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Friday, September 30, 2005

Group announces whistleblower award fund


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 outcome.

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 velvetrevolution.us

The release urges those with information to contact Velvet Revolution.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: CNW Group | CNW Group | Groupe CNW | F&C » Corporate News | F&C » News | F&C » News | F&C » News | Common Dreams NewsWire | Chemical Weapons Working Group : Index to Press Releases

2:10:41 AM    

Friday Cat Blogging

categories: Humor
Other Stories according to Google: Watermark: Friday Cat Blogging | Watermark: Friday Cat Blogging | Watermark: Friday Cat Blogging | Friday Cat Blogging | The Countess: Friday Cat Blogging | The Countess: Friday Cat Blogging | The Countess: Friday Cat Blogging | CathColl.net » Friday cat blogging | Schussman.com: Friday cat blogging | The Moderate Voice - Friday Cat Blogging

1:47:30 AM    

Looking For Her Bush Boom Again

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 area.

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.

So, 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.

Just be a pal, y'know?

categories: Soul
Other Stories according to Google: The Bush Boomlet - The economy just had a great quarter. Does that | The Rachel Maddow Show | Air America Radio | | Through the looking glass | Bush : We will support Israel if her security is threatened by Iran | Bush Boom Bah! | New Zealand Herald - Bush tucker by the billabong - Saturday 04 | Bloomberg.com: Bloomberg Columnists | Political Ads - CJR, Jan/Feb 92 | Laura Bush Joins Hit Makeover Show as It Focuses on Storm Victims

1:20:00 AM    

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Who's In Charge If Bird Flu Strikes --- Docs or Cops?

Maybe the Clowns will be in charge!

Thanks to Wayne at PSOTD.

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 pale horse.

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.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Who's in charge if bird flu strikes -- docs or cops ? | Who's in charge if bird flu strikes -- docs or cops ? | Who's in charge if bird flu strikes -- docs or cops ? | Who's in charge if bird flu strikes -- docs or cops ? | THE online news source for daily updates featuring politics | Who's in charge if bird flu strikes -- docs or cops ? | Who's in charge if bird flu strikes -- docs or cops ? | Who's in charge if bird flu strikes -- docs or cops ? | Who's in charge if bird flu strikes -- docs or cops ? | Who's in charge if bird flu strikes -- docs or cops ?

1:21:36 AM    

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Gas Demand Can't Go Down Very Fast

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 they're in.

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 popular in 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 debt.
Also, in case you missed it the other day, Spooky left the following scary story in a comment:
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.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: "The End of the ME?," Feature Article, May 2005 | WorldChanging: Another World Is Here: Gas -Optional & Green | State Probing Power Companies SCHEME?: Investigating gas reserves | TIME Asia Magazine: China's Quest for Oil -- Oct. 25, 2004 | NOLA.com: Times-Picayune Breaking News Weblog | News-Record.com - Greensboro, North Carolina: News: Locking gas | ASPO - The Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas | Great Gas Mileage Going Nowhere Fast by Bob Holt (article) | Radio Blogger

10:50:10 PM    

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Hey, You F*cked Up!  You Trusted US!

A new slogan for FEMA, the goverment gang that can't shoot straight.

Judge 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.

Looks like Texans aren't too thrilled with the feds either.
Frustration and anger mounted in Southeast Texas on Monday over the response to Hurricane Rita by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

With 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 county.

"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 (nonsense)."

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. 

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: dmusic.com - DMUSIC CONTEST: $100.00 prize to VICTORSKULL! | bestweekever: " You F * cked up ! You Trusted Us !" | Seeing The Forest - a Weblog of Politics | Compare Prices and Read Reviews on The Marshall Mathers LP | Compare Prices and Read Reviews on The Golden Age[CD & DVD] | Mike Randle's diary -590 | Notorious Thugs Lyrics - BIG Notorious | UHND.com - Unofficial Notre Dame Fighting Irish Message Board | :: Notorious BIG Lyrics Notorious thugs :: RAP & HIP HOP LYRICS | FIREFLYFANS.NET

10:33:33 PM    

Warning: Some Breasts but No Torture Porno

I love this Quick Time video from Truth Out.

The above is a link to footage from the protest in front of the Lily White House, including a very reasonable request that George Bush vacant the premises.

Let's make someone hear us everyday until the war ends.

A Day of Civil Disobedience

Washington, DC | 09.26.05

categories: Politics
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7:23:00 PM    

Monday, September 26, 2005

Lynndie England Convicted In Abu Ghraib Torture/Photo Case

England Convicted in Abu Ghraib Abuse Case

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 prison.

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.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: CBS News | 27 Intel Soldiers Linked To Abuse | October 20, 2004 07 | CBS News | Guilty Plea In Abu Ghraib Abuse | October 21, 2004 10 | Moving On - Children of the Children of God | Bill and Kent's Place on the Web |

11:39:49 PM    

Sheehan Arrested During Anti-War Protest

Washington Post Link

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 agency said.

"The whole world is watching," protesters chanted as Sheehan was led to a police vehicle.

Sheehan and some 200 other protesters sat in circles on the sidewalk, apparently courting arrest. Hundreds more people rallied in Lafayette Park, across Pennsylvania Avenue.

Sheehan's arrest 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."

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Arrest In Texas Protest Cross-Up - August 16, 2005 | Sheen, Sharpton visit Crawford anti - war camp - Politics - MSNBC.com | Salon.com - War Room | Democratic Underground - Cindy Sheehan reportedly arrested in New | truthout - One Mother's Stand | FOX40 KTXL | Vacaville Peace Mom Roughed Up During Protest | Protests against the invasion of Iraq - Wikipedia, the free | Cindy Sheehan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia | village voice > news > NYPD Unplugs Cindy Sheehan by Sarah Ferguson

5:12:07 PM    

If There's No News, Is It Good Or Bad

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

Energy Industry analyst Jon Kilduff of FIMAT told CNN there are reports of some missing semi-submersible offshore rigs, but no details were available.

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 Houston market.

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:

The 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.

categories: Politics
Other Stories according to Google: Poynter Online - Forums | CNN.com - The big disconnect on New Orleans - Sep 2, 2005 | Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: January 02, 2005 | Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: September 04, 2005 | Bad News for Analysts, Good News for CIOs - IT Advisory Services | Instapundit.com | VNN -- Uncensored news for Whites. | OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan | Rita writers - Clicked - MSNBC.com | Fafblog! the whole worlds only source for Fafblog.

12:04:50 AM    

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Short (Of Cash) People

Millions of people from the Gulf Coast are suffering from the devastation of this hurricane season;
victims need your help today.

You can give to any of the "Network for Good" charities listed in the categories below.

Help Hurricane KATRINA Victims Rebuild

Help Hurricane RITA Victims Rebuild

categories: Heart
Other Stories according to Google: Short of cash and need a free place to flop? Try couch surfing | The cash business | ACNielsen Trends&Insights - Multi-Region Study Shows US Consumers | newsobserver.com | Business | Quick and Easy Cash ? There's Nothing Easy About Payday Loans | Five fun ways to make quick cash - Mar. 13, 2002 | New hospital short of cash for equipment - National - www.theage | GM's Bumpy Ride - Forbes.com | Milui HCI/Usability Articles » So, you’re short of cash and you

9:34:06 PM    

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Thousands Protest Iraq War

Look at what Cindy Sheehan did!

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:
Opponents 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 dissent.

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.

On 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 "criminal." 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."

A 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 Basra.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: KUTV: Thousands Protest Bush, Iraq War In Salt Lake City | United Press International: Thousands protest Iraq war in DC | truthout - Thousands Protest Bush, Iraq War in Salt Lake City | BBC NEWS | UK | 'Million' march against Iraq war | Thousands Protest Iraq War Across Europe - News - Muzi.com | PeaceUK and Iraq Body Count Archives - Thousands protest Iraq War | The Seattle Times: Local News: Thousands rally to protest Iraq war | People's Daily Online -- Thousands protest Iraq war in London | Denver CO - March 20, 2004 - Rocky Mountain News: Thousands

8:56:57 PM    

Rita's Long-term Impact on US Oil Unknown

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.

But 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 border.


Katrina 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.


As 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 make many other adjustments. None of this would all be bad, though, of course, many 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.

categories: Mind
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1:49:18 AM    

Friday, September 23, 2005

Friday Cat Blogging

Katrina 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.

categories: Soul
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1:00:08 AM    

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Katrina Wall Of Shame

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 post.

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.

For the 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.

Officials at 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.

Obviously 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 says Greed is not going to rebuild the Gulf Coast for the benefit of anyone but the most greedy.

categories: Outrages
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11:39:15 PM    

FBI Recruits Wanted For Porn Squad

Mary 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 future.

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.

Do they think Hurricane Katrina and Rita are just the result of enormous amounts of heated moist air that was twisted high in the atmosphere and then began to circle counterclockwise, which then generated winds between 74 and 200 miles per hour? Pat Robertson who believes Hurricane Katrina/Rita was sent by God as an omen or as a punishment for America's alleged sins. And don't forget the alarmists like Hal Lindsey for whom it's clear that Hurricane Katrina/Rita signals that "the judgment of America has begun."

Ergo, if we stop all this legal porn marketed for adults, God might stop trying to drown us.

categories: Outrages
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2:20:38 AM    

Bush's Booze Crisis?

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 crisis.

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!"

categories: Politics
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12:21:38 AM    

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

An Important Public Service Announcement

Click Here to View an Important Public Service Announcement

I told you so.

categories: Humor
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12:53:31 AM    

Iraq And The Numbers Game

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 straight:

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 each insurgent.

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 20,000-man insurgency.

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.

Obviously, the US, not knowing who or where the insurgents are, is just striking blindly, creating a larger insurgency.

According 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.

Stalemated in Iraq, the White House moron intends to attack two more countries.

categories: Outrages
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12:10:12 AM    

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Judge Releases Catawba Documents

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:

(via Columbia SC State)
A 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.

Nearly half 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..

categories: Politics
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11:30:40 PM    

Monday, September 19, 2005

New Orleans Suspends Reopening of City

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 passers-by.

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 withdraw money.

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

categories: Politics
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11:01:40 PM    


'We'll meet Again'

Peace takes Courage.

Crossposted from GreatScat

categories: Soul
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6:18:42 PM    

It'll Be A Talk Like A Pirate Day

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5:28:07 PM    

Rob of HelpyChalk Interviews Gretna's Mayor

Check this out, Rob of HelpyChalk faxed Mayor Ronnie Harris, and the Mayor phoned Rob back:

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.

categories: Outrages
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12:57:51 PM    

Who Would Imagine, Superdome Is Cursed

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Superdome became a symbol of relief efforts gone wrong, a scene of heartbreaking misery for thousands.

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 Saints football team has had to live through 'Black Sunday', 'Big Ben', the Botched Extra-point, Bungled drafts, the Ditka disaster, a total of three decades of 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 their passengers.

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 stench.

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 with supplies for those stuck there. Buses took days to arrive and finally move 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.

categories: Miscelleous
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2:51:00 AM    

Saturday, September 17, 2005

More Than The Levees Were Breached By Katrina

"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?]

A 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.

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?"

..."It's 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.
And 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 said.

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.

Presumably some of the people who decided to do this call themselves Christians. They might want to reread what Jesus said about helping one's neighbors.

..."The reason we don't live there is we don't like the crime, the politics."

The reason I don't live in the deep South is because I don't like southerners and bigots. But I wouldn't refuse food, water and shelter to them if they were fleeing a catastrophe.

Unless they were from Gretna.

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.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: CNN.com - Chertoff: Katrina scenario did not exist - Sep 4, 2005 | NOLA.com: Hurricane Center | NOLA.com: TP Orleans Parish Breaking News Weblog | No quick fix for New Orleans' breached levees - Hurricane Katrina | Looting, Fires And a Second Evacuation | FOXNews.com - US & World - 'This Is Our Tsunami' | Attytood: When the levee breaks | Think Progress » KATRINA TIMELINE | Eight Big Lies About Katrina | Effect of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans - Wikipedia, the free

8:54:01 PM    

Friday, September 16, 2005

Camp Casey

The Camp Casey Memorial on Prairie Chapel Road was removed by thieves earlier today. Not a single item is left at the memorial site.

Crew members 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.

Items that 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.

Veterans For 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.”

Veterans 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.

categories: Outrages
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10:11:10 PM    

Live from New Orleans it's Thursday Night.

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 reads:
"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.

categories: Outrages
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9:26:42 PM    

Friday Cat Blogging

Guess Who?

categories: Humor
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12:35:49 AM    

Thursday, September 15, 2005

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?

But here's another, from today's Times ...
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 reconstruction.

There's plenty of blame to go all around.  As Wanda Sykes points out on 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."

categories: Outrages
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11:46:25 PM    

Speculators Rushing In as the Water Recedes

Would-be home buyers are betting New Orleans will be a boomtown. And many of the city's poorest residents could end up being forced out.

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 and uninsured.

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.

Six 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 boyfriend, a 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."

categories: Miscelleous
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7:55:43 PM    

A Brief Summary of Recent Divine Smitings

Divine retribution is happening quickly these days, so I thought it would be helpful to put together a sequence of God's most recent smitings and their causes.

Monday, August 29th, 2005

Divine Smite: Hurricane Katrina makes landfall.

Cause: Interpretations vary.  On the one hand, it's because God was listening to the prayers of Iraqi and/or Afghani parents who've had children killed by US bombs.  On the other hand, it's because God, in His mercy, wanted to purge New Orleans of all of its "sodomites, abortion clinics, Mardi Gras celebrations and witchcraft workers."

Then there's Pat Robertson who believes Hurricane Katrina was an omen sent from God to warn us about the shedding of innocent blood, by which he means  abortions. And don't forget the alarmists like Hal Lindsey for whom it's clear that Hurricane Katrina signals that "the judgment of America has begun."

But let's not get bogged down in details, the bottom line is that God wanted Hurricane Katrina to happen. 

September 14, 2005

Divine Smite: Hurricane Ophelia To Make Landfall Tonight

Cause:  Judge rules that the pledge of allegiance is unconstitutional and not appropriate for public schools. Even the most secular humanists will recognize that this is more than a coincidence!

Updated Cause: Britney Spears, Kevin Federline Reproduce

Still developing...

categories: Soul
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3:00:32 PM    

50K: The Price of Freedom in New Orleans

The 73-year-old church deaconess, never before in trouble with the law, now sleeps among hardened criminals. Her bail is a stiff $50,000.

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 � 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 said.

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," Bishop said.

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.

categories: Outrages
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2:43:11 PM    

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I Think I May Need A Bathroom Break?

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 historical significance...

"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?

categories: Humor
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9:43:39 PM    

Stripper to Apprentice Trump?

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."

Wartenberg later 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.

categories: Body
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2:46:35 AM    

Memo Shows Chertoff Delayed Federal Response

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 to handle.


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 textbook.

"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."

Chertoff's Aug. 30 memo is posted at www.krwashington.com

categories: Outrages
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1:53:51 AM    

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Shaq Helps Cops Nab Suspect

Shaquille O'Neal provided an assist to police over the weekend, trailing a man who allegedly assaulted a gay couple before alerting an arresting officer.

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.

The 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.

"For 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."

categories: Miscelleous
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11:11:08 PM    

Be Sure To Always Check For The Weasel Words

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 incredible triple weasel--flawlessly!

Just 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" He's done...

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!

categories: Outrages
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1:35:58 PM    

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Good News
In recent weeks, a satirical attack on the teaching of Creationism in American schools has become the world's fastest growing 'religion'.

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 telephone line 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 exist.

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.

Some "Pastafarians" 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".

categories: Soul
Other Stories according to Google: Good News Bears

11:33:49 PM    

Bush Didn't Know New Orleans Was Bad Until Day 5

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
When 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
A 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.
Gov. 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.
here 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
Early 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.
Bad 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.
The 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.

categories: Outrages
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2:34:26 AM    

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Rummy, Minister of Silly Walks

Tight 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.

Park 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:








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.

categories: Outrages
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9:52:06 PM    

Did Someone Say Looting?

President Bush has a ZERO-TOLERANCE for looting, and so do we.

Directly from TooStupidToBePresident.com

The Top 12 Most Egregious Instances Of Looting

12. Screwing the carpenters and the brick layers and the sheetrockers. etc. out of their wages for the rebuilding of the Gulf region.

11. Gas stations charging four dollars a gallon or more in anticipation of higher oil prices.

10. Enron, Tyco, Worldcom, Adelphia, Arthur Andersen, Global Crossing, etc.

9. Pharmaceutical interests' authorship of the Medicare prescription drug "benefit."

8. The invasion of Iraq.

7. Taking 365 vacation days for every four years in office.

6. The energy bill.

5. No-bid, cost-plus contracts for Halliburton.

4. Record quarterly profits for the petroleum industry while we wage two wars.

3. Five percent of the world's population consuming 25% of the world's finite resources.

2. The 2000 and 2004 elections.

1. Trickle-down effect: reallocating funds for New Orleans levee repair to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy.
Yeah, that pretty much covers it.

categories: Outrages
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2:50:57 PM    

Why Did Police Threaten To Shoot Anyone Walking To Safety?

Update on an earlier post, what we did last summer on our vacation

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 River.

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. Al 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

categories: Outrages
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3:13:05 AM    

Friday, September 09, 2005

Compassionate Conservatism

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."

Baker 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.

categories: Outrages
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7:18:49 PM    

Friday Cat Blogging

categories: Humor
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1:29:27 AM    

Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job!

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.)

Before 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 practice, 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.


Katrina is a wake up call for all of us! Bush and Brown must go NOW.
We 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 9 2005

Al 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

categories: Outrages
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12:50:50 AM    

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Best Picture Ever

This one captured off a TV screen carrying Sky News Ireland:

They were evidently simply quoting Bush (thus the colon after "Bush"), and with the phrase structured that way it just "happened" to be perfect for a double entendre.

In other words, a very happy coincidence, and artfully placed.

"Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it." - Mark Twain

categories: Humor
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3:19:42 PM    

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Coming Long Cold Winter

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 mine.)

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."

James Howard Kunstler also sees in the back ground in the wake of Katrina.

"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 peak.

"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."

categories: Outrages
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11:16:42 PM    

What We Did Last Summer On Our Vacation

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 outside of

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 enthusiasm.

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 move.

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 atomized groups.

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.

categories: Outrages
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9:27:04 PM    

Lest We Forget

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 really doing 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 imagine.

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.

categories: Soul
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2:58:06 PM    

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

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 areas.  "They've 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."

Also 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 federal government.

Firefighters 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.

You can't make this stuff up.

categories: Outrages
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11:33:30 PM    

Briton Slams US Rescue 'Shambles'

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.

Snapshot photographs

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 photographs."

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 future."

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.

categories: Outrages
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10:40:23 PM    

Help For Katrina's Victims 

From the new site, Katrina Refugees United:

"If 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 refugeesunited.org.

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.

categories: Soul
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2:58:03 PM    

New Orleans People Victimized By Storm, Relief Efforts And Rumours

From the Guardian: Murder and Rape: Fact or Fiction

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.

In 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.

New 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 centre.

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.

Nor 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.

During a week when communications were difficult, rumours have acquired a particular currency. They acquired through repetition the status of established facts.

One French journalist from the daily newspaper Libération was given precise information that 1,200 people had drowned at Marion Abramson school on 5552 Read Boulevard. Nobody at the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the New Orleans police force has been able to verify that.

But 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.

"You 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.

Reports 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.

By 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.

"We 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."

The 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."

Similarly 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 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".

So, 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.

categories: Outrages
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1:13:50 PM    

To Everything There Is A Season
And A Time For Every Purpose

(Reprinted from Making Light)

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 your soul.

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 sources.)

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.

categories: Soul
Other Stories according to Google: To everything there is a season | Amazon.com: To Every Thing There Is A Season : Books | Amazon.com: Books: For Everything There Is a Season : The Sequence | Poems and Prose - For Everything There Is a Season | articles : For Everything There Is a Season : Youthworker Journal | Ecclesiastes 3:1 For everything there is a season , and a time | For everything there is a season | To Everything There Is A Season | To everything there is a season | Entertainment news, gossip & music, movie & book reviews on Stuff

1:46:51 AM    

Monday, September 05, 2005

A Hero For This Time

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.

About 100 people packed into the stolen bus. They were the first to enter the Houston Astrodome, but they weren't exactly welcomed.

The big 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.


Authorities 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?

What 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 sanctioned channels?
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?

I 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."

categories: Outrages
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8:14:41 PM    

Spinning Like A Top, Lying Like A Rug

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 Chertoff's mind.

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:

The 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 and white.

...."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:

Under 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.

Yes, dammit!! Read bush's disaster declaration of 27 August here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/08/20050827-1.html). It *was* there last night but the White House REMOVED IT!! I just checked it seconds 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?

from CNN:

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 added.

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 Katrina."

"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!

categories: Outrages
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1:00:36 PM    

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Bush Recalled to National Guard!

Iraq-depleted, desperate Guard calling back those with unfulfilled commitments for hurricane emergency.

Reprinted from the Eyewitness Muse

EWM - (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."

Pentagon computer 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 search results.

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.

U.S. 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."

"But 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" banner.

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.

categories: Humor
Other Stories according to Google: The IFOC News: President Bush Recalled To National Guard Duty | President Bush Recalled To National Guard Duty | Bush's <i> Top Gun</i> Photo-Op | Bush left no traces in his tour of duty / Years of searching for | Bush's Guard Service In Question (washingtonpost.com) | washingtonpost.com: Bush's Guard Service In Question | AlterNet: Bush's Top Gun Photo-Op | Bush's Top Gun Photo-Op | FactCheck.org Democratic Group's Ad Revives "AWOL" Allegation | USATODAY.com - Ex-officer: Bush file's details caused concern

2:13:07 PM    

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

I 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.

The Briefing: 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 city center.

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 time.

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 came back:

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 yesterday.

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.
But as was pointed out this morning, a report by CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr directly contradicted Bush's statement.
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 response efforts...

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.

categories: Outrages
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1:16:04 AM    

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Katrina and Public Health Truths and Myths

Hat Tip to Revere at Effect Measure

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.

Misinformation 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.

The 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 supervision.

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 period.

Or can they?

categories: Mind
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7:44:47 PM    

Houston: Bush Administration Has A PR Problem

"W. drove his budget-cutting Chevy to the levee, and it wasn't dry. Bye, bye, American lives."

Rightous indignation, Gilliard style:

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 ain't flying.

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.

This is one of the finest (and awful) moments on TV. And it was on FOX. And involved Geraldo in the "Horror Show.

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.

Thankfully, Paul Craig Roberts is ignoring the pleas for sotto voce commentary in a time of tragedy.

"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 against looting.

"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 gaping gaps.

"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 destroyed homes.

"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 – 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" begins.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Skeptics Society--eSkeptic | POLITICS-US: Houston , We Have An Image Problem | George W Bush | Houston , We Have An Image Problem by William Fisher | HoustonChronicle.com - July 1: Allison aid wins praise for Bush | Asia Times Online - The trusted source for news on Central Asia | #489: 07-16-04 BUSH ADMINISTRATION HOSTS FIRST NATIONAL TRAINING | Faking It | Bush Money

2:26:17 AM    

Gulf Oil Operations Still in Disarray

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 to refiners.

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 supplies.

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 total.

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 cents.

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 statement.

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 improvements.

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.

Chevron 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 coast.

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 cubic feet.

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 the coast.

"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 workers.

"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 for us."

categories: Politics
Other Stories according to Google: The Iran-Iraq War | USATODAY.com - Katrina cripples 95% of gulf's oil production | CENTCOM Operation Iraqi Freedom Briefing - 12 April 2003 [ Gulf | CENTCOM Operation Iraqi Freedom Briefing - 28 March 2003 [ Gulf | Network World: Compaq in disarray | TomPaine.com - Mapping The Oil Motive | Seizing Arab Oil (Harpers.org) | Britain, the United States and Kuwaiti Oil in the 1930s | Business and Financial News - New York Times | Is It All About Oil ?

1:14:35 AM    

Friday, September 02, 2005

Anarchy in the USA, Apocalypse Now in New Orleans

World stunned as US struggles with Katrina

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.

"Apocalypse Now" headlined Germany's Handelsblatt daily.

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 missing.

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 Newport, Wales.

"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

categories: Outrages
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5:03:12 PM    

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 political.

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 political.

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.

The Boston Globe - Catastrophe

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.

The New York Times - Waiting for a Leader 

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.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution - No plan ever made to help New Orleans' most vulnerable

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 infirm.

The Chicago Sun-Times - The New Orleans tragedy...

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 watching..

categories: Outrages
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1:17:23 AM    

Friday Cat Blogging

categories: Humor
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12:10:02 AM    

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Where Is God?


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.

Please help:

You can also call 1-800 HELP NOW. America depends on your generosity.

categories: Heart
Other Stories according to Google: Assemblies of God (USA) Official Web Site

11:11:53 AM    

Katrina New Orleans Pictures, Before And After

Those who got out safely don't know when they can return, what they'll return to, or what they'll do next. NOLA friends I've spoken to who sought shelter in nearby towns say that's the hardest part -- not knowing anything.

There is little functioning communications; gas, power, water, and other basic systems are also non functional throughout much of the region. The most basic services that hold urban societies together -- from banking to hospitals to law enforcement -- are in disarray.

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, how badly.

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).

Another reader points to GoogleEarthHacks.com for a file with a number of flood image overlays all in one, with updates coming.

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 difficult.

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!

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Kathryn Cramer: New Orleans Levee Break(s) Before and After | TheCarolinaChannel.com - Weather - New Orleans Mayor: Entire City | Katrina Devastation Called 'Overwhelming' - Yahoo! News | Katrina Floods the Big Easy, Moves Inland - Yahoo! News | Water Continues to Rise in New Orleans - Yahoo! News | Metroblogging New Orleans | <big>Flooding in New Orleans gets worse; more than 1000 rescued so | <big>Flooding in New Orleans gets worse; more than 1000 rescued so | Herald.com | 08/29/2005 | Katrina kills dozens on Gulf Coast | Picture Stories - MSNBC.com

3:11:33 AM    

The Boys Do Dove

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 execs

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 average-looking dudes?

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?

categories: Body
Other Stories according to Google: Yo (RCS Song Titles Index) | M&Ms - It's What Boys Do (2001) - 0:30 (USA) :: AdLand ad-rag.com | Dove | Il paese dove nor si muore mai: Peter Pan and Today’s Society | 2003 Dove Award Nominees :: Ark Aspect :: Do you have the Ark Aspect? | Stories, Listed by Author | INSPECTION REPORT DOVE BANK PRIMARY SCHOOL Kidsgrove, Stoke-on | Book of Nature Myths: Why The Dove Is Timid. | Grace Dove Bio | The Chinese Boy and Girl - CHAPTER IV

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© Copyright 2005 Earl Bockenfeld.
Last update: 9/30/2005; 2:11:01 AM.

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