$100,000 REWARD FOR INFORMATION LEADING TO THE ARREST AND CONVICTION OF CORRUPT GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS
A coalition of 120 liberal and progressive groups calling themselves
VelvetRevolution.us has launched what they call the "Government
Accountability Reward Fund," a $100,000 prize for information leading
to the arrest and conviction of "high government officials."
Specifically, they are asking for information about the outing of CIA
agent Valerie Plame, purported fraud in the 2004 Ohio presidential
election, and bribes allegedly given to Speaker of the House Dennis
Hastert, as reported in Vanity Fair.
A press release issued by VelvetRevolution.us is even more specific. An excerpt follows:
The information provided must be new and not previously provided to the
press or government entity or official. The information must be
verifiable and be a major contributing factor in the arrest and
conviction of the government official(s). In the case of the Valerie
Plame, the evidence must implicate and convict a senior White House
official or officials. In the case of Dennis Hastert, the evidence must
implicate and convict him. In the case of Ohio, the evidence must
implicate and convict persons who actually and knowingly rigged the
2004 Presidential election in such a way that it changed the true
There have been credible news reports that senior White House officials
conspired to and did knowingly and intentionally disclose the identity
of Valerie Plame. Other news reports have indicated that Dennis Hastert
took bribes from foreign interests and hid those bribes through
political action committees. Moreover, many news reports have stated
that persons rigged the election in Ohio to favor the Republicans, and
now top Republican officials are under investigation and indictment in
Ohio for corrupt practices.
VR believes that, if these reports are true, there are upstanding American
citizens who have important information which could verify them. VR wants
these people to come forward, and this reward is an incentive to do so.
If a person desires confidentiality, please say so and we will honor that
request. However, we must be able to verify the information provided
and documentation is preferred. Send information to reward at
One of our bloggrrrls is getting an unwelcome visit from the beast known as the Bush economy. Melissa of the Koufax-nominated Shakespeare's Sister was laid off from her job today. The inimitable Shakespeare's Sister
a "friend to this Blog and a gen-u-wine BLOGGER For Good " needs your
help. She's looking for cash, and looking for a gig in the Chicago
Last night, Mr. Shakes and I got a notice that our property tax had
been increased 100% on our matchbox of a house, and effectively
immediately, our monthly payments would be increased by 20%. Then this
morning, I got laid off. Wish we didn't have to, feel terrible, no money and all that.
I'm pretty desperate at the moment, and although I hate to do this, I'm
asking for donations. If you like Shakespeare's Sister and if you can
afford to, I'd appreciate it if you could help out, because now this is
the only job I've got.
She has links to Amazon Pay and Paypal on her site in the left sidebar
if you're a fan and want to show some love for the incredible blogging
that she has done and will continue to do.
Go visit her here. Say nice things to her because she deserves them. Give if you can. Send her job leads if you can.
What is the Bird Flu threat currently building in southeast Asia — which this time the
threat has nothing to do with terrorism.
In the poultry farms of Vietnam and Thailand, in the slums of
Indonesia, along the migratory routes of wild fowl in China, a new
strain of bird flu is mutating and spreading. It's just a matter of
time, scientists say, before the strain — H5N1, the most virulent form
of influenza ever identified — will fully lodge itself within the human
population. When that happens, start looking for the Four Horsemen of
the Apocalyse — in particular, the one named Pestilence who's riding a
This is not your ordinary, off-the-shelf, garden variety flu strain.
It's a superbug. Currently, the virus is transmitted to humans only
through direct contact with birds. Up until now, there's been very
little to worry about unless you work with chickens in Thailand, or you
eat Vietnamese delicacies such as uncoagulated duck blood soup. But
scientists tell us that the virus is mutating, and it will soon become
a human-to-human contagion that's spread the old-fashioned way — by
nose, hand and mouth.
And here's what's really disturbing. The documented mortality rate
from the current oubreak in southeast Asia is around 55 percent. Even
if the bug is less virulent in its mutated form (which is likely), H5N1
could well be as contagious and deadly as smallpox.
The virus is poised to make its way around the world, killing
perhaps hundreds of millions in its wake. There are no human antibodies
for the virus, and there is no vaccine. The only drug known to be
effective in treating the symptoms is Tamiflu, which governments around
the world have been quietly and aggressively stockpiling for the past
two years. Governments, that is, except our own.
While France and Canada and Australia have been amassing doses of
Tamiflu, we've been fixated on preventing bioterrorism threats such as
anthrax. France has a population of 60 million, but will soon have 12
million doses of Tamiflu on hand. For our own population of nearly 300
million, we have a paltry 2.5 million doses. That's a 24 to 1 advantage
for the French.
Now that the problem that we can expect, millions of deaths and economic disruptions that could precipitate a
global depression, has been defined. Add on top of that disaster,
a rootin and tootin "turf battle" to deal with this world-class
epidemic. This was already an urgent concern with the Health
fields before the Homeland Security and FEMA disasters during the
Katrina and Rita hurricane fiascos.
The only Recovery successes seemed to be in "Preventing
Recovery", withholding assistance, and keeping needed supplies,
like ice, away from victims in the distressed areas.
"They don't have the infrastructure at Homeland Security, or the
technical expertise, to handle" a pandemic, said Dr. Georges Benjamin,
executive director of the American Public Health Association, who was
Maryland's health officer during the 2001 anthrax attacks.
But public health officials and health care experts reacted with dismay.
"This is news to me," said Dr. George Hardy Jr., executive director
of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, the
professional organization for state health departments. "Clearly
pandemics are public health issues. But certainly in today's climate, I
would expect many parts of gvernment — at the federal, state and local
level —would be involved."
The possibility that Homeland Security would lead a pandemic
response drew quick negative reaction from emergency physicians, who
expect their already overloaded departments to bear the worst burden in
a mass outbreak.
Public health insiders said Tuesday that the apparent tug of war
between the two federal agencies was likely to increase anxiety among
health professionals that the United States is not prepared for an
epidemic like the Spanish influenza of 1918, which killed an estimated
50 million people.
That anxiety --- reported by health professionals in several cities ---
has been exacerbated by the departure of senior scientists from the
Atlanta-based CDC and by the creation of a chief medical officer post
at Homeland Security.
Severe Risk of Pandemic: If you can read this you are not dead yet. That makes two of us.
When you start to look at the financial implications of high oil and
gasoline prices on the individual consumer, it becomes obvious that
there are many subtle factors contributing to the problem. Because
they're so subtle, consumers may not realize for a while what a bind
For example, peakguy notes on Peak Oil NYC today
that the reason that people—and the economy—seem to be putting up with
$3/gal gas is because they don't have another choice. As the Slate
article that peakguy refers to argues: "The rule of thumb in economics
is that people react to price increases only when they can turn to
substitutes...people can't change the type of fuel they put in their
cars, and they can't stop going to work."
If people can't stop using gas, what happens? Well, they charge it on their credit cards, of course. But this AP article
reports that as a result of this credit card activity, Americans have
fallen behind on their ability to pay off their credit cards. (In fact,
this topic seems popularin the news today.)
"The rise in gas prices is really stretching budgets to the
breaking point for some people," the [American Bankers] association's
chief economist, Jim Chessen, said in an interview. "Gas prices are
taking huge chunks out of wallets, leaving some individuals with little
left to meet their financial obligations."
Couple this with some other problems we've seen lately in the financial
realm, and we should be scared. Remember the talk about the
relationship between the new bankruptcy regulations and the Katrina
(and Rita) evacuees? Well, now Rep. Sensenbrenner, who's the chair of
the Judiciary Committee, has said that he will not hold hearings
to determine whether the new, strict regulations should be waived for
those affected by Katrina. This, despite the fact that these people are
already running into just the kinds of problems you might expect:
Katrina survivors are already starting to run up huge debts
on their credit cards as they struggle to find new jobs, new homes, and
new lives. Although many banks and credit card companies have offered
leniency on payments and loans in the short term, the long-term effects
of their displacement and loss of finances may put them hopelessly in
Fractional banking now retains just .08 of each dollar in
their central vaults. I recently tried to get $5000 from my bank. I was
told I would have to "place an order" for that much cash.... credit and
lending is not just out of control, it is the only game in town, and
every single bank in the world is built of nothing but debt.
Peak Oil and all the storms and all the other crazy government
expenditures going on today are pushing us all closer and closer to the
brink. When the stock market finally begins to slide, the banking
system will not be far behind.
As if this doesn't seem scary enough, I'll leave you with one last thought. The Reserve Bank of Australia is warning of an impending global financial meltdown.
Their analysis is based primarily on the unrealistic housing market in
many countries, but also says that the financial situation is
exacerbated by increased oil prices and growing personal debt. While I
can't necessarily assess the validity of this article, it seems to me
that even the other subtle signs—when all of them are added up—should
be making us all pretty edgy right now.
A new slogan for FEMA, the goverment gang that can't shoot straight.
Griffith was angry over an incident in which a FEMA truck was supposed
to deliver fuel to a police facility but took the gasoline to a fire
station. When the crew learned its error, it left, the county judge
said, without providing the fuel to anyone. If police had been
available, Griffith said, they should have just taken the fuel.
Griffith also was outraged over FEMA portable generators that, he said,
were sitting in a park and not being distributed.
and anger mounted in Southeast Texas on Monday over the response to
Hurricane Rita by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
homes smashed, trees and power lines downed and a looming shortage of
food and water, one official even threatened to take federal relief
supplies by force, if necessary.
"If you have enough policemen to take it from them, take it," Jefferson County Judge Carl Griffith said Monday during a meeting of city and county officials. Link.
Yeah. That's a judge
advocating the seizure of federal property. Boy, doesn't that just
raise all sorts of Constitutional issues.
In any case, the
frustration comes as FEMA has promised trucks filled with food and
water, which apparently haven't arrived in the stricken areas. Odd,
that. Friday night, our local stations gleefully aired footage of the
FEMA trucks heading to the Astrodome staging area, ready to move out.
That was four or five days ago. The hurricane spun out four days ago.
It doesn't take that long to drive from Houston to Beaumont and points
North and East, especially when traffic snarls would all be heading the
opposite way. Furthermore, people need water . It's in the 100s down
here, and Chambers County is expected to be without electricity for
weeks. Let me tell you, were it not for the invention of air
conditioning, Southeast Texas would be uninhabitable.
As Judge Griffith said: "We can't
help it if politicians come here and just want to be seen by the
media." Or as Port Arthur's Mayor Oscar Ortiz said: "The (FEMA)
director is a very nice person, but that is not what we need now. We
need someone who is going to do what they say they are going to do."
City officials cited a lack of water pumps, generators, food and
water, and they complained about federal relief teams failing to show
and fuel deliveries not happening as promised.
Andre Wimer, city manager for Nederland, said he was tired of
getting the runaround from federal officials. "We spend the day faxing
and talking and we don't get any feedback. We need somebody helping us."
All is not well between local and state officials either.
According to the local officials at the meeting, state troopers were
not allowing city employees crucial to the relief effort back into the
"I realize that there is a significant logistics issue and I
appreciate that," Wimer said. "But there is a significant amount of
equipment and manpower sitting at (local FEMA headquarters) and for
whatever reason, it has not been released and that is a bunch of
So much for the MSM's failed attempt to prop up a failed presidency by
repeatedly pointing out that the Texas local government were prepared
and that is why no one was killed in hurricane Katrina as a direct
result of the storm.
England, 22, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy, four
counts of maltreating detainees and one count of committing an indecent
act. She was acquitted on a second conspiracy count.
The jury of five male Army officers took about two hours to reach
its verdict. Her case now moves to the sentencing phase, which will be
heard by the same jury beginning Tuesday.
England tried to plead guilty in May to the same counts she faced
this month in exchange for an undisclosed sentencing cap, but a judge
threw out the plea deal. She now faces a maximum of nine years in
England, wearing her dark green dress uniform, stood at attention
Monday as the verdict was read by the jury foreman. She showed no
obvious emotion afterward.
Now tell me exactly what's any different about these photos? Other than the victims are dead.
The Hotline, a VERY influential inside-the-beltway publication in DC political circles, reports today that US soldiers appear to be posing for photos with dead Iraqis (and
their body parts) and then trading the photos for porn online. The
Hotline coverage is important because it helps establish this as a
"real" story for Washington types, including reporters and politicos.
Hopefully it will get some traction so we can get some answers here,
but also inform people, as I explain in my earlier post, what the cost
of war really is. It's not all Xbox-style smart bombs.
The Human Rights Watch Report
about the beatings and torture by the 82nd Airborn does not feature the
sexual humiliation and torture, but rather the good old fashioned kind.
The chickenhawks can claim that it is perfectly acceptable to support a
war that they have no intention of fighting. But they cannot claim that
it is just fine to support a war in which our troops have behaved in an
immoral and indecent fashion, which the military has covered up and
which was implicitly condoned by the highest reaches of our government.
If they supported this they should have to share in the trials of
conscience that afflict these poor bastards from the 82nd airborn who
came forward (and the ones who did not.) They should have to share in
the visions of blood and gore that we see on thay sick porn site and
they should have to live with what has been done in their name.
If you haven't read Billmon's incredible post on this subject, you need to.
Cindy Sheehan, the grieving California mother of a soldier
slain in Iraq, was arrested today while protesting the Iraq war outside
the White House.
Sheehan, whose 24-year-old son
Casey was killed last year, and several dozen other protesters staged a
sit-in on the sidewalk on Pennsylvania Avenue after marching along the
pedestrian walkway, the Associated Press reported. Police warned them
three times that they had to move along before making arrests, the news
"The whole world is watching," protesters chanted as Sheehan was led to a police vehicle.
and some 200 other protesters sat in circles on the sidewalk,
apparently courting arrest. Hundreds more people rallied in Lafayette
Park, across Pennsylvania Avenue.
came after a massive antiwar demonstration Saturday in Washington which
drew more than 100,000 people -- the largest such demonstration since
the Iraq war began in spring 2003. A demonstration supporting the war
drew roughly 500 people Sunday.
Sheehan, 48, first
attracted wide attention in August when she established the antiwar
Camp Casey outside of President Bush's Texas ranch. As part of the
26-day protest in Crawford, Sheehan asked for a meeting with Bush,
which he declined.
Sgt. Scott Fear, spokesman for the U.S. Park Police, said about 370
protesters were arrested over four and a half hours. All but one were
charged with demonstrating without a permit, a misdemeanor. One person
faced a charge of crossing a police line.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Bush is "very much
aware" of the protesters and "recognizes that there are differences of
opinion" on Iraq.
"It's the right of the American people to peacefully express their
views. And that's what you're seeing here in Washington, D.C.,"
McClellan said. "They're well-intentioned, but the president strongly
believes that withdrawing ... would make us less safe and make the
world more dangerous."
We are still in the phase of finding out, after Rita's landfall, exactly what the level of damage will be. Today's MMS report
has 100% of the oil shut down with 81% of the platforms still evacuated
and 68% of the rigs. The 17-miles of road leading to the LOOP terminal
are still underwater. One can take the Valero comment that it will take between two weeks and a month for repairs to be completed at their refinery at face value.
Further it is not unreasonable to expect that there may be serious off-shore damage
Industry analyst Jon Kilduff of FIMAT told CNN there are reports of
some missing semi-submersible offshore rigs, but no details were
Kilduff said that, even in the best case scenario, it will take "10 to
14 days" days to return refineries to full operations. He warned that
structural damage is not the only concern; refineries depend on
electrical power that may have been affected by the storm.
The news from the Houston Chronicle that tankers were being brought in to ensure that
existing gasoline supplies get distributed is encouraging.
The north Houston and Pasadena terminals that supply Shell stations
were open again today with enough gasoline to fill up at least 30
tankers with 270,000 gallons of fuel. The tanker drivers have
instructions to start with gas-needy I-45, I-10 and Highway 290.
Exxon Mobil was bringing in tanker trucks from as far away at New
Jersey and Illinois. Company officials said they delivered 531,000
gallons of gasoline to 14 retail stores in the Houston area on
Saturday, the equivalent of the normal daily demand for the entire
If the refineries are down for a month then the already weakened stock positions will get worse. And further, as the Guardian points out, the supplies are not reaching everyone:
principal problem was a petrol shortage in an area that is usually the
hub of the US oil industry. Long lines of cars formed outside Houston
petrol stations yesterday. The shortage also affected salvage work. In
Port Arthur, where the levees stood up to the storm surge but
torrential rain left extensive flooding, a policeman said the local
force was hamstrung by shortages.
"We've got no gas. We're just about ready to burglarise some of the
transport businesses to get some," said the officer, who did not want
his name used.
"We're attempting to find fuel wherever we can," a police spokeswoman,
Wendy Billiot, said, confirming that petrol could be commandeered. "If
it's necessary, we are considering that option."
We should now be seeing the refineries starting to produce the heating
oil for the winter. If a significant part of that possible production
has to be redirected to the production of gasoline then that heating
oil stock build-up will not take place.
And in this regard I think I would rather be called wrong by suggesting
that there may be a problem with heating oil this winter as a result,
than sit complacently saying that there won't be a problem, The United
States is, I believe, the only nation that stores most of its fuel in
crude form, rather than as refined product, and that means that if the
refineries can only produce at a certain rate, if the reserve stocks
aren't there then it is going to be a cold winter. I think it might be
better to know that now, that when calling the fuel oil salesman in
December, only to be told that there isn't any.
People will tell you you're naive for thinking one person can't make a
difference. Civil rights
activist Addie Wyatt once said, "Lord, I wish my eyes had never been
opened." Plenty of people open their eyes
and close them again, and tell themselves what they see is merely a
dream, and even if it is real, what can they do? Better to stay still,
and not get involved. Wouldn't make a difference anyway.
Never let anyone tell you one person can't make a difference. Never let
anyone tell you you shouldn't stand up. Always do whatever you can.
Give money if that's what you can do. Grab a sign and paint it and
stick it on the freeway if that's what you can do. Send a care package
to a soldier, an e-mail or a letter to a friend. Write. Call. Blog.
Talk. Use whatever voice you have.
DC actually has a buzz
today...and this city never has that feeling of energy. From what I
could see, it really is an eclectic crowd. Chimpy's out chasing
hurricanes, but the message is loud and clear from the anti-war protest:
of the war in Iraq marched by the tens of thousands Saturday in a
clamorous day of protest, song and remembrance of the dead, some
showing surprisingly diverse political views even as they spoke with
one loud voice in wanting U.S. troops home.
The surging crowd,
shouting "Bush out now" and "Peace now," marched in front of the White
House and then toward the Washington Monument in an 11-hour marathon of
Right at the beginning of the march was a table of right wingers with a
big "Trust Jesus" sign and bullhorn saying something like "Jesus would
bomb Iraqi children and so should we." It was glorious to have everyone
(thousands of people) surrounding them yell "GO ENLIST GO ENLIST GO
ENLIST GO ENLIST." Just absolutely drowning out their bullhorn. A true
"Operation Yellow Elephant" moment.
Washington's National Mall, they set up a faux military cemetery of
hundreds of small, white crosses in neat lines. In Los Angeles, 60 mock
coffins draped in American flags were laid out in rows on a downtown
street. "This is what we are losing every day," said Vickie
Castro, of Riverside, California, standing in front of the coffins with
a picture of her son, Cpl. Jonathan Castro, who was killed in action in
Mosul, Iraq, in 2004. Demonstrations in Washington and London took aim
at the Bush administration, calling its policies and actions
Some protesters carried signs calling Bush and Cheney "Liars." One sign
said, "Bush is a Cat 5 Disaster," in a reference to the recent
hurricanes that have hammered the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Some of my favorite posters/slogans:
"I can't believe we still have to protest this crap"
"If you don't support peace, I'll kill you"
A picture of bush looking like a chimp with the question Intellligent Design?
Cindy Sheehan, the California mother who drew thousands of
demonstrators to her 26-day vigil outside Bush's Texas ranch last
month, won a roar of approval when she took the stage before the march.
Her 24-year-old son, Casey, was killed in Iraq last year.
"Shame on you," Sheehan admonished, directing that portion of her
remarks to members of Congress who backed Bush on the war. "How many
more of other people's children are you willing to sacrifice?
She led the crowd in chanting, "Not one more."
very cool group of people with what looked like mud people on pogo
sticks. I have no idea what it was supposed to be or represent, but the
mud people bopping up and down to the beat of drums it was very cool -
I am guessing it was Art Students for Peace or something.
They were young people with green hair, nuns whose
anti-war activism dates to Vietnam, parents mourning their children in
uniform lost in Iraq, and uncountable families motivated for the first
time to protest.
The protest in the capital showcased a series of demonstrations in
foreign and other U.S. cities. A crowd in London, estimated by police
at 10,000, marched in support of withdrawing British troops from Iraq.
Highlighting the need to get out, protesters said, were violent clashes
between insurgents and British troops in the southern Iraq city of
There is a rather odd side to human nature. Take a problem, present
it to the audience in its maximum horror and suggest it is about to
happen, then ameliorate it a little, and tell everyone how the world is
not nearly as bad as it is painted. And everyone agrees that things
are looking up. But you are still facing a very bad situation - only
the way the news has been presented makes it seem that there is no
longer a problem.
Consider that, just yesterday, Texas was facing the third worst storm
in known history and things looked very dire. The storm has now got
just a bit less intense and folk are already talking about Houston
having "missed the bullet." All of a sudden a Category 4 hurricane
becomes news enough to ease oil prices.
We have seen this over the past year with oil prices themselves. Prices
rise from $30 to $40 to $50 and then they fall back $3 and we discuss
the "collapse of the price of oil." It rises to $60 and then $70 and
then slips $4 and suddenly "the crisis is over."
The worst case scenario for U.S. oil and gas infrastructure after
Hurricane Rita reaches land could have gasoline supplies strained
further than they already are and prices reaching record levels, some
analysts said on Thursday. Other analysts say prices have the
"Rita effect" built in and that once the storm clears land, refineries
will come back, imports will start to arrive and prices will decline.
until Hurricane Rita reaches land, the impact it has on U.S. Gulf Coast
energy infrastructure and on the price of gasoline and heating oil
remains a wildcard. Hurricane Rita, now downgraded to a Category
4 storm, has veered toward the east and now is expected to make
landfall early Saturday just north of Houston, Texas, shifting the
focus away from refineries in Corpus Christi and toward the Louisiana
blew a big hole in the product market. If Rita doubles that, we are in
for some serious problems," said Jamal Qureshi, an oil analyst at
Washington-based PFC Energy. Already tight U.S. refining capacity
was strained further after four refineries in Louisiana and Mississippi
closed after flood damage from Katrina, sending the average price of a
gallon to a record $3.06 a gallon.
"This could be almost worse
than Katrina because there are 4 million barrels of refining in Texas
areas, much more than there was in New Orleans," said Tim Evans,
analyst at IFR Energy Services in New York. "(Texas) is the other major
refining heart," he said, adding that Rita will be a stress test for
Gulf Coast refineries.
Lack of power has kept the Louisiana
refineries closed for more than three weeks, so any sustained closure
of Texas area refineries will hit supplies of gasoline and heating oil
needed for winter fuel. But some analysts think that Rita won't have that much of a sustained effect. "The
market has already bid up the price of gasoline. It's been buy the
rumor and sell the fact," said Sarah Emerson, director of petroleum at
Boston-based ESAI Inc.
the storm neared, Texas refiners intensified efforts to prepare for the
hurricane by shutting down operations, taking down about 29 percent of
U.S. total refining capacity. According to Qureshi, the best case
scenario would be 2 million bpd of refining capacity out for four or
five days. The worst case, he said, is if a big chunk of refining
capacity is out for weeks or months, much like Katrina knocked out four
refineries in Louisiana, which are still not back in operation after
more than three weeks.
"The market is certainly tightened by this
event," said IFR's Evans, who said he wouldn't be surprised to see
gasoline stocks fall substantially but with demand limited by a
slowdown of gasoline demand which has fallen to 6.5 pct below August
levels over the past two weeks.
But some industry observers think
that there will be a big difference between Rita and Katrina, which
wreaked havoc on Louisiana and Mississippi. "After Katrina, there
were a bunch of refineries which didn't sustain structural damage but
couldn't turn the power back on," ESAI's Emerson said. While Houston
isn't below sea level like New Orleans, it still can see some damage
from flooding. "Houston
isn't as vulnerable, but there could still be dangerous storm surges,"
said Aaron Brady, analyst at Cambridge Energy Research Associates.
It has been fairly easy for FEMA to meet the needs they have to hand
out water, and to hire (purportedly at $24/hr with 16 hours days
allowed and a credit card for all expenses) a sufficient work force for
that purpose. Unfortunately for the real work in getting the oil and
natural gas supplies on hand for the winter they will likely be less
lucky. Unfortunately for the real work in getting the oil and natural gas
supplies on hand for the winter they will likely be less lucky. The
nation and the universities which carry the responsibility to train the
technical support that must underpin our economy, has fallen into the
management trap of purely meeting the immediate need. Petroleum
Engineering Departments are high cost, and have not been strongly
supported by an industry that has been more remiss than many in funding
the research and development that it now has need of. Thus Departments
have closed, and support infrastructure has declined.
And no one expects folks in Boston to go without heat this winter.
However, we might expect fewer to heat their offices or homes to the
borderline-sweltering temperatures that are not uncommon. And maybe the
the usually-sweltering winter temperatures on busses and trains could
be cranked down to something reflecting the way people actually dress
in wintertime. And maybe a few people might close off some rooms in
their palatial houses (compared to any other part of the world). And no one needs to travel a
hundred miles to a fifth-grade hockey game, maybe others would
other adjustments. None of this would all be bad, though, of course,
adjustments are not indefinitely scalable. Still we have the
impacts of global warming and country debt load to
add to the mix of energy shortages. Both will probably make the
rebuilding of the coast
and energy infrastructure problematic.
survivor William Harris was reunited with "Miss Kitty" at Forrest
General Hospital in Hattiesburg, MI. Harris spent three days trapped in
his home by floodwaters standing on a chair holding "Miss Kitty."
Harris was rescued but needed to leave the cat behind.
A Noah's Wish
volunteer and Slidell Animal Control offier found the cat and brought
her to the hospital for a tearful reunion with Harris.
The NOLA hospital workers were the real heros of Katrina, who stayed
with patients as the floodwater swamped their medical facilities. In
comparison, FEMA, the residents and police force of Gretna, and the
Universal Health Services hospital administrators are the real Assholes
of Katrina. FEMA and Gretna officials have already been
condemned on this blog and elsewhere. The hospital workers were ordered to stay behind with the remaining patients, now they're losing their jobs. Story Link Charlene Gonzalez wanted to get out of town before Hurricane Katrina
hit, but because she was a nurse at the only hospital in this low-lying
waterside community, she would lose her job if she did not stay at her
Then, after Gonzalez, her husband and more than 100
other employees and their families spent days trapped by rising
floodwater, the Pennsylvania-based corporation that owns Chalmette
Medical Center, Universal Health Services, told its employees that they
could count on only two more weeks of pay.
"They left me to die," Gonzalez said. "And now nobody's even called to
say, 'Thank you,' nobody's even called to say, 'I'm sorry.' "
In the days following Katrina, southeastern Louisiana's hospitals
became isolated deathtraps as power failed, water rose and severely ill
patients could no longer survive. Officials have not accounted for all
the patients at the two-story Chalmette hospital, but staff members say
at least four died, three of whom were critically ill and had orders
that they not be resuscitated.
Several hours after the hurricane struck early Monday, Sewell lay down
in his first-floor office for a nap. He felt water on his back. Water
was pouring into the hospital, drowning the first-floor generators. The
waters that were beginning to rise in New Orleans were inundating St.
Bernard Parish. Within two hours, about 16 feet of water covered the
first floor, and rescue workers launched airboats off the second floor
terrace to retrieve neighbors stranded on their roofs.
next three days, up to 400 evacuees took shelter on the hospital's
second floor. Food and water were tightly rationed — meals consisted of
a scoop of cottage cheese, a few slices of fruit and two pieces of ham.
Staff desperately tried to keep conditions sanitary without a sewage
system and tried to break shatter-proof windows to let fresh air into
the scorching building.
By Wednesday, parish officials had
found a scrap of dry land to function as a triage center. Sheriff's
deputies, firefighters and civilians began to shuttle patients to the
parish jail, which sat on high ground. The next morning, the last of
the staff was evacuated by a National Guard helicopter. Sewell was on
the last flight off the hospital roof.
But it is Universal Health
Services' behavior after the flooding that has infuriated the residents
of St. Bernard Parish, a devastated suburb of 65,000 residents, where
every neighborhood was inundated. The area remains uninhabitable,
buried by mud. The hospital is severely damaged.
Universal say the anger is understandable after such a catastrophe, but
they contend they did everything they could for their patients and
employees. They say they tried to evacuate their hospital — albeit at
least a day after emergency officials say they urged it — but that it
was too late to get all the patients out. The company, which had $3.9
billion in revenue last year and says it is the nation's third-largest
hospital management corporation, says it is trying to place employees
with some of its 84 other facilities and has started a foundation to
aid those who lost their homes.
But Universal says on its
website that it is committed to paying through Saturday the 2,800
employees at its three New Orleans-area hospitals, including the 900 at
Chalmette. It says they will receive insurance coverage through at
least the end of October.
Both the director of emergency medicine and parish emergency
officials pleaded with hospital administrators to evacuate before the
storm. Patients and employees were trapped because of administrators'
"depraved indifference" (in the words of the parish's medical director
of emergency preparedness.) And as of Saturday, the people who risked
their lives unnecessarily won't even have a paycheck. At the end of
October, they will no longer have insurance.
Universal is taking lessons from the Republicans and the Bill Frist
insider stock sell-off, property, profit and the bottom line trump the needs
of people. It's about seeing people down and in trouble, and deciding to KICK them
instead of helping them.
As Jeanne at Body and Soul saysGreed is not going to rebuild the Gulf Coast for the benefit of anyone but the most greedy.
Carey, the buxom porn star seen below, ran for California governor and dined with President Bush at a GOP
fund-raiser, says despite her racy occupation, she's still a
Christian, and has her own aspirations of winning the presidency in the
There are plenty of sleazy aspects of the sex industry to keep me from
being it's defender other than the
obvious censorship and First Amendment issues. But I do know pandering
when I do see it, and I'm seeing it with Bush's Sex Police :
The FBI is joining the Bush administration's War on Porn. And it's looking for a few good agents.
Early last month, the bureau's Washington Field Office began
recruiting for a new anti-obscenity squad. Attached to the job posting
was a July 29 Electronic Communication from FBI headquarters to all 56
field offices, describing the initiative as "one of the top priorities"
of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and, by extension, of "the
Director." That would be FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.
Mischievous commentary began propagating around the water coolers
at 601 Fourth St. NW and its satellites, where the FBI's second-largest
field office concentrates on national security, high-technology crimes
and public corruption.
The new squad will divert eight agents, a supervisor and assorted
support staff to gather evidence against "manufacturers and purveyors"
of pornography -- not the kind exploiting children, but the kind that
depicts, and is marketed to, consenting adults.
"I guess this means we've won the war on terror," said one
exasperated FBI agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity because
poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing. "We
must not need any more resources for espionage."
Among friends and trusted colleagues, an experienced national security analyst said, "it's a running joke for us."
Let's see. We've got a leaky border in the Southwest. We've got a
resurgent Taliban and Al Qaeda who want to kill us. We've got the usual
serious crimes that the FBI normally handles and we never found out who mailed those anthrax letters. It's so nice to know even if we can't
afford Gulf Coast hurricane reconstruction, that we can spend Federal
money to allow FBI agents to troll internet porn sites.
The National Enquirer is just out with a bombshell. The tab
reports on its website today — for issues available in New York
tomorrow and nationwide on Friday — that George W. Bush is back on the
sauce, caught by Laura downing a shot after he learned of the Katrina
His worried wife yelled at him: "Stop, George."
Following the shocking incident, disclosed here for the first time,
Laura privately warned her husband against "falling off the wagon" and
vowed to travel with him more often so that she can keep an eye on
Dubya, the sources add.
"When the levees broke in New Orleans, it apparently made him reach
for a shot," said one insider. "He poured himself a Texas-sized shot of
straight whiskey and tossed it back. The First Lady was shocked and
shouted: "Stop George!"
"Laura gave him an ultimatum before, 'It's Jim Beam or me.' She
doesn't want to replay that nightmare -- especially now when it's such
tough going for her husband."
Actually, we sort of glad to hear the president is drinking again.
"Brownie, you’re doing a hell of job," makes a lot more sense coming
from a drunk man.
...Isn't it appalling that the only remnant of independent media
left in this country is the freeping National Enquirer?... To
paraphrase Johnnie Cochran:
"If the White House don't sue ... It must be true!"
This piece from Paul Craig Roberts the John M Olin
(manufacturer of explosive propellants extraordinaire) Fellow and
former Reagan Treasury official discussing the administration gang that couldn't shoot
The "cakewalk war" is now two and one-half years old. U.S.
casualties (dead and wounded) number 20,000. As 20,000 is the number of
Iraqi insurgents according to U.S. military commanders, each insurgent
is responsible for one U.S. casualty.
U.S. troops in Iraq number about 150,000. Obviously, U.S. troops
have not inflicted 150,000 casualties on the Iraqi insurgents. U.S.
troops have perhaps inflicted 150,000 casualties on the Iraqi civilian
population, primarily women and children who are the "collateral
damage" of the "righteous" and "virtuous" U.S. invasion that is
spreading civilian deaths all over Mesopotamia in the name of democracy
What could the U.S. have possibly done to give America a worse name than to invade Iraq and murder its citizens?
According to the Sept. 1 Manufacturing & Technology News, the
Government Accounting Office has reported that over the course of the
cakewalk war, the U.S. military's use of small caliber ammunition has
risen to 1.8 billion rounds.Think about that number. If there are
20,000 insurgents, it means U.S. troops have fired 90,000 rounds at
Very few have been hit. We don't know how many. To avoid the analogy
with Vietnam, until last week the U.S. military studiously avoided body
counts. If 2,000 insurgents have been killed, each death required
900,000 rounds of ammunition.
The combination of U.S. government-owned ammo plants and those of
U.S. commercial producers together cannot make bullets as fast as US
troops are firing them. The Bush administration has had to turn to
foreign producers such as Israel Military Industries. Think about that.
Hollowed-out U.S. industry cannot produce enough ammunition to defeat a
U.S. military analysts are beginning to wonder if the U.S. has been
defeated by the insurgency. Increasingly, Bush administration spokesmen
sound like "Baghdad Bob." On Sept. 19, the Washington Post reported
that US military spinmeister Major General Rick Lynch declared "great
success" against the insurgency that had just inflicted the worst
casualties of the war, including a three-day mortar attack on the
"safe" Green Zone.
the US, not knowing who or where the insurgents are, is just striking
blindly, creating a larger insurgency.
to news reports, US Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, predicted
that US troops will soon enter into Syria. Simultaneously, the Bush
administration is desperately trying to orchestrate a case that
it can use to attack Iran.
in Iraq, the White House moron intends to attack two more countries.
Just the kind of things to tweak one's curiosity when a story with words like "heavily edited," "FBI
document" and "election fraud" (not to mention "federal campaign
contribution laws" and "straw contributions") runs as a very obscure
News Brief in a relatively obscure paper. This needs research to
tie the links together, so consider this as an appetizer:
heavily edited version released Monday of an FBI document used to seize
records in an investigation into possible election fraud sheds little
additional light on the case.
The FBI is in the early stages of
a probe, led by the Justice Department’s Public Integrity section, of
allegations that companies with ties to the Catawba Indian Nation may
have violated federal campaign contributions laws. The allegations
include possible “straw” contributions made by one contributor in the
name of another.
Among the few new disclosures is that the
Washington, D.C.-based FBI agent who led an Aug. 31 search of New River
Management & Development, SPM (formerly Southern Property
Management) and Kapp Investments in Columbia specializes in cases of
public corruption and fraud against the government.
of agent Amylynn Miller’s 17-page affidavit, described as a “road map”
to the investigation, was entirely withheld from public disclosure by
U.S. Magistrate Judge Bristow Marchant.
My guess is that the name "Ralph Reed" and the axis of Abramoff-Delay-Tom Davis is lurking somewhere underneath
the black ink of the "road map" on these documents..
In the raucous French Quarter, about a half-mile from
where Nagin made his announcement, businesses were getting up and
running, and bars were serving cold beers to National Guardsmen and
A sign against US President George W. Bush and the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) is hung in front of a house in the Algiers
neighborhood of New Orleans, three weeks after hurricane Katrina hit
the city. Hurricane Katrina's relief supremo urged New Orleans to hold
back on plans to let tens of thousands of evacuees return home from
Monday, warning the storm-wrecked city remained unsafe.(AFP/Omar Torres)\ Poll: 43 Pct. of Evacuees Want to Go Home
Forty-three percent said they want to move back home when they
can. About the same number of evacuees — 44 percent — said they want to
permanently relocate, and most of them wanted to stay in Houston, said
the poll published Friday.
The slow response to the storm strained faith in government. Six
in 10 said the experience has made them feel that the government
doesn't care about people like them.
But their religious faith has been strengthened, eight in 10 said. And 90 percent were hopeful about the future.
More than half of their homes were destroyed. Two-thirds were renting their homes and a third were owners.
Almost three-fourths don't have insurance to cover their losses.
More than half didn't have health insurance, a usable credit
card with them, or a bank or checking account from which they could
Nearly three-fourths heard before the hurricane hit that an evacuation order had been given; a fourth did not.
More than two-thirds said they didn't evacuate because they
didn't realize how bad the storm and its aftermath would be. More than
half — 55 percent — said one factor was that they didn't have a car or
a way to leave. Source: San Francisco Chronicle
I just got off the phone with Mayor Ronnie Harris of
Gretna. I'm still reeling from the conversation, so all I can do is
report approximately how it went.
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the US and to the Republic for which
it stands. What this sounds like is that both the Gretnans, and every
other American around the country who defends them, have already given
up on the idea that we are 'one people' who are in the same boat
together. Others would say that the relief efforts is counter-prevailing evidence, which is also true.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Superdome
became a symbol of relief efforts gone wrong, a scene of heartbreaking
There is intense irony in the Superdome becoming the symbol of the
horrors of Hurricane Katrina. In New Orleans lore, it's a haunted
building - a cursed structure in this city that lives shoulder to
shoulder with its Cities of the Dead. Similar
to the Boston Red Sox
Bambino curse and the Chicago Cubs billy goat curse, the Saints teams,
that play in the Superdome, have always been very unlucky. The
football team has had to live through 'Black Sunday', 'Big Ben', the
Extra-point, Bungled drafts, the Ditka disaster, a total of three
futility and heartbreak.
And local lore is that the Superdome was cursed . . . a punishment for
desecrating this City of the Dead. Exorcists and voodoo priestesses
have been used to dispel the curse. That lore will no doubt expand into
an even more gruesome story for buggy drivers in the Quarter to enchant
Today's New Orleans visitors can't visit the old Girod Cemetery. Abandoned for years, its
iron caskets and bones were tossed up by excavation gear in the early
1970s as the crews moved in to build . . . the Superdome. Beneath the
now-shredded roof and the fetid stinking mess of excrement and blood
where tens of thousands huddled in storm and flood . .. and some died .
. . likely lie even more unexcavated bones.
What to do now with this building? No decision has been made about the future of the iconic city structure,
and the manager of the domed stadium expects it will take more than two months
to get a damage assessment and determine whether the Superdome should be
repaired or razed.
The last storm victims stuck at the Superdome climbed aboard evacuation
buses Saturday, leaving millions of dollars of damage behind -- a flooded field,
overflowing bathrooms, a sea of garbage up to 5 feet deep and a wretched
Three large holes marred the roof. In all, about 70 percent of the roof
failed. Water poured into the building during the storm, along with debris.
Elevators, escalators and ceiling tiles were damaged. Two inches of water
were on the field in some places, and the entire surface on which the New
Orleans Saints play their football games must be removed. There's damage to seats, bathrooms and other interior areas from the
thousands of evacuees who were stranded in the building. The Superdome
was used as a shelter of last resort for those who couldn't
scramble out of town ahead of Hurricane Katrina, but it wasn't equipped
supplies for those stuck there. Buses took days to arrive and finally
the people out.
The manager estimated repairs to the building would be a minimum $100 million,
but demolition and construction of a new stadium could cost between $500
million and $600 million. Finances aren't the only considerations though. There are psychological
ones, too, Thornton said.
Many likely will remember the Superdome as a haven for misery and despair,
but the building is also a 30-year-old icon to many New Orleanians that could be the
symbol of recovery from Katrina, he said.
"There are a lot of good memories in the Dome: Final Fours, papal visits.
There was a president nominated there,'' he said."Certainly, there are a lot
of good memories, as well as the bad memories.''
The Saints team during it's history has tried to ward off the curse by changing stadiums,
playing surfaces, coaches, players, uniforms, training camp sites, all without much success."
Something else the Saints have yet to change: Their name. And retired
kicker Tom Dempsey is among the legions familiar with the idea that
using Saints as the team's nickname, "pissed off the Almighty. But I'm
sure he would do worse than cause us to lose football games if he was
mad." Enough said.
"Believe it or not, we called the local Klan about 2 weeks ago, and
they actually admitted that they don't do anything anymore, because
they are broke...."
From UK Cartoonist Steve Bell The full-size version of the cartoon is here.
The woman serving as associate vice president for student services at Greenville (SC) Technical College"resigned" after multiple brain malfunctions in her job there. She's "numb" and "shocked" that calling children evacuated from the worst natural disaster in our country's history as "yard apes" -- in two separate briefings last week -- might be a teensy bit beyond the pale. (IslandPacket.com):
"I'm just numb and in a state of shock," Holcombe told The Associated Press.When asked if she meant the comment as a racial slur, she said: "Heavens, no." [Yes, I call all little darkies yard apes - doesn't everyone?]
message left for school president Tom Barton was not immediately
returned Wednesday. Barton said Tuesday that Holcombe had apologized in
a separate meeting. He said the comments were reported to him by staff
members who attended the meeting last Thursday. "We're going to rectify
the situation and make it very much known that we won't ever tolerate
that kind of situation - ever," Barton said.
Holcombe, associate vice president for student services, made the
comment at a briefing to inform college employees of their roles as
Greenville Tech bused hurricane refugees from the Palmetto Expo Center
for registration. "It's even hard for me to repeat because I can't imagine anybody that would make such an asinine statement," Barton said.
"It was stated that 'We will take these yellow buses and go pick up these yard apes.' My God, how bad can bad get?"
not like she just came to work," he said. "She's been here and she
knows our philosophy and she knows the institution. I just can't
imagine why she did it."
Holcombe said Wednesday she did not
want to discuss the incident because she didn't want "to add fuel to
the fire," but she said she looks forward to the day her side of the story can be told.
what might that side of the story look like? This, my friends, is an
example of someone that belongs with the knuckle-draggers in the White
Power movement. May I direct her to some internet message boards like
Powerpoint, Free Republic and Little Green Footballs, where
she can mingle with this breed of apes...
Via the LA Times,
I see that the Gretna City Council have passed a resolution supporting
their police chief's indefensible decision to block the Crescent City
Bridge, thus keeping tens of thousands of people trapped in and around
the Convention Center:
"This wasn't just one man's decision," Mayor Ronnie C. Harris said Thursday. "The whole community backs it."
"We say we're from New Orleans, but we're a suburb," he said. "The
reason we don't live there is we don't like the crime, the politics."
Ribaul was among Gretna residents who praised the decision to close
the bridge. "It makes you feel safe to live in a city like that," he
Some people say "It isn't about racism. It's about classicism". I don't think it matters whether
it's about racism, clasicism, or organometallic chemistry. That's all
secondary to the fact that it's about moral depravity and the lack of
humanity. It's about seeing people dying and deciding to kick them
instead of helping them.
..."The reason we don't live there is we don't like the crime, the politics." Majikthise tells a tale of a well-deserved ass-beating.
This 18-year-old genius wore to his high school a shirt on which a
Klansman is waving to a couple driving away in a "just married"-type
car...dragging two black men on nooses behind it. The interval between
his revealing of the shirt and his old-school beat-down was so short
that it would have to have been measured by special instruments.
It scares me that enough
people find this image endearing that someone is making and selling these
T-shirts. But it's very interesting how all racists these days know to avoid that label, and
very smart of them in some ways.
"I'm not racist or anything," he said. "It's just, some people I hate,
some people I don't get along with. And black people just happen to be
the ones because they think they're better than everyone else."
This kid might become a comedian and he sure sounds like a future Darwin Award winner.
working for McLennan County said they witnessed items
being removed by an unidentified individual and contacted their office
to inform commissioners. Upon arrival at Camp Casey, honor guard
members who had been at the
Crawford Peace House immediately called McLennan County Sheriff’s
Deputy R. Polansky to report the theft. Among the items stolen were
numerous crosses, Casey Sheehan’s boots, tents, and other items.
The 26-day vigil of Cindy Sheehan outside the Bush ranch ended with a
cross-country tour to spread the anti-war message. Camp Casey became a
semipermanent memorial, to remain until the Veterans For Peace
organization could establish a solemn removal ceremony.
remained at the Camp Casey Memorial following Sheehan’s departure were
the three original tents under a pavilion, crosses of the war dead,
signs, and personal items of the individuals involved. Members of
the guard filed a report with the McLennan County Sheriff Office.
The three honor guard volunteers diligently listed, item by item, the
belongings that were stolen from the site. Tents, pillows, signs,
books, a box of literature, sleeping bags, an air mattress, flowers,
plants, tarps, memorial crosses — even Casey Sheehan’s boots that stood
in front of the small wooden cross bearing his name. Virtually every
item that was at Camp Casey is gone.
Peace member and honor guard volunteer Paul R. McDaniel
said, “My role here was as caretaker. Now it’s gone.” Honor guard
volunteer Linda Foley cried as she said, “Casey’s boots are
gone! His boots are gone. You tell me that we’re not being respectful.
Those crosses are probably in a trash can somewhere right now! His
boots are gone. What kind of people would do that.” Honor guard member Sarah Oliver said, “His boots were one of the last
things that Cindy had of Casey. I can’t believe that anyone would take
something like that.”
McLennan County Commissioners road workers were in the area to post the
“No Parking” signs that had been approved by the Commissioners’ Court.
Those signs were on a 26-mile stretch of several roads. According to a
representative of the County Commissioners’ office, the act of removing
items from the ditch had nothing to do with the Commissioners and that
this was done by a “private individual.”
For Peace members will continue their support of Cindy Sheehan and her
efforts against the war in Iraq. There are actions planned on Sept. 24,
the day that Sheehan will arrive in Washington for a protest there.
Other demonstrations are planned by the group in Waco. The three
members of the Camp Casey Honor Guard stood in a circle at
the site of Casey Sheehan’s cross, held hands, and wept as McDaniels
offered a prayer of peace, got into their vehicles, and left Camp Casey.
When Saturday Night Live taped it's only live show outside of New York
it was in New Orleans during Mardi Gras and the opening of the show was
with Dan Ackroyd sitting atop that Andrew Jackson statue in this square. Maybe
Bush should have said... Live from New Orleans it's Thursday Night.
Picture from BagNewsNotes Bush is awkward, uncomfortable, his head thrust forward, looking simian
and deer-in-the-headlights at the same time. The deserted setting is
almost bizarre. Why speak about bringing aid to a million people when
there is no one there? One is reminded that Bush still cannot take the
risk, politically, of an encounter with the real-life New Orleanians
like Dr. Ben Marble who told the vice-president to "go fuck yourself, Mr. Cheney."
As everybody has seen for the past two weeks, NoLa is a complete and utter disaster zone where horrifying levels of
poverty have been exposed, and what does Bushie do? He chooses the one
place in the city reeking of affluence and priviledge, the place that
appears to be utterly untouched by the storm, to look crisp and clean
and tell us how hard he's working.
A carefully staged set, creating a sober mood, framing the serious work
ahead. A stage set lit just long enough for Bush's speech, according to
Brian Williams blog that's Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News, which
"I am duty-bound to report the talk of the New Orleans warehouse
district last night: there was rejoicing (well, there would have been
without the curfew, but the few people I saw on the streets were
excited) when the power came back on for blocks on end. Kevin Tibbles
was positively jubilant on the live update edition of Nightly News that
we fed to the West Coast. The mini-mart, long ago cleaned out by
looters, was nonetheless bathed in light, including the empty,
roped-off gas pumps. The motorcade route through the district was
partially lit no more than 30 minutes before POTUS drove through. And
yet last night, no more than an hour after the President departed, the
lights went out. The entire area was plunged into total darkness again,
to audible groans. It's enough to make some of the folks here who
witnessed it... jump to certain conclusions."
This was just one more "Potemkin Village" event.
The statue of Andrew Jackson can also have an unintentional
recollection of Jackson being the president who finished off the
Cherokee tribe by marching them on the "Trail of Tears". It is something
that perhaps Bush's handlers wouldn't want to remind us of since I
expect that the George Bush Trail of Fears will end in a forced
relocation of the many poor black New Orleanians to a government
reservation (read: unoccupied military bases.)
Picture fromKate A Blog
I am just really curious about what happened to Bush's head? Does
anyone else see how big his head is for his shoulders? It is especially
apparent in the still but even the video shows it to some extent.
Hey over at the Daily Kos someone noticed that his shirt is buttoned
wrong. Did he do that himself? The shirt is a disaster and the
buttons are wrong! He screwed that one
from the bottom up, not just the last few buttons, I just did it myself
to reassure myself it wasn't just a bad blurry pic.
The President's aides were afraid to tell him that he needed to cut his
vacation short and return to the White House. Maybe the same
aides were afraid to tell him that his shirt was all buttoned wrong.
Too funny. This and the bathroom note all in the same week.
Rove's Mayberry Machiavelli's Spoils System To Rebuild Gulf Coast
As Bush gives his "New Orleans will rise again" speech tonight, there are several key questions that should be kept front and center in the spin:
How are you paying the $200-300 billion reconstruction effort, Mr. Bush?
What companies and who will be doing the work?
What legal and social rollbacks are buried in the "reconstruction" program?
Without an independent study, how does Bush plan to fix the federal mistakes?
Let's all be clear about one thing.
As some have already suggested, and as President Bush has now put us on
notice, the Gulf Coast reconstruction effort is going to be run as a
patronage and political operation. That's not spin or hyperbole. They're saying it themselves.
The president has put Karl Rove in charge of the reconstruction,
with a budget of a couple hundred billion dollars. There's real
news to be reported -- how the president is approaching the
reconstruction, what plans he's putting in place right now. He's put his chief political operative
in charge of running the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast. Shouldn't
that be raising a lot of questions -- a man whose entire professional
experience is in dirty tricks, political arm-twisting, spin message framing and patronage?
Republicans said Karl Rove, the White House deputy chief of
staff and Mr. Bush's chief political adviser, was in charge of the
reconstruction effort, which reaches across many agencies of government
and includes the direct involvement of Alphonso R. Jackson, secretary
of housing and urban development.
Carl Rove runs politic operations and manages coalitions
through patronage. That's what he does. And that's what this is
about. He's also at the center of on-going criminal investigation
and the target of a much-rumored indictment. Everybody realizes that. Don't expect much if any discussion of this
point in the major papers or on the networks. It's shameless. But
that's beside the point.
This is a time when the country needs an opposition party. Every
Democrat should be hitting on this. Take the politics out of the
reconstruction effort. He put his chief spin-doctor in charge of the
biggest reconstruction and refugee crisis the country's probably ever
faced. That tells you all you need to know about his values. Nothing
that happened in the last couple weeks meant anything to him. And
nothing has changed. Same as Iraq. Same shit.
Then there's what Rep. John D. Dingell (D-MI) said in his statement
out this evening. "With a stroke of the pen, in one of his first
Katrina directives, the President cut the wages of the workers who will
undertake our largest reconstruction project since the Civil War."
That cuts right to the heart of the matter. The president's first
major initiatives were deep wage cuts for the people who will do the
There's plenty of blame to go all around. As Wanda Sykes points outon Jay Leno's show: You can't blame the blind man for wrecking your car when you're the one who gave him the keys."
BATON ROUGE, La. — Brandy Farris is house hunting in New Orleans. The real estate agent has $10 million in the bank, wired by an investor
who has instructed her to scoop up houses — any houses. "Flooding no
problem," Farris' newspaper ads advise. Her backer is a Miami
businessman who specializes in buying storm-ravaged property at a deep
discount, something that has paid dividends in hurricane-prone Florida.
But he may have a harder time finding bargains this time around.
In some ways, Hurricane Katrina seems to have taken a vibrant real
estate market and made it hotter. Large sections of the city are
underwater, but that's only increasing the demand for dry houses. And
in flooded areas, speculators are trying to buy properties on the
cheap, hoping that the redevelopment of New Orleans will start a boom.
This land rush has long-term implications in a city where many of the
poorest residents were flooded out. It raises the question of what sort
of housing — if any — will be available to those without a six-figure
salary. If New Orleans ends up a high-priced enclave, without a mix of
cultures, races and incomes, something vital may be lost.
"There's a public interest question here," said Ann Oliveri, a senior
vice president with the Urban Land Institute, a Washington think tank.
"You don't have to abdicate the city to whoever shows up." For
now, though, it's a seller's market, at least for habitable homes.
Two months ago, Steve Young bought a two-bedroom condo in New Orleans'
Garden District as an investment for $145,000. Last month, he was
transferred by Shell Oil to Houston. Last week, he put the condo on the
market. In a posting on Craigslist, an Internet classified
advertising site, Young asked $220,000. He got a dozen serious
expressions of interest — enough so he's no longer actively pursuing a
buyer. "I'm pretty positive the market's going to move up from here," he said.
So, to their surprise, are many others.
"I thought this storm was the end of the city," said Arthur Sterbcow,
president of New Orleans-based Latter & Blum, one of the biggest
real estate brokerages on the Gulf Coast. "If anyone had told
me two weeks ago that I'd be getting the calls and e-mails I'm getting,
I would have thought he was ready for the psychiatric ward."
Messages from those wanting to buy houses — whether intact or flooded —
and commercial properties are outrunning those who want to sell by a
factor of 20, said Sterbcow, who has set up temporary quarters in his
firm's Baton Rouge office. "We're pressing everyone into service
just to answer the phones," he said.
These eager would-be buyers may be drawing their inspiration from Lower
Manhattan, which proved a bonanza for those smart enough to buy condos
there immediately after the Sept. 11 attack. Of course, in
southern Louisiana, everything is hypothetical for the moment. The
storm destroyed many property records and displaced buyers, sellers,
agents and title firms, so no deals are actually being done. Insurance
companies haven't started to settle claims yet, much less determine
how, or whether, they will insure New Orleans in the future. The city
hasn't even been drained. But people are thinking ahead,
influenced by a single factor: the belief that hundreds of billions of
dollars in government aid is going to create a boomtown. The people
administering that aid will need somewhere to live, as will those doing
the rebuilding. So will employees of companies lured back to the area,
and the service people that attend to them. All this will lead to
what Sterbcow delicately calls a "reorientation" of the city.
"Everyone I talked to has said, 'Let's start with a clean sheet of
paper, fix it and get it right,' " he said. "Some of the homes here
were only held together by the termites." What the owners of
the city's estimated 150,000 flooded houses will get out of
"reorientation" is unclear, especially if the houses were in bad shape
Some black New Orleans residents say dourly that
they know what's coming. Melvin Gilbert, a maintenance crew chief in
his 60s, stood outside an elegant hotel in the French Quarter this week
and recalled how the neighborhood had been gentrified. He
remembered half a century ago when the French Quarter had a substantial
number of black residents. "Then the Caucasians started offering
them $10,000 for their homes," he
said. "Well, they only bought the places for $2,000, so they took it
and ran." The white residents restored the homes, which rose
quickly in value. Gilbert said he expected the same dynamic when the
floodwaters receded in the heavily black neighborhoods east of downtown.
The question of who should own New Orleans is already sparking tension.
The first posting seeking New Orleans property "in any condition or
location" was placed on Craigslist on Aug. 29, while the storm still
raged. With small variation, it was repeated numerous times over the
next week. Some readers were infuriated. "Do you
read/watch/understand any of the news broadcasts coming from the city?
Or do you just go to 'Cashing in on Desperation, Despondency, and
Depression: How to Make a Zillion Dollars investing in Disaster Area
Real Estate' seminars. Sheeeeeesh!" wrote one.
The process of
tracking down owners of deluged houses is greatly slowed by the absence
of records. It's not going to be easy to find these people, said
Farris, the Baton Rouge real estate agent. What would she pay for
a ruined house? Farris demurred, saying it was too early to tell,
but probably only the
value of the land, if that. Though the French Quarter may be back to
life within months, outlying districts such as North Bywater and the
Lower 9th Ward will take years, if they ever do. Investors might hope
this is the equivalent of buying land on the outskirts of a boomtown,
but it's not a guarantee.
For one thing, there are already
proposals to convert certain flooded areas — including some
water-logged neighborhoods — into parks. Under the Supreme Court's
recent ruling broadening the definition of eminent domain, speculators
could be forced to sell their properties to the government. That
would be a great outcome for many homeowners in the parishes south
and east of New Orleans that bore the brunt of the storm.
months ago, Todd La Valla, a Re/Max real estate agent, bought a
four-unit apartment building for $59,000 in the community of Buras, an
unincorporated hamlet in Plaquemines Parish 55 miles southeast of New
Orleans. The tenants evacuated in the storm, or at least La
Valla hopes they did. He's sure the building is gone too, like just
about everything else in the area. La Valla had no insurance, which
means his $10,000 investment is probably a complete loss. Yet where there's disaster, there's opportunity.
"I've had calls from investors in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York
looking to buy property," La Valla said. "This is going to be hard for
the poor, the elderly, those that didn't have insurance. But it's going
to be great for some people."
At first, Lucia Blacksher thought
she was in the bad news group. In June, she and her boyfriend put their
entire savings, about $35,000, into their dream house — a century-old
shotgun Victorian in the New Orleans neighborhood of Mid-City. When the
storm came, they fled to Blacksher's parents' house in Birmingham,
Ala. The house, which cost $225,000, is partially flooded. Her
Virginian who figures he's seen enough of hurricanes to last him the
rest of his life, wants to move. The insurance company won't return
calls. Last week, Blacksher was worried she would lose her
beloved house either to foreclosure or a forced sale. One of those
bottom-feeders would get it. She was more optimistic Wednesday. Somehow, she would get through this.
"Because the house survived the storm, it will be even more valuable,"
she said. "You could offer me $300,000 and I wouldn't take it. No way."
KENNER, La. (AP) Merlene Maten undoubtedly stands out in the prison
where she has been held since Hurricane Katrina. Her offense? Police say the grandmother from New Orleans took $63.50 in goods from a looted deli the day after Katrina struck.
Family and eyewitnesses have a different story. They say Maten is an
innocent woman who had gone to her car to get some sausage to eat but
was wrongly handcuffed by tired, frustrated officers who couldn't catch
younger looters at a nearby store.
Not even the deli owner wants her charged.
"There were people looting, but she wasn't one of them. Instead of
chasing after people who were running, they grabbed the old lady was
who walking," said Elois Short, Maten's daughter, who works in traffic
enforcement for neighboring New Orleans police.Short has enlisted the help of the AARP, the senior citizens lobby,
the Federal Emergency Management Agency legal assistance office, made
up of volunteer lawyers, and a private attorney to get her mother
freed. But the task has been complicated.
Maten has been moved from a parish jail to a state prison an hour
away. And the judge who set $50,000 bail by phone 100 times the
maximum $500 fine under state law for minor thefts has not returned a
week's worth of calls, her lawyer said.
"She has slipped through the cracks and the wheels of justice have
stopped turning for Mrs. Maten," attorney Daniel Beckett Becnel III
said.The family has not been able to visit her during her two weeks of
confinement and was allowed to talk to her by phone for only a few
minutes. The state prison declined to let The Associated Press
interview Maten by phone, demanding a written request. Becnel, family members and witnesses said police snared Maten, a
diabetic, in the parking lot of a hotel where she had fled the
floodwaters that swamped her New Orleans home. She had paid for her
room with a credit card and dutifully followed authorities'
instructions to pack extra food, they said.She was retrieving a piece of sausage from the cooler in her car and
planned to grill it so she and her frail 80-year-old husband, Alfred,
could eat, according to her defenders. The parking lot was almost a
block from the looted store, they said.
"That woman was never, never in that store," said Naisha Williams,
23, a New Orleans bank security guard who said she witnessed the
episode and is distantly related to Maten. "If they want to take it to
court, I'm willing to get on the stand and tell them the police is
wrong. She is totally innocent." Police Capt. Steve Carraway said Wednesday that Maten was arrested
in the checkout area of a small store next to police headquarters. The arrest report is short and assigns the value of goods Maten is
alleged to have taken at $63.50. The items are not identified.
"When officers arrived, the arrestee was observed leaving the scene
with items from the store. The store window doors were observed smashed
out, where entry to the store was made," police reported.
Williams, one of the witnesses, said Maten was physically unable to get inside the store Ã¢â‚¬â€� even if she had wanted to.
"She is not capable of even looting it the way the store was at the
time. You had to jump over a counter, and she is a diabetic and
weak-muscled and wouldn't be able to get herself over it. And she
couldn't afford to step on broken glass," Williams said.
Williams said she tried to explain that to police but was brushed off.
"They didn't want to hear it. They put handcuffs on her. They just
said we were emotional. It was basically, `Just shut up,'" she said.
Maten's husband was left abandoned at the hotel, until family
members picked him up. He is too upset to be interviewed, the family
Christine Bishop, the owner of the Check In Check Out deli, said
that she was angry that looters had damaged her store, but that she
would not want anyone charged with a crime if the person had simply
tried to get food to survive. "Especially not a 70-year-old woman,"
Short, Maten's daughter, did not witness the incident. She said her
mother has led a law-abiding life. She is a deaconess at the
Resurrection Mission Baptist Church and won an award for her decades of
service at a hospital, Short said.
"Why would someone loot when they had a car with a refrigerator and
had paid with a credit card at the hotel? The circumstances defy the
theory of looting," said Becnel, Maten's lawyer.
Robin Peak, a legal analyst from AARP who assisted Maten's family,
declined to discuss the case. She wrote colleagues an e-mail earlier
this week about the elderly woman's plight. It was titled, "50K: The
Price of Freedom in New Orleans."
09/18/05 UPDATE:Then, hours after her plight was featured in an Associated Press story,
a local judge on Thursday ordered Maten freed on her own recognizance,
setting up a sweet reunion with her daughter, grandchildren and
80-year-old husband. It was unclear whether she would released Thursday
evening or Friday.
Maten must still face the looting charge at a court hearing in October.
But the family, armed with several witnesses, intends to prove she was
wrongly arrested outside the hotel in this New Orlean's suburb where
she had fled Katrina's floodwaters.
Photo courtesy of Yahoo
U.S. President George W. Bush writes a note to Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice during a Security Council meeting at the 2005 World
Summit and 60th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York
September 14, 2005. World leaders are exploring ways to revitalize the
United Nations at a summit on Wednesday but their blueprint falls short
of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's vision of freedom from want,
persecution and war. REUTERS/Rick Wilking Email Photo Print Photo
I'm sure that will go up on the WH website immediately, and be stored
in the archives right next to the "Let Freedom Reign!" note. Great
"I think I may need to take a bathroom break?" Question mark? WTF? Is
he unaware of whether or not he needs to go potty or not?
According to dubious source, the television-viewing public should feel shock and awe this morning to discover that The Apprentice will feature thirty-one-year-old self-made millionaire, Alla Wartenberg, who was once . . . a stripper. E! Online
reports that Wartenberg’s business savvy began when she discovered the
goldmine of the strip joint, performing under the name Ecstasy at Las
Vegas’s Palamino Club.
Legitimately troubling, however, is Wartenberg’s alleged relationship
with client Robert Acremant, a convicted murderer. Acremant was in love
with Alla and was known to shell out $500-$1,500 a night to the
dexterous dancer, though she says
that she only "liked him as a client. . . [it was a] platonic
friendship." In fact, in order to maintain the financial stability he
needed to stay in Alla’s life, in 1995 Acremant robbed and killed two
women in Oregon. Later, he pulled a stun gun on Alla when she told him
she didn’t love him. She was called to testify in his 2002 trial.
Acremant was convicted of murder in Oregon and California (where he
killed a young man in another mangled robbery attempt) and left Alla
"emotionally injured and scarred for life."
established a salon and spa chain and was one of eighteen hand-picked
contestants for the fourth season of "The Apprentice." Alla’s bio
is fairly vanilla and describes her business feats, such as purchasing
her first building at the age of nineteen. Although major news outlets
are scrambling for the stripper story, they seem to have overlooked the
truly debaucherous aspect of her character—she cites The Notebook as a favorite movie.
Knight Ridder is now suggesting that
DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff was as responsible as FEMA chief Mike
Brown for the slow response to Hurricane Katrina.
The federal official with the power to
mobilize a massive federal response to Hurricane Katrina was Homeland
Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, not the former FEMA chief who was
relieved of his duties and resigned earlier this week, federal
documents reviewed by Knight Ridder show.
Even before the storm struck the Gulf Coast, Chertoff could
have ordered federal agencies into action without any request from
state or local officials. Federal Emergency Management Agency chief
Michael Brown had only limited authority to do so until about 36 hours
after the storm hit, when Chertoff designated him as the "principal
federal official" in charge of the storm.
As thousands of hurricane victims went without food, water and
shelter in the days after Katrina's early morning Aug. 29 landfall,
critics assailed Brown for being responsible for delays that might have
cost hundreds of lives.
But Chertoff - not Brown - was in charge of managing the
national response to a catastrophic disaster, according to the National
Response Plan, the federal government's blueprint for how agencies will
handle major natural disasters or terrorist incidents. An order issued
by President Bush in 2003 also assigned that responsibility to the
homeland security director.
But according to a memo obtained by Knight Ridder, Chertoff
didn't shift that power to Brown until late afternoon or evening on
Aug. 30, about 36 hours after Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi.
That same memo suggests that Chertoff may have been confused about his
lead role in disaster response and that of his department.
White House and homeland security officials wouldn't explain
why Chertoff waited some 36 hours to declare Katrina an incident of
national significance and why he didn't immediately begin to direct the
federal response from the moment on Aug. 27 when the National Hurricane
Center predicted that Katrina would strike the Gulf Coast with
catastrophic force in 48 hours. Nor would they explain why Bush felt
the need to appoint a separate task force.
Chertoff's hesitation and Bush's creation of a task force both
appear to contradict the National Response Plan and previous
presidential directives that specify what the secretary of homeland
security is assigned to do without further presidential orders. The
goal of the National Response Plan is to provide a streamlined
framework for swiftly delivering federal assistance when a disaster -
caused by terrorists or Mother Nature - is too big for local officials
The Chertoff memo indicates that the response to Katrina wasn't
left to disaster professionals, but was run out of the White House,
said George Haddow, a former deputy chief of staff at FEMA during the
Clinton administration and the co-author of an emergency management
"It shows that the president is running the disaster, the White
House is running it as opposed to Brown or Chertoff," Haddow said.
Brown "is a convenient fall guy. He's not the problem really. The
problem is a system that was marginalized."
Chertoff's Aug. 30 memo came on the heels of a memo from Brown,
written several hours after Katrina made landfall, showing that the
FEMA director was waiting for Chertoff's permission to get help from
others within the massive department. In that memo, first obtained by
the Associated Press last week, Brown requested Chertoff's "assistance
to make available DHS employees willing to deploy as soon as possible."
It asked for another 1,000 homeland security workers within two days
and 2,000 within a week.
Something else went wrong, he suspects. The new National
Response Plan isn't all that different from the previous plan, called
the Federal Response Plan.
"Our history of responding to major disasters has been one
where we've done it well," Byrne said. "We need to figure out why this
one didn't go as well as the others did. It's shocking to me."
Shaquille O'Neal provided an assist to police over the weekend,
trailing a man who allegedly assaulted a gay couple before alerting an
The 7-foot-1 Miami Heat center, who is
in the process of becoming a Miami Beach, Fla. reserve officer, was
driving on South Beach around 3 a.m. Sunday. He saw a passenger in a
car yell anti-gay slurs at the couple, who were walking, said Bobby
Hernandez, a spokesman for the Miami Beach Police Department.
man then got out of the car and threw a bottle, hitting one of the
pedestrians, who was not seriously hurt. The man got back in the car,
which sped off. O'Neal followed, flagging down an officer who made an
arrest, Hernandez said.
An 18-year-old man was arrested on
charges of aggravated assault and assault with a deadly weapon. The
driver of the car was not charged.
O'Neal, who hopes to be
a police chief or county sheriff one day, was already being fitted for
his Miami Beach police uniform before he helped the police out.
this incident I don't want to be credited as an individual who does
police work," O'Neal said in a statement. "I want to be credited as a
Miami Beach police officer."
AP's editors help the Preznit out by writing the headline—except that the headline doesn't match what Bush actually said:
Bush Takes Full Responsiblity for Katrina Blunders (via AP)
Interesting, if true. But read on:
"To the extent the federal government didn't fully do it's job right, I take responsibility," Bush said.
Omigod! Bush just executed an incredibletriple weasel--flawlessly!
look at those weasel words: (1)"To the extent," (2) "fully," and (3)
"right"! What a performance! That man can spin! If I were on the
judge's panel, I'd give it a 9.0, except I'd have to take off a couple
tenths on style, for the ears, that narrowness between the eyes, the smirk, and
that weird lump on his back...
And kudos to the AP editors for helping Him out with that "full" in the headline, that's not actually part of His remarks...
Rating Bush's deceptions has evolved to an art form.
Of course, Bush and the Republicans believe that the Federal
government's "job" is to prove to Americans that the 'federal
government', not just the Republican goverance, is the problem. So
by those standards, Bush can feel a great deal of pride in the "job"
Bush himself asks, "Are we capable of dealing with a severe attack? That's a very
important question ...."
If Bush doesn't KNOW the answer to that, after four years and billions
of dollars spent, and AFTER watching the governmental effort for the
past two weeks... THEN I THINK IT'S CLEAR, THE ANSWER IS NO!
In the past few weeks, the Church of the Flying
Spaghetti Monster has become perhaps the world's fastest-growing
"religion" and maybe its most improbable. While no one can be sure of
the exact numbers of "Pastafarians", as acolytes are called, they may
number in the millions.
All of which has come as
something of a shock to Bobby Henderson, an unemployed physics graduate
from Oregon. According to Mr Henderson, the FSM - as His Noodliness is
sometimes known - "revealed himself to me in a dream". Like most
mysterious prophets, Mr Henderson communicates with the outside world
only occasionally, although this may be more to do with having only one
telephoneline to his home in the small town of Corvallis and a Google
e-mail account swamped by hundreds of messages every day.
But while the "theory" relies on the existence of a god, it does not
specify which god. It was only when the state of Kansas announced
earlier this year that its schools could teach ID in science classes
that the Flying Spaghetti Monster made Himself widely known.
In an open letter to the Kansas Board of Education in July, Mr
Henderson wrote: "I think we can all agree that it is important for
students to hear multiple viewpoints so they can choose for themselves
the theory that makes the most sense to them. I am concerned, however,
that students will only hear one theory of Intelligent Design."
Barely three months later, Mr Henderson has discovered
that he really has created a monster. His website - www.venganza.org -
receives as many as two million hits a day. It has been featured on
several widely read blogs, one of which is offering a $1 million
(£545,000) prize for "proof" that the Flying Spaghetti Monster does not
Some of the faithful have created images of
their Divine Saucy Leader, including one that reproduces Michelangelo's
Creation of Adam, but with the image of the creator replaced by the
Flying Spaghetti Monster.
speak of the rapture that they felt when first touched by "His Noodly
Appendage" or offer prayers that end with the word "ramen" - as in the
Japanese noodle - rather than "amen". Others may have been drawn by a
vision of Heaven that includes a stripper factory and a beer volcano
and what its founder calls the church's "flimsy moral standards".
Of the thousands of e-mails Mr Henderson has received, he says that
about 95 per cent have been supportive, while the other five per cent
"have said I am going to hell".
Meanwhile, true believers can now order souvenirs from the Church of
the Flying Spaghetti Monster website, including T-shirts from $13.99
(£7.50), a coffee mug and a car bumper sticker. Mr Henderson says the
proceeds may be used to fund the campaign or, in the best tradition of
dubious cult leaders, to buy a yacht that he has long fancied. If the
sales really take off, it may also help him avoid having to take up his
only job offer so far since leaving Oregon State University -
programming slot machines in Las Vegas.
As for whether there will still be Pastafarians in 2,000 years from
now, there are already signs of trouble ahead. Some of the faithful
question whether their Noodly Saviour might be made of linguini rather
than spaghetti. Such people, Mr Henderson says, "give me a headache".
Newsweek has just published
a horrifying story entitled "How Bush Blew It."
This is must-read for
everyone, and this story must be shared widely. Bush should resign,
or we should have a California style Recall election now. He is the
worst president in modern history, just look at his record. He has lost
all of our allies, the surplus, (2) trade centers, (4) airliners, and a
whole American city. He should decide that his work here is done
and move on.
What we learn in the Newsweek story.
Bush's aides are SO afraid of telling him bad news that they
practically drew straws to see who would have to tell him, on TUESDAY,
that the hurricane was so bad he'd need to end his vacation and come back to the White House.
Even on Thursday Day 4 AFTER the storm, Bush didn't realize how bad the storm was:
The reality, say several aides who did not wish to be quoted because it might displease the president, did not really sink in until Thursday night.
Some White House staffers were watching the evening news and thought
the president needed to see the horrific reports coming out of New
Orleans. Counselor Bartlett made up a DVD of the newscasts so Bush
could see them in their entirety as he flew down to the Gulf Coast the
next morning on Air Force One. But did he even watch that DVD?
He was going to watch the weekly news
Friday Day 5 for the FIRST TIME to get a sense of how bad things were.
3. No one wanted to tell Bush the truth
Hurricane Katrina struck, it appears there was no one to tell President
Bush the plain truth: that the state and local governments had been
overwhelmed, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was
not up to the job and that the military, the only institution with the
resources to cope, couldn't act without a declaration from the
president overriding all other authority.
Washington just wouldn't listen
man in a blue FEMA windbreaker arrived to brief them on his helicopter
flyover of the city. He seemed unfamiliar with the city's geography,
but he did have a sense of urgency. "Water as far as the eye can see,"
he said. It was worse than Hurricanes Andrew in 1992 and Camille in
1969. "I need to call Washington," he said.... The FEMA man found a
phone, but he had trouble reaching senior officials in Washington. When
he finally got someone on the line, the city officials kept hearing him
say, "You don't understand, you don't understand."
8pm on Monday, the day of the storm, the governor asked Bush for everything he's got.
Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, a motherly but steely figure known by the
nickname Queen Bee, knew that she needed help. But she wasn't quite
sure what. At about 8 p.m., she spoke to Bush. "Mr. President," she
said, "we need your help. We need everything you've got."
Instead of helping New Orleans Monday night, Day 1 Bush went to bed.
are a number of steps Bush could have taken, short of a full-scale
federal takeover, like ordering the military to take over the pitiful
and (by now) largely broken emergency communications system throughout
the region. But the president, who was in San Diego preparing to give a
speech the next day on the war in Iraq, went to bed.
9. Wednesday morning, Day 3 while Bush was STILL on vacation, he wouldn't take the governor's call for help
Wednesday morning, Blanco tried to call Bush. She was transferred
around the White House for a while until she ended up on the phone with
Fran Townsend, the president's Homeland Security adviser, who tried to
reassure her but did not have many specifics.
Bush wanted to hear good news, so that's all they gave him until Friday Day 5.
news rarely flows up in bureaucracies. For most of those first few
days, Bush was hearing what a good job the Feds were doing. Bush likes
"metrics," numbers to measure performance, so the bureaucrats gave him
reassuring statistics. At a press availability on Wednesday, Bush duly
rattled them off: there were 400 trucks transporting 5.4 million meals
and 13.4 million liters of water along with 3.4 million pounds of ice.
Yet it was obvious to anyone watching TV that New Orleans had turned
into a Third World hellhole.
The denial and the frustration finally collided aboard Air Force One on Friday.
It took local officials ripping Bush a new one on Friday for him to finally wake up - a full 5 days after the disaster.
denial and the frustration finally collided aboard Air Force One on
Friday. As the president's plane sat on the tarmac at New Orleans
airport, a confrontation occurred that was described by one participant
as "as blunt as you can get without the Secret Service getting
involved." Governor Blanco was there, along with various congressmen
and senators and Mayor Nagin
Americans are now the kids stuck in the back seat of the station wagon,
while their drunken father figure preznit, and the trailer trash whore Republican congress he picked up along the way, take
them on a wild high speed ride through town. The kids realize they made
a mistake getting in the car in the first place, but now they are going
90 miles an hour and the doors are locked. They have watched in horror
as dad has run over a few people along the way, and are praying they will run out of gas or that
the cops will pull them over before dad runs the wagon off the cliff.
Constraints on Pentagon's Freedom Walk. Event Remembering 9/11,
Troops to Be Kept 'Sterile,' Limited to Preregistered
Organizers of the Pentagon's 9/11 memorial Freedom Walk on Sunday are
taking extraordinary measures to control participation in the march and
concert, with the route fenced off and lined with police and the event
closed to anyone who does not register online by 4:30 p.m. today.
The U.S. Park Police will have its entire Washington force of several
hundred on duty and along the route, on foot, horseback and motorcycles
and monitoring from above by helicopter. Officers are prepared to
arrest anyone who joins the march or concert without a credential and
refuses to leave, said Park Police Chief Dwight E. Pettiford.
The event, the America Supports You Freedom Walk, is billed as a
memorial to victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks and a show of support
for those serving in the military, topped off with a concert by country
singer Clint Black, known for his pro-troops anthem, "Iraq and Roll."
Organizers said they expect 3,000 to 10,000 participants.
What's unusual for an event on the Mall is the combination of fences, required preregistration and the threat of arrest.
Police officials said security and safety were concerns, especially
because Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld will participate in
some of the day's events. They said they have approved a permit for a
small group of protesters that plans to stand along Independence Avenue.
The Washington Post and other corporate entities initially signed on as
co-sponsors. But critics from within the newspaper and from the antiwar
movement said partnering with the Pentagon raised questions about
objectivity, and three weeks ago The Post pulled its co-sponsorship.
John Pike, who has been a defense analyst in Washington for 25 years
and runs GlobalSecurity.org, told Knight Ridder, referring to the
Pentagon rally, "I've never heard of such a thing." Others worried that
it would re-kindle attempts to link 9/11 to the war in Iraq.
Clint Black's song, "Iraq and I Roll," also includes these lyrics:
NOW YOU CAN COME ALONG
OR YOU CAN STAY BEHIND
OR YOU CAN GET OUT OF THE WAY
BUT OUR TROOPS TAKE OUT THE GARBAGE
FOR THE GOOD OLD U.S.A.
YOU CAN WAVE YOUR SIGNS IN PROTEST
AGAINST AMERICA TAKING STANDS
THE STANDS AMERICA'S TAKEN
ARE THE REASON THAT YOU CAN
SOME SEE THIS IN BLACK AND WHITE
OTHERS ONLY GRAY
WE'RE NOT BEGGING FOR A FIGHT
NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY
WE HAVE THE RESOLUTION
THAT SHOULD PUT'EM ALL TO SHAME
BUT IT'S A DIFFERENT KIND OF DEADLINE
WHEN I'M CALLED IN THE GAME
I PRAY FOR PEACE, PREPARE FOR WAR
AND I NEVER WILL FORGET
THERE'S NO PRICE TOO HIGH FOR FREEDOM
SO BE CAREFUL WHERE YOU TREAD
IT MIGHT BE A SMART BOMB
THEY FIND STUPID PEOPLE TOO
AND IF YOU STAND WITH THE LIKES OF SADDAM
ONE JUST MIGHT FIND YOU
I'VE GOT INFRARED, I'VE GOT GPS AND I'VE GOT THAT GOOD OLD FASHIONED LEAD
THERE'S NO PRICE TOO HIGH FOR FREEDOM
SO BE CAREFUL WHERE YOU TREAD
The shock and awe of the last two weeks is too fresh in everyone's minds,
and the Katrina cleanup is just barely starting to get underway. But
what is beyond reprehensible is that this is a PARTY. A BBQ. A CONCERT.
That's what we do on 4th of July to CELEBRATE the signing of the
Declaration of Independance.
We should NEVER be CELEBRATING what
happened on 9/11. NOT EVER. It should be a National Day of MOURNING.
There should be no parties, no BBQs, no pro-war concerts sponsered by the Pentagon. Period.
For the past couple of days more stories
are circulating about police preventing people from leaving New Orleans
after Katrina hit, but many people didn't pay much attention to it.
Big mistake. Not only is the story true, it's worse than you can imagine.
If you happened to see and hear Geraldo Rivera, reporting for Fox News, sort of exposed this issue in
his reporting. He was at the Convention Center and was emotional and
crying at the miserable conditions he saw there. He kept saying
something like, "Why don't they just open the doors and let the people
leave this horrible place?" Too bad he (or any other reporter) did not
dig further and connect the dots. Because, obviously, the answer was
that the "conventioneers" were prevented from leaving the Convention
Center and/or entering a neighboring city. They stayed there because
they could not go to any other place. It wasn't New Orleans cops keeping people in, it was cops from other cities keeping people out:
"We shut down the bridge," Arthur Lawson, chief of the City of
Gretna Police Department, confirmed to United Press International.
...The bridge in question — the Crescent City Connection — is the
major artery heading west out of New Orleans across the Mississippi
Lawson said that once the storm itself had passed Monday, police
from Gretna City, Jefferson Parrish and the Louisiana State Crescent
City Connection Police Department closed to foot traffic the three
access points to the bridge closest to the West Bank of the river.
...."If we had opened the bridge, our city would have looked like New Orleans does now: looted, burned and pillaged."
But -- in an example of the chaos that continued to beset survivors of
the storm long after it had passed -- even as Lawson's men were closing
the bridge, authorities in New Orleans were telling people that it was
only way out of the city.
"The only way people can leave the city of New Orleans is to
get on (the) Crescent City Connection ... authorities said," reads a
Tuesday morning posting on the Web site of the New Orleans
Times-Picayune newspaper, which kept reporting through the storm and
the ruinous flooding that followed.
Similar announcements appeared on the Web site of local radio station
WDSU and other local news sources. "Evidently, someone on the
ground (in New Orleans) was
telling people there was transport here, or food or shelter," said
Lawson. "There wasn't."
"We were not contacted by anyone" about the instructions
being given to survivors to use the bridge to get out of town, he said.
Kevin Drum says,"This story exposes a calculated savagery far worse than anything that
happened in New Orleans. Stuff like this makes me fear for the future
of the human race."
It's amazing how our worldview can be reshaped in a matter of a couple
weeks isn't it. Before Katrina I used to think that civilization
was a mighty pillar, a force that held humans up above the rest our dna
based peer organisms. While there have been many cases of
down-and-dirty racism throughout this whole debacle--the core issue has
been the miserable way in which we devalue and ignore the poor, poverty
affects blacks disproportionately. This nation seems to think that being poor isn't punishment enough, we
have to abuse and hate them, too.
Now I realize that civilization doesn't work from the bottom up and
never has. It is merely a thin veneer, a shining patina over a boiling
cauldron of feral selfish rage. No matter how far we think we have come
from our roots in the primordial soup, we are still so close. All it
takes is one little gust of wind, like this, to blow it all down
and expose the raw
evil inside us all. This was the worst disaster to hit the US,
and without doubt the last week was the very worst of times, but I can
say some individual stories show, that as bad as it was, some people on
the ground could see this process repeated in the aftermath of Katrina.
When individuals had to fight to find food or water, it meant looking
out for yourself only. You had to do whatever it took to find water for
your kids or food for your parents. When these basic needs were met,
people began to look out for each other, working together and
constructing a community that some even called tribes.
Trying not to take my eye off the main ball, major American cities
are targets for any WMD terrorist attack. Does this mean all the
expressways would be blockaded by suburban police to keep city
residents from escaping the center city that was nuked with a dirty
bomb? This is kind of a pressing question.
Qaeda's planning a series of spectacular terrorist strikes in October,
targeting American interests as well as U.S. allies in Europe and the
Middle East. The plans are said to be coordinated by Osama bin Laden
and his top lieutenant in Iraq - Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- and are the
subject of a non-public report issued by terrorism experts this week. Report warns of terrorists Great Ramadan Offensive
Here's yet another fine example of what Republicans must mean when they talk about compassionate conservatism (WSJ, subscription required), though more along the lines of the Dennis Hastert, Trent Lott and Barbara Bush comments.
Two shaky House incumbents, Democrat Melancon and
Republican Boustany, hope response to hurricane rallies voters behind
them. House Republican campaign chief Reynolds touts chance to market
conservative social-policy solutions; Rep. Baker of Baton Rouge is overheard telling lobbyists: "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."
explains later he didn't intend flippancy but has long wanted to
improve low-income housing. (emphasis added)
How often does a politico try to explain away a statement he denies
making? By saying that he didn't mean to be flippant, he admitted
making the statement. Is that another way of saying "I didn't know anyone else was listening?" Just like Trent Lott, Dick Armey and others, this is just another example of how these people really talk and think when they think they're in safe, sympathetic company.
Maybe a good way to clean up public housing is to raise the minimum
wage and provide some decently paying jobs. I'm ashamed to think I
belong to the same species as Representative Baker. He has no business
being in a position of power with this kind of callous attitude. It's
beyond disgusting. Pathological is closer to the truth. Also not
to slight President Bush, who like kicking an injured dog, issued an
executive order to suspend the minimum wage pay for the grunts who will
actually be doing the clean-up work in the disaster areas.
Minimum wage rates have nothing to do with the billions that
Halliburton and other
companies the government may hire to do the cleanup and reconstruction
will receive to pay their executives and retirees (like Cheney) who
will make out like bandits again.
This nation seems to think that being poor isn't punishment enough, we
have to hate them, too. There never was any Cadillac driving welfare
mother... but you know people loved to hear it. Jesus was a socialist.
These rich pig empathy-less social darwinist "conservatives" are going
to be really suprised when they find themselves in hell.
A TIME investigation reveals discrepancies in the FEMA chief's official biographies
Now, an investigation
by TIME has found discrepancies in his online legal profile and
official bio, including a description of Brown released by the White
House at the time of his nomination in 2001 to the job as deputy chief
of FEMA. (Brown became Director of FEMA, succeeding Allbaugh, in 2003.)
joining FEMA, his only previous stint in emergency management,
according to his bio posted on FEMA's website, was "serving as an
assistant city manager with emergency services oversight." The White
House press release from 2001 stated that Brown worked for the city of
Edmond, Okla., from 1975 to 1978 "overseeing the emergency services
division." In fact, according to Claudia Deakins, head of public
relations for the city of Edmond, Brown
was an "assistant to the city manager" from 1977 to 1980, not a manager
himself, and had no authority over other employees. "The assistant is
more like an intern," she told TIME. "Department heads did not
report to him." Brown did do a good job at his humble position,
however, according to his boss. "Yes. Mike Brown worked for me. He was
my administrative assistant. He was a student at Central State
University," recalls former city manager Bill Dashner. "Mike used to
handle a lot of details. Every now and again I'd ask him to write me a
speech. He was very loyal. He was always on time. He always had on a
suit and a starched white shirt."
Brown's lack of experience in emergency management isn't the only
apparent bit of padding on his resume, which raises questions about how
rigorously the White House vetted him before putting him in charge of
FEMA. Under the "honors and awards" section of his profile at FindLaw.com
-- which is information on the legal website provided by lawyers or
their offices--he lists "Outstanding Political Science Professor,
Central State University". However, Brown "wasn't a professor here, he
was only a student here," says Charles Johnson, News Bureau Director in
the University Relations office at the University of Central Oklahoma
(formerly named Central State University).
Under the heading of "Professional Associations and Memberships" on
FindLaw, Brown states that from 1983 to the present he has been
director of the Oklahoma Christian Home, a nursing home in Edmond. But
an administrator with the Home, told TIME that Brown is "not a person
that anyone here is familiar with." Brown's FindLaw profile lists a wide range of areas of legal
from estate planning to family law to sports. However, one former
colleague does not remember Brown's work as sterling. Jones says
when his law firm split, Brown was one of two staffers who was let go.
MICHAEL BROWN YOU
INCOMPETENT LIAR -- QUIT ALREADY. How can you live with yourself?
Katrina is a wake up call for all of us! Bush and Brown must go NOW.
need qualified, competent leadership to deal with what may be headed
our way in October. Bin Laden Said Planning 'Great Ramadan
Offensive' for October 2005 - Assyrian International News Agency | Sept
Qaeda's planning a series of spectacular terrorist strikes in October,
targeting American interests as well as U.S. allies in Europe and the
Middle East. The plans are said to be coordinated by Osama bin Laden
and his top lieutenant in Iraq - Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- and are the
subject of a non-public report issued by terrorism experts this week. Report warns of terrorists Great Ramadan Offensive
Over the weekend Barron's
ran an interview with two hedge fund managers and dedicated short
sellers, Lee Mikles and Mark Miller, who argued that we were at a
dangerous juncture vis a vis the economy and stock market. Since short
sellers benefit from falling stock prices, they're prejudiced to the
down side, but that doesn't mean they're wrong. (The italics below are
Barron's asks: "Why do you think we are at an inflection point?
"Mikles: Bottom line, the consumer is broke and he doesn't know it yet. But he is about to find out.
All the buckets that propelled consumer spending are empty now, whether
it is the increase in mortgage debt, the increase in consumer debt or
the reduction in the savings rate. No one statistic will tip the scale
at the end of the day. But one very obvious and very curious statistic
is that we have dipped into a negative savings rate for the first time.
That is not only unsustainable, it is sustainable only for a few
months. That's important to note because it tells you consumers are
borrowing money to make debt payments. The U.S. consumer has become
payment driven. He is driven not by the aggregate amount of debt he
possesses but by the amount of the payment. And now the consumer has
not only taken his savings rate to nothing, it has turned negative.
"Miller: Every month there is some increase in consumer borrowing
that has to occur just for the consumer to stay level. The consumer is
treating his balance sheet much the way the government is treating
theirs, but, of course, the consumer can't create currency like the
government can. The point is the consumer cannot continue to borrow to
make his debt-service payments for very long. How did we get here? We
got here because of the huge differential between wage growth and what
we spend and what we consume.
"Q: What about the argument that consumers may not be saving but the
appreciation they have seen on their houses is a form of savings?
"Mikles: The consumer doesn't know he is broke because his house
hasn't stopped going up yet. It hasn't starting going down, it just
hasn't stopped going up. Once it stops going up, the consumer will immediately -- and I mean a matter of months -- find out that he is, in fact, broke."
"Meanwhile momentous things are swirling in the background. The
price of gasoline may retreat sometime in two to six weeks, but I doubt
it will fall below the $2.50 range again. In fact, having gone way
above the psychological barrier of $3.00, the gasoline retailers may
resist falling below that. There have been no new oil refineries built
in the US since the late 1970s. There will be no new ones built now,
despite the crunch on refined 'product.' Why? Because the oil companies
understand that they are in a twilight industry and refineries
represent huge investments in future activity, which the corporations
correctly perceive will be shrinking as global oil production passes
"The biggest shock to the public lies a couple of months ahead when
the cost of natural gas for home heating (50 percent of the dwellings
in America) combines with stubbornly higher pump prices to whap them
upside the head. Natural gas at around $12.00 is now many times what it
cost as recently as 2003 ($3.00).A lot of Americans will be shivering this winter and some of the weak, old, and poor will die as a result....
"Strapped for cash from filling their gas tanks, unable to buy
Christmas presents at WalMart, and huddled around space heaters, the
public will be wondering why they were so poorly prepared."
Bradshaw and Slonsky
are paramedics frorm California, who were attending a paramedics’ conference in New Orleans, staying in the
French Quarter, when the hurricane hit. Afterward, they were in the
same situation as other survivors in the city: no food, no water, no
transportation, and no help from the outside world: [Story Link]
On Day 2, there were
approximately 500 of us left in the hotels in the French Quarter. We
were a mix of foreign tourists, conference attendees like ourselves,
and locals who had checked into hotels for safety and shelter from
Katrina. Some of us had cell phone contact with family and friends
New Orleans. We were repeatedly told that all sorts of resources
including the National Guard and scores of buses were pouring in to the
City. The buses and the other resources must have been invisible
because none of us had seen them.
We decided we had to save ourselves. So we pooled our money and came
up with $25,000 to have ten buses come and take us out of the City.
Those who did not have the requisite $45.00 for a ticket were
subsidized by those who did have extra money. We waited for 48 hours
for the buses, spending the last 12 hours standing outside, sharing the
limited water, food, and clothes we had. We created a priority boarding
area for the sick, elderly and new born babies. We waited late into the
night for the "imminent" arrival of the buses. The buses never arrived.
We later learned that the minute the arrived to the City limits, they
were commandeered by the military.
By day 4 our hotels had run out of fuel and water. Sanitation was
dangerously abysmal. As the desperation and despair increased, street
crime as well as water levels began to rise. The hotels turned us out
and locked their doors, telling us that the "officials" told us to
report to the convention center to wait for more buses. As we entered
the center of the City, we finally encountered the National Guard. The
Guards told us we would not be allowed into the Superdome as the City's
primary shelter had descended into a humanitarian and health hellhole.
The guards further told us that the City's only other shelter, the
Convention Center, was also descending into chaos and squalor and that
the police were not allowing anyone else in. Quite naturally, we asked,
"If we can't go to the only 2 shelters in the City, what was our
alternative?" The guards told us that that was our problem, and no they
did not have extra water to give to us. This would be the start of our
numerous encounters with callous and hostile "law enforcement".
We walked to the police command center at Harrah's on Canal Street
and were told the same thing, that we were on our own, and no they did
not have water to give us. We now numbered several hundred. We held a
mass meeting to decide a course of action. We agreed to camp outside
the police command post. We would be plainly visible to the media and
would constitute a highly visible embarrassment to the City officials.
The police told us that we could not stay. Regardless, we began to
settle in and set up camp. In short order, the police commander came
across the street to address our group. He told us he had a solution:
we should walk to the Pontchartrain Expressway and cross the greater
New Orleans Bridge where the police had buses lined up to take us out
of the City. The crowed cheered and began to move. We called everyone
back and explained to the commander that there had been lots of
misinformation and wrong information and was he sure that there were
buses waiting for us. The commander turned to the crowd and stated
emphatically, "I swear to you that the buses are there."
We organized ourselves and the 200 of us set off for the bridge with
great excitement and hope. As we marched pasted the convention center,
many locals saw our determined and optimistic group and asked where we
were headed. We told them about the great news. Families immediately
grabbed their few belongings and quickly our numbers doubled and then
doubled again. Babies in strollers now joined us, people using
crutches, elderly clasping walkers and others people in wheelchairs. We
marched the 2-3 miles to the freeway and up the steep incline to the
Bridge. It now began to pour down rain, but it did not dampen our
As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line
across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak,
they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd
fleeing in various directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a
few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in
conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police
commander and of the commander's assurances. The sheriffs informed us
there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to
We questioned why we couldn't cross the bridge anyway, especially as
there was little traffic on the 6-lane highway. They responded that the
West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no
Superdomes in their City. These were code words for if you are poor and
black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not
getting out of New Orleans.
Why should people be prohibited from leaving New Orleans on foot, but
the same people be allowed to leave if they're in cars and trucks? We
already knew the people stuck in the city didn't have cars. That's why
they're stuck there. Gretna law enforcement panicked at the prospect of letting some
half-starved shell-shocked hurricane survivors, grannies and little
kids and all, come limping on foot through their area. May they be
ashamed of themselves forever.
Our small group retreated back down Highway 90 to seek shelter from
the rain under an overpass. We debated our options and in the end
decided to build an encampment in the middle of the Ponchartrain
Expressway on the center divide, between the O'Keefe and Tchoupitoulas
exits. We reasoned we would be visible to everyone, we would have some
security being on an elevated freeway and we could wait and watch for
the arrival of the yet to be seen buses.
All day long, we saw other families, individuals and groups make the
same trip up the incline in an attempt to cross the bridge, only to be
turned away. Some chased away with gunfire, others simply told no,
others to be verbally berated and humiliated. Thousands of New
Orleaners were prevented and prohibited from self-evacuating the City
on foot. Meanwhile, the only two City shelters sank further into
squalor and disrepair. The only way across the bridge was by vehicle.
We saw workers stealing trucks, buses, moving vans, semi-trucks and any
car that could be hotwired. All were packed with people trying to
escape the misery New Orleans had become.
Our little encampment began to blossom. Someone stole a water
delivery truck and brought it up to us. Let's hear it for looting! A
mile or so down the freeway, an army truck lost a couple of pallets of
C-rations on a tight turn. We ferried the food back to our camp in
shopping carts. Now secure with the two necessities, food and water;
cooperation, community, and creativity flowered. We organized a clean
up and hung garbage bags from the rebar poles. We made beds from wood
pallets and cardboard. We designated a storm drain as the bathroom and
the kids built an elaborate enclosure for privacy out of plastic,
broken umbrellas, and other scraps. We even organized a food recycling
system where individuals could swap out parts of C-rations (applesauce
for babies and candies for kids!).
This was a process we saw repeatedly in the aftermath of Katrina.
When individuals had to fight to find food or water, it meant looking
out for yourself only. You had to do whatever it took to find water for
your kids or food for your parents. When these basic needs were met,
people began to look out for each other, working together and
constructing a community.
If the relief organizations had saturated the City with food and
water in the first 2 or 3 days, the desperation, the frustration and
the ugliness would not have set in.
Flush with the necessities, we offered food and water to passing
families and individuals. Many decided to stay and join us. Our
encampment grew to 80 or 90 people.
From a woman with a battery powered radio we learned that the media
was talking about us. Up in full view on the freeway, every relief and
news organizations saw us on their way into the City. Officials were
being asked what they were going to do about all those families living
up on the freeway? The officials responded they were going to take care
of us. Some of us got a sinking feeling. "Taking care of us" had an
ominous tone to it.
Unfortunately, our sinking feeling (along with the sinking City) was
correct. Just as dusk set in, a Gretna Sheriff showed up, jumped out of
his patrol vehicle, aimed his gun at our faces, screaming, "Get off the
fucking freeway". A helicopter arrived and used the wind from its
blades to blow away our flimsy structures. As we retreated, the sheriff
loaded up his truck with our food and water.
There are no available shelters in New Orleans. Poor pedestrians
aren’t being allowed to leave the city. Since they’re stuck in the
city, the freeway cooperative people are taking care of each other and
organizing the provision of food, water, sanitation, and other basic
needs. Nobody is using their chunk of freeway. What possible reason can
there be for destroying their encampment and scattering its inhabitants? What legitimate use could the sheriff have for water
and C-rations, other than to put them into the hands of refugees?
Geraldo tried to describe the inhuman
conditions at the shelter, then
broke down and cried as he begged the authorities to let people still
stuck in the convention center walk out of town. Shepard Smith
confirmed that the authorities had set up checkpoints, and were turning
back people who tried to leave. Furthermore, what reason can there be
for keeping obviously harmless
people from walking along public roads in order to get out of a
dangerously unlivable situation and into safer areas where the civil
authorities could give them assistance and get them into shelters? What
bloody right did the Gretna police force have to keep people from
walking across that bridge? And why didn't other agencies tell them to
knock it off?
Once again, at gunpoint, we were forced off the freeway. All the law
enforcement agencies appeared threatened when we congregated or
congealed into groups of 20 or more. In every congregation of "victims"
they saw "mob" or "riot". We felt safety in numbers. Our "we must stay
together" was impossible because the agencies would force us into small
In the pandemonium of having our camp raided and destroyed, we
scattered once again. Reduced to a small group of 8 people, in the
dark, we sought refuge in an abandoned school bus, under the freeway on
Cilo Street. We were hiding from possible criminal elements but equally
and definitely, we were hiding from the police and sheriffs with their
martial law, curfew and shoot-to-kill policies.
The next days, our group of 8 walked most of the day, made contact
with New Orleans Fire Department and were eventually airlifted out by
an urban search and rescue team. We were dropped off near the airport
and managed to catch a ride with the National Guard. The two young
guardsmen apologized for the limited response of the Louisiana guards.
They explained that a large section of their unit was in Iraq and that
meant they were shorthanded and were unable to complete all the tasks
they were assigned.
We arrived at the airport on the day a massive airlift had begun.
The airport had become another Superdome. We 8 were caught in a press
of humanity as flights were delayed for several hours while George Bush
landed briefly at the airport for a photo op. After being evacuated on
a coast guard cargo plane, we arrived in San Antonio, Texas.
There the humiliation and dehumanization of the official relief
effort continued. We were placed on buses and driven to a large field
where we were forced to sit for hours and hours. Some of the buses did
not have air-conditioners. In the dark, hundreds if us were forced to
share two filthy overflowing porta-potties. Those who managed to make
it out with any possessions (often a few belongings in tattered plastic
bags) we were subjected to two different dog-sniffing searches.
Most of us had not eaten all day because our C-rations had been
confiscated at the airport because the rations set off the metal
detectors. Yet, no food had been provided to the men, women, children,
elderly, disabled as they sat for hours waiting to be "medically
screened" to make sure we were not carrying any communicable diseases.
This official treatment was in sharp contrast to the warm,
heart-felt reception given to us by the ordinary Texans. We saw one
airline worker give her shoes to someone who was barefoot. Strangers on
the street offered us money and toiletries with words of welcome.
Throughout, the official relief effort was callous, inept, and racist.
There was more suffering than need be. Lives were lost that did not need to be lost.
Looks like the entire Gretna PD will
be in line for one of Bush's
Medals of Freedom. Probably on the stage alongside Brownie and
Chertoff. I don't know whether to be pleased or horrified that this
story seems to be credible, but it fills in a bunch of dots for me,
particularly the bit about people showing up at the convention center
and on the highways. I also wondered why people just didn't walk over
the bridges, the way that they did after 9/11 in NYC, and this story
made it clear why.
I'm having a hard time not feeling cynical right now. The situation
in NOLA has illuminated some of the greatest problems in the United
States, and those are poverty and classism. I can't help but fear that,
much like the All-American patriotic comraderie that swelled after
9/11, once the proverbial dust settles, we will all return to the
comfortable oblivion of watching The O.C. and Fear Factor re-runs,
maybe placating a charity or two, getting fired up around presidential
elections, but not reallydoing much of anything that extends
outside of our self-centered comfort zones. I'm guilty of doing it too.
I'm guilty of being too busy, of not feeling like it makes enough of a
difference to even bother, of forgetting how many people I needed and
how many people still need me.
For anyone asking the blame-the-victim question about Katrina's
victims' "They had warning, why didn't they leave?" I recommend John
Scalzi's wrenching blog post, Being Poor.
...John Scalzi offers a great post
to remind us that, in addition to the catastophic consequence of
poverty that we are seeing in NOLA, there are daily tragedies, little
hurricanes (to rephrase Tori Amos), that are "normal" for people who
are poor. There are things you endure that you never forget and
still, there are things that others have endured that I can hardly
Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.
Being poor is Goodwill underwear.
Being poor is a six-hour wait in an emergency room with a sick child asleep on your lap.
Being poor is knowing where the shelter is.
Being poor is a heater in only one room of the house.
Being poor is hoping your kids don't have a growth spurt.
Being poor is people angry at you just for walking around in the mall.
Being poor is never buying anything someone else hasn't bought first.
Being poor is people wondering why you didn't leave.
Frustrated: Fire Crews to Hand Out Fliers For FEMA
Not long after some 1,000 firefighters sat down for eight hours of training, the whispering began: "What are we doing here?"
On the Al Franken show this afternoon this article from today's Salt Lake Tribune
which tells the story of about a thousand firefighters from around the
country who volunteered to serve in the Katrina devastation
got people here who are search-and-rescue certified, paramedics,
haz-mat certified," said a Texas firefighter. "We're sitting in here
having a sexual-harassment class while there are still [victims] in
Louisiana who haven't been contacted yet." But when they arrived in
Atlanta to be shipped out to various disaster zones in the region, they
found out that they were going to be used as FEMA community relations
specialists. And they were to spend a day in Atltanta getting training
on community relations, sexual harassment awareness, et al. Then they would be shuffled throughout the Gulf Coast region to disseminate fliers
and a phone number: 1-800-621-FEMA.This of
course while life and death situations were still the order of the day
along a whole stretch of the Gulf Coast. On
Monday, some firefighters stuck in the staging area at the Sheraton
peeled off their FEMA-issued shirts and stuffed them in backpacks,
saying they refuse to represent the federal agency.
It's an article you've really got a to read to appreciate the full measure of folly and surreality.
"It's a misallocation of resources. Completely," said the Texas firefighter. "It's just an under-utilization of very talented people," said
South Salt Lake Fire Chief Steve Foote, who sent a team of firefighters
to Atlanta. "I was hoping once they saw the level of people . . . they
would shift gears a little bit."
of concern to some of the firefighters is the cost borne by their
municipalities in the wake of their absence. Cities are picking up the
tab to fill the firefighters' vacancies while they work 30 days for the
say they want to brave the heat, the debris-littered roads, the
poisonous cottonmouth snakes and fire ants and travel into pockets of
Louisiana where many people have yet to receive emergency aid.
But the graf at the end of the piece really puts everything in
perspective, and gives some sense what the Bush administration really
has in mind when it talks about a crisis. The paper reports that one
team finally was sent to the region ...
As specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in
Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight
headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside
President Bush as he tours devastated areas.
A British tourist stranded for five days with his
wife and seven-year-old son in a New Orleans hotel has called the US
relief operation a "shambles".
Ged Scott, 36, of Liverpool, told BBC News that hotel staff and guests had received no help from the authorities.
Police officers had taken "souvenir" photographs of stranded people begging for help, he added.
He told BBC News he had helped to mount security patrols in the hotel while shots rang out nearby.
"We saw people making their way down the rivers that
were streets, dragging their last belongings with them," Mr Scott, a
bus driver, said.
He told BBC News he had been on his annual holiday at
New Orleans' Ramada Hotel with his wife Sandra, 37, and their
seven-year-old son, Ronan.
Without their driving licences they were unable to hire
a car and flee the city ahead of the storm and decided to remain in
their hotel after being warned the Superdome would be too dangerous.
The handling of the relief operation had been "horrendous", Mr Scott added.
"I could not describe how bad the authorities were -
taking photographs of us as we are standing on the roof waving for
help, for their own personal photo albums, little snapshot
He said at one point a group of girls was standing on the roof of the hotel lobby and called to passing rescuers for help.
"They [the authorities] said to them 'well show us
what you've got' - doing signs for them to lift their t-shirts up. The
girls said no, and they said 'well fine', and motored off down the road
in their motorboat.
"That's the sort of help we had from the authorities," he said.
Mr Scott added: "The only information we got from
anybody in authority was if a policeman came past and we shouted to
them out of the windows.
"The only information we ever got off them was negative, 'Do not go here. Do not go there'.
"There was no, 'Are you OK? Are you safe? Have you got water?'.
"Most of the time they would ignore us."
At night, the police presence disappeared altogether, leaving the stranded guests and staff to defend themselves.
"You would hear shots ringing out during the night and
that was one of the most worrying things, because we had no security,"
Mr Scott said.
"We patrolled the halls and checked the doors throughout
the night in the hotel - but if someone had wanted to come in, there
was not much we could have done about it."
Nevertheless, the staff and guests had managed to chase one group of looters from the building, he added.
He then had had to wade waist-deep through the filthy water to barricade the hotel's doors.
"It was like wading through an open sewer.
"It reeked to high heaven and made you want to vomit.
"Outside I could see bodies floating in the water."
Mr Scott told BBC News he had ripped wires attached to
speakers from the walls of the flooded hotel bar and tied tables and
chairs together as makeshift barricades.
He had then run back upstairs for "the best wash I have ever had" - using water from the toilet cistern, he added.
Looters also tried to sell the stranded guests mobile phones, radios and clothes.
When they were finally rescued it had been by Louisiana
game wardens, who had entered the hotel with rifles and fixed bayonets,
Mr Scott said.
Now back in the UK, he said he was worried about the effect the experience had had on his son.
"He was fantastic - but he has been exposed to things no
seven-year-old should ever see and it is bound to come out in the
In an earlier response to calls by former US president
Bill Clinton for an inquiry into how the federal government responded
to Hurricane Katrina, Linda Saccia of the Federal Emergency Management
Agency said it was too early to criticise the relief effort.
"There are 30,000 responders, rescuers, recovery people,
law enforcement that are working night and day and I wouldn't say
anything or even quite frankly think anything that would be negative
towards their hard work.
"The studies that will be done afterwards will prove and show what did and didn't go well," she said.
you are a victim of Hurricane Katrina, register with this site to let
the world know how to contact you. You can give as much detail as you'd
like. Then anyone visiting refugeesunited.org can quickly find out how
you are doing.
If you are looking for a victim in the Gulf Coast
region, you can search for your loved one's name and location. In the
very near future, you will be able to post your questions to this site
so that your query will be visible to anyone visiting
This site is designed to be a central
collection point for information on anyone impacted by Hurricane
Katrina. Tell everyone about refugeesunited.org. We're here to help."
If you have a blog, please
post this info and the link to the site. Help get the word out so these
folks can find their friends and families. No central record-keeping of
names has yet been created, and currently many people are scattered all
over the country, some unable to remember their own names, who have
been separated from the people who care for them. Spread the word.
All part of the effort to make the victims seem like bad people that we shouldn't feel sorry for.
There were two babies who
had their throats slit. The seven-year-old girl who was raped and
murdered in the Superdome. And the corpses laid out amid the excrement
in the convention centre.
a week filled with dreadful scenes of desperation and anger from New
Orleans following Hurricane Katrina some stories stood out.
But as time goes on many remain unsubstantiated and may yet prove to be apocryphal.
Orleans police have been unable to confirm the tale of the raped child,
or indeed any of the reports of rapes, in the Superdome and convention
New Orleans police chief
Eddie Compass said last night: "We don't have any substantiated rapes.
We will investigate if the individuals come forward."
And while many claim they happened, no witnesses, survivors or survivors' relatives have come forward.
has the source for the story of the murdered babies, or indeed their
bodies, been found. And while the floor of the convention centre
toilets were indeed covered in excrement, the Guardian found no corpses.
a week when communications were difficult, rumours have acquired a
particular currency. They acquired through repetition the status of
then Fema could not confirm there were thousands of people at the
convention centre until they were told by the press for the simple
reason that they did not know.
"Katrina's winds have left behind an information vacuum. And that vacuum has been filled by rumour.
"There is nothing to
correct wild reports that armed gangs have taken over the convention
centre," wrote Associated Press writer, Allen Breed.
can report them but you at least have to say they are unsubstantiated
and not pass them off as fact," said one Baltimore-based journalist.
"But nobody is doing that."
Either way these rumours have had an effect.
of the complete degradation and violent criminals running rampant in
the Superdome suggested a crisis that both hastened the relief effort
and demonised those who were stranded.
the end of last week the media in Baton Rouge reported that evacuees
from New Orleans were carjacking and that guns and knives were being
seized in local shelters where riots were erupting.
The local mayor responded accordingly.
do not want to inherit the looting and all the other foolishness that
went on in New Orleans," Kip Holden was told the Baton Rouge Advocate.
"We do not want to inherit that breed that seeks to prey on other people."
trouble, wrote Howard Witt of the Chicago Tribune is that "scarcely any
of it was true - the police confiscated a single knife from a refugee
in one Baton Rouge shelter".
"There were no riots in Baton Rouge. There were no armed hordes."
when the first convoy of national guardsmen went into New Orleans
approached the convention centre they were ordered to "lock and load".
But when they arrived they were confronted not by armed mobs but a nurse wearing a T-shirt that read "I love New Orleans".
"She ran down a broken escalator, then held her hands in the air when she saw the guns," wrote the LA Times.
"We have sick kids up here!" she shouted.
"We have dehydrated kids! One kid with sickle cell!"
Similarly when the first convoy of national guardsmen went into New
Orleans approached the convention centre they were ordered to "lock and
But when they arrived they were confronted not by armed mobs but a nurse wearing a T-shirt that read "I love New Orleans".
they were prepared to kill (as if in a war) in America, but left
completely in the dark regarding the expected greetings they would
receive in Iraq...hmmmmmm
I saw a looter on TV. They showed a guy with cases and cases
of water and boxes of fruit. He had them on some sort of trolley.
He wheeled the trolley up to several people - probably about ten - who sat in lawn chairs on a side walk.
The "looter" handed out bottles of water and the fruit to each person
sitting on that street. The people took the water and fruit with nods
of thanks. Some people only took one piece of fruit and the "looter"
gave them two or three more.
No one rushed the man to take the water or the fruit. There was not a rush on his kitty.
The "looter" then proceeded down the street with his water and fruit
where you could see in the distance there were others waiting patiently
on the sidewalk for the rescue they had been promised.
The "looter" was the only rescue they would see for a while, but I think he was a hero.
The emotional symptoms of stress include, but are by no means
limited to, moodiness, irritability, and anger. Physical symptoms can
include headaches, nausea, insomnia, and all manner of physical pain.
(Here's a link to a detailed list of symptoms, just in case.)
If any of this sounds familiar, congratulations, you have been
keeping well informed on current events. There is enough grief in the
atmosphere to suffocate anybody. There are a lot of other, equally
intolerable emotions, but if you're still reading this I don't need to
catalogue them for you.
May I suggest that everybody here who is not physically in the
front lines stop for a moment and take inventory: are stress effects
starting to have a constant, or even just a distracting, effect on you,
or somebody near you?
I don't mean "are you depressed," or frustrated, or angry. It
would be a much bigger warning sign if we weren't. I mean, is the
depression coloring everything you see, whether it's related to these
events or not? Is the frustration keeping you from things that would
normally define you work, pleasure, ordinary conversation? Are you constantly angry, and is the anger spilling out onto people who did nothing but be in range?
If this is happening, then I would quietly ask you to take a
step back. Turn off the television, shut down the computer. They, and
the crises, will still be there. Go do something else, now.
--Find a distraction and allow it to distract you.Pick up
some unfinished work. Go for a walk and pay attention to every detail,
even the ones that remind you of Topic A; this is about coping, not
pretending it's not there.
--Read, watch a movie, put on some music. It doesn't have to be 'happy.' This is what catharsis is all about, and why there's been a word for it for so long.
--Talk to someone about something else that matters to both of
you. Or, perhaps better, talk to someone you care about who's also
stressed " I doubt you'll have much trouble finding someone " about how
you both feel. Talk each other down. If you need to hug or cry, let it
roll. In this hour, the trolls of damned-lie stoicism have no claim on
I am not asking anyone to stop assisting with relief efforts of any kind. Was that understood? Good.
All this assumes that you or yours are dealing with the effects
of "ordinary" stress. If something more serious is going on " deep,
unrelievable grief or depression " find counseling, sooner, not later.
Unfortunately, stress doesn't end with the event. The present
crises have already created a great number of people with
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and there will be more, not all of them
direct victims. (One powerful reason for taking time out now is to
avoid being in this group.) Most of you will be aware of PTSD; dealing
with it is beyond my scope here. Here is
one source, with specific observations on the Here and the Now. (Yes,
it's from a Federal agency. If that bothers you, there are many other
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. To live in one of those times need not mean turning one's back on the other.
We read this post
at Shakespeare's Sister last night, at which point we hit the emotional
wall and decided to go to bed. This morning, our first thoughts
returned to this story,
and we've decided to post the links and a few snips. We highly
recommend that you jump over to Shakes Sis's place to read her entire
take, which is excellent as always.
Thousands of refugees of Hurricane Katrina were transported
to the Astrodome in Houston this week. In an extreme act of looting,
one group actually stole a bus to escape ravaged areas in Louisiana.
100 people packed into the stolen bus. They were the first to enter the
Houston Astrodome, but they weren't exactly welcomed.
yellow school bus wasn't expected or approved to pass through the
stadium's gates. Randy Nathan, who was on the bus, said they were
desperate to get out of town.
"If it weren't for him right there," he said, "we'd still be in New Orleans underwater. He got the bus for us."
Eighteen-year-old Jabbor Gibson jumped aboard the bus as it sat abandoned on a street in New Orleans and took control.
"I just took the bus and drove all the way here...seven hours straight,' Gibson admitted. "I hadn't ever drove a bus."
The teen packed it full of complete strangers and drove to Houston. He beat thousands of evacuees slated to arrive there.
eventually allowed the renegade passengers inside the dome. But the
18-year-old who ensured their safety could find himself in a world of
trouble for stealing the school bus.
"I don't care if I get blamed for it ," Gibson said, "as long as I saved my people."
They (Channel 5, not Shakes Sis) are referring to Jabbor's heroic
action as an act of "extreme looting"? This kid single-handedly saved a
hundred of his fellow citizens -- not to mention saving the damned bus -- and they're threatening to charge him with theft?
the hell happened to our country, what are people more concerned about, property or people? This kid should be flown to the White
House, he should be given a medal, he should be given the keys to the
city... and then he should be given Cherthoff's job, since that bag of
gas has done nothing but lie and equivocate since the storm hit. We need someone in charge who isn't afraid to take action. Someone like Jabbor Gibson.
And Charlie at Shades of Grey has a related thought,
based on FEMA Director Michael Brown's asinine comment that New Orleans
residents who chose not to heed warnings to evacuate before Hurricane
Katrina bear some responsibility for their fates.
Let's say a family did
just up and leave. What now? Do you suppose the Astrodome is taking
just anybody who shows up at the door and says, Hey, I was in New
Orleans last Saturday, but now I don't have a home? Or do you think
that they're probably only taking the people who come from officially
Looks like Charlie's right. Because
they weren't expected, the "renegade passengers" were denied entry
until they eventually convinced authorities to let them in.
And how on earth are people who take responsibility for their own fates, as Brown suggested they'd need to do, renegades?
guess that's the same kind of circular logic that allows Bush's
supporters to defend the length of time it's taken to get people
evacuated because "no one saw it coming," but also condemn the people
who didn't leave because "they knew it was coming."
On Sunday, DHS chief Michael Chertoff told "Meet the Press's" Tim
Russert that one reason for the delay in getting federal aid to Katrina
victims was that "everyone" thought the crisis had passed when the
storm left: "I remember on Tuesday morning picking up newspapers and I
saw headlines, 'New Orleans Dodged The Bullet.'" We're wondering what
papers the Chertoff household gets, because these are the headlines
that greeted most people Tuesday morning:
The Newseum has over 400 frontpages archived but we suspect that the
one with the "New Orleans Dodged The Bullet" headline exists primarily in
Obviously the full story of FEMA's response to Hurricane Katrina
won't be written for months, but Peter Gosselin and Alan Miller tell at
least part of the story today in the LA Times. First, there's the organization of FEMA itself:
agency's core budget, which includes disaster preparedness and
mitigation, has been cut each year since it was absorbed by the
Homeland Security Department in 2003. Depending on what the final
numbers end up being for next fiscal year, the cuts will have been
between about 2% and 18%.
The agency's staff has been reduced by 500 positions to 4,735. Among
the results, FEMA has had to cut one of its three emergency management
teams, which are charged with overseeing relief efforts in a disaster.
Where it once had "red," "white" and "blue" teams, it now has only red
...."They've taken emergency management away from the emergency
managers," complained Morrie Goodman, who was FEMA's chief spokesman
during the Clinton administration. "These operations are being run by
people who are amateurs at what they are doing."
Second, there's FEMA's attempts to shift blame to state and local authorities:
the law, [Homeland Security Secretary Michael] Chertoff said, state and
local officials must direct initial emergency operations. "The federal
government comes in and supports those officials," he said.
Chertoff's remarks, which echoed earlier statements by President
Bush, prompted withering rebukes both from former senior FEMA staffers
and outside experts.
"They can't do that," former agency chief of staff Jane Bullock said
of Bush administration efforts to shift responsibility away from
Washington. "The moment the president declared a federal disaster, it
became a federal responsibility....The federal government took
ownership over the response," she said. Bush declared a disaster in
Louisiana and Mississippi when the storm hit a week ago.
What the declaration says is that the federal government, through FEMA,
assumes responsibility for organizing and controlling the response.
It's like when the feds take over a crime scene in all those Law &
Order episodes. It was retroactive to August 26.
"What's awe-inspiring here is how many federal officials didn't
issue any orders," said Paul C. Light, an authority on government
operations at New York University.
The Administration keeps blaming Louisiana officials for the fuckup. There's an easy way to test this: how's FEMA's response in Mississippi?
Did they have stuff pre-positioned in Jackson? Were they there on
Tuesday, distributing truckloads of food and water and setting up tent
cities? Or were they just as slow there as in Louisiana?
FEMA, meanwhile, has refused to release 50 trucks carrying water
and ice sitting at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny
DuPree said [Sunday].
"They're sitting down there right now because one person from FEMA won't make the call to say, 'Release those trucks,'" he said.
Two-thirds of the residents of the southern Mississippi city have
no power, and that figure was 100 percent for three-and-a-half days, he
He said FEMA representatives did not arrive in Hattiesburg -- 95 miles from New Orleans -- until Saturday.
One more bit of Administration BS bites the dust.
From today's New York Times: The Rove-directed spin machine
snaps into action to contain the political damage. What a pity Karl
Rove wasn't in charge of the relief efforts for New Orleans.
"Under the command of President Bush's two senior political
advisers, the White House rolled out a plan this weekend to contain the
political damage from the administration's response to Hurricane
"It orchestrated visits by cabinet members to the region, leading
up to an extraordinary return visit by Mr. Bush planned for Monday,
directed administration officials not to respond to attacks from
Democrats on the relief efforts, and sought to move the blame for the
slow response to Louisiana state officials, according to Republicans
familiar with the White House plan.
"The effort is being directed by Mr. Bush's chief political
adviser, Karl Rove, and his communications director, Dan Bartlett. It
began late last week after Congressional Republicans called White House
officials to register alarm about what they saw as a feeble response by
Mr. Bush to the hurricane, according to Republican Congressional aides."
So first they tried to blame the victims, but after a couple of "they
didn't chose to evacuate" quotes, they rapidly realized that wasn't
going to fly. Now
they're trying to blame the local (democratic) leadership. This may
work, but they may overplay their hand if they start blaming people
like that Parish president who broke down on MTP today. As he said,
they kept telling us the calvary was coming but they never came.So if
that doesn't work, who is next? The Liberal Media? Michale Moore?
Cindy Sheehan? Oh, oh, I know -- its BLOGGER ETHICS that are to blame!
- (September 2, 2005) A White House already reeling from a "God awful"
federal response to Hurricane Katrina, chaos in Iraq, and plummeting
poll numbers received another blow today when President Bush was
ordered to report to Montgomery, Alabama immediately to resume his
incomplete National Guard service.
The Guard, facing a crisis
of its own due to over-deployment and under-enlistment is scouring its
records to identify former guardsmen with dubious service histories so
they can be pressed back into duty. The move was necessitated when the
guard was asked to deploy massive aid to hurricane-stricken regions and
discovered that the "cupboard was bare."
experts identified prospects by doing a Google search on the terms,
"National Guard," "skipped requirements," "accomplished nothing" and
"left early." The President's name was said to be the first on the
Those recalled will receive certified letters
today notifying them to report immediately to the units from which they
bailed and will be enrolled into "Slacker Battalions." Although Bush
was identified as owing service to units in both Alabama and Texas,
Alabama received his recall rights after losing a coin flip.
National Guard commander Brigadier General Morley Brassbuttons put an
optimistic spin on prospects that the Slacker Battalions will make a
contribution this time around. "Given the less than stellar records of
the recalled, our expectations are pretty low. That said, we believe
the Slacker Battalions can handle menial but necessary chores such as
emptying trash receptacles, washing dishes and scrubbing lavatories."
this time there will be no deferments, transfers to work on political
campaigns, or early-outs to attend MBA school. As an incentive to
comply we've arranged for violators to be shipped to Abu Ghraib prison
wearing nothing but a garbage bag."
For his part, the
President is said to be relieved to get a break from the "hard work" of
being President, but was crestfallen when told that this time he will
not make his entrance in a flight suit under a "Mission Accomplished"
Meanwhile, as a contingency, Karl Rove is checking
General Brassbuttons' genealogy chart to find relatives with sensitive
secrets that could be leaked to the media.
The issue was not
discussed at this morning's press gaggle as White House Press Secretary
Scott McClellan showed up wearing earplugs, gagged and blindfolded.
Editor’s Note: Please excuse the Muse for reporting fantasy. As a Fairly Unbalanced Journalist, it is his calling.
Finger Pointing Starts With A Peek Behind The Curtain
This, excerpted from Blah3,
where poster “Stranger” gives a quick object lesson in the
lensing/focusing power of bloggers to aggregate and analyze faster than
you can say, “You sit on a throne of lies.”
The Potemkin Photo Op Saturday, September 03 2005 @ 09:40 PM Eastern Daylight Time Contributed by: Stranger
was tuning in and out of Bush's massive photo op on the Gulf Coast
yesterday, and everything at the time seemed just a little too pat for
me. From the 'briefing' that went on in a hangar full of helicopters to
his walking down a street in Biloxi and having three regular citizens
walk up to him for comforting to the last press availiability of the
day when he announced that the Convention Center was secure and the
levees were being repaired, it was clear that the game plan from the
White House was for Bush to go to the region, look decisive, comfort a
few citizens, and announce at the end of the day that all was well.
It was a full-on effort to change the subject of discussion
from the utter failure of the Bush administration to handle the crisis
with even a hint of competency, and in true Bush fashion, he wrapped it
up at 5:00 PM and announced that he was 'Flyin' out of (t)here.'
But from beginning to end, the entire exercise was a series of
lies - a Potemkin photo op designed to fool those Americans who were
not bothering to look closely at what was going on. Let's look at key
aspects of Bush's trip that were covered by television.
There were a lot of questions asked yesterday morning about the phony
briefing that Bush got in that hangar, featuring a backdrop of Coast
Guard helicopters. People were wondering why those choppers were not
out picking up flood victims or delivering supplies. The reason why is
simple - Bush had the majority of helcopter traffic stopped while
Marine One was in the Gulf Coast region. The New Orleans Times-Picayune
reported this (Via AmericaBlog):
Three tons of food ready for delivery by air to refugees in St. Bernard
Parish and on Algiers Point sat on the Crescent City Connection bridge
Friday afternoon as air traffic was halted because of President Bush’s
visit to New Orleans, officials said.
The provisions, secured by U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon,
D-Napoleonville, and state Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom, baked in
the afternoon sun as Bush surveyed damage across southeast Louisiana
five days after Katrina made landfall as a Category 4 storm, said
Melancon’s chief of staff, Casey O’Shea.
“We had arrangements to airlift food by helicopter to these
folks, and now the food is sitting in trucks because they won’t let
helicopters fly,” O’Shea said Friday afternoon.
The food was expected to be in the hands of storm survivors
after the president left the devastated region Friday night, he said.
This leaves me wondering how many people died while Bush was playing Decisive Leader.
The First 'Comforting Session':Then it was off to Biloxi, MS to
survey the damage. As Bush, Haley Barbour and others walked down a
street, 2 women appeared seemingly out of nowhere for Bush to 'comfort'
them. But it turns out that the two women didn't even live in
Biloxi, and had just come down for the day to try to 'salvage' clothes
from the area for one of the women's son (were they looters?). But they
were apparently reasonably telegenic and happened to be in the area, so
they were recruited to represent an area where they didn't even live. A
number of threads at Democratic Underground
discuss the weirdness of these women showing up in a disaster area. And
a trandcript of the conversation between Bush and the women reads like
a bad comedy skit:
Bush to women: "There's a Salvation Army center that I
want to, that I'll tell you where it is, and they'll get you some help.
I'm sorry.... They'll help you.....
Woman 1: "I came here looking for clothes..."
Bush: "They'll get you some clothes, at the Salvation Army center..."
Woman 1: "We don't have anything..."
Bush: "I understand.... Do you know where the center is, that I'm talking to you about?"
Guy with shades: "There's no center there, sir, it's a truck."
Bush: "There's trucks?"
Guy: "There's a school, a school about two miles away....."
Bush: "But isn't there a Salvation center down there?"
Guy: "No that's wiped out...."
Bush: "A temporary center? "
Guy: "No sir they've got a truck there, for food."
Bush: "That's what I'm saying, for food and water."
Bush turns to the sister who's been saying how she needs clothes.
Bush to sister: "You need food and water."
The 'Recovery Efforts':Wherever Bush went yesterday, it seemed
as though people were already hard at work rebuilding the affected
areas. Unfortunately for Bush, there were a few foreign journalists at
his photo ops, and they pulled back the curtain on what we saw on TV to
reveal that the 'work' was staged for the media. Here's a translation
from the German news show web site.
Christine Adelhardt live from Biloxi:
"Two minutes ago the President drove by with his convoy. What happened
here in Biloxi during the day is really unbelievable. All of a sudden
the rescue troops finally showed up, the clean-up vehicles; we didn't
see those over the last days here. In an area where it really isn't
urgent, there is nobody around, all the remaining people went to the
The President is traveling with a press convoy, so they get
wonderful pictures saying the president was here and the help will
follow. The amount of this catastrophe shocked me, but the amount of
set-up that happened here today is at least equally shocking for me.
And there's more, this time on the 'recovery efforts' in New Orleans, from War And Piece:
There was a striking dicrepancy between the CNN
International report on the Bush visit to the New Orleans disaster
zone, yesterday, and reports of the same event by German TV.
ZDF News reported that the president's visit was a completely
staged event. Their crew witnessed how the open air food distribution
point Bush visited in front of the cameras was torn down immediately
after the president and the herd of 'news people' had left and that
others which were allegedly being set up were abandoned at the same
The people in the area were once again left to fend for themselves, said ZDF.
This goes beyond stage management. This is criminal.
Levee Repairs in New Orleans: As Bush flew around the skies
above New Orleans, CNN began showing footage of a bulldozer and dump
trucks working on the 17th Street levee, which was the maqin source of
the flood waters in New Orleans. When Bush got ready to leave, he
crowed that 'progress is flowing.' But according to Sen. Mary Landrieu,
the crew that was working so hard yesterday left and apparently never
But perhaps the greatest disappointment stands at the
breached 17th Street levee. Touring this critical site yesterday with
the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant
effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying
over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later,
it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage
set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed
resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of
equipment. The good and decent people of southeast Louisiana and
the Gulf Coast - black and white, rich and poor, young and old -
deserve far better from their national government.
Control of the Convention Center: Bush made a big deal of telling the nation
that the icon for unrest and chaos in New Orleans this week - the New
Orleans Convention Center - was secured by the time of his statement
I'm pleased to report, thanks to the good work of the
adjutant general from Louisiana and the troops that have been called in
that the convention center is secure.
CNN's Barbara Starr reports that there is "no
indication" the convention center in New Orleans is secure. She reports
there is still much unrest.
And the now-famous Fox News video of Geraldo Rivera inside the Convention Center showed how Bush's idea of 'securing' the center was locking the people in.
I'm almost worn out with anger reading about the decimation of FEMA under Bush's watch;
the pathetic lack of response to Katrina from the federal government;
the relentless television images of human degradation; and the endless
excuses from administration hacks pretending that nobody could have predicted Katrina's devastation.
I realize that it's no different from what's been happening in Iraq for
the past two years, but Iraq is 8,000 miles away and the truth is that
no matter how angry we are at what's going on there, it's to some
extent an intellectual anger. What's happening in New Orleans is like a
punch in the gut. Yeah, lets blame the victims.
The Condi Rice defense "Who could have imagined the leeves would
breech and flood the city", is being dropped as the White House Shifts
Blame to State and Local Officials. "Bush, who has been
criticized, even by supporters, for the delayed
response to the disaster, used his weekly radio address to put
responsibility for the failure on lower levels of government....In a
Washington briefing, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said
one reason federal assets were not used more quickly was 'because our
constitutional system really places the primary authority in each state
with the governor.'"
I just don't understand how this jives with the press release on the Whitehouse's own website from Saturday, that claims - The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of
Louisiana and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local
and The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland
Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all
disaster relief efforts...
and Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and
provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to
alleviate the impacts of the emergency...
What about the New Orleans disaster plan for hurricanes;
a.) the planning for evacuation was outsourced by FEMA to a private
entity that has pulled it off its website;
b.) 1/3 of the national
guard from louisiana is in iraq, not 20%, and even so, there weren't
enough national guardspeople available had the full complement been in
the state, and even so, the state did request assistance on august
28th, and even so states were prepared to provide assistance but the
paperwork didn't come through from dhs/fema, and even so, read what
marky said above: it's dhs's fricking mission to deal with this stuff;
c.) try and understand, if you can, that what happened was the
evacuation order went out and then the city was hit. there was no time
to get everyone out no matter what with local resources, which is why
the reports increasingly appearing about offers to help in various ways
matter so much when it comes to sorting out who fucked up.
Disaster Management 101: Disasters don't stop at political boundaries.
Disaster Management 102: The broader the base of resources for
mitigating and responding to disasters of this magnitute, the better.
Disaster Management 103: Those resources have to be effectively and efficiently coordinated, or you end up with a cluster-f*ck.
The Federal Government is the entity best capable of providing that
coordination, espeically for large-magnitude disasters such as NOLA,
and is tasked by law with that function. The Bush administration fails.
During the anthrax episode, the Secretary of Health and Human Services
Tommy Thompson repeatedly provided incorrect information to the news
media on the number of spores required to produce an infection. The
same misinformation was often repeated by public health authorities.
Failure to communicate the fact that the risks from even a small number
of spores could result in infection may have contributed to the deaths
of two postal employees at the Brentwood facility in Washington, DC.
from those who should know better is also occurring in the aftermath of
hurricane Katrina. DHHS Secretary Leavitt, for example, has warned of
the risk of "typhoid and cholera" as a result of contaminated water,
while others have talked generally of mosquito-borne disease and the
hazards caused by dead people and animals. It is time to separate the
real risks from the phantom risks.
Diarrheal disease from
contaminated water is a concern, but not cholera and probably not
typhoid. In order to get these diseases the water has to be
contaminated with the organisms that cause those diseases,
neither of which is endemic in that region. What is more likely is
gastroenteritis or hepatitis A from enteric viruses or bacteria. Most
are spread by the fecal-oral route, which means they are not spread
directly person to person. If they get in a contaminated, piped water
supply they can cause an epidemic, because piped water is an efficient
way to distribute pathogens to a population. But localized
contamination of flood waters is not. Individuals can get serious
diarrheal disease and even die of consequent dehydration, but there is
not likely to be a point source epidemic of cholera or typhoid or even
diarrheal disease, only sporadic cases (which may be relatively
numerous but not epidemic in nature). Lack of clean water and food can
produce a risk of diarrhea and dehydration and must be attended to
quickly, but not to prevent an epidemic.
Similarly the presence
of dead animals and people is not a health hazard. Dead animals
decompose naturally in the environment. Unless they were infected with
a contagious organism before death, they will not themselves become the
source of disease. The persistent concern in mass disasters over
unburied bodies is an urban myth. Mass disasters like floods rarely
cause epidemic disease and to suggest otherwise results in misplaced
concern and potential diversion of resources from more important issues.
Mosquito-borne illness is a potential concern for some, but needs to be
properly understood. Being bitten by mosquitoes is not a health hazard.
The mosquitoes themselves must be vectors for a pathogenic agent like
malaria or West Nile. Almost all malaria cases in the US are in people
exposed and infected elsewhere who travel to this country and become
sick shortly after arriving. We do not have endemic malaria, at least
not at this point (global warming might change that, of course). West
Nile is a possibility, because there are an unknown number of infected
birds and possibly other animals in that region. However the mosquitoes
that multiply in the wake of the flooding have to be the kind that both
bite infected birds and bite humans. We don't know what the disaster
did to the ecological niches of the potentially infected animal
population nor do we know whether any increase in s specific mosquito
population will be in the kind of "bridge vector" capable of biting
both humans and whatever existing infected animals are around. So even
a huge increase in the mosquito population does not necessarily, or
even probably, mean an outbreak of West Nile or other mosquito-borne
illnesses.This is important because the fear of "an epidemic" might
encourage interventions that themselves carry undue risk, such as
broadcast spraying of pesticides to kill adult mosquitoes. Mosquitoes
reproduce exponential quickly and these techniques have not been shown
to interrupt the transmission of human disease. They have the potential
to just add one more biologically active toxin to the environment.
biggest health hazards may well be those we would classify under
"injury." Heat-related illness might be at the top of the list here. As
body core temperatures rise above 105 degrees F., mortality increases
quickly. The high heat and humidity of the area, coupled with
dehydration are a significant health hazard that requires intervention
by providing fluids and cooler shelters. The many sources of physical
injury, whether from feral animals (snakes, alligators, etc.), sharp
metal debris, falls and injuries in an environment where the hazards
are numerous and not easily visible can result in substantial
accumulated morbidity and even mortality. The only remedy is removal of
people to a safer environment, which should be the top priority. this
is also true for the many chronically ill and vulnerable people who
require medication, external support from power dependent devices and
The situation is complex but the bottom line here is simple: mobilize
resources to remove people from the area as quickly as possible, while
providing fresh food and water to those waiting evacuation. This is
something a well-organized military force, like the National Guard,
should have been equipped to do from the outset. If they can plan how
to put hundreds of thousands of soldiers to invade an area in a twelve
hour period, they can also plan how to remove civilians in a three day
Well, motherfuckers, and that means you, fat ass Goldberg and your
master, Rich Lowry, PNAC Bitch Beinart, the racist wannabe white Malkin
and the little fucktards at LGF, Bareback Andy and "Diversity"
Instacracker, all you backstabbing, fag hating uncle tom ministers, you
can see Dear Leader in action. America's largest port is gone, maybe
forever, gas is $5+ a gallon and FEMA is coming. Whores come faster
with old men than FEMA is getting to NOLA.
How did your wartime President react? Like Chiang Kai-Shek when the Yellow River flooded in 1944, with corrupt indifference.
Bush, the man your fever dreams built into the next Winston Churchill
when he is really the live action Chauncey Gardiner, has failed to
everyone, in plain sight, without question. Rick Perry is trying to
save his ass, but it ain't working. NOLA looks like ANGOLA and that
Say 9/11 changed everything now, motherfuckers. Ooops, 9/11, 9/11.
9/11. Doesn't work anymore? Gee, maybe the sea of alligator MRE's once
known as the citizens of New Orleans has something to do with that. Now
you can shut the fuck up about 9/11. Bush just proved what would happen
with another 9/11. Dead Americans as far as the nose can smell.
Basically, Shepard Smith has been stuck on the I-10 overpass near the
Convention Center. People have been dying, no one has been rescued,
and there's no aid given. There is, however, and outpost manned by the
military that turns back any person wanting to take the only was out of
New rleans they can access. They are leaving these people to die
inside the city.
So Hannity went to Geraldo, to see if he was going to be a ray of sunshine.
Geraldo was even more grim. He said that no one has been rescued from
the Convention Center, no one is being allowed to leave. He grabbed
babies from women and stuck their faces in the camera - honestly, it
kind of reminded me of Ethiopa in the 80s (the babies weren't that
emaciated, of course, but I'm referring to the situation in general) -
in a desperate plea for people to see the reality of what in going on
there. He said that people can't change their clothes, babies' diapers
can't get changed, people don't have anywhere to go to the bathroom.
Hannity blurbled something, and Geraldo basically just yelled,"Let these people walk! Let them get the hell away from this!"
So Hannity tried Shep, and tried to get him to talk "with some
perspective" on how great the National Guard coming into NO had been
today. Shep said, "Perspective? This is all the perspective you need!
People are dying here!"
It was incredible. And so horribly, horribly frustrating. But I
figured kudos to Geraldo and Shep, and thank god this was on FOX.
Maybe someonewatching this will wake the fuck up about the state of the government in this country.
"Chalk up the city of New Orleans as a cost of Bush's Iraq war.
"There were not enough helicopters to repair the breached levees and
rescue people trapped by rising water. Nor are there enough Louisiana
National Guardsmen available to help with rescue efforts and to patrol
"The situation is the same in Mississippi.
"The National Guard and helicopters are off on a fool's mission in Iraq.
"The National Guard is in Iraq because fanatical neoconservatives in
the Bush administration were determined to invade the Middle East and
because incompetent Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld refused to listen to
the generals, who told him there were not enough regular troops
available to do the job.
"After the invasion, the arrogant Rumsfeld found out that the
generals were right. The National Guard was called up to fill in the
"Now the Guardsmen, trapped in the Iraqi quagmire, are watching on
TV the families they left behind trapped by rising waters and wondering
if the floating bodies are family members. None know where their
dislocated families are, but, shades of Fallujah, they do see their
"The mayor of New Orleans was counting on helicopters to put in
place massive sandbags to repair the levee. However, someone called the
few helicopters away to rescue people from rooftops. The rising water
overwhelmed the massive pumping stations, and New Orleans disappeared
under deep water.
"What a terrible casualty of the Iraqi
war Ã¢â‚¬â€œ one of our oldest and most beautiful cities, a famous
city, a historic city."
"It didn't have to be this bad. The entire city of New Orleans
needed have been lost. Hundreds of people need not have perished. Yet,
it now seems clear that the Bush administration sacrificed New Orleans
to pursue its mad war on Iraq."
Driftglass show us how
New Orleans now is "the poster child" for the GOP Owership
Society". A tinder-dry world where every uptick of the price of
oil and every flap of every bird's wing strikes ominous sparks, and yet
the fire extinguishers have all been hocked by you idiots for a few
hundred bucks in tax cuts. Read the whole thing.
No, this is the time for politics, none better, because I can tell that a lot of people in this
country are shocked and sobered by New Orleans, but they're also
worried and pissed off. They're making the connection between the
money, manpower, and resources expended in Iraq and how raggedy-ass the
rescue effort has been in the Gulf. If you don't say it now when
people's nerves are raw and they're paying full attention, it'll be too
late once the waters receded and the media-emoting "healing process"
An oil well damaged by Katrina spilled oil into coastal waters Wednesday near Port Fourchon, 100 miles southeast of New Orleans.
The Gulf of Mexico, the nation's largest energy center, was still
reeling yesterday, four days after Hurricane Katrina, crippling
gasoline supplies in some pockets of the country. In the face of the
turmoil, the government stepped up its release of strategic oil stocks
The Bush administration said it approved a loan of six million barrels from the emergency reserve to Exxon Mobil, and another one million barrels to Placid Refining. A third company, Valero,
will receive 1.5 million barrels. The new supply is, however, far less
than what is needed to make up for the expected loss of production from
the gulf - a region that accounts for over a quarter of domestic oil
Much of the gulf area's production and refining remained shut
yesterday, but the first signs emerged that at least some parts of the
region's intricate energy infrastructure were slowly coming back. Two
important pipelines that supply oil products to the East Coast began
limited operations again, supported by emergency power supplies. And a
huge oil-importing terminal in Louisiana provided reassurance that it
would resume receiving oil tankers soon.
Still, nine major Louisiana refineries remained without power,
according to the Energy Department. At least four others were running
at reduced capacity. In all, at least 1.8 million barrels a day of
refining capacity is still down, or about 10 percent of the nation's
Retail gasoline prices have surged in recent days to over $3 a
gallon in many parts of the country. Prices increased as much as 50
cents a gallon overnight, with Illinois, Michigan, Texas and
Pennsylvania reporting some of the biggest increases.
The nationwide average for premium fuel was $2.95 yesterday, up from $2.88 on Wednesday and $2.42 a month ago.
Two days before the Labor Day weekend, when millions of people
typically hit the roads for the last big summer holiday, President Bush
asked Americans to curb their gasoline consumption. "Americans should
be prudent in their use of energy during the course of the next few
weeks," Mr. Bush said yesterday. "Don't buy gas if you don't need it."
But while tapping the reserve and bringing in additional imports
will provide a quick injection of oil into the system, they will do
little to get refineries hit by the storm up and running again. What is
certain already is that Hurricane Katrina produced what economists had
feared most, a dislocation of oil and gas supplies on a global scale
and the prospect of even higher energy prices.
"We have lost a lot of supplies at a time when we were very
vulnerable," said Roger Diwan, a managing director at PFC Energy, an
oil consulting firm in Washington. "How high prices go will depend on
how quickly refiners can get back on."
PFC Energy estimated that 820,000 barrels a day of refining capacity was badly flooded and would remain without power for weeks.
The prospect of a sustained drop in refining operations pushed the
price of oil products on the New York Mercantile Exchange up again
yesterday. Gasoline futures for October delivery closed at $2.409 a
gallon, up 15.37 cents. The September contract expired at $2.61 a
gallon on Wednesday. Crude oil futures closed at $69.47 a barrel, up 53
Gasoline stocks have fallen for nine consecutive weeks and are at
their lowest since November 2003. Last week, they dropped by 500,000,
to 194 million barrels - enough to supply the country's total gasoline
consumption of 9.4 million barrels a day for about 20 days.
"The United States is facing a major gasoline crisis and is starting from a nearly empty tank," Barclays Capital said in a note.
The White House has already approved more loans from the strategic
oil reserves than the 5.4 million barrels it released after Hurricane
Ivan, which hit the gulf last September. The administration also
relaxed shipping rules to allow foreign ships to transport oil and
gasoline between American ports to make up for shortages in some
sections of the country.
"By utilizing the resources from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, we
will help minimize any potential supply disruptions as a result of the
hurricane," Samuel W. Bodman, the energy secretary, said in a
But the real problem, said Frank A. Verrastro, the head of the
energy program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in
Washington, "is the refining capacity, not crude."
The first hurdle to overcome is the lack of electrical power.
The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, an import terminal with a capacity
of 1.2 million barrels of crude oil a day, said it had suffered only
minimal damage but had not been able to take deliveries from oil
tankers because it was waiting for power to be restored to its onshore
storage operation in Galliano, about 74 miles south of New Orleans.
"I really feel confident that we will be going as soon as we have
energy," said Tommy Martinez, executive director of the agency that
regulates the terminal. Port Fourchon, which serves offshore rigs,
platforms and the offshore oil terminal, is still struggling to get
back to full capacity.
Ships that use the port, which is about 100 miles south of New
Orleans, still cannot sail through the clogged waterways that connect
it to the Mississippi River and other shipping channels, said Ted M.
Falgout, the port's executive director. Bridges along those waterways
are not operating because they do not have power.
The pipelines that transport oil or refined products to the
Northeast, the Midwest and the Southeast reported some limited
Valero, the nation's largest independent refiner, said it had
restored power to its refinery in St. Charles, La., and that a quarter
of its employees had managed to return to work. Initial reports from
the company suggested that it would take as long as two weeks to
restart the flooded refinery.
said that that its refinery in Pascagoula, Miss., which has a capacity
of 325,000 barrels a day, had escaped "catastrophic damage" thanks to a
dike that has held up. But the plant remain shut.
The delays at refineries and pipelines rippled through the system.
One gasoline wholesaler, Petroleum Traders , reported it was being cut
off by BP
and Marathon, which have contracts that allow them to supply their own
distributors first during supply shocks. Exxon Mobil and Chevron also
warned of gasoline disruptions.
To make up for the domestic shortfall, oil companies began taking
measures to increase their imports of gasoline and diesel fuel from
Europe. Bloomberg News reported that as many as 10 tankers were booked
by companies, including BP, Chevron and ConocoPhillips, to ship about 130 million gallons of gasoline.
But even if imports grow, much depends on how quickly oil production can be restored in the gulf.
The Gulf of Mexico accounts for about 1.5 percent of global oil
production but with little spare production capacity anywhere around
the world, its impact is being felt far beyond the region's storm-hit
More than 90 percent of the gulf's daily oil output was still
closed. Natural gas production was down by 79 percent, a slight
improvement over Wednesday, the Interior Department reported. That did
not ease the pressure on the markets, with natural gas futures on the
New York Mercantile Exchange rising 2.5 percent, to $11.757 a thousand
Since Aug. 26, more than 7.4 million barrels of oil, or 1.3 percent
of the gulf's yearly production, has not been produced as a consequence
of the storm.
Another uncertainty looms over the gulf's energy infrastructure.
When Hurricane Ivan hit the gulf last September, it created
underwater mud slides that uprooted crucial underwater pipelines,
delaying the return of full production for six months. In all, that
storm cut oil production by 43.8 million barrels.
So far, there is no indication of the impact of Hurricane Katrina on
the gulf's 33,000 miles of underwater pipelines, a seabed grid that
links thousands of offshore platforms to refiners and storage tanks on
"For all the talk of political uncertainty in Nigeria or Russia or
Venezuela last year, the biggest single loss of production was from
Ivan," Mr. Verrastro at the study center in Washington said. "Our
definition of risk might be changing. The weather is becoming one of
the biggest factors."
With hundreds of thousands of people homeless, oil companies were
facing more basic problems, even such previously simple tasks as
contacting employees. Chevron is advertising a toll-free number for its
"On the top of our agenda is finding where our employees are," said
Mickey Driver, a Chevron spokesman in Houston. "It's a major concern
LONDON (Reuters) - The world has watched amazed as the
planet's only superpower struggles with the aftermath of
Hurricane Katrina, with some saying the chaos has exposed flaws
and deep divisions in American society.
World leaders and ordinary citizens have expressed sympathy
with the people of the southern United States whose lives were
devastated by the hurricane and the flooding that followed.
The United States has not actively sought foreign aid following
Hurricane Katrina but dozens of countries lined up on Friday to help
with rescue efforts, from hefty cash donations to tents and helicopters.
The State Department said more than 40 governments and international
organizations had made generous offers and the list was growing by the
hour after Katrina devastated New Orleans and other parts of the U.S.
Gulf Coast, killing hundreds and possibly thousands of people.
But many have also been shocked by the images of disorder
beamed around the world -- looters roaming the debris-strewn
streets and thousands of people gathered in New Orleans waiting
for the authorities to provide food, water and other aid.
"Anarchy in the USA" declared Britain's best-selling
newspaper The Sun.
The pictures of the catastrophe -- which has killed
hundreds and possibly thousands -- have evoked memories of
crises in the world's poorest nations such as last year's
tsunami in Asia, which left more than 230,000 people dead or
But some view the response to those disasters more
favorably than the lawless aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
"I am absolutely disgusted. After the tsunami our people,
even the ones who lost everything, wanted to help the others
who were suffering," said Sajeewa Chinthaka, 36, as he watched
a cricket match in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
"Not a single tourist caught in the tsunami was mugged. Now
with all this happening in the U.S. we can easily see where the
civilized part of the world's population is."
"A modern metropolis sinking in water and into anarchy --
it is a really cruel spectacle for a champion of security like
Bush," France's left-leaning Liberation newspaper said.
"(Al Qaeda leader Osama) bin Laden, nice and dry in his
hideaway, must be killing himself laughing."
A female employee at a multinational firm in South Korea
said it may have been no accident the U.S. was hit. "Maybe it was punishment for what it did to Iraq, which has
a man-made disaster, not a natural disaster," said the woman,
who did not want to be named as she has an American manager."A lot of the people I work with think this way. We spoke
about it just the other day," she said.
Commentators noted the victims of the hurricane were
overwhelmingly African Americans, too poor to flee the region
as the hurricane loomed unlike some of their white neighbors.
New Orleans ranks fifth in the United States in terms of
African American population and 67 percent of the city's
residents are black.
"In one of the poorest states in the country, where black
people earn half as much as white people, this has taken on a
racial dimension," said a report in Britain's Guardian daily.
Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, in a veiled
criticism of U.S. political thought, said the disaster showed
the need for a strong state that could help poor people.
"You see in this example that even in the 21st century you
need the state, a good functioning state, and I hope that for
all these people, these poor people, that the Americans will do
their best," he told reporters at a meeting in
"Maybe they just thought they could sit it out and
everything would be okay," he said.
"It's unbelievable though -- the TV images -- and your
heart goes out to them
Bush: Nobody Anticipated The Breach Of The Levees
I'm sick about the situation in New Orleans. We're America, for pity's sake!
When the third world countries laugh at us because we have no plan for
evacuating cities (Homeland Security?) , when others (Canada, Germany,
Netherlands) offer help when help is needed and we refuse WHILE PEOPLE
ARE DYING, what is our future?
The government of these United States created agencies to manage and
mitigate natural disasters like this, to guide and comfort those in
need, to seek out help from other nations, to work with the citizens
affected so that their lives might not be wiped out by a violent act of
man or nature. When those agencies, their expected response, that
fucking compact between the government and her people implied in the
creation of such agencies, absolutely and utterly breaks down, that is
When a president, who should have been receiving reports hourly on the
situation in New Orleans, says no one could ever have imagined anything
like this, five days after the gates of hell opened on a city, that is
When people call for help and cannot hear an answer, when they cry for
food and cannot be fed, when they starve and die in the streets of
America, America the beautiful, America the powerful and generous and
free, because we cannot find the boats fast enough nor the planes nor
the buses to save them, that is politcal. Our saying does not make it
so. It is.
Our response to the hurricane is already political. Government agencies
are being mobilized, tax dollars are being spent. Our fellow citizens
are suffering. Our leaders made us a promise when the took the oath of
their office. They held up their hands and they said, "I do solemnly
swear that I will support and defend the constitution of the United
States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true
faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely,
without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will
well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am
about to enter. So help me God."
When an American city descends into anarchy and chaos, when a man dies
in a lawn chair on a grassy median, garbage strewn at his feet, when
gunshots prevent rescuers from taking the hands of the helpless, that
is political. Our leaders take an oath to defened this country against
all enemies. Even if the enemy is the rising of the tide.
Call your congressional representatives.
Remind them of their responsibility to ensure Americans are safe. Tell
them you want this horrific situation remedied. Tell them about the
stories you've read here and elsewhere, the pictures you've seen. Tell
them what you want them to do.
I took a sampling of some editorials and only an excerpt is provided to ensure that
copyrights aren't violated.
But even before engineers repair the damaged levees and
begin the long process of pumping New Orleans out, the city's residents
deserve to know whether human actions or inactions bear a share of
responsibility for this catastrophe. There is strong evidence that they
do and that the entire Gulf area will be at risk of future Katrinas if
policies and priorities are not changed.
George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his
life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the
need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual
in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was
needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an
Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators
and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast. He advised the
public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and
promised that everything would work out in the end.
Each time you hear a federal, state or city official
explain what he or she is doing to help New Orleans, consider the
opening paragraphs of a July 24 story in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
"City, state and federal emergency officials are preparing to give the
poorest of New Orleans' poor a historically blunt message: In the event
of a major hurricane, you're on your own."
And yet apparently there was no emergency plan and no resources to evacuate "the carless, the homeless, the aged and infirm."
In this era when we are a nation at risk of terrorism and natural
disasters, we can only hope that what is happening in New Orleans is
not built into the fabric of our national homeland security policy. We
should provide security for everyone, including the poor, aged and
Watch for a public uproar when statistics show how many
impoverished citizens of New Orleans were killed by Hurricane Katrina
because they couldn't afford to flee.
"We knew the hurricane was going to hit New Orleans and Mississippi
hard. Why didn't we send buses in to get the poor people out before
disaster hit? We spend millions on recovery and rescue AFTERWARDS . . .
when we could have alleviated so much death BEFORE?"
Jack Cafferty on CNN
...I'm 62 and I remember the riots in Watts, I
remember the earth Quake in San Francisco, I remember a lot of things.
I have never, ever seen anything as badly bungled and poorly handled as
this situation in New Orleans. Where the hell is the water for these
people. Why can't sandwiches be dropped to those people that are in
that Super Dome down there...This is Thursday...This storm happened
five days ago. It's a disgrace and don't think the world isn't
God is on a roof in New Orleans, waiting to be plucked off. God is in
the streets of New Orleans, trying to keep order as a lone policeman in
a mob of looters. God is in the Superdome, hot and sweaty in a fetid
atmosphere. And God is the National Guardsman trying to help people
there. God is the woman with all her possessions in two plastic bags in
Slidell. God is the woman stranded in Mississippi, unable to buy gas
from a pump that can't pump, unable to go forward, unable to go
backward. "Lord, when did we see you?," the people ask at Judgment Day,
in Matthew 25. Look around Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama: you'll see
God. What do we do now? We help. We help in any way we can.
skippy is taking charge and issuing a challenge to all bloggers -- no, all Americans -- to donate $100.01 to the Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina victims.
You can also call 1-800 HELP NOW. America depends on your generosity.
Shawn is among several who've written in to suggest that
Google Earth could be used to collaboratively analyze aerial image data
for Katrina damage zones, and map out which areas have been flooded,
Part of the idea here is to help residents who've been displaced. They
want to know if their homes are flooded, but can't get direct ground
survey reports because, well, there is no ground in a lot of places right now. Only water.
Blogger Kathryn Cramer has an interesting post on her blog exploring this same topic: Link (there are many updates on her post since this morning).
Looking at Kathryn's pictures, the red-roofed building
is very prominent on the Google Earth imagery, by the north end of the
canal. It's on the lake shore. In the background haze you can see the
high-rise buildings of the city centre. And the trees and the buildings
on the opposite side of the canal are good landmarks on Google Earth.
30d01m07s N 90d07m17s W
And that looks like a 200-foot breach, similar width to the canal.
Kevin has accomplished what I haven't. He has gotten me a corrected
"before" shot. I have them from Google Maps and GlobeXplorer, but
couldn't seem to either link to them, or get copies.
The google earth community is really flowing with people
matching up arial photos to the levee breaks. There's one group of
people setting up an auto updating google earth file. I placed all of
the good ones I found at tehsquee.com
You need Google Earth to be able to use the files he's posted there. Props for Kathryn Cramer from The Betamax Guillotine.
One example of how several people plus Google plus Flickr, not being
paid for their time and dedication to spreading better information,
have provided us with better information than all the breathless,
hand-wringing storm porn media folks in the last [Read More]
This one appears to be a highly foreshortened view of
the bridge the carries State Hwy 39 over the short canal connecting the
river and the Main Outfall canal.
The breach appears to be at opposite Jourdan Ave, near N Roman Street, at about 29 58 12.48 N 90 01 24.64 W
The thing I don't understand is that the water in this photo seems to be flowing INTO the canal.
Throughout NOLA, water is rising in the streets this morning. The suspected cause: a levee break (update: reports now of three separate breaks)
along a canal leading to Lake Pontchartrain. The city lies below sea
level, and the complex system of pumps, canals and levees that protects
it no longer functions. Electrical, gas, and telecommunications grids
are equally devastated -- and the lack of even the most basic
communications technology is making rescue efforts all the more
Ian Sewell points us to an audio file
of CNN's Jeanne Meserve, reporting about what she witnessed yesterday
in the Katrina-damaged zone. Journalists "are sometimes wacky thrill
seekers" in hurricanes, Meserve said. "But when you stand in the dark,
and you hear people yelling for help and no one can get to them, it's a
totally different experience." This page contains a 10MB MP3.
I just heard this on CNN, so I can't provide the link to it I would
like to, but earlier today a refugee from New Orleans noted that his
debit card was useless. His bank is either underwater or without power,
so the computer can't confirm that he has cash to back up his
purchases. Which means he may be as rich as Midas, but he can't access
the funds, so he's as poor as a homeless person.Which brings me
to the head of FEMA, on tape just now on CNN. He referred to the same
problem, and while he'd told Larry King earlier, live, that FEMA had
specifically prepared for a hurricane strike on New Orleans as its
worst-case scenario of all possible natural disasters in the U.S.,
apparently they didn't prepare for this. His solution? Ask the Red
Cross. Or charities. Or churches. The Red Cross, I understand,
has taken in $21 million in relief funds for this effort. But who do
you think has the greater financial resources? The Red Cross? a local
church? Or the Federal Government?
You prepare for disaster relief with the FEMA head you have, and not with the FEMA head you want!
Dove soap’s European-wide "Campaign for Real Beauty" has taken on a
local twist in Düsseldorf, Germany. The people next door at the local
Ogilvy & Mather office have not only sold their souls to their
client, but their bodies as well. These local posters are being used in
conjunction with the real "Real" campaign and placed on bus stop
shelters. The headline reads: "They’re not models, just soft Dove admen from Ogilvy Düsseldorf."
if I understood what was said about it on Brutal women, those are, in
fact, the ad execs who came up with the dove "real women" campaign. the
specific guys, which is why they aren't models: they aren't, they're ad
These men are perfectly average-looking
white-collar white dudes, but unlike the women in the ad, they're OLD.
And they're clearly not models, which the women in the original ad
obviously are -- you know, gorgeous features, perfect skin, no
cellulite, perfectly proportioned. The equation breaks down there.
Again, what's the point? And why didn't they find younger
I'm all for something that makes fun of the squeamish dorks who
complain about the Dove ads in the subway (although I also don't pass
judgment on anyone's sexual preferences -- a man is allowed to be
attracted only to skinny women if that's his thing). But this parody
doesn't do the trick -- it's too muddled. As many have said here, these
guys seem cute and likeable -- so how does this work as parody? What
statement is it making?