Friday, February 16, 2007

Bloggers flock to Obama's Web site

By Mike Dorning
Washington Bureau
Published February 15, 2007, 8:41 PM CST

WASHINGTON -- Barack Obama's newly revamped Web site looks a lot like MySpace and Facebook, and that is no accident.

As a presidential candidate offering himself as a generational change agent, Obama is leveraging online social networking in a nearly unprecedented way in yet another clear measure of how the Internet is transforming politics.

he new look of the site, launched this week, invites the user to create a profile for public viewing, complete with an uploaded digital photo. Anyone can create a personal blog. Users also can create their own on-site network of friends and public groups arrayed around any common interest that moves them.

As of Thursday, five days after Obama announced his presidential campaign and the Web site launched, more than 2,400 groups had formed on the site, ranging from the Iowa Union Members for Obama and New Hampshire Firefighters for Barack to the Hip Hop for Obama.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Shut Up And Sing - New Film Rasies Promotional Blog Bar To New Level

Posted By:Ben Hamilton

Get this video and more at

‘Shut Up & Sing’ is right in tune
Documentary is a piercing look at free speech and celebrity image

By Christy Lemire
Associated Press

The Dixie Chicks would probably think of themselves as mothers first, then musicians.

They became accidental political figures — then they had to figure out how to reinvent themselves.

“Shut Up & Sing,” a documentary from directors Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck, follows the country trio after lead singer Natalie Maines’ offhanded on-stage comment that the group was ashamed that President Bush was a fellow Texan.

t’s not that the remark itself was shocking or even terribly provocative. But the backlash from the country music industry, from the South, from the core of the Chicks’ fan base was just stunning in its vitriol and hypocrisy. The same people who are so proud to live in a country where freedom of speech is an inalienable right wanted to silence these women — and worse. (Read More)

Shut Up And Sing has a very progressive blog to promote the new flim and to engage their audience (and the pubic) over time.

Chicks, NBC at odds


NEW YORK - The Dixie Chicks are again at the center of a controversy over the limits of opinionated talk.
A film company said last week that NBC wouldn't accept an advertisement for "Shut Up & Sing," a movie about the fuss created by Dixie Chick Natalie Maines' comment that she was ashamed President Bush was a fellow Texan. The network suggested the complaint may be a publicity stunt.

The movie premiered this weekend in New York and Los Angeles, and network affiliates in both those cities ran ads promoting it, according to the Weinstein Co., which is distributing the film.

Dixie Chicks stay defiant for their loyal Canuck fans

Dixie Chicks stay defiant for their loyal Canuck fans
Review | Buffeted by U.S. backlash, Texans bask in a warm reception at the ACC

Oct. 29, 2006. 01:00 AM

In TV interviews last week with Oprah and Larry King, the Dixie Chicks were up front about the fact that audiences for the group's current tour have dwindled in some U.S. markets, particularly in the south where sales were so poor that shows were cancelled.

But lead singer Natalie Maines, violinist Martie Maguire and banjo player Emily Robison argued the heightened enthusiasm of the fans who are turning up more than compensates for the disgruntled no-shows. more

Monday, April 03, 2006

Singapore warns bloggers against political postings

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Political debate on the Internet could fuel "dangerous discourse" in Singapore, the government said on Monday, warning people who post political commentary on Web sites could face prosecution.

Speaking in parliament, senior minister of state Balaji Sadasivan, said anyone using the Internet to "persistently propagate, promote or circulate political issues" about Singapore during election periods was breaking the law.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, whose People's Action Party has dominated politics in the city-state since independence in 1965, is widely expected to call early elections in the coming months.

"In a free-for-all Internet environment, where there are no rules, political debate could easily degenerate into an unhealthy, unreliable and dangerous discourse, flush with rumors and distortions to mislead and confuse the public," Sadasivan said. (Read More)


Hmmm. "unhealthy, unreliable and dangerous discourse, flush with rumors and distortions"

Another way to look at this is that Singapore's pro-government media "distortions to mislead and confuse the public."

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

David Rovics Performs - Song For Cindy Sheehan


Singer Songwriter David Rovics performs "Song for Cindy Sheehan" in Seattle August 15th. Please help promote David's West Coast Tour with Attila the Stockbroker FEBRUARY 25-MARCH 16 by embedding the above video or linking to this music video by blogger Steve Garfield in your blog.

Cindy Sheehan is in the news today.

Police Remove Sheehan From Bush Speech

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

"Wal-Mart" A New Song By David Rovics Now #1

"Wal-Mart" By David Rovics International Activist Singer/Songwriter/Blogger New Post-Industrial Christmas Carol Is Now #1

“Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, rolled out a campaign to combat negative publicity and restore confidence in the chain's heavily criticized business practices” - A NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, PBS

Port Townsend, WA –David Rovics’, internationally acclaimed activist/singer/songwriter/blogger, new anti-capitalist Christmas carol, “Wal-Mart” that was recorded on a portable MP3 player, is now the number 1 song on the Acoustic -- Folk Charts. This accomplishment was achieved after only 48 hours of being published on the music site.

The MP3 recording can be heard online or downloaded for free on portable music players like Apple’s iPod at:

“For people particularly interested in the Wal-Mart theme,” states David in an email blast to his fans, “you might also like to check out the songs on my web-only release, Beyond the Mall. "Wal-Mart" will be featured at, the website, created by the people who made the wonderful documentary, “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price”, that's been making quite a splash lately.”

”Wal-Mart” (Excerpt)
By David Rovics

There’s a thousand acres becoming clear
Cut down the forest, the big one’s here
Cover the ground with a mass of tar
Make sure there’s room for every car
One floor half mile massive sprawl
One store wonder super mall
It’s spreading out far and wide
Taking over the countryside
Say goodbye to your forests, they’re going down
Wal-Mart is coming to town

…No more local five and dime
It’s all just Wal-Mart overtime
But you can work all you want, night and day
As long as you can stand the pay
Just don’t get sick or have a kid
You’ll end up like the last one did
On the street and unemployed
In a town that’s been destroyed
Where misery has become a noun
Wal-Mart is coming to town


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Digital Porfolio

Digital Porfolio: "FAQ
Student Handbook


Model UN

Board Members
How to Help



Sunday, October 16, 2005

Bush's Latest Iraq War Lies

With his earlier war rationales shattered, George W. Bush now says the Iraq War must be continued indefinitely because of the presence of foreign Islamic fighters – even though they are estimated to represent only a tiny fraction of the Iraqi insurgency and might well quit the struggle if U.S. troops were to leave Iraq.

In an Oct. 6 speech aimed at rallying U.S. public support for the Iraq War, Bush painted a harrowing picture of the consequences that would follow an American withdrawal. Bush warned of “a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia” and the strategic isolation of the United States.

Bush’s alarmist vision, however, clashes with both recent intelligence assessments on the significance of foreign fighters to the Iraq War and fears expressed in an intercepted letter purportedly written by al-Qaeda’s second-in-command Ayman Zawahiri to al-Qaeda’s chief in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi.

The “Zawahiri letter” cautions that an American withdrawal might prompt the “mujahedeen” in Iraq to “lay down their weapons, and silence the fighting zeal.” To avert this military collapse, the letter calls for selling these foreign fighters on a broader vision of an Islamic “caliphate” in the Middle East, although nothing nearly as expansive as the global empire that Bush depicted.

Yet, a close reading of the “Zawihiri letter” – as posted at the Web site of the U.S. director of national intelligence John Negroponte – reveals al-Qaeda to be a movement struggling with financial crises and lacking even a reliable means to get its messages out. [See’s “‘Al-Qaeda Letter’ Belies Bush’s Iraq Claims.”]

Viewed from the perspective of this al-Qaeda weakness – and from the evidence that the Iraq War is overwhelmingly an indigenous struggle – Bush’s new arguments look like they may be just the latest in a long string of Iraq lies and distortions.

By Robert Parry
October 16, 2005

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at It's also available at, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'

Friday, October 07, 2005 - Politics - Al Gore Airlifts Evacuees - Politics - Al Gore Airlifts Evacuees: "KNOXVILLE, Tenn. � Al Gore (search) helped airlift some 270 Katrina evacuees on two private charters from New Orleans, acting at the urging of a doctor who saved the life of the former vice president's son.
Gore criticized the Bush administration's slow response to Hurricane Katrina (search) in a speech Friday in San Francisco, but refused to be interviewed about the mercy missions he financed and flew on Sept. 3 and 4.
However, Dr. Anderson Spickard, who is Gore's personal physician and accompanied him on the flights, said: 'Gore told me he wanted to do this because like all of us he wanted to seize the opportunity to do what one guy can do, given the assets that he has.'
An account of the flights was posted this week on a Democratic Party Web page. It was written by Greg Simon, president of the Washington-based activist group FasterCures. Simon, who helped put together the mission, also declined an interview."

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Seattle Times: Nation & World: Reports of anarchy at Superdome overstated

NEW ORLEANS — After five days managing near riots, medical horrors and unspeakable living conditions inside the Superdome, Louisiana National Guard Col. Thomas Beron prepared to hand over the dead to representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Following days of internationally reported murders, rapes and gang violence inside the stadium, the doctor from FEMA — Beron doesn't remember his name — came prepared for a grisly scene: He brought a refrigerated 18-wheeler and three doctors to process bodies.

"I've got a report of 200 bodies in the Dome," Beron recalled the doctor saying.

The real total?

Six, Beron said.

Of those, four died of natural causes, one overdosed and another jumped to his death in an apparent suicide, said Beron, who personally oversaw the handoff of bodies from a Dome freezer, where they lay atop melting bags of ice.

State health department officials in charge of body recovery put the official death count at the Dome at 10, but Beron said the other four bodies were found in the street near the Dome, not inside it. Both sources said no one had been murdered inside the stadium.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

New Orleans: Prisoners Abandoned to Floodwaters

Officers Deserted a Jail Building, Leaving Inmates Locked in Cells

"NEW YORK - September 23 - As Hurricane Katrina began pounding New Orleans, the sheriff's department abandoned hundreds of inmates imprisoned in the city's jail, Human Rights Watch said today.

Inmates in Templeman III, one of several buildings in the Orleans Parish Prison compound, reported that as of Monday, August 29, there were no correctional officers in the building, which held more than 600 inmates.

These inmates, including some who were locked in ground-floor cells, were not evacuated until Thursday, September 1, four days after flood waters in the jail had reached chest-level.

"Of all the nightmares during Hurricane Katrina, this must be one of the worst," said Corinne Carey, researcher from Human Rights Watch. "Prisoners were abandoned in their cells without food or water for days as floodwaters rose toward the ceiling."

Human Rights Watch called on the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct an investigation into the conduct of the Orleans Sheriff's Department, which runs the jail, and to establish the fate of the prisoners who had been locked in the jail.

The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, which oversaw the evacuation, and the Orleans Sheriff?s Department should account for the 517 inmates who are missing from list of people evacuated from the jail. Carey spent five days in Louisiana, conducting dozens of interviews with inmates evacuated from Orleans Parish Prison, correctional officers, state officials, lawyers and their investigators who had interviewed more than 1,000 inmates evacuated from the prison.

The sheriff of Orleans Parish, Marlin N. Gusman, did not call for help in evacuating the prison until midnight on Monday, August 29, a state Department of Corrections and Public Safety spokeswoman told Human Rights Watch."

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Port Townsend, WA relief bus in Mississippi

Volunteer relief workers Bill Dwier and Bill Dentzel of Port Townsend offer food and a ride to a shelter to a homeless woman in New Orleans. – Photo submitted by Kathleen Mitchell

Port Townsend relief workers aboard a bus fueled by biodiesel and vegetable oil have made their way to Waveland, Miss., where “it literally looked like Hiroshima,” according to workers recently returned from the area.

Bill Dentzel, who flew back with fellow volunteers Bill Dwier and Tara Dirth on Sunday night, said he saw “a deafening lack of presence of FEMA and the Red Cross” in the area. He said small, community-based organizations in the zone seemed to be providing more immediate relief in the way of food, water and clothing to the impoverished refugees there.

Last week the bus (Web Site) rescued several people from New Orleans, including one couple that had declined previous evacuation opportunities because they would have had to leave their pets behind, he said.

He said the city “was still horrible. Cars buried in water and sludge … devastation everywhere.” (more)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Doctor says FEMA ordered him to stop treating hurricane victims - Independent Media TV

In the midst of administering chest compressions to a dying woman several days after Hurricane Katrina struck, Dr. Mark N. Perlmutter was ordered to stop by a federal official because he wasn't registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"I begged him to let me continue," said Perlmutter, who left his home and practice as an orthopedic surgeon in Pennsylvania to come to Louisiana and volunteer to care for hurricane victims. "People were dying, and I was the only doctor on the tarmac (at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport) where scores of nonresponsive patients lay on stretchers. Two patients died in front of me.

"I showed him (the U.S. Coast Guard official in charge) my medical credentials. I had tried to get through to FEMA for 12 hours the day before and finally gave up. I asked him to let me stay until I was replaced by another doctor, but he refused. He said he was afraid of being sued. I informed him about the Good Samaritan laws and asked him if he was willing to let people die so the government wouldn't be sued, but he would not back down. I had to leave."

FEMA issued a formal response to Perlmutter's story, acknowledging that the agency does not use voluntary physicians.

"We have a cadre of physicians of our own," FEMA spokesman Kim Pease said Thursday. "They are the National Disaster Medical Team. ... The voluntary doctor was not a credentialed FEMA physician and, thus, was subject to law enforcement rules in a disaster area."

A Coast Guard spokesman said he was looking into the incident but was not able to confirm it.

Perlmutter, Dr. Clark Gerhart and medical student Alison Torrens flew into Baton Rouge on a private jet loaned by a Pennsylvania businessman several days after Katrina hit. They brought medicine and supplies with them. They stayed the first night in Baton Rouge and persuaded an Army Blackhawk helicopter pilot to fly them into New Orleans the next day.

"I was going to make it happen," the orthopedic surgeon said. "I was at Ground Zero too, and I had to lie to get in there."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Despite Some Protections Volunteers Face Risk of Liability and Litigation

News: "Eight years ago, the late Sen. Paul Coverdell (R-Ga.) sponsored and successfully worked to enact the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 - legislation that protects Volunteers from many frivolous lawsuits. However, as helpful and well-intentioned as this legislation was, more needs to be done to sufficiently protect all those lending a hand to those in need.

In response to Hurricane Katrina, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army have had difficulty coordinating efforts to set up emergency housing in private homes for evacuees, because of liability issues. - Quad City Times, September 20, 2005

A jury in Milwaukee found the Catholic Archdiocese liable because a volunteer for a Catholic lay organization, driving her own car, ran a red light and caused an accident while delivering a statue of the Virgin Mary to an invalid person. Although the church does not direct the activities of this group, the jury decided the Archdiocese should pay $17 million to the victim. - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 23, 2005 " News - International - Pentagon blocks soldier's evidence News - International - Pentagon blocks soldier's evidence: "THE Pentagon yesterday blocked the testimony of a military official before the committee investigating intelligence failings in the run-up to 11 September, amid claims that a covert American unit identified four hijackers more than a year before the World Trade Centre attack.

The Senate judiciary committee was scheduled to hear the testimony of Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer on the work of a classified military unit code-named 'Able Danger', which claims to have identified the hijackers, including the mastermind, Mohamed Atta, using data-mining techniques that can pick up on individuals who repeatedly appear in surveillance pictures.

Mark Zaid, who represents Lt-Col Shaffer, said that on three occasions Able Danger attempted to provide the FBI with information, but Pentagon attorneys stopped the moves because of legal concerns about military-run investigations operating on American soil. "

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Telegraph | News | 'I could have saved her life but was denied permission'

Telegraph News 'I could have saved her life but was denied permission': "Refugees from New Orleans died after private doctors were ordered to stop giving treatment because they were not covered by United States government medical liability insurance, according to two American surgeons.
Mark N Perlmutter, an orthapdic surgeon from Pennsylvania and founder of Healing Hearts, was told by a senior US Coast Guard officer representing the embattled Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) that he must leave the overstretched disaster relief hospital at New Orleans airport.

He had applied a chest compression after a female patient died and was turning to another critically ill woman at the triage reception area on the airport tarmac when he was summoned to see Capt Art French, the doctor in charge of the hospital.

'The other lady was in equally bad shape and I was not able to work on her. When I went back afterward to get my supplies they were taking her body to a store where the deceased were being placed.

'It's absolutely possible I would have saved her life but I was denied permission to try.' An estimated 20 to 30 patients died at the temporary hospital that day." (more)

Transcript Excerpt

Aaron BROWN: All right, let me just -- let me recap and move us forward. You get on the tarmac, and basically, the FEMA guy says, "you don't have the right paperwork." And people are sick and in some cases dying around you. You go talk to his boss and he confirms that and that's their concern is, what, they'd get sued?

PERLMUTTER: Exactly, my colleague who went with me, Dr. Clark Gerhardt, specially asked him why, because we were bewildered, there was no FEMA doctor there to replace us, FEMA registered doctor. He said, specifically, tort. They were afraid of the government being sued, because I'm protected by Good Samaritan laws.

BROWN: What sort of paperwork, I mean, assuming that, honestly, I'm a patient on the tarmac, I care that you have a medical license, not that you have something from FEMA, but that's me. What sort of paperwork was it that you needed? How long would that have taken?

PERLMUTTER: Well, we did eventually register that very day. It took two seconds to register.

BROWN: Is there any reason why they couldn't have had someone there on the spot just filling out the form? (more)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Press Release: The Legendary K.O. delivers powerful message against George W. Bush Through Song

George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People” Receives Widespread Acclaim

As the world has seen and heard by now, rapper Kanye West expressed his frustration at the Katrina relief efforts and his thoughts on U.S. President George W. Bush last week during a nationally televised benefit. While his thoughts and statement have received much attention, a rap group from Houston, The Legendary K.O., has taken it one step further and recorded a song, entitled “George Bush Don't Like Black People”, using the Kanye West “Gold Digger” instrumental.

The song, available for free download through , received over 10,000 downloads in the first day alone, with listeners ranging from the U.S. to Europe and Japan.

Legendary K.O. member Micah Nickerson lives minutes away from the Astrodome, where many Katrina victims are being housed, came up with the song concept immediately after hearing Kanye West's remarks.

“I had really wanted to write about this in the first-person, as someone stuck in New Orleans and left by this administration to basically fend for myself, but was having trouble putting the emotions I felt into words. When I heard Kanye during the benefit, the rest as they say was history,” said Micah.

The song was recorded and included on a friend's web site promoting new music from various artists ( Within a day, his site was overwhelmed with the traffic, as users were flocking to download the song.

Damien Randle, the other member of The Legendary K.O., says that the song expresses their and many others feelings about this administration.

“No matter which side of the political debate we reside on, I think we can all agree that this situation represents the ultimate human tragedy, and highlights the need for sweeping improvements in some of the most fundamental segments of society. The safety and well-being of all people should always be considered first, and we felt compelled to express that through song,” said Damien.

The Legendary K.O. is not staying on the sidelines during this tragedy, making music, but not taking action. Micah and Damien have also donated food, clothes, and time to local organizations and urge anyone that has not donated to please do so.

Their actions have also caught the attention of numerous media outlets, including

Monday, September 12, 2005

New Orleans A New Song By David Rovics International Activist Singer/Songwriter/Blogger Now Available Online

They forecast the apocalypse; Said it was coming soon; Preparations must be made, they said; Now is the time; It was years ago they shouted; Inaction was a crime; Abandoned by the state; Abandoned by their country; Just left to meet their fate; And the people died; And then they died some more; They drowned inside their attics; An army of the poor; An army of the destitute; Who couldn’t get away: New Orleans

New Orleans, LA – Internationally acclaimed activist/singer/songwriter/blogger David Rovics announces the online release of his new tune, “New Orleans”. The song was recorded today in Ramallah, a Palestinian city of approximately 57,000 residents, located about 15 kilometers (9 miles) north-west of Jerusalem.

The MP3 music file is now available as a free download for use in Hurricane Katrina photo slide shows and video compilations:

"The next day I met Rana for coffee near the hotel (i won't admit where),” wrote David in his online journal September 11. “I was working all that day on my new song about “New Orleans”, and was spending all my free time (basically cutting into sleep) reading about the atrocities and mass murder being committed in New Orleans. I finished the words to the song that night and finished writing the tune yesterday. As with all of my music, lyrics, etc., feel free to use it for any purpose and spread the word about the song if you're so inclined!”

New Orleans (Excerpt)

Everybody knew that it could happen
The likelihood was clear
The future was coming
And now it’s here
They had to fix the levees
Because otherwise they’d break
On one side was the city
Above it was the lake
It was in the daily papers
In bold letters was the writ
What would happen
When the Big One hit
But every year they cut the funding
Just a little more
So they could give it to the Army
To fight their oil war

David Rovics Bio

David Rovics has been called the musical voice of the progressive movement in the US. Amy Goodman has called him "the musical version of Democracy Now!" Since the mid-90's Rovics has spent most of his time on the road, playing hundreds of shows every year throughout North America, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. He and his songs have been featured on national radio programs in the US, Canada, Britain, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Denmark and elsewhere. He has shared the stage regularly with leading intellectuals ( Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn ), activists ( Medea Benjamin, Ralph Nader ), politicians ( Dennis Kucinich, George Galloway ), musicians ( Billy Bragg, the Indigo Girls ), and celebrities ( Martin Sheen, Susan Sarandon ). He has performed at dozens of massive rallies throughout North America and Europe and at thousands of conferences, college campuses and folk clubs throughout the world. He makes all of his recordings available for free download on his website,, and the downloads are in the many hundreds of thousands. More importantly, he's really good. He will make you laugh, he will make you cry, and he will make the revolution irresistible.


David Rovics Website: http://www.davidrovics
David Rovics Blog:


David Rovics
( 617 ) 872-5124
P.O. Box 995
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130 U$A

Video Blogger

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Chronicle Online - Journey to the Bayou (Fake Citizen Journalists Deliver The Goods)

The Chronicle Online - Journey to the Bayou: "Duke sophomore Sonny Byrd is used to driving his friends around in his car. But last Thursday, Byrd said his roommate Hans Buder, also a sophomore, needed no ordinary lift.

Buder wanted a ride to New Orleans - a ride that would total 3,200 miles over four days and take the boys through parts of the United States devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

It was a trip the roommates, along with friend David Hankla, also a sophomore, said took more than time. It took extreme measures - they said they posed as journalists - to get them to their goal: New Orleans and the hurricane victims stranded in the city.

Remembering the victims they had seen on TV, the boys said they decided to drive to New Orleans.

“We wanted to do something tangible. There were still people trapped, and we knew that we [could] take people to safety,” Buder said.

But the trio said a military blockade was preventing people from driving into the city. Knowing that press officials were allowed to pass, however, Byrd said he came up with the idea of pretending to be members of a media organization to gain access. “I walked back into the news station and found a press pass, so I just yanked it off the desk,” Byrd said.

He added that he swiped an official news station shirt as well.

“For $11.68 at Kinko’s, we made press passes and business cards,” Hankla said.

After making the drive to New Orleans, Hankla explained that the National Guard was turning away car after car in front of them at the military checkpoint at the entrance to I-10—the freeway that leads into the city.

When it was their turn to show identification, the boys said they held up their Kinko’s press passes to the guard and waited.

To their surprise, the trio said, the guard waved them past. “‘Can you believe that?’” Buder recalled them asking each other." (More)

Sunday, September 04, 2005

US braces for the final horror | Top stories

US braces for the final horror: "US troops have begun the final search for hurricane survivors in New Orleans, steeling themselves for the task of harvesting the dead from the city's streets.

Days after Hurricane Katrina triggered the worst natural calamity in US history, officials prepared the country for a heavy death toll that is expected to number in the thousands across the devastated US Gulf coast.

'It is going to be about as ugly a scene as we've witnessed in this country, with the possible exception of 9/11,' said Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertof, referring to the 2001 terror attacks that killed nearly 3000.
'I think we need to prepare the country for what's coming.'

He spoke on Fox News Sunday from a suburb of flooded New Orleans.
'I really want to tell people that we have got some tough days ahead of us.'

Senior medical officials said 59 bodies had been collected in New Orleans so far, but cautioned that was just a fraction of those killed.

In a freak event overnight, it has been reported that up to six contractors were shot dead by troops in New Orleans after they were mistaken for an armed gang."

Washington Post: Storm Exposed Disarray at the Top

Storm Exposed Disarray at the Top

By Susan B. Glasser and Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, September 4, 2005; Page A01

The killer hurricane and flood that devastated the Gulf Coast last week exposed fatal weaknesses in a federal disaster response system retooled after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to handle just such a cataclysmic event.

Despite four years and tens of billions of dollars spent preparing for the worst, the federal government was not ready when it came at daybreak on Monday, according to interviews with more than a dozen current and former senior officials and outside experts.

Among the flaws they cited: Failure to take the storm seriously before it hit and trigger the government's highest level of response. Rebuffed offers of aid from the military, states and cities. An unfinished new plan meant to guide disaster response. And a slow bureaucracy that waited until late Tuesday to declare the catastrophe "an incident of national significance," the new federal term meant to set off the broadest possible relief effort.

Born out of the confused and uncertain response to 9/11, the massive new Department of Homeland Security was charged with being ready the next time, whether the disaster was wrought by nature or terrorists. The department commanded huge resources as it prepared for deadly scenarios from an airborne anthrax attack to a biological attack with plague to a chlorine-tank explosion.

But Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said yesterday that his department had failed to find an adequate model for addressing the "ultra-catastrophe" that resulted when Hurricane Katrina's floodwater breached New Orleans's levees and drowned the city, "as if an atomic bomb had been dropped."

If Hurricane Katrina represented a real-life rehearsal of sorts, the response suggested to many that the nation is not ready to handle a terrorist attack of similar dimensions. "This is what the department was supposed to be all about," said Clark Kent Ervin, DHS's former inspector general. "Instead, it obviously raises very serious, troubling questions about whether the government would be prepared if this were a terrorist attack. It's a devastating indictment of this department's performance four years after 9/11."

"We've had our first test, and we've failed miserably," said former representative Timothy J. Roemer (D-Ind.), a member of the commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks. "We have spent billions of dollars in revenues to try to make our country safe, and we have not made nearly enough progress." With Katrina, he noted that "we had some time to prepare. When it's a nuclear, chemical or biological attack," there will be no warning.

Scotland on Sunday - Bush panics and sends in the marines

Scotland on Sunday - Bush panics and sends in the marines: "A PANICKED George Bush yesterday ordered elite troops on to the streets of New Orleans in an unprecedented attempt to stop violence in the disaster-struck city spiralling out of control.

The deployment, nearly a week after Hurricane Katrina struck, will see 7,000 marines and airborne troops sent to the emergency zone, where they are expected to crack down on the gun-toting gangs terrorising survivors.

Despite a blitz of TV appearances, Bush faces mounting criticism for failing to act fast enough to avert the crisis affecting millions on the Gulf Coast.
Thousands of National Guardsmen have failed to regain control of New Orleans. Fires continue to belch smoke over the city and sporadic gunfire echoes through the flooded streets.

Military experts said last night that regular soldiers - let alone elite assault troops - had never before been used to quell disorder in the United States. "

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Toward Freedom - Radical Folk Music: An Interview with David Rovics

Having just started a deadening temp job alphabetizing books that students had returned at the semester’s end, there was something comforting about hearing the triumphant chorus: “When all the minimum wage went on strike!” bouncing off the University of Wisconsin’s buildings. It was early May and rabble-rousing folk musician David Rovics was in Madison to celebrate the centennial of the International Workers of the World (IWW). I had first heard him play “Minimum Wage Strike” six years before at a student activism conference in Boston. I’ve been drawn to David’s music ever since. He continues to leave his own unique mark on the radical folk tradition. I had the chance to sit down with him on a lovely spring day inside the Orton Park gazebo where we discussed his passion for playing music for the revolution as an antidote to crippling wage slavery.

When you’re in a social situation and people ask you: "What do you do?" how do you usually respond?

I just say I play music. It’s my sole source of income so it’s an easy answer. Presumably they’re asking, "What do you do for a living?" or "What do you do with most of your time?" Of course with most of my time I don’t play music—I stare at computer screen or drive a car or sit in a plane. [Laughs]

Monday, August 29, 2005

Mother's Day in Crawford - A memo from the notebook of David Rovics

Mainly just thought I'd send out this lyric I just wrote on the plane to Houston yesterday, after reading Medea Benjamin's article by the same name in (Lyrics at the end of this email.) After hearing so much about events in Crawford from friends who have been and gone -- or been and stayed -- I'm going to finally get a chance to visit Camp Casey tomorrow (Tuesday).

On Friday I leave for the Middle East for three weeks. While I'm there I'll try to be a little better than usual about maintaining my blog. I'll try to write with a little more detail about my visit there than I normally do. So if you want to read about my trip there, you can check out the "blog" link at as the month progresses. Jack Olmsted, who has been doing a lot of promotion online to get the word out about "Song for Cindy Sheehan," is always telling me I need to get into video blogging. Maybe eventually... Maybe if I get a band together some day or something, the bass player can do that... But for now at least there will be text...

Speaking of getting a band together, I heard more great music in Asheville than I've heard in a while -- both at the wonderful benefit for the Asheville Global Report (one of the best weekly papers anywhere -- that I participated in as well as just on the streets. Oldtime and bluegrass players are growing from the walls. I like that town (in spite of the two folks who didn't like my "we are all Palestinians" t-shirt).

Participating in the finale event (for this round) of Mountain Justice Summer was cool, too -- getting to meet all those folks who have been working so hard for a while now to call attention to the insanely destructive practice of Mountaintop Removal Mining. Check out for more. (It's not just this summer, it's an ongoing campaign. Speaking tour coming to a town near you soon.)

My "Song for Cindy Sheehan" which, thanks to assistance from folks like Dana Lyons and John Fabiani, got recorded and put up on the web last week, has been getting around a bit. It was #1 on SoundClick's acoustic music charts at some point, has been played on Democracy Now!, Flashpoints, Air America and other fine radio shows, and a couple of folks have made videos using the song. You can check out the videos and a new, improved version of the MP3 by clicking on the link in the top center of the main page at There's been a noticeable increase in daily downloads on my page at SoundClick since that song went up, and as a result we'll be passing the 300,000th download mark any day now (of songs that have been downloaded since all of my songs got up on SoundClick whenever that was).

Here's the new lyric I mentioned at the beginning... Some other new lyrics can be found in the appropriate section on my website, incidentally... Oh, and seeing as this song is about mothers, and rumors are slowly spreading from the few folks who read my blog or from folks who are on Anne Feeney's email list, it's true that I'm having a baby sometime this winter. Or Nathalie is, anyway, and I'll watch. (And just to head off the really annoying questions, here are your answers: Are you going to stop touring? Yes, as soon as the US Army Marching Band does. Are you going to embrace monogamy and move to the suburbs? Yes, as soon as the Pope converts to Islam.)

Every Day Is Mother’s Day
David Rovics

There's a camp in Crawford, women in grief
No way for them to find any relief
Their sons are dead and they've come to see
The man who made their destiny
He's squirming there on his vacation
Trying to look like he's leading the nation
But folks are vying for that position
They've got guts and they've got a mission
You can open your ears and hear everybody say
That every day is mother's day

Well things were getting a little gritty
So the president went to Salt Lake City
And a sleepy little town in Idaho
But the mothers are on him wherever he goes
He just can't get 'em outta his hair
Wherever he is, they're right there
Calling him out for the liar he is
Saying don't kill more kids for your oil biz
Saying George, give up and just go away
'Cause every day is mother's day

And when George goes back to Washington
He'll have no place left to run
With rocking chairs to greet the dawn
And mothers camped on the White House lawn
Heeding the call of Julia Ward
A moral and mighty, motherly horde
The future is coming and the future looks hard
For W and his house of cards
The mothers are coming and they’re here to stay
Every day is mother's day