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To alleviate the problem of articles from other press sources being reposted on this IMC site, this section allows users to link to articles published elsewhere, and to contribute and read comments on those pieces. Have something interesting to post?

 

News :: Civil & Human Rights : International Relations : Peace & War : Protest Activity : The Enemy

Protester's voice heard

Turns out President Bush's speech Friday wasn't such a tough ticket after all.

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News :: Indymedia

Wireless World: 'WiFi before you fly'

Robber Barons squeeze more work out of the day of travelers - with WiFi at the airports.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport this week debuted a wireless Internet system throughout all its terminals, outflanking Boston Logan and other major U.S. airports by providing WiFi for travelers from the curb of the cabstand to the tarmac near the departing aircraft, experts told UPI's Wireless World. By Gene Koprowski

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Commentary :: Protest Activity

A patriot crashes the party

The most patriotic element of George Bush's speech in Norfolk on Friday morning wasn't the flags on the big "Strategy for Victory" sign behind the podium.

It wasn't the backdrop bleachers artfully decorated with warm bodies in military uniforms.

It was the moment early on when a man stood up in Chrysler Hall, yanked open his shirt to expose his "Dump Bush" T-shirt in full view of shocked members of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network seated nearby and cried, "War is terrorism! Torture is terrorism!" before he was hustled out by security people.

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News :: Protest Activity

Bush Mostly Greeted Warmly in Norfolk, Va.

NORFOLK, Va. -- It was President Bush's kind of crowd. Well, mostly. The
president spoke Friday morning to about 2,000 invited supporters in Norfolk,
home to the world's largest navy base and numerous service members. About half
the crowd was in uniform, and more than 70 military members sat on...

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News :: Civil & Human Rights : International Relations : Peace & War : Protest Activity : The Enemy

Tom Palumbo Disrupts Bush Speech

There were also protests. As he arrived at Chrysler Hall, there were signs with messages such as "Impeach Bush."

One protester inside the hall, identified as Tom Palumbo, shouted "War is terror" during Bush's speech. He was quickly removed from the room by Secret Service and police.

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News :: Civil & Human Rights : International Relations : Peace & War : Protest Activity : The Enemy

Video: Outside during the president's address

As President Bush delivered an address on global terrorism to an invitation-only crowd in Chrysler Hall today, outside the hall, protestors and supports made their voices heard.

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News :: Civil & Human Rights : International Relations : Peace & War : Right Wing : The Enemy

Bush to speak in Norfolk

Facing some of the most difficult days of his presidency, President Bush plans to visit Hampton Roads on Friday to refocus public attention on what's long been his strongest issue: the war on terrorism.

As the White House braces for possible indictments of top aides in the CIA leak investigation and struggles to shore up a faltering Supreme Court nomination, Bush hopes to use a Norfolk speech to a friendly, mostly military crowd to rally support for the war in Iraq.

The details of the event have yet to be completed, but one official said it likely would be in the morning at a site such as Chrysler Hall or the Old Dominion University convocation center.

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Commentary :: Civil & Human Rights

Gentrifying Disaster

Gentrifying Disaster

by Mike Davis


In a recent email to Louisiana officials, FEMA curtly turned down the state's request for funding to notify displaced residents that they could cast absentee ballots in the city's crucial February mayoral election. FEMA also declined to share data with local authorities about the current addresses of evacuees.

In the eyes of many local activists, FEMA's refusal to support the voting rights of evacuees is consistent with a larger pattern of federal inaction and delay that seems transparently designed to discourage the return of Black residents to the city. As one Associated Press dispatch presciently warned, "Hurricane Katrina [may] prove to be the most brutal urban-renewal project Black America has ever seen."

ETHNIC CLEANSING, GOP-STYLE

In the weeks since Bush's Jackson Square speech, FEMA has alarmingly failed to advance any plan for the return of evacuees to temporary housing within the city or to connect displaced locals with reconstruction jobs. Moreover for lack of a tax base or emergency federal funding, local governments in afflicted areas have been forced to lay off thousands of employees and are unable to restore many essential public services.

Bush's promise to promptly help the region's unemployed - 282,000 in Louisiana alone - has turned into slow-moving House legislation that would benefit less than one-quarter of those made jobless by Katrina. The powerful House Republican Study Group has vowed to support only relief measures that buttress the private sector and are offset by reductions in national social programs such as food stamps, student loans, and Medicaid.

The Bush administration accordingly has blocked bipartisan legislation to extend Medicaid coverage to all low-income hurricane victims and imposed unprecedented demands for loan repayment upon local governments. Katrina's victims, as Paul Krugman has pointed out, have been "nickeled and dimed" to an extent that casts grave doubt over whether large-scale reconstruction "will really materialize."

In the meantime more than two-thirds of FEMA contracts (according to Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco) has gone to out-of-state firms, with a blatant bias toward Halliburton and other Texas-based investors in Bush Inc. Simultaneously, unscrupulous employers have saturated Latino neighborhoods in Houston and other southwestern cities with fliers advertising a cornucopia of jobs in New Orleans and Gulfport.

With Davis-Bacon and affirmative-action requirements suspended by executive order, immigrant workers - housed in tents and working under appalling conditions - have flocked to jobs sites in the city, largely unaware that tens of thousands of blue-collar evacuees who would relish these jobs are unable to return for lack of family housing and federal support. Ethnic tensions are artificially inflamed by speculations about a "population swap" and impending 'Latinization" of the workforce.

New barriers, meanwhile, are being erected against the return of evacuees. In Mississippi's ruined coastal cities, as well as in metro New Orleans, landlords - galvanized by rumors of gentrification and soaring land values - are beginning to institute mass evictions. (Although the oft-cited Lower Ninth Ward is actually a bastion of blue-collar homeownership, most poor New Orleanians are renters.)

Civil-rights lawyer Bill Quigley has described how renters have returned "to find furniture on the street and strangers living in their apartments at higher rents, despite an order by the Governor that no one can be evicted before October 25. Rents in the dry areas have doubled and tripled."

Secretary of Housing Alfonso Jackson, meanwhile, seems to be working to fulfill his notorious prediction that New Orleans is "not going to be as black as it was for a long time, if ever again." Public-housing and Section 8 residents recently protested that "the agencies in charge of these housing complexes [including HUD] are using allegations of storm damage to these complexes as a pretext for expelling working-class African-Americans, in a very blatant attempt to co-opt our homes and sell them to developers to build high-priced housing."

Minority homeowners also face relentless pressures not to return. Insurance compensation, for example, is typically too small to allow homeowners in the eastern wards of New Orleans to rebuild if and when authorities re-open their neighborhoods.

Similarly, the Small Business Administration - so efficient in recapitalizing the San Fernando Valley in the aftermath of the 1994 Los Angeles earthquake - has so far dispensed only a few million dollars despite increasingly desperate pleas from tens of thousands of homeowners and small business people facing imminent foreclosure or bankruptcy.

As a result, not just the Black working class, but also the Black professional and business middle classes are now facing economic extinction while Washington dawdles. Tens of thousands of blue-collar white, Asian and Latino residents of afflicted Gulf communities also face de facto expulsion from the region, but only the removal of African-Americans is actually being advocated as policy.

Since Katrina made landfall, conservatives - beginning with Rep. Richard Baker's infamous comments about God having "finally cleaned up the housing projects in New Orleans" - have openly gloated over the possibilities for remaking New Orleans in a GOP image. (Medically, this might be considered akin to a mass outbreak of Tourette Syndrome, whose official symptoms include "the overwhelming urge to use a racial epithet.")

Republican interest in reducing the Black Democratic vote in New Orleans - the balance of power in state elections - resonates with the oft-expressed desire of local elites to purge the city of "problem people." As one major French Quarter landowner told Der Spiegel "The hurricane drove poor people and criminals out of the city and we hope they don't come back. The party's finally over for these people and now they're going to have to find someplace else to live in the United States."

Nor are downsizing and gentrification necessarily offensive to Democratic neo-liberals who have long advocated breaking up concentrated poverty and dispersing the black poor into older suburbs. The HOPE VI program, the showpiece of Clinton-era urban policy, demolished traditional public housing and 'vouchered out' residents in order to make way for mixed-use, market-rate developments like the St. Thomas redevelopment in New Orleans in the late 1990s that has become the prototype for elite visions of the city's future.

There exists, in other words, a sinister consensus of powerful interests about the benefits of an urban 'triage' that abandons historical centers of Black political power like the Ninth Ward while rebuilding million-dollar homes along the disaster-prone shores of Lake Ponchartrain and the Mississippi Sound.

THE NEW URBANISM MEETS THE OLD SOUTH

Into this fraught and sinister situation now blunders the circus-like spectacle of the Congress of New Urbanism (CNU): the architectural cult founded by Miami designers Andreas Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk.

Twenty years ago, when Duany was first barnstorming the nation's architectural schools and preservation societies, the New Urbanism seemed to offer an attractive model for building socially diverse and environmentally sustainable communities based on a systematization of older 'city beautiful' principles such as pedestrian scale, traditional street grids, an abundance of open space, and a mixture of landuses, income groups and building forms.

In practice, however, this diversity has never been achieved. Duany and Plater-Zyberk's Seaside - the Florida suburb so brilliantly caricatured in the 1998 film "The Truman Show" - was an early warning that kitsch would usually triumph over democracy in New Urbanist designs.

Despite the populist language of the CNU manifesto, moreover, Duany has always courted corporate imaginers, mega-developers and politicians. In the mid-1990s, HUD under Secretary Henry Cisneros incorporated New Urbanist ideas into many of its HOPE VI projects.

Originally conceived as replacement housing for the poor, HOPE VI quickly morphed into a new strategy for replacing the poor themselves.
Strategically-sited public-housing projects like New Orleans St. Thomas homes were demolished to make way for neo-traditionalist townhouses and stores (in the St. Thomas case, a giant Wal-Mart) in the New Urbanist spirit.

These "mixed-use, mixed-income" developments were typically advertised as little utopias of diversity, but - as in the St. Thomas case - the real dynamic was exclusionary rather than inclusionary, with only a few project residents being rehoused on site. Nationally, HOPE VI led to a net loss of more than 50,000 units of desperately needed low-income housing.

Smart developers accordingly have been quick to put New Urbanist halos over their otherwise rampant landgrabs and neighborhood demolitions. Likewise, shrewd conservatives like Paul Weyrich have come to recognize the obvious congruence between political traditionalism and architectural nostalgia.

Weyrich, the founding president of the Heritage Foundation, recently wrote that the "new urbanism needs to be part of the next conservatism," a conservatism that remakes cities by purging their criminal underclasses. (After Katrina, Weyrich strongly defended House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's questioning of whether New Orleans - "with its welfare state and entitlement mentality... a prototype for Liberals" -should be rebuilt at all.)

Weyrich was the spiritual bridesmaid during the recent nuptials between the CNU's Andreas Duany and Harley Barbour, the sleazy former tobacco lobbyist and Republican chair, who became governor of Mississippi by wrapping himself in the Confederate battle flag.

Barbour, long King of K Street, is nobody's fool, and he is trying to extract as much long-term political and economic advantage from Katrina as possible. One of his declared priorities, for example, is bringing the casinos ashore into larger, more Las Vegas-like settings; another is to rapidly restore shoreline property values and squelch any debate about resettling the population on defensible higher ground (north of I-10, for example).

It was thus a rather brilliant stroke for Barbour to invite the CNU to help Mississippi rebuild its Gulf Coast "the right way." The first phase was the so-called "mega-charrette', 11-18 October, that brought 120 New Urbanists together with local officials and business groups to brainstorm strategies for the physical reconstruction of their communities.

Duany, as usual, whipped up a revivalistic fervor that must have been pleasing to Barbour and other descendants of the slave masters: "The architectural heritage of Mississippi is fabulous .. really, really marvelous."

With Gone with the Wind as their apparent script, the CNU teams spent a frenzied week trying to show the locals how they could replace their dismal strip malls with glorious Greek Revival casinos and townhouses that would rival any of those that once existed on MGM's backlot. The entire exercise stayed firmly within the parameters of a gambling-driven 'heritage' economy with casinos "woven into the community fabric" and neo-Taras rebuilt on the beach.

In the end, however, what was important was not the actual content of the charrette, nor the genuine idealism of many participants, but simply the legitimacy and publicity that CNU gave to Barbour's agenda. Duany, who never misses an opportunity to push his panaceas to those in power, has foolishly made himself an accomplice to the Republicans' evil social experiment on the Gulf Coast.


http://www.leftturn.org/Articles/Viewer.aspx?id=764&type=W

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mike Davis is the author of many books, including City of Quartz, Dead Cities and Other Tales and the just-published Monster at Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu (The New Press), as well as the forthcoming Planet of Slums (Verso).

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