Friday, September 30, 2005

Thailand - 2 Chinese killed in Islamic insurgency

Two Chinese nationals have been killed in the continuing insurgency in southern Thailand, Xinhua News Agency has reported. They were shot in the head by gunmen riding on motorcycles in the province of Narathiwat. More than 800 have died in the Islamic led insurgency in the last 21 months according to the report. China has strong diplomatic ties with Thailand and the targeting of Chinese citizens is likely to be a reaction to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s crackdown against militants, and its allies. A similar attack a year ago injured 2 Chinese citizens. The government has been criticized by villagers for a heavy handed approach to the Islamic violence according to the BBC, but the policy is likely to continue after the killing of 2 marines Wednesday prompted calls for a swift response against the militants. Thaksin was guarded as to what the possible response might be, saying only, “There is not going to be retaliation…there will have to be law enforcement.”
[15:36 GMT 30/09/2005]

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Blair apologizes to anti-war protester

Walter Wolfgang ejected from the Labour conference yesterday was today reinstated with his credentials. Section 44 of the Terrorism act is said to have been used by police detaining Mr Wolfgang, who was tackled after heckling Foreign Secretary Jack Straw over the war on Iraq. The scene of the 82 year old being manhandled has overshadowed the conference and today Tony Blair and the Defence Secretary John Reid apologized. Allegations have been made as to whether the police overstretched their use of the Terrorism Act, something which has been particularly highlighted by Liberty and other civil rights groups. [Daily Telegraph]
[19:38 GMT 29/09/2005]

Weather wrap - Storms, floods and forest fires

Extremely dry weather and high temperatures have brought with it many forest and brush fires in California, USA. Seven thousands acres [28.3 km sq / 2,830 hectares of land has been destroyed in LA wildfires. Calm winds are reported as 3000 fire fighters attempt to contain the blaze which is threatening to spread into residential districts. In Chiapas, Mexico landslides and floods have killed at least 1 person. And Northern Vietnam has seen 31 deaths after severe weather hit the country this week. Typhoon Longwang, with wind speeds of 241 km/h and gusts of 296 km/h, is meanwhile moving towards Taiwan. It is expected to make landfall in the next 48 hours.
[19:35 GMT 29/09/2005]

Iraq - new abuse photos may increase insugency

Channel 4 News reported tonight that there was “Worse to come” after it was announced that a judge in the US, ordered more photographs and video of Iraqi prisoner abuse be released. The photographs and videos have been suppressed by the government, who say the release of such images would reduce moral amongst US troops [BBC]. All this comes after revelations that some US personnel had posted ‘trophy photos’ of abuse in exchange for ‘pornography’. Some of the photos were said to be ‘snuff photos’; pictures US soldiers posing by dead Iraqi and mutilated bodies. The investigation into the issue has been dropped [BBC] and this will further fuel the propaganda war as well as the war on the ground. A war that today saw 5 US troops killed and dozens of civilians dead after a serious of attacks. According to reports at least 50 were killed in a coordinated car bomb attack in Balad, north of Baghdad [BBC]. The five US soldiers died in a roadside bomb attack near Ramadi in western Iraq. Two others died near Basra, also killed by what is often referred to as an I.E.D attack [Improvised Explosive Device]. Another soldier attached to the 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, lost his life to sniper fire on Tuesday whilst on combat operations in Ramadi, US Military sources reported. Forty nine US personnel have been killed this month, and three British troops have also died in the continuing conflict. Since March 2003, 2,130 coalition personnel have been killed [Operation Iraqi Freedom casualties].
[19:27 GMT 29/09/2005]

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Iraq - Death toll mounts as insurgency continues

Unrelenting, unpredictable and seemingly unstoppable, the insurgency in Iraq continues. Tal Afar, a city north of Baghdad, which has seen military operations in recent weeks, and described to be clear of insurgents by the US military, was today the target of the latest suicide attack. A female suicide bomber killed 5 people and injured at least 20 others who were queuing at an army recruitment centre [CNN]. The bombings come almost daily in Iraq. On Sunday a suicide bomber on a bicycle blew himself up in Hillah, south of Baghdad, killing and wounding several civilians. On Tuesday the bodies of 22 men were found in Jassan a province near the Iranian border. Some had been tortured according to reports and they had all been shot in the head. At least 12 were identified as being Iraqi police. Insurgents are reported to be engaging US forces in the western Anbar province near Haqlaniya. No US losses have been reported, but officials say that at least 5 insurgents had been killed during intensive battles. And the US claimed another success Tuesday when they announced that they had killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s number 2, Abu Azzam. He is said to have been shot during a raid in Baghdad. But a statement by al Qaeda in Iraq denied he was the No.2 and could not confirm his death [BBC]. Several attacks around the country by insurgents on Tuesday left scores dead and injured. Ten died and 26 were injured in Baquba in a suicide attack on a police recruitment office. Gunfire was reported near Abu Ghraib prison killing 2 and wounding 8. And a car bomb killed 5 in central Baghdad. And the situation in Afghanistan is far from stable. US forces are continually under fire in Afghanistan and on Sunday a Chinook CH-47 crashed during “supporting operations”. The US military gave few other details other than it went down near Kabul. Five US servicemen were killed when the helicopter crashed at 08:00 local time [BBC]. At least 12 helicopters have been lost in Afghanistan since Operation Enduring Freedom was launched in 2001.
[13:03 GMT 28/09/2005]

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Hurricane Rita makes landfall

Saturation television coverage continued on CNN as hurricane made landfall this morning. The storm which had earlier been downgraded to a category 3 hit land at 03:40 ET [07:40 UTC/GMT]. As many as 2.5 million people had evacuated from its path, but many still remain in areas currently being hit by the severe wind which are bringing gusts of up to 166 km/h [104 mph]. CNN has reported more than 1.5 million homes without power, and the outlook for the energy business does not look good as over 200 oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico have been shut down. The area affected by the extreme weather is vast, stretching from New Orleans to as far as Houston. The eye of the storm hit close to the Texas and Louisiana state borders and heavy rain has brought flooding to many areas. Meteorologists expect 40 cm [15"] of rain in the next 24 hours and some parts of the affected area are already a metre deep in water. The true extent of the damage will not be clear until first light. But there have already been tragedies. Yesterday a bus carrying elderly evacuees, burst into flames and exploded. Twenty four people died in the incident. It is not clear what the cause was.
[10:04 GMT 24/09/2005]

Friday, September 23, 2005

UK - Manchester airport bomb alert

A man of 'Asian appearance' has been arrested by police at Manchester airport in northern England in connection with a suspect device. A struggle is said to have occurred and a taser gun was used to subdue a man "acting suspiciously" on the apron near stand 26. Two terminals have been closed after the suspect package was found near stand 26, between terminals 1 & 2, according to ITN. The BBC correspondent, Kevin Bocquet, who had viewed the army bomb disposal team explode the suspect package was cut off in mid flow as he made a live report by telephone. Before being moved on by police he had described a "dull thud" as a bomb disposal robot initiated a controlled explosion. "A man in army uniform then approached the suitcase," he said, but before the reporter could relay further details the police moved in and insisted he terminate the call. Passengers are advised not to travel to the airport and parts of terminals 1 and 2 have been evacuated. The media is describing the situation as "confused" and it is not clear whether the incident is over. Further reports to the BBC in the last few minutes suggest that "passengers report to the airport as normal".
[10:25 GMT 23/09/2005]

Breaking News - Controlled explosion at UK airport

A man has been arrested under terror laws and a controlled explosion has taken place at Manchester Airport. A taser gun was used by police in the course of his arrest.
[09:45 GMT 23/09/2005]

Thursday, September 22, 2005

US - Hurricane Rita threatens Texas

Hurricane Rita is threatening to hit Texas in the next 48 hours and a state of emergency has been declared. The Category 5 storm moving at 15 kph is currently measuring wind speeds of 278 kph with gusts of up to 343 kph. Storm surges of 5 metres are expected to hit the US coast and emergency services are on stand-by. Although the storm may be downgraded to a Category 4, several thousand citizens have already been evacuated from its path. Many oil rigs are in its projected path and the effect on petrol prices is likely to be significant. President George W Bush, not wishing to repeat mistakes surrounding recent events in New Orleans, has declared a state of emergency and pledged full support to those who may be affected. [BBC]
[11:10 GMT 22/09/2005]

UK 21/7 bomb suspect is extradited to Britain

Hamdi Isaac, also known as Osman Hussain, and arrested last month in Italy in connection with the 21/7 failed attacks in London, is to be flown back to Britain today. He is believed to have attempted to explode a bomb on an underground train at Shepherd's Bush station in west London, but was arrested after fleeing to Italy. An extradition warrant was sought by British authorities and eventually granted by an Italian court despite protestations by Hussain's lawyer. He is due to fly back by a military plane this afternoon. [BBC]
[11:08 GMT 22/09/2005]

Monday, September 19, 2005

British soldiers rescued in Basra raid

Mystery and confusion surround events that occurred in Basra Monday and have left tanks burning, at least 2 civilians killed and several British soldiers injured. Two British soldiers, reported as being undercover commandos, were rescued from a Basra prison by British forces who stormed the compound with tanks. The UK authorities have said the individuals were released after negotiations, but did not deny reports that the prison had been stormed. [Reuters] Meanwhile, Al Jazeera has shown a new tape of al Qaeda's number 2 Ayman al Zawahiri. In the taped message, broadcast Monday, he dismissed the legitimacy of the Afghan elections as being under the control of the 'war lords'. He also praised the attacks on London on the 7th July this year as being a "blessed attack" against the "Zionist, arrogant British."
[22:58 GMT 19/09/2005]

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Iran rejects threats over its nuclear industry

Iran is holding steadfast in its 'right' to continue its nuclear policy. "We are not going to give in to the demands made by others" said Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the recently elected Iranian President, during a question and answer session at the U.N in which he had earlier set out his resolve to continue the country's "peaceful nuclear energy industry." This was despite threats from the United States, India and others. He also dismissed threats of sanctions and the taking of the matter to the Security Council. Speaking to CNN in an exclusive interview he said, "We are determined to continue our nuclear energy policy," but, he said, "We are against nuclear weapons, and our religious laws prohibit making such weapons of mass destruction." Should sanctions be imposed, Ahmadinejad said that Iran could survive such actions adding that, "We are able to defend ourselves."
US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice was dismissive of Iran's innocence. "Countries like Iran threaten the effectiveness of the global non-proliferation regime, when diplomacy has been exhausted the UN Security Council must become involved" she said, ahead of the Iranian President's speech.
Kofi Annan, the U.N President, was more cautious, "We face growing risk of proliferation and catastrophic terrorism and the stakes are too high to continue down a dangerous path of diplomatic brinkmanship. Let us instead work together to strengthen all three pillars of the regime; non-proliferation and disarmament, and peaceful uses."
[21:35 GMT 17/09/2005]

Friday, September 16, 2005

Bush meets Putin for talks

President Bush has held private talks with Russia's President Vladimir Putin today in part to discuss the Iranian and North Korean nuclear issue. The talks come as China is currently hosting further talks with North Korea in Beijing this week. But as Bush highlighted issues of world security, the issue soon shifted to the aid for victims of Katrina. "We will do whatever it takes," the President iterated. On the issue of Iran, George W Bush said he had talked to President Putin and said that they both agreed as to what pressure needed to be applied in order to rid the world of the nuclear threat. "We support the issue of non-proliferation," Putin said. "As to how we can control this situation?we're in contact with other parties" he added. But both Presidents were unclear on what pressure would be applied to Iran, though a suggestion of bringing the issue to the UN Security Council was suggested if diplomacy did not work.
[20:56 GMT 16/09/2005]

Iraq - At least 200 dead in a week of attacks

Very much under reported following the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, the continuing turmoil in Iraq has continued unabated. This week alone has seen over 200 killed in suicide bomb attacks and gun battles. As the United Nation met on its 60th anniversary Wednesday at least 11 attacks in Baghdad killed 153 and injured countless others. Seventeen civilians were also killed by gunfire. The president of Iraq dismissed the attack as a desperate measure by insurgents and that there would probably be a lull in the killing. But the killing continued into Thursday with further attacks around the country. And on Friday a bomb attack outside a Shi’ite mosque killed at least 20 and injured scores of civilians. All of this comes after tireless efforts by US and Iraqi forces to crush the insurgency. The latest operations near Tal Afar were reported to have killed some 200 insurgents and captured many others. Speaking today on the issue of Iraq, George W. Bush said, “Democracy doesn’t just happen, it grows, but one thing is certain and that is that Iraqis are making a move toward democracy.” In other developments, the Saddam Hussein trial has been set for 19th October.
[20:54 GMT 16/09/2005]

Pumps run dry in UK fuel protests

Britain has seen a turbulent week as panic buying of fuel and protests became widespread. Just the threat of protests caused panic at the pumps with queues in many areas and within the day fuel stops were running dry. The panic to fill up was, however, unwarranted as the proposed protests by hauliers was not intended to block the flow of fuel to the pumps, but merely to highlight the rising price of fuel. The irony is that as the effects of hurricane Katrina and other factors subside, the price at the pump is dropping with many Supermarkets reducing prices to pre-Katrina prices. However the British motorist is the hardest hit in the west, paying substantially more than many of their European counterparts and significantly more than US motorists. The price per litre in Ireland is as low as £0.72, and only Holland was higher than the UK with prices at nearly £1 per litre. The US pay as little as £0.40 per litre.
[20:51 GMT 16/09/2005]

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Katrina - the slow clear up begins

Two weeks on and the scene in New Orleans is still one of devastation. Rescue efforts are all but complete, and the process of collecting the dead is now under way. The official death toll stands at just over five hundred. George W. Bush made his third visit to the disaster zone and pledged his full support to the relief effort. His promises may seem weak after the authority’s failure to mobilize relief following the hurricane. “They can send 18,000 troops to Iraq in 48 hours but can’t provide relief for days” said one irate resident of Louisiana speaking on CNN earlier today. FEMA was also highly criticized culminating in the ‘resignation’ of FEMA director, Mike Brown [CNN]. George W Bush was earlier quoted as saying, “Brown you’re doing a heck of a job”. However besides a warning from the National Weather Service a day before the storm hit a breakdown in communication failed to bring an appropriate response. Even city Mayor Ray Nagin is now being criticized after it emerged that an offer of staff from AmTrak to provide drivers for buses was turned down. The buses were eventually submerged in flood waters, driverless and unable to ferry the potential evacuees to the awaiting trains which left empty.
Mistakes were not just confined to large organizations. CNN Newsnight reported that a failure to instigate an evacuation of a nursing home resulted in several deaths. Thirty four died at St Ritas nursing home, Drew Griffin for CNN reported. And as the slow and grim removal of the dead from the streets begins, the story becomes all the more difficult to tell. FEMA had earlier ruled that a ban on the filming of the removal of bodies should be put in place. CNN challenged the ruling, and won. But besides a court ruling and legal documents allowing CNN to film the removal of bodies, troops constantly blocked the path of their reporters and cameramen. “This is part of the story”, says Anderson Cooper, “especially as the authorities have left these bodies for some two weeks before beginning to deal with them.”
Carolina is now braced for strong winds as the dissipating storm that was hurricane Ophelia makes landfall. Heavy rain is forecast along with winds of between 50 and 100 kph.
CNN’s Larry King Live ended with the rolling strap of websites connected to the aid response; Second, and

[02:34 GMT 13/09/2005]

Monday, September 12, 2005

Power outage in LA after al Qaeda threat

Four years after the 9/11 attack, and another terror video surfaces. This time from a wanted individual Adam Gadahn. In his speech broadcast on ABC News he said, "Yesterday, London and Madrid. Tomorrow, Los Angeles and Melbourne, God willing?" [Courier Mail]
Melbourne may not be seeing anything unusual since the message was broadcast [11/09/2005-ABC News], but today Los Angeles was hit by widespread electrical outages. Several hours ago at around 12:30 PDT, many parts of LA were hit by the blackout. Foul play was ruled out, with water and electricity officials saying it was "more of an equipment issue". [Market Watch / CNN ] The timing however is of significance in that several claims have been made before with regards to previous power outages in the US in August 2003[BBC / BBC], Canada, London - UK [BBC] , and Italy in September 2003 [BBC]. A communiqué attributed to Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the power blackout that happened in the U.S. in August 2003, saying that the brigades of Abu Hafs Al Masri had hit two main power plants supplying the East of the U.S., as well as major industrial cities in the U.S. and Canada, 'its ally in the war against Islam (New York and Toronto) and their neighbors.' These claims and other similar statements have been dismissed by authorities ['World']. The Abu_Hafs_al-Masri_Brigade has made many claims for terrorist attacks, some later disproved as even being terror attacks.
[23:32 GMT 12/09/2005]

China bars Bishops but lets in Mickey Mouse

In what has been seen as a further souring of diplomatic ties to the Vatican, China has barred several Bishops from visiting Rome. The invitation was made to four Chinese clergymen, Anthony Li Duan of Xian, Luke Li Jingfeng of Fengxiang, Aloysius Jin Lukian of Shanghai and Joseph Wei Jingyi from Qiqihar.
Chinese authorities may be fearful that Bishops may be influenced by the Vatican Church. But officials in China cited the age of the Bishops and the Vatican’s continuing strong ties with Taiwan as being the main deciding factors the IHT has reported. China regards Taiwan as part of its territory and the relationship between the two countries has been strained for many years. Earlier this year Chinese authorities criticized the Vatican for inviting Taiwan’s President Chen Shui-Bian to Pope John Paul II’s funeral [BBC] Although China has been widely criticized for restrictions on foreign travel for its citizens, change is occurring – even if somewhat slowly for the country’s critics. But the future looks bright for China’s move onto the world stage. Today a new Disney theme park was opened in Hong Kong by Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong and other top Chinese officials [Xinhua News Agency / CNN ]. The 3.5 billion dollar enterprise is set to bring in thousands of visitors throughout the year and increase the Chinese tourist industry significantly.
[20:50 GMT 12/09/2005]

Hurricane Ophelia to hit US coast

Hurricane Ophelia bears down on the east coast of the US tonight but is unlikely to cause the massive devastation seen in Louisiana recently. It has been declared a category 3 hurricane. [CNN] Meanwhile storms are continuing to hit the far east. Typhoon Nabi hit Japan in the week causing widespread property damage and killing at least 25 people [Japan Today]. Taiwan was spared from the onslaught of typhoon Khanun this week but China's southern provinces are being extremely hit hard. Zhejiang province has seen winds of up to 177 kph as the typhoon moved at 30 kph across the country. Nearly a million people have been evacuated throughout the province including 300,000 from Taizhou, a city of over 5 million people. [CNN] China has suffered a series of floods and storms this year and hundreds have perished. Guangdong has been particularly ravaged by storms and flooding. At least 95 died this month when typhoon Talim hit earlier this month. According to Relief Web, quoting official sources, 1,024 have died and at least 293 were missing following floods and landslides that have hit the continent since May 2005. Up to 3,000,000 people have been displaced.[Hurricane/Typhoon Tracker]

[01:57 GMT 12/09/2005]

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Japan - Koizumi wins by landslide

Junichiro Koizumi has "gambled and won big" following a landslide victory in the Japanese election. He has managed to push the main opposition into the background of Japanese politics besides controversial reforms such as the proposed postal sell-off. His party has also faced criticism for the country's involvement in the Iraq war. Japan had stationed 500 personnel, mainly engineers and medical staff, in the country providing humanitarian aid and helping to rebuild infrastructure. Two Japanese citizens have been killed in Iraq. One was a contractor, another a journalist. Both were kidnapped and later beheaded by insurgents.
Koizumi says he will stand down as leader of Japan's Liberal Democratic Party at the end of this term. [Reuters]
[23:09 GMT 11/09/2005]

America remembers 9/11

As America remembers the 9/11 terrorist attacks 4 years ago today, many in Londoners try to forget their being a target of terrorism. The tubes are all running and the tense atmosphere has all but gone. Only a few police officers can be seen guarding stations now, a significant change from the scenes a few weeks ago.
But America still reels in pain. And news coverage is still significant. Sky News, BBC News 24 and ITN all covered the beginning of the proceedings. CNN too brought significant coverage. But beyond the memory of 9/11 there have been many significant events since. Two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been fought by the US and its allies. The conflicts remain unresolved and violence continues in both regions. Terrorism too has increased significantly in the same period with attacks in Indonesia, Turkey, Spain, Britain and elswhere. And everyday another soldier dies in Iraq. Today a British soldier died in an IED attack bringing the toll to 95 British dead. He was killed near Basra which has seen increased attacks against British troops. Last Monday a bomb attack killed two British soldiers. And operations against the insurgents appear to do little to quell the continuing attacks.
The image of America as a strong and powerful country has been damaged not only by its inability to control Afghanistan or Iraq, but also its failure to organise rescue and relief operations after hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. Al Jazeera's coverage of the disaster zone in New Orleans has shocked many in the Middle-East. The feelings of despair are increasing in Iraq as the US are seen as being unable to bring order to their own country after Katrina hit.
Fox News continues to wave the banner for America, providing unbroken coverage of the 9/11 remembrance and the reading of 2,749 names of those who died in the attacks. CNNi, BBC News 24 and ITN have returned to normal programming, Sky News providing coverage by its interactive service. Al Jazeera covered story briefly and made comparisons between 9/11 and the disaster in Katrina.
[13:50 GMT 11/09/2005]

Friday, September 09, 2005

More storms on way after Katrina's destruction

As the efforts to bring aid to those affected by hurricane Katrina continues, so too does the criticism. Harry Reid, a US Senate member, said that money allocated to FEMA was not being spent correctly. The aid bill has now exceeded $51.8 billion and is likely to rise above $200 billion. The situation on the ground is going from bad to worse as the risk of disease rises. E-coli and salmonella has been found in the water supply, fires in parts of the city are still out of control and thousands still remain in temporary emergency accommodation. Electricity, telecommunications systems and sewage systems are unlikely to be rebuilt any time soon, and the scale of the disaster is overwhelming the authorities. Reconstruction may not start for many months to come.
President Bush has been criticized for not altering his holiday plans for some 48 hours following the disaster. His Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice was also criticized for insensitivity as she shopped for $7000 shoes in Manhattan as the disaster unfolded. And offers of help from many counties have been virtually ignored. Cuba's Fidel Castros' offer of 1,100 doctors and 26 tonnes of medicine and Venezuelan President Chavez' offer of 1 million barrels of petrol, $5 million in aid and 200 aid workers, have been rejected almost completely. Aid has been offered from many countries, rich and poor alike. Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Thailand, hard hit by last years tsunami, have all made generous offers of money and resources. But the organisation on the ground by federal authorities has been poor.
An enforced evacuation has been put in place, but many are vowing to stay. One resident who spoke to CNN said he would defend his right to stay with force if necessary. "If they come here and try to evict me and take my guns there will be gunfire," he said. All this as soldier patrol the streets and the chaos in many parts of Louisiana continues.
The outlook for the continuing hurricane season looks bleak as a tropical storm bears down on the Florida coast. Ophelia is set to hit the east coast in the next few days with wind speeds of 102 kph and gusts of up to 120 kph.
[18:19 GMT 09/09/2005]

UK - Security overkill in Osmond visit

There was a security overkill as Donny Osmond made a whirlwind tour promoting his new book and upcoming Osmonds' tour. Hundreds of fans, many having queued for more than 9 hours, greeted the star as he arrived the Lakeside Shopping Centre in Essex, east of London, UK. Flanked by police and minders he made an effortless wave to the screaming fans as he descended the escalator. Press photographers were given less than two minutes to get their shots and had to contend with obstructions of Mr Osmond's security. The press were swiftly removed from their position and escorted from the arena.The fans were treated to a similar manhandling. Each fan spending a few seconds in Donny Osmond's presence as he signed their book, before being pushed away by his agent. "They were very rude," said one fan from Benfleet in Essex. "We'd been there since nine in the morning and all the fans were well behaved ? and to be pushed away like that was very disrespectful," said Karen Biscomb. A few fans in wheelchairs were not brushed away so quickly, "I think there would have been words said if they were treated like the rest of us" she added. Fans also found that obtaining photographs taken by WH Smith publicity photographers was virtually impossible. "I've been on the phone to W.H.Smith's publicity all day, but they've been most unhelpful," said another fan from Harlow in Essex. Staff for W.H.Smith said on the day that the controlled security operation was in order to prevent a possible stampede.
[18:18 GMT 09/09/2005]

Monday, September 05, 2005

Katrina - aftermath of rapes, shootings & looting

George Bush visits New Orleans on Friday
Seven days have passed since hurricane Katrina passed over Louisiana and across Mississippi. The picture is of complete devastation. Thousands dead, many trapped, many dying. It took near to four days before relief arrived. Conditions at the Superdome, the only sanctuary to those unable to flee, were described as horrendous. Strong criticism has been laid at the door of the US authorities for not having organised evacuations and relief to survivors better. Much of the population of New Orleans is black and poor and there is a sense that the poor effort to help them was due to the authorities not caring enough. There was also lack of caring amongst those left behind. Britons returned to the UK with stories of rapes, shootings, stabbings and suicides. Many were shocked that such lawlessness prevailed after the hurricane passed by. “It’s not as if it’s a third world country”, said one parent of a British holiday maker. Some 130 Britons are still unaccounted for and criticism has been targeted at British diplomats for not having done more. For those that had escaped the devastation and returned to England, their anger was the authorities was vociferous. “I have no confidence in the British Government, they are not doing enough for people out there, and people are still missing,” said Wayne Henry, 48, a police officer who flew to Louisiana to find his son Peter. He had received a text message from Peter saying that he was stuck in the Superdome. Criticism has also been voiced against the Bush administration for not having acted more swiftly to the disaster. Both administrations have dismissed the criticism saying that the disaster was unprecedented and that all that could be done was being done. As well as President George W. Bush and British PM Tony Blair making statements, George Bush senior and Bill Clinton also appeared on television Monday to give their support for relief efforts. Many will see their appearances as patronizing speeches, capitalizing on the disaster.

Most New Orleans residents have now been evacuated but helicopter operations to rescue people still trapped are continuing throughout the city. Some residents are being allowed to return to their homes to assess damage and retrieve possessions. What remains is the rebuilding of a city destroyed. Levies need to be rebuilt before pumping of water from the city can even begin. And the cost will be astronomical. The destruction of Kobe, Japan by an earthquake in 1993 was almost total and cost $150 billion. The rebuilding of New Orleans may cost far more.

The cost to the economy will also be great. Oil production in the US has been hard hit by the hurricane and $3 per gallon is already been seen in many places.
In the UK fuel prices have increased at the pump with diesel now at £0.99.9 a litre in many rural fuel stops.

But the cost in lives is incalculable. Estimates are as high as 10,000 dead, and millions displaced.
[14:24 GMT 05/09/2005]

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Death toll rises in Iraq tragedy

The death toll in yesterdays tragedy in Iraq has now risen to more
than 1000. Bodies were floating in the Tigres river near the Qadimiya
district of Baghdad and many laid injured in hospitals thoughout the
city. The irony that the death toll exceeded any that a suicide bomber
could inflict, was all the more tragic. There was no bomber, only the
rumour that one was amongst the crowds, causing mass panic.
[13:00 GMT 01/09/2005]