Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gustav: Will it be Another Katrina?

go toYahoo News Front Page or Archives & Click to watch Anniversary Documentary--let's all remember at such a time as this...Also see the highly-rated article just in: "Will There Be Another Katrina?" at Yahoo News Sunday August 31, 2008 7 PM ET

Another film to try to see & show: When The Levees Broke--Spike Lee's four-part series When the Levees Broke. A friend said it's an excellent movie about what happened in NOLA in 2005.

NEW ORLEANS: BEST GROUP TO SUPPORT! Need a Contact? Have a Story?

BEST NEW ORLEANS GROUP TO SUPPORT--You may want to specify if it's for Victims of Gustave...

Justice For New Orleans

Bill Quigley, Human Rights Lawyer is key person at this group...he has been writing the New Orleans Journals which have been posted below on this weblog (find them also by going to the columns on the right. Seems this is the best email for him at the moement:

Friends: I am having some problems getting timely emails at this address. I am able to check it but not as frequently as Please change my address to when you get a chance. Peace, Bill Q

I plan to post a few more phone numbers for these folk soon...


Go just beyond the photos for some contact IF YOU NEED HELP...

CONTACTS FOR HELP & TO SEE HOW TO HELP ON THE GROUND IN & NEAR NEW ORLEANS--Kali Akuno 510.593.3956 (please text if no answer if possible) or
Lydia 314-537-0537 (C) 770-559-1461 land line Molly 510-847-6101 (C)

Also try who seems to be working round the clock & is a go-between among reporters, newspapers and folk on the ground...

SEND big stories & leads to Bob Herbert OP Ed The New York Times


New Orleans Journal
August 31, 2008--5 PM

Pink sky colored the morning as cicadas buzz in waves in the old oak trees. What is it they say about “pink sky in morning…?” In New Orleans it is one day to Gustave.

A steady river of people arrived at the bus station, many walking from home. People lined up, men, women, young babies and people with walkers. Suitcases, Batman backpacks, pillowcases stuffed with belongings, even black plastic garbage bags clutched tightly in nervous hands.

How many of us would shove some things in a pillowcase, turn out the lights, leave our home and catch a bus filled with strangers going to places unknown? In New Orleans and all along the Gulf Coast, tens of thousands are doing exactly that.

Big 64 passenger buses roll into the station from across the country to pick up the people of New Orleans. Some going to public shelters, some to military bases, some to churches.

Spent the day unpacking and opening hundreds of boxes of MREs (military meals ready to eat) to distribute to people getting on buses out of town. Spaghetti, barbecue, even vegetarian in slick brown packets complete with plastic spoon. Tastes much better than you would think, especially if you are, as most are, pretty hungry.

Outside satellite TV trucks idle by waiting buses and ambulances. The sun is out and the wind is up. Soldiers, who yesterday clutched their M-16s, today sat on folding chairs texting their families.

Volunteers pitch in with city, state and federal officials. Every kind of police and military you can imagine, many in full battle gear.

Women volunteers in day-glow vests guide the blind, carry bags for the unable, and lift the wheelchairs into the ambulances. Hundreds and hundreds of people with walkers and canes and wheelchairs are flushed out of their homes and forced to flee.

The occasional big shot strolls through and people politely allow them to fantasize that they are in charge.

Outside the wind continues to pick up. The U.S. flag flaps ferociously clanging the chains against the metal flagpole.

Those who say they hate government please consider our situation. Since Katrina our Gulf Coast has benefited from thousands of faith-based groups and hundreds of thousands of volunteers. But we need the public sector to help make it all work. Think where New Orleans would be tonight without the buses we all helped pay for, the police and soldiers we all helped pay for, the water, the MREs, the bus drivers, the shelter workers and the Coast Guard. As you watch the disaster unfold on TV, think where we would be without public help. We need each other. In a complex society like ours, we help each other and build the common good through the public sector. If it is bad, we fix it, not destroy it. Please think about it.

Back home, a mandatory evacuation has started. Curfew starts at dusk. The buses continue to arrive and depart but the passengers slow to a trickle. Generators and engines roar as the air smells of dust, MREs, and humidity.

As dusk starts, waves of cicadas humm. Thousands of people are in shelters. Hundreds are still riding buses.

Gustave is coming.

PLEASE NOTE CONTACTS & UPDATES JUST BELOW... if you'd like anything posted, please send it to

NEW ORLEANS: HUFF POST& Newspaper Updates

Go to huffingtonpost dot com Scroll down to harry-shearer/new-orleans-nobody-asked--be sure to do a skim (at least) of these 141 comments...some important leads and groups there with experience & a video or two...


A Prophet of Katrina’s Wrath Returns to His Storm Vigil
By BRIAN STELTER Published: August 31, 2008

The Times-Picayune in New Orleans is promoting the work of Mark Schleifstein, a 24-year veteran of the newspaper, with a forceful claim this week: He is, the paper asserts, “the man who predicted the flood.”

In 2002, Mr. Schleifstein and his colleagues published “Washing Away,” a five-day report about the vulnerabilities Louisiana would face if a major hurricane hit. “It’s only a matter of time,” the report declared. And three years later, the time came.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Mr. Schleifstein, an environment reporter, shared Pulitzer Prizes for public service and breaking news reporting. Over the weekend, as the newspaper prepared to cover another major hurricane, Mr. Schleifstein was back on a familiar story, writing in Sunday’s newspaper that Hurricane Gustav could bring “catastrophic flooding” to the region beginning Monday.

While members of the media scurry from the Republican convention in Minnesota to the gulf shores of Louisiana — including Anderson Cooper of CNN, Katie Couric of CBS, Shepard Smith of Fox News Channel, Brian Williams of NBC and Charles Gibson of ABC — the story is playing out, once again, in The Times-Picayune’s backyard.

Jim Amoss, the editor of The Times-Picayune, the only daily newspaper in New Orleans, said that the slogan about Mr. Schleifstein was coined just last week, “but it’s been apt for some time.”

“If the federal government ever awakens to the disastrous consequences of inaction on that front — the importance of coastal restoration and the rebuilding of barrier islands — Mark will deserve much of the credit,” Mr. Amoss said.

In the aftermath of Katrina, Mr. Schleifstein and a team of reporters investigated the failure of the levees surrounding New Orleans. He also reported on the rebuilding of the levee system and the efforts to replenish the area’s wetlands and coastlines. His most recent series, “Last Chance,” published in March 2007, outlined why scientists believe the next decade is crucial to the wetlands restoration process.

Gustav will be another test for the wetlands — and The Times-Picayune, which at least will have better technology. During Katrina, Mr. Schleifstein said, “I was tied to my desk at work or old desktop at home. Now I’m on an aircard and laptop at home and work.”

If working at the newspaper’s headquarters becomes untenable, as it did during Katrina, the staff can move to outlying bureaus or to a block of hotel rooms reserved in the French Quarter, assuming those are accessible. Reached by telephone on Sunday, Mr. Amoss said that The Times-Picayune now had a “portable newsroom” as well: a newspaper delivery truck retrofitted with all the equipment needed to produce an electronic version of the newspaper.

This time, The Times-Picayune will be working with a smaller staff: 20 percent of the employees have departed since Katrina, all because of staff attrition, according to Editor & Publisher. And they will be filing for the online edition of the paper at even more aggressively than they did in 2005. “Writing for the Web was brand new for us during Katrina,” Mr. Amoss said.

For three days after Katrina hit, The Times-Picayune was published exclusively on the Internet. The Web site became a clearinghouse about the aftermath of the storm and a meeting place for people who had been displaced.

The Web is no longer so novel, Mr. Schleifstein said, and the staff is “fairly comfortable about the demand of a 24-hour presence, or at least 18 hours.”

By Saturday, as Gustav entered the Gulf of Mexico, traffic on the Web site had more than doubled compared with an average day. Mr. Schleifstein answered reader questions during a chat session, wrote a front-page article for the next day’s paper, stayed up late blogging, then went home to Metairie, La., to pack. (His home in New Orleans was heavily damaged during Katrina).

During the reader chat, one of the final questions was short and direct. “Are you scared?”

He replied: “I’m concerned. And fearful that people won’t take the threat seriously enough to disrupt their lives for a few days by leaving if that’s required.”

Survivors of Katrina Prepare for Nightmare as Gustav Nears
By MONICA RHOR, Associated Press Writer Sun Aug 31, 3:37 PM ET

HOUSTON - New Orleans is still home to Tamika Johnson. Never mind that it's been three years since she was forced from that city by Hurricane Katrina, or that her toddler daughter was born in Texas.

Never mind that Johnson and her husband, Michael, are painstakingly cobbling a life together in a modest four-bedroom house in a Houston neighborhood filled with other Katrina survivors.

So it is with growing anxiety, and twinges of pain born from memory and fear, that Johnson, 24, watched as Hurricane Gustav headed toward Louisiana.

Those twinges were echoed around the South as evacuees and survivors of the storm that nearly destroyed New Orleans almost exactly three years ago were rattled by the eerie similarities of Gustav to the path Katrina took before forever changing their lives.

Since Katrina, New Orleans lost about a third of its residents who left and never returned. Many ended up settling in Houston, Atlanta and other points across the South.

Johnson's in-laws still live in New Orleans, as do cousins, aunts, uncles, friends — now in the path of another massive storm. One cousin is in the hospital. Another aunt had just started to rebuild her home in the Lower 9th Ward.

"It's been three years and New Orleans is not all the way back together. If another hurricane comes, it will just be even longer for New Orleans to get back," Johnson said. "We don't need another storm, putting more people out of their home again and leaving them to start from the beginning. I've been through that."

During Katrina, Johnson left New Orleans with her mother the day before the hurricane hit. Michael, then her fiance, stayed behind with his family.

Two days after the storm ravaged New Orleans, Michael Johnson was still without running water and electricity, as he tried to repair a flooded car. For two days, Tamika had no contact with him — and was terrified that the worst had happened.

Then, Michael finally managed to start the car, get on the road to Texas, and contact Tamika.

Gustav was spinning toward the Gulf Coast with frightening strength and size, wavering between a Category 3 and 4 with hurricane winds extending out 50 miles and tropical storm force winds as far as 200 miles. It was projected to make landfall as early as Monday.

It appeared on a track to strike New Orleans. But storms are unpredictable and there was a chance Gustav could veer farther west and head toward the Houston area. If that happens, Johnson says she's prepared.

Her important documents and cherished photographs are stowed in a waterproof box. And she would be ready to evacuate.

"I had the mentality in New Orleans that a hurricane would come there because it hadn't come in years," said Johnson. "Now that I've been through it if they say leave, I'll leave. I have a baby now. I don't know where I'd go, but I'm going."

Chiq Simms left New Orleans for Atlanta after Katrina. A family wedding brought her back to New Orleans on Friday morning.

Sitting in a hotel room and watching the TV news, Simms grew sick to her stomach. It was not the way she planned to commemorate the third anniversary of the storm.

"I don't want to see this city get another one," Simms said, with sadness weighing down her voice. "We would've never thought that we could possibly be facing another Katrina in our lifetime. Even if it doesn't come, the frenzy of it all ... It's crazy. My home may never be the same again."

By that evening, she was on a flight headed back to Atlanta.

Even after Katrina, Doug and Mary Rockefeller didn't leave the New Orleans suburb they had called home for a decade. After spending a week in Texas, the couple returned to find their home had escaped catastrophic damage.

It was Hurricane Rita, three weeks later, that drenched St. Charles Parish with about a foot of rain after making landfall in western Louisiana.

"That was it," said 57-year-old Mary Rockefeller. "Doug said let's go up to Chattanooga and look for a house."

They moved in 2006.

On Saturday, from the Chattanooga suburb of Lakesite, Tenn., she waited for family members to arrive from New Orleans and watched intently the TV coverage of the evacuation.

"This is exactly why we moved," said Rockefeller, who is now retired. "So we would have a safe place for the children to come should they have to evacuate."

Even for those who keep coming back to New Orleans under improbable odds, Gustav may be the last straw.

A few days ago, Scott Jackson planned to spend the long holiday weekend in Louisiana working on his backyard deck and maybe building a gazebo.

Now, he's wondering where he and his wife can make a new life.

Jackson headed to Home Depot to return about $4,000 worth of lumber, and was talking with his wife about moving, maybe back to Louisville, or to Houston or Atlanta, where she has family.

"I love this city, but we can't keep going through this," said Jackson, who left New Orleans for Louisville, Ky., after Hurricane Katrina and just returned about a year ago. "After this time, I'm going to really be done with it."


Associated Press writers April Castro in Austin, Errin Haines in Atlanta and Alan Sayre in Destrehan, La., contributed to this report.


New Orleans WestBound

New Orleans
Gustave's Eye TIP from people who know New Orleans from the ground: Last Time, the Red Cross got reimbursed by FEMA and pocketed the money they collected. (the reporter from the ground said)...In my own research from years ago, there is plenty if you search to verify this pattern, Blogger...Stay tuned, I am trying to find the right info on the groups who can be trusted with our dollars...and the right way to contact them...IF you know of local groups you'd trust, give to them.

Kali Akuno 510.593.3956 (please text if no answer if possible) or
Lydia 314-537-0537 (C) 770-559-1461 land line
Molly 510-847-6101 (C)

How you can help (outside of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast):
1. Serve as a point of contact in your area for evacuees.

2. Help create safe and accessible relief networks and stations in your city/region. This is particularly going to be crucial for allies in Northern Louisiana, Jackson, and Memphis, where it appears most of the evacuees are going to be stationed. We hope to have identified the rest of the specific cities by this evening.

3. Serve as a media liaison for the support network and the forces staying in New Orleans.

If you or your organization can serve in one or more of these capacities please contact one of the following individuals and send your name, cell phone, land line, email address and relevant address information for relief stations.

Also you may email who may be able to get you the info you need?

Many of the 30,000 people being rushed out of New Orleans tonight have no idea where they are goingBe wary of American Red Cross collections & help unless there is no choice and especially if there are other alternatives...More on this later...Check in with the folks who serve the poor day in and day out who are not so completely tied into the federal the International Red Cross is a different story...

Also From news dot infoshop dot org

Sunday, August 31 2008 @ 12:27 PM CDT
Breaking News Wire-Hurricane Gustav Breaking News

Hurricane evacuation in New Orleans seriously lagging, reports I-News collective member. Disabled people who are on the top of the list haven't been evacuated, with 48 hours to go before the hurricane hits.

Mayor Nagin tells people to "get the hell out," yet most poor residents of New Orleans don't have the money to travel, because it is the end of the month. The government didn't send aid checks this week and with stores closing this weekend, New Orleans residents left behind will have no access to food and water.

Homeless are being denied access to evacuation transportation if they don't have ID.

Authorities are guarding the Superdome and the Convention Center and won't let people near those buildings.

Hurricane Gustav projected to hit Louisiana late Monday night as a category 4 or 5 hurricane.

Article below on those without means or desire to leave...

for THOSE with cars: Contraflow loosening up, moderate congestion on northbound lanes
by Molly Reid Sunday August 31, 2008, 11:40 AM Contraflow, in effect since 4 a.m. this morning, is running slow but smoothly, with moderate congestion on interstates 55 and 59 northbound, as well as Interstate 10 eastbound as it approaches the I-12/I-59 interchange.

I-10 eastbound remains closed past that interchange, with traffic being directed to I-59 northbound. Interstates 55 and 59 have had severe to moderate congestion throughout the morning. State Police have suggsted U.S. 51 northbound, which runs parallel to I-55 starting at the I-12 junction, and U.S. 11, which runs parallel to I-59 starting at the state line, as alternate routes.

Louisiana 22 is also bottlenecked as it approaches Interstate 12--Traffic along I-10 westbound is backed up slightly as it approaches the Bonnet Carre Spillway, but State Police report that it is relatively clear all the way to Baton Rouge. If needed, U.S. 61, also known as Airline Highway, is recommended as an alternate route to I-10 westbound. U.S. 61 runs parallel to the interstate until it reaches Interstate 110 in Baton Rouge. No major accidents or breakdowns reported along any contraflow lanes.
call to support the evacuation of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricanes Gustav's potential landfall within the next several days. As many of you know, thousands of our people are presently evacuating the area. In the attempt to learn from preparedness shortcomings of Hurricane Katrina, a network of New Orleans activists, some whom have evacuated already and others whom are intent on staying are in the process of creating a support network which is in need of all our help.

See full article at
Strapped for cash, some in New Orleans stay and hope (condensed)
By Ashley Fantz CNN

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana "You gotta make as much money as you can, because when we shut down -- and we're gonna shut down -- that's it for a long while," the 26-year-old said, exhaling, a dribble of sweat rolling into his mouth.

"The thing is," he continued, "most people don't have cars to leave, don't have money for gas. Pay for a hotel for that long? I mean, you have to do whatever you have to do, and I guess I'm gonna stay and work."

...Kennedy can't and others just won't leave. They are the few residents who did not make the tortoise crawl down Interstate 10 on Saturday.

"If I left, I'll probably lose my job," said Jeremiah O'Farrell, another dishwasher who is staying put. "I really don't have anywhere to go if I could leave.

"Really, how bad do you think it's gonna get?" he asked. "I've never been through one, and I'm not sure what to believe. You see the national weather people, and they're telling you it's gonna be really bad."

...Across town in the 9th Ward, a neighborhood decimated by Katrina, Sidney William climbs slowly out of his truck. He's 49 but moves like he's 20 years older.

"My legs hurt; my feet hurt a lot," he said. "It's not easy."

William wants desperately to leave his native New Orleans to avoid Gustav. He didn't leave for Katrina because he didn't have the money. He won't talk about what happened to him during that storm.

"I wish I had the money to go." Rejected for disability subsidies, he depends on his 23-year-old daughter, Gloria, to support the family.

"Lot of folks around here are gonna make do with what they have, and you won't hear a terrible amount of complaining," he said. "You can't just come in here and expect to hear people fussing about how they don't have nothing. People just be used to not having much, and so you don't even think too hard about it until someone starts asking you questions."

A neighbor, Victoria, says she has two Rottweilers who she's not willing to leave behind.

"Now, what do you think that would look like, me and my little car sitting there in traffic with two big old Rottweilers," she said, laughing.

Money is tight for her, too.

"Guess I'm just gonna wait. I just don't know. It's all stressful."

A woman who would only give her name as Bette, owner of an antiques store in the French Quarter, says outsiders can't understand. "It's hard to explain to someone who's not from here why anyone would choose to stay."


OLDER ARTICLE ON RED CROSS/FEMA-"You need to be scared" (may have two meanings?)

'You need to be scared' (blogger: perhaps this photo and warning may also warn about overuse of police power & groups like Blackwater again in New Orleans and St. Paul?)Gulf Coast residents fled by car, train, bus and plane as Category 3 Hurricane Gustav plowed into the Gulf of Mexico, aiming for a Monday landfall in areas still rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina. "You need to be scared," New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said as he ordered his city to evacuate. President Bush and Vice President Cheney cancelled plans to attend the GOP convention in St. Paul, Minnesota because of Hurricane Gustav--Please see other important items on New Orleans by Bill Quigley and others, a video on the Levee Problems across the US and ways to help those leaving New Orleans (Action Alert) here on this site! Run through items in the right column...

FEMA to Pay Red Cross For Some Hurricane Aid
$100 Million Reimbursement Is for Motel Rooms
By Jacqueline L. Salmon and Elizabeth Williamson
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, September 28, 2005; A07

The American Red Cross, which has asked Americans to donate $2 billion to cover its costs of caring for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, will be reimbursed $100 million from the federal government for motel rooms housing storm victims.
The Red Cross has raised more than $800 million from private sources and indicated that some of the money would go to house hurricane evacuees in hotel rooms, an expense the organization expects to reach $95 million by mid-October. Yesterday, the agency acknowledged that, instead, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will pay for those rooms.
News of the federal government's role in bankrolling some of the Red Cross's work could potentially turn off donors who believe the 124-year-old charity operates independently of FEMA, which has been widely criticized for its handling of the disaster, charity monitors said.
"It's certainly not right to be taking credit for something that the government is already doing," said Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy, a charity watchdog. "It is very serious for a charity to give the impression that it is doing what the government is doing."
Yesterday, Congress launched its first inquiry into the governmental response to Katrina, which destroyed most of New Orleans and coastal Mississippi and Alabama. FEMA's financial arrangements with private and faith-based charities are expected to be scrutinized as part of those hearings.
The Red Cross has received almost 80 percent of the private contributions to Hurricane Katrina relief, which have topped $1.2 billion. The charity has said it expects to spend $2 billion aiding about a million families.
Red Cross officials acknowledged yesterday that the charity's portrayal of its financial role in the motel program may have caused confusion.
"The bottom line is we will be clearer," said the charity's spokeswoman, Carrie Martin. "We will make every effort to explain that better. We will be absolutely clear that this is a reimbursement."
In a Sept. 10 article in The Washington Post, spokeswoman Stacey Grissom said the Red Cross was paying for motels out of private donations.
In a news release dated Sept. 16, the Red Cross announced that it "has launched a special housing program" allowing families from areas hit hard by Hurricane Katrina to stay in hotel rooms at no cost.
"The Red Cross will be picking up the tab by paying for the room and any applicable taxes," the news release said. The bottom of the release included the organization's standard statement: "All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people."
A day later, a release announced an extension of the motel program, noting that "the Red Cross and FEMA will cover the cost."
In the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, the Red Cross came in for criticism when it decided to reserve some of the money for causes other than helping victims of the terrorist attacks and their families. In the end, the charity apologized and pledged to use the money, ultimately totaling $1 billion, solely for those affected by the attacks.
"If they're soliciting to people saying they're not receiving any federal reimbursement . . . that seems like we may have an issue with them being deceptive with donors," said Trent Stamp, director of Charity Navigator, a charity watchdog group. "But I don't want to criticize them for being successful in figuring out how the system works."
FEMA's effort to pay another agency to provide shelter, Stamp said, raises other questions. "Why is FEMA writing checks to the Red Cross? You either figure out how to provide disaster relief on your own or get out of the game completely."
The motel program for evacuees arose in the frantic days after the hurricane hit the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, Red Cross officials said yesterday. Joe Becker, senior vice president for preparedness and response, said he asked FEMA to pay for motel rooms occupied by evacuees whose money was running out.
With more traditional shelters overflowing, "my concern was we had to expand the idea of what a shelter was," Becker said.
He said that FEMA and the Red Cross reached a verbal agreement whereby the federal agency would reimburse the cost of the motel rooms in eight states. The rooms average $59 a night, and the maximum stay is 45 days.
"We normally don't reimburse them," FEMA spokeswoman Mary-Margaret Walker said of the Red Cross. "On occasion, for things or an event above and beyond their capabilities, we step in from time to time."
© 2005 The Washington Post Company

USA : Republican National Convention: Suggested Reporters

This list will expand...Send me your own: Connie or place your suggestions in the Comment section by first signing up for a free google account...

A friend at our local longtime peace gathering reminds me to get to know this media report: Thom Hartmann is live daily from noon-3 PM ET in Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta, Detroit, Seattle, Portland, Phoenix, Santa Fe, Pittsburgh, Memphis, Grand Rapids, and on over fifty other stations nationwide including Chicago, Washington DC, Santa Barbara, Minneapolis, and on XM and Sirius Satellite radio. He is also a four-time Project Censored-award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. His national daily progressive radio talk show, now in its sixth year on the air, replaced Al Franken on the Air America Radio Network, is also distributed to radio stations nationwide on the Jones Satellite system. More people listen daily to the Thom Hartmann Program than any other progressive talk show in the nation.

Thom Vision Watch Thom "live" noon-3pm, Mon-Fri: airamerica dot com/thomvision

Until September 5th 2008 Radio Guest Highlights will be“live” from The Republican Convention – radio row. Guests have included & will include Rep. John Conyers, David Sirota, Tom Hayden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, TerryJeffries, Christy Harvy, Rep Linda Sanchez, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and more…

See more at thomhartmann dot com The friend describes him like this: "a man with many talents yet comes across as an excellent teacher on his radio program."

The same friend also recommended: talkingpointsmemo dot com daily--Josh Marshall and staff, he said, is given the credit by many for getting rid of Gonzo at the Justice Dept. by his extensive reporting on the firing of the USA's. This worked because the site is so widely read by newspeople and by Congress Critters and Congress staffers. If Don Young and Ted Stevens crash, the friend said, well again TPM should get most of the credit. They have been reporting extensively on Sarah Palin (recently chosen Republican Vice President running mate from Alaska)...

Well, let's be sure to tune in all this week!

Last Peace Cycle Report -- JERUSALEM

Excerpt: We...saw the scar where he had been shot in the knee on a peaceful demonstration. This boy is 10 years old, and was shot when he was 8...We went to see the wall for ourselves. The ground around was littered with empty teargas canisters and rubber bullets, bringing the documentary we had just seen sharply into reality. The wall in this part of the West Bank is actually a double electric fence topped with razor wire, so you can see through it...Having spent the past week witnessing again and again the HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES AND OFFENCES AGAINST INTERNATIONAL LAW committed by the Israeli occupation, it was impossible not to challenge the soldiers. Nick rightly told them how the Israeli occupation is akin to Nazi Germany, and all of us asked of the wall: ‘how can you do this?’ The response from one soldier was ‘the wall’s to stop terrorists’. To which there was only one response: ‘Then build it on your own land!’ (THE CAPS ARE Blogger's...NOTICE similarities between TREATMENT OF ISRAELI PRISONERS & Treatment of US detainees!)

Saturday, August 30, 2008 4:31 AM
From:"George S. Rishmawi"

The Peace Cycle arrived to Jerusalem yesterday. They have met with Sabeel and the Interchurch Center in Jerusalem. Toured the Old City, observed illegal settelments in the old city and visited holy sites. The Cyclists are resting in Jerusalem before they travel back home.

Sunday August 24th – Qalqilya to Belin
When I told a friend in Ramallah that we had cycled from Qalqilya to Bilin, he burst out laughing, before asking ‘you can’t be serious?!’ We ourselves could hardly believe our itinerary was serious, when we read we were cycling over 60km through the most difficult terrain so far. The route was a never ending succession of massive hills and potholed roads. These proved not only exhausting but dangerous too, as two of our cyclists (Ish and Fizza) had quite serious falls about 4 hours into the ride. Nathan, our first aider-come-bike mechanic-come all round magic man, patched them up on the roadside and we continued, passing settlement after settlement along the way. The settlements (illegal under international law) are blots upon the landscape: identical, ugly and soulless. Settlers have absolute priority over West Bank water resources, meaning that on the settlement side of the road the grass is green, whilst on the opposite side it is brown.

We limped our way up the final hill to Bilin, at the end of our physical limit. With the exception of Nathan, who pushed more than one of us up the final slope! We were welcomed into the home of Iayad Burnat and his beautiful family, and watched a documentary on the non-violent resistance in Bilin. The village of Bilin is one of the places where the wall diverges most drastically from the 1967 Green Line (i.e. Israel ’s ‘official’ borders), cutting deep into Palestinian territory and surrounding Belin on three sides. The people of Belin have responded to this with an innovative campaign of NON-VIOLENT RESISTANCE, with weekly demonstrations held at the wall which are often joined by internationals. The Israelis respond to these demonstrations with tear gas, bullets and stink bombs. One of Iyad’s sons showed us his collection of rubber bullets, before giving us each a real one to take home as a souvenir. We later saw the scar where he had been shot in the knee on a peaceful demonstration. This boy is 10 years old, and was shot when he was 8.

Then we went to see the wall for ourselves. The ground around was littered with empty teargas canisters and rubber bullets, bringing the documentary we had just seen sharply into reality. The wall in this part of the West Bank is actually a double electric fence topped with razor wire, so you can see through it. Within 5 minutes of us being there an Israeli army jeep approached, and 4 soldiers got out and asked what we were doing. Having spent the past week witnessing again and again the HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES AND OFFENCES AGAINST INTERNATIONAL LAW COMMITTED BY THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION, it was impossible not to challenge the soldiers. Nick rightly told them how the Israeli occupation is akin to Nazi Germany, and all of us asked of the wall: ‘how can you do this?’ The response from one soldier was ‘the wall’s to stop terrorists’. To which there was only one response: ‘Then build it on your own land!’

We returned back angry, but glad to have confronted the soldiers, even if only to have our worst preconceptions confirmed. Then finally to a much needed sleep, after a physically and emotionally exhausting day.

Monday 25th August 2008 – Prisoner Release in Ramallah

...The arrival into Ramallah was spectacular with crowds of people in their vehicles making their way to the Ramallah compound where the prisoners were to be released. The atmosphere was electric with people shouting and cheering as we stood on the other side of the road observing the slow procession. In no time at all a police escort was arranged for us, leading us through the back roads (up and down 'flat hills' as George would describe!!) enabling us to reach the Ramallah compound at the start of the releases.

We pushed our way to the front of the crowds enabling a good view of the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas as he announced each prisoner released. At the end doves were released as a sign of peace. Though this was a joyous occasion for many families, we were still aware that 10 000 people(INCLUDING HUNDREDS OF CHILDREN) were still imprisoned including Iyad's brother who had now been jailed for six years.

...We next meet Dr Ayman Rabi from the Palestinian Hydrology Group. This was a very informative presentation with regards to the supply of water within Palestine , the shortages faced and how Israel controls the supply of water. In most villages water is a scarce commodity and the people rely on tanks to deliver water to them. This is costly and so the use of water has to be maximised so that it is not wasted. It became clear that the Israeli's have not only colonised above ground but the precious water resources beneath it. The inevitable consequence of this is the ability of the Isralei's to expand their illegal settlements whilst restricting the Palestinians development of their own land.

Our final presentation of the day was with Ala who works for Addameer, Prisoners Support and Humanitarian Rights Association. He gave us an insight into wrongful arrest, TORTURE, violation of prisoner rights and difficulties of visitation by families. The military rules work against the Palestinians in every way making it near impossible for them to be released once they are imprisoned. Ala provides free legal aid and support to the families of those imprisoned. His harrowing testimony reminded us that THE ISRAELI'S ROUTINELY USE EXTREME FORMS OF TORTURE TO DESTROY THE PALESTINIANS BOTH PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY.

We enjoyed our evening in Ramallah which is a more cosmopolitan place, and appreciated the hospitality of the restaurant owner and the great food and ambience.

TPC2008 Tuesday 26th August 2008

Today saw us travel from Ramallah to the outskirts of Jerusalem by bus through a series of intimidating and busy checkpoints. To see the Apartheid Wall from a distance snake its way around the Holy City was shocking enough but to see it up close can sometimes be totally demoralizing.

On our way we passed thousands of OLIVE TREE STUMPS – this symbol of peace and source of revenue for the local Palestinians destroyed by the Israelis for ‘security reasons’. This is the Israeli trump card – anything can be justified in the name of security -including the forceful annexation of land, destruction of homes and the imprisonment, maiming, torture and killing of anyone (including children) who wishes to protest these human rights abuses.

But these are DARK-SKINNED, Muslim Arabs so it is obviously fine to do all that surely? IF IN OUR MODERN TIMES WE EVER SEE ANYTHING LIKE WHAT THE ZIONISTS HAVE DONE IN ANY OTHER CONTEXT THERE WOULD BE AN UPROAR IN THE INTERNATIONAL PRESS. UNITED NATIONS RESOLUTIONS AND SANCTIONS WOULD BE APPLIED AND ENFORCED...and regime change would follow. Alas not so for the people of Palestine who have been subjected to a systematic program of ETHNIC CLEANSING from their historic land FOR THE PAST 60 YEARS.

Yet there is always hope! At lunchtime we visited the YMCA in Beit Sahour who are coordinating the ‘Olive Tree Campaign’ which aims to replant thousands of olive tree saplings in the areas around the wall where the ISRAELIS REMOVED ONE MILLION TREES for its construction. Members of TPC purchased olive trees in honor of their loved ones and to support the Palestinians – WHAT GREATER SYMBOL OF PEACE than the life giving an OLIVE TREE that can live for A THOUSAND YEARS in this special land?

In the afternoon heat we cycled the remaining 10km uphill to Bethlehem sheltered by the miraculous appearance of a shade-giving cloud! As we reached the town of Jesus’ birth our excitement was dimmed by the reality of the Apartheid Wall here – CUTTING PALESTINIAN COMMUNITIES IN TWO--it is not about security but a simple land grab. The town is cut off and Christian pilgrims and Palestinians seeking to reach their places of work and families have to pass through an ugly checkpoint that Gordon Brown recently described as a visible sign of the need for justice for the Palestinians. Nice words, but we need action on the ground to tear this monstrosity down Mr. Brown!

A visit to a refugee camp and stretches of the wall culminated in our cycling into Manger Square, home to the Church of the Nativity, the oldest church in Christendom, having been inaugurated by Constantine’s wife Augusta in 327CE. Even this revered place hasn’t escaped the brutality of the Occupation – it was the scene of a vicious siege by the IOF in 2002 which resulted in many casualties and significant damage by Israeli tank and shell fire.
Home for the next three days is the Arab Women Union Guesthouse in Beit Sahour, just down the hill from Bethlehem. Even George our ‘flat-hill walla-walla’ guide jumped on a bike to cycle down to it to the cheers of the locals and cyclists alike! Next time try up-hill George!

...We visited a primary health care centre near Bethlehem where consultations are done for several villages. Mobile clinics are also operational as checkpoints always hinder mobility. Major health problems which consist in the West bank area are MALNUTRITION and PSYCHOLOGICAL troubles.

...In the afternoon we met Dr Mazen Qumsiyeh in the Siraj center. He is a biotechnologist, studied in the States and wrote a book on the situation in Palestine . We all discussed together about how to organize resistance all over the world (boycott, advocacy, to visit Palestine, to involve the Palestinian Diaspora, to support the Israeli peace movement). It was an interesting exchange. He is quite optimistic about the future predicting that the Israeli system will collapse within 5 or 10 years. A hopeful message and we will all try to contribute!!!

Thursday August 28th 2008: Hebron

Cyclists visited the Old city in Hebron, visited the Hebron rehabiliation committees. Cyclists observed the injustices of the settelments in the old city and how the old city contains ONE HUNDRED AND ONE CHECKPOINTS.

George S. Rishmawi
Siraj, Center For Holy Land Studies
Beit Sahour, Schoold Street
P.O.Box 48

Website: sirajcenter dot org

Tel: +972 2 274 8590
Fax: +972 2 274 8774
Mobile: 0599 180 872
USA number: 1 989 607 9480

UPDATES RNC Sept 1 World Can't Wait/ Steve Clemens--A Friend Who's Risking Arrest for Non-Violent Protest at the RNC

From World Can't Wait

Republican National Convention, St. Paul:

Repression of protesters at the RNC. For days we've been receiving reports of raids on private homes and meeting places. Federal authorities seem intent on keeping people in custody until after planned protests at the Republican Convention, seizing video cameras, flyers about protest, and detaining people for hours in shackles. The RNC itself is being scaled back because of Hurricane Gustav. But what about the repression?

I'll be speaking with Ann Wright, John Nichols, and Ray McGovern Wednesday September 3 on the Protest Stage at the Excel Arena. More info at Protest Stage at 4:00 pm. World Can't Wait will have the stage at 4pm & at

Thanks to hundreds of people who answered my query about Obama's acceptance speech. worldcan't wait dot net (will soon post)the most interesting reponses I got along with my own commentary. Right now, World Can't Wait is off to St. Paul (or in St. Paul) to take part in programs and street protests there when the Republicans have their truncated convention.

The World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime
Report Back on the RNC 9 by STEVE CLEMENS--September 1, 2008
Sunday August 31, 2008 saw the first arrests of peaceful protestors at the Republican National Convention held in St. Paul, MN. As plans began to be announced for scheduled protest marches and rallies against the on-going war on Iraq and “against the Republican agenda”, a few of us in the local peace community in the Twin Cities grew uncomfortable with the style and tenor of some of the protests.

Although we are as strongly apposed to the war as many other groups, some of us wished to have a more reflective and solemn protest against the loss of life and physical and psychological destruction of both soldiers and civilians this war has wrought. This war had been supported by both major political parties and is not just a “Republican” issue.

My friend Dr. David Harris, an active member of Veterans for Peace, shared these concerns and generated the idea of a silent march carrying symbolic tombstones with the photos and names of dead U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians killed in the war. Our mutual friend and peacemaker, Sami Rasouli, an Iraqi-American and founder of the Muslim Peacemaker Team provided photos he has taken during the war of some of the enormous numbers of Iraqi casualties that he has witnessed first-hand.

Dr. Harris’s idea was to march to the Xcel Center, the location for the RNC, carrying the tombstones with just a drum cadence and the reading of the names of the dead on both sides with the response from the marchers being “We remember you” in a similar fashion to the annual protest at The U.S. Army School of the Americas at Ft. Benning, GA. There, each November, the vigilers respond with “Presente!” when names of the victims of that notorious remnant of the Cold War are sung out.

Dr. Harris also felt the need to include an option in the march for those who felt called to supplement their protest with an act of nonviolent civil disobedience. Marchers were told that if they wished to risk arrest, they could nonviolently continue beyond the legal route of the march and attempt to carry their tombstones to the convention site itself. He was public and clear with both the marchers and the police about these intentions and the risks involved.

Prior to the start of the march, only 4 expressed an interest and willingness to commit to the civil disobedience portion of the march with one saying she would like to do so but wasn’t sure she’d have the physical stamina to be able to march to the point where the breach of the security line would occur. So, initially, three of us chose to branch off the route to an area scouted out in advance where it appeared there was an opening in the fence.

However, when we approached the opening, it turned out to be a swinging gate to allow vehicles to pass and the gates were quickly shut and secured as we slowly approached. As I entered the area, I noticed a gap under the fenced-off area where I though we might be able to squeeze under and so I told the other two to follow me. Given my physical size, it was somewhat a chore to squeeze under the wrought iron fencing but after I managed it, I waited for the other two. When we had cleared it, I noticed to my chagrin that we were “boxed in” by fencing all around us except for a rear building entrance on one side.

However, on closer inspection, I discovered that one section of the fence wasn’t properly secured and could possibly be lifted off its hinge pins and removed to the side. Joel and David gave me a hand in lifting the heavy 4’ x 10’ panel up and as I moved the section to the side, at least a half dozen law enforcement officers rushed to the site from inside the perimeter to prevent our access. I gently pushed the fence as they struggled to close the breach. I told the officers that we were committed to nonviolence and had no intention of injuring anyone – we just wanted “to go to the Xcel Center to deliver a letter and documents to President Bush”.

Earlier that morning, I wrote an open letter to the President, calling him to immediately end this war, quoting portions of International Law and treaties it had violated. Needless to say, the police were more concerned with their security perimeter than the desires of a few to peaceably confront the “Commander-in-Chief”. After it became clear that we would be unable to proceed further in a nonviolent manner, we decided to remain where we were. We were also pleasantly surprised to find that Josh, Dan, and Duncan had joined us. I knew Josh and Dan from the recent 500 mile “Witness Against War” walk from Chicago to St. Paul they had completed the day before. I was glad to have their gentle spirits with us! None of us had previously known Duncan but he was the one who had shown David the area where we might by-pass the fence prior to the walk.

As at least a dozen police officers in riot gear with long wooden batons quickly established themselves between us and the fence, I then noticed that three other friends and joined us on “the wrong side of the law”. Sister Betty Mckenzie, a nun who is 78 had crawled under the fence along with Mary Vaughan and Jeanne Hynes. All three women have been faithful peace activists and active members of AlliantACTION, a local group that has vigiled weekly for the past 12 years at the headquarters of a war profiteer, Alliant Techsystems. So that completed our group of nine.

As the police regrouped and officers were deciding what to do with their caged prey, Mary decided to lead us in song. Down By The Riverside, Let It Be, Give Peace a Chance, and even a spirited solo by Duncan of James Brown’s classic, “I Feel Good” rang out. Many members of the media had crowded up against the outside of the fence wanting to get a photo or a quote from Betty or Jeanne who were closest to them. One of our group asked me to read aloud my letter to the President so the surrounding police could hear it. I obliged.

After what seemed to be 15-20 minutes, a police commander came to inform us that “You know you are under arrest?” Actually, other police must have been a little lax in their training as that was the first we were notified that we were “arrested”. We had a pleasant conversation with him, informing him of our commitment to nonviolence and our intent to deliver the letter and documents to the Convention site. He said that wasn’t going to happen and asked if we would “cooperate” with the arrest procedure. David, ever the diplomat, responded “of course” but then quickly added, “Actually, we might not cooperate but we are certainly nonviolent”.

In an act of supreme irony, David was the first to be shackled with a set of PINK handcuffs! I told him how proud Media Benjamin and her Code Pink group would be if they could see him now. (Media and Code Pink members had marched with us before we veered off-route.) I had to settle for black handcuffs and the officer cooperated with my request to not make them too tight because I suffer from carpal tunnel. He was very respectful and all of the officers responded to our peaceableness in a professional and respectful manner. A number of the officers responded positively to David’s ready identity as a military vet since he proudly had worn his Veterans For Peace t-shirt. I had chosen to wear my LA Catholic Worker shirt with a Dorothy Day quote: “The only solution is Love” on it. Jeanne wore her NO WAR t-shirt which included “Our God is Love; Our Gospel is Peace”.

The booking process began in the building we had come behind – St. Paul’s famous Landmark Center. We were searched and patted down and then photographed alongside our “Arresting Officer” with a white board declaring our names, birthdates, and case numbers. Our metal handcuffs were replaced with sturdy plastic flexi-cuffs and we were herded out to a waiting police van to be transported to the Ramsey County Jail for the rest of the booking process.

I later found out that Sister Betty has collapsed while being processed and was caught and helped into a wheelchair. I think the combination of the outside temperature, the march, and the excitement of crawling under the security fence had strained her frail physique. Mary informed us that she thought Betty was recovering fine. We later discovered that they kept Jeanne and Betty at the first location and completed their booking process there so they wouldn’t have to be transported elsewhere. Again, we were treated with respect and dignity despite the fact that the two previous days had seen what seemed to me as egregious excesses by the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office against what they and the media defined as “anarchists”. They were probably ignorant that Dorothy Day herself and many of today’s principled servants of the poor, the Catholic Workers, identify themselves as anarchists.

After having our property put in plastic bags (belts, combs, watches, keys, pens and paper …) we were fingerprinted and booked. Duncan was placed in a separate cage because he didn’t have any identification on him and he was from out-of-state. It was indicated that he might be held until they could verify his identity through other means. After receiving a citation for “trespass: refusing to leave the premises of another”, the police put us back into a van with stainless benches and a divider that reminded me of a cattle truck. They drove us a block or two away from the jail and gave us directions about how to walk back to the State Capitol, our starting place. We were given our property back at that point so we were able to contact our families and friends to let them know we were OK and able to breathe free air again.

The citation indicates that we will be contacted by mail for our court appearance and, I know from previous experience, that we can be fined and get up to 3 months jail time if convicted. But that is for the next leg of this journey for peace. We must end this war!

(There are some good photos of the peace witness on The Minnesota Independent website. )

Steve Clemens 2912 East 24th Street Minneapolis, MN 55406-1322 (612) 724-3255

Personal Statement on Why I Risk Arrest at the Republican National Convention. August 31, 2008

This immoral and illegal war against the peoples of Iraq must stop now!

I am required by the Nuremberg Principles to not be complicit with this war of aggression that the UN Charter calls a grave war crime.

I have written and called my Members of Congress as well as the President. I have sat in my Senators’ offices. I have marched and demonstrated in countless nonviolent vigils and demonstrations against this war and the illegal weapons (cluster bombs and depleted uranium munitions) used against the people of Iraq. I have protested the sanctioned use of torture and other violations of human rights under the guise of prosecuting a “War on Terror” – while, ironically terrorizing others! I have written Letters to the Editor. When I heard that President Bush planned to address the Republican National Convention in my home state, I felt I needed to nonviolently confront the President himself since this War and Occupation continues. (On an attachment you will find the letter I hope to deliver.)

If I am arrested for nonviolently attempting to deliver this letter and the International Law documents I carry to the President, I will choose to refuse to pay bail to seek my release. To charge someone for their right to nonviolently voice their opposition to criminal activity is a tax against my conscience. I will refuse to pay bail to a government that seeks to protect this War Criminal.

I march and protest today in solidarity with the civilians of Iraq and the millions of refugees who have had to endure this violent attack and occupation of their homeland. I ask my fellow U.S citizens to rise up nonviolently and refuse to allow this war to continue.

I try to faithfully follow the example and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth who calls me to “Love my enemies” and “Love my neighbor as myself”. I call all those who claim to follow the life and witness of Jesus to find creative ways to stop this war and work to heal its many wounds.

Steve Clemens
2912 E. 24th St.
Minneapolis, MN 55406-1322
(612) 724-3255
Saturday, August 30 2008 @ 01:30 AM CDT
Contributed by: Anonymous
Views: 179
RNC 2008 A couple hundred people have gathered in a park downtown: some for dinner with Food Not Bombs, some just hanging out...Armored police are positioned in groups of a dozen all around the park and the surrounding streets, OUTNUMBERING the young people sitting around with black sweatshirts in their laps

Saturday, August 30, 2008

New Orleans 11:24 PM EST

New Orleans Orders Mandatory Evacuation Ahead Of Gustav By BECKY BOHRER | originally pub.August 30, 2008 11:24 PM EST |

Traffic creeps along the eastbound lanes of I-10 as Gulf Coast residents from Mississippi and Louisiana try to get a head of the surge, winds and rain accompanying Hurricane Gustav, Saturday, Aug. 30, 2008, near Diamondhead, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

NEW ORLEANS — Spooked by predictions that Hurricane Gustav could grow into a Category 5 monster, an estimated 1 million people fled the Gulf Coast Saturday _ even before the official order came for New Orleans residents to get out of the way of a storm taking dead aim at Louisiana.

Mayor Ray Nagin gave the mandatory order late Saturday, but all day residents took to buses, trains, planes and cars _ clogging roadways leading away from New Orleans, still reeling three years after Hurricane Katrina flooded 80 percent of the city and killed about 1,600 across the region.

The evacuation of New Orleans becomes mandatory at 8 a.m. Sunday along the vulnerable west bank of the Mississippi River, and at noon on the east bank. Nagin called Gustav the "mother of all storms" and told residents to "get out of town. This is not the one to play with."

"This is the real deal, this is not a test," Nagin said as he issued the order, warning residents that staying would be "one of the biggest mistakes you could make in your life." He emphasized that the city will not offer emergency services to anyone who chooses to stay behind.

Nagin did not immediately order a curfew, which would allow officials to arrest residents if they are not on their property.

Gustav had already killed more than 80 people in the Caribbean, and if current forecasts hold up, it would make landfall Monday afternoon somewhere between East Texas and western Mississippi.

The storm's center moved into the Gulf of Mexico from Cuba late Saturday and at 11 p.m. EDT was about 530 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. Top winds were near 140 mph and likely to strengthen.

Forecasters warned it was too soon to say whether New Orleans would take another direct hit, but residents weren't taking any chances judging by the bumper-to-bumper traffic pouring from the city. Gas stations along interstate highways were running out of fuel, and phone circuits were jammed.

Story continues below

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said they were surprised at how quickly Gustav gained strength as it slammed into Cuba's tobacco-growing western tip. It went from a tropical storm to a Category 4 hurricane in about 24 hours, and was likely to become a Category 5 _ with sustained winds of 156 mph or more _ by Sunday.

"That puts a different light on our evacuations and hopefully that will send a very clear message to the people in the Gulf Coast to really pay attention," said Federal Emergency Management Agency chief David Paulison.

Levee building on the city's west bank was incomplete, Nagin said. A storm surge of 15 to 20 feet would pour through canals and flood the neighborhood and neighboring Jefferson Parish, he said.

Nagin estimated that about half the population had left and admitted officials were worried that some people would try to stay.

Even before the evacuation order, hotels closed, and the airport prepared to follow suit.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff planned to travel to Louisiana on Sunday to observe preparations. Also, likely GOP presidential nominee John McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, are traveling to Mississippi on Sunday to check on people getting prepared.

As part of the evacuation plan New Orleans developed after Katrina, residents who had no other way to get out of the city waited on a line that snaked for more than a mile through the parking lot of the city's main transit terminal. From there, they were boarding motor coaches bound for shelters in north Louisiana. The city expects to move out about 30,000 such residents by Sunday.

"I don't like it," said Joseph Jones Jr., 61, who draped a towel over his head to block the blazing sun. "Going someplace you don't know, people you don't know. And then when you come back, is your house going to be OK?"

Others led children or pushed strollers with one hand and pulled luggage with the other. Volunteers handed out bottled water, and medics were nearby in case people became sick from the heat.

Unlike Katrina, when thousands took refuge inside the Superdome, there will be no "last resort" shelter. "You will be on your own," Nagin said.

About 1,500 National Guard troops were in the region, and soldiers were expected to help augment about 1,400 New Orleans police officers in helping patrol and secure the city.

Standing outside his restaurant in the city's Faubourg Marigny district, Dale DeBruyne prepared for Gustav the way he did for Katrina _ stubbornly.

"I'm not leaving," he said.

DeBruyne, 52, said his house was stocked with storm supplies, including generators.

"I stayed for Katrina," he said, "and I'll stay again."

Many residents said the early stage of the evacuation was more orderly than Katrina, although a plan to electronically log and track evacuees with a bar code system failed and was aborted to keep the buses moving. Officials said information on evacuees would be taken when they reached their destinations.

Advocates criticized the decision not to establish a shelter, warning that day laborers and the poorest residents would fall through the cracks.

About two dozen Hispanic men gathered under oak trees near Claiborne Avenue. They were wary of boarding any bus, even though a city spokesman said no identity papers would be required.

"The problem is," said Pictor Soto, 44, of Peru, "there will be immigration people there and we're all undocumented."

Farther west, where Gustav appeared more likely to make landfall, Guard troops were also being sent to Lake Charles.

The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch for Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and part of Texas, meaning hurricane conditions are possible within 36 hours.

Two East Texas counties also issued mandatory evacuation orders, and authorities in Mississippi began evacuating the mentally ill and aged from facilities along the coast.

National Guard soldiers on Mississippi's coast were going door-to-door to alert thousands of families in FEMA trailers and cottages that they should be prepared to evacuate Sunday.

In Alabama, shelters were opened and 3,000 National Guard personnel assembled to help evacuees from Mississippi and Louisiana.

"If we don't get the wind and rain, we stand ready to help them," Gov. Bob Riley said.


Associated Press writers Peter Prengaman, Janet McConnaughey, Alan Sayre, Allen G. Breed, Mary Foster and Stacey Plaisance contributed to this report from New Orleans. Doug Simpson in Baton Rouge, La., and Michael Kunzelman in Gulfport, Miss., also contributed.

Lots of comments under this story on Huff Post

Playing Hurricane Roulette

Published on Saturday, August 30, 2008 by The Guardian/UK
The Failure to Learn From Katrina-Three years after Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans, a new storm is threatening the city. We're still not prepared--

by John McQuaid

Nearly lost amid the political hoopla of two presidential nominating conventions is a sombre milestone. Today is the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's deadly strike on the Gulf of Mexico coast, a catastrophe that nearly destroyed New Orleans and, with its aftermath of botched rescue efforts, has done more than anything but the Iraq war to discredit the Bush presidency.

As if following some kind of karmic timetable, though, Tropical Storm Gustav is now gathering strength over the Caribbean and about to enter the Gulf. Forecasts indicate it will head toward Louisiana, meaning a possible deadly blow for New Orleans. The machinery of mass evacuations has cranked into motion across the Gulf coast. Fema and other federal agencies, having learned some lessons with Katrina, are pre-positioning aid and personnel.

And Republicans, whose convention to nominate John McCain for the presidency gets underway on Monday in St Paul, Minnesota, are panicking. White House officials say President Bush may opt out of his planned Monday speech, and there's talk of postponing the convention altogether. The potential spectacle of Republicans partying and launching political attacks on Barack Obama while a storm rains destruction on American communities would indeed hurt McCain's chances. It would seem callous - a Republican weakness to begin with - but also evoke images of the Katrina aftermath, when the Bush administration spent more time pinning blame on Democrats than on rescuing citizens trapped in flooded New Orleans.

The fact that Republicans are concerned almost wholly with how things look, not the actual threat of the storm to life and property, isn't surprising. The fact is, America's leaders - Republican and Democrat - never really learned the lessons of Katrina.

Katrina represented a failure of the government at all levels - not just in emergency management, but in the basic idea of government itself, protecting citizens from harm. In the decades before the storm hit, the US government embarked on an ambitious plan to protect New Orleans and its surrounding suburbs from hurricane storm surges. It managed to totally botch the job. Not only was the new levee system a patchwork, full of gaps and shoddy construction, some floodwalls were built using faulty designs and fell down soon after the water rose.

Moreover, as scientists learned more about hurricanes, it was clear by the 1980s that New Orleans would be destroyed if a hurricane hit it head-on, as floodwaters swamped its levees and filled the city like a soup bowl. Every summer, as new hurricanes roared over Gulf waters, the US played a game of hurricane roulette with one of its major cities. Yet nothing was done to address this mortal threat. Meanwhile, the city itself and its surrounding marshes were sinking into the sea, steadily opening it to greater risks.

New Orleans is an excellent proxy for the broader challenges posed by global warming, which will mean rising seas and (probably) bigger, more dangerous storms. The deltaic landscape of south Louisiana is changing very fast, so the risks from storms and flooding are rising faster than flat-footed, special interest-dominated American institutions are able to handle. In the coming decades, there will be more New Orleanses in America and elsewhere around the world.

Katrina provided an early warning, offering some valuable lessons on how to handle climate change. Protecting New Orleans from future storms would mean not only preserving a US city and a valuable cultural heritage. It would force institutions to reform and devise smarter policies that could be adapted to the coming challenges.

But New Orleans proved too politically marginal to get much attention from Washington, and protecting and rebuilding it - which ought to be a national priority - soon became a tertiary concern. The result: The levee system is being upgraded, at a cost of $13bn. But the upgrades only protect against relatively weak storms. We're still playing hurricane roulette.

Forecasters say Gustav will strengthen to a Category 4 storm, with wind speeds between 131-155 mph (210-249 km/hr), and would easily overwhelm the levees if it comes close enough to the city. That could undo the past three years of rebuilding, and destroy what Katrina missed.

This is bad for New Orleans, of course. I am sceptical, given that the institutions charged with protecting it are so weak and slow-moving, that the city will still be there a century from now. But more ominously still, this shows how fundamentally unready the US government is to tackle the coming challenges of climate change.

© Guardian News and Media Limited 2008
John McQuaid is a Washington-based journalist, specialising in science, environment, and various forms of government dysfunction. He is the co-author, with Mark Schleifstein, of Path of Destruction: The Devastation of New Orleans and the Coming Age of Superstorms, about Hurricane Katrina.

"The Mother of All Storms"

-- Mayor Ray Nagin orders New Orleans evacuated, calling Hurricane Gustav "the mother of all storms." CNN 9:09 PM August 30 2008

"The Wave"

Rainer Wenger addresses The Wave members in "The Wave" soon to be released in the US...

From The Sunday Times
August 31, 2008

The Wave shows how to turn children into Nazis:
A hit German film that shows how to turn children into Nazis. And it's based on a real-life Californian experiment that got scarily out of hand

In a German school, a class of teenagers sits bored. Their history teacher, Herr Wenger, seems equally unenthusiastic. For Project Week, he announces, they’ll be studying Nazism, a prospect that elicits the usual groans: haven’t we beaten ourselves up enough? Wenger whacks on the projector and sobers them with footage of Nuremberg and Auschwitz. Lights on and a hand goes up. It’s the perennial: how could a whole nation have let this happen?

This is a scene from Dennis Gansel’s latest film, and, given his previous one, the acclaimed Before the Fall, about the Nazification of German youth, it’s clear the director has a bone to pick. “I have a grandfather who was really supportive of Hitler,” he confides. “He said, ‘When I was your age, I was leading a division in Russia.’ And I have very left-wing parents. So, as part of the third generation after the second world war, it is something I really want to explore.”

In Die Welle (The Wave), the setting is present-day. Wenger (Jürgen Vogel) invites his students to participate in an experiment. Put their faith in him and he will deliver a unique insight into the mind-set of a citizen in a totalitarian state. What begins as a playful study in psychological manipulation — a few drills in collective behaviour, time trials in entering the room — soon runs away with itself. By midweek, Wenger is recoiling in horror. His acned darlings have been transformed into an ersatz Hitler Youth — the title’s self-styled “Wave” — complete with uniform, badge, salute and an eagerness to jackboot all nonbelievers. “It isn’t about politics at all,” Gansel says. “It’s more about group dynamics and psychology.”

If the film sounds far-fetched, it isn’t. Bar some dramatic licence, it is modelled on a very real experiment that took place in a schoolroom in Palo Alto, California, over one week in April 1967. Known as “The Third Wave”, it achieved similarly sensational results, a textbook case for psychologists. Back then, at Cubberley High, in the heart of affluent Silicon Valley, the orchestrator was a history teacher named Ron Jones. Against the backdrop of 1960s radicalism, he thought he’d spice up a routine social-studies lesson for his 10th-graders. “It was very spontaneous and very improvisational,” Jones remembers. “My own curiosity got the best of me and I started playing with it. The first day was structured, but the other four were not, although events were tumbling down on top of us.”

Mark Hancock was one of Jones’s then 15-year-old guinea pigs. “Ron was the most popular teacher in the school. Kids wanted to be in his class,” he says. “The thing to remember is, he was very young, right out of Stanford University, so we really identified with him. This was not his first experiment either, which is why we were so accepting of it.” Indeed, the proverbial charismatic leader found his charges eminently suggestible. As in the film, it began with the tenet “Discipline” — extolling the benefits of correct posture, the merits of direct and courteous speech (the kind of advice you wish would be directed towards your average British adolescent). “Fascism takes steps, it doesn’t pop out of nowhere,” says Jones. “It comes from a series of progressions.”

It was meant to have been a one-day exercise, but when Jones entered on the second morning to find his silent and attentive class eager for more dictation, he decided to run with it. He gave his group a name, The Third Wave (after surfer lore that the last of a trio of breakers is the biggest), a hand signal, membership cards. Soon, he was espousing the Orwellian (and chantable) doctrines of “strength through community” and “strength through action”. With even the class deadbeats happily involved, he instructed his Third Wavers to proselytise. To a more sinister end, he established his own Gestapo to rat out any sceptics. “We basically had a mini police state going,” says Hancock. “You couldn’t trust your best friend. You were scared to death because if you did something, you’d get caught, and if you got caught, you got a bad grade. You were ruled by fear.”

The 30-odd original Wavers soon swelled to an order of 200, a Darwinian force within the school. “It was like an explosion, constantly getting out of control. It was taking on a lot of its own dimensions,” says Jones.

There were Good Germans, to be sure. “The traditional story is that every single kid was enthusiastic; the reality was more complicated,” recalls Hancock. The intimidatory atmosphere, however, kept them silent. “When students were pronounced guilty in front of the class, it was, ‘Gee, that’s good, let’s give ’em some more,’ ” says Jones. “Wow, it sent a chill up my back, this kind of group desire to hurt someone.” Teachers and parents grew concerned. With a recent history of violence at the school, the propensity for something more cataclysmic seemed real. “One of the students in the class was a bomb-maker,” says Jones. “He had blown off his hand the previous summer.” Springtime was over for the reluctant Führer.

Unexpectedly, Jones cranked it up a notch. The Third Wave was no isolated group, he informed his enraptured followers, but part of a co-ordinated national youth movement, with cells all across America. A rally in the assembly hall was called for Friday afternoon, at which a leader would reveal himself on live television, declaring The Third Wave the national third party. “I remember somebody saying, ‘We’re going to get the pigs out of Washington,’ ” says Philip Neel, another of Jones’s pupils.

It was there Jones dropped his bombshell. At the appointed hour, to a fevered auditorium, the TVs crackled blankly. Behind, on a screen, Jones projected the same archive images of Nazi atrocities with which he had begun the week. “He looked shaken up. He just said that what he had witnessed had overwhelmed him,” says Neel. “He said, ‘Let me show you your future. You guys were led by your own desires and were willing to give up your freedoms.’ ” There were tears and tantrums — some upset, some relieved, others confused. “I just felt ohmigod, the fact that he pulled this off, I did not see it coming. Maybe that’s my own naivety, but what a great experiment, one of the best learning experiences I ever had.”

The Third Wave was duly forgotten. “Very similar to what happened in Germany, ‘I didn’t take part, it didn’t happen,’ ” says Jones. It resurfaced in 1972 when a former pupil flashed him their quasi-Nazi gesture (“I was buying underwear,” he laughs), prompting Jones to write about the experiment. It assumed a new lease of life, attracting inquiries from ne’er-do-wells with an interest in exerting group control. “Jim Jones called me from his People’s Temple,” he says. In 1981 came a TV movie and a novelisation by Todd Strasser (aka Morton Rhue). The book became an international bestseller and a set text in German schools, which Gansel read. “The first question was: would this be possible in my country with our dark burden?” he says. “And the second: what would have been my part?”

The notable thing about both the original project and the German filmed version is that they take place in white, middle-class suburbs, with no racial tensions evident — illustrating Gansel’s central point, the embracing of Nazism happened even in the cushy reaches of “Middle Germany”. But there are also differences. It is much more plausible to suggest that kids in 1967, before the internet, could be duped into believing they were part of a national movement. Also, and crucially, whereas in Gansel’s film the pupils embrace the experiment as part of their routine course work — with no virtual Weimar Republic to crystallise their actions — Jones’s pupils had a very real incentive to play ball. “You had to get good grades to get into college,” says Neel. “And to stay in college was to stay out of the draft. There was definitely the spectre of Vietnam.” Resistance, as you might put it, was futile.

An interesting upshot of The Wave, already a hit in Germany, is that Jones has been approached by TV companies (including a British one) wanting to replicate versions of his classroom experiment in a reality-show context. Our love of lab-rat telly, Jones suggests, merely demonstrates our capacity for the kind of malevolent behaviour he was trying to spotlight 40 years ago. “What are we cheering? Are we any better than the Nazis?” he asks. Look deep into your soul, viewer. We are all responsible.

The Wave is released on September 19

New Orleans: Many Opt to Leave, Many Can't


Another Journey Begins...Waiting in New Orleans


August 30, 2008 – 4PM

In the blazing midday sun, hot and thirsty little children walk around bags of diapers and soft suitcases piled outside a locked community center in the Lower Ninth Ward. Military police in camouflage and local police in dark blue uniforms and sunglasses sit a few feet away in their cars. Moms and grandmas sit with the children quietly. Everyone is waiting for a special city bus which will start them on their latest journey away from home.

Hundreds of buses are moving people away from the Gulf Coast. Hurricane Gustave is heading for the Louisiana coast nearly three years to the day after Hurricane Katrina destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes across the Gulf Coast. Many now face mandatory evacuation.

Dozens died in Haiti and the Dominican Republic after Gustave visited. After Katrina, few underestimate the potential of Gustave, now a Category 5 (out of a maximum of 5) storm.

Yesterday marching brass bands led commemorations for those who died and for those who lost so much in Katrina.

Today, Humvees crawl amid the thwack thwack thwack of plywood boards being nailed over windows.

Soldiers with long guns and police of all types are everywhere. Fifteen hundred police are on duty and at least that many National Guard are also here.

One estimate says two million people may be displaced.

In the lower nine, still no bus even after a wait of over two hours. Another mom clutching an infant walks up to the center with a small suitcase and adds another diaper bag to the pile. Children ask for water but nothing is provided. An African American nun named Sister Greta drives up with a few bags of ice and some water and paper cups and everyone happily shares.

This is the first step of displacement. Those with cars drive away. Those without walk to a community center with their children and wait for a bus. The first of many buses they will take in their journey to who-knows-where. The bus that people are waiting for will take them to the train station where people will get off the bus, be entered into computers, be given bar code bracelets, and then put on other buses for a trip to public shelters in places like Shreveport, Alexandria and Memphis.

New Orleans expects 30,000 people need help evacuating.

Many waiting for this bus were in the Superdome when Katrina hit. One of the men shows a picture of himself on a bridge surrounded by flood waters where hundreds waited for boats.

There are still big problems. A 311 call system for the disabled and seniors never properly functioned, crashed and has been abandoned.

Though the wait for the bus is rough, this appears to be a huge improvement. When Katrina hit, there were no buses and no way out of town for the 25 per cent of the city who had no cars. As a result, nearly 100,000 people were left behind. This time the hospitals and nursing homes are emptying, the prisoners are already moved out, and there are buses to carry out tens of thousands. There are still big problems, but people do have a chance to get out.

Seniors worry about their social security checks, due the first of the month. Others worry about leaving behind pets. (One semi-rural area announced that each person getting on the buses could bring one pet, a dog or cat, no roosters, no pigs). Others worry about the looming 24 hour curfews. St. Bernard Parish promises that those out during curfew will be arrested and immediately transported to Angola, the Louisiana State Penitentiary.

Back at the community center, the bus finally pulls up. No one complains that it is late. Holding bags and children, people line up quietly in the sun to climb into their first bus. A blind man is guided into the bus. Little kids pull smaller children. Forty-three get on the bus. There are three nine-year old children, one seven-year old, one six, four three year olds, three one year olds, one infant is 11 months, a 3-month old, and a couple of young teenagers. All the moms and grandmas and kids and bags and diapers make it onto the bus and it pulls away.

Across the Gulf Coast, another journey starts.

Bill Quigley is a human rights lawyer and law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. His essay on the Echo 9 nuclear launch site protests is featured in Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance from the Heartland, published by AK Press. He can be reached at

New Orleans & Other Levees (A Must Watch Video)

You can help New Orleans right now by going to this page, rating the video and encouraging your friends and colleagues to do the same:

youtube dot com New Orleans and Other Levees

If you want to know why this is so important,read on...Right now, folk in New Orleans
are packing up their belongings preparing to leave their homes for no one knows how long.

Their minds are filled with questions like where they're going to sleep, what they'll eat, what's going to happen to their kid's schools...

One thing the citizens of New Orleans can count on is that while they're completely preoccupied and unable to defend themselves, the media slander machine led by Fox News will be kicking them when they're down - just like they did three years ago.

"They're freeloaders. They're corrupt. They shouldn't live there etc."

Anything to cover the basic fact that the US has abandoned its citizens, its infrastructure,and even its future in a mad power grab overseas that is sucking up hundreds of billions of dollars while basic services at home go begging.

Make no mistake...New Orleans is ground zero for the US.

Your city is next.

If we don't draw a line in the sand here and now and insist that the government take responsibility for its failed levees and other infrastructure,you might has well start practicing your goose step.

Because that's the next logical stop for the trajectory we're on.

How much more contempt does the government have to show for its citizens to make it any clearer?

Being informed helps. Informing others helps too.

Because of the efforts of a lot of people, we are now the #11 highest rated "News and Politics" video on YouTube today...even with all the convention (items).

We need your help to move "The Katrina Myth" further up the rankings so more people will see this important message.

Go, view, comment, rate and ask others to do the same:

youtube dot com New Orleans & Other Levees

- Brasscheck

oneheartforpeace dot blogspot dot com

Help SUPPORT the NEW ORLEANS evacuation

Greetings All,

This is a call to support the evacuation of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricanes Gustav's potential landfall within the next several days. As many of you know, thousands of our people are presently evacuating the area. In the attempt to learn from preparedness shortcomings of Hurricane Katrina, a network of New Orleans activists, some whom have evacuated already and others whom are intent on staying are in the process of creating a support network which is in need of all our help.

How you can help (outside of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast):
1. Serve as a point of contact in your area for evacuees.

2. Help create safe and accessible relief networks and stations in your city/region. This is particularly going to be crucial for allies in Northern Louisiana, Jackson, and Memphis, where it appears most of the evacuees are going to be stationed. We hope to have identified the rest of the specific cities by this evening.

3. Serve as a media liaison for the support network and the forces staying in New Orleans.

If you or your organization can serve in one or more of these capacities please contact one of the following individuals and send your name, cell phone, land line, email address and relevant address information for relief stations.

Kali Akuno 510.593.3956 (please text if no answer if possible) or
Lydia 314-537-0537 (C) 770-559-1461 land line
Molly 510-847-6101 (C)
In Unity and Struggle,

Protestors at the DNC Update--RNC Next....

A crowd of jubilant and angry youth estimated by the police to number 6,000 ripped through the streets of Denver on Wednesday, August 27, in a powerful march demanding an end to the war in Iraq, no attack on Iran, and support for GI resisters. Marching from the Denver Coliseum, where Rage Against the Machine, the Flobots, and the Coup had just finished a mind blowing concert, to the Pepsi Center in downtown Denver, the youth filled the streets of an industrial district, a residential area, and the canyons of downtown Denver with their chants and songs: "They're our brothers, they're our sisters; we support the war resisters"; "the people of Iraq are under attack - what do we do, stand up, fight back!" Once again, Ron Kovic was at the front of the march with the Iraq veterans. more at World Can't Wait (dot net)

What Did You Think of the Obama Speech? After hundreds of anti-war protesters gathered outside Invesco Mile High Stadium last night, about 60 of us went to a Middle Eastern restaurant in Denver to watch the Obama speech. Are you hopeful, skeptical, conflicted? What is Obama's program? Is it change, more of the same, possible, or hype?

Write World Can't Wait (and comment here and/or send your thoughts to oneheartforpeace c/o Connie at and let others know) what you thought of the speech.

Protest when the Republicans Meet: Sept 1-4 in St. Paul MN

Impeach for Peace/World Can't Wait:

Monday Sept. 1 12 - 3 pm We're having a "Prisoners of Guantanamo March" to the Excel Energy Center and back again with chains on our arms and hoods upon our heads. Gather at 11am at the East Steps of the Captiol Building, Downtown St. Paul.
Look for orange Guantanamo Bay outfits and the ImpeachforPeace dot org banner.

Wednesday Sept 3: Speak Out for Impeachment with John Nichols, Ann Wright, Ray McGovern and Debra Sweet. TBA

New (items) on worldcantwait dot org from Ken Theisen:

posted by Debra Sweet, Director, The World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime

Friday, August 29, 2008

Human Rights Watch: FREE Aafia's 11-year-old son

Human Rights Watch: Child Is Too Young to Be Treated as Criminal Suspect

(New York, August 27, 2008) - The Afghan government should immediately relinquish 11-year-old Ahmed Siddiqui to the custody of his family, Human Rights Watch said today. Siddiqui, a US citizen, is believed to be the son of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman held on US federal charges in New York.

The two were reportedly arrested together in Afghanistan last month.

According to an Afghan Interior Ministry official quoted in the Washington Post, Ahmed Siddiqui was held briefly by the Interior Ministry after the arrest, and then transferred to the custody of the Afghan National Security Directorate (NDS), the country's intelligence agency. His current whereabouts are unknown. The NDS is notorious for its brutal treatment of detainees.

"Under Afghan and international law, Ahmed Siddiqui is too young to be treated as a criminal suspect," said Joanne Mariner, terrorism and counterterrorism program director at Human Rights Watch. "He should never have been transferred to the custody of Afghanistan's abusive intelligence agency."

Afghan police reportedly arrested Aafia Siddiqui and her son in Ghazni, Afghanistan, on July 17, 2008. US federal prosecutors allege that the day after her arrest, while in Afghan custody, she grabbed a gun from the floor and fired it at a team of US soldiers and federal intelligence agents. In August, she was charged with assaulting and trying to kill US officials.

In a letter sent recently to Aafia Siddiqui's family, US prosecutors said photos and DNA tests strongly suggested that the boy arrested with Siddiqui was her son Ahmed.

The federal complaint against Aafia Siddiqui states that the Afghan police officers who arrested her found suspicious items in her handbag, including "documents describing the creation of explosives, chemical weapons, and other weapons involving biological material and radiological agents." Siddiqui's lawyers reject the official account, suggesting that the charges against Siddiqui are a sham.

Whether or not his mother is implicated in criminal acts, Ahmed Siddiqui should not be held responsible. Under both Afghan and international law, he is too young to be considered criminally responsible for his mother's alleged acts.

According to Afghanistan's Juvenile Code, the minimum age of criminal responsibility is 13.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Afghanistan is a party, defines a child as any person under the age of 18. In its General Comment on Children's Rights in Juvenile Justice of February 9, 2007, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, which monitors states' compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, explicitly stated that a minimum age of criminal responsibility below age 12 "is considered by the Committee not to be internationally acceptable."

Human Rights Watch said that Ahmed Siddiqui should be released to his biological family members, who reside in Pakistan, or to a child welfare organization that can provide proper care until he is reunited with his family.

Human Rights Watch expressed concern not only for Ahmed Siddiqui, but also for two siblings, Mariam, age 10, and Suleman, age 5, who have been missing since March 2003.

Siddiqui, along with her three children (then aged 6 years, 5 years and 6 months), was reportedly apprehended in Karachi, Pakistan on March 28,

2003. Ten days earlier, on March 18, 2003, the FBI had issued an alert requesting information about Siddiqui in an effort to locate and question her.

The US government has alleged that Siddiqui is linked to al Qaeda suspects Majid Khan and Ali 'Abd al-'Aziz 'Ali (also known as Ammar

al-Baluchi), who were both arrested in early 2003 and held for years in secret prisons operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). A number of reports alleged that Siddiqui had been handed over to US custody after her March 2003 disappearance, raising concerns that she, too, was in secret CIA custody.

Yet on May 26, 2004, then-US Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller III identified Siddiqui as someone who posed a threat to the United States, suggesting that she was not in custody. For more than five years, until Siddiqui suddenly reappeared in Afghanistan, her whereabouts were unknown.

Since Siddiqui's reappearance this summer, the CIA and the US Department of Justice have denied that the United States had held Siddiqui or her children during the period of her disappearance, calling her a "fugitive from American justice." Her family claims that Siddiqui and her children were held in secret US detention during at least part of that period.

SOURCE: Human Rights Watch, August 27, 2008