U.S. president Bush and his staff were making sure no one would think he was on vacation during and after hurricane Rita, after taking such abuse for being asleep at the wheel for hurricane Katrina. He's been to dozens of briefings and photo ops these days, but not all of them go as planned. Dubya's dog, Barney, could not be reached for comment concerning the fish stick incident. In related news, Gold Star Families for Peace member, Cindy Sheehan participated in the planned United For Peace and Justice non-violent civil disobedience act today.
Attempting to deliver the list of names of the U.S. and Iraqi dead to the White House today, she was arrested with about 370 other protestors in front of the White House. Apparently, Bush did not want to meet with Cindy.
After the horrific scenes of the apparent abandonment of New Orleans residents were played constantly in the media for the past three weeks, the planned ANSWER coaliton anti-war rally in Washington, DC sought to spotlight the Bush administration's domestic policy inequities, plus their anti-war movement. Despite the weather, more than 100,000 people gathered on the ellipse near the White House Saturday to protest and to listen to speakers from many coalition members, activists, progressive polticians and celebrities. Cindy Sheehan, recently thrust into the national spotlight from her month-long vigil at the president's Crawford ranch, also spoke at the DC anti-war rally. A transcript of her remarks is available on After Downing Street. Saturday's rally played very little in the national TV media over the weekend, except on C-SPAN [real video stream], due to the focus of attention on hurricane Katrina and Rita.
In addition to the anti-war rally in DC, companion rallies of varying size and scope were also held in cities around the country.
Here are some web sites providing you with reports and photos of the the anti-war rallies on Saturday:
If you have info on other rallies, please leave a web address in a comment.
Issues to which the ANSWER coalition is trying to draw attention:
Stop the War in Iraq
End Colonial Occupation from Iraq to Palestine to Haiti
Support the Palestinian People’s Right of Return
Stop the Threats Against Venezuela, Cuba, Iran & North Korea
U.S. Out of the Philippines
U.S. Out of Puerto Rico
Bring all the troops home now
Stop the Racist, anti-Immigrant and anti-Labor Offensive at Home, Defend Civil Rights
Military Recruiters Out of Our Schools and Communities
You might remember me blogging about the United for Peace and Justice anti-war rally during last summer's Republican National Convention in New York City. It seemed most hopeful, promising and productive to be pro-ctive before the election, despite the lack of valuable political alternatives. In contrast to my post-election return to Zen Apathy now that we have to endure four more years of surrealistic BushWorld incompetence and the evangelical disconnect from the people, United for Peace and Justice continues their anti-war, anti-imperialistic activist struggle. UFPJ's planned non-violent direct action (civil disobedience) activity will make some noise Monday, I'm sure.
I have to say that it is a bit surreal to see the far liberal-left and the far libertarian-right come together over the issues of nation-building and Dubya's ineffectual flip-flopping foreign policy. No one likes a Democrusader that sacrifices conservative domestic spending on bloated deficits for the war machine of oil and occupation, apparently. Democrats are not given a pass when they continue to be perceived as the whining party of impotence, either.
Meanwhile, the GOP is stuck in the tar pit and mired down by their waste of post-election "political capital" by first sinking their teeth into ther third rail of privatizing social security, which was a dismal failure, despite the national White House lollapalooza tour of the nation. Then, the social conservative priorities of the evangelical-right of Terri Schiavo. Then, hurricane Katrina ripped the lid off of the Bush administration's ball jar seal of silence of total incompetence by the reality of his political crony appointments to bloated bureaucracies (pick one: FEMA, UN, DoD, VA, whatever).
Welcome to politics driven by an evangelical campaign-stumping idiot, wrapped in debt and drowning in a foreign policy quagmire.
Hurricane Katrina's ugly little sister, Rita, made landfall along the Louisiana-Texas border in the dark of the pre-dawn hours Saturday. Rita's wrath was mostly confined to eastern TX and western LA, though. Rita missed Houston, but New Orleans flooded again.
Sometimes, it's difficult for people who live in areas that are never hit by hurricanes to understand the widespread destruction caused by these meterological monsters. Extreme winds carve out the landscape over a hundred miles wide. If you want to really wrap your mind around it -- get in your car, drive two hours away from your home and imagine that everything in between is destroyed, flattened, and chewed up by God's lawn mower.
Another destructive feature of a hurricane is that it continually spawns tornadoes along the outside edges of itself in the feeder bands. So, even if you are not directly in the path of the highest winds surrounding the eye wall, chances are good that your area could see multiple tornadoes or extreme straight line winds over the many hours of the storm's duration.
Despite the tragic flooding of New Orleans -- twice now -- hurricanes literally dump water everywhere from tsunami storm surge on the coast and rainfall measured in feet everywhere else. You've all seen the horrific devastation and death caused by the flooding of New Orleans. Typically, in most hurricanes, more deaths are actually caused by inland flooding every year than by outright destruction along the coast because people evacuate the coastline.
News, information, photos or video of hurricane Katrina and Rita:
On the scene - reporters blog How to help - missing/found persons, charities, sheter and pet info Photos - multiple slideshows of hurricane Katrina and Rita Video - about one hundred streaming video clips [WMP]
NOLA - Everything New Orleans by the Times Picayune WWL - TV, radio, extensive coverage and helpful info
With Katrina's evil twin Rita churning through the Gulf of Mexico, it's only common sense that gas prices will rise again. Offshore oil rigs are in the path of hurricane Rita. And like Katrina, refinery and distribution of energy products will be affected.
My image above shows the rise in national gas price averages and the components of cost in percentiles. The 2005 figure of $2.29 was only current as of July 2005, and doesn't represent any data post hurricane Katrina, when gas prices spun out of control in some regions. If you want to understand what normal factors play a role in the price of gasoline, read this gas price primer from the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE).
If you see local gas stations with ridiculously high gasoline prices, report that price-gouging activity using this DoE Gas Price Watch form. Check this form now to see what information you will need to provide while scribbling down some notes on the dash board of your car.
I know that in Florida price-gouging is legally defined as a price increase of "gross disparity" above normal retail prices 30 days before an emergency, like a hurricane. Check your own state's attorney general office for more information about filing price-gouging complaints for any other consumer items, such as portable power generators, or even hotel room rates for evacuees.
Even after hurricane Rita passes through the Gulf and eventually turns into a gentle sprinkle for Jesus' vegetable garden in Grand Rapids, Michigan, gas prices may eventually rise to $4-5 per gallon, this time next year. It wouldn't surprise me to see that increase in gas prices in the jittery commodity markets simply in anticipation of hurricane season next year.
The corporations that control various components of the price of gasoline are not making capital investments to lower the price of gasoline, and I don't expect that they will. There is a concept called Peak Oil. Why invest or spend billions of corporate dollars to build even one more refinery when the supply is on the downslope?
If the easily attainable supplies of crude oil are waning, the only other market factor affecting the price is on the demand side. You, the consumer, have to save and conserve however you can. It may even mean a lifestyle change for you during the next 5 or 10 years, whether you like it or not.
In the meantime, there are simple things you can do to conserve your personal fuel consumption and save yourself a few bucks along the way. Making sure your tires are properly inflated on that SUV can save you 10%. Plan ahead and combine errands. Go grocery shopping with your neighbor. Carpool and drive the diamond lane while waving at the lonely idiots stranded in normal traffic.
Personally, I ride a mountain bike with a basket in the front to my local grocery store. I wear a backpack. Every time I buy groceries in this manner, I remind myself that this is a small inconvenience for me, when brave men and women in the military are being killed in Iraq, not for WMDs, but for oil. Conserve fuel -- save a soldier's life.
While I realize most families can't ride a bike to buy their groceries or run their errands, there are practical alternatives for millions of families in the U.S. instead of driving that SUV to the grocery store for a forgotten gallon of milk or loaf of bread. You people are smart. You simply need to start thinking about it, even if your reason is just $5.00/gallon gasoline.
The Tribeca Film Festival was founded in 2002 by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff as a response to the attacks on the World Trade Center. Now in its fourth year, the Festival's mission is to create platforms for filmmakers to reach the best possible audience for their work. If you are a filmmaker, you only have until November 14 to submit your narrative, documentary feature, or short online to be considered for the 2006 festival taking place April 25th through May 7th, in New York City. If you're not a filmmaker, but just an avid fan of film, you can view some cool shorts and rate them, like I have been doing.
You also get entered into a sweepstakes in which the grand prize is a $1000 and a comped flight to NYC for the festival. I'm a big fan of the flash shorts over on AtomFilms, so I have been checking out a few shorts in the competition on Amazon. If you want to "watch and win", go do it now. Your participation in the film ratings ends this Friday, September 23rd. After that, the top five films will be introduced on October 3rd, and you can then help select who should win the filmmaker's prize of $50,000 from American Express, in November. Better yet -- don't check it out. When I win the film rater's grand prize, I'll be sure to take many pix in NYC and blog about it for you.
I haven't watched too many shorts so far, but I was impressed with two of them. In the drama genre, I thought "Newspaper" was very succinct visually and told its story plainly without even having any sound or dialogue. [Synopsis: A young boy wants his selfish father to acknowledge him. One morning, he wakes with a plan of action.]
In the comedy genre, I thought "The Price is Right" showed a lot of promise. It made me laugh. While the last 30 seconds of it was a bit clumsy because it's hard to figure how to end a good comedy skit, the premise and the dialogue in the scenes were great. [Synopsis: Adam paces left to right in anticipation. His roommates in the background are betting on The Price Is Right. The phone rings. It's an anonymous call for Adam. He is instructed to meet at a street corner where there, he'll receive a package upon saying the password. What was the password?] So, there are my thumbnail reviews of the two films I gave a five-of-fives excellent rating.
If you are not a film buff, but are a couch potato
I watched the last half of the Emmys tonight. It reminded me of the Emmy Awards show after 9-11, not only because Ellen DeGeneres was hosting but also because of the somber moments during the show, both scripted and spontaneous. CBS.com promoted Habitat for Humanity throughout the live broadcast. They also had an interesting segment about the recent turn-over in U.S. news journalism in which Tom Brockaw and Dan Rather took the stage and talked about their decades of work and about their dead peer Peter Jennings -- who is now transformed into a small Canadian boy yelping out headlines and selling newspapers on a turn-of-the-last-century street corner in the Twilight Zone.
Two of my personal favorites won an Emmy award. Tony Shalhoub won an emmy award for his quirky comedy portrayal of Monk. The best drama award for a show went to ABC's "Lost" which is a show that I was hooked on for the first half-dozen episodes, but I have missed watching recently. Check the Emmys.com web site to see how your favorite actors or shows fared.
In Katrina-related news, I was interested to read this article on the Emmys.com site. I had no idea that much business -- over $100 million -- was being done in the film/TV industry in Louisiana. It's an interesting article. Oh, if you don't want to follow my links, you can do what I do occasionally. Just type in a web address. Apparently, http://www.emmy.com/ is a domain name owned by a nice family in Topanga, CA. They have some photos of their family online. Heh. Cool VW.
More storms on the horizon
I was heartened that the Emmy Awards continually pimped Habitat for Humanity. Of course, when the show ended, my 11pm local news came on and I had to hear about Hurricane Phillipe and Tropical Storm Rita heading toward our way. Apparently Phillipe might go north early and cut us all some slack, but Rita is already causing some concern for Florida.
Ahead of the storm, the tourists have been given a mandatory order to evacuate and the Florida Keys are under a state of emergency. While this is a wise and prudent step for this area because there is only one way out of the Keys, the storm is projected (thus far) to skim the Keys and likely hit somewhere in Mexico, Texas or western Loiusiana sometime next week as a category 3 (or higher) hurricane.
Not to wish ill upon anyone else, but I hope hurricane Rita cuts New Orleans some slack while the recovery and rebuilding efforts continue. Hurricane Rita will hit somewhere. Count on that. At the same time, I remember the jab-jab-punch fight with hurricanes last year, here in Florida, and it was disheartening and stressful for everyone. You wanted to yell, "give us a break," at the sky during those two months last year.