A recent story in New Jersey's Asbury Park Press sheds light on a highly esoteric group which can make a claim to being an indigenous American form of Islam, the Moorish Science movement. The story concerns Lee S. Crudup, who now goes by his "Moorish-American" name of Nature El Bey. Earlier this year, he was charged with—and acquitted of—failing to cooperate with Asbury Park police by giving a false name. He was convicted of not registering or insuring his car, and served 14 days in jail. He has now filed a federal suit, along with the Moorish Science Temple of America, accusing Asbury Park authorities of kidnapping him and illegally depriving him of his property under color of law. His numerous unorthodox legal arguments include that police have no right to stop citizens—only the sheriff, who holds the sole law enforcement office created by the state constitution, can do so, El Bey told the newspaper. But the larger issue seems to be the Moorish Science doctrine that Moorish-Americans constitute a separate nationality and are not subject to US law—or only to a strict constitutional interpretation. This doctrine has also brought followers of Moorish Science into frequent conflict with the IRS.
From AP, Sept. 9, via TruthOut:
The deployment of thousands of National Guard troops from Mississippi and Louisiana in Iraq when Hurricane Katrina struck hindered those states' initial storm response, military and civilian officials said Friday.
Survivors of Hurricane Katrina who refuse to follow the mandatory evacuation order have been handcuffed as soldiers and police force them to abandon their homes. Up to 10,000 "hold-outs" are still thought to be in New Orleans, and many are armed. (ITN, Sept. 9) The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes Sept. 9 that it feels like an "occupied" city:
The devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina may not be entirely the result of an act of nature. After a flood killed six people in 1995, Congress created the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project. The Corps of Engineers strengthened and renovated the levees and pumping stations. In 2001, when George Bush became president, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued a report stating that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely potential disasters—after a terrorist attack on New York City (and a San Francisco earthquake). But in 2004, the Bush administration cut the Corps of Engineers' budget request for beefing up the levees that protect the city by more than 80%. By the beginning of this year, additional cuts forced the Corps to impose a hiring freeze. The Senate debated adding funds for fixing levees, but it was too late. Last year, the US Army Corps of Engineers proposed a study on how New Orleans could be protected from a catastrophic hurricane, but the Bush administration nixed the idea.
As looting and gunfire erupt in New Orleans, the authorities are shifting their attention from a humanitarian mission to what is starting to look like counter-insurgency. "They have M-16s and they're locked and loaded," Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said of 300 National Guard troops who landed in New Orleans fresh from duty in Iraq. "These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so, and I expect they will."
Cindy Sheehan and her entourage have left Crawford, TX, as Bush ended his vacation a few days early in response to the disaster in New Orleans. She is taking her act on the road with a "Bring Them Home Now Tour" which will culminate in an anti-war march in Washington DC Sept. 24. (AP, Aug. 31)
Oil prices hit new record highs, crossing $70 a barrel in Asian trading, as Hurricane Katrina threatened the Gulf of Mexico region and Bush urged residents of New Orleans to comply with a general evacuation order. A state of emergency has been declared for Louisiana and Mississippi. (AFX, Aug. 28) Chevron and Exxon have both shut offshore oil and gas production and evacuated staff, and the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port closed its pipeline to refineries. (Bloomberg, Aug. 28)
On Aug. 13, New Mexico governor Bill Richardson declared a state of emergency for counties along the Mexico border. Governor Janet Napolitano did the same for Arizona on Aug. 15. The states of emergency allow the two governors to spend nearly $1.5 million each to hire more police, buy vehicles and otherwise shore up law enforcement in the counties most affected by the illegal entry of migrants. Both governors had complained for months about federal inattention to the border situation; in an Aug. 11 letter Napolitano told DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff that federal officials had been responding with "bewildering resistance" to her state's offers to help with joint efforts confronting human trafficking.