, when we had our briefing on Tuesday evening, the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Homeland Security, Secretary of Labor, Secretary of Treasury, Secretary of HUD were all there at the briefing, except that Defense kept going in and out, Homeland Security kept going in and out, could not stay long enough to brief the Members of Congress or to hear from the Members of Congress who are directly impacted by their failure, their incompetence.
Malik Rahin is a former Black Panther Party member. In a very compelling radio interview he said, "You want more morality from the poor than from the rich.'' But he rejected the idea that New Orleans was a city divided by race. He said, "Whites took their boats and went into black neighborhoods. But it was the feds who forced people to leave their possessions. Once they got rescued, they had to leave their possessions. They could only take one bag.''
He says, "Over 70 percent of the people who were rescued were rescued by individuals.'' Then he went on to say something very interesting. He said, "$90 million of HOPE VI construction, but the people who needed it the most in New Orleans got no training, no community service.''
Louisiana has the highest dropout rate in the country. He said, "Juvenile justice is a disgrace.'' He said, "The only equal opportunity employer here is drugs.''
We heard a lot about shooting. He says, "White vigilante groups with shotguns and rifles rode around saying they were going to shoot the looters.'' They were unchecked. There could have been a riot. He says, "There was about to be a race riot.''
He said, "Many whites took their own personal boats into the black community. Too many acts of heroism, sharing ice, sharing water.''
Then he mentions Jefferson Parish had to secede from the United States of America. So I want to mention the Jefferson Parish president.
But before that I am going to mention what Mayor Nagin in a wonderfully compelling interview with WWL said when he had the opportunity to speak directly with President Bush. He said, "I told him we had an incredible crisis here and that his flying over in Air Force One does not do it justice, and that I have been all around this city, and I am very frustrated because we are not able to marshal resources and we are outmanned in just about every respect.''
But in perhaps the most compelling of all of the interviews that we have seen, and these are all available on the Internet, is Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, on Meet the Press. He said, "Sir, they were told, like me, every single day the cavalry is coming on the Federal level, the cavalry is coming, the cavalry is coming, the cavalry is coming. I have just begun to hear the hooves of the cavalry. The cavalry is still not out here yet, but I have begun to hear the hooves, and we are almost a week out.''
Then he gives three quick examples, one of the Wal-Mart delivery trucks, three trucks of water. FEMA turned them back. They had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel. It was docked in Jefferson Parish. The Coast Guard said, "Come and get the fuel right away. When we got there with our trucks, they got the word. FEMA says, `Don't give the fuel.' Yesterday, yesterday FEMA comes in and cuts all our communication lines.'' Why is FEMA cutting communications?
"The guy who runs the building I am in, Emergency Management,'' this is Aaron Broussard on Meet the Press, "he is responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard Nursing Home, and every day she called him and said, `Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?' He said, `Yeah, mama, somebody is coming to get you.' `Somebody is coming to get you on Tuesday.' `Somebody is coming to get you on Wednesday.' `Somebody is coming to get you on Thursday.' `Somebody is coming to get you on Friday.' And she drowned Friday night.''
And she drowned Friday night. "Nobody is coming to get us. Nobody is coming to get us. The Secretary has promised. Everybody has promised. They have had press conferences. I'm sick of the press conferences. For God's sake, just shut up and send us somebody.'' Aaron Broussard.
Want the facts? The FEMA chief waited 5 hours after Katrina made landfall on August 29. Five hours.
It is clear also that the administration would like to avoid a blame game. They want to do everything to not discuss the failures. What is Michael Brown's reaction to all of this? Michael Brown, FEMA director, says in a CNN interview: "Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans, virtually a city that has been destroyed, things are going relatively well.'' That is our FEMA director, Michael Brown. How out of touch could this man have been?
Those 9/11 activists know how critical it is to construct a timeline, because the timeline tells us who did what and when they did it. The timeline will tell us the truth. The timeline cuts through the spin. So, of course, I made a point to get in touch with the folks who were collecting the timelines, and there are a lot of timelines available on the Internet. Think Progress has a timeline, and WWL also has a timeline.
All the while this was going on, the news media reported that the Iraq war costs now exceed Vietnam's. But I think it is pretty clear that the Iraq war is costing us more than money. Let us just look at where some of those assets were. Mississippi has 40 percent of its National Guard forces in Iraq. Louisiana has 35 percent of its National Guard forces in Iraq. Florida has 26 percent. Alabama has 23 percent of its National Guard forces in Iraq.
On June 8, 2004, in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Walter Maestri, who is emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, said, "It appears that the money has been moved in the President's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq. And I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we're doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.'' Security, we are going to discuss that in a minute.
On April 24, 2004, the Times-Picayune said: "Less money is available to the Army Corps of Engineers to build levees and water projects in the Mississippi River Valley this year and next year.'' Nobody can say they did not know, were not warned, whatever it is that the spin machine might come up with.
National Geographic Magazine, October 2004, came up with an article that reported on a simulation, I will not call it a game, but a simulation of what would happen should a hurricane hit New Orleans: "As the whirling maelstrom approached the coast, more than a million people evacuated to higher ground. Some 200,000 remained, however. The carless, the homeless, the aged, the infirm, and those die-hard
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New Orleanians who look for any excuse to throw a party.'' It goes on to describe just exactly what happened during Hurricane Katrina, but that was in October 2004.
The Louisiana National Guard also knew that they were paying a price that was perhaps too high. On August 1 the Louisiana National Guard complained that they were taking critical equipment to Iraq that should have remained in Louisiana. But when the Bush administration does not like what one says, they just fire them. So there was a former Member of Congress that I had the pleasure to serve with, Mike Parker from Mississippi, who was with the Army Corps of Engineers. He complained that they were cutting the Army Corps of Engineers budget too much, and so he was forced out.
Now it turns out that Michael Brown was forced out too. He was forced out from the job he had before he became the FEMA assistant director and then director. Let me see if I can read this correctly. Michael Brown's previous employment was with the International Arabian Horse Association, and he was fired from that job too. They said that he was asked to resign. And so, of course, eminently qualified to serve in the Bush administration; he gets one of the most important jobs in the country with the lives of the American people in his hands.
We know that this is what they do, hurting people whom they disagree with, because there is the case of another Army Corps of Engineers employee by the name of Bunnatine Greenhouse, who complained about the no-bid sweetheart deal private contracts going to Halliburton. Well, she was forced out of her job too because, even though Vice President Dick Cheney still gets his deferred compensation checks from Halliburton Corporation, I guess the Bush administration is not finished with Halliburton, because they have been hired to do the storm cleanup. Is there no other corporation in America? Why is it that it always has to be Halliburton?
Well, the Times-Picayune calls for the firing of Michael Brown; and I have signed my name to many letters that are floating around here calling for his firing, his resignation, Chertoff's as well; and in a minute somebody on this House floor is going to mention impeachment.
But as if making sure that Halliburton got what they needed to get, I checked the FEMA Web site, and on the FEMA Web site it says: "Help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.'' First on the list is American Red Cross. We remember that during 9/11, there were many complaints from the victims of 9/11, and I remember seeing one report of the symphony orchestra getting some of the 9/11 contributions. But there is Operation Blessing. Operation Blessing was founded by Pat Robertson. That is the same Pat Robertson who called for the assassination of a duly elected president, Hugo Chavez, of Venezuela. How can FEMA recommend that someone who calls for the murder of somebody else get hard-earned money from the American people? It is on the FEMA Web site, and it is outrageous.
But there is more. Sadly, there is more. I agree with the Tom Hartman article: "You Can't Govern if You Don't Believe in Government.'' What we have witnessed here in utter stark relief is the culmination of all of that Republican ideology against government, against the people, against helping people who are in need. Ronald Reagan was elected President by saying: "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, `I'm from the government and I'm here to help.''' Newt Gingrich in 1995 told us what he thought about government. He was speaking about Medicare. He said: "Now, we don't want to get rid of it in round one because we don't think that's politically smart and we do not think that's the right way to go through a transition. But we believe it is going to wither on the vine because we think people are going to voluntarily leave it.'' Wither on the vine.
Grover Norquist in 2001 said this, and I think this encapsulates it all: "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.''
That is how these people feel about government. So I am not surprised that the Army Corps of Engineers budget is cut to the extent it is cut. I am not surprised.
Here, Bush's agenda is to cut government services to the bone and make people rely on the private sector for the things they need. So he sliced $71 million from the budget of the New Orleans Corps of Engineers, a 44 percent reduction. In addition, the President cut $30 million in flood control. And then Bush took to the airwaves on "Good Morning America'' on September 1 and said, "I don't think anyone anticipated that breach of the levees.''
"I don't think anyone anticipated that breach of the levees.''
Now, in stark contrast to the way the Department of Homeland Security mobilized to secure the people of the gulf States, within 48 hours of the notification of the death of Chief Justice Rehnquist, Bush nominated Roberts to serve as Chief Justice. They are real fast at doing some things.
Now, at some point, we have to talk about values and priorities and how it has become that our values and our priorities are so twisted and mangled now. We are focusing on other things, and some of those things are important. I am not going to say that everything is not so important that has become a priority. We had a resolution today that six people voted against to give Bush another blank check in the war on terrorism. I was one of the six.
No more blank checks, Mr. President, not for war, not for war.
I went to the Committee on Homeland Security's Web site, and I just thought I would look and see which subcommittee has jurisdiction for natural disasters. Well, I could not believe it. I did not see any mention at all of natural disasters. So I went to one of our interns, whose eyes are a whole lot younger than mine, and I said, Would you please scour the entire website, because I have put in a search and it did not come up in a search; scour the entire website, and I want you to highlight the number of times you see the mention of the two words, "natural disaster.''
It is not mentioned. It is not mentioned. On the entire Committee on Homeland Security Web site "natural disaster'' is not mentioned.
Now, a young man had a script before him, and he was supposed to read the script, but he took the opportunity to deviate from the script and speak his mind. His name is Kanye West. He has been on the cover of all these national magazines talking about how he is the most brilliant new hip-hop, rap artist, Kanye West. And now, he is being vilified because he dared to take a detour from what some people wanted him to say and say what he wanted to say, which is, quite frankly, the origins of hip-hop anyway, young people who have something to say and have found the means to say it.
Kanye West said, "I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family; it says they are `looting.' You see a white family; it says they are `looking for food.' And, you know, it has been 5 days, because most of the people are black, and even for me to complain about it, I would be a hypocrite, because I have tried to turn away from the TV because it is too hard to watch. I have even been shopping before even giving a donation.
"So now I am calling my business manager right now to see what is the biggest amount I can give,'' notice he said he is calling his business manager; I want you to pay attention to that. "And, just imagine if I was down there and those are my people down there. So anybody out there that wants to do anything that we can help with the way America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well off, as slow as possible.''
Now, NBC censored that. NBC has decided that they can determine what we hear from the smartest young man in hip-hop.
He also said, "George Bush doesn't care about black people.'' NBC censored it. They deleted his remarks. And MSNBC President Rick Kaplan, who produced the telethon at Rockefeller Plaza in New York, had the cameras cut to actor Chris Tucker who was on a different part of the stage and who appeared to be looking off at something else in the camera. So it was the MSNBC president, who was also the producer, who said, Well, you know, maybe the American people do not need to hear the smartest young man in hip-hop's ideas about George Bush.
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Thank goodness, I can come to the floor of the House and speak my piece. And as long as C-SPAN cameras are running, well, it will not be cut off, but I understand there is even an effort to try and limit C-SPAN's access to American households.
But I have to tell my colleagues something. As I saw the African Americans, mostly African American families ripped apart, I could only think about slavery, families ripped apart, herded into what looked like concentration camps. So I was reminded of a Miami Herald article written on July 5, the day after Freedom Day, 1987.
The title of the article was "Reagan Aides and the Secret Government,'' and here is a quote from that article: "A copy of the memo was obtained by the Herald. The scenario outlined in the Brinkerhoff memo resembles somewhat a paper Giufreda had written in 1970 at the Army War College in Carlyle, Pennsylvania, in which he advocated martial law in case of a national uprising by black militants.'' In which he advocated martial law in case of a national uprising by black militants. The paper also advocated the roundup and transfer of two "assembly centers or relocation camps of at least 21 million American Negroes.''
Now, I did not write that; the U.S. Government wrote that. They were going to round up 21 million Negroes because they were afraid of freeing black people. A story of neglect? I am not surprised about any story of neglect of the people that comes from this body with this set of priorities, that passes these kinds of budgets on the backs of the American people, these kinds of tax cuts on the backs of the American people.
I want to commend my sister Congresswoman, the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Lee), who has said that it is time for us to get serious about poverty in this country. It is time for us to get serious. I am a proud cosponsor of legislation with the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Lee).
I will just conclude by saying that on the United States State Department Web site is "How to identify misinformation.'' Does the story fit the pattern of a conspiracy theory?
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