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Medea Benjamin: "Katrina Survivors are Losing the Battle to Return Home"

Oft-arrested far-left activist, co-founder of CodePink and Global Exchange, and Cuban tourist Susan "Medea" Benjamin offers this:

Two months after Katrina, the residents of New Orleans most traumatized by the hurricane and its aftermath are now traumatized by their battle to return home. And many of the city's poor, black "Katrina survivors" are losing this second battle...
[...poster children...]
Similar fates are befalling residents of the city's 38,000 public housing units: they are coming home to find their apartments boarded up, even though the concrete block apartments -- ugly as they might be -- were among the best in withstanding the hurricane. Housing advocates say it is part of a long-term desire to cleanse the city of its public housing, recalling the crass comments of Representative Richard Baker, R-L.A.: "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."
Before Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans was a city of 485,000 people, 65% of whom were black. Today, officials estimate that during the day there are some 125,000 people, falling to 70,000 at nighttime when many leave to find shelter outside the city. Mayor Nagin predicted that New Orleans would lose about half its pre-Katrina population. And with government policies and market forces stacked against the poor, the "new" New Orleans is becoming whiter and whiter...
The "whitification" of New Orleans, however, is not inevitable. There are many solutions: demanding a massive program for affordable housing, halting evictions and price gouging for rental properties, making it possible for evacuees who are scattered around the country to move to temporary shelters (trailers, vacant apartments, tents) back home, giving job priority to local residents, reopening public schools, providing support systems to those returning, demanding that the poor be represented in the rebuilding decisions...
...At the grassroots level, there are remarkable community activists like Malik Rahim, who has turned his home on the dry west bank of Algiers into the Common Ground Collective... During Thanksgiving week, Nov. 22-29, Common Ground is calling for a mass convergence on New Orleans help clean up the Ninth Ward (see
Community Labor United is also setting up communication/relief centers...
ACORN, temporarily based in Baton Rouge, is fighting home demolitions and reconnecting with its New Orleans base...
...A massive movement of solidarity is the only force that will rescue the people of New Orleans this time around.

Sure, Medea, you wait right over there. The 98% of Americans who aren't very far-left useful idiots will join you in solidarity soon. (Non-sarcastically: the mainstream interest in doing the right thing by NO's population isn't helped by the efforts of people like her. Please, visit Cuba and just stay there.)
UPDATE: "Jean" noticed that Medea or someone else had made a mistake, leaving out the first "l" in the phrase "reopening public schools" in the quote above. I corrected it.

New Orleans favorites at Washington ANSWER protest

Some people previously discussed on this site also made appearances at the big ANSWER (Act Now To Stop War and End Racism) protests in Washington. As you have probably heard, ANSWER is basically a Commie front.
Speakers included: Cindy Sheehan, Malik Rahim, and the Rev. Al Sharpton. Rahim is also a Green Party leader.
Someone with a NO connection but who hasn't been featured here is Curtis Muhammed, Community Labor Union of New Orleans.
Here's the ANSWER-provided guest list, minus those names above:

- Jessica Lange, actor
- George Galloway, British Member of Parliament
- Ramsey Clark, former U.S. attorney general
- Dolores Huerta, Co-Founder, United Farm Workers of America
- Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney
- Ralph Nader
- Mahdi Bray, Exec. Dir., Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation
- Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, attorney/co-founder, Partnership for Civil Justice, National Lawyers Guild
- Elias Rashmawi, National Council of Arab Americans
- Brian Becker, National Coordinator, A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
- Lynne Stewart, human rights attorney
- Anita Dennis, mother of Iraq War veteran / resister
- Clayola Brown, President of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, Vice President of UNITE HERE**
- Ben Dupuy, Former Ambassador At Large for the government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
- Jos Williams, President, President of the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO
- Michael Berg, father of Nicholas Berg
- Christine Araquel, Alliance for a Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines
- Andy Thayer, Equality Campaign
- Margaret Prescod, Global Women's Strike
- Hadi Jawad, founder of Crawford Peace House
- Chris Silvera, Teamsters Black Caucus
- Musa Al-Hindi, Al-Awda National
- Michel Shehadeh, L.A-8 defendant, a Palestinian activist framed COINTELPRO-style
- Nancy Wolforth, Executive Vice President, AFL-CIO
- Manuel Santos, Socialist Front of Puerto Rico
- Brenda Stokely, Million Worker March, New York City Labor Against the War
- Peta Lindsay, Youth and Student A.N.S.W.E.R. Student, Howard University student
- Mounzer Sleiman, National Council of Arab Americans
- Macrina Cardenas, Mexicanos Sin Fronteras
- Jeanette Caceres, Spoken word artist from New York University
- Gloria La Riva, National Committee to Free the Five
- Riya Ortiz, Network in Solidarity with the People of the Philippines, Campaign for Justice Not War
- Larry Holmes, Troops Out Now Coalition
- Chuck Kaufman, Nicaragua Network
- Women's Anti-Imperialist League
- Representative of Bayan USA
- Eugene Puryear, Youth and Student A.N.S.W.E.R. Student, Howard University student
- Patti Smith, singer
All speakers confirmed by the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition except those indicated by an asterisk (*) are confirmed by UFPJ and those indicated by two asterisk (**) are confirmed by USLAW.

Cindy Sheehan: "occupied New Orleans"

The Cindy Sheehan column "A Bright Spot in Bush World" covers a lot of points. In other words, it rambles all over the countryside, with the last paragraph being the most discrediting:

The people on the ground in Covington scoffed at George's little junket to Louisiana yesterday. He stayed in the French Quarter and a Ward that weren't even damaged a bit. The VFP took me to the city of Algiers on the West Bank. The part of Algiers we went to was very poor and black. The people of Algiers know what hard work is...
Even though Algiers came through Katrina relatively unscathed, our federal government tried to force (mostly successfully) the people out of the community. Malik Rahim, a new friend of ours and resident of Algiers, told us stories of the days after the hurricane. The government declared martial law, but there was no effective police presence to enforce it. Malik said the lawlessness was rampant. People were running out of food and water and they were being forced to go to the Superdome. They didn't want to go to the Superdome, because their homes were pretty intact: they wanted to stay and have food and water brought to them. A town of 76,000 people dwindled down to 3,000. The die hards were rewarded last Wednesday when the [Veterans for Peace] rolled into town with food and water. The Camp Casey III people were the first ones to bring any relief to Algiers. The people who were supposed to look after its citizens, our government, failed them...
One thing that truly troubled me about my visit to Louisiana was the level of the military presence there. I imagined before that if the military had to be used in a CONUS (Continental US) operations that they would be there to help the citizens: Clothe them, feed them, shelter them, and protect them. But what I saw was a city that is occupied. I saw soldiers walking around in patrols of 7 with their weapons slung on their backs. I wanted to ask one of them what it would take for one of them to shoot me. Sand bags were removed from private property to make machine gun nests...
...If I had a store with an inventory of insured belongings, and a tragedy happened, I would fling my doors open and tell everyone to take what they need: it is only stuff. When our fellow citizens are told to "shoot to kill" other fellow citizens because they want to stay alive, that is military and governmental fascism gone out of control...
...I was told that Pat Boone was on a conservative radio talk show in San Francisco (yes they do exist) with Melanie Morgan (who has a vendetta against me) and he told the listeners that after we "stole the supplies" from the Red Cross, we gave them to the "enemies of America who are like the people who want to fly airplanes into our buildings." Boone says that we were giving them to enemies of America, because we were distributing the supplies from a Mosque. First of all, accusing me of stealing is slander, I think, and second of all: we were helping Americans...
...George Bush needs to stop talking, admit the mistakes of his all around failed administration, pull our troops out of occupied New Orleans and Iraq, and excuse his self from power...

And, from this:

The situation in Algiers got a bit more surreal this week when the U.S. military asked the anarchists for help in providing basic services to local residents. A medical military clinic commander asked the folks running the Common Ground Clinic if they could lend a few medics and doctors to the military until the military sets up a "permanent" health clinic on Newton Avenue on Monday...
Malik Rahim is a local activist who has served as the catalyst for most of the rebuilding and mutual aid work being done by residents and outside volunteers.
"We've opened up a clinic [Common Ground Clinic] and are opening up a mobile clinic. We've set up a food distro that has fed 300-400 people. We've distributed around 500 personal hygiene kits. People have come together to found the Common Ground Collective. There are people from all over the world here: volunteers from Denmark, doctors from France, Veterans for Peace and Cindy Sheehan. We are doing whatever it takes to fill the void of the needs that exist."

Ray Nagin criticized from left

From Democracy Now:

We turn to Malik Rahim who had his own critique of Mayor Nagin's response to the devastating Hurricane Katrina. Malik Rahim is a veteran of the Black Panther Party in New Orleans. For decades he has worked as an organizer of public housing tenants both there and in San Francisco. He recently ran for New Orleans City Council on the Green Party ticket... Malik began by talking what he would have done differently to deal with the storm.

No transcript is currently available, but if anyone can get their audio to work please post a summary in the comments.

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