Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"America's Dark Underbelly"

From Der Spiegel

"In all, there are over 4,000 people in the hall. All are now destitute. Most of them are poor, have a lot of children, are uneducated and are African-American.

America, it seems, looked into the floodwaters left behind by Katrina and saw suffering and poverty of inconceivable magnitude. Hundreds of thousands of society's poorest have been left behind by the ebbing floodwaters. Along with the corpses and toxic mud, Americans are looking squarely at the underbelly of their own society.

On the same day the levees broke, Charles Nelson of the US Census Bureau in Washington presented the most recent report on income and poverty in the United States. The numbers and graphs he unveiled offered an appalling insight into the USA." more

In combination with this by Mike Whitney: "Money for Napalm but Not for Food Stamps"

"The Republican dominated House passed a five-year budget plan in the early hours of Friday morning which savages programs for the poor, college students and disease control.

The bill tosses 220,000 people off food stamps, allow states to jack up the cost of co-payments for poor Medicaid beneficiaries, squeeze students with loans, and cut aid to child-support programs.

Republican’s felt they were being magnanimous when they dumped a provision that would have “denied free school lunches to about 40,000 children whose parents would lose their food stamps.”

The milk of human kindness flows from the Republican Congress like blood from a turnip.

Let’s be clear, the Food stamps program only provides for an estimated 300,000 people. The new bill knocks 220,000 people off the program, leaving a paltry 80,000 still qualifying for assistance.

Is 80,000 the maximum number of people we can feed in the richest country on earth?! Meanwhile, we are spending $6 billion a month to kill Iraqis in their homes and cities.

Go figure. more

"Were My Captors Worse Than The Guantánamo Jailers?"

Terry Waite via Common Dreams

On my first visit to Lebanon since my release as a hostage in 1991 I visited a refugee camp. I met some young people who were on a computer-literacy course. They had made good progress. "What about your future?" I asked. "What future?" one replied. "To get a job in Lebanon is virtually impossible as jobs go first to Lebanese citizens. We have no right of return to the place our grandfathers came from, and how can we go abroad when we are refugees? We are trapped."

That young man uttered the sentiments of thousands of displaced people in the Middle East and beyond. As I left the classroom I thought it remarkable that more young people did not join "terrorist" groups. The point I want to make is this: war, as well as being a blunt instrument, fails totally to deal with the root issues underlying terrorism. In the political realm it requires statesmen and women; individuals who can think beyond the next election and who have the wisdom that comes from making an attempt to understand cultures other than those of the west.

Western democracy has many attractive features and has brought manifold benefits. It takes no intelligence to recognise that it also has its dark side and that it cannot, nor necessarily ought it to be, exported to all parts of the world. If the optimistic statements made by some British and US politicians before the Iraqi war - when it was stated that the conflict would be concluded in weeks - were truly believed then one can only despair at the level of understanding demonstrated. more

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

6,644 are still missing after Katrina; toll may rise

From yahoo

The whereabouts of 6,644 people reported missing after Hurricane Katrina have not been determined, raising the prospect that the death toll could be higher than the 1,306 recorded so far in Louisiana and Mississippi, according to two groups working with the federal government to account for victims.

Most of those who remain listed as unaccounted-for 12 weeks after the storm probably are alive and well, says Kym Pasqualini, chief executive officer of the National Center for Missing Adults. She says they are listed as missing because government record-keeping efforts haven't caught up with them in their new locations. more

"I Hadn't the Slightest Idea of the Scale of Genocide"

Text via Der Spiegel

Sixty years ago on Sunday, the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial got under way to bring leading Nazis to justice. Whitney Harris was one of the principle figures for the prosecution. SPIEGEL ONLINE spoke with him about Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss, the emotional scars left behind by the trial, and the United States of today.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: In 1945 when you began collecting evidence for the prosecution of Nazi war criminals, you had nothing more than a used typewriter, a German secretary and a lot of good will. Were you not overwhelmed by the huge responsibility of bringing charges against the former Nazi leaders?

Harris: The whole court case was a huge challenge. I was assigned to the case of Ernst Kaltenbrunner, meaning I had to investigate the murder of millions of Jews. Kaltenbrunner took over from Reinhard Heydrich as the head of Reich security and was in charge of tens of thousands of Gestapo agents, police and security forces. more

"Criminal Obsessions" - Jean Comaroff

Text via wood s lot

Real audio lecture: "This lecture explores the central place of crime in the popular imaginings, and practical lives, of South Africans after apartheid. While acknowledging that there is a significant material reality to such trauma, the paper suggests that much more is at stake: that crime and policing are key domains in which order, citizenship, race and the state are deliberated in the wake of liberation and liberalization. Above all, crime and policing are a sphere of melodrama in which state and nation construct each other—the state to assert its presence and authority upon a populace increasingly skeptical of its capacity to serve and protect. The discussion explores various forms of state theater and ritual, challenging Foucault's notion that modern power represents a move from theatrics to routine." more