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August 31, 2005

Total evacuation of New Orleans planned

Filed under: New Orleans Disaster — admin @ 5:00 am

Total evacuation of New Orleans planned – Wikinews, the free news source

Total evacuation of New Orleans planned

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New Orleans Disaster

Hurricane Katrina
  • Hurricane Katrina causes upwards of $12bn of damage; oil prices surge
  • At least 55 killed by Hurricane Katrina; serious flooding across affected region
  • Hurricane Katrina strikes Florida, kills seven
  • Tropical Storm Katrina threatens Florida, Bahamas
Superdome refuge center

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  • Effect of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans
  • Hurricane Katrina

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A state of emergency has been enacted in New Orleans in the U.S. state of Louisiana today, after the devastating Hurricane Katrina made landfall on Monday. There were earlier erroneous reports by the news media that martial law had been imposed. Mayor Ray Nagin fears that there may be “thousands” of fatalities in his city alone.

New Orleans, Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina showing Interstate 10 at West End Boulevard, looking towards Lake Pontchartrain. The 17th Street Canal is just beyond the left edge of the image. The breach in the levee of that canal was responsible for most of the flooding of the city in the hours after the hurricane.

Many hospital staff are struggling without power and supplies. As many as 2,500 patients from hospitals in Orleans Parish were to be evacuated, according to US Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, but where they could be sent was still uncertain.

Looters are roaming the city and have already ransacked the city’s upscale shopping district on Canal Street. They have been seen on news reports carrying huge bags of stolen goods. Governor Kathleen Blanco announced plans to completely shut down New Orleans and move everybody left there out of the area. A rescue helicopter was shot at, temporarily halting all rescue operations.

Former mayor Marc Morial summed up his view by saying; “We’ve lost our city, I fear it’s potentially like Pompeii.”

Two of the city’s levees on Lake Ponchartrain failed; one with a football-field size breach. Emergency workers dropped sandbags from helicopters into the levee’s breaches, but the water kept coming.

“It appears that now the bowl is beginning to fill — not rapidly but slowly,” said Walter Maestri, an emergency operations manager. New floods swept through the center of New Orleans and water now covers 80 percent of the city with broken gas lines feeding raging fires. In some locations the water is now at a depth of 20 feet (six meters).

The famous French Quarter, initially less affected by flooding, finally also succumbed.

“Get out of town if you can.” said Ed Freytag, a city worker at the temporary City Hall complex. “We’re damn close right now to that worst-case scenario,” said Dave Cohen, a local radio host.

For those that were staying in the Superdome, officials have begun moving them to the long-vacant Astrodome in Houston, Texas.

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Several hundred killed after stampede in Baghdad

Several hundred killed after stampede in Baghdad

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Pilgrims crossed east from Al Kazimiyah (Al Kadimiyah) over A’imma (Al-Aaimmah) bridge.

Ibrahim Jaafari, the Prime Minister of Iraq, has declared that Iraq will hold three days of national mourning following a stampede on a bridge in Baghdad which left nearly a thousand people dead. The railings of a bridge over the River Tigris gave way under the weight of the crowd, and many people fell into the waters below.

CNN now reports the death toll as 965 dead and 465 injured.

The people were walking towards the Kadhimiya mosque, a Shi’ite shrine. They were celebrating the martyrdom of Muslim religious figure Musa Al-Kadhim.

Some sources say the rush happened after a rumor of the presence of a suicide bomber passed through the crowd of up to one million.

Earlier, three to six mortar rounds were fired into the crowd, killing as many as 16 – a US Apache gunship helicopter returned fire on the attackers.

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Rhode Island District Court freezes Palestinian Authority assets in the US

Rhode Island District Court freezes Palestinian Authority assets in the US

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (left) with US President George W. Bush (background).

A Rhode Island district court has frozen all the US assets of the Palestinian Authority (PA), prompting Palestinian finance minister Salam Fayyad to request the aid of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The frozen assets include US holdings in an investment fund worth $1.3 billion, which was used to finance economic development, and $30 million from the Palestinian Monetary Authority.

The ruling was passed upon the PA when they refused to compensate the relatives of a Jewish couple shot dead by members of Hamas in 1996.

US citizen Yaron Ungar and his wife Efrat were killed while returning from a wedding near the West Bank, when their car was shot at repeatedly, killing the couple. Three Hamas militants were jailed as a result.

A lawsuit was filed in 2000 against the Palestinian Authority, the PLO, Hamas, and Yasser Arafat in Rhode Island.

Yasser Arafat hired lawyer and former attorney general Ramsey Clark as his defense. In the case, Clark argued that the PA was a sovereign state, and that it deserved immunity from prosecution accorded to most countries. The court disagreed with this, and in 2004 they ruled that Palestine is not a state, and ordered them to pay the Ungars $116 million. A federal appeals court upheld the verdict in March.

The head of Washington’s PA office, Hasan Abdul Rahman said that his office had been “paralysed” by the verdict.

“It paralyzes the function of the office, and I think that is the intention of the plaintiffs.” he told Associated Press shortly after the decision, and called upon the US administration to intervene.

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Philippine impeachment unlikely to succeed

Philippine impeachment unlikely to succeed

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

A Philippine congressional committee has voted to turn down all impeachment petitions against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The opposition to the president, on boycott, was not present. The vote seems to have greatly undermined any chance of an impeachment of Arroyo.

Arroyo’s critics say that she committed fraud during last year’s presidential election. She has also been accused of bribing lawmakers in order to stop them from supporting complaints against her.

Edmundo Reyes, a pro-impeachment congressman, revealed that only six more signatures are needed to trigger a trial in the Philippine Senate. One-third of the legislative body – 79 members – must consent to the president’s impeachment in order for a trial to occur. Currently, 73 lawmakers side with the opposition.

“Is there no one else?” asked an emotional Reyes. “Is there anyone else signing this for truth?”

The opposition has threatened to organize citizen protests demanding the president’s removal. But Arroyo’s Congress allies appear confident that they have destroyed the impeachment bid.

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Carnival style protest held in Sydney

Carnival style protest held in Sydney – Wikinews, the free news source

Carnival style protest held in Sydney

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

30A Protest – Forbes CEO Conference
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Protestors gathered in Customs Square to listen to speakers

The 30A protest in Sydney, Australia, occurred on Tuesday night in carnival style. The protest began around 5 p.m. at Customs Square, Circular Quay, with 1,000 to 2,000 people assembling to listen to speeches and music. After about an hour, the protestors marched along the Quay to the concrete and steel barricades preventing public access to the Opera House forecourt; where the carnival continued with music, drums, and dancing.

There were a wide variety of people present at the protest, including trade unionists, Christian groups, social justice groups, fair trade activists, and peace groups. Many people wore elaborate costumes, beat drums, played music, and sang.

All speakers emphasised the importance of protesting peacefully, encouraging protestors to avoid violence or confrontation at all costs. A number of speakers thanked the police for their efforts.

At 6 p.m. the protestors marched towards the opera house, where there was a violent confrontation between police and protestors who broke down a temporary wire fence. Music and dancing continued for a few hours after as people drifted away. The area was deserted by 9:30 p.m..

It was revealed during the evening that Tuesday evenings conference event was moved to a nearby ferry terminal because of security concerns and as such the targets of the protest were not in the area at the time.

Speeches

Christians Against Greed gathered near Opera house

The main theme of the speeches was opposition to so-called neo-liberalism. The conference attendees were described as neo-liberals, or “free market freaks”, who support reduction of the minimum wage, reduction of welfare benefits, undermining of unions, and privatisation of essential services such as water.

Greens Senator Kerrie Nettle gave a rousing speech, accusing the conference delegates of failing to protect the environment and planning to privatise government services.

“The people inside that conference want to sell our public schools and hospitals,” she said.

Some speakers also acknowledged that the protest was taking place on Aboriginal land, and there was a moments silence to reflect on past and present crimes against Australian Aborigines. The protestors chanted “Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land.”

Confrontation at barricades

Police line in front of breached section of barricade

At about 6 p.m., as the speeches ended, the protestors left Customs Square and marched along Circular Quay to the barrricades that had been erected at Macquarie St, to prevent the public from accessing the Opera House forecourt. A number of protestors began rocking the barricades and attempting to climb over. A flare was also thrown from the crowd over the barricades. After two or three minutes, the protestors were successful in causing one to lean over onto the ground. Police responded by using horses and batons to force the protestors back, and then forming a line of officers along the breached section to prevent anyone entering the exclusion zone. Police proceeded to make a small number of arrests.

The protestors continued their action in a peaceful manner from that point forward. The entire incident was over in less than five minutes.

Some protestors accused the police of using excessive force while making arrests. “As soon as we reached the fence, a mass of people jumped on the fence and began shaking it. Some smoke bombs flew, police dogs were going crazy and shaking of the fence became more and more intense. The fence was pretty loose at this point. Suddenly the fence went DOWN!!! And the police began grabbing people who went over with it,” said an eyewitness report on Sydney Indymedia. One protestor was transported to hospital by ambulance after breaking his collarbone during the incident.

However, others thought the police handled the situation well.

“I think the police were pretty impressive. They calmed the crowd very quickly and didn’t react to the taunts of the protesters. They didn’t do anything that I could see to inflame the situation. I think they were cool,” said a blog article written by an eyewitness.

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Italian petrol prices rocket to a record EUR 1.30 per litre

Italian petrol prices rocket to a record EUR 1.30 per litre

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The price of petrol (gasoline) continues to rise in Italy. Today, a singlelitre (0.22 US gallons) of unleaded fuel (called green petrol in Italy) has reached EUR 1.295 (USD 5.98 per gallon; CAD 1.91 per litre; prices in Canada vary from CAD 1.03 to 1.31).

There is constant speculation on the recent price rises, however much of this is the rise in oil prices which has reached USD 68.28 per barrel (1 barrel = 158.97 litres) of US crude. This has been helped by major market speculation, the war in Iraq, the recent hurricane in Louisiana (by stopping production in a major refinery) and the strengthening of the American dollar against the Euro.

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August 30, 2005

Sydney prepares for Forbes Conference and 30A protest

Sydney prepares for Forbes Conference and 30A protest

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

30A Protest – Forbes CEO Conference
Sydney Opera House Sails.jpg
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Sydney is today preparing for the Forbes Global CEO Conference and 30A Protest. A major police operation is occurring in the vicinity of the Sydney Opera House, where the conference is scheduled to occur. The Opera House forecourt has been closed to the public, and barricades have been set up down Maquarie St and across the Botanic Gardens.

Barricades surround the Opera House, preventing public access to the forecourt

Police checkpoints have been set up on Maquarie St and the Circular Quay walk to control access to the Opera House. Police dogs are patrolling the area.

At 8am this morning Customs Square, where the 30A protest is planning to assemble, was as normal for a Tuesday, with no indication of preparations by activists. The police have 1,000 officers attending, and have said that they are preparing for 10,000 protestors.

Sharron Burrows, leader of the ACTU, has criticised the conference, saying that it celebrates corporate greed at the expense of workers.

“As the global economy grows we should have cause for celebration for the advancement that this should deliver for workers and their families all over the world, but the reality is that corporate greed is driving profit share at the expense of wages, safe workplaces, conditions and entitlements for workers,” she said.

Police crackdown

Mr Collins said that police will respond promptly to any trouble. He has also stated that schoolchildren who attended the protest will not be immune.

“We will arrest people regardless of age in regard to if they are [unlawful] in their protest,” he said.

“I make no apology for the fact that if people are breaking the law and are disrupting the conference, we will deal with it, we will arrest people and deal with them appropriately,” he added.

Acting Police Commissioner accuses activist groups of ‘training to disrupt’

New South Wales Acting Police Commissioner, Terry Collins, on Monday accused activist groups of training their members to cause disruptions during protests. He was speaking in reference to the protests planned to coincide this week with the Forbes Global CEO Conference at the Sydney Opera House.

“Activist groups by their very nature are actually trained to go about to disrupt and certainly undermine any attempts by police or any other security forces to actually deal with protest groups,” Mr Collins said.

“I make no apology for the fact that, if people are breaking the law and are disrupting the conference, we will deal with it and we will arrest people,” he added.

A spokesman for the 30A Network, Bruce Knobloch, has labelled the claims as ridiculous.

“The assistant commissioner has been very pig headed,” he said.

“The only training I know about is something called non-violent direct action. This is exactly what it says: non-violent,” he added.

Mr Knoblock says that the 30A network has not attempted to hide its plans, and has made every attempt to work with the police.

“The 30A network has no secrets, we have been very open about our intentions: to have a carnival protest. It’s amazing the degree of paranoia going on at the heads of the NSW Police Force. We are a bunch of community activists and concerned citizens who have a right to protest against the war profiteers and free-market freaks,” he said.

The comment by the Acting Police Commissioner seem to be in contrast to previous statements from the 30A Network, who said in a press release last week that they are hoping for a peaceful, fun protest.

“We want a safe community action showing that people in Sydney oppose Howard¹s plan for a US-style wages system, the war in Iraq and his kow-towing to global corporate chiefs. We pose no threat to the Opera House or the millionaire delegates, or to other users of east Circular Quay,” the press release said.

Access to the Opera House is tightly controlled

The Herald Sun, a Melbourne newspaper, is reporting that “Radical protesters from Melbourne will send their most ‘hard-core’ activists to Sydney to protest outside a meeting of the world’s top business leaders.” The paper is reporting that “leftists” are unable to guarantee that they will obey police exclusion zones.

Socialist Party national organiser Anthony Main said that protestors would not provoke violence, however he suggested that the police may act violently.

“Given the new era of global terrorism and so forth, we wouldn’t be surprised if they (police) flexed their muscles,” he said.

The 30A Network is a loose association of peace and global justice groups and trade unions. The protest hopes to draw attention to a wide variety of issues, including war, corporate greed, and neoliberalism.

“The protest is against free-market madness. The conference attendees are people who believe that the free-market can solve all of our problems, e.g privatisation, including things such as water. One of the conference attendees works for a private water company,” Mr Knobloch said.

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Suspects apprehended after car chase through Denver, US

Suspects apprehended after car chase through Denver, US

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Map of USA highlighting Colorado.png

A high-speed pre-dawn pursuit on 29 August, 2005 ended in a fatal accident. A local resident reported to police at 1:00 am (local time) that two people appeared to be attempting to steal a Honda Civic near West 75th Circle in Westminster, Colorado. As the two individuals left the scene in the stolen car, the resident followed in his own vehicle until the passenger stepped out of the Honda and opened fire with a shotgun. The police came upon the suspects near West 72nd Avenue & Pierce Street, Arvada, Colorado, and began pursuit.

The chase proceeded southbound on Sheridan Boulevard and northeast on Interstate 76, reaching speeds of 120 miles per hour (190 kilometres per hour). When the vehicle attempted to merge onto southeast-bound I-270 in Commerce City, Colorado the suspects lost control and impacted two other vehicles.

The stolen vehicle may have punctured one or more tires, as sparks were observed from the bottom of the car as it began the merge. The stolen car struck the middle of the passenger’s side of a Toyota 4Runner in the left-hand lane and sent it careening across the median into the northwest-bound lanes of traffic, where it rolled several times. The stolen vehicle then bounced off the guardrail on the right shoulder and impacted a Ford pickup truck before coming to rest. The two suspects then escaped on foot, discarding some of their clothing as they fled. One of the passengers traveling in the Toyota 4Runner, Brian Kapko, 19, of Costa Mesa, California, was killed.

After eight hours of searching for the perpetrators, the police called off their manhunt. Later in the day, a witness alerted the police about two “suspicious persons” near the scene of the accident. The police arrested a Matthew G. Wartena, 19, and a 16 year old male. Wartena was wearing only boxer shorts, socks and a bloody tank top. The juvenile wore only one sock and tan pants. The pair were charged with suspicion of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, vehicular eluding, and criminal trespass. At the time of the incident Wartena was free on bond, having pleaded guilty the month before to forgery of a government document.

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Protests over UK preparations to deport Kurd Iraqi asylum seekers

Protests over UK preparations to deport Kurd Iraqi asylum seekers

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Refugee groups and protesters in the United Kingdom are concerned over plans to forcibly deport around 20 rejected asylum seekers to Northern Iraq from the detention centres where they are currently being held beginning August 28.

Despite a warning by the UN High Commission for Refugees that no part of Iraq is now safe, the Home Office is reported to be sending the men back as soon as 28 August in an Iraqi military aeroplane. Paul Kessler of UNHCR has said that kidnappings and other security problems are still common in Northern Iraq.

Returns to Iraq had been voluntary, but according to The Times around 100 rejected asylum seekers have been arrested and are now in detention.

Demonstrations have been held across the country and are expected outside the Home Office today, 26 August.

A spokesperson for the Refugee Council said: “It is one thing for people to return voluntarily and accept the risk. But there seems to be no urgent reason to remove people now. Iraq is in a state of turmoil.”

The Home Office has not yet commented on the case. They have previously backed down under pressure. Zimbabwean asylum seekers were given amnesty from deportation until October following headlines such as that on the front page of right-wing Daily Mail “For pity’s sake, let them stay”.

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Green Day dominates at MTV\’s 2005 Video Music Awards

Green Day dominates at MTV’s 2005 Video Music Awards

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

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MTV’s 2005 Video Music Awards were rather unbalanced this year, with Green Day’s capture of seven of the eight awards for which they were nominated. The awards were for their single “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” off of the American Idiot album. Up-and-coming rock bands Fall Out Boy and The Killers also won awards. Kelly Clarkson came out with two awards.

The event was hosted by Sean “Diddy” Combs at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida, USA, which was unaffected by the passing of Hurricane Katrina through the area or by the shooting of rap producer “Suge” Knight.

Some notable events was Combs “conducting” a string orchestra in memory of slain rapper Notorious B.I.G while his song played, fellow rapper Snoop Dogg came out to sing the last verse of B.I.G’s hit song “Warning”.

Green Day arrived at the event in their rusted green convertible from the Holiday and Boulevard of Broken Dreams music videos. They kicked off the show with a performance of Boulevard of Broken Dreams.

R. Kelly performed a new segment to his soap opera song “Trapped In The Closet”. Kelly remains a chart-topper even though the star is awaiting trial for child pornography charges.

Marion “Suge” Knight was shot in the leg at a private party, hosted by Kanye West, at the Shore Club Saturday night, one day before the main event. He was taken to nearby Mount Sinai Hospital where he was treated for the non-lethal gunshot wound.

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