Homeless and No Place To Go

It’™s been two months since Katrina and the ‘œBrownies’ running FEMA still haven’™t gotten it right. I guess paying the bills isn’™t on the list of things to do.

Thousands of evacuees face eviction

‘¦

The housing crunch could get tighter in November, because the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) wants to move an estimated 200,000 Katrina evacuees [...]

Commentary By: sukabi

It’™s been two months since Katrina and the ‘œBrownies’ running FEMA still haven’™t gotten it right. I guess paying the bills isn’™t on the list of things to do.

Thousands of evacuees face eviction

‘¦

The housing crunch could get tighter in November, because the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) wants to move an estimated 200,000 Katrina evacuees out of hotels as soon as possible.

That increases the need for apartments, trailers and mobile homes.

Pressure is building on FEMA to alter its policies. Two programs provide rent money directly to evacuees or reimburse local governments. But many evacuees have not received the cash or have used it for other needs. And some cities refuse to spend their own money up front.

Representatives of apartment owners who met with federal officials in Dallas on Thursday say about 15,000 Katrina evacuees in Texas alone face eviction in November for unpaid rent or for other reasons. ï–¿–½You face the possibility of people who rent apartments being displaced again,ï–¿–½ says Jim Arbury of the National Multi Housing Council.

FEMA spokeswoman Nicol Andrews says the agency is not considering changes. Any city that runs its own program will be reimbursed, she says.

Evacuees who have trouble using FEMA’™s three-month, $2,358 rent checks can get help from caseworkers. ï–¿–½If (landlords) choose to evict people,ï–¿–½ she says, ï–¿–½they’™re free to do that.ï–¿–½’¦

Monday, October 31st, 2005 by Richard Blair |

War On Poverty

With all the cuts to social programs that Bush and his House and Senate toady’™s have pushed through – to enable the enrichment of the already filthy rich – who’™s to say that this email I got is so far off base?

Bush’™s War on Poverty’¦

Commentary By: sukabi

With all the cuts to social programs that Bush and his House and Senate toady’™s have pushed through – to enable the enrichment of the already filthy rich – who’™s to say that this email I got is so far off base?

Bush’™s War on Poverty’¦
(more’¦)

Monday, October 31st, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Humor

Don’t Miss This One

The Rude One says all you need to know about the latest supreme nomination.

Commentary By: somegirl

The Rude One says all you need to know about the latest supreme nomination.

Monday, October 31st, 2005 by Richard Blair |

Bolivian Elections Off

It’™s been a rough year for the people of Bolivia. One president has resigned, elections were scheduled, and now a court has ruled that elections, scheduled for Dec. 4th, must be postponed. No new date for elections has been set. I’™m not familiar enough with the composition or leaning of the court that [...]

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It’™s been a rough year for the people of Bolivia. One president has resigned, elections were scheduled, and now a court has ruled that elections, scheduled for Dec. 4th, must be postponed. No new date for elections has been set. I’™m not familiar enough with the composition or leaning of the court that made the ruling to comment on motivation for the delay, but one thing that’™s pretty clear is the election was definitely swinging toward a social democratic slate of candidates.

I’™ll try to put this into perspective a bit later. What’™s a bit perplexing is that this turn of events didn’™t make much of a blip on the U.S. corporate media radar screen. Here’™s a U.K. Guardian report:

A Bolivian court on Friday indefinitely postponed elections scheduled for Dec. 4 due to a dispute in Congress over redistricting, moving the poor Andean nation toward a possible power vacuum when the current president steps down.


Both leading presidential candidates criticized the ruling by the National Electoral Court, with the leftist Evo Morales warning that the ‘œpeople could rise up against the court.’ His main rival, Jorge Quiroga, urged Congress to move on the redistricting dispute, saying Bolivia’™s fragile democracy was at risk’¦

And of course, Jim Shultz at Democracy Center’™s Blog for Bolivia has more.

Update, 8:50PM: Today’™s Washington Post has a fairly a fairly balanced look at Evo Morales, MAS, and the now-postponed election.

Monday, October 31st, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Latin America

Thanks Again, Ralph

Every time you think about where this country is at right now, I want you to remember the Floriduh results in the 2000 presidential election:

Bush: 2,912,790

Gore: 2,912,253

Nader: 97,488

To answer Mr. Nader’™s supporters (with 5 years in the rear view mirror): Yes, there was a difference.

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Every time you think about where this country is at right now, I want you to remember the Floriduh results in the 2000 presidential election:

Bush: 2,912,790

Gore: 2,912,253

Nader: 97,488

To answer Mr. Nader’™s supporters (with 5 years in the rear view mirror): Yes, there was a difference.

Monday, October 31st, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Politics - U.S.

Six More U.S. Soldiers Dead in Iraq

The news today will be dominated by the nomination of Sam Alito to the Supreme Court, but it’™s been a particularly bloody day in Iraq (and not just for U.S. forces):

Six American soldiers were killed Monday by roadside bombs in two separate attacks in Iraq’¦

In the deadliest attack on U.S. troops, four Task Force Baghdad [...]

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The news today will be dominated by the nomination of Sam Alito to the Supreme Court, but it’™s been a particularly bloody day in Iraq (and not just for U.S. forces):

Six American soldiers were killed Monday by roadside bombs in two separate attacks in Iraq’¦

In the deadliest attack on U.S. troops, four Task Force Baghdad soldiers died when their patrol struck the device in Youssifiyah, 12 miles south of Baghdad, the military said.

The other explosion hit a patrol near Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad, killing two soldiers from the 29th Brigade Combat Team’¦

Iraqi President Talabani is also starting to posture for elections in December – he’™s wondering aloud why the Americans won’™t turn over more security responsibility to Iraqi forces? Kind of humorous, if you think about it – a BushCo client wondering why his guests won’™t leave. Which brings up an interesting question. If the Iraq parliament that’™s elected in December ends up demanding that the U.S. leave, will we?

Monday, October 31st, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Iraq

Activist Judges – Conservative Style

During the Schiavo affair earlier this year, one phrase kept popping up over and over in wingnut circles: ‘œactivist judges’. What is an activist judge? One who tended to rule in a manner that the extremists on the right didn’™t like. It’™s that simple.

So, what does George Bush nominate for the Supreme [...]

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During the Schiavo affair earlier this year, one phrase kept popping up over and over in wingnut circles: ‘œactivist judges’. What is an activist judge? One who tended to rule in a manner that the extremists on the right didn’™t like. It’™s that simple.

So, what does George Bush nominate for the Supreme Court to replace Sandra Day O’™Connor? An activist judge of a conservative stripe, who may have just a tinge of East Coast moderate streak (well, as moderate as wingnuts get, anyway). It’™s certainly easy to read the ‘œactivist’ attribute into Samuel Alito’™s legal resume. Bush has done what many predicted in the wake of Harriet Meir’™s withdrawl – made a pick to, on the surface, appease the fundamentalist fringe.

Picking Alito isn’™t going to make women’™s groups happy for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Alito would be replacing a woman on the bench. That argument isn’™t likely to go far, because John Roberts was initially slated to replace O’™Connor. I’™m not even sure that his dissent to Planned Parenthood v. Casey is all that far to the right of a rational view of the abortion issue, but it certainly gives a clue which way he might swing on a conservative court. And one of his writings, in a majority decision on the Circuit Court, clearly supported women’™s rights:

A majority opinion in Fatin v. INS, 12 F.3d 1233 (3d Cir. 1993), holding that an Iranian woman seeking asylum could establish that she had a well founded fear of persecution in Iran if she could show that compliance with that country’™s ‘œgender specific laws and repressive social norms,’ such as the requirement that women wear a veil in public, would be deeply abhorrent to her. Judge Alito also held that she could establish eligibility for asylum by showing that she would be persecuted because of gender, belief in feminism, or membership in a feminist group.

A quick read of some of his opinions reveals that he also appears to be a first amendement, pro-business type guy.

Hmmm. Pro-business, anti-workers rights. Forget all the other crap.

Yep. He’™s Bush’™s kind of guy, who might actually end up being a bit ‘œmoderate’ (and I use the term loosely) on social issues. That’™s probably the early line to take, but I’™m sure we’™ll be learning a lot more in the next few hours. Here’™s a few links:

Wikipedia – Samuel Alito
Supreme Court Nomination Blog
American Constitution Society Blog
Interesting views from American Progress

Monday, October 31st, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Holy War

Misplaced Priorities

We already know that increased LIHEAP funding is off the table, despite reports yesterday that fuel oil costs for heating will rise substantially, and natural gas consumers may see their heating bills double. We also know that funding for educational financial aid took a big hit this past week. Now comes word that [...]

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We already know that increased LIHEAP funding is off the table, despite reports yesterday that fuel oil costs for heating will rise substantially, and natural gas consumers may see their heating bills double. We also know that funding for educational financial aid took a big hit this past week. Now comes word that while everyone was focused on TreasonGate this past Friday, congressional committee Republicans voted to substantially reduce funding for the USDA’™s foodstamp program in order to curb runaway spending by the GOP:

On a party-line vote, a Republican-run U.S. House of Representatives committee voted to cut food stamps by $844 million on Friday, just hours after a new U.S. Agriculture Department report showed more Americans are struggling to put food on the table’¦

This action comes at a time when more Americans than ever are dependent on some type of public assistance with feeding their families:

NEW YORK, NY, October 26, 2005 ï–¿–½ The number of New Yorkers receiving foodstamps rose by more than 11-thousand people last month’¦

‘¦and, strange that this vote came on the same day that the USDA reported a 5.2% increase of ‘œfood insecurity’ in American families – in other words, a lot of people worry about where their next meal is coming from. There is no dignity in making choices between food, adequate heat, or medical care, even though that’™s what many are faced with today – and we haven’™t even hit the winter months yet:

Nationally, 38.2 million households were food insecure in 2004 ï–¿–½ 11.3 percent of all adults and 19 percent of all children in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture report.

Though dire, the numbers may not tell the whole picture, since they predate hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma and the surge in gas prices, said Bill Tibbetts with Crossroads Urban Center.

‘œActually, the overall picture right now is probably even worse than the numbers would indicate,’ Tibbetts said.

‘¦The report marks the fifth consecutive year food insecurity rates have risen and marks the biggest jump since 2000 ï–¿–½ numbers that frustrate advocates in light of threatened federal budget cuts to social service programs’¦

Still, folks such as Alaska GOP Senator Ted Stevens continue their Marie Antoinette impressions in Capitol Hill debates:

‘œI will put the Senate on notice ‘” and I don’™t kid people ‘” if the Senate decides to discriminate against our state, to take money only from our state, I’™ll resign from this body’¦’

What’™s Sen. Stevens so worked up about? If you don’™t know the answer to that question, you haven’™t been paying attention.

‘¦Carl Pope, in his personal ‘œblog’ on the Sierra Club’™s Web site Tuesday, quoted [Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa] Murkowski saying she found it hard not to take personally a recent attempt to rescind $223 million Congress approved for the bridge.

‘œI’™m sure she’™s right. Especially when her mother ‘¦ is one of the few private citizens who owns land on Gravina Island,’ Pope wrote’¦

‘¦Pope’™s blog entry was posted the day after the Senate voted 82-15 against rescinding $452.5 million worth of congressional earmarks for the Ketchikan bridge and another over Knik Arm near Anchorage’¦

Sunday, October 30th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Politics - U.S.

Stoking the Fires of the Holy War

Indonesia has long been a hotbed of discontent between Muslims and Christians. We all know that there’™s ‘œradicals’ and ‘œfundamentalists’ in both of these sectarian groups. However, it seems like perjorative terms such as these are only applied (at least in the Western media) to those of Islamic faith.

I don’™t recall any [...]

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Indonesia has long been a hotbed of discontent between Muslims and Christians. We all know that there’™s ‘œradicals’ and ‘œfundamentalists’ in both of these sectarian groups. However, it seems like perjorative terms such as these are only applied (at least in the Western media) to those of Islamic faith.

I don’™t recall any corporate media outlet using the term ‘œChristian extremist’ to describe Pat Robertson and his fatwa earlier this year, calling for the assasination of Hugo Chavez. However, when a horrific attack against three teenage girls takes place in Poso, Indonesia, western media takes great pain to report the possible attackers as ‘œradical muslims’ and the girls as ‘œChristian high school students, dressed in brown uniforms’.

With the description I just provided, I’™m positive that I don’™t need to issue anyone a thesaurus to further develop the mental imagery that’™s already been established.

I don’™t know if we, in Western culture, will every be able to get past the prejudices that stories like this bring to the surface. Each story similar to this one (which isn’™t even confirmed, for the most part) only serves to reinforce stereotypes. It would be so easy to rewrite the Reuters news copy in a non-prejudicial manner that would communicate the essence of what is known about the incident.

Straight reporting doesn’™t sell news services, though. I guess that’™s the nature of the business. Still, it is unfortunate that, in the tinderbox world in which we currently live, where any small spark could be the ignition point for an all-out holy war, editors can’™t use a bit more discretion when putting stories like this out on the wire.

Saturday, October 29th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Media

Libby – The Tip of the Iceberg

One thing we can all be certain of – I. Lewis Libby’™s involvement in TreasonGate is but ice shavings on the very top of a large iceberg. For months now, speculation has run rampant that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is making a much larger case – in fact, yesterday he went out of [...]

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One thing we can all be certain of – I. Lewis Libby’™s involvement in TreasonGate is but ice shavings on the very top of a large iceberg. For months now, speculation has run rampant that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is making a much larger case – in fact, yesterday he went out of his way to a) confirm that notion, and b) establish some borders around his continuing investigation.

Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times wraps up yesterday’™s events in a very tight column this morning. It’™s well worth a read, and gives a sense of the direction that Fitzgerald’™s new grand jury will be moving. For all intents and purposes, it seems like he hasn’™t even presented an argument yet for whether national security was compromised in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson.

With a day worth of introspection now behind me, it’™s just a bit disturbing that it’™s taken so long to develop the ‘œnational security’ aspect of the case. To a layman such as myself, it would seem that this angle would be the easiest to confirm (just ask the CIA about Brewster Jennings, fer chrissakes), but perhaps the most sensitive to deal within an open court proceeding.

But then, ‘œopen court’ proceedings are not always necessary in national security cases. Just ask Sibel Edmonds.

Update, 12:30PM: This is floating around on several blogs today, but apparently (even this far into the investigation) the CIA has not yet conducted a formal damage assessment of operations compromised by TreasonGate. Back to you, Porter.

Saturday, October 29th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: TreasonGate