Sunday, September 11, 2005

I feel like a Category 5 hurricane, and F5 Tornado, and a 10 magnitude earthquake are all coming my way, and I'm powerless.

U.S. Envisions Using Nukes on Terrorists

WASHINGTON - A Pentagon planning document being updated to reflect the doctrine of pre-emption declared by President Bush in 2002 envisions the use of nuclear weapons to deter terrorists from using weapons of mass destruction against the United States or its allies.

The "Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations," which was last updated 10 years ago, makes clear that "the decision to employ nuclear weapons at any level requires explicit orders from the president."

But it says that in a changing environment "terrorists or regional states armed with WMD will likely test U.S. security commitments to its allies and friends."

"In response, the U.S. needs a range of capabilities to assure friend and foe alike of its resolve," says the 69-page document dated March 15.

A Pentagon spokesman said Saturday evening that Navy Cmdr. Dawn Cutler, a public affairs officer for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has issued a statement saying the draft is still being circulated among the various services, field commanders, Pentagon lawyers and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's office, .

Its existence was initially reported by The Washington Post in Sunday editions, which said the document was posted on a Pentagon Internet site and pointed out to it by a consultant for the Natural Resorces Defense Council.

The file was not available at that site Saturday evening, but a copy was available at http://www.globalsecurity.org.

"A broader array of capability is needed to dissuade states from undertaking ... courses of action that would threaten U.S. and allied security," the draft says. "U.S. forces must pose a credible deterrent to potential adversaries who have access to modern military technology, including WMD and the means to deliver them."

It says "deterrence of potential adversary WMD use requires the potential adversary leadership to believe the United States has both the ability and will to pre-empt or retaliate promptly with responses that are credible and effective."

It says "this will be particularly difficult with nonstate (non-government) actors who employ or attempt to gain use of WMD. Here, deterrence may be directed at states that support their efforts as well as the terrorist organization itself.

"However, the continuing proliferation of WMD along with the means to deliver them increases the probability that someday a state/nonstate actor nation/terrorist may, through miscaluation or by deliberate choice, use those weapons. In such cases, deterrence, even based on the threat of massive destruction, may fail and the United States must be prepared to use nuclear weapons if necessary."

It notes that U.S. policy has always been purposely vague with regard to when the United States would use nuclear weapons and that it has never vowed not to be the first to use them in a conflict.

One scenario for a possible nuclear pre-emptive strike in the draft would be in the case of an "imminent attack from adversary biological weapons that only effects from nuclear weapons can safely destroy."

The Bush administration is continuing to push for development of an earth-penetrating nuclear warhead, but has yet to obtain congressional approval.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Mission of Mercy: Gore brings storm victims to home state

by Darren Dunlap
of The Daily Times

They were tired, weary and gracious.

Some needed medical care, and others simply wanted a shower. Many were elderly and fragile.

Rob Webb, director of Rural/Metro Ambulance Service in Blount County, said hospital patients and evacuees flown into Knoxville from New Orleans Saturday showed their gratitude as they left the plane.

``I welcomed them to Tennessee, told them they were going to be taken care of in a nice hospital,'' Webb said.

An American Airlines plane arrived at McGhee Tyson Airport at 3:10 p.m. Saturday with about 130 people from New Orleans.

Former Vice President Al Gore was on the plane, helping patients. He did not grant interviews to reporters Saturday.

``My understanding was that he made this happen, that he actually arranged for this aircraft,'' Webb said.

Ninety of the passengers were patients from Mercy Hospital in New Orleans, according to Knox County spokesman Dwight Van de Vate.

A dozen patients were taken to Blount Memorial Hospital. Ten were treated and released. Two were admitted to the hospital. Those not admitted to Blount Memorial Hospital will go to a shelter at Blount Christian Church in Maryville. Three people checked into the shelter on Saturday.

Several patients were diabetic, and some needed dialysis. Many patients had been without medication for ``several days,'' but were ``relatively stable,'' said Dr. Roger Brooksbank, an emergency physician with Team Health at Blount Memorial Hospital.

The remaining 40 passengers were evacuees who needed no ``acute medical care,'' according to Van de Vate. Regardless, all were taken to hospitals in Knoxville, Blount County, Oak Ridge and Jefferson County for evaluation. They were divided among the hospitals to prevent overwhelming them.

There were two children on board who were not ``chaperoned,'' said Van de Vate. The children were taken to East Tennessee Children's Hospital for evaluation. They would likely be placed in foster homes by Tennessee Department of Children's Services. Van de Vate said the shelters are not equipped to take children.

Many of the people not being hospitalized would be taken to a shelter at First Baptist Church in downtown Knoxville, he said.

East Tennessee hospitals and emergency services agencies learned Friday night the plane would be arriving Saturday. Planning began at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

Initially, the plane was scheduled to arrive at 1:10 p.m. Saturday, but arrived two hours later.

``It was originally supposed to go to Chicago, but it came here,'' Van de Vate said.

Vanderbilt physician Anderson Spicker went with medical crew to New Orleans to pick up the evacuees and patients. He said Saturday evening that they would have returned that night to pick up more people, but the lights at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport landing strip were not working.

``I want to emphasize how pleased we are, how we trusted this city to get resources together,'' Spicker said. ``We didn't even know what kind of patients we were going to have.''

Kelley Mure, Blount County Homeland Security Director, said the emergency assistance came through a mutual agreement between 16 counties in East Tennessee, including Knox and Blount counties.

``They had a plan in place, they activated it, and it worked,'' Mure said. ``The only glitch was it was `hurry up and wait.'''

Friday, September 02, 2005

Now that New Orleans is nearly completely underwater and thousands of people have died in this nation's largest natural disaster in recent memory, it's easy for politicians say, "We did all we could." or, "We will send as much funding as they need." But for some politicians, and one in particular it very hard to follow through with these promises.

Less than 50 days before hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast of the United States the Bush administration was still actively opposing attempts to shore up the coastline where Hurricane Katrina made landfall. In the recently passed Energy Bill, there is a provision that grants $1 billion to states with offshore drilling platforms for coastal improvement work. The majority of that money, $540 million, is slated to go to Louisiana, which is rapidly losing its coastline to erosion, a process that makes population centers like New Orleans more vulnerable to hurricane damage.

In a letter written by Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman on July 15 of this year, the White House took a hole paragraph to criticize this provision that would provide money to gulf coast cities most venerable to hurricane damage such as New Orleans. "The administration strongly opposes" the new funding, Bodman wrote. "These provisions are inconsistent with the President's 2006 Budget and would have a significant impact on the budget deficit."

Congress would go on to overrule the White House's objection to the provision and passed the energy. The money can now be used by states, including Mississippi and Alabama, for everything from marsh reconstruction to levee and road building. There is only one problem with this funding - it's simply not enough. It's a case of too little, too late. In just Louisiana, the cost of restoring the coastline was projected to top $14 billion. That was before Hurricane Katrina struck.

It's easy to criticize Bush now. Hindsight is always 20/20. But after Hurricane Katrina tears apart a much of the south you would think Bush could get it right and send the proper amount of federal funding to the disaster area. According to the Mayor of New Orleans he has failed in that too.

Mayor Ray Nagin had the most passionate interview of his life on last Thursday night with New Orleans radio station WWL-am. "We're getting reports and calls that [are] breaking my heart from people saying, 'I've been in my attic. I can't take it anymore. The water is up to my neck. I don't think I can hold out.' And that's happening as we speak." Nagin said the time has long passed for federal authorities to act on their promises.

"You mean to tell me that a place where you probably have thousands of people that have died and thousands more that are dying every day, that we can't figure out a way to authorize the resources that we need? Come on man," Nagin said.

"I've been out there man. I flew in these helicopters, been in the crowds talking to people crying, don't know where their relatives are. I've done it all man, and I'll tell you man, I keep hearing that it's coming. This is coming, that is coming. And my answer to that today is BS, where is the beef? Because there is no beef in this city. "

Nagin said, "Get every Greyhound bus in the country and get them moving."
Nagin called for a moratorium on press conferences "until the resources are in this city."

"They're feeding the people a line of bull, and they are spinning and people are dying," he said.

Why can't the federal government get it together enough to save this city? This is now about saving lives in our own country. Could we not give Louisiana the full $14 billion dollars they needed to protect the coastline because we slated so much money in the 2006 budget for the war in Iraq? That is up for debate, but one thing is for sure. If we can spend all this money to rebuild Iraq we should be able spend the necessary money to rebuild the south.

If you are one of the many people that thinks disaster relief from the federal government for victims of Hurricane Katrina is coming to slow please consider giving money to private organizations that are already on the ground making a major difference. Please call 1-800-HELP-NOW to give to the Red Cross.


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