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Health Care & Environment
11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
11.12 This Land is Your Land: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Trump responds to worst fires in California’s history by threatening to withhold federal aid [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Interior department sued for ‘secretive process’ in at-risk species assessment [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Keystone XL pipeline: judge rules government 'jumped the gun' and orders halt [behaving ignorantly again...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.16 As 'Green New Deal' Demand Grows, Democrats Have Choice: Confront and Defeat Fossil Fuel Industry or Take Credit for 'Doomed' Planet [Two choices: Save life-on-Earth or help Republicans let it die?]
11.15 Democrats Won Big. Can They Go Bold, Too? [it's about suppressing the influence and leadership by Republican-like Democrats who counsel 'íncremental' (no) change, such as Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Shumer and Joe Biden]
11.15 Pentagon Officials Forced to Make Fewer Public Appearances to Avoid Provoking Trump [...by revealing Trump's huuuge ignorance]
11.15 REPUBLICANS USED A BILL ABOUT WOLVES TO AVOID A VOTE ON YEMEN WAR [if there are 'defense industry' profits to be made—including congress-critter insider-trading—and political 'donations' to be had, we mustn't stop killing innocent civilians!]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]
11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
International & Futurism
11.15 Cuba to pull doctors out of Brazil after President-elect Bolsonaro comments [terms must be negotiated for fairness to Cuba's health professionals without disruption of healthcare for Brazil's poor]
11.14 'Appalling' Khashoggi audio shocked Saudi intelligence – Erdogan [Exposing a psychopath?]
Hurricane of Inhumanity: Five Years after Katrina
Sunday, 12 September 2010
While some Evangelicals were preaching that the people of New Orleans got what they deserved as a punishment from God, other Christian fundamentalists were selling the Iraq war as the fulfilment of the wishes of God.
Aive years after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans—a natural disaster with unnatural responses that led to the death of an estimated 1,800 people and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of others—the lesson has not yet been learned.
While US President Barack Obama acknowledged that the disaster was "a man-made catastrophe—a shameful breakdown in government that left countless men, women and children abandoned and alone"—he still missed the point, not only in New Orleans, but also in earthquake-wrecked Haiti and flood-hit Pakistan.
The devastating outcome of the New Orleans catastrophe was not a case of mere government mismanagement, as some have put it; nor were the people of New Orleans to blame, as others bizarrely like to think. A number of factors played a part, all betraying sinister causes which in combination led to the outcome we all know.
Enemies of the state
Witness accounts in the immediate aftermath of Katrina show that there was almost a sense of official contempt for the people of New Orleans that often went beyond criminal negligence. Some residents felt that they were being treated like enemies in a war zone and not as Americans in distress.
Those who remained, whether by choice or for lack of any other option, were automatically perceived as "looters," and "looting" itself became the ultimate crime, second only maybe to terrorism. People who did not or could not (and in some cases were not allowed to) leave the scene were being shot at for daring to eat food from deserted shops just to stay alive.
Protecting businesses has become more important than saving lives, even though most of the products in those shops were doomed to destruction by the rising level of water that covered most of the city. Symbolically, it looked like a determination to protect the "market" even when trade has ceased, where the "capital" can perish as long as it does not reach the people in need.
But things went beyond shooting at suspected "looters" and treating people as if they were guilty of crimes that they were not even aware of. There was a sense of detachment from the suffering of those who were in urgent need of drinking water. There were many reported instances where the security forces had the opportunity to help, but preferred to do nothing or, worse, watch.
Even today, there is still little mention of New Orleans' poor infrastructure, which magnified the effect of the hurricane. Apart from alternative media outlets such as "Democracy Now!" and others, even less mention is given to those who might be held responsible.
As in Haiti, the impact of natural disasters would have been tremendously less had the proper infrastructure been in place. And as in Haiti, successive US government policies share a large portion of the blame.
Toppling democracy in Haiti and placing a US-friendly government there meant American interests would be insured, not those of the Haitian people. But where was the interest of the American people in New Orleans?
When interviewing some of the audience of a moving play last year—"Katrina" by Jonathan Holmes (which was based on the accounts of six witnesses from New Orleans)—I discovered that people were shocked that such things happened to Americans. They were not at all surprised that the US authorities would act in such a manner—but surely not against their own people.
The Iraq-God connection
Among the many sad ironies in this bitter ordeal is the link to Iraq and God, two concepts that are now strongly intertwined in English (and Arabic) language usage, thanks to former US President George Bush.
One irony is that the US troops serving in Iraq would have better served their country and people had they been present within their national borders when they were most needed, instead of outstaying their "unwelcome" in Iraq.
Another irony is that while some Evangelicals were preaching that the people of New Orleans got what they deserved as a punishment from God, other Christian fundamentalists were selling the Iraq war as the fulfilment of the wishes of God. So, the logic went, American soldiers invaded Iraq in a "mission" or a "vision" to carry out God's work there, while that same God personally got down to business in New Orleans.
Yet the resilient people of New Orleans never lost faith in their own God of hope, despite attempts to hijack Him and despite the fact that the loudest voices protesting against the injustices that had befallen them came from atheists and non-radical believers from the left, who saw the victims as human beings first and foremost.
Among the reasons why natural disasters cause much greater harm than they should is precisely because people fail to see the victims' humanity before and after a catastrophe takes place—before in terms of preparations and sound infrastructure, and after in terms of the speed and method of aid.
Floods of the damned
Thus, the lessons from Katrina were never learned, as can be seen in Haiti and now Pakistan. Some people would rather have millions of lives wrecked in Pakistan than let the Taliban or some extremist-linked or suspected charity anywhere take the credit for helping them. And when aid does come—late as it is—it comes in a bid to outmatch those extremists.
In fact, ironically, even in New Orleans the US authorities wrongfully detained a Muslim American of Syrian origin, Abdulrahman Zeitoun, who had stayed behind to help save lives there, branding him "Taliban" and "Al-Qaeda" when arresting him in his own home.
Those who claim to be fighting extremism have come to embody everything that extremism stands for but the name.
Yet those who claim to be fighting extremism have come to embody everything that extremism stands for but the name. They, with the help of a powerful media, are so preoccupied with differences of colour, race and faith that they have lost sight of people's humanity.
And some would readily blow their own trumpets by comparing their good selves to the Pakistani Taliban. An odd choice for a benchmark; but as the days progress even that low standard would be hard to live up to.
Mamoon Alabbasi is an Iraqi journalist based in London. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Mr. Alabbasi's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.This story was published on September 12, 2010.