Friday, August 31, 2007


So Democracy Now was in the Big Easy Thursday morning, broadcasting their news show from here. As usual, they cover stuff that never gets covered in the corporate press.

For instance:

New Orleans Hit By Another "Hurricane of Racism,
Greed and Corruption" - Community Activist Malik Rahim

Most of the houses that wasn't destroyed during Katrina was demolished under our city’s Good Neighbors Program. So what you have is -- is just a series of empty lots. And it's a testimony of the lack of recovery. This is a testimony of a lack of, truly, support by our federal, state and local government for the upliftment of this community. You find other areas of the Lower Ninth Ward that have a large population of whites, the Holy Cross area, and it’s doing well. But over here you only have -- I know of only one house that has been totally rebuilt.

Click here to read, watch, or listen to the rest.

Rahim's the real deal, an old school, former Black Panther who brings real 60s political values to the struggle here in NOLA, and whose rhetoric is as fiery as my own, but he actually does stuff, instead of simply blogging like me.

But wait, there's more:

"The Red Cross Has Basically Stolen Money from Victims in New
Orleans" - People's Hurricane Relief Fund Blasts Katrina Aid Program

And so, we have just been challenging their veracity on this whole program, and witness to that is every time we've confronted them they’ve changed the figures. When we first started this campaign, they said they had $80 million left. A week later, they said they had $40 million left. And then the national president came down here, and he said they had $171 million left. So you don’t know what the story really is, so they haven't gotten their story together.

And, of course, they've been attacking the People's Hurricane Relief Fund, saying that we are spreading lies and stuff against them. But we confronted them directly, and we took our -- their application to the local news media. And they were forced to admit that the program existed, because when people first called about the program, the Red Cross would say, “What are you talking about? We’ve never heard of a Means to Recovery program.” So we want to know why such secrecy, and why did you decide that it was up to you, the Red Cross, to decide what to do?

The other important factor is they got $50 million from Kuwait, and instead of giving that money to people, they built new office buildings in New York City.

Click here to watch, read, or listen to the rest.

I said a couple of days ago that Democracy Now was probably going to be one of only a very few media outlets to cover the Tribunal on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita taking place here in NOLA this weekend. Turns out I was right, at least so far: the guy making this accusation is from the Tribunal.

And yeah, this Red Cross malfeasance is definitely flying below the mainstream press' radar. How the hell could they miss out on diverting millions of dollars in donations away from hurricane victims? Oh yeah, I know, they're too busy concentrating Senator Craig's bathroom dalliances. I guess that's more important.

Okay, those last two sentences were sarcasm.

Anyway, still more:

The Privatization of Education: How New Orleans Went
from a Public School System to a Charter-School City

While many in New Orleans have waited two years for recovery, the restructuring of its schools seemed to happen overnight.

Not long after Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans two years ago, the Louisiana legislature cleared the way for the state to assume control of 107 out of 128 schools in the Orleans district. Immediately, the state began converting many of its newly acquired schools to charter schools - publicly funded schools run by for-profit or nonprofit groups that operate by a "charter," or contract. One result is that the number of unionized teachers dropped from about 4700 to 500.

Click here to watch, read, or listen to the rest.

Not only is this whole charter school thing about getting rid of collective bargaining rights for teachers, it signals that Orleans Parish and the state of Louisiana have essentially given up on NOLA' commitment to public education. Charter schools have been the flavor of the month in national education circles for about a decade now, probably because they sometimes get results. Most of the time, however, they have nothing to show for their "efforts." Charter schools are essentially educational laboratories. They're freed from all regulation so they can "experiment" without hassle. But like I said, those experiments generally fail--I have no idea why they continue to be so popular. Anyway, the net result is that African-American kids in New Orleans - most white kids go to private schools, anyway - are being screwed. I mean, Orleans Parish public education was shitty before, but now it's the Wild West.

Anyway, check this stuff out. It's good.