Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Snot Much at All

Personally I have been hit by a hurricane of Leucocytes. Blood and green pus oozing form a number of orifices. Delirious when I leave the house. Its amazing how illness sorts out ones priorities.

This week:
First ambition: try not to end up in hosptial with bronchitis.
My lung capacity is around 75% or maximum so I reckon I'm OK. Still - that extra 25% seemes to come in jhandy for stuff like ...errr.. maintining a continuous strema of thought.
Still coughing up green goo. Still slurping fenungreek. If it don't clear by friday i'll go see a doctor and try the bacteroclear option.

Second Ambition: Try to get my voice back by friday
I'm meant to give a paper! Hah! on what? ohhhh fucking hell.

this is all boring, but a great excuse to avoid, art openings concerts and social life. Pity I'm too sick to return all those books I borrowed which suddenly got recalled - I'd rather pay $6.00 than sit on another bus.

On a dismal note: I read the follwin story about New Orleans. I still can't beleive what has happened there........... check it out. Writing like this also reminds me why I don't miss newspapers or TV.


Notes From Inside New Orleans
by Jordan FlahertyFriday, September 2, 2005

I just left New Orleans a couple hours ago. Itraveled from the apartment I was staying in by boat to ahelicopter to a refugee camp. If anyone wants toexamine the attitude of federal and state officialstowards the victims of hurricane Katrina, I advise youto visit one of the refugee camps.In the refugee camp I just left, on the I-10 freewaynear Causeway, thousands of people (at least 90%black and poor) stood and squatted in mud and trashbehind metal barricades, under an unforgivingsun, with heavily armed soldiers standing guard overthem. When a bus would come through, itwould stop at a random spot, state police would open agap in one of the barricades, and peoplewould rush for the bus, with no information givenabout where the bus was going. Once inside (wewere told) evacuees would be told where the bus wastaking them - Baton Rouge, Houston,Arkansas, Dallas, or other locations. I was told thatif you boarded a bus bound for Arkansas (forexample), even people with family and a place to stayin Baton Rouge would not be allowed to getout of the bus as it passed through Baton Rouge. Youhad no choice but to go to the shelter inArkansas. If you had people willing to come to NewOrleans to pick you up, they could not comewithin 17 miles of the camp.I traveled throughout the camp and spoke to Red Crossworkers, Salvation Army workers, NationalGuard, and state police, and although they werefriendly, no one could give me any details on whenbuses would arrive, how many, where they would go to,or any other information. I spoke to theseveral teams of journalists nearby, and asked if anyof them had been able to get any informationfrom any federal or state officials on any of thesequestions, and all of them, from Australian tv to localFox affiliates complained of an unorganized,non-communicative, mess. One cameraman told me “assomeone who’s been here in this camp for two days, theonly information I can give you is this: getout by nightfall. You don’t want to be here atnight.”There was also no visible attempt by any of thoserunning the camp to set up any sort of transparentand consistent system, for instance a line to get onbuses, a way to register contact information or findfamily members, special needs services for childrenand infirm, phone services, treatment forpossible disease exposure, nor even a single trashcan.To understand the dimensions of this tragedy, itsimportant to look at New Orleans itself.For those who have not lived in New Orleans, you havemissed a incredible, glorious, vital, city. Aplace with a culture and energy unlike anywhere elsein the world. A 70% African-American citywhere resistance to white supremacy has supported agenerous, subversive and unique culture ofvivid beauty. From jazz, blues and hiphop, tosecondlines, Mardi Gras Indians, Parades, Beads, JazzFunerals, and red beans and rice on Monday nights, NewOrleans is a place of art and music anddance and sexuality and liberation unlike anywhereelse in the world.It is a city of kindness and hospitality, wherewalking down the block can take two hours because youstop and talk to someone on every porch, and where acommunity pulls together when someone is inneed. It is a city of extended families and socialnetworks filling the gaps left by city, state and federalgovernments that have abdicated their responsibilityfor the public welfare. It is a city where someoneyou walk past on the street not only asks how you are,they wait for an answer.It is also a city of exploitation and segregation andfear. The city of New Orleans has a population ofjust over 500,000 and was expecting 300 murders thisyear, most of them centered on just a few,overwhelmingly black, neighborhoods. Police have beenquoted as saying that they don’t need tosearch out the perpetrators, because usually a fewdays after a shooting, the attacker is shot inrevenge.There is an atmosphere of intense hostility anddistrust between much of Black New Orleans and theN.O. Police Department. In recent months, officershave been accused of everything from drugrunning to corruption to theft. In separateincidents, two New Orleans police officers were recentlycharged with rape (while in uniform), and there havebeen several high profile police killings ofunarmed youth, including the murder of Jenard Thomas,which has inspired ongoing weekly protestsfor several months.The city has a 40% illiteracy rate, and over 50% ofblack ninth graders will not graduate in four years.Louisiana spends on average $4,724 per child’seducation and ranks 48th in the country for lowestteacher salaries. The equivalent of more than twoclassrooms of young people drop out of Louisianaschools every day and about 50,000 students are absentfrom school on any given day. Far toomany young black men from New Orleans end up enslavedin Angola Prison, a former slaveplantation where inmates still do manual farm labor,and over 90% of inmates eventually die in theprison. It is a city where industry has left, andmost remaining jobs are are low-paying, transient,insecure jobs in the service economy.Race has always been the undercurrent of Louisianapolitics. This disaster is one that wasconstructed out of racism, neglect and incompetence. Hurricane Katrina was the inevitable sparkigniting the gasoline of cruelty and corruption. Fromthe neighborhoods left most at risk, to thetreatment of the refugees to the the media portrayalof the victims, this disaster is shaped by race.Louisiana politics is famously corrupt, but with thetragedies of this week our political leaders havedefined a new level of incompetence. As hurricaneKatrina approached, our Governor urged us to“Pray the hurricane down” to a level two. Trapped ina building two days after the hurricane, wetuned our battery-operated radio into local radio andtv stations, hoping for vital news, and were toldthat our governor had called for a day of prayer. Asrumors and panic began to rule, they was nosource of solid dependable information. Tuesdaynight, politicians and reporters said the water levelwould rise another 12 feet - instead it stabilized. Rumors spread like wildfire, and the politicians andmedia only made it worse.While the rich escaped New Orleans, those with nowhereto go and no way to get there were leftbehind. Adding salt to the wound, the local andnational media have spent the last week demonizingthose left behind. As someone that loves New Orleansand the people in it, this is the part of thistragedy that hurts me the most, and it hurts medeeply.No sane person should classify someone who takes foodfrom indefinitely closed stores in adesperate, starving city as a “looter,” but that'sjust what the media did over and over again. Sheriffsand politicians talked of having troops protect storesinstead of perform rescue operations.Images of New Orleans’ hurricane-ravaged populationwere transformed into black, out-of-control,criminals. As if taking a stereo from a store thatwill clearly be insured against loss is a greater crimethan the governmental neglect and incompetence thatdid billions of dollars of damage anddestroyed a city. This media focus is a tactic, justas the eighties focus on “welfare queens” and“super-predators” obscured the simultaneous and muchlarger crimes of the Savings and Loanscams and mass layoffs, the hyper-exploited people ofNew Orleans are being used as a scapegoatto cover up much larger crimes.City, state and national politicians are the realcriminals here. Since at least the mid-1800s, its beenwidely known the danger faced by flooding to NewOrleans. The flood of 1927, which, like thisweek’s events, was more about politics and racism thanany kind of natural disaster, illustratedexactly the danger faced. Yet government officialshave consistently refused to spend the money toprotect this poor, overwhelmingly black, city. WhileFEMA and others warned of the urgent impendingdanger to New Orleans and put forward proposals forfunding to reinforce and protect the city, theBush administration, in every year since 2001, has cutor refused to fund New Orleans flood control,and ignored scientists warnings of increasedhurricanes as a result of global warming. And, as thedangers rose with the floodlines, the lack ofcoordinated response dramatized vividly the callousdisregard of our elected leaders.The aftermath from the 1927 flood helped shape theelections of both a US President and aGovernor, and ushered in the southern populistpolitics of Huey Long.In the coming months, billions of dollars will likelyflood into New Orleans. This money can either bespent to usher in a “New Deal” for the city, withpublic investment, creation of stable union jobs, newschools, cultural programs and housing restoration, orthe city can be “rebuilt and revitalized” to ashell of its former self, with newer hotels, morecasinos, and with chain stores and theme parksreplacing the former neighborhoods, cultural centersand corner jazz clubs.Long before Katrina, New Orleans was hit by ahurricane of poverty, racism, disinvestment,deindustrialization and corruption. Simply the damagefrom this pre-Katrina hurricane will takebillions to repair.Now that the money is flowing in, and the world’s eyesare focused on Katrina, its vital thatprogressive-minded people take this opportunity tofight for a rebuilding with justice. New Orleans isa special place, and we need to fight for its rebirth.

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