Thursday, August 24, 2006

Hard Rain Journal 8-24-06: Updates on Darfur & Katrina, Failures of the Human Spirit

On the last day, Jesus will say to those on His right hand,
"Come, enter the Kingdom. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was sick and you visited me." Then Jesus will turn to those on His left hand and say, "Depart from me because I was hungry and you did not feed me, I was thirsty and you did not give me drink, I was sick and you did not visit me." These will ask Him, "When did we see You hungry, or thirsty or sick and did not come to Your help?" And Jesus will answer them,
"Whatever you neglected to do unto one of the least of these, you neglected to do unto me!"

Jesus of Nazareth, Sermon on the Mount

Hard Rain Journal 8-24-06: Updates on Darfur & Katrina, Failures of the Human Spirit
By Richard Power

The genocide against black non-Islamic Africans in Darfur continues unchallenged in any real way. This crime against humanity is orchestrated by a militant Islamic government in Karthoum, which is propped up by international oil companies.

Meanwhile, in New Orleans, and elsewhere throughout the US Gulf Coast region, politically favored profiteers have stolen billions of dollars in US federal aid money while fundamental human rights are being denied to hundreds of thousands of African Americans.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus promised accountability in the afterlife. But the US Constitution (which cites "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" as an "inalienable right") and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights demand accountability here and now.

Although the scope and contexts of the tragedies in Darfur and Katrina are different, they share more than one common factor, e.g., racism, oil and environmental issues. They also share in the revelation of a painful, but undeniable truth. Taken together, the fates of Darfur and New Orleans reveal a profound failure of the human spirit in the political establishment, the mainstream news media and the business community (both nationally and internationally).

Here are two recent stories on the genocide in Darfur and a comprehensive expose of post-Katrina corruption and human rights violations on the US Gulf Coast:

Sex attacks on displaced women collecting firewood in Sudan's war-torn Darfur region have surged to 200 a month from just a handful as security deteriorates, an international aid agency said on Wednesday. Darfuri women are forced to walk several miles into isolated bush from their camp confines to search for fuel, and a peace deal agreed in May between the Khartoum government and a Darfur rebel group has done little to bring security for them. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) documented more than 200 attacks on the women in the past five weeks outside the largest camp for displaced people in Darfur, where a three-year conflict has forced about 2.5 million people from their homes.
Darfur sex attacks rise as security deteriorates, Reuters, 8-23-06

Cornell will divest from Sudan in response to the genocide in Darfur, President David Skorton announced....The University will bar investments of its endowment assets in oil companies currently operating in Sudan and in obligations of the Sudanese government, according to a press release issued by the administration. The government of Sudan has long been under fire from the international community for rapes and murders being perpetrated on tribespeople by so-called janjaweed militia in the western Sudanese region of Darfur. Skorton and local and national activists are enthusiastic about Cornell’s decision to divest from the country. “Given that more than half of the Sudanese government’s revenues are derived from oil, the Cornell community is sending an unequivocal message to the oil companies about the impact of their own actions in this crisis,” Skorton said in a statement issued to the press....Universities including Harvard, Brown, Columbia, Yale, Stanford and the entire University of California system have already implemented divestment plans. Several states including New Jersey, Illinois, Maine, Arizona, Louisiana, Oregon and California have done so as well.
David Wittenberg, Skorton Announces Sudan Policy, Cornell to selectively divest from companies that support gov't, 8-23-06

The fact that there is an international human right of internally displaced people to return to their homes and a responsibility on government to help is heartening even though yet unfulfilled. The United Nations has blasted the poor U.S. response to Katrina. The UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva accepted a report from Special Reporter Arjun Sengupta who visited New Orleans in fall of 2005 and concluded: "The Committee remains concerned about information that poor people, and in particular African-Americans, were disadvantaged by the rescue and evacuation plans implemented when Hurricane Katrina hit the United States of America, and continue to be disadvantaged under the reconstruction plans." Asian tsunami relief workers who visited New Orleans over the summer were shocked at the lack of recovery. Somsook Boonyabancha, director of the Community Organisations Development Institute in Thailand, told Reuters she was shocked at the lack of progress in New Orleans. "I'm surprised to see why the reconstruction work is so slow, because this is supposed to be one of the most rich and efficient countries in the world. It is starting at such a slow speed, incredibly slow speed."...Everyone who visits New Orleans asks the same question that locals ask - where is the money? Congress reportedly appropriated over $100 billion to rebuild the Gulf Coast. Over $50 billion was allocated to temporary and long-term housing. Just under $30 billion was for emergency response and Department of Defense spending. Over $18 billion was for State and local response and the rebuilding of infrastructure. $3.6 billion was for health, social services and job training and $3.2 for non-housing cash assistance. $1.9 billion was allocated for education and $1.2 billion for agriculture....As Corpwatch says in their recent report, "Many of the same 'disaster profiteers' and government agencies that mishandled the reconstruction of Afghanistan and Iraq are responsible for the failure of 'reconstruction' of the Gulf Coast region. The Army Corps, Bechtel and Halliburton are using the very same 'contract vehicles' in the Gulf Coast as they did in Afghanistan and Iraq. These are 'indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity' open-ended 'contingency' contracts that are being abused by the contractors on the Gulf Coast to squeeze out local companies. These are also 'cost-plus' contracts that allow them to collect a profit on everything they spend, which is an incentive to overspend."...How did a company that did not own a truck get a contract for debris removal worth hundreds of millions of dollars? The Miami Herald reported that the single biggest receiver of early Katrina federal contracts was Ashbritt, Inc. of Pompano Beach, FL, which received over $579 million in contracts for debris removal in Mississippi from Army Corps of Engineers. The paper reported that the company does not own a single dumptruck! All they do is subcontract out the work. Ashbritt, however, had recently dumped $40,000 into the lobbying firm of Barbour, Griffith & Rogers, which had been run by Mississippi Governor and former National GOP Chair Haley Barbour. The owners of Ashbritt also trucked $50,000 over to the Republican National Committee in 2004.
Bill Quigley, Trying to Make It Home: New Orleans One Year After Katrina, Common Dreams, 8-22-06


Hard Rain Journal 8-3-06: Darfur is A Mirror Held Up to the Souls of the Great Nations, & What It Reveals is Hideous

Hard Rain Journal 8-22-06: The Central Theme of Future Historians will be Betrayal, Just Ask Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, Spike Lee & Valerie Plame Wilson

Words of Power #12: The Fallen Tree (Spiritual Challenges of the 21st Century Global Security Crisis, Part II)

Words of Power #25: Lost Symbols, Part II -- The Rainbow Serpent Hisses, Lessons about Sustainability & Survival from Darfur, Senegal and Ecuador

Words of Power #1: Truths Salvaged from Post-Katrina Debacle

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: For more information, go to

, , , , , , , , ,