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Life Arts

On the Road Again

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When Hurricane Kat blew through the Big Easy three years ago, my Irish rose up and my curiosity was enkindled.

I am on the road to New Orleans with a few committed, dedicated Christians who all want to DO SOMETHING for the under served in our nation.

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They will be tearing down and carting off debris in order to build a vocational training facility. I am going to LISTEN to the people, bear witness and report.

Today's offerings is excerpted from KEEP HOPE ALIVE which I wrote in September 2005: 


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For the past twenty-two years of Sunday mornings, Dr. Jake Hunter had navigated the tannic colored waters of the Withlacoochee River in the dark, so as to arrive at the center of Lake Silver just before first light. For miles, the eastern vista manifested multitudes of eighty-feet-tall and six-hundred year-old cypress trees. The rising sun that backlit the cypress always filled Jake with awe, but this morning, his mood was most foul. He had been consumed with rage from the instant he viewed the first images from New Orleans the week before, and deep pain had wounded America’s soul. Jake spit out of the side of the boat and cursed local, state, and federal bureaucracy for failing the least and most vulnerable.

“I am so pissed! What Hurricane Katrina blew in and exposed was that the empire has no clothes! What happened in the Big Easy was foretold three years ago in a five-part series in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Then, last October’s National Geographic fictional story became fact, as it had laid out the scene in incredible detail, which became reality on TV. Christ, have mercy! Local officials and FEMA knew about the probability that even a slow-moving category three hurricane would cause catastrophic loss and a lot of human misery. Those 19th-century levees were not designed for that eventuality! Now, maybe we all will wake up to the facts, that in the third millennium, all our infrastructures need a physician, stat! The very innards of our nation are collapsing, and a government that has been commissioned to protect its citizens blew it, big time! I am so pissed that a billion tax dollars a day go to support a war in Iraq, and not one level of government would bother to scrounge up the bucks for adequate supplies of food, water, and medicine. I am so pissed!”

Jake rubbed his burning arms while cursing the spinal cord impingement that caused it, and then moaned, “Christ, have mercy on us for ignoring our sentinels! For years, climatologists have predicted and warned us that powerful storms will occur more frequently in this century, because of the rising sea level from global warming. The hardest-working marsh in America is the Louisiana bayou, and we have neglected its health. For three hundred years, men have built walls and levees to control that mighty force of nature, and it has wrecked havoc on New Orleans’s natural defenses. From the Mississippi border to the Texas state line, Louisiana is losing its protective fringe of marshes and barrier islands faster than any place in the U.S.”

Jake hushed as first light broke, and he sat, motionless and awed by the view, until a mosquito bit his cheek; he again cursed, spat, and then growled into the wind, “That’s the other thing that’s pissing me off. People have been propagandized to buy cypress mulch, and that has led to logging companies raping the areas where ivory-bill woodpeckers once roamed. Florida and Louisiana are being violated by timber companies buying up private property, so that they can cut down these magnificent trees that are part of the filtering system for wetland health. If people would only wake up and use leaves, pine bark, or pine straw, which are much cheaper and work just as well, we could put a stop to this particular raping of Mother Earth. It’s time to stop cutting down our cypress trees, and Homeland Security money should go to restoring the homeland.”

Back at the A-frame, Terese sipped from her steaming mug of black brew and checked her email, to find report 57 from Jerry Levin, the reporter and full-time volunteer with Christian Peacemaker Teams who had shepherded her through Hebron. She sighed repeatedly as she read about the start of a new school year in Hebron, for it wasn’t good. She had spent a few hours in Hebron in June, and had not forgotten it for one day since.

“Christ, have mercy! These teachers and kids trying to get to school are threatened and hassled by these erratic and illegal settlers, and a trigger-happy IDF! What a daily life to have to contend with! I cannot imagine watching my child have to go through a checkpoint or be verbally and physically abused just to get to school! What are we teaching these kids, when the only way they know Israelis is looking up the barrel of an Israeli soldier’s weapon of destruction?”

Next, she opened a press conference summary of September 6, 2005, from Dr. Mustafa Bargouthi, September 6, 2005's Palestinian National Initiative report regarding the aftermath of the “disengagement,” and the bottom line was more settlers, more walls, and more corruption in the PA. He stated that ‘Ninety percent of security violations in Palestine are committed by security forces and intelligence. These forces must be disciplined; the rule of law and an independent judiciary must be installed. [And] it is estimated that 30 percent of the 160,000 salaried government employees do not attend work of any kind. This kind of corruption and nepotism must be ended.’

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Terese moaned when she read about the violations since the cease-fire agreement of February 8. “Christ, have mercy! Seventy-five Palestinians, including seventeen innocent children, and fourteen Israelis, including two innocent children, have been murdered. Two thousand Palestinians have been arrested; there have been 2,306 checkpoints imposed, and 8,700 acres of Palestinian land has been confiscated by the Israeli government! And how can these settlers sleep at night, after attacking Palestinians 394 times since the cease-fire agreement? I feel bad about these screwed-up settlers, but they are a cult that has been allowed to get out of control. The Israeli government enticed and encouraged them to settle in illegal land, and this is what it has come to! And yet, the illegal settlements continue!

“And, what a farce the so-called disengagement in Gaza was. The  Israeli government still controls all access to Gaza by land, sea, and air. Bargouthi documented that only 25 of over 150 settlements will be dismantled, and only 8,475 of over 436,000 settlers [less than 2 percent of settlers] have been evacuated. Meanwhile, in the past year, 12,800 new settlers have moved into the West Bank--50 percent more settlers than were evacuated.”

“This is no withdrawal, this is BS! Until Palestinians have control of Gaza’s borders and a guaranteed passage between Gaza and the West Bank, it is not a withdrawal; it’s just BS propaganda! And Gaza is less than 6 percent of the occupied territories, and that leaves 94 percent of Palestinian territories under the boot of the IDF. The corruption in the PA government and hot tempers from those under occupation are a powder keg that’s getting ready to blow! What’s it going to take to wake the world up to the fact that most of our problems with radical Islamist fundamentalist militants leads us back to the conflict in Israel and Palestine?

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Eileen Fleming,is a Citizen of CONSCIENCE for US House of Representatives 2012 Founder of Staff Member of, A Feature Correspondent for Producer "30 Minutes with Vanunu" and "13 Minutes with Vanunu" (more...)

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