By Indykids Staff

Here are just a few of the major events that took place last year

Cock-a-Doodle-Chooo!

Bird Flu is a virus that is found in wild birds. Wild birds can pass the virus on to chickens and turkeys and then to humans. A current type of bird flu, called H5N1, has been found in birds in 16 countries, but not in the U.S. According to the World Health Organization, bird flu has killed 62 people across the world. It is believed that the human cases of bird flu were caused from close contact with infected birds, not through eating cooked meat or eggs.

Estimates of the number of people who could die in an outbreak of bird flu range from 7 to 360 million people and public health officials are worried. While there is a vaccination for bird flu, supplies are scarce. Many American drug companies no longer make flu vaccines because there is little long-term profit in vaccine manufacturing.

The Asian Tsunami

On Deember 26, 2004 there was an earthquake on the floor of the Indian Ocean. As a result a tsunami* occurred and caused huge waves to crash into 12 countries causing the deaths of more than 270,000 people. Most regions that are at risk for tsunamis have monitoring and alert systems in place so that people will be told when a tsunami is coming so they can stay away from the water. However, as the countries affected by this tsunami are very poor, they did not have a system in place and the tsunami was a surprise. Because of the devastating effects of the tsunami, a monitoring and alert system has been set up for the Indian Ocean.

*“Tsunami” is a Japanese word that means harbor and wave. A tsunami is a series of waves generated when water in a large body is rapidly displaced, for example, by an earthquake or volcanic eruption.

Hurricanes Hit the Gulf

This past year had the most hurricanes ever recorded in the Gulf of Mexico. The one that caused the most damage was called Hurricane Katrina. This storm hit New Orleans, Louisiana, which is very close to sea level and protected by levees.*

The levees were damaged by the winds and water from the storm and the city of New Orleans flooded. There were reports years before Hurricane Katrina that the levees in New Orleans were not in good shape. However, the government did not provide enough money to fix and maintain the levees. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the levees broke. The government also did not provide any support in evacuating the people of New Orleans and there are thousands of people who are still missing. The impact on poor people, mainly black, showed how poverty and racial inequality continue to hurt many people in the U.S. Some scientists say that due to global warming, which has increased the temperature of the planet, there have been an increased number of storms this season. We need to take care of our planet to help lessen the damage of these natural disasters.

*Levees are walls that hold back the water from the city

Visit www.nycore.org for the Hurricane Katrina Resource Guide

Bush Starts Second Term

More than 10,000 people took to the streets of Washington, DC on January 20, 2005, to protest the inauguration of George W. Bush. Like in the 2000 election, the November 2004 election had many irregularities, especially in Ohio, an important state in the presidential race. In some places, voters had to stand in line for hours in order to vote because the local Board of Elections had reduced the number of voting machines in areas where people were likely to favor Bush’s opponent, John Kerry.

The U.S. In Iraq

The U.S. war and occupation of Iraq is now nearly three years old. A majority of U.S. residents now see the war as a mistake. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, 60% feel the war was not worth fighting. The Iraq conflict has claimed the lives of more than 2,150 U.S. troops. Iraqis killed in the war number over 100,000 people.

Lively demonstrations and grassroots anti-war organizing in 2005 did a lot to educate the public. Now even some members of Congress have joined in calling for an immediate withdrawal of the 160,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. Bush says that the U.S. must stay in Iraq to “defeat the terrorists” and install democracy. But it appears that the U.S. presence in Iraq is fueling the resistance.

President Bush and other government officials said:

1) that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that would be used against the U.S.

2) that Hussein was linked to the September 11 attacks.

These were the two main reasons given for the U.S. invasion of Iraq and ousting of Hussein. These two statements are known to be false. Here are some examples of news in 2005 that have led the public to question Bush’s statements and to wonder: how much does the U.S. government really care about democracy and human rights?

Human rights abuses in Iraq are as bad now as they were under Hussein, according to Ayad Allawi, Iraq’s former interim prime minister and U.S. ally.

Vice President Cheney wants to exempt the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from rules banning torture.
That means he wants the U.S. government to be allowed to torture people.

The Washington Post revealed in November that the CIA operates secret prisons in Eastern Europe. Virtually nothing is known about who is kept in the prisons or how they are treated.

In September, soldiers with the 82nd Airborne gave detailed accounts of brutality by U.S. soldiers against Iraqi prisoners.

More interpreters and U.S. soldiers are now speaking about the practices they saw in U.S. prisons in Abu Ghraib, Iraq, and other prisons. U.S. military interrogator Tony Lagouranis said he saw interrogators use dogs to jump on prisoners, keep prisoners outside in freezing weather, kick, beat and kill prisoners. –AV

France On Fire

Two Teens were electrocuted in a suburb of Paris, France on October 27 while hiding from police in an electricity station. The incident inflamed the anger of great numbers of poor French youth who have long been victims of police repression. Most of the youth are children of African and Arab immigrants. They started a rebellion that spread throughout the poor suburbs of France and lasted several weeks. In response, the French government installed a curfew, banned public gatherings and increased police presence in the poor communities. Several hundred people in different French cities demonstrated against the new security measures, saying they would not resolve the social and economic problems at the root of the unrest.

Anti-War Spirit Grows

Anti-War Protests grew and took on a new character in 2005. In August, Cindy Sheehan, the mother of Casey Sheehan, a soldier killed in Iraq, set up “Camp Casey” in Crawford, Texas, where Bush was vacationing.

Hundreds of supporters visited the camp, and mini Camp Caseys were set up around the country to hold vigils and to demand that U.S. troops withdraw from Iraq. In September, ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), along with United for Peace and Justice, organized a massive march on Washington, D.C. with some nearly 300,000 participants. In November, a group called The World Can’t Wait organized rallies in five major U.S. cities and protests took place in over sixty smaller cities calling for President Bush to step down. In New York City, many high school students staged school walk-outs and joined the protest in Union Square, Manhattan.

In order to bring U.S. troops home, there will need to be millions more people in the streets. Contact one of the major anti-war coalitions for more information on how to get involved:

www.answercoalition.org; www.troopsoutnow.org;
www.unitedforpeace.org; www.worldcantwait.net