<\body> Stories in America: August 2007

Thursday, August 23, 2007

When the levees broke: Two years later

“We've got a lot of rebuilding to do ... The good news is — and it's hard for some to see it now — that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before.”
--President Bush, touring hurricane damage, Mobile, Ala., Sept. 2, 2005

Two years ago today, residents of Louisiana and Mississippi heard about the storm that would forever change their lives. Hurricane Katrina didn’t make landfall until August 29th, but off the coast, the winds were gathering.

As we know now, Katrina wasn’t a category 5 hurricane by the time it hit New Orleans, but 780,000 people were displaced, 123,000 homes suffered major or severe damage, and more than 18,000 businesses were destroyed.

Resettlement remains sporadic and city services uneven. Crime has spiked. Rebuilt levees are holding, but they need billions of dollars more work.

On today's Your Call, I spoke with survivors about their personal experiences, what they've lost, and what they are doing now to rebuilt their lives and their city. You can listen to the archived show here.

Endesha Juakali, a housing activist with Survivors Village, a tent city erected on June 3 of last year by the residents of New Orleans public housing.

Sandy Rosenthal, founder of Levees.org. Sandy founded Levees.org in November 2005. Her mission is to inform the public that New Orleans was destroyed primarily by bad engineering and not bad weather. The group is also calling for an 8/29 Commission to investigate the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – in 1965, Congress authorized the corps to construct flood protection in metro New Orleans.

Calvin Mackey of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, the state body overseeing construction of Louisiana.

Our grandchildren will be shocked to learn that we allowed this to happen to our own people.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A great t-shirt!

Buy here:

Monday, August 20, 2007

Sex for survival in Baghdad

And the war mongers still wonder why we're "so angry":
She left the house in a daze, she recalled, and walked to the nearest market to find someone who would pay her for sex.

She said: "I'm a nice-looking woman and it wasn't difficult to find a client. When we got to the bed I tried to run away . I just couldn't do it, but he hit and raped me. When he paid me afterwards, it was finished for me.

"When I came home with some food I had bought from that money and saw my children screaming of happiness, I discovered that honour is insignificant compared to the hunger of my children."

Sunday, August 19, 2007

American soldiers in Iraq: Escalation is not working

In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are — an army of occupation — and force our withdrawal.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Good advice after a busy and sad (500 dead Iraqis) week...

"Go on a rampage of appreciation, rather than discussing the evils of the world, and offer joyful commentary whenever possible."
- Dr. Wayne Dyer

Thursday, August 16, 2007

As many as 500 dead Iraqis

"The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."
-Dick Cheney, June 20, 2005

Tahreer Khalil is mourned by his relative in Baqouba, 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad, Iraq after their family struck a roadside bomb on their way to their farm on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007. Tahreer's sisters were injured in the blast. (AP Photo)

Sundus Mohammed is comforted by her mother at a central Baghdad hospital while she recovers from her wounds from a car bomb attack in a busy market area in Iraq, Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007. Police say the blast killed at least nine people and wounded 17. (AP Photo / Adil al-Khazali)

A wounded Iraqi child lies in bed next to his relative at a hospital in Dohuk, 15 August 2007. The death toll from four suicide truck bomb attacks in northern Iraq has risen to 400, officials said, making it easily the deadliest attack since the fall of Saddam Hussein four years ago.(AFP/Safin Hamed)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

No more bottled water...

I love my Sigg bottle:
More than 1.5 million barrels of petroleum go into the production of the 38 billion plastic water bottles Americans toss every year.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Peace activists rally near Cheney's home

This is from the Casper Star-Tribune:
Some 200 people gathered in a Wilson field Saturday afternoon for a "Peace Rally" to protest the Iraq war and send a message to Vice President Dick Cheney, who owns a home just up the road.

"We organized it because of the war in Iraq and what an injustice it has been," Walt Farmer, retired Air Force captain and registered Republican said. "The Vice President has received a pass in Jackson long enough. We want to let them know we don't approve of the war or how they play fast and loose with the Constitution."

Monday, August 13, 2007

This week on Your Call Radio

Your Call, a live call-in radio show, airs from 10:00-11:00 am PST on KALW 91.7 FM in San Francisco - You can listen online and all shows are archived.

You can sign up for the podcast here.

*Monday: Eco-Travel - Is it possible to enjoy a vacation and tread lightly at the same time?

Guests: John Vlahides, Lonely Planet travel writer and editor of 71miles.com, and Martha Honey, executive director of the Center for Eco-tourism and Sustainable Development

*Tuesday: What's happening inside Iran and how is the U.S. responding?

Guests: Mansour Farhang, professor of Middle Eastern politics at Bennington College in Vermont and author of U.S. Imperialism: From the Spanish-American War to the Iranian Revolution, and Asef Bayat, chair of the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World at Leiden University in Holland and author of Making Islam Democratic

*Wednesday: On the Record: Presidential hopeful Barack Obama - What is his voting record, where is he getting his campaign contributions, and who is running his campaign?

Guest so far: Salim Muwakkil, senior editor of In These Times

*Thursday: What have the Democrats accomplished since taking control of Congress in November?

*Friday: How did the media cover the week's news?

Guest so far: Betsy Reed, editor of The Nation

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

We are ruining the planet

A Chinese freshwater dolphin has been declared extinct after desperate efforts to rescue it came too late.

One British zoologist described the loss of the Yangtze River dolphin as a "shocking tragedy".

It is the first official extinction of a large vertebrate for more than 50 years.

Experts say human activity killed off the long-beaked dolphin, which grew to 8ft weighed up to 500lb.

The animal is the first cetacean, the group of mammals that includes dolphins, whales and porpoises, to vanish from Earth as a direct result of human influence.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

This week on Your Call Radio

Here's what's coming up on this week's radio show. Let me know if you have any show ideas or questions for the guests.

Your Call, a live call-in radio show, airs from 10:00-11:00 am PST on KALW 91.7 FM in San Francisco - You can listen online and all shows are archived.

You can sign up for the podcast here...

*Monday: The future of Iraq

Guests: Thomas Ricks, senior military correspondent for the Washington Post and author of “Fiasco: America’s Military Adventure in Iraq”

Josh Rushing, military correspondent for al-Jazeera English. Before joining al-Jazeera, Rushing was a United States Marine Captain and a press officer for the United States Central Command during the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. You might remember him for his appearance in the documentary Control Room. His memoir, “Mission: Al-Jazeera,” was recently published.

*Tuesday: What does Rupert Murdoch want from The Wall Street Journal?

Guests: Derek Turner, research director of Free Press

Bruce Page, former Sunday Times investigative reporter, and author of “ The Murdoch Archipelago”

*Wednesday: Weapons Sales - Why is the U.S. giving $60 billion in weapons to our 'friends' in the Middle East? Why was the plan announced with so much fanfare?

Guests: Carah Ong, Iran Policy Analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation

Juan Cole, professor of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan - he also runs the Informed Consent blog

*Thursday: The state of al-Qaeda

*Friday: How did the media cover the week's news?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Another American soldier commits suicide

From The New Republic:
On July 26, the parents of Jeffrey Lucey, an Iraq vet who committed suicide, filed suit in Massachusetts against the Department of Veterans Affairs for "wrongful death" and "medical malpractice." The Luceys could win their case. In April 2007, the VA's Inspector General concluded that the VA Medical Center in Leeds had made mistakes in dealing with Jeffrey Lucey. But the questions about this case go beyond the already well-documented incompetence of the Veterans Administration. They involve the effect of the Iraq war on the mental health of American soldiers.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Iraqi Dentist: When will I die?

When will I die? That's the question circling in my head when I awake on Wednesday. I'm sweating, as usual. My muscles ache from another long night of no electricity in weather only slightly cooler than hell. As I dress for work, other questions assail me: How will I die? Will it be a shot in the head? Will I be blown to pieces? Or be seized at a police checkpoint because of my sect, then tortured and killed and thrown out on the sidewalk?

I gaze at my wife as she sleeps, her face twisted in discomfort from the heat. What will happen to her if I die?

I'm a dentist in my mid-20s, married to an aspiring dentist. My father fled Iraq after being threatened by both Sunni radicals in al-Qaeda in Iraq (which wanted to recruit him and extorted money for his life when he refused) and Shiite ones in Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army (because he is a Sunni). My father-in-law has also been menaced; he will leave the country at the end of this month.

In fact, my wife and I left Iraq in July 2006 and went to Jordan. But I wasn't able to find any work there, so we came back to Baghdad. Now we live here as quietly as possible, keeping a low profile. I don't use my family name anymore. (And I am not using my full name for this piece.)