Monday, August 31, 2015

Remembering Hurricane Katrina

From The Ramparts
                                                Junious Ricardo Stanton
                                          Remembering Hurricane Katrina

            "Katrina was the most destructive storm to strike the United States and the costliest storm in U.S. history, causing $108 billion in damage, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA). It ranks sixth overall in strength of recorded Atlantic hurricanes. It was also a very large storm; at its peak, maximum winds stretched 25 to 30 nautical miles (46 to 55 kilometers) and its extremely wide swath of hurricane force winds extended at least 75 nautical miles (138 km) to the east from the center." Hurricane Katrina: Facts Damage and Aftermath Kim Ann Zimmerman

            August 29, 2015 marked the tenth anniversary of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to the city of New Orleans and the whole Gulf Coast region. Hurricane Katrina caused thousands of deaths, destruction in the hundreds of billions of dollars and disrupted life in a way that forced the nation to look at its priorities, its long history of racism and defined the ineptitude and callousness of the government.
            Katrina started out as a tropical storm but once it moved over the warm waters it picked up energy and intensity eventually developing into a category five storm. The storm was monitored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the various weather services and the military. So for the Bu$h administration, the Louisiana
state officials and local municipalities to say they had no idea the storm was going to reach such ferocity is disingenuous at least and even criminal at best. Once the storm went inland over Florida it was categorized as a mild category one hurricane but as it traveled  West into the Gulf of Mexico it gained more and more intensity  and developed into a category five storm.                           
            The government's response to Katrina was pathetic. The levy system in New Orleans was destined to withstand a category three storm at most, Katrina when it hit New Orleans was a category five storm. The storm surge was over twenty feet high with winds of 115-130 miles per hour! New Orleans and the whole Gulf Coast were totally caught off guard for a storm of such a magnitude. But what the nation initially saw was New Orleans being battered by the storm's rains and high winds. In the ensuing days the raw reality of the racial, the socio-economic and political dynamics of the city were exposed for the world to see.
            The corporate mind control apparatus originally showed the storm and flooding. Later they focused on the people who did not nor could not get out they showed mostly poor black and desperate people clamoring for help trying to survive the best they could in horrific conditions.  Within days, the media focused on unfounded reports of massive looting in New Orleans, mostly by blacks, but when they showed whites breaking in and looting they were depicted as trying to survive not as criminals. The media reports of rampant looting were exaggerated and contributed to a siege mentality that opened the door for police and government abuse.
            Despite its image as a cosmopolitan, progressive city, racism is deeply rooted in the city of New Orleans.  At the time of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans was populated by a large segment of poor blacks whose prospects for employment were bleak; who in many cases were living off of government largess and welfare. The media did not look favorably on these people after the initial shock of the storm. The media depicted them as refugees and questioned their intelligence for remaining in the city during a catastrophe when the fact of the matter is, government on all levels failed the whole region!      "Hurricane Katrina, its 115-130 mph winds, and the accompanying storm surge it created as high as 27 feet along a stretch of the Northern Gulf Coast from Mobile, Alabama, to New Orleans, impacted nearly 93,000 square miles of our Nation—roughly an area the size of Great Britain. The disaster was not isolated to one town or city, or even one State. Individual local and State plans, as well as relatively new plans created by the Federal government since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, failed to adequately account for widespread or simultaneous catastrophes. We were confronted by the pictures of destroyed towns and cities, each with their own needs. Smaller cities like Waveland, Mississippi, were completely devastated by Hurricane Katrina and required smaller scale yet immediate search and rescue efforts as well as large volumes of life saving and sustaining commodities. New Orleans, the largest affected city—which dominated much of what Americans saw on their televisions—suffered first from the initial impact of Katrina and then from the subsequent flood caused by breaches in its 350 mile levee system. Over an estimated eighteen-hour period, approximately 80 percent of the city flooded with six to twenty feet of water, necessitating one of the largest search and rescue operations in our Nation’s history." The Federal Response To Hurricane Katrina Lessons Learned February 2006
            President Bu$h dilly-dallied even though he was forewarned and kept abreast of the storm's development and progress, he lied and said he had no idea the storm posed such a dire threat.  Members of his cabinet went shopping and spoke nonchalantly about the storm while thousands suffered during and immediately following the storm.  This attitude and inaction set the tone and tenor for much of what happened or failed to happen in the wake of the hurricane. President Bu$h was later forced to apologize as the world looked on in shock at the way the US government treated its citizens.
             The government's response on all levels was so feeble and even hostile  Kanye West an entertainer said during a nationally televised awards program. "George Bush don't care about Black people." Many took West to task for saying it but the record shows the state and federal governments' inaction gave credence to what West said.
            "The last National Hurricane Center Hurricane Katrina forecast on Friday, August 26, as the storm intensified in the Gulf of Mexico, gave Federal, State, local, and private sector officials, in hindsight, approximately fifty-six hours advance notice that the hurricane would make landfall near the City of New Orleans.  Preparations took on a greater urgency on Friday, August 26, due to Hurricane Katrina’s continuing intensification and west-southwest track from Florida into the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour declared states of emergency for their respective States.37 Gulf Coast States and localities expanded their EOC staffing and operations schedules in anticipation of Hurricane Katrina.38 The Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi State EOCs soon were activated to their highest levels. 39 State agencies began putting their response plans into action." The Federal Response To Hurricane Katrina Lessons Learned February 2006 
            Eighty percent of the city was under water, municipal government was crippled, its social services were totally overwhelmed and most agencies and offices including the police were not functioning.  Mayor Nagin showed his frustration and helplessness in the national media. On the ground things did not go well. Professional mercenaries were hired by residents and the US government alike to "secure" the city.  The media created a disinformation campaign the made it easy to demonize the residents trapped in the city and create a climate of martial law and racial vigilantes. " But there's an even harsher truth, one some New Orleans residents learned in the very first days but which is only beginning to become clear to the rest of us: What took place in this devastated American city was no less than a war, in which victims whose only crimes were poverty and blackness were treated as enemies of the state. It started immediately after the storm and flood hit, when civilian aid was scarce—but private security forces already had boots on the ground. Some, like Blackwater (which has since redubbed itself Xe), were under federal contract, while a host of others answered to wealthy residents and businessmen who had departed well before Katrina and needed help protecting their property from the suffering masses left behind. According Jeremy Scahill's reporting in The Nation, Blackwater set up an HQ in downtown New Orleans. Armed as they would be in Iraq, with automatic rifles, guns strapped to legs, and pockets overflowing with ammo, Blackwater contractors drove around in SUVs and unmarked cars with no license plates."  The Secret History of Hurricane Katrina James Ridgeway
            Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco set a confrontational rather than a conciliatory tone towards the residents of New Orleans when she called out the National Guard, "These troops are fresh back from Iraq, well trained, experienced, battle tested, and under my orders to restore order in the streets.  They have M-16s and they are locked and loaded.  These troops know how to shoot and skill and they are more than willing to do so if necessary and I expect they will."
            When the National Guard finally arrived the troops approached their mission as one of a military occupation rather than one of search, rescue, evacuation and aid. They viewed and treated the people and situation as a hostile environment. It wasn't until General Russell Honoree an African-American and native of Louisiana took command of the troops that the mission became an effective humanitarian effort.
            In its aftermath many are saying the ruling elites used Hurricane Katrina as convenient tool for ethnic cleansing to rid the city and area of thousands of poor African-Americans. Census figures confirm these assertions. "In the 2000 census New Orleans population constituted of 67.3% black and 28.1 % white. However, in the four months following Hurricane Katrina; 'The New Orleans metro area’s population was 37% black between January and August 2005 and fell to 22% between September and December 2005. The percentage of white residents grew from 60% to 73%. Households earning between $10,000 and $14,999 annually dropped from 8.3% to 6.5%; while those with a yearly income of between $75,000 and $99,999 rose from 10.5% to 11.4%', according to statistics released by the Census Bureau in June 2006. The disaster of Hurricane Katrina is used effectively to artificially change the demography of New Orleans. The Population of New Orleans metropolitan area has become substantially whiter, older and less poor — not because people suddenly got richer, but because the poor are being shut off the city — and it shrank to less than half its size, according to the Census Bureau. 'New Orleans is not going to be as black as it was for a long time, if ever again', said Alphonso Jackson, and is moving fast in that direction. It is suggested that only the whites and affluent are encouraged to make New Orleans their home at the expense of African-Americans and their cultural heritage."  Ethnic Cleansing In New Orleans Ghali Hassan
            As we look back ten years after Hurricane Katrina let us not forget there are racists and psychopaths in high places who have the power to actualize their goals and objectives to place profits over people who do not have the best interests of African-Americans at heart in New Orleans or anywhere else.



Monday, August 24, 2015

Operation Fruhmenschen

                                        From The Ramparts
                                      Junious Ricardo Stanton
                                     Operation Fruhmenschen

            "The Washington Post reported that black elected officials were the target of investigations for corruption in 14 percent of the 465 political corruption cases launched between 1983 and 1988—a period in which blacks were just 3 percent of all office holders. Gentleman’s Quarterly (GQ) magazine noted that about half of the Congressional Black Caucus members were the subject of investigations or indictments between 1981 and 1993. States GQ, 'For the numbers to be equal for white representatives, 204 of the 409 whites … would have been subjected to the same scrutiny during that time … Yet, according to justice Department figures, only 15 actually were.'" Black Elected Officials Targeted By Law
            It seems like every time you turn around some Black politician is being indicted on corruption charges, for taking bribes, or some other form of unethical behavior.  It is sad to watch Black people who run for office, who manage to get elected destroy their reputations and ruin their lives for essentially peanuts. Some you wonder about, some you ask yourself could they be that sleazy, desperate or simple minded to sell their souls, ruin their reputations and careers for next to nothing?
            Others you think to yourself yeah from what I've seen, heard or know about them this seems probable, yeah they did it. Locally and nationally Black politicians are being arrested, indicted and in many cases convicted at an alarming rate in disproportionate numbers to their percentage in the political environment. Is this a coincidence?
             Is it the politicians? Are there inherent flaws in the job of being a politician, are politicians subject to temptations regular folks aren't?  Is it the system? Is selective prosecuting going on? Or are there nefarious plots and schemes afoot to take down Black politicians?
            Several years ago I came across some information that suggests there is a definite mentality and program within the US Department of Justice that has been going on for decades to bring down Black politicians. It is called Operation Fruhmenschen. According to some it has been going on since the 1950's.
            Unlike COINTELPRO the FBI's counterinsurgency campaign against dissent and radical social activism which is more widely known, there is not a lot of information about the inner workings of Operation Fruhmenscen. Nevertheless the figures do support the notion selective prosecution is going on and Black officials are the targets of disproportionate Department of Justice and US Attorney scrutiny and indictment.
            What is known is that the US Department of Justice agents and US attorneys who participated/participate in Operation Fruhmenscen are racists and they do what they do because in their twisted minds they believe African-American are not morally fit to govern white people and they want to return to the days when Black political participation was prohibited by law.  Operation Fruhmenscen first became public when a long time California Black politician Mervyn Dymally who had been Lt Governor of California and a US Congressman discovered he was the target of Operation Fruhmenscen himself.
            Dymally was an activist public servant from Los Angeles who lent his name and political saavy to numerous causes and personalities often running counter to the powers that be on both sides of the aisle. When Dymally was chair of the Congressional Black Caucus in the 1980's-90's he was investigated by the FBI, and IRS who reviewed his tax returns all the way back to 1947! Their audits found no impropriety but the government owed him eighty-nine cents. "Dymally's progressive stance earned him the antagonism of many of his colleagues across the conservative political spectrum. He became a principal target of the FBI's 'Operation Fruehmenschen' (German for 'primitive man'), a program designed to discredit Black elected officials on the grounds they were mentally and socially inappropriate to head governmental agencies. This witch hunt included scrutiny by the Justice Department and the IRS, which audited his tax returns back to 1947, finding only that the government owed him a grand total of 89 cents. Even so, he worked tirelessly behind the scenes to neutralize the volatile relations between Blacks and local, state, and federal entities as well as law enforcement. Others who toiled to prevent bloodshed were LAPD officers Duwayne Rice, Edward Henry, and former chief and present councilman Bernard Parks. Their efforts are a part of a forgotten segment of Los Angeles history that has yet to be told."
            Mervyn Dymally wasn't the only one to allege government harassment. Calls from activists and politicians around the country demanding a formal investigation prompted Detroit Congressman John Conyers to initiate an investigation into national government harassment. But Conyers was thwarted by US Attorney General Dick Thornburgh who refused to supply statistics on the racial breakdown of  DOJ political prosecutions. Hence Conyers was unable to get the critical information he needed to hold proper hearings.
            Nevertheless there was validity to the allegations.  In 1989 Gwen Ifill (currently a PBS news anchor) wrote an article for the Washington Post documenting that in over 465 public corruption cases over a five year period charges of official corruption in offices higher than the local school board found "black elect officials were in fact being prosecuted far more heavily than their representation in the population of elected officials". Based upon Ifill's research, "Black officials were five times more likely than their white counterparts to be investigated by the DOJ." Rumor Repression and Racial Politics How The Harassment of Black Elected Officials Shaped Post Civil Rights America by George Derek Musgrove 2012 University of Georgia Press
            In his book Rumor Repression and Racial Politics How The Harassment of Black Elected Officials Shaped Post Civil Rights America  Dr George Derek Musgrove examined disproportionate harassment and prosecution as a means to counter Black enfranchisement in the post 1965 Voting Rights Act era. He documents an alarming pattern of harassment, surveillance and  prosecution used by local, state and federal authorities to go after Black elected officials. Much of it took place in the 1980's and 90's. I suspect little has changed since then, that the mindset, consciousness and motivations behind disproportionate prosecution still exist today. Remember how FBI surveillance devices were found in City Hall in Mayor Street's office?
             Am I suggesting all the recent arrests of local Black politicians are bogus, that they are all victims of Operation Fruhmenscen? Of course not. Many actually deserved to be indicted and convicted. But the pattern of Operation Fruhmenscen is real and ongoing. There are certain elements all the Frumenchen cases have in common: unwarranted scrutiny, lack of probable cause, "stings", government agent entrapment or setups and quite often prosecutorial misconduct very similar to what the government did to activists and radicals during the aggressive COINTELPRO days.  
            During the 80's and 90's many Black politicians claimed government harassment and selective prosecution; people like Marion Barry Mayor of Washington D.C.,  Harold Ford Sr a US Congressman representing Memphis Tennessee and Richard Arrington the Mayor of Birmingham Alabama felt their indictments were unwarranted. Documents show that in fact they were targets of government scrutiny and the government stooped to any means to discredit them and nail them. Remember how the FBI forced a prostitute to set Marion Barry up while the FBI recorded and taped what they were doing?
            The FBI threatened to arrest her and take the woman's child if she didn't cooperate with them and set Barry up. Should Barry have gone to the hotel with her and smoked crack cocaine? Of course not but the government spies on you to discover your weaknesses and they play on people's foibles and shortcomings. We all have them. (Even FBI Director J Edgar Hoover the supposed champion of morality, virtue and true blue American values was found to be a cross dressing homosexual himself!)
            In all probability Operation Fruhmenschen just like COINTELPRO is still going on. Only today COINTELPRO is legal thanks to the 9-11 false flag operation and the bogus war on terror. But does this mean we should give elected officials who get caught with their hand in the cookie jar a pass? Of course not! It means all of us should be aware just how rotten, low down and despicable the government can be. We should realize the whole system is corrupt and it has the potential to corrupt even the most idealistic and honest people. It means we have to hold ourselves to higher ethical and moral standards, be above reproach so that when they try to set us up to knock us off we don't fall for their okey-doke.