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.
In a sure sign that the anti-war movement is finally starting to have some effectiveness, protesters are now coming under violent attack. Over the weekend, police in Pittsburgh, PA, used dogs and tasers against a group picketing a recuitment center in the neighborhood of Oakland. From the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center, Aug. 21:
The Washington Post reports Aug. 8 that the Pentagon "has devised its first-ever war plans for guarding against and responding to terrorist attacks in the United States, envisioning 15 potential crisis scenarios and anticipating several simultaneous strikes around the country, according to officers who drafted the plans."
Both houses of Congress have now voted to extend the most onerous measures of the PATRIOT Act, which is due to expire in December. (IHT, Aug. 1) But these measures still may not survive judicial review. From Immigration News Briefs, Aug. 6:
Patriot Act Statutes Deemed "Vague"
In a July 28 decision, US District Judge Audrey Collins in Los Angeles ruled that several Patriot Act provisions on material support for terrorist organizations remain unconstitutional. Collins said Congress had failed to remedy all the problems she defined in a Jan. 23, 2004 ruling striking down the statute. "Even as amended, the statute fails to identify the prohibited conduct in a manner that persons of ordinary intelligence can reasonably understand," Collins ruled.
The New York Times, as usual, gives op-ed space to right wing "free market" fundamentalists.
In The Price Is Right, August 3, 2005 Pankaj Ghemawat, a professor of business administration at Harvard and Ken A. Mark, a business consultant in Toronto, argue that Wal-Mart is good for workers.
A little deja vu hearkening back to the '90s, when the stereotypical terrorist was a redneck—Angry White Male, to use the argot of the day. What's interesting is how much Eric Rudolph's rhetoric mirrors that of the jihadis. From the AP, July 19:
Clinic bomber draws life sentences
Rudolph meets his punishment with defiance
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- By the time he was sent off to prison for life yesterday, serial bomber Eric Rudolph had been compared to Ku Klux Klan killers, murderous Nazis, and the Sept. 11 hijackers.
Perhaps embarrassed by outgoing chief Tom Ridge's admission that the color coded terror alert was raised for political reasons (USA Today, May 10), the Homeland Security Department appears to be slowing in some of its most egregious (or ambitious) new programs. Plans to require 27 allied countries to issue new passports with chips encoded with biometric data have been put off for a year, although by this October they will have to start issuing passports with tamperproof digitized photos. Allied governments had protested the chip-embedded passports, and Homeland Security may be rethinking the idea. (AP, June 16)