View Full Version : Hurricane Katrina

August 28th, 2005, 11:13 PM
Immense Hurricane Roars Toward New Orleans

By ALLEN G. BREED, Associated Press Writer 46 minutes ago

A monstrous Hurricane Katrina barreled toward New Orleans on Sunday with 160-mph wind and a threat of a 28-foot storm surge, forcing a mandatory evacuation of the below-sea-level city and prayers for those who remained to face a doomsday scenario.

"Have God on your side, definitely have God on your side," Nancy Noble said as she sat with her puppy and three friends in six lanes of one-way traffic on gridlocked Interstate 10. "It's very frightening."

Katrina intensified into a Category 5 giant over the warm water of the Gulf of Mexico, reaching top winds of 175 mph before weakening slightly on a path to hit New Orleans around sunrise Monday. That would make it the city's first direct hit in 40 years and the most powerful storm ever to slam the city.

Forecasters warned that Mississippi and Alabama were also in danger because Katrina was such a big storm, with hurricane-force winds extending up to 105 miles from the center. In addition to the winds, the storm packed the potential for a surge of 18 to 28 feet, 30-foot waves and as much as 15 inches of rain.

"The conditions have to be absolutely perfect to have a hurricane become this strong," National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield, noting that Katrina may yet be more powerful than the last Category 5 storm, 1992's Hurricane Andrew, which at 165 mph leveled parts of South Florida, killed 43 people and caused $31 billion in damage.

"It's capable of causing catastrophic damage," Mayfield said. "Even well-built structures will have tremendous damage. Of course, what we're really worried about is the loss of lives.

"New Orleans may never be the same."

By evening, the first squalls, driving rains and lightning began hitting New Orleans. A grim Mayor C. Ray Nagin earlier ordered the mandatory evacuation for his city of 485,000, conceding Katrina's storm surge pushing up the Mississippi River would swamp the city's system of levees, flooding the bowl-shaped city and causing potentially months of misery.

"We are facing a storm that most of us have long feared," he said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime event."

As many as 100,000 inner-city residents didn't have the means to leave and an untold number of tourists were stranded by the closing of the airport, so the city arranged buses to take people to 10 last-resort shelters, including the Superdome.

For years, forecasters have warned of the nightmare flooding a big storm could bring to New Orleans, a bowl-shaped city bounded by the half-mile-wide Mississippi River and massive Lake Pontchartrain.

As much as 10 feet below sea level in spots, the city is as the mercy of a network of levees, canals and pumps to keep dry.

Scientists predicted Katrina could easily overtake that levee system, swamping the city under a 30-feet cesspool of toxic chemicals, human waste and even coffins that could leave more than 1 million people homeless.

"All indications are that this is absolutely worst-case scenario," Ivor van Heerden, deputy director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center, said Sunday afternoon.

Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard said some who have ridden out previous storms in the New Orleans area may not be so lucky this time.

"I'm expecting that some people who are die-hards will die hard," he said.

Katrina was a Category 1 storm with 80-mph wind when it hit South Florida with a soggy punch Thursday that flooded neighborhoods and left nine people dead. It strengthened rapidly in the Gulf of Mexico as it headed for New Orleans.

By 8 p.m. EDT, Katrina's eye was about 130 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River. The storm was moving toward the north-northwest at nearly 11 mph and was expected to turn toward the north. A hurricane warning was in effect for the north-central Gulf Coast from Morgan City, La., to the Alabama-Florida line.

Despite the dire predictions, a group of residents in a poor neighborhood of central New Orleans sat on a porch with no car, no way out and, surprisingly, no fear.

"We're not evacuating," said Julie Paul, 57. "None of us have any place to go. We're counting on the Superdome. That's our lifesaver."

The 70,000-seat Superdome, the home of football's Saints, opened at daybreak Sunday, giving first priority to frail, elderly people on walkers, some with oxygen tanks. They were told to bring enough food, water and medicine to last up to five days.

"They told us not to stay in our houses because it wasn't safe," said Victoria Young, 76, who sat amid plastic bags and a metal walker. "It's not safe anywhere when you're in the shape we're in."

Fitter residents waited for hours in the muggy heat and then pouring rain to get in, clutching meager belongings and crying children. By nightfall, at least 8,000 refugees were safely inside, seated in the stands because of fears the field could flood.

In the French Quarter, most bars that stayed open through the threat of past hurricanes were boarded up and the few people on the streets were battening down their businesses and getting out. But a few stragglers remained.

Tony Peterson leaned over a balcony above Bourbon Street, festooned with gold, purple and green wreathes as Katrina's first rains pelted his shaved head.

"I was going to the Superdome and then I saw the two-mile line," the 42-year-old musician said. "I figure if I'm going to die, I'm going to die with cold beer and my best buds."

Airport Holiday Inn manager Joyce Tillis spent the morning calling her 140 guests to tell them about the evacuation order. Tillis, who lives inside the flood zone, also called her three daughters to tell them to get out.

"If I'm stuck, I'm stuck," Tillis said. "I'd rather save my second generation if I can."

But the evacuation was slow going. Highways in Louisiana and Mississippi were jammed all day as people headed away from Katrina's expected landfall. All lanes were limited to northbound traffic on Interstates 55 and 59, and westbound on I-10. At the peak, 18,000 vehicles an hour were streaming out of southeastern Louisiana.

"I'm expecting to come back to a slab," said Robert Friday, who didn't bother boarding up his home in suburban Slidell, La., before driving north to Mississippi. "We may not be coming back to anything, but at least we'll be coming back."

By Sunday night, most major highways were cleared out and state police warned that late escapes would be impossible after high winds hit elevated expressways over the surrounding swamps.

Evacuation orders were also posted along the Mississippi and Alabama coast, and in barrier islands of the Florida Panhandle, where crashing waves swamped some coastal roads.

Mississippi's floating casinos packed up their chips and closed. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the Waterford nuclear plant about 20 miles west of New Orleans had also been shut down as a precaution.

New Orleans has not taken a major direct hit from a hurricane since Betsy blasted the Gulf Coast in 1965. Flood waters approached 20 feet in some areas, fishing villages were flattened, and the storm surge left almost half of New Orleans under water and 60,000 residents homeless. Seventy-four people died in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.

Tourists stranded by the shutdown of New Orleans' Louis Armstrong Airport and the lack of rental cars packed the lobbies of high-rise hotels, which were exempt from the evacuation order to give people a place for "vertical evacuation."

Tina and Bryan Steven, of Forest Lake, Minn., sat glumly on the sidewalk outside their hotel in the French Quarter.

"We're choosing the best of two evils," said Bryan Steven. "It's either be stuck in the hotel or stuck on the road. ... We'll make it through it."

His wife, wearing a Bourbon Street T-shirt with a lewd message, interjected: "I just don't want to die in this shirt."

National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/)

___ Editors Note: Associated Press reporters Mary Foster, Adam Nossiter and Brett Martel in New Orleans contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press.

Just like Camille, Aug 1969

August 29th, 2005, 12:46 AM
NOAA is talking about all the glass popping out of tall buildings, and the possibility of collapse of some towers. Yikes.

August 29th, 2005, 01:21 AM
Disaster in the Making

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's diminished capacity to handle natural disasters is especially worrisome to Louisiana.


Last month, an Associated Press poll showed that Americans were as concerned about being attacked by terrorists as they were about getting burglarized or losing their jobs. With such fears running high, it's natural that the Bush Administration, particularly in an election year, would want to put anti-terrorism efforts at the forefront. But few people, especially in a hurricane-prone state like Louisiana, should agree that anti-terrorism programs must compete for federal money with natural-disaster recovery and prevention efforts. Make no mistake: Natural disasters will occur. Just ask our neighbors in Florida.

Last week's cover story "A Disaster Waiting to Happen" focused on changes that have occurred under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) after it was absorbed into the Department of Homeland Security in 2002. FEMA insiders and emergency-management officials nationwide say the move spelled disaster for FEMA and for victims of catastrophic events. From 1993 until 2002, FEMA built a reputation as an effective, independent federal agency that responded to emergencies efficiently and made disaster mitigation a priority. But some FEMA employees and many who work closely with the agency say that when it became a subdivision of the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA's ability to handle natural disasters fell off significantly. Now, it must compete against anti-terrorism efforts for funding.

"Before FEMA was condensed into Homeland Security Š it responded much more quickly," says Walter Maestri, director of Jefferson Parish's Office of Emergency Management. Maestri has worked with FEMA for eight years. "Truthfully, you had access to the individuals who were the decision-makers. The FEMA administrator had Cabinet status. Now, you have another layer of bureaucracy. FEMA is headed by an assistant secretary who now has to compete with other assistant secretaries of Homeland Security for available funds. And elevating houses is not as sexy as providing gas masks."

Maestri is still awaiting word from FEMA officials as to why Louisiana, despite being called the "floodplain of the nation" in a 2002 FEMA report, received no disaster mitigation grant money from FEMA in 2003 ("Homeland Insecurity," Sept. 28). Maestri says the rejection left emergency officials around the state "flabbergasted."

We're equally flabbergasted. The main criterion of FEMA's Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant program is to repair "repetitive loss structures," those that have been damaged repeatedly by floods. State officials say Louisiana has an abnormally high concentration of repetitive loss structures, with Jefferson Parish containing more than any other parish or county in the nation. "Repetitive loss structures were the number one priority, and we have more than anybody else in the country, and we got nothing," Maestri says.

In June, Maestri fired off an angry letter to FEMA, asking why Louisiana was excluded from the nearly $60 million available in grant money. Noting that Texas has fewer repetitive loss structures than Louisiana but received the most money from the program (nearly $9 million), Maestri says, "Perhaps it has something to do with the president being from Texas. Fine, let the president take care of Texas. But let Louisiana have a little something."

His office is still awaiting a response from FEMA, a delay that Maestri says has become typical. Poor communication, he says, is one sign of FEMA's diminished performance. FEMA did not respond to Gambit Weekly's request for information, either.

Another troubling sign is the agency's lagging responses to natural disasters. Maestri recalls that in 2001, after Tropical Storm Allison, "we got quick response" from FEMA. Then, in 2002 after Tropical Storm Isidore and Hurricane Lili, "response time was much slower," he says. "There was a delay in funding; projects that had already been approved had their funding put on hold and we had to wait. Homeland Security had grabbed the money."

FEMA's diminished capacity to respond to natural disasters, and to thwart preventable damage from a major catastrophe, is especially worrisome to Louisiana. Areas of Louisiana once received hundreds of thousands of dollars from "Project Impact," FEMA's largest disaster-prevention program, until the Bush Administration eliminated it in 2001. It gets worse: Not only did FEMA reject all disaster-mitigation grant applications from Louisiana for 2003, but the state might not get any funding in 2004. Maestri says that as of Sept. 28, FEMA hadn't notified his office that any grant money was available for fiscal year 2004, which ended Sept. 30. Currently, Maestri's office is contesting a proposal in Washington to remove some hazard-mitigation funding from the FEMA-friendly Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act and place it under the Homeland Security Act. "We don't think mitigation for natural disasters should compete with the necessities of first respondents," Maestri says. "They're two separate kinds of needs, and certainly priority goes to the first respondent." Louisiana's entire congressional delegation should unite to fight such a proposal. The federal government must restore FEMA's ability to respond to natural disasters and mitigate the effects of future catastrophes. As vulnerable as we are to hurricanes and floods, Louisiana cannot afford to be tossed about on political seas when real storms loom on the horizon.

August 29th, 2005, 09:36 AM
I am interested in this, but at the same time that was ALL that was on the news this morning.

Look, I care to know stuff when it happens, but on a Monday Morning before work, i would like to hear some local news and weather too, not a bunch of weathermen and reporters trying to predict what horrible things could happen.

"News 12 NJ" went so far as to REPEATEDLY site a woman whose kid was going to SCHOOL in LA.

I feel sorry for her, but really, I do not CARE enough to see this be carrying enough importance to warrant news coverage. This is not the "small-town gazette" where every one of the readers will know who they are talking about!!!!

Sorry. Rant is over.

But if they have a topping over of the dykes, they are going to have a really hard time getting everything back together again........

August 29th, 2005, 09:56 AM
It was like watching a trainwreck coming last night. It was just so tediously slow. I got up to pee at 5:00AM - switched on the TV - and STILL nothing.

I know it sounds horrible, but I'm hearing reports that a section of the Superdome roof was blown off and I am mortified that I feel some sort of satisfaction after having watched this thing for hours yesterday.

August 29th, 2005, 10:01 AM
They could have better structured this sentence:

Scientists predicted Katrina could easily overtake that levee system, swamping the city under a 30-feet cesspool of toxic chemicals, human waste and even coffins that could leave more than 1 million people homeless.

August 29th, 2005, 10:03 AM
So people live in coffins down there?

August 29th, 2005, 10:25 AM
All the coffins are above ground there, for the already dead people -

TLOZ Link5
August 29th, 2005, 03:13 PM
Katrina Lashes Louisiana, Mississippi Coasts

NEW ORLEANS (Aug. 29) - Hurricane Katrina plowed into this below-sea-level city Monday with shrieking, 145-mph winds and blinding rain that submerged entire neighborhoods up to the rooflines and peeled away part of the Superdome, where thousands of people had taken shelter. The storm unleashed more chaos as it moved into Mississippi, hurling boats into buildings and ripping billboards to shreds.

Katrina weakened overnight to a Category 4 storm and made a slight turn to the right before hitting land at 6:10 a.m. CDT near the bayou town of Buras. It passed just to the east of New Orleans as it moved inland and later dropped to a 105-mph Category 2 storm, sparing this vulnerable city its full fury.

But destruction was everywhere along Gulf Coast, including an estimated 40,000 homes flooded in St. Bernard Parish just east of New Orleans, said state Sen. Walter Boasso.

Katrina recorded a storm surge of at least 20 feet in Mississippi, where windows of a major hospital were blown out, utility poles dangled in the wind, and casinos were flooded. In some areas, authorities pulled stranded homeowners from roofs or rescued them from attics. In Alabama, exploding transformers lit up the early morning sky as power outages spread.

"Let me tell you something folks. I've been out there. It's complete devastation," said Gulfport Fire Chief Pat Sullivan, who ventured into the hurricane to check threatened areas.

There were no immediate reports of deaths or serious injuries as of midday, but emergency officials have not been able to reach some of the hardest-hit areas. Gov. Haley Barbour said he feared loss of life among those who chose to ignore evacuation orders.

"We know some people got trapped and we pray they are OK," Barbour said.

National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield warned that New Orleans would be pounded throughout the day and that Katrina's potential 15-foot storm surge, down from a feared 28 feet, was still enough to cause extensive flooding. Ed Rappaport, deputy director of the hurricane center, estimated that the highest winds in New Orleans were about 100 mph.

"I'm not doing too good right now," Chris Robinson said via cellphone from his home east of the city's downtown. "The water's rising pretty fast. I got a hammer and an ax and a crowbar, but I'm holding off on breaking through the roof until the last minute. Tell someone to come get me please. I want to live."

On the south shore of Lake Ponchartrain, entire neighborhoods of one-story, homes were flooded up to the rooflines. The Interstate 10 off-ramps nearby looked like boat ramps amid the whitecapped waves. Garbage cans and tires bobbed in the water.

Two people were stranded on the roof as murky water lapped at the gutters.

"Get us a boat!" a man in a black slicker shouted over the howling winds.

Across the street, a woman leaned from the second-story window of a brick home and shouted for assistance.

"There are three kids in here," the woman said. "Can you help us?"

Elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, the storm flung boats onto land in Mississippi, lashed street lamps and flooded roads in Alabama, and swamped highway bridges in the Florida Panhandle. At least a half-million people were without power from Louisiana to Florida's Panhandle, including 370,000 in southeastern Louisiana and 116,400 in Alabama, mostly in the Mobile area.

At New Orleans' Superdome, home to 9,000 storm refugees, the wind ripped pieces of metal from the golden roof, leaving two holes that let water drip in. People inside were moved out of the way. Others stayed and watched as sheets of metal flapped and rumbled loudly 19 stories above the floor. Outside, one of the 10-foot, concrete clock pylons set up around the Superdome blew over.

Elsewhere in the city, the storm shattered scores of windows in high-rise office buildings and on five floors of the Charity Hospital, forcing patients to be moved to lower levels. At the Windsor Court Hotel, guests were told to go into the interior hallways with blankets and pillows and to keep the doors to the rooms closed to avoid flying glass.

In suburban Jefferson Parish, Sheriff Harry Lee said residents of a building on the west bank of the Mississippi River called 911 to say the building had collapsed and people might be trapped. He said deputies were not immediately able to check out the building because their vehicles were unable to reach the scene.

At 1 p.m. EDT, Katrina was centered moving to the north at 17 mph.

Katrina was a terrifying, 175-mph Category 5 behemoth - the most powerful category on the scale - before weakening.

By midday, the brunt of the storm had moved beyond New Orleans to Mississippi's coast, home to the state's floating casinos, where Katrina washed sailboats onto a coastal four-lane highway. The Beau Rivage Hotel and Casino, one of the premier gambling spots in Biloxi, had water on the first floor, and Barbour said other casinos were flooded as well.

Katrina was the most powerful storm to affect Mississippi since Hurricane Camille came in as a Category 5 in 1969, killing 143 people along the Gulf Coast.

"This is a devastating hit - we've got boats that have gone into buildings," Gulfport, Miss., Fire Chief Pat Sullivan said as he maneuvered around downed trees in the city. "What you're looking at is Camille II."

In New Orleans' historic French Quarter of Napoleonic-era buildings with wrought-iron balconies, water pooled in the streets from the driving rain, but the area appeared to have escaped the catastrophic flooding that forecasters had predicted.

On Jackson Square, two massive oak trees outside the 278-year-old St. Louis Cathedral came out by the roots, ripping out a 30-foot section of ornamental iron fence and straddling a marble statue of Jesus Christ, snapping off only the thumb and forefinger of his outstretched hand.

At the hotel Le Richelieu, the winds blew open sets of balcony French doors shortly after dawn. Seventy-three-year-old Josephine Elow of New Orleans pressed her weight against the broken doors as a hotel employee tried to secure them.

"It's not life-threatening," Mrs. Elow said as rain water dripped from her face. "God's got our back."

Elow's daughter, Darcel Elow, was awakened before dawn by a high-pitched howling that sounded like a trumpeting elephant. "I thought it was the horn to tell everybody to leave out the hotel," she said as she walked the hall in her nightgown.

For years, forecasters have warned of the nightmare scenario a big storm could bring to New Orleans, a bowl of a city that is up to 10 feet below sea level in spots and relies on a network of levees, canals and pumps to keep dry from the Mississippi River on one side, Lake Pontchartrain on the other.

The fear was that flooding could overrun the levees and turn New Orleans into a toxic lake filled with chemicals and petroleum from refineries, as well as waste from ruined septic systems.

The National Weather Service reported that a levee broke on the Industrial Canal near the St. Bernard-Orleans parish line, and 3 to 8 feet of flooding was possible. The Industrial Canal is a 5.5-mile waterway that connects the Mississippi River to the Intracoastal Waterway.

Crude oil futures spiked to more than $70 a barrel in Singapore for the first time Monday as Katrina targeted an area crucial to the country's energy infrastructure, but the price had slipped back to $68.95 by midday in Europe. The storm already forced the shutdown of an estimated 1 million barrels of refining capacity.

Calling it a once-in-a-lifetime storm, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin had ordered a mandatory evacuation over the weekend for the 480,000 residents of the vulnerable city, and he estimated about 80 percent heeded the call.

The evacuation itself claimed lives. Three New Orleans nursing home residents died Sunday after being taken by bus to a Baton Rouge church. Officials said the cause was probably dehydration.

New Orleans has not taken a direct hit from a hurricane since Betsy in 1965, when an 8- to 10-foot storm surge submerged parts of the city in seven feet of water. Betsy, a Category 3 storm, was blamed for 74 deaths in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.

Katrina hit the southern tip of Florida as a much weaker storm Thursday and was blamed for 11 deaths. It left miles of streets and homes flooded and knocked out power to 1.45 million customers. It was the sixth hurricane to hit Florida in just over a year.

Associated Press reporters Mary Foster, Holbrook Mohr, Brett Martel and Allen G. Breed contributed to this report.

08-29-05 14:14 EDT

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

August 29th, 2005, 08:56 PM
Not quite like Camille. "Lucky" Gulf coast.

August 30th, 2005, 04:05 AM
Yes, it easily could have been much worse.

August 30th, 2005, 03:18 PM
If only W was vacationing in Biloxi this week...

TLOZ Link5
August 30th, 2005, 04:38 PM
If only W was vacationing in Biloxi this week...

What a nightmare! Then Cheney would be President!

TLOZ Link5
August 30th, 2005, 04:52 PM
Has anyone PMed or gotten any word from James Kovata? He lives in New Orleans.

August 30th, 2005, 07:16 PM
I read a report from the Times that stray, abandoned and feral dogs are on the high ground areas and they do not want humans to join them.

August 31st, 2005, 12:23 AM
One logical and positive response:


August 31st, 2005, 01:20 PM
Someone explain to me looters stealing televsions, when they have no home and the city id being evacuated.

August 31st, 2005, 01:41 PM
I can't speak from personal experience, but I imagine looting is a reaction to economic oppression in a culture that values material accumlation above all else and the emotionally intense experience of living through trauma. And people are bastards.

The news is focused on the really salacious images of whole neighborhoods flooding to the rafters, but there are lots of areas in New Orleans that didn't flood, or just have nussance-level flooding, so there's probably a practical way to loot, though I can't imagine consuming anything that's been dragged through cootie-fied flood water like this woman's bread. yuck. Soda, sure, with a wipe and a straw.


August 31st, 2005, 01:45 PM
I can see people breaking in to get food and water, but even then they are not doing it to help anyone but themselves. It is just another indication on how primitive a RACE we still are.

This stuff is not unique to us. Baghdad comes to mind.

When everyone is trying to fight through something, there will be a significant number that will try to get whatever they can from those that cannot defend it.

August 31st, 2005, 01:56 PM
Looting is really far down on the list of things people should be worrying about right now. In spinning your wheels over something so insignificant, you're ignoring the fact that the state did practically nothing to help citizens without cars or money.

There were no buses out of New Orleans, no transportation to the Superdome.

It's disgusting that people are criticizing the victims of this tragedy by acting like people were either too stupid to leave or had criminal intentions in staying. When all of this is over, there will be hundreds, if not thousands, of dead poverty-stricken people.

But, by all means, complain about people stealing a television set.

August 31st, 2005, 02:08 PM
^ Well Said.

TLOZ Link5
August 31st, 2005, 04:21 PM

A caption that I saw in the news said that the people in the right-hand photograph had "found" the goods they were carrying, while the man in the right-hand photograph had "looted" them.

So apparently the message was that white people find things but black people loot them.

August 31st, 2005, 04:36 PM
Here's a great item about the reasoning behind racist overtones in this hurricane coverage:


August 31st, 2005, 04:43 PM
A caption that I saw in the news said that the people in the right-hand photograph had "found" the goods they were carrying, while the man in the right-hand photograph had "looted" them.

So apparently the message was that white people find things but black people loot them.

Yes, I should have attributed this to wonkette:

"Finding" versus "Looting" (http://www.wonkette.com/politics/ap/index.php#finding-versus-looting-123124)

Please match the pictures above with its -- ahem -- correct caption below.




Solution: An apology from AP?
AP (http://news.yahoo.com/photo/050830/480/ladm10208301530/print;_ylt=AvM8_3LnCOAA8hR6aD4B7_9saMYA;_ylu=X3oDM TA3bXNtMmJ2BHNlYwNzc3M-)
AFP (http://news.yahoo.com/photo/050830/photos_ts_afp/050830071810_shxwaoma_photo1/print;_ylt=Ap81RbQjKXz0gHeCgP.g0.sFO7gF;_ylu=X3oDM TA3bXNtMmJ2BHNlYwNzc3M-)

READ MORE: afp (http://www.wonkette.com/politics/afp/index.php) , ap (http://www.wonkette.com/politics/ap/index.php) , katrina (http://www.wonkette.com/politics/katrina/index.php) , press gaffes (http://www.wonkette.com/politics/press-gaffes/index.php)

August 31st, 2005, 04:44 PM

Great blog - a daily read.

August 31st, 2005, 05:18 PM

Their bad.

Shade, as for the whole transport, I think I said that somewhere (maybe not here, I think to the GF).

There were some people who were idiots that did not leave. There were others that were unfortunate and could not leave.

Ironically, the stupid ones had more to lose, and they did.

TLOZ Link5
August 31st, 2005, 06:29 PM
New York Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com

It's our turn to help Biloxi
By Michael Daly
Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

With news of the awesome destruction down South comes a memory from the terrible days after 9/11, when a big banner went up in Times Square.

"Biloxi loves NYC!" the banner announced.

The banner was sent by Biloxi High School to Stephen Pitalo, a graduate of the Class of 1986 who had moved from that Mississippi city to New York and became a TV and radio producer. He also received boxes of relief supplies collected by students at the Biloxi grammar school he attended, Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Along with hanging the banner, Pitalo personally delivered the boxes to the recovery effort at what had been the World Trade Center. The gloves, socks, goggles and first-aid cream no doubt came in handy, but what mattered most was the goodwill from Biloxi and so many other places.

It felt as if goodness itself had risen in response to the absolute evil that struck in downtown Manhattan. The country and indeed the world seemed to unite behind us.

These four years later, we had particular cause to remember the message of love from Biloxi, as reports of the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Katrina flashed on the news zipper directly above where the banner had hung in Times Square.

Pitalo's grandmother as well as several aunts and uncles still live in Biloxi, but he reports that they all had evacuated before the storm hit. He noted that his family had lived there for generations and had seen dozens of hurricanes.

"They knew that the smart thing to do is get out," Pitalo said yesterday.

The 36-year-old had himself lived through seven hurricanes before moving North. He had found this to be good training for that September day in 2001 when he glanced up at the Jumbotron in Times Square on the way to work and saw one of the twin towers ablaze. The second plane struck as he arrived at his office on Broadway and he got right on the phone to assure his family in Biloxi that he was all right.

"That's what you do in a hurricane, too," Pitalo said yesterday. "There's something about having gone through a lot of hurricanes that makes you snap into emergency mode and know the things you need to do."

Until this week, the worst hurricane to strike Biloxi in modern times was Camille in 1969.

"It had such an overwhelming effect on the coast," Pitalo said. "Until very recently people always referred to it as The Hurricane."

Now there is Katrina.

"There's a whole generation I'm sure that is going to refer to this as The Hurricane," he said.

He noted that his grandmother's house is less than a block from the beach.

"It pains me to think what she's going to come home to," he said.

But he understood that too many families had not been as fortunate as his own.

"Apparently, they're still finding bodies," he said.

Even so, Pitalo emphasized that he was not equating the storm with the attack on the World Trade Center. The news footage from down South shows mile after mile after mile of devastation, but this was only property. The direst predictions do not come anywhere near the death toll at the twin towers.

The numbers meant little when you watched the TV news footage of a man in Biloxi describing how his wife was swept away from his grip when the water tore into his house. She had yet to be found.

The footage prompted hundreds of calls to the network offering sympathy and support from all over, a welling of the same goodness that blessed us here after 9/11. Pitalo noted yesterday that both the Red Cross and the Salvation Army are accepting donations to assist with the relief effort in the hurricane zone.

"I hope people will remember there's folks down there who really need their help," Pitalo said.

Meanwhile, let us say this:

"NYC Loves Biloxi!"

And Gulfport and New Orleans and all those other stricken places that opened their hearts to us in our darkest time.

©Copyright The New York Daily News 2005

September 1st, 2005, 08:41 AM
The New York Yankees have donated $1 million.

September 1st, 2005, 08:45 AM

September 1st, 2005, 09:03 AM
Looting is really far down on the list of things people should be worrying about right now. In spinning your wheels over something so insignificant,

Sorry, I disagree, it's not insignificant, not even close. I heard this morning that a gang of looters invaded an N.O. nursing home with guns drawn, took food and drugs and threw the elderly, some in wheelchairs, out of their rooms. If this is insignificant to anyone, well than I don't know what else to say.

It makes me proud of our city that looting incidents after the 2003 blackout were at a minimum.

September 1st, 2005, 10:13 AM
"No One Can Say they Didn't See it Coming"

By Sidney Blumenthal

In 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S. But the Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war.

Biblical in its uncontrolled rage and scope, Hurricane Katrina has left millions of Americans to scavenge for food and shelter and hundreds to thousands reportedly dead. With its main levee broken, the evacuated city of New Orleans has become part of the Gulf of Mexico. But the damage wrought by the hurricane may not entirely be the result of an act of nature.

A year ago the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed to study how New Orleans could be protected from a catastrophic hurricane, but the Bush administration ordered that the research not be undertaken. After a flood killed six people in 1995, Congress created the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, in which the Corps of Engineers strengthened and renovated levees and pumping stations. In early 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a report stating that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S., including a terrorist attack on New York City. But by 2003 the federal funding for the flood control project essentially dried up as it was drained into the Iraq war. In 2004, the Bush administration cut funding requested by the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for holding back the waters of Lake Pontchartrain by more than 80 percent. Additional cuts at the beginning of this year (for a total reduction in funding of 44.2 percent since 2001) forced the New Orleans district of the Corps to impose a hiring freeze. The Senate had debated adding funds for fixing New Orleans' levees, but it was too late.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune, which before the hurricane published a series on the federal funding problem, and whose presses are now underwater, reported online: "No one can say they didn't see it coming ... Now in the wake of one of the worst storms ever, serious questions are being asked about the lack of preparation."

The Bush administration's policy of turning over wetlands to developers almost certainly also contributed to the heightened level of the storm surge. In 1990, a federal task force began restoring lost wetlands surrounding New Orleans. Every two miles of wetland between the Crescent City and the Gulf reduces a surge by half a foot. Bush had promised "no net loss" of wetlands, a policy launched by his father's administration and bolstered by President Clinton. But he reversed his approach in 2003, unleashing the developers. The Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency then announced they could no longer protect wetlands unless they were somehow related to interstate commerce.

In response to this potential crisis, four leading environmental groups conducted a joint expert study, concluding in 2004 that without wetlands protection New Orleans could be devastated by an ordinary, much less a Category 4 or 5, hurricane. "There's no way to describe how mindless a policy that is when it comes to wetlands protection," said one of the report's authors. The chairman of the White House's Council on Environmental Quality dismissed the study as "highly questionable," and boasted, "Everybody loves what we're doing."

"My administration's climate change policy will be science based," President Bush declared in June 2001. But in 2002, when the Environmental Protection Agency submitted a study on global warming to the United Nations reflecting its expert research, Bush derided it as "a report put out by a bureaucracy," and excised the climate change assessment from the agency's annual report. The next year, when the EPA issued its first comprehensive "Report on the Environment," stating, "Climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment," the White House simply demanded removal of the line and all similar conclusions. At the G-8 meeting in Scotland this year, Bush successfully stymied any common action on global warming. Scientists, meanwhile, have continued to accumulate impressive data on the rising temperature of the oceans, which has produced more severe hurricanes.

In February 2004, 60 of the nation's leading scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, warned in a statement, "Restoring Scientific Integrity in Policymaking": "Successful application of science has played a large part in the policies that have made the United States of America the world's most powerful nation and its citizens increasingly prosperous and healthy ... Indeed, this principle has long been adhered to by presidents and administrations of both parties in forming and implementing policies. The administration of George W. Bush has, however, disregarded this principle ... The distortion of scientific knowledge for partisan political ends must cease." Bush completely ignored this statement.

In the two weeks preceding the storm in the Gulf, the trumping of science by ideology and expertise by special interests accelerated. The Federal Drug Administration announced that it was postponing sale of the morning-after contraceptive pill, despite overwhelming scientific evidence of its safety and its approval by the FDA's scientific advisory board. The United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa accused the Bush administration of responsibility for a condom shortage in Uganda -- the result of the administration's evangelical Christian agenda of "abstinence." When the chief of the Bureau of Justice Statistics in the Justice Department was ordered by the White House to delete its study that African-Americans and other minorities are subject to racial profiling in police traffic stops and he refused to buckle under, he was forced out of his job. When the Army Corps of Engineers' chief contracting oversight analyst objected to a $7 billion no-bid contract awarded for work in Iraq to Halliburton (the firm at which Vice President Cheney was formerly CEO), she was demoted despite her superior professional ratings. At the National Park Service, a former Cheney aide, a political appointee lacking professional background, drew up a plan to overturn past environmental practices and prohibit any mention of evolution while allowing sale of religious materials through the Park Service.

On the day the levees burst in New Orleans, Bush delivered a speech in Colorado comparing the Iraq war to World War II and himself to Franklin D. Roosevelt: "And he knew that the best way to bring peace and stability to the region was by bringing freedom to Japan." Bush had boarded his very own "Streetcar Named Desire."

Sidney Blumenthal, a former assistant and senior advisor to President Clinton and the author of "The Clinton Wars," is writing a column for Salon and the Guardian of London.

September 1st, 2005, 01:35 PM
I heard this morning that a gang of looters invaded an N.O. nursing home with guns drawn, took food and drugs and threw the elderly, some in wheelchairs, out of their rooms.

Do you have a link for this story? There are a lot of wild and unsubstantiated rumors floating around.

Also, shouldn't the police be focusing on evacuating nursing homes and whatnot instead of trying to prevent people from stealing from them?

bobby fletcher
September 1st, 2005, 02:41 PM
"Finding" versus "Looting" (http://www.wonkette.com/politics/ap/index.php#finding-versus-looting-123124)
Here's another one, thank you AP:


In an uptown New Orleans neighborhood, managers of a nursing home had *gathered* enough food for 10 days, according to a report by The Associated Press, but then *looters* arrived. "Now we'll have to equip our department heads with guns and teach them how to shoot," executive director Peggy Hoffman said Wednesday as the home's residents were being evacuated.

I wonder how AP differentiates between "find", "secure", "gather", vs. "looting" - still by the color of our skin, not the content of our character?

September 1st, 2005, 03:34 PM
Careful bobby, youar agrument is starting to sound like an Us vs. Them.

(Color of our skin).

I do not approve of looting in any sense, but the post you just made does not seem to be too racist or differential in describing. The guys went out and got stuff from stores. You can call that looting if you want, but people coming and then taking it from them is looting.

Actually, it is just plain stealing.

Also, in a situation like this, anyone taking perishables I do not consider looting. Anyone taking a TV I consider scum.

September 1st, 2005, 03:48 PM
Do you have a link for this story? There are a lot of wild and unsubstantiated rumors floating around.

The only link I'm seeing to the nursing home story is free republic (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1474536/posts), a source I wouldn't want to associate myself with. I had actually heard this story morphed into looters stealing from a makeshift neonatal clinic in a tent. I love that anchors now feel like it's ok to gossip on the air and broadcast unconfirmed rumors to masses of spongey brains that lap it up like the truth...

September 1st, 2005, 04:05 PM
Bully for you, Ninjahedge. I'm glad to see that you're standing strong on the theft of electronics when we're watching the real-time deaths of thousands of people. You've really got your priorites straight.

September 1st, 2005, 04:21 PM
Bully for you, Ninjahedge. I'm glad to see that you're standing strong on the theft of electronics when we're watching the real-time deaths of thousands of people. You've really got your priorites straight.

Shade, stick it.

The question was not about peoples lives or use of cops.

Get your head on strait and stop trying to start arguments.

Nowhere in my post do I relate the stealing of electronics to people dying, but if you want to, here goes.

I consider people who take time to go out and steal some luxury item like electronics when their help could be used by the community as scum.



TLOZ Link5
September 1st, 2005, 04:52 PM
Unsubstantiated rumors and sensational news stories notwithstanding, violence, not simply looting, should be considered a priority if it is disrupting relief efforts. Which it is:

In Washington, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the government is sending in 1,400 National Guardsmen a day to help stop looting and other lawlessness in New Orleans. Already, 2,800 National Guardsmen are in the city, he said.

But across the flooded-out city, the rescuers themselves came under attack from storm victims.

"Hospitals are trying to evacuate," said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Cheri Ben-Iesan, spokesman at the city emergency operations center. "At every one of them, there are reports that as the helicopters come in people are shooting at them. There are people just taking potshots at police and at helicopters, telling them, `You better come get my family."'

Some Federal Emergency Management rescue operations were suspended in areas where gunfire has broken out, Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said in Washington. "In areas where our employees have been determined to potentially be in danger, we have pulled back," he said...

The first of hundreds of busloads of people evacuated from the Superdome arrived early Thursday at their new temporary home - another sports arena, the Houston Astrodome, 350 miles away.

But the ambulance service in charge of taking the sick and injured from the Superdome suspended flights after a shot was reported fired at a military helicopter. Richard Zuschlag, chief of Acadian Ambulance, said it was too dangerous for his pilots.

The military, which was overseeing the removal of the able-bodied by buses, continued the ground evacuation without interruption, said National Guard Lt. Col. Pete Schneider. The government had no immediate confirmation of whether a military helicopter was fired on.

Terry Ebbert, head of the city's emergency operations, warned that the slow evacuation at the Superdome had become an "incredibly explosive situation," and he bitterly complained that FEMA was not offering enough help.

"This is a national emergency. This is a national disgrace," he said. "FEMA has been here three days, yet there is no command and control. We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims, but we can't bail out the city of New Orleans."

September 1st, 2005, 05:12 PM
As one of those living on the island of Manhattan this entire episode sends chills down my spine when considering what the government would / will do once the next horror show comes to NYC.

TLOZ Link5
September 1st, 2005, 05:19 PM
MTV News


Usher, Green Day, Alicia Keys Sign On For Hurricane Relief Concert September 10
09.01.2005 1:30 PM EDT

Shows will take place in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Nashville.

Usher, Green Day, Ludacris and Alicia Keys are among the artists who have signed on for a Hurricane Katrina relief concert that will span four cities, three television networks and several musical genres.

Dave Matthews Band, Rob Thomas, Linkin Park's Chester Bennington, David Banner, Gretchen Wilson and John Mellencamp will also take part in the shows, which will be staged in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Nashville on September 10 and will air live on MTV, VH1 and CMT. Additional artists will be added to the lineup soon, and proceeds from the show will go to the American Red Cross.

"In the face of a tragedy of this scope, we simply have to do everything in our power to offer support, comfort and hope to all the people directly impacted by the hurricane," Judy McGrath, chair and CEO of MTV Networks, said Wednesday (August 31) of the concerts. "Our goal is to join forces on every medium to get involved, to volunteer, to contribute in any way we can."

The concerts are part of a larger awareness campaign that will also include an MTV News special on Katrina relief efforts, on-campus resources, and information across all the network's channels regarding aid and activism.

To find out what you can do to help provide relief to victims of Katrina, head to think MTV's hurricane relief page.

MTV's parent company, Viacom, also announced that it has contributed $1 million to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Effort.

Hundreds are feared dead and tens of thousands are without shelter in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in the hurricane's wake (see "Katrina Devastates New Orleans; Mississippi Death Toll Rises To Over 110"). Flood waters continued to rise in New Orleans on Wednesday, further plunging the city into chaos. President George W. Bush has called the hurricane "one of the worst national disasters in our nation's history." He devoted federal resources to the aid effort, but called on private citizens to do their part as well.

[This story was originally published at 6:48 p.m. ET on 08.31.2005]

— Robert Mancini

September 1st, 2005, 05:37 PM

Kuwaiti: 'The terrorist Katrina' is a soldier of Allah'
Special to World Tribune.com

Thursday, September 1, 2005

Muhammad Yousef Al-Mlaifi, director of the Kuwaiti Ministry of Endowment's research center, published an article titled "The Terrorist Katrina is One of the Soldiers of Allah, But Not an Adherent of Al-Qaeda."(1) the Aug. 31 edition of the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa. Following are excerpts:

"...As I watched the horrible sights of this wondrous storm, I was reminded of the Hadith of the Messenger of Allah of Al-Bukhari and Abu Daoud. The Hadith says: 'The wind is of the wind of Allah, it comes from mercy or for the sake of torment. When you see it, do not curse it, [but rather] ask Allah for the good that is in it, and ask Allah for shelter from its evil.' "When the satellite channels reported on the scope of the terrifying destruction in America [caused by] this wind, I was reminded of the words of [Prophet Muhammad]: 'The wind sends torment to one group of people, and sends mercy to others.' I do not think — and only Allah [really] knows — that this wind, which completely wiped out American cities in these days, is a wind of mercy and blessing. It is almost certain that this is a wind of torment and evil that Allah has sent to this American empire.

"But I began to ask myself: Doesn't this country [the U.S.] claim to aspire to establish justice, freedom, and equality amongst the people? Isn't this country claiming that everything it did in Afghanistan and Iraq was for truth and justice? How can it be that these American claims are untrue, when we see how good prevails in the streets of Afghanistan, and how it became an oasis of security with America's entrance there? How can these American claims in the matter of Iraq be untrue, when we see that Iraq has become the most tranquil and secure country in the world?"

"But how strange it is that after all the tremendous American achievements for the sake of humanity, these mighty winds come and evilly rip [America's] cities to shreds? Have the storms joined the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization?

"How sad I am for America. Here it is, poor thing, trying with all its might to lower oil prices which have reached heights unprecedented in all history. Along with America's phenomenal efforts to lower the price of oil in order to salvage its declining economy and its currency — that is still falling due to the 'smart' policy America is implementing in the world — comes this storm, the fruit of Allah's planning, so that [the price of] a barrel of oil will increase further still. By Allah, this is not schadenfreude.

"Oh honored gentlemen, I began to read about these winds, and I was surprised to discover that the American websites that are translated [into Arabic] are talking about the fact that that the storm Katrina is the fifth equatorial storm to strike Florida this year... and that a large part of the U.S. is subject every year to many storms that extract [a price of] dead, and completely destroy property. I said, Allah be praised, until when will these successive catastrophes strike them?

"But before I went to sleep, I opened the Koran and began to read in Surat Al-R'ad ['The Thunder' chapter], and stopped at these words [of Allah]: 'The disaster will keep striking the unbelievers for what they have done, or it will strike areas close to their territory, until the promise of Allah comes to pass, for, verily, Allah will not fail in His promise.' [Koran 13:31]."

Endnote: [i](1) Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), August 31, 2005.

TLOZ Link5
September 1st, 2005, 05:50 PM
New Orleans makes 'desperate SOS' relief plea
Thu Sep 1, 2005 4:56 PM ET

By Jason Reed

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - New Orleans' mayor issued an urgent plea for relief of his flooded city on Thursday as gunshots and looting hampered the evacuation of desperate crowds trying to escape Hurricane Katrina's destruction.

"This is a desperate SOS," Mayor Ray Nagin said in a statement read by CNN. Some of the thousands of hungry, thirsty storm survivors outside the city's convention center chanted similar pleas.

"Right now we are out of resources at the convention center and don't anticipate enough buses. Currently the convention center is unsanitary and unsafe and we are running out of supplies for 15,000 to 25,000 people," Nagin said.

Congress was expected to cut short its summer break to pass emergency financial aid for hurricane victims, according to congressional aides who said an initial package could be around $10 billion.

Shell-shocked New Orleans officials tried to clamp down on looting in the historic jazz city reduced to a swampy ruin by Monday's storm. Bodies floated in the streets, attackers armed with axes stripped hospitals of medicine and authorities said they could still only guess at how many people had died.

"We don't have numbers. It could be in the hundreds, or the thousands," U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana said of the state-wide death toll. "I think it's going to be shocking."

Federal disaster declarations covered 90,000 square miles along the U.S. Gulf Coast, an area roughly the size of Great Britain. As many as 400,000 people had been forced to leave their homes.

Violence broke out in pockets of New Orleans among the wandering crowds desperate to escape the flooded city and hellish 90-degree (32 C) temperatures. "We want help," people chanted outside the convention center."

Boat rescues were delayed because of the danger and police rescuers shifted their focus to fighting looting and other crime that gripped the city.

A National Guard official said as many as 60,000 people had gathered at the increasingly squalid Superdome stadium for evacuation.

But the operation was suspended after reports that someone fired at a military helicopter sent to ferry out survivors. A National Guard soldier was shot and wounded in the arena on Wednesday.


Nearly 5,000 National Guard troops were mobilized in Louisiana. The military said the number would rise to 21,000 by Friday and 30,000 in the next few days, mostly in Louisiana and Mississippi but also in storm-stricken parts of Alabama and Florida.

Convoys of police and state trooper cars raced down Interstate 10 toward New Orleans with lights flashing.

"We will do what it takes to bring law and order to our area," an angry Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco told reporters. "I'm just furious. It's intolerable,"

Some buses shipped survivors from the Superdome 350 miles west to another stadium, the Astrodome in Houston.

The first refugees began arriving early on Thursday at the Houston stadium, where Red Cross workers set out thousands of cots and "comfort kits" that included toiletries and a meal.

Elsewhere in New Orleans, gunshots repeatedly rang out and fires flared as looters broke into stores, houses, hospitals and office buildings -- some in search of food, others looking for anything of value.

Two hospitals were under siege by robbers who used axes, guns and metal pipes to steal pain killers and medicine, according to a pilot flying relief operations into New Orleans.


Power and water were off and supplies were exhausted. Critically ill patients were dying one by one without oxygen, insulin and intravenous fluids, the pilot said.

Looting and tension eased in Biloxi, Mississippi, as troops arrived and the Salvation Army began serving 1,200 meals a day at a canteen set up beside the charity's demolished building.

Some of those left hungry and homeless after Katrina shattered the Mississippi coast with a 30-foot wall of water volunteered to help serve, and food lines were orderly.

"The mob could begin to rule in a few days if these people do not get more food and water," said August Pillsbury, who was in charge of the canteen.

Search crews probed the rubble of collapsed buildings with heat-sensing robots in search of the living and cadaver dogs to find the dead. They were still pulling out survivors, and leaving behind corpses trapped under debris.

President Bush condemned the looting and warned against charging artificially high prices for gasoline.

"I think there ought to be zero tolerance of people breaking the law during an emergency such as this, whether it be looting, or price-gouging at the gasoline pump or taking advantage of charitable giving, or insurance fraud," Bush said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."


The president said on Wednesday it could take years to recover and the New Orleans mayor estimated it would be three to four months before residents could return. A million people fled the New Orleans area before Katrina arrived, but tens of thousands had lacked the means or ability to get out.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said floodwaters started to drop in New Orleans, which is mostly below sea level and was deluged by water from Lake Pontchartrain after levees broke.

"Water is now flowing slowly out of New Orleans because water is seeking its own level -- that of Lake Pontchartrain," the Corps said in a news release.

That would still leave most of the city under about 8 feet of water and officials estimated it could take a month to get the water out.

Some in Mississippi and Louisiana were frustrated with relief efforts.

"Many people didn't have the financial means to get out," said Alan LeBreton, 41, an apartment superintendent who lived on Biloxi, Mississippi's seaside road, now in ruins. "That's a crime and people are angry about it."

The Biloxi Sun Herald newspaper said in an editorial emergency supplies "simply are not getting here fast enough" and asked "why hasn't every able-bodied member of the armed forces in South Mississippi been pressed into service?"

Gasoline prices soared to new records amid rising concern about supplies and no clear picture of when production would return to normal. They vaulted to well over $3 a gallon in most parts of the country and nearly $4 in some areas.

The hurricane cut a swath through a region responsible for about a quarter of the nation's oil and gas output. Several refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast remained shut and the Bush administration began releasing oil from the nation's strategic reserves to offset the losses.

(Additional reporting by Mark Babineck and Erwin Seba in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Paul Simao in Mobile, Alabama, Peter Cooney in Houston, Marc Serota in Pensacola, Florida and Steve Holland in Washington)

© Reuters 2005. All rights reserved.

TLOZ Link5
September 1st, 2005, 06:16 PM
Bodies, gunfire and chaos in New Orleans' streets
Thu Sep 1, 2005 5:44 PM ET

By Mark Babineck

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Rotting bodies littered New Orleans' streets on Thursday and troops headed in to control looting and violence, as thousands of desperate survivors of Hurricane Katrina pleaded to be evacuated from the flooded city, or even just fed.

The historic jazz city became a playground for armed looters, and sporadic gunfire hampered chaotic and widely criticized rescue efforts.

The mayhem in New Orleans, after Katrina's attack on the U.S. Gulf Coast on Monday, resembled a refugee crisis in a Third World hot spot. There was a television report that a sniper opened fire on rescue workers as they tried to evacuate sick patients from a flooded hospital.

Bodies lay in the streets and attackers armed with axes and steel pipes stripped hospitals of medicine. Authorities said they feared thousands of people were dead but they could still only guess at the death toll. One victim was left abandoned in a wheelchair with just a sheet covering the corpse.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin pleaded for urgent help in getting evacuees to safety. "This is a desperate SOS," he said in a statement.

Nagin said between 15,000 and 20,000 survivors were still stranded outside the city's convention center and, with supplies rapidly running out, there were no signs of the buses that had been promised to take them to decent shelter.

"We need ground transportation to get the evacuees out. We need to get them to shelter, get them to food, get them to a safer environment," Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said.

Military reinforcements descended in helicopters, and armored personnel carriers patrolled Canal Street, which borders New Orleans' legendary French Quarter district of bars and fleshpots.

Senior Pentagon officials said the National Guard force on the storm-ravaged Gulf coast would be raised to 30,000, and 3,000 regular Army soldiers may also be sent in to tackle armed gangs that have looted stores across New Orleans.

"We will not tolerate lawlessness, or violence, or interference with the evacuation," Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said. "I'm satisfied that we have ... more than enough forces there and on the way."

The boost would bring to nearly 50,000 the number of part-time Guard and active-duty military personnel committed to the biggest domestic relief and security effort in U.S. history after Monday's onslaught by killer Hurricane Katrina.


On the ground there was no sign of the mayhem being brought under control. Gunshots rang out and fires flared as looters broke into stores, houses, hospitals and office buildings -- some in search of food, others looking for anything of value.

Violence broke out in pockets of New Orleans among the wandering crowds grown hungry, thirsty and desperate to escape the flooded city and 90-degree (32 C) temperatures.

"We want help," people chanted outside the convention center."

In Washington and in the region, officials were peppered with questions about the pace of the relief operation, and some Democrats accused President Bush of acting too slowly.

Bush, who returned early to Washington on Wednesday from his Texas vacation, urged patience.

He said Katrina will represent a temporary setback for the U.S. economy and the energy sector. But he said gasoline would be hard to find in places, warned companies not to overcharge, and urged Americans to conserve. "Don't buy gas if you don't need it," he said. He will travel to the coastal area on Friday.

Members of the U.S. Congress cut short their summer break and were expected soon to approve an initial emergency aid package for Katrina victims. A government official said Bush would ask for an initial $10.5 billion.

Federal disaster declarations covered 90,000 square miles

along the U.S. Gulf Coast, an area roughly the size of Great Britain. As many as 400,000 people had been forced to leave their homes.

Thousands waited hours or waded through floodwaters to seek rides out of New Orleans. Buses began shipping survivors from the Superdome 350 miles west to another stadium, the Astrodome in Houston, but not as quickly as hoped.

Two New Orleans hospitals were pillaged by robbers who used axes, guns and metal pipes to steal pain killers and medicine, according to a pilot flying relief operations into New Orleans.

Power and water were off and supplies were exhausted. Critically ill patients were dying one by one without oxygen, insulin and intravenous fluids, the pilot said.

Looting and tension eased in Biloxi, Mississippi, as troops arrived and the Salvation Army began serving 1,200 meals a day at a canteen set up beside the charity's demolished building.


Some of those left hungry and homeless after Katrina shattered the Mississippi coast with a 30-foot (9-meter) wall of water volunteered to help serve, and food lines were orderly.

"The mob could begin to rule in a few days if these people do not get more food and water," said August Pillsbury, who was in charge of the canteen.

Search crews probed the rubble of collapsed buildings with tiny heat-sensing robots to find the living and cadaver dogs to find the dead. They were still pulling out survivors, and leaving behind many of the corpses trapped under debris.

A million people fled the New Orleans area before Katrina hit but tens of thousands of others were unable to get out.

The floodwaters started to drop on Thursday in New Orleans, which is mostly below sea level and was deluged by water from Lake Pontchartrain after levees broke.

But most of the city was still under about 8 feet (2.4 metres) of water, and officials estimated it could take a month to get the water out. Bush has said recovery could take years.

Some in Mississippi and Louisiana were frustrated with relief efforts.

"Many people didn't have the financial means to get out," said Alan LeBreton, 41, the superintendent of an apartment on Biloxi's seaside road, now in ruins. "That's a crime and people are angry about it."

The Biloxi Sun Herald newspaper said in an editorial emergency supplies "simply are not getting here fast enough."

Nationally, retail gasoline prices soared to new records amid concern about supplies. They vaulted to well over $3 a gallon in most parts of the country and nearly $4 in some areas.

The hurricane cut a swath through a region responsible for about a quarter of the nation's oil and gas output. Several refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast remained shut and the Bush administration loaned oil from the nation's strategic reserves to offset the losses.

(Additional reporting by Erwin Seba in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Paul Simao in Mobile, Alabama, Peter Cooney in Houston, Marc Serota in Pensacola, Florida and Steve Holland in Washington)

© Reuters 2005.

September 1st, 2005, 06:29 PM
Criagslist (New Orleans & Mobile) have Katrina On-line Emergency Centers. I've volunteered to call and email survivor and evacuee families, friends and loved ones as needed.

The Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City is collecting funds from New Yorkers (put "Hurricane Katrina Relief" in note line). This will be money given to relief on behalf of the citizens of New York.

September 1st, 2005, 06:34 PM
Thanks for that information, BrooklynRider.

September 1st, 2005, 06:40 PM
The Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City is collecting funds from New Yorkers (put "Hurricane Katrina Relief" in note line). This will be money given to relief on behalf of the citizens of New York.

link (http://www.nyc.gov/html/fund/html/home/home.shtml)

September 1st, 2005, 07:47 PM
These poor people need to get a clue. If they are able, they need to start walking out of town. It will be easier for the busses to get to them that way.

September 1st, 2005, 07:49 PM
Didnt The U.S. save their asses?
Yep -- But you do have to wonder about someone who is from the Kuwaiti "Ministry of Endowment" ...

September 1st, 2005, 07:53 PM
These poor people need to get a clue. If they are able, they need to start walking out of town. It will be easier for the busses to get to them that way.
The busses are passing them by -- only those in the Dome are being allowed on the busses.

Why the hell weren't busses provided BEFORE the hurricane when the evacuation was ordered? Many of these people had no independent transportation.

And don't tell me the government did the best they could. They saw the trouble brewing as early as Saturday but did nothing to serve those citizens who could not fend for themselves.

Again, I say God have mercy on those of us in Manhattan when the shit hits the fan.

TLOZ Link5
September 1st, 2005, 07:58 PM
Big difference, lofter, is that we're not below sea level. If Katrina had hit us, most of the city is high enough above sea level to escape 30-foot storm surges.

Of course, if we're hit by a possible tsunami if Cumbre Vieja in the Canary Islands erupts, we might have a problem; that thing's supposed to be over 80 feet high.

TLOZ Link5
September 1st, 2005, 07:59 PM
World responds to Katrina with compassion — mostly

VIENNA, Austria (AP) — From papal prayers to telegrams from China, the world reacted with an outpouring of compassion Wednesday for the victims of Hurricane Katrina in messages tinged by shock that a disaster of this scale could occur in the United States.

Islamic extremists rejoiced in America's misfortune, giving the storm a military rank and declaring in Internet chatter that "Private" Katrina had joined the global jihad, or holy war. With "God's help," they declared, oil prices would hit $100 a barrel this year.

Venezuela's government, which has had tense relations with Washington, offered humanitarian aid and fuel. Venezuela's Citgo Petroleum Corp. pledged a $1 million donation for hurricane aid. (Related story: Economic fallout will be massive)

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz also called President Bush to offer assistance. The minister of petroleum and mineral resources said Monday that Saudi Arabia is ready to immediately increase its crude oil production to replace any market shortages and help stabilize world crude prices.

The storm was seen as an equalizer — proof that any country, weak or strong, can be victimized by a natural disaster. (Related story: Tsunami zone sympathizes)

Images of flood-ravaged New Orleans earned particular sympathy in central Europe, where dozens died in raging floodwaters only days ago.

"Nature proved that no matter how rich and economically developed you are, you can't fight it," says Danut Afasei, a local official in Romania's Harghita county, where flooding killed 13 people last week.

Throughout Europe, concerned citizens lamented the loss of life and the damage caused to New Orleans, often described as one of North America's most "European" cities.

French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder sent messages of sympathy to President Bush. Chirac, who has famously quarreled with Bush over the Iraq war, addressed this letter, "Dear George."

Pope Benedict XVI said he was praying for victims of the "tragic" hurricane while China's President Hu Jintao expressed his "belief that that the American people will definitely overcome the natural disaster and rebuild their beautiful homeland." (Related story: Pope prays for victims, rescuers)

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II also sent a message to Bush saying she was "deeply shocked and saddened" at the devastation caused by the hurricane and expressing her condolences, "especially to the families of those who have lost their lives, to the injured and to all who have been affected by this terrible disaster."

The U.S. Embassy in Bern, Switzerland — a capital at the foot of the Alps hit by flooding last week — said calls were rushing in from Swiss individuals and institutions looking for a way to donate to relief efforts.

"We are getting calls from the Swiss public looking to express their condolences, (and) people are also asking for an account number where they can make donations," said spokesman Daniel Wendell.

The Internet-edition Vienna daily Der Standard had recorded 820 postings commenting on a front-page story on the hurricane. In one of the postings, signature "Emerald" asked where money could be donated to the victims, but the question sparked a debate about whether a rich country like the United States needed such aid.

In response, one posting, from signature "far out," argued that hurricane victims who are poor still needed support.

A spokeswoman for the Canadian Red Cross said lists of volunteers experienced in large-scale disasters were being assembled.

Amid the sympathy, however, there was criticism.

As U.S. military engineers struggled to shore up breached levees, experts in the Netherlands expressed surprise that New Orleans' flood systems failed to restrain the raging waters.

With half of the country's population of 16 million living below sea level, the Netherlands prepared for a "perfect storm" soon after floods in 1953 killed 2,000 people. The nation installed massive hydraulic sea walls.

"I don't want to sound overly critical, but it's hard to imagine that (the damage caused by Katrina) could happen in a Western country," said Ted Sluijter, spokesman for the park where the sea walls are exhibited. "It seemed like plans for protection and evacuation weren't really in place, and once it happened, the coordination was on loose hinges." (Related story: New Orleans didn't heed engineers' warnings)

The sympathy was muted in some corners by a sense that the United States reaped what it sowed, since the country is seen as the main contributor to global warming.

Joern Ehlers, a spokesman for World Wildlife Fund Germany, said global warming had increased the intensity of hurricanes.

"The Americans have a big impact on the greenhouse effect," Ehlers said. (Related story: Scientists: Global warming pumps up storms)

But Harlan L. Watson, the U.S. envoy for negotiations on climate change, denied any link between global warming and the strength of storms.

"Our scientists are telling us right now that there's not a linkage," he said in Geneva. "I'll rely on their information."

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

September 1st, 2005, 08:34 PM
I'm going to suggest, at the expense of possible wrath, that folks forgo the "Disaster Inc." organizations like Catholic Charities and Red Cross and go to Craigslist. You can utilize the same resources and more DIRECTLY help people.

We can see the struggle playing out on TV between reporters on the ground trying to convey TRUTH and spin masters diluting the true horror. Screw the bureaucracies - they failed and, in doing so, help create this mess - help the people directly. They are finding their way onto Craigslist. Seek them out.

September 1st, 2005, 09:07 PM
Big difference, lofter, is that we're not below sea level.

That's not the shit I'm talking about. Not the natural disaster stuff. It's the other shit -- when some man-made ugly thing happens. Again.
As we can see it doesn't take long for communication, distribution, transportation, supply systems to break down. And the geniuses in charge probably think they have it figured out and will be able to keep things running.

I have no faith in them at all.

TLOZ Link5
September 1st, 2005, 09:57 PM
Criagslist (New Orleans & Mobile) have Katrina On-line Emergency Centers. I've volunteered to call and email survivor and evacuee families, friends and loved ones as needed.

Stupid question before I volunteer: if someone can use the Internet to access Craigslist, wouldn't they be able to use e-mail anyway?

September 2nd, 2005, 07:56 AM
Op-Ed Columnist
A Can't-Do Government

By PAUL KRUGMAN (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/opinion/editorialsandoped/oped/columnists/paulkrugman/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: September 2, 2005

Before 9/11 the Federal Emergency Management Agency listed the three most likely catastrophic disasters facing America: a terrorist attack on New York, a major earthquake in San Francisco and a hurricane strike on New Orleans. "The New Orleans hurricane scenario," The Houston Chronicle wrote in December 2001, "may be the deadliest of all." It described a potential catastrophe very much like the one now happening.

So why were New Orleans and the nation so unprepared? After 9/11, hard questions were deferred in the name of national unity, then buried under a thick coat of whitewash. This time, we need accountability.

First question: Why have aid and security taken so long to arrive? Katrina hit five days ago - and it was already clear by last Friday that Katrina could do immense damage along the Gulf Coast. Yet the response you'd expect from an advanced country never happened. Thousands of Americans are dead or dying, not because they refused to evacuate, but because they were too poor or too sick to get out without help - and help wasn't provided. Many have yet to receive any help at all.

There will and should be many questions about the response of state and local governments; in particular, couldn't they have done more to help the poor and sick escape? But the evidence points, above all, to a stunning lack of both preparation and urgency in the federal government's response.

Even military resources in the right place weren't ordered into action. "On Wednesday," said an editorial in The Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss., "reporters listening to horrific stories of death and survival at the Biloxi Junior High School shelter looked north across Irish Hill Road and saw Air Force personnel playing basketball and performing calisthenics. Playing basketball and performing calisthenics!"

Maybe administration officials believed that the local National Guard could keep order and deliver relief. But many members of the National Guard and much of its equipment - including high-water vehicles - are in Iraq. "The National Guard needs that equipment back home to support the homeland security mission," a Louisiana Guard officer told reporters several weeks ago.

Second question: Why wasn't more preventive action taken? After 2003 the Army Corps of Engineers sharply slowed its flood-control work, including work on sinking levees. "The corps," an Editor and Publisher article says, citing a series of articles in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, "never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security - coming at the same time as federal tax cuts - was the reason for the strain."

In 2002 the corps' chief resigned, reportedly under threat of being fired, after he criticized the administration's proposed cuts in the corps' budget, including flood-control spending.

Third question: Did the Bush administration destroy FEMA's effectiveness? The administration has, by all accounts, treated the emergency management agency like an unwanted stepchild, leading to a mass exodus of experienced professionals.

Last year James Lee Witt, who won bipartisan praise for his leadership of the agency during the Clinton years, said at a Congressional hearing: "I am extremely concerned that the ability of our nation to prepare for and respond to disasters has been sharply eroded. I hear from emergency managers, local and state leaders, and first responders nearly every day that the FEMA they knew and worked well with has now disappeared."

I don't think this is a simple tale of incompetence. The reason the military wasn't rushed in to help along the Gulf Coast is, I believe, the same reason nothing was done to stop looting after the fall of Baghdad. Flood control was neglected for the same reason our troops in Iraq didn't get adequate armor.

At a fundamental level, I'd argue, our current leaders just aren't serious about some of the essential functions of government. They like waging war, but they don't like providing security, rescuing those in need or spending on preventive measures. And they never, ever ask for shared sacrifice.

Yesterday Mr. Bush made an utterly fantastic claim: that nobody expected the breach of the levees. In fact, there had been repeated warnings about exactly that risk.

So America, once famous for its can-do attitude, now has a can't-do government that makes excuses instead of doing its job. And while it makes those excuses, Americans are dying.

September 2nd, 2005, 12:08 PM
How many times over the past few days have we heard officials say "What has happened is worse than could have been imagined"?

Perhaps if they had read this article from National Geographic (October 2004) they wouldn't be so quick to claim ignorance and run from responsibility.
Photograph by Tyrone Turner

The Louisiana bayou, hardest working marsh in America, is in big trouble—with dire consequences for residents, the nearby city of New Orleans, and seafood lovers everywhere...

September 2nd, 2005, 12:44 PM
There's got to be some answer besides incompetence for the total failure of the feds to effectively help out NO. I just can't believe they can be that unorganized...

September 2nd, 2005, 03:38 PM

-Much of the National Guard which would have assisted is in Iraq
-Much of the money which could have gone into strengthening the levee system was sent to Iraq
-Many of the social programmes which may have financially assisted the poor and suffering in New Orleans enough to allow them, at least, the financial means to escape the hurricane, were cut, in favour of more military spending...needed because of the Iraq War
-Of the Homeland Security money which may have helped preparedness for such a crisis, a far greater amount per capita went to virtually depopulated Western states like Wyoming than those vulnerable to natural or manmade disasters

While I don't believe, necessarily, that widespread flooding and such could have been completely prevented, but surely the scenes of people living among corpses, fecal matter, and armed rape-gangs are not those one begins to expect to see in the United States, at least when priorities are properly ordered.

bobby fletcher
September 2nd, 2005, 04:05 PM
Careful bobby, youar agrument is starting to sound like an Us vs. Them.

Well, did you watch the news specials about Katarina last night? Here are my observations:

- people stuck in New Orleans dying are 99% poor black folks who had no means to evacuate;

- people interviewed in big SUVs (loaded with food and water) complaining about gas shortage and no hotel rooms are all white folks.

I'd thought we've gotten over the racial divide?

September 2nd, 2005, 05:34 PM
Well, did you watch the news specials about Katarina last night? Here are my observations:

- people stuck in New Orleans dying are 99% poor black folks who had no means to evacuate;

- people interviewed in big SUVs (loaded with food and water) complaining about gas shortage and no hotel rooms are all white folks.

I'd thought we've gotten over the racial divide?

It is not just racial.

It is financial. I see plenty of black folks here in SUV's here in NYC whining about the price of gas.

But the news people don't want to talk to city-folk.

The key for eliminating racial profiling and seperation is for ALL people to stop using it, not just the ones abusing it.

September 3rd, 2005, 12:31 AM
The key for eliminating racial profiling and seperation is for ALL people to stop using it, not just the ones abusing it.

And who exactly would this benefit, minus the people who have never experienced systematic racial stereotyping and prejudices? Singing Kumbaya and holding hands doesn't really do much more than make people feel better about themselves.

If you're seriously trying to claim that you've never seen instances of racial bias against non-whites, you're either delusional, lying or ignorant.

September 3rd, 2005, 10:10 AM
I think it's possible, from the people that did not leave for whatever reason crowd, that some chose to remain in order to protect their property. N.O. had a similar evacuation order last year, many people stayed put and the storm never came. So maybe they had a false sense of security.

September 3rd, 2005, 04:02 PM
I think you're correct, Stache.

A friend of mine just purchased her first home in New Orleans a few months ago. She had planned on riding out the storm until Sunday morning, when it became apparent that this hurricane would be stronger than those in the past. Luckily, she had access to a car and was able to flee quickly. Unluckily, she didn't pack many personal belongings and has discovered that her house is in one of the most flooded areas.

The only difference between my friend and many others, I imagine, was the simple access to an escape vehicle. I'm very glad that she's okay, and that she's managed to maintain her sanity and a sense of kindness throughout this.

When I spoke with her yesterday, instead of bemoaning her fate, she expressed hope that if anyone was able to loot her house, they'd be able to use what they found. Her home is ruined and anything inside is gone to her at this point.

September 3rd, 2005, 07:47 PM
Maybe this offers a partial explanation why things in New Orleans went from bad to worse ...

Brown pushed from last job: Horse group: FEMA chief had to be 'asked to resign'

By Brett Arends
Saturday, September 3, 2005 - Updated: 02:01 PM EST

The federal official in charge of the bungled New Orleans rescue was fired from his last private-sector job overseeing horse shows.

And before joining the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a deputy director in 2001, GOP activist Mike Brown had no significant experience that would have qualified him for the position.

The Oklahoman got the job through an old college friend who at the time was heading up FEMA.

The agency, run by Brown since 2003, is now at the center of a growing fury over the handling of the New Orleans disaster.

"I look at FEMA and I shake my head," said a furious Gov. Mitt Romney yesterday, calling the response "an embarrassment.''

President Bush, after touring the Big Easy, said he was "not satisfied'' with the emergency response to Hurricane Katrina's devastation.

And U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch predicted there would be hearings on Capitol Hill over the mishandled operation.

Brown - formerly an estates and family lawyer - this week has has made several shocking public admissions, including interviews where he suggested FEMA was unaware of the misery and desperation of refugees stranded at the New Orleans convention center.

Before joining the Bush administration in 2001, Brown spent 11 years as the commissioner of judges and stewards for the International Arabian Horse Association, a breeders' and horse-show organization based in Colorado.

"We do disciplinary actions, certification of (show trial) judges. We hold classes to train people to become judges and stewards. And we keep records,'' explained a spokeswoman for the IAHA commissioner's office. "This was his full-time job . . . for 11 years,'' she added.

Brown was forced out of the position after a spate of lawsuits over alleged supervision failures.

"He was asked to resign,'' Bill Pennington, president of the IAHA at the time, confirmed last night.

Soon after, Brown was invited to join the administration by his old Oklahoma college roommate Joseph Allbaugh, the previous head of FEMA until he quit in 2003 to work for the president's re-election campaign.

The White House last night defended Brown's appointment. A spokesman noted Brown served as FEMA deputy director and general counsel before taking the top job, and that he has now overseen the response to "more than 164 declared disasters and emergencies,'' including last year's record-setting hurricane season.

September 3rd, 2005, 08:48 PM
In my memory, FEMA has never really risen to any occasion.

TLOZ Link5
September 3rd, 2005, 09:26 PM
I really liked this picture; it's good to know that in the face everything bad that's happened in the past few days, something that speaks of humanity's good side has come out of it:


Nita LaGarde, 105, holds hands with Tanisha Blevin, 5, as they evacuate the New Orleans Convention Center.

There was a second picture of the same scene that had a better angle, but I couldn't copy the URL, so this was the best I could do.

TLOZ Link5
September 3rd, 2005, 09:37 PM
Miami Herald

Posted on Sat, Sep. 03, 2005

New Orleans left to the dead and dying


Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS - Thousands more bedraggled refugees were bused and airlifted to salvation Saturday, leaving the heart of New Orleans to the dead and dying, the elderly and frail stranded too many days without food, water or medical care.

No one knows how many were killed by Hurricane Katrina's floods and how many more succumbed waiting to be rescued. But the bodies are everywhere: hidden in attics, floating among the ruined city, crumpled on wheelchairs, abandoned on highways.

And the dying goes on - at the convention center and an airport triage center, where bodies were kept in a refrigerated truck.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Saturday that she expected the death toll to reach the thousands. And Craig Vanderwagen, rear admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service, said one morgue alone, at a St. Gabriel prison, expected 1,000 to 2,000 bodies.

Touring the airport triage center, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., a physician, said "a lot more than eight to 10 people are dying a day."

Most were those too sick or weak to survive. But not all.

Charles Womack, a 30-year-old roofer, said he saw one man beaten to death and another commit suicide at the Superdome. Womack was beaten with a pipe and being treated at the airport triage center.

"One guy jumped off a balcony. I saw him do it. He was talking to a lady about it. He said it reminded him of the war and he couldn't leave," he said.

Three babies died at the New Orleans Convention Center from heat exhaustion, said Mark Kyle, a medical relief provider.

But some progress was evident. The last 300 refugees at the Superdome climbed aboard buses Saturday, eliciting cheers from members of the Texas National Guard who had been standing watch over the facility for nearly a week as some 20,000 hurricane survivors waited for rescue.

The convention center was "almost empty" after 4,200 people were removed, according to Marty Bahamonde, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

At the convention center, where earlier estimates of the crowd climbed as high as 25,000, thousands of refugees dragged their meager belongings to buses, the mood more numb than jubilant. Yolando Sanders, who had been stuck at the convention center for five days, was among those who filed past corpses to reach the buses.

"Anyplace is better than here," she said.

"People are dying over there."

Nearby, a woman lay dead in a wheelchair on the front steps. A man was covered in a black drape with a dry line of blood running to the gutter, where it had pooled. Another had lain on a chaise lounge for four days, his stocking feet peeking out from under a quilt.

By mid-afternoon, only pockets of stragglers remained in the streets around the convention center, and New Orleans paramedics began carting away the dead.

A once-vibrant city of 480,000 people, overtaken just days ago by floods, looting, rape and arson, was now an empty, sodden tomb.

The exact number of dead won't be known for some time. Survivors were still being plucked from roofs and shattered highways across the city. President Bush ordered more than 7,000 active duty forces to the Gulf Coast on Saturday.

"There are people in apartments and hotels that you didn't know were there," Army Brig. Gen. Mark Graham said.

The overwhelming majority of those stranded in the post-Katrina chaos were those without the resources to escape - and, overwhelmingly, they were black.

"The first few days were a natural disaster. The last four days were a man-made disaster," said Phillip Holt, 51, who was rescued from his home Saturday with his partner and three of their aging Chihuahuas. They left a fourth behind they couldn't grab in time.

Tens of thousands of people had been evacuated from the city, seeking safety in Texas, Tennessee, Indiana and Arkansas.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry warned Saturday that his enormous state was running out of room, with more than 220,000 hurricane refugees camped out there and more coming.

Emergency workers at the Astrodome were told to expect 10,000 new arrivals daily for the next three days.

Thousands of people remained at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, where officials turned a Delta Blue terminal into a triage unit. Officials said 3,000 to 5,000 people had been treated at the triage unit, but fewer than 200 remain. Others throughout the airport awaited transport out of the city.

"In the beginning it was like trying to lasso an octopus. When we got here it was overwhelming," said Jake Jacoby, a physician helping run the center.

Airport director Roy Williams said about 30 people had died, some of them elderly and ill. The bodies were being kept in refrigerated trucks as a temporary morgue.

At the convention center, people stumbled toward the helicopters, dehydrated and nearly passing out from exhaustion. Many had to be carried by National Guard troops and police on stretchers. And some were being pushed up the street on office chairs and on dollies.

Nita LaGarde, 105, was pushed down the street in her wheelchair as her nurse's 5-year-old granddaughter, Tanisha Blevin, held her hand. The pair spent two days in an attic, two days on an interstate island and the last four days on the pavement in front of the convention center.

"They're good to see," LaGarde said, with remarkable gusto as she waited to be loaded onto a gray Marine helicopter. She said they were sent by God. "Whatever He has for you, He'll take care of you. He'll sure take care of you."

LaGarde's nurse, Ernestine Dangerfield, 60, said LaGarde had not had a clean adult diaper in more than two days. "I just want to get somewhere where I can get her nice and clean," she said.

Around the corner, a motley fleet of luxury tour buses and yellow school buses lined up two deep to pick up some of the healthier refugees. National Guardsmen confiscated a gun, knives and letter openers from people before they got on the buses.

"It's been a long time coming," Derek Dabon, 29, said as he waited to pass through a guard checkpoint. "There's no way I'm coming back. To what? That don't make sense. I'm going to start a new life."

Hillary Snowton, 40, sat on the sidewalk outside with a piece of white sheet tied around his face like a bandanna as he stared at a body that had been lying on a chaise lounge for four days, its stocking feet peeking out from under a quilt.

"It's for the smell of the dead body," he said of the sheet. His brother-in-law, Octave Carter, 42, said it has been "every day, every morning, breakfast lunch and dinner looking at it."

When asked why he didn't move further away from the corpse, Carter replied, "it stinks everywhere, Blood."

Dan Craig, director of recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said it could take up to six months to get the water out of New Orleans, and the city would then need to dry out, which could take up to three more months.

A Saks Fifth Avenue store billowed smoke Saturday, as did rows of warehouses on the east bank of the Mississippi River, where corrugated roofs buckled and tiny explosions erupted. Gunfire - almost two dozen shots - broke out in the French Quarter overnight.

In the French Quarter, some residents refused or did not know how to get out. Some holed up with guns.

As the warehouse district burned, Ron Seitzer, 61, washed his dirty laundry in the even dirtier waters of the Mississippi River and said he didn't know how much longer he could stay without water or power, surrounded by looters.

"I've never even had a nightmare or a beautiful dream about this," he said as he watched the warehouses burn. "People are just not themselves."


Associated Press reporters Kevin McGill, Robert Tanner, Melinda Deslatte, Brett Martel and Mary Foster contributed to this report.

© The Associated Press, 2005

TLOZ Link5
September 3rd, 2005, 09:41 PM
Associated Press

Mississippians' Suffering Overshadowed


JACKSON, Miss. (Sept. 3) - Mississippi hurricane survivors looked around Saturday and wondered just how long it would take to get food, clean water and shelter. And they were more than angry at the federal government and the national news media.

Richard Gibbs was disgusted by reports of looting in New Orleans and upset at the lack of attention hurricane victims in his state were getting.

"I say burn the bridges and let 'em all rot there," he said. "We're suffering over here too, but we're not killing each other. We've got to help each other. We need gas and food and water and medical supplies."

Gibbs and his wife, Holly, have been stuck at their flooded home in Gulfport just off the Biloxi River. Water comes up to the second floor, they are out of gasoline, and food supplies are running perilously low.

Until recently, they also had Holly's 75-year-old father, who has a pacemaker and severe diabetes, with them. Finally they got an ambulance to take him to the airport so he could be airlifted to Lafayette, La., for medical help.

In poverty-stricken north Gulfport, Grover Chapman was angry at the lack of aid.

"Something should've been on this corner three days ago," Chapman, 60, said Saturday as he whipped up dinner for his neighbors.

He used wood from his demolished produce stand to cook fish, rabbit, okra and butter beans he'd been keeping in his freezer. Although many houses here, about five miles inland, are still standing, they are severely damaged. Corrugated tin roofs lie scattered on the ground.

"I'm just doing what I can do," Chapman said. "These people support me with my produce stand every day. Now it's time to pay them back."

One neighbor, 78-year-old Georgia Smylie, knew little about what's happening elsewhere. She was too worried about her own situation.

"My medicine is running out. I need high blood pressure medicine, medicine for my heart," she said.

Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist, said he's been watching hours of Katrina coverage every day and most of the national media attention has focused on the devastation and looting in New Orleans.

"Mississippi needs more coverage," Sabato said. "Until people see it on TV, they don't think it's real."

Along the battered Mississippi Gulf Coast, crews started searching boats for corpses on Saturday. Several shrimpers are believed to have died as they tried to ride out the storm aboard their boats on the Intracoastal Waterway.

President Bush toured ravaged areas of the Mississippi coast on Friday with Gov. Haley Barbour and other state officials. They also flew over flooded New Orleans.

"I'm going to tell you, Mississippi got hit much harder than they did, but what happened in the aftermath - it makes your stomach hurt to go miles and miles and miles and the houses are all under water up to the roof," Barbour said.

Keisha Moran has been living in a tent in a department store parking lot in Bay St. Louis with her boyfriend and three young children since the hurricane struck. She said National Guardsmen have brought her water but no other aid so far, and she was furious that it took Bush several days before he came to see the damage in Mississippi.

"It's how many days later? How many people are dead?" Moran said.

Mississippi's death toll from Hurricane Katrina stood at 144 on Saturday, according to confirmed reports from coroners and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. Barbour had said Friday the total was 147, but he didn't provide a county-by-county breakdown.

In a strongly worded editorial, The Sun Herald of Biloxi-Gulfport pleaded for help and questioned why a massive National Guard presence wasn't already visible.

"We understand that New Orleans also was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, but surely this nation has the resources to rescue both that metropolitan (area) and ours," the newspaper editorialized, saying survival basics like ice, gasoline and medicine have been too slow to arrive.

"We are not calling on the nation and the state to make life more comfortable in South Mississippi, we are calling on the nation and the state to make life here possible," the paper wrote.

Associated Press reporter David Royse and Brian Skoloff in Gulfport and Jay Reeves in Bay St. Louis contributed to this report.

09/03/05 16:52 EDT

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

September 4th, 2005, 09:34 AM
Just a quick note to people who are thinking aof contributing dollars....

Habitat for Humanity has a huge fundraising effort underway and it is a charity that will rebuild for victims as opposed to relocating them. I hope you'll considre a donation.

I'm not sure if this counts as an advertisement. I apologize if it does.

September 4th, 2005, 10:00 AM
Just a quick note to people who are thinking aof contributing dollars....Habitat for Humanity has a huge fundraising effort underway and it is a charity that will rebuild for victims as opposed to relocating them. I hope you'll considre a donation.
I second the motion.

Habitat for Humanity has a plan to construct "Houses in a Box" where structures will be pre-constructed away from the disaster area then taken apart and readied for delivery to the areas where needed. After delivery these instant homes can be re-constructed in a short time, thereby offering much needed housing.

The re-building of New Orleans will be a gargantuan challenge.

IMO better to give to an organization that has a proven track record for achieving results, especially when you consider the following...

The Ugly Truth

Why we couldn’t save the people of New Orleans

NY Daily News
Errol Louis
September 4, 2005

Bubbling up from the flood that destroyed New Orleans are images, beamed around the world, of America's original and continuing sin: the shabby, contemptuous treatment this country metes out, decade after decade, to poor people in general and the descendants of African slaves in particular. The world sees New Orleans burning and dying today, but the televised anarchy - the shooting and looting, needless deaths, helpless rage and maddening governmental incompetence - was centuries in the making.

To the casual viewer, the situation is an incomprehensible mess that raises questions about the intelligence, sanity and moral worth of those trapped in the city. Why didn't those people evacuate before the hurricane? Why don't they just walk out of town now? And why should anyone care about people who are stealing and fighting the police?

That hard, unsympathetic view is the traditional American response to the poverty, ignorance and rage that afflict many of us whose great-great-grandparents once made up the captive African slave labor pool. In far too many cities, including New Orleans, the marching orders on the front lines of American race relations are to control and contain the very poor in ghettos as cheaply as possible; ignore them completely if possible; and call in the troops if the brutes get out of line.

By almost every statistical measure, New Orleans is a bad place to be poor. Half the city's households make less than $28,000 a year, and 28% of the population lives in poverty.

In the late 1990s, the state's school systems ranked dead last in the nation in the number of computers per student (1 per 88), and Louisiana has the nation's second-highest percentage of adults who never finished high school. By the state's own measure, 47% of the public schools in New Orleans rank as "academically unacceptable."

And Louisiana is the only one of the 50 states where the state legislature doesn't allocate money to pay for the legal defense of indigent defendants. The Associated Press reported this year that it's not unusual for poor people charged with crimes to stay in jail for nine months before getting a lawyer appointed.

These government failures are not merely a matter of incompetence. Louisiana and New Orleans have a long, well-known reputation for corruption: as former congressman Billy Tauzin once put it, "half of Louisiana is under water and the other half is under indictment."

That's putting it mildly. Adjusted for population size, the state ranks third in the number of elected officials convicted of crimes (Mississippi is No. 1). Recent scandals include the conviction of 14 state judges and an FBI raid on the business and personal files of a Louisiana congressman.

In 1991, a notoriously corrupt Democrat named Edwin Edwards ran for governor against Republican David Duke, a former head of the Ku Klux Klan. Edwards, whose winning campaign included bumper stickers saying "Elect the Crook," is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for taking bribes from casino owners. Duke recently completed his own prison term for tax fraud.

The rot included the New Orleans Police Department, which in the 1990s had the dubious distinction of being the nation's most corrupt police force and the least effective: the city had the highest murder rate in America. More than 50 officers were eventually convicted of crimes including murder, rape and robbery; two are currently on Death Row.

The decision to subject an entire population to poverty, ignorance, injustice and government corruption as a way of life has its ugly moments, as the world is now seeing. New Orleans officials issued an almost cynical evacuation order in a city where they know full well that thousands have no car, no money for airfare or an interstate bus, no credit cards for hotels, and therefore no way to leave town before the deadly storm and flood arrived.

The authorities provided no transportation out of the danger zone, apparently figuring the neglected thousands would somehow weather the storm in their uninsured, low-lying shacks and public housing projects. The poor were expected to remain invisible at the bottom of the pecking order and somehow weather the storm.

But the flood confounded the plan, and the world began to see a tide of human misery rising from the water - ragged, sick, desperate and disorderly. Some foraged for food, some took advantage of the chaos to commit crimes. All in all, they acted exactly the way you could predict people would act who have been locked up in a ghetto for generations.

The world also saw the breezy indifference with which government officials treated these tens of thousands of sick and dying citizens, even as the scope of the disaster became clear. President Bush initially shunned the Gulf Coast and headed to political fund-raisers in the West.

That left matters in the bumbling hands of the director of emergency management, Michael Brown, who ranks No. 1 on the list of officials who ought to be fired when the crisis has passed. Even as local officials were publicly reporting assaults, fires and bedlam at local hospitals, Brown took to the airwaves to declare that "things are going well" as mayhem engulfed the city. When asked about the rising death toll, Brown attributed it to "people who did not heed the advance warnings." Brown's smug ignorance of the conditions of the place he was tasked to save became the final door slammed on the trap that tens of thousands of the city's poorest found themselves.

The challenge for America is to remember the faces of the evacuees who will surely be ushered back into a black hole of public indifference as soon as the White House and local officials can manage it. While pledging ourselves to remember their mistreatment and fight for their cause, we should also be sure to cast a searching, skeptical eye on the money that Bush has pledged for rebuilding.

Ten billion dollars are about to pass into the sticky hands of politicians in the No. 1 and No. 3 most corrupt states in America. Worried about looting? You ain't seen nothing yet.

September 4th, 2005, 10:32 AM
Louisiana senator hits Bush 'photo opportunity'

RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/)


In a bold move and seeming turnaround from a relatively placid appearance on CNN's Anderson Cooper, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) took President Bush to task Saturday for what she believes the use of a tragedy for a "presidential photo opportunity," RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) has learned.

Landrieu leveled the following criticism regarding her call for President Bush to appoint a cabinet-level official to oversee Katrina relief and recovery efforts.


"Yesterday, I was hoping President Bush would come away from his tour of the regional devastation triggered by Hurricane Katrina with a new understanding for the magnitude of the suffering and for the abject failures of the current Federal Emergency Management Agency. 24 hours later, the President has yet to answer my call for a cabinet-level official to lead our efforts. Meanwhile, FEMA, now a shell of what it once was, continues to be overwhelmed by the task at hand.

I understand that the U.S. Forest Service had water-tanker aircraft available to help douse the fires raging on our riverfront, but FEMA has yet to accept the aid. When Amtrak offered trains to evacuate significant numbers of victims – far more efficiently than buses – FEMA again dragged its feet. Offers of medicine, communications equipment and other desperately needed items continue to flow in, only to be ignored by the agency.

"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.

"Mr. President, I'm imploring you once again to get a cabinet-level official stood up as soon as possible to get this entire operation moving forward regionwide with all the resources – military and otherwise – necessary to relieve the unmitigated suffering and economic damage that is unfolding."

September 4th, 2005, 10:53 AM
Falluja Floods the Superdome

September 4, 2005


As the levees cracked open and ushered hell into New Orleans on Tuesday, President Bush once again chose to fly away from Washington, not toward it, while disaster struck. We can all enumerate the many differences between a natural catastrophe and a terrorist attack. But character doesn't change: it is immutable, and it is destiny.

As always, the president's first priority, the one that sped him from Crawford toward California, was saving himself: he had to combat the flood of record-low poll numbers that was as uncontrollable as the surging of Lake Pontchartrain. It was time, therefore, for another disingenuous pep talk, in which he would exploit the cataclysm that defined his first term, 9/11, even at the price of failing to recognize the emerging fiasco likely to engulf Term 2.

After dispatching Katrina with a few sentences of sanctimonious boilerplate ("our hearts and prayers are with our fellow citizens"), he turned to his more important task. The war in Iraq is World War II. George W. Bush is F.D.R. And anyone who refuses to stay his course is soft on terrorism and guilty of a pre-9/11 "mind-set of isolation and retreat." Yet even as Mr. Bush promised "victory" (a word used nine times in this speech on Tuesday), he was standing at the totemic scene of his failure. It was along this same San Diego coastline that he declared "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln more than two years ago. For this return engagement, The Washington Post reported (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/30/AR2005083001078.html), the president's stage managers made sure he was positioned so that another hulking aircraft carrier nearby would stay off-camera, lest anyone be reminded of that premature end of "major combat operations."

This administration would like us to forget a lot, starting with the simple fact that next Sunday is the fourth anniversary of the day we were attacked by Al Qaeda, not Iraq. Even before Katrina took command of the news, Sept. 11, 2005, was destined to be a half-forgotten occasion, distorted and sullied by a grotesquely inappropriate Pentagon-sponsored country music jamboree on the Mall. But hard as it is to reflect upon so much sorrow at once, we cannot allow ourselves to forget the real history surrounding 9/11; it is the Rosetta stone for what is happening now. If we are to pull ourselves out of the disasters of Katrina and Iraq alike, we must live in the real world, not the fantasyland of the administration's faith-based propaganda. Everything connects.

Though history is supposed to occur first as tragedy, then as farce, even at this early stage we can see that tragedy is being repeated once more as tragedy. From the president's administration's inattention to threats before 9/11 to his disappearing act on the day itself to the reckless blundering in the ill-planned war of choice that was 9/11's bastard offspring, Katrina is déjà vu with a vengeance.

The president's declaration that "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees" has instantly achieved the notoriety of Condoleezza Rice's "I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center." The administration's complete obliviousness to the possibilities for energy failures, food and water deprivation, and civil disorder in a major city under siege needs only the Donald Rumsfeld punch line of "Stuff happens" for a coup de grâce. How about shared sacrifice, so that this time we might get the job done right? After Mr. Bush's visit on "Good Morning America" on Thursday, Diane Sawyer reported on a postinterview conversation in which he said, "There won't have to be tax increases."

But on a second go-round, even the right isn't so easily fooled by this drill (with the reliable exception of Peggy Noonan, who found much reassurance in Mr. Bush's initial autopilot statement about the hurricane, with its laundry list of tarps and blankets). This time the fecklessness and deceit were all too familiar. They couldn't be obliterated by a bullhorn or by the inspiring initial post-9/11 national unity that bolstered the president until he betrayed it. This time the heartlessness beneath the surface of his actions was more pronounced.

You could almost see Mr. Bush's political base starting to crumble at its very epicenter, Fox News, by Thursday night. Even there it was impossible to ignore that the administration was no more successful at securing New Orleans than it had been at pacifying Falluja.

A visibly exasperated Shepard Smith, covering the story on the ground in Louisiana, went further still, tossing hand grenades of harsh reality into Bill O'Reilly's usually spin-shellacked "No Spin Zone." Among other hard facts, Mr. Smith noted "that the haves of this city, the movers and shakers of this city, evacuated the city either immediately before or immediately after the storm." What he didn't have to say, since it was visible to the entire world, was that it was the poor who were left behind to drown.

In that sense, the inequality of the suffering has not only exposed the sham of the relentless photo-ops with black schoolchildren whom the president trots out at campaign time to sell his "compassionate conservatism"; it has also positioned Katrina before a rapt late-summer audience as a replay of the sinking of the Titanic. New Orleans's first-class passengers made it safely into lifeboats; for those in steerage, it was a horrifying spectacle of every man, woman and child for himself.

THE captain in this case, Michael Chertoff, the homeland security secretary, was so oblivious to those on the lower decks that on Thursday he applauded the federal response to the still rampaging nightmare as "really exceptional." He told NPR that he had "not heard a report of thousands of people in the convention center who don't have food and water" - even though every television viewer in the country had been hearing of those 25,000 stranded refugees for at least a day. This Titanic syndrome, too, precisely echoes the post-9/11 wartime history of an administration that has rewarded the haves at home with economic goodies while leaving the have-nots to fight in Iraq without proper support in manpower or armor. Surely it's only a matter of time before Mr. Chertoff and the equally at sea FEMA director, Michael Brown (who also was among the last to hear about the convention center), are each awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom in line with past architects of lethal administration calamity like George Tenet and Paul Bremer.

On Thursday morning, the president told Diane Sawyer that he hoped "people don't play politics during this period of time." Presumably that means that the photos of him wistfully surveying the Katrina damage from Air Force One won't be sold to campaign donors as the equivalent 9/11 photos were. Maybe he'll even call off the right-wing attack machine so it won't Swift-boat the Katrina survivors who emerge to ask tough questions as it has Cindy Sheehan and those New Jersey widows who had the gall to demand a formal 9/11 inquiry.

But a president who flew from Crawford to Washington in a heartbeat to intervene in the medical case of a single patient, Terri Schiavo, has no business lecturing anyone about playing politics with tragedy. Eventually we're going to have to examine the administration's behavior before, during and after this storm as closely as its history before, during and after 9/11. We're going to have to ask if troops and matériel of all kinds could have arrived faster without the drain of national resources into a quagmire. We're going to have to ask why it took almost two days of people being without food, shelter and water for Mr. Bush to get back to Washington.

Most of all, we're going to have to face the reality that with this disaster, the administration has again increased our vulnerability to the terrorists we were supposed to be fighting after 9/11. As Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism czar, pointed out to The Washington Post last week in talking about the fallout from the war in Iraq, there have been twice as many terrorist attacks outside Iraq in the three years after 9/11 than in the three years before. Now, thanks to Mr. Bush's variously incompetent, diffident and hubristic mismanagement of the attack by Katrina, he has sent the entire world a simple and unambiguous message: whatever the explanation, the United States is unable to fight its current war and protect homeland security at the same time.

The answers to what went wrong in Washington and on the Gulf Coast will come later, and, if the history of 9/11 is any guide, all too slowly, after the administration and its apologists erect every possible barrier to keep us from learning the truth. But as Americans dig out from Katrina and slouch toward another anniversary of Al Qaeda's strike, we have to acknowledge the full extent and urgency of our crisis. The world is more perilous than ever, and for now, to paraphrase Mr. Rumsfeld, we have no choice but to fight the war with the president we have.

September 4th, 2005, 11:00 AM
I don't understand why it is considered unsympathetic to wonder why able bodied people did not walk out of town after the flood. You can bet I would have. If it was too hot, I would have done my walking at night. Have we become so vehicle dependant that it is considered an insult to walk away from disaster?

September 4th, 2005, 11:10 AM
Not sure where people would have walked to...and what they might have found.

The affected area of ruin covers 90,000 square miles -- amazingly that is an area the size of all of Great Britain.

Bridges and roads were out. Dead ends were undoubtedly encountered at many turns.

September 4th, 2005, 11:14 AM
I think people found more danger in walking than in staying put. The flood water was quite deep and swift in many places, much more suited to a motor boat than a swimmer.

TLOZ Link5
September 4th, 2005, 03:04 PM
New York Times

September 4, 2005
What It Means to Miss New Orleans

ALL week we've been watching the immersion of a great old city. We imagine another city, less peculiar, will arise in its place. But I have this feeling it will never be quite the same nontoxic gumbo again.

For outsiders New Orleans was a place to party and eat food that is way too rich. For the folks who live there it's more complicated - it's home. Eighty-five percent of them were born there, and they're not going anywhere permanently, so forget this idea they're going to move the city somewhere else.

It's not going to happen. New Orleans is the opposite of America, and we must hold onto places that are the opposite of us. New Orleans is not fast or energetic or efficient, not a go-get-'em Calvinist well-ordered city. It's slow, lazy, sleepy, sweaty, hot, wet, lazy and exotic.

I had a house there, up until three weeks ago, when I sold it. My friends say I'm lucky. I don't feel lucky.

Here are 22 reasons America needs New Orleans, the national capital of eccentricity:

1. The turtle soup at Galatoire's is presented in a white porcelain tureen, then ladled into your bowl by a waiter who reveals with a wicked smile that the turtle's name was Fred.

2. The hats in Fleur de Paris, a shop on Royal Street, are perfectly frivolous and ridiculous, beautiful visions of silk and lace.

3. Nowhere else in the country do so many Roman Catholic churches coexist peacefully with so many voodoo shops.

4. If you are a grown man, this is the only place in America where you can step off an airplane, and be guaranteed that within 30 minutes a respectable woman unknown to you will call you "baby," as in, "How you doin', baby!" If you are a grown woman, you will be called "darlin' " whether you are the least bit darlin' or not.

5. The beads of sweat on the unlined face of the conductor on the St. Charles streetcar.

6. Mardi Gras beads, but only the ones you catch, thrown by an actual masker on a float. The ones that hit the ground don't count unless they bounced off your hand or arm first.

7. The Lucky Dog is a venerated local frankfurter that has come a long way, culinarily speaking, from the days when Ignatius J. Reilly peddled them to tourists in "A Confederacy of Dunces." Now they are really good, especially if it is 4 a.m. and you are hungry.

8. I once met Thelma Toole, mother of John Kennedy Toole, author of "A Confederacy of Dunces," who asked if I would buy her a "very expensive meal at the finest restaurant." This lady rolled her R's like an 1860's stage actress to indicate her intellectual superiority to the rest of us. I took her to the restaurant of her choice, and by evening's end she had all the waiters gathered at our table, spellbound by stories of "Kenny." "My son was a genius, with a large and oddly-shaped head," she boomed. Imagine what other great books Kenny might have written, she said, had he not killed himself in a car on that beach in Biloxi.

9. Every Twelfth Night, Henri Schindler, a local historian and Mardi Gras curator, holds a magnificent masked ball on the second floor of the Napoleon House, at the corner of Chartres and St. Louis Streets. White curtains blow in and out of the large empty rooms as masked figures glide past on a cushion of mystery.

10. Locals go to the Maple Leaf and Tipitina's to hear music. Also to Frenchmen Street, a cluster of 10 or 12 small bars and clubs featuring, on any given night, 10 or 12 kinds of music, about 8 of which will be funky. (The other four will be too loud.) Usually at the better places there's a Neville involved, or a Marsalis.

11. My friend Martha Ann Samuels, a real estate agent, revealed to me the actual location of Stanley and Blanche's house on Elysian Fields Avenue, a secret she learned from Tennessee Williams himself when she helped him buy a condo in the Quarter. (I'm not telling.)

12. Oyster loaf at Casamento's on Magazine Street. The crunchy local French bread showers crumbs on your hands. Each bite contains bread, mayo and the delectable local bivalve, breaded and brilliantly fried. Casamento's closes down for the summer because oysters are better other times of the year.

13. At JazzFest, citizens happily stand in long lines in the blazing sun for a chance to eat crawfish bread, white boudin sausage and alligator gumbo to the thump of Rockin' Dopsy from the Congo Square stage. (Could someone please put the JazzFest committee in charge of the Superdome?)

14. You can stand at the foot of Ursulines Avenue and watch a huge oceangoing ship slide by above the level of your head.

15. Along the promenade where the river passes Jackson Square, tourists still fall for one of the oldest New Orleans scams. A friendly fellow proposes that for a dollar he can tell you where you got them shoes. When you accept the bet, he says, "You got them shoes on your feet!" He keeps the dollar.

16. It has the only airport named for a jazz trumpeter, the indelible Louis Armstrong.

17. In the Confederate Museum near Lee Circle is a crown of thorns said to have been woven by Pope Pius IX himself, and sent as a gift to Jefferson Davis while he was imprisoned shortly after the Civil War. For me this artifact represents the height of Southern absurdity, and must be preserved for those future generations who will not believe it.

18. Every Thursday night at Donna's on Rampart Street, Tom McDermott plays the fastest, wildest ragtime, Brazilian and stride piano you've ever heard. It's scary how fast his fingers move when he gets going. His feet come up off the floor.

19. Rich people live on the high ground. Poorer people live on the low ground. Last week some of the rich folks' houses got wet, too.

20. Piety Street is one block over from Desire. Not a long walk at all.

21. On a foggy night the moon grows fat and full, and hangs in the sky above the big old river. It pours light on the water and makes a magical brown glitter that doesn't exist anywhere else. The water is the reason the city is there. The full moon pulls the tides into Lake Pontchartrain.

22. The city's sanitation department is considered among the finest in the nation. Its work during Mardi Gras is legendary. Can we please get this water out of here so they can get to work on this mess? The sooner the better.

Mark Childress, who was a part-time resident of New Orleans for the past four years, is the author of "Crazy in Alabama" and other novels.

© Copyright 2005 the New York Times Company

September 4th, 2005, 03:07 PM
If you missed Meet The Press today, I implore you to watch this clip of Aaron Brussard, Jefferson Parish President's response:


TLOZ Link5
September 4th, 2005, 03:37 PM
Excerpt from a Wikinews article:


"Not all of the coverage has been concerned with the failures at the federal or state level. The American Family Association's Agape Press published praise for the hurricane's destruction as an instrument of God's mercy, in that it "wiped out rampant sin". Rev. Bill Shanks, pastor of New Covenant Fellowship of New Orleans, said "God simply, I believe, in His mercy purged all of that stuff out of there -- and now we're going to start over again." “New Orleans now is abortion free. New Orleans now is Mardi Gras free. New Orleans now is free of Southern Decadence and the sodomites, the witchcraft workers, false religion -- it's free of all of those things now," Shanks says."

September 4th, 2005, 03:39 PM
I implore you to watch this clip of Aaron Brussard, Jefferson Parish President's response
Incredibly powerful moments there...

The NO newspaper is calling for the resignation of FEMA's Brown:

An Angry 'Times-Picayune' Calls for Firing of FEMA Chief and Others in Open Letter to President On Sunday

By E&P Staff

Published: September 04, 2005 10:40 AM ET

NEW YORK The Times-Picayune of New Orleans on Sunday published its third print edition since the hurricane disaster struck, chronicling the arrival, finally, of some relief but also taking President Bush to task for his handling of the crisis, and calling for the firing of FEMA director Michael Brown and others.

In an "open letter" to the president, published on page 15 of the 16-page edition, the paper said it still had grounds for "skepticism" that he would follow through on saving the city and its residents. It pointed out that while the government could not get supplies to the city numerous TV reporters, singer Harry Connick and Times-Picayune staffers managed to find a way in.

It also cited "bald-faced" lies by Michael Brown. "Those who should have been deploying troops were singing a sad song about how our city was impossible to reach," the staffers pointed out. "We’re angry, Mr. President, and we’ll be angry long after our beloved city and surrounding parishes have been pumped dry."

Here is the text.


We heard you loud and clear Friday when you visited our devastated city and the Gulf Coast and said, "What is not working, we’re going to make it right."

Please forgive us if we wait to see proof of your promise before believing you. But we have good reason for our skepticism.

Bienville built New Orleans where he built it for one main reason: It’s accessible. The city between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain was easy to reach in 1718.

How much easier it is to access in 2005 now that there are interstates and bridges, airports and helipads, cruise ships, barges, buses and diesel-powered trucks.

Despite the city’s multiple points of entry, our nation’s bureaucrats spent days after last week’s hurricane wringing their hands, lamenting the fact that they could neither rescue the city’s stranded victims nor bring them food, water and medical supplies.

Meanwhile there were journalists, including some who work for The Times-Picayune, going in and out of the city via the Crescent City Connection. On Thursday morning, that crew saw a caravan of 13 Wal-Mart tractor trailers headed into town to bring food, water and supplies to a dying city.

Television reporters were doing live reports from downtown New Orleans streets. Harry Connick Jr. brought in some aid Thursday, and his efforts were the focus of a "Today" show story Friday morning.

Yet, the people trained to protect our nation, the people whose job it is to quickly bring in aid were absent. Those who should have been deploying troops were singing a sad song about how our city was impossible to reach.

We’re angry, Mr. President, and we’ll be angry long after our beloved city and surrounding parishes have been pumped dry. Our people deserved rescuing. Many who could have been were not. That’s to the government’s shame.

Mayor Ray Nagin did the right thing Sunday when he allowed those with no other alternative to seek shelter from the storm inside the Louisiana Superdome. We still don’t know what the death toll is, but one thing is certain: Had the Superdome not been opened, the city’s death toll would have been higher. The toll may even have been exponentially higher.

It was clear to us by late morning Monday that many people inside the Superdome would not be returning home. It should have been clear to our government, Mr. President. So why weren’t they evacuated out of the city immediately? We learned seven years ago, when Hurricane Georges threatened, that the Dome isn’t suitable as a long-term shelter. So what did state and national officials think would happen to tens of thousands of people trapped inside with no air conditioning, overflowing toilets and dwindling amounts of food, water and other essentials?

State Rep. Karen Carter was right Friday when she said the city didn’t have but two urgent needs: "Buses! And gas!" Every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be fired, Director Michael Brown especially.

In a nationally televised interview Thursday night, he said his agency hadn’t known until that day that thousands of storm victims were stranded at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. He gave another nationally televised interview the next morning and said, "We’ve provided food to the people at the Convention Center so that they’ve gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day."

Lies don’t get more bald-faced than that, Mr. President.

Yet, when you met with Mr. Brown Friday morning, you told him, "You’re doing a heck of a job."

That’s unbelievable.

There were thousands of people at the Convention Center because the riverfront is high ground. The fact that so many people had reached there on foot is proof that rescue vehicles could have gotten there, too.

We, who are from New Orleans, are no less American than those who live on the Great Plains or along the Atlantic Seaboard. We’re no less important than those from the Pacific Northwest or Appalachia. Our people deserved to be rescued.

No expense should have been spared. No excuses should have been voiced. Especially not one as preposterous as the claim that New Orleans couldn’t be reached.

Mr. President, we sincerely hope you fulfill your promise to make our beloved communities work right once again.

When you do, we will be the first to applaud.

TLOZ Link5
September 4th, 2005, 04:25 PM
Meanwhile, Alabama native Condoleezza Rice was having a little vacation in New York up until Thursday.

Wednesday: Nagin calls for a full evacuation of New Orleans, Bush flies over region on his way back to Washington, FEMA starts mobilizing, 1,400 NOPD officers redeployed to try and prevent widespread looting; Condi goes to see Spamalot, is booed by the audience as the lights come on.

Thursday: Louisiana governor says deaths "may be in the thousands," Senate and House prepare $10 billion emergency package, 45,000 housed in deplorable conditions in the Superdome and Convention Center; Condi buys $7,000 shoes at Ferragamo, accosted by woman who asks her how she can be buying shoes at a time like this, leaves for Washington later in the day.

TLOZ Link5
September 4th, 2005, 04:45 PM
Yep, though whether she was upbraided by a fellow customer is undetermined:


September 4th, 2005, 05:01 PM

I spoke today with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (found them via a Google search for "donate" "katrina" "linens" "towels"). They are collecting goods to be shipped south to aid the people who have been displaced and who have basically lost everything (Collection Center addresses are at the bottom of this post):

The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement is sponsoring a FOOD & CLOTHING DRIVE!

Our people in the South need our help. We cannot wait for or assume Red
Cross will take care of our people. There are thousands of refugees from
New Orleans in HOUSTON, TX. Several Black large Black Churches have
opened their doors to displaced people.

Here is a list of things NEEDED TODAY:

Baby Shoes
Canned Food Goods

Manhattan Collection Center:

Caribbean Cultural Center
408 West 58th Street (bet. 9th Ave. & 10th Ave.)
Tel: (212) 307-7420
The collection hours there are:
Monday - Friday from 10 AM - 6 PM (closed on Monday 9/5).

Brooklyn Collection Center:

ST. (718) 254-8800



Here is more info (from Houston) for where / how to donate directly:


September 4th, 2005, 05:02 PM
Excerpt from a Wikinews article: "Not all of the coverage has been concerned with the failures at the federal or state level. The American Family Association's Agape Press published praise for the hurricane's destruction as an instrument of God's mercy.."
God could show us a lot more mercy by freeing us of Bush, Brown et al.

September 5th, 2005, 02:46 AM
Katrina's real name
Ross Gelbspan is author of ''The Heat Is On" and ''Boiling Point."

I've read his book, "The Heat is On." I didn't believe in global warming before it, and it sure changed my opinion. It's undeniable at this point. I highly urge anyone who's still doubtful of it to read the book.

On another note: Law & Order - your last two posts mention absolutely nothing about the hurricane. I know you don't like Bush. Believe me, neither do I. But let's stay on topic here.

September 5th, 2005, 07:16 AM
He makes people go to a ranch in Texas instead of the White House. One of my favorite times was when the king of France got to sit in an old chair in a room full of reporters.

That's horrible, but at least it was a Louis XVth armchair.


September 5th, 2005, 09:33 AM
I read the Daily news article. The manager said "several thousand" as opposed to seven thousand dollars.

September 6th, 2005, 10:10 AM
And who exactly would this benefit, minus the people who have never experienced systematic racial stereotyping and prejudices? Singing Kumbaya and holding hands doesn't really do much more than make people feel better about themselves.

If you're seriously trying to claim that you've never seen instances of racial bias against non-whites, you're either delusional, lying or ignorant.

Um, what I am saying is that if you keep blaming "the man" for every bad thing that ever happens to a minority, then you are perpetuating the stigma and the seperation.


Did you read that line? It is obvious that I know it is being abused, but that does not warrant people constantly drawing the line as a race issue on everything. The people that were not evacuated form NO were POOR. Plain and simple. There were quite a few poor old white folk out there too that were being ignored, but the fact is that they were the minority.

Not only that, it makes for a story that sells more if you make sure you bring some "spice" into it. Race, Sex, Religion, whatever gets the front page and peoples attension will be plugged relentlessly.

Unfortunately we will always have that. We will always have one group that is disadvantaged compared to another and delineated by the way they look. I predict it will eventually "evolve" into the "Pretty People' vs. the Morlocks. But that wont come for another 250K years.... I think... ;)

September 6th, 2005, 10:27 AM
It is much more of a class issue, but, when we look at issues of class the physical reality of it often can be illustraed by race. The posse traveling with Bush on his tours were rich, white men. The folks clinging to trees and sitting on rooftops were brown and black skin.

This disaster exposed the ugly tuth in this country. It is easy to ignore it when you don't see it, but it is getting beamed into every home.

Although, Barbara Bush did state that this (relocation to evacuation centers) was probably a good thing for these people. What a c*nt.

September 6th, 2005, 10:35 AM
I think the biggest, most inexcusable thing they did not have or impliment was the evacuation plan.

Saying "Oh we did not have enough time to fix the levees" and all that is all stage one of the finger pointing, but the simple fact of the matter is, even if the levees had remained intact, if the water came over, you would have STILL NEEDED TO GET PEOPLE OUT OF THE AREA.

Being that you have a large segment of the population with no discernable means of egress, or refuge to take shelter in, it is no small wonder that so many stayed behind.

Many had no choice.

Some did, and took the risk, and lost. For them I feel sorry, but it was more their decision than someone elses. For those who had no other choice but to sit wait and pray, there is a price to pay for their deaths.

A price to pay for a municipality more concerned with Mardi Gras than peoples lives.

September 6th, 2005, 10:54 AM
It is much more of a class issue, but, when we look at issues of class the physical reality of it often can be illustraed by race. The posse traveling with Bush on his tours were rich, white men. The folks clinging to trees and sitting on rooftops were brown and black skin.

This disaster exposed the ugly tuth in this country. It is easy to ignore it when you don't see it, but it is getting beamed into every home.

Although, Barbara Bush did state that this (relocation to evacuation centers) was probably a good thing for these people. What a c*nt.

She was not informed by the spin-team the proper things to say. She is under the Bush Clause saying that NOTHING COMING FROM HER MOUTH SHOULD BE CRITICAL OR NEGATIVE. :p

And BR, it is not just minorities that have this problem. The heirarchy is still there. It has only been partially breached by some of the "new money" crowd.

My parents did not have jobs that entitled us to anything. I worked my butt off in school and I loved it (so maybe it was not as much work as I claim it to be).

Suffice to say, despite awards and commemoration on many levels (Local, state and national) I was not entitled to any scholarship funds.

Not one! Not even National Merit Scholarship (which I was awarded, but not given any actual Scholarship for my Merit).

Why? Several reasons, really.

First, and most importantly, my parents were not working in the right jobs. One a plumber, one a teacher. Not Coca-Cola, Sony, or even the Police Force, all of which posting stated merit scholarships available to the children of people working for them.

Second, I am "the man". I am a white boy that was talented at Math and Science. There were scholarships available if I was a woman, or just about any minority (except Indian or Asian, where there is even MORE of a wall put up), I would have been able to secure at least one scholarship.

There are so many layers of blinders, it is hard to tell exactly which way we are looking on these issues anymore. The only thing that I try fervently to do is to treat everyone as if they were my equal.

So, needless to say, Janitors and Cleaning people loved me, but my bosses did not like it. :(

So, back to the original point. There IS racisim, but I do not think that the lack of support of these people was blind racisim. I think they just did not want to spend their hard earned Graft and Bribe money to actually help the poorer people in the town.

And, in their minds, if they were Black, all the better.... :mad: :(

September 6th, 2005, 11:51 AM
Um, what I am saying is that if you keep blaming "the man" for every bad thing that ever happens to a minority, then you are perpetuating the stigma and the seperation.

I literally don't understand this very popular argument. How does criticizing institutional, political or systemic bias or preference perpetuate a stigma, or a separation (I'm assuming a separation of races)? How does the identification of specific instances of people being disenfranchised/oppressed/crapped on perpetuate them? Would it be better to say nothing? Does pretending it doesn't happen do anything but assuage white guilt? I'm not a racial minority, but racism is very apparent around me. Is it wrong of me to talk about it?


For one thing, bias/racism is a one way street. There is a group that benefits and a group that suffers. If the group with the power stops, then obviously things get better. If oppressed minority stops (I'm assuming talking about race issues?) but the group with power does not, then nothing happens. This is a lot of historical evidence to support this phenomenon - in fact, the vast majority of social change that benefits oppressed groups is due to their action, not spontaneous generosity on the part of the privileged group.

September 6th, 2005, 12:03 PM
Ninjahedge, are you really crying racism about the fact that you didn't get a college scholarship?

September 6th, 2005, 01:33 PM
Ninjahedge, are you really crying racism about the fact that you didn't get a college scholarship?


And Favoritisim.

September 6th, 2005, 01:56 PM
I literally don't understand this very popular argument. How does criticizing institutional, political or systemic bias or preference perpetuate a stigma, or a separation (I'm assuming a separation of races)?

When people do it at the drop of a hat.

When a person gets offended whenever they THINK they are being "put down". When that happens, people who do not see it that way, are forced to see it that way.

When lines are drawn, it does not matter who is drawing them, people will line up on both sides and fight across them. The only way for the fighting to stop is for the lines to be erased, not for everyone to stand around pointing at it.

How does the identification of specific instances of people being disenfranchised/oppressed/crapped on perpetuate them? Would it be better to say nothing? Does pretending it doesn't happen do anything but assuage white guilt? I'm not a racial minority, but racism is very apparent around me. Is it wrong of me to talk about it?

Is it wrong for you to crusade against it, bringing hate and violence to the forefront of a battle that cannot be won by fighting?

Again, pardon the euphamisim, but you are going black and white here, not shades of grey.

Hell, not even shades of brown.

For one thing, bias/racism is a one way street. There is a group that benefits and a group that suffers.

But that does not mean that racisim itself cannot be two things pointed in opposite directions. They both go one way, but they hurt both sides. Why is it right for there to be a cap on the number of asian students allowed into schools like MIT? To give other people a chance? Come on!

They worked their butts off to get into one of the best schools in the US, and the noly reason they can give is "nope, we have our asian quota". But a rich minority kid from the suburbs with less of a scholastic record (notice, I did not say dumb, I did not say he was inferior, just that he was not as good as some that were turned away) is admitted JUST BECAUSE OF THE COLOR OF HIS SKIN.

THAT is not right. THAT is not reparation in any way. That asian kid had nothing to do with slavery, as MOST of us here in the US did not. There are a select few "Old boys" in the network that were responsible for most of what every person tries to blame on a race rather than on individuals and I am tired of it.

I never had slaves, my parents, their parents, NOONE IN MY FAMILY EVER DID. We do not suppress, we do not segregate, we do not do any of the crimes that people cry for restitution against.

If you want a society that does not have racisim, ALL SIDES must stop. I am not saying that if you turn the other cheek and are slapped again that does not give you, or anyone the right to say anything or DO anything. But it is another thing entirely to go up and confront someone you think might want to slap you.

So, remove all the stupid little boxes asking for your race (Asian, White, Black, Hispanic, Swahili, whatever!) on applications, scholorships, censuses.

Just look at what a person has (belongings, skills, etc) and whet they NEED when making a decision like college admission, job promotion and the like.

The problem is, that will never happen. Everyone wants to be better than someone else. If one of the minorities becomes a majority, you think they will not look down on other races? Humans do this, and it sickens me.

You think Billy has a chance at CEO when he is getting a job art the same time as the bosses son? Even if the son is as thick as a brick on Vicadin?

Do you think Joey has a chance to be President because his parents mortgaged the farm to send him to Law School?


If the group with the power stops, then obviously things get better. If oppressed minority stops (I'm assuming talking about race issues?) but the group with power does not, then nothing happens.

That is true. But I am not looking for a total abstention of any form of protest. I am just getting tired of it being called at every opportunity. Even ones that are a stretch.

I am REALLY tired of louts like Sharpton jumping on every bandwagon he sees in order to ride the publics anger against "them" and working it for his own needs.

I am just tired of it all, from all sides. Just because one side does it more, a lot more, does not mean that it is any more agreeable from anyone else.

Hate begets hate. No matter who you hate, it will do no good using hate to try to remove them.

This is a lot of historical evidence to support this phenomenon - in fact, the vast majority of social change that benefits oppressed groups is due to their action, not spontaneous generosity on the part of the privileged group.

No, but it was not from the continued whining of everyone that everything is wrong. It was ALSO not because a small portion of the population blamed an entire larger portion of the population for a small unconnected segments actions.

I should not be blamed for what the Bush Twins say on TV just because I am white. I do not blame blacks for Sharptons words.

I do not see crime being committed by minorities, I see them being performed by different economic groups. I see Street crime, blue collar crime, and white collar crime. The only difference being the money the perps make, and the method they use.

Until we work to help these PEOPLE, black, white or otherwise, we will always have a line that should not be there.

September 6th, 2005, 01:56 PM
I'm shedding a tear for you as I type.

September 6th, 2005, 01:57 PM

I am also sick of people being called "Black" and "white".

We are all brown. Or maybe Tan. Hell, even "sandy".

I have also never seen a "yellow" man in my life.

Man I hate generalizations. Why do so many idiots use them...... (Irony intended)

September 6th, 2005, 01:58 PM
And now I am playing a tiny violin.

September 6th, 2005, 02:03 PM
I'm shedding a tear for you as I type.


Your tears mean nothing to me you antagonistic baiting 'individual'.

I got a scholarship to Stanford based on what I could do in college. Oh I hear the applause now. "Whoopie, whitey got some $$".


You really look to aggravate. OMG someone has an opinion which is not yours! Time to call them the devil!!!!

Why do I even bother responding to you on these things. You will villify anyone that does not share your opinion and seek to insult them personally rather than deal with the issue.

The sign of an insucure MF is one that will resort to insulting the individual rather than dealing with what they say.

Congrats Schade. You were accepted.

September 6th, 2005, 02:05 PM
And now I am playing a tiny violin.

Wow, OT?

You keep personally insulting to prove you are right?

Well, you got me. You are a better Republican than Rove! :p

September 6th, 2005, 02:11 PM
PS, a pox on your violin.

Henny Youngman is spinning in his grave.

September 6th, 2005, 02:17 PM
^ If you two could take this petty, personal BS private it would be appreciated.

Meanwhile ...

Military spokesman wades into hot water over Katrina remarks
RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/)

http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Northern_Command_spokesman_wades_into_hot_water_ov er_Katrina_0906.html

A fracas erupted this weekend after military spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Sean Kelly of U.S. Northern Command noted that his forces were not authorized to aid Katrina survivors until given direction by the President, RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) has found.

After describing in detail how the military had prepared to deal with hurricane relief, he remarked, "The only caveat is we have to wait until the President authorizes us to do so. The laws of the United States say that the military can't just act in this fashion; we have to wait for the President to give us permission."

This statement was made Saturday to the BBC. He said that NorthCom had been preparing well in advance (Video (http://news.globalfreepress.com/movs/katrina/BBC_Katrina.mpg)).

"Northcom started planning before the storm even hit," Kelly said. "We had the USS Bataan sailing almost behind the hurricane so once the hurricane made landfall, its search and rescue helicopters could be available almost immediately. So, we had things ready."

In the same interview, he also asserted that the ships carried nine million packaged meals that could be made available to survivors, and that at least 100,000 had been provided for those staying in the Superdome.

After progressive blogger Kevin Drum raised questions about these comments, Kelly added (http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2005_09/007054.php) that the authorization had made Tuesday, just after the storm passed.

"The biggest hurdles to responding to the storm were the storm itself — couldn't begin really helping until it passed — and damage assessment — figuring out which roads were passable, where communications and power were out, etc.," he added. "Military helos began damage assessment and SAR on Tuesday. Thus we had permission to operate as soon as it was possible. We even brought in night SAR helos to continue the mission on Tuesday night."

The storm had passed by Tuesday evening.

Kelly tried to defuse any sense that he had been criticizing the President.

"The President and Secretary of Defense did authorize us to act right away and are not to blame on this end," he remarked. "Yes, we have to wait for authorization, but it was given in a timely manner."

On Tuesday Aug. 30, the Pentagon also announced it would send five ships to the disaster zone, though some were several days away. This appears to be somewhat different from Kelly's initial assessment that search and rescue could begin "almost immediately."

On Wednesday, military transport planes began to carry some wounded to Houston. Full relief supplies did not arrive in New Orleans until Friday -- some three days after Kelly says they were authorized by President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld.

As many as 10,000 may be dead in the wake of the storm.

September 6th, 2005, 05:59 PM
From the voice (http://villagevoice.com/news/0536,kamenetzfeat,67512,2.html).

http://villagevoice.com/images/header_mod/header-news.gif (http://villagevoice.com/generic/news)

September 1, 2005: Kimi Seymour, 27, along Interstate 10 in New Orleans
photo: Irwin Thompson/AFP/Getty Images

Along with the rest of the nation, the rest of my hometown’s residents, and my friends and family, I’ve flown through a lot of emotions in the past week since Hurricane Katrina wrecked my city of New Orleans: fear, rage, anxiety, and grief. While the bodies are still being counted, I’ve currently settled on shame. I am ashamed to be an American. We are a people who constantly avow belief in various gods, in liberty and justice, and yet our fellow American citizens, ancient ladies and four-day-old infants, were left to die in the streets for lack of food and water as though they were born in the slums of Mumbai or the favelas of Brazil. We tell ourselves and the world we can do anything, be it grow crops in the desert or bring democracy to Iraq, yet we can’t land a helicopter on Interstate 10 or get buses to a convention center.

I extend that shame to those trapped who turned to violence. Even the guerrillas of Banda Aceh, Indonesia, laid down their arms after the tsunami for the greater good. Our young men raided the ammunition section at Wal-Mart. What kind of culture have we made?

And as for our government? For shame, Mr. President. With the deep inadequacy of your response, you have disappointed even the lowest expectations. It’s worse than your most vociferous detractors could have predicted.

Even our smooth-talking, reform-minded, businessman mayor could not contain himself (http://www.wonkette.com/politics/ray-nagin/index.php) after three days of being where you and the other federal leaders should have been—on the ground, among the desperate people, your constituents. “They flew down here one time two days after the doggone event was over with TV cameras, AP reporters, all kind of goddamn—excuse my French everybody in America, but I am pissed,” Ray Nagin told a local radio station on Thursday.

Mr. Nagin said he told Mr. Bush that “we had an incredible crisis here and that his flying over in Air Force One does not do it justice. . . . I have been all around this city, and I am very frustrated because we are not able to marshal resources and we are outmanned in just about every respect.”

But in the end I am ashamed, once again, to be from this city. The people who have suffered the worst, the people who died for a lack of basic compassion, are my neighbors. And the same factors that trapped them—being poor, being black, having no other options, no way out—are the forces that make the city what it is.

I lived in Louisiana from the age of one till I left for college. It’s no surprise any conscious white person feels guilty growing up there. Our grade school field trip was to Nottoway Plantation (http://www.nottoway.com/), where a young docent in crinolines pointed out the “servants’ quarters” back behind the big house. The first time our state comes up in the big social studies book is when they explain the expression “sold down the river.” (It was a common threat, since it was known that the work on Louisiana’s cotton plantations was the hottest and the masters the cruelest.)

But the guilt doesn’t just come from history. It comes from enjoying the spoils of history today, as every visitor and every resident inevitably does. You can see it when you stroll beneath the scrollwork in the French Quarter; it’s written in every column of every mansion on St. Charles Avenue. You can feel it when you clap your hands to a young man tap dancing for change with bottle caps in his shoes on a square of cardboard, or throw a quarter to a transient blowing a saxophone on a cobblestone street. As Faulkner put it, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

Even during this deluge, signifiers of New Orleans class structure have stayed intact. Two reporters from Salon (http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2005/09/01/neworleans/index.html) who slipped into the city this week described on Friday a scene of owners and employees of the legendary Brennan’s restaurant on Royal Street drinking Cheval Blanc and delivering chocolate layer cakes to the Eighth District Police Department even as the desperate scene at the Convention Center unfolded a half-mile away. “We take care of them, they take care of us,” the chef actually, in real life, said. Laissez les bons temps rouler, yeah you right.

Because here’s why I feel so bad right now. I’ve chased the Mardi Gras Indians when they’re stepping out in their peacock jewels under the expressway, and I’ve shaken my ass at a thousand Rebirth Brass Band (http://www.rebirthbrassband.com/rbb/index.shtml) shows, and I’ve eaten a pile of red beans and buttermilk biscuits and yelled till I was hoarse for a Zulu (http://www.mardigrasneworleans.com/zulu/) coconut, and I’ve been fed all my life in the bosom of this culture made up of people who have been kept down by the weight of poverty and misery and the whole American trip. That’s the wellspring for all of us in America, really, the dark roux. Race is the central dynamic of American history. Jazz and blues, it’s unbearably trite but true, are the American art form—the jazz of New Orleans and the blues of the Mississippi Delta.

New Orleans, the City that Care Forgot, has stood out more and more from the rest of the country in past years because of the number of people who don’t leave it, who stay generation after generation. You could say that’s because they are kept down, or because they’ve put down roots—that’s what keeps the city what it is, a little out of the mainstream of time.

Now we who dance and drink and play together forgot to stand up when it counted. We were waiting for the big storm, and we knew our city was full of people who had no cars, who were living in the same old camelbacks (http://bywater.org/Arch/Camelback.htm) and shotgun shacks for a hundred years in the poorest part of town, and we didn’t send buses and we didn’t send vans and we didn’t stop our family SUVs on the way out of town to let in a single mother and her child.

One Mardi Gras at sunset, I was sitting stoned on the riverbank by the Quarter in a torn-up butterfly costume, and an old black man rolled up to me right out of Morgan Freeman central casting. He was singing, “I’ve got PE-can Pra-LEENS and sweet potato Pi-eye!” I bought a palm-sized pie and engaged him in a conversation about the nature of the universe, and instead of laughing he told me sweetly, liltingly, “You want to know what I think? Now it APPEARS, we are all SEParate from each OTHer. But that’s an ilLUsion. That’s just time, messing with you. It’s just a sign of how FEARfully we are made.”

I hope he’s right..

TLOZ Link5
September 6th, 2005, 06:07 PM
Although, Barbara Bush did state that this (relocation to evacuation centers) was probably a good thing for these people. What a c*nt.

If she doesn't want body bags and deaths in Iraq to ruin her "beautiful mind," then why would we expect a more empathetic reaction to Katrina?

September 6th, 2005, 06:10 PM
Just to get some folks riled up:

Vacation is Over... an open letter from Michael Moore to George W. Bush

Friday, September 2nd, 2005
http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/message/index.php?id=183 (http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/message/index.php?id=183)

Dear Mr. Bush:

Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag.

Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with?

Last Thursday I was in south Florida and sat outside while the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over my head. It was only a Category 1 then but it was pretty nasty. Eleven people died and, as of today, there were still homes without power. That night the weatherman said this storm was on its way to New Orleans. That was Thursday! Did anybody tell you? I know you didn't want to interrupt your vacation and I know how you don't like to get bad news. Plus, you had fundraisers to go to and mothers of dead soldiers to ignore and smear. You sure showed her!

I especially like how, the day after the hurricane, instead of flying to Louisiana, you flew to San Diego to party with your business peeps. Don't let people criticize you for this -- after all, the hurricane was over and what the heck could you do, put your finger in the dike?

And don't listen to those who, in the coming days, will reveal how you specifically reduced the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for New Orleans this summer for the third year in a row. You just tell them that even if you hadn't cut the money to fix those levees, there weren't going to be any Army engineers to fix them anyway because you had a much more important construction job for them -- BUILDING DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ!

On Day 3, when you finally left your vacation home, I have to say I was moved by how you had your Air Force One pilot descend from the clouds as you flew over New Orleans so you could catch a quick look of the disaster. Hey, I know you couldn't stop and grab a bullhorn and stand on some rubble and act like a commander in chief. Been there done that.

There will be those who will try to politicize this tragedy and try to use it against you. Just have your people keep pointing that out. Respond to nothing. Even those pesky scientists who predicted this would happen because the water in the Gulf of Mexico is getting hotter and hotter making a storm like this inevitable. Ignore them and all their global warming Chicken Littles. There is nothing unusual about a hurricane that was so wide it would be like having one F-4 tornado that stretched from New York to Cleveland.

No, Mr. Bush, you just stay the course. It's not your fault that 30 percent of New Orleans lives in poverty or that tens of thousands had no transportation to get out of town. C'mon, they're black! I mean, it's not like this happened to Kennebunkport. Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh! Race has nothing -- NOTHING -- to do with this! You hang in there, Mr. Bush. Just try to find a few of our Army helicopters and send them there. Pretend the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are near Tikrit.

Michael Moore

P.S. That annoying mother, Cindy Sheehan, is no longer at your ranch. She and dozens of other relatives of the Iraqi War dead are now driving across the country, stopping in many cities along the way. Maybe you can catch up with them (http://www.bringthemhomenowtour.org/userdata_display.php?modin=50) before they get to DC on September 21st.

September 6th, 2005, 06:10 PM
Babs Bush now wonders why devastated New Orleans residents don't just help themselves to a big old slice of cake.

September 6th, 2005, 06:17 PM
...Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh! Race has nothing -- NOTHING -- to do with this!


Michael Moore

Here's someone that agrees with Ninjahedge...

TLOZ Link5
September 6th, 2005, 06:20 PM
September 4, 2005
Do You Know What It Means to Lose New Orleans?
La Jolla, Calif.

WHAT do people really know about New Orleans?

Do they take away with them an awareness that it has always been not only a great white metropolis but also a great black city, a city where African-Americans have come together again and again to form the strongest African-American culture in the land?

The first literary magazine ever published in Louisiana was the work of black men, French-speaking poets and writers who brought together their work in three issues of a little book called L'Album Littéraire. That was in the 1840's, and by that time the city had a prosperous class of free black artisans, sculptors, businessmen, property owners, skilled laborers in all fields. Thousands of slaves lived on their own in the city, too, making a living at various jobs, and sending home a few dollars to their owners in the country at the end of the month.

This is not to diminish the horror of the slave market in the middle of the famous St. Louis Hotel, or the injustice of the slave labor on plantations from one end of the state to the other. It is merely to say that it was never all "have or have not" in this strange and beautiful city.

Later in the 19th century, as the Irish immigrants poured in by the thousands, filling the holds of ships that had emptied their cargoes of cotton in Liverpool, and as the German and Italian immigrants soon followed, a vital and complex culture emerged. Huge churches went up to serve the great faith of the city's European-born Catholics; convents and schools and orphanages were built for the newly arrived and the struggling; the city expanded in all directions with new neighborhoods of large, graceful houses, or areas of more humble cottages, even the smallest of which, with their floor-length shutters and deep-pitched roofs, possessed an undeniable Caribbean charm.

Through this all, black culture never declined in Louisiana. In fact, New Orleans became home to blacks in a way, perhaps, that few other American cities have ever been. Dillard University and Xavier University became two of the most outstanding black colleges in America; and once the battles of desegregation had been won, black New Orleanians entered all levels of life, building a visible middle class that is absent in far too many Western and Northern American cities to this day.

The influence of blacks on the music of the city and the nation is too immense and too well known to be described. It was black musicians coming down to New Orleans for work who nicknamed the city "the Big Easy" because it was a place where they could always find a job. But it's not fair to the nature of New Orleans to think of jazz and the blues as the poor man's music, or the music of the oppressed.

Something else was going on in New Orleans. The living was good there. The clock ticked more slowly; people laughed more easily; people kissed; people loved; there was joy.

Which is why so many New Orleanians, black and white, never went north. They didn't want to leave a place where they felt at home in neighborhoods that dated back centuries; they didn't want to leave families whose rounds of weddings, births and funerals had become the fabric of their lives. They didn't want to leave a city where tolerance had always been able to outweigh prejudice, where patience had always been able to outweigh rage. They didn't want to leave a place that was theirs.

And so New Orleans prospered, slowly, unevenly, but surely - home to Protestants and Catholics, including the Irish parading through the old neighborhood on St. Patrick's Day as they hand out cabbages and potatoes and onions to the eager crowds; including the Italians, with their lavish St. Joseph's altars spread out with cakes and cookies in homes and restaurants and churches every March; including the uptown traditionalists who seek to preserve the peace and beauty of the Garden District; including the Germans with their clubs and traditions; including the black population playing an ever increasing role in the city's civic affairs.

Now nature has done what the Civil War couldn't do. Nature has done what the labor riots of the 1920's couldn't do. Nature had done what "modern life" with its relentless pursuit of efficiency couldn't do. It has done what racism couldn't do, and what segregation couldn't do either. Nature has laid the city waste - with a scope that brings to mind the end of Pompeii.

I share this history for a reason - and to answer questions that have arisen these last few days. Almost as soon as the cameras began panning over the rooftops, and the helicopters began chopping free those trapped in their attics, a chorus of voices rose. "Why didn't they leave?" people asked both on and off camera. "Why did they stay there when they knew a storm was coming?" One reporter even asked me, "Why do people live in such a place?"

Then as conditions became unbearable, the looters took to the streets. Windows were smashed, jewelry snatched, stores broken open, water and food and televisions carried out by fierce and uninhibited crowds.

Now the voices grew even louder. How could these thieves loot and pillage in a time of such crisis? How could people shoot one another? Because the faces of those drowning and the faces of those looting were largely black faces, race came into the picture. What kind of people are these, the people of New Orleans, who stay in a city about to be flooded, and then turn on one another?

Well, here's an answer. Thousands didn't leave New Orleans because they couldn't leave. They didn't have the money. They didn't have the vehicles. They didn't have any place to go. They are the poor, black and white, who dwell in any city in great numbers; and they did what they felt they could do - they huddled together in the strongest houses they could find. There was no way to up and leave and check into the nearest Ramada Inn.

What's more, thousands more who could have left stayed behind to help others. They went out in the helicopters and pulled the survivors off rooftops; they went through the flooded streets in their boats trying to gather those they could find. Meanwhile, city officials tried desperately to alleviate the worsening conditions in the Superdome, while makeshift shelters and hotels and hospitals struggled.

And where was everyone else during all this? Oh, help is coming, New Orleans was told. We are a rich country. Congress is acting. Someone will come to stop the looting and care for the refugees.

And it's true: eventually, help did come. But how many times did Gov. Kathleen Blanco have to say that the situation was desperate? How many times did Mayor Ray Nagin have to call for aid? Why did America ask a city cherished by millions and excoriated by some, but ignored by no one, to fight for its own life for so long? That's my question.

I know that New Orleans will win its fight in the end. I was born in the city and lived there for many years. It shaped who and what I am. Never have I experienced a place where people knew more about love, about family, about loyalty and about getting along than the people of New Orleans. It is perhaps their very gentleness that gives them their endurance.

They will rebuild as they have after storms of the past; and they will stay in New Orleans because it is where they have always lived, where their mothers and their fathers lived, where their churches were built by their ancestors, where their family graves carry names that go back 200 years. They will stay in New Orleans where they can enjoy a sweetness of family life that other communities lost long ago.

But to my country I want to say this: During this crisis you failed us. You looked down on us; you dismissed our victims; you dismissed us. You want our Jazz Fest, you want our Mardi Gras, you want our cooking and our music. Then when you saw us in real trouble, when you saw a tiny minority preying on the weak among us, you called us "Sin City," and turned your backs.

Well, we are a lot more than all that. And though we may seem the most exotic, the most atmospheric and, at times, the most downtrodden part of this land, we are still part of it. We are Americans. We are you.

Anne Rice is the author of the forthcoming novel "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt."

Copyright the New York Times Company, 2005

September 6th, 2005, 06:21 PM
Here's someone that agrees with Ninjahedge...
That was Mr. Moore speaking, not me (though he has a point, eh?).

September 6th, 2005, 06:33 PM
That was Mr. Moore speaking, not me (though he has a point, eh?).

Sorry, I edited my post to reflect the attribution and protect your good name. I definitely think that typing in all caps makes things more true. Ditto yelling and exclamation points.

September 6th, 2005, 07:05 PM
How people will organize Mardi gras festival in New Orleans?

September 6th, 2005, 07:18 PM
They wont. Are sure? If they won't that sucks.

September 6th, 2005, 07:45 PM
How people will organize Mardi gras festival in New Orleans?
Read on...

Don't Count Mardi Gras Out in New Orleans
Sep 06 9:13 AM US/Eastern

Associated Press Writer



Probably the last thing a city inundated with water and filled with human misery needs is a parade, much less a Mardi Gras. But just a week after Hurricane Katrina unleashed its devastation, there already are signs that New Orleans is remaining loyal to its partying ways.

Over the weekend, about two dozen people in beads, hula skirts and wigs danced down Bourbon Street in a symbolic show that life must go on. A few months from now, there's a good chance there might even be some kind of scaled-back Mardi Gras.

"I think now more than ever we need a reason to celebrate. It's really at our core," said Arthur Hardy, publisher of the Mardi Gras Guide. "I can't imagine the city rolling over and playing dead and saying, `I surrender.'"

With thousands believed dead and authorities still unable to collect bodies floating in canals and hidden in attics, even the talk of a Mardi Gras celebration might seem disrespectful.

But New Orleans has always loved a good time, and when the two-week, pre-Lent celebration that ends with Fat Tuesday arrives on Feb. 28, floats could be parading down streets now covered in water.

"Guess what? It's New Orleans," French Quarter resident Maryann Davis said. "We'll always have something to parade for."

Mardi Gras is enormous even by this city's standards. In 2001, more than 1,000 floats, 500 marching bands and 135,000 people paraded through the streets. One university study estimates the celebration brings in $1 billion a year to New Orleans.

Hardy, who has been publishing his guide for 30 years and is one of the foremost experts on Mardi Gras, said next year's celebration is also important because it's the 150th anniversary of the first formal parades in the city.

The Civil War interrupted partying for a time, and a total of 13 Fat Tuesdays have been canceled because of various conflicts. The Sept. 11 attacks and the 2002 Super Bowl delayed the 2002 parade.

"I've heard some people say we can't do it," Hardy said. "But it's a very significant anniversary and I can't imagine it going unmarked without some kind of parade. It's in our soul to have Mardi Gras."

The old feelings are already beginning to stir in the French Quarter.

On Sunday, a small group of revelers wearing outlandish costumes gathered for the city's annual Southern Decadence festival, a gay event which normally draws thousands.

Carpenter John Lambert dressed up as a member of the Village People and carried a sign reading "Life Goes On." He was joined in the makeshift parade by people who had taken shelter in his house.

Come February, he promised, the party will be much bigger.

"Mardi Gras is a brew, it's a gumbo. It's defined by what people bring to it," Lambert said. "There will definitely be a Mardi Gras. No doubt about it."


On the Net: http://www.mardigrasguide.com/ (http://www.mardigrasguide.com/)

September 6th, 2005, 07:50 PM
I'm sure mardi gras will happen in some form. This weekend there was a southern decadance parade (http://towleroad.typepad.com/towleroad/2005/09/celebration_nec_1.html), and I don't think it's going to get any worse.

I think people are getting a bit carried away with all the doomsaying. It's a tragedy that so many people died (and a crime that so much suffering was avoidable) but each time an american city has been destroyed it's been rebuilt. I read in Salon that there are still tourists in NO - new tourists who have come to gawk at all the destruction.

September 6th, 2005, 08:22 PM
The Ground Zero crowd.

A price to pay for a municipality more concerned with Mardi Gras than peoples lives.

Ninja you hit that one squarely on the head!

September 6th, 2005, 09:47 PM
Not so much doomsaying. Just a reality check...

It is now a little after 9PM EST.

The fetid water that is swarming through New Orleans has been determined to have incredibly high levels of e-coli and other bacteria that can cause illness. Results from testing for other substances in the water (chemicals, etc.) will not be available until tomorrow. But those in the area are reporting rashes and other skin problems after prolonged contact with the water.

CNN has just announced that the mayor of NO has ordered mandatory evacuation of all persons unless they have direct connection with rescue & recovery.

Neither food nor water will be distributed to any persons who still remain in their homes.

This evening at a special meeting of Congress and Cabinet Members it is reported that discussions became very "heated".

The Blame Game begins: Let's see... Should we nail the congress for failing to pass the bills that would have allowed for levee systems to be up-graded? Or should we zap the executive branch for cutting the budget and hiring idiots to run federal agencies?

September 6th, 2005, 10:00 PM
From Tragedy to Farce...

Right city, wrong state

FEMA accused of flying evacuees to wrong Charleston

Tuesday, September 6, 2005; Posted: 9:07 p.m. EDT (01:07 GMT)


(CNN) -- Add geography to the growing list of FEMA fumbles.

A South Carolina health official said his colleagues scrambled Tuesday when FEMA gave only a half-hour notice to prepare for the arrival of a plane carrying as many as 180 evacuees to Charleston.

But the plane, instead, landed in Charleston, West Virginia, 400 miles away.

It was not known whether arrangements have been made to care for the evacuees or transport them to the correct destination.

A call seeking comment from FEMA was not immediately returned.

"We called in all the available resources," said Dr. John Simkovich, director of public health for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

"They responded within 30 minutes, which is phenomenal, to meet the needs of the citizens coming in from Louisiana."

"Unfortunately, the plane did not come in," Simkovich said. "There was a mistake in the system, coming out through FEMA, that we did not receive the aircraft this afternoon. It went to Charleston, West Virginia."

A line of buses and ambulances idled behind him at Charleston International Airport as he described what happened.

"This is a 'no event' for today," Simkovich said.

He said that the agency had described some of the evacuees as needing "some minor treatment ... possibly some major treatment."

September 6th, 2005, 10:09 PM
And then Beyond Farce ...

(I wonder if Babs has some available guest rooms up in that big house in Kennebunkport?)

Barbara Bush: Things Working Out 'Very Well' for Poor Evacuees from New Orleans

By E&P Staff

Published: September 05, 2005 7:25 PM ET updated 8:00 PM

NEW YORK Accompanying her husband, former President George
H.W.Bush, on a tour of hurricane relief centers in
Houston, Barbara Bush said today, referring to the
poor who had lost everything back home and evacuated,
"This is working very well for them."

The former First Lady's remarks were aired this
evening on American Public Media's "Marketplace"

She was part of a group in Houston today at the
Astrodome that included her husband and former
President Bill Clinton, who were chosen by her son,
the current president, to head fundraising efforts for
the recovery. Sen. Hilary Clinton and Sen. Barack
Obama were also present.

In a segment at the top of the show on the surge of
evacuees to the Texas city, Barbara Bush said: "Almost
everyone I’ve talked to says we're going to move to

Then she added: "What I’m hearing which is sort of
scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is
so overwhelmed by the hospitality.

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you
know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she
chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."

September 7th, 2005, 10:13 AM
And back to Tragedy...

A powerful first-hand video account from Charmaine Neville, a heroic resident of the Ninth Ward:


September 7th, 2005, 10:17 AM
^ Here's a transcript of the video.

From "Comments" to the video, posted by "LiberalDave | 09.07.05 - 2:41 am"

It isn't perfect but gets the point across:

"I was in my house when everything first started. ... When the hurricane came, it blew all the left side of my house off, and the water was coming in my house in torrents. I had my neighbor, an elderly man, and myself, in the house with our dogs and cats, and we were trying to stay out of the water. But the water was coming in too fast. So we ended up having to leave the house. We left the house and we went up on the roof of a school. I took a crowbar and I burst the door on the roof of the school to help people on the roof. Later on we found a flat boat, and we went around the neighborhood in a flat boat getting people out of their houses and bringing them to the school. We found all the food that we could and we cooked and we fed people. But then, things started getting really bad. By the second day, the people that were there, that we were feeding and everything, we had no more food and no water. We had nothing, and other people were coming in our neighborhood. We were watching the helicopters going across the bridge and airlift other people out, but they would hover over us and tell us "Hi!" and that would be all. They wouldn't drop us any food or any water, or nothing. Alligators were eating people. They had all kinds of stuff in the water. They had babies floating in the water. We had to walk over hundreds of bodies of dead people. People that we tried to save from the hospices, from the hospitals and from the old-folks homes. I tried to get the police to help us, but I realized, we rescued a lot of police officers in the flat boat from the 5th district police station. The guy who was in the boat, he rescued a lot of them and brought them to different places so they could be saved. We understood that the police couldn't help us, but we couldn't understand why the National Guard and them couldn't help us, because we kept seeing them but they never would stop and help us. Finally it got to be too much, I just took all of the people that I could. I had two old women in wheelchairs with no legs, that I rowed them from down there in that nightmare to the French Quarters, and I went back and got more people. There were groups of us, there were about 24 of us, and we kept going back and forth and rescuing whoever we could get and bringing them to the French Quarters 'cause we heard that there was phones in the French Quarters, and that there wasn't any water. And they were right, there was phones but we couldn't get through. I found some police officers. I told them that a lot of us women had been raped down there by guys [unintelligible] the neighborhood where we were, that were helping us to save people. But other men, and they came and they started raping women [unintelligible] and they started killing, and I don't know who these people were. I'm not gonna tell you I know, because I don't. But what I want people to understand is that, if we hadn't been left down there like the animals that they were treating us like, all of those things wouldn't have happened. People are trying to say that we stayed in that city because we wanted to be rioting and we wanted to do this and, we didn't have resources to get out, we had no way to leave. When they gave the evacuation order, if we coulda left, we would have left. There are still thousands and thousands of people trapped in their homes in the downtown area. When we finally did get to, in the 9th ward, and not just in my neighborhood, but in other neighborhoods in the 9th wards, there are a lot of people still trapped down there... old people, young people, babies, pregnant women. I mean, nobody's helping them. And I want people to realize that we did not stay in the city so we could steal and loot and commit crimes. A lot of those young men lost their minds because the helicopters would fly over us and they wouldn't stop. WE would do SOS on the flashlights, we'd do everything, and it came to a point. It really did come to a point, where these young men were so frustrated that they did start shooting. They weren't trying to hit the helicopters, they figured maybe they weren't seeing. Maybe if they hear this gunfire they will stop then. But that didn’t help us. Nothing like that helped us. Finally, I got to Canal St. with all of my people I had saved from back then. I, I don't want them arresting nobody else. I broke the window in an RTA bus. I never learned how to drive a bus in my life. I got in that bus. I loaded all of those people in wheelchairs and in everything else into that bus, and we drove and we drove and we drove and millions of people was trying to get me to help them to get on the bus. But..."

At this point she breaks down and is consoled by the priest.

September 7th, 2005, 10:28 AM
And then Beyond Farce ...


She is worried about all them poor folks movin to Houston.

She is not a statesman. She should be offering help, but asking for others to pitch in to help Texas help these people find a place to live and work and get on with their lives.

She is so out of water. Stupid fish.

TLOZ Link5
September 7th, 2005, 05:27 PM
The water is being pumped into Lake Pontchartrain, the large brackish-water lake to the north of New Orleans.


TLOZ Link5
September 7th, 2005, 05:54 PM
How do they plan to clean up the lake?

Also a good question. Frankly, the lake is quite polluted as it is right now, thanks in particular to urban runoff from the city, shoreline erosion, and wetlands loss. It may be big, but it's really not that deep — maybe 12 feet deep on average. Some dredging has been done in the past, I believe.

September 7th, 2005, 07:10 PM
Pat Robertson's Katrina Cash


[posted online on September 7, 2005]

Every cloud has a silver lining. Hurricane Katrina has devastated New Orleans, leaving thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless, and plunging the entire city into chaos. In the hurricane's wake, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its director, Michael Brown, forced out of his former job at the International Arabian Horse Association, with no credentials (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-na-brown4sep04,1,4794605.%20story?coll=la-headlines-politics) in disaster relief, have become targets of withering criticism. Yet FEMA's relief efforts have brought considerable assistance to at least one man who stands to benefit from Hurricane Katrina perhaps more than any other individual: Pat Robertson.

With the Bush Administration's approval, Robertson's $66 million relief organization, Operation Blessing, has been prominently featured on FEMA's list (http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=18473) of charitable groups accepting donations for hurricane relief. Dozens of media outlets, including the New York Times, CNN (http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/08/30/help.agencies/) and the Associated Press, duly reprinted FEMA's list, unwittingly acting as agents soliciting cash for Robertson. "How in the heck did that happen?" Richard Walden, president of the disaster-relief group Operation USA, asked of Operation Blessing's inclusion on FEMA's list. "That gives Pat Robertson millions of extra dollars."

Though Operation USA has conducted disaster relief for more than twenty-five years on five continents, like scores of other secular relief groups currently helping victims of Hurricane Katrina, it was omitted from FEMA's list. In fact, only two non-"faith-based" organizations were included. (One of them, the American Red Cross, is being blocked (http://www.redcross.org/faq/0,1096,0_682_4524,00.html) from entering New Orleans by FEMA's parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security.) FEMA, meanwhile, has reportedly turned away (http://atrios.blogspot.com/2005_09_04_atrios_archive.html# 112584666746336109) Wal-Mart trucks carrying food and water to the stricken city, teams of firemen from Maryland (http://www.gazette.net/stories/090205/montcou165700_31903.shtml) and Texas, (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/9/5/105538/7048) volunteer morticians (http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=15147862&BRD=1817&PAG= 461&dept_id=68561&rfi=6) and a convoy of 1,000 boat owners (http://www.mydd.com/story/2005/9/3/17282/81965) offering to help rescue stranded flood victims. While relief efforts falter in the face of colossal bureaucratic incompetence, the Bush Administration's promotion of Operation Blessing has ensured that the floodwaters swallowing New Orleans will be a rising tide lifting Robertson's boat.

Robertson recently ignited a media firestorm when he called (http://mediamatters.org/items/200508220006) for the assassination of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez during a broadcast of The 700 Club. He has also blamed the 9/11 attacks on America's tolerance of abortion and homosexuality and declared the Supreme Court a greater threat to the United States than Al Qaeda. Robertson assiduously cultivates his celebrity with remarks like these, casting himself as a divisive bigot to his foes and a righteous prophet to his allies in Christian right circles. But there is much more to Robertson than the headline-grabbing hothead he plays on TV.

Far from the media's gaze, Robertson has used the tax-exempt, nonprofit Operation Blessing as a front for his shadowy financial schemes, while exerting his influence within the GOP to cover his tracks. In 1994 he made an emotional plea on The 700 Club for cash donations to Operation Blessing to support airlifts of refugees from the Rwandan civil war to Zaire (now Congo). Reporter Bill Sizemore of The Virginian Pilot later discovered that Operation Blessing's planes were transporting diamond-mining equipment for the African Development Corporation, a Robertson-owned venture initiated with the cooperation of Zaire's then-dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

After a lengthy investigation, Virginia's Office of Consumer Affairs determined that Robertson "willfully induced contributions from the public through the use of misleading statements and other implications." Yet when the office called for legal action against Robertson in 1999, Virginia Attorney General Mark Earley, a Republican, intervened with his own report, agreeing that Robertson had made deceptive appeals but overruling the recommendation for his prosecution. Two years earlier, while Virginia's investigation was gathering steam, Robertson donated $35,000 to Earley's campaign--Earley's largest contribution. With Earley's report came a sense of vindication. "From the very beginning," Robertson claimed, "we were trying to provide help and assistance to those who were facing disease and death in the war-torn, chaotic nation of Zaire."

(Earley is now president of Prison Fellowship Ministries, (http://www.pfm.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=PFM_Site&CONTENTID= 16705&TEMPLATE=/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm#statement) an evangelical social-work organization founded by born-again, former Nixon dirty-trickster Charles Colson. PFM has accepted White House faith-based-initiative money and is currently engaged in hurricane relief efforts in Louisiana. Earley remains a close ally of Robertson.)

Absolved of his sins, Robertson dug his heels back in African soil. In 1999 he signed an $8 million agreement with Liberian tyrant Charles Taylor that guaranteed Robertson's Freedom Gold Ltd.--an offshore company registered to the same address as his Christian Broadcasting Network--mining rights in Liberia, and gave Taylor a 10 percent stake in the company. When the United States intervened in Liberia in 2003, forcing Taylor and the Al Qaeda operatives he was harboring (http://www2.rnw.nl/rnw/en/currentaffairs/region/africa/lib050525? view=Standard) to flee, Robertson accused President Bush of "undermining a Christian, Baptist president to bring in Muslim rebels to take over the country."

Robertson's scheming hasn't abated one bit. He is accused (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/25/%20AR2005082501806_pf.html) of violating his ministry's tax-exempt, nonprofit status by using it to market a diet shake he licensed this August to the health chain General Nutrition Corp. (Robertson continues to advertise (http://www.patrobertson.com/shakepromo.asp) the shake on his personal website.) He has withstood criticism from fellow evangelicals for investing $520,000 in a racehorse named Mr. Pat, violating biblical admonitions against gambling. He was even accused of "Jim Crow-style racial discrimination" by black employees who successfully sued his Christian Coalition in 2001 for forcing them enter its offices through a back door and eat in a segregated area (Robertson has since resigned).

The Bush Administration has studiously overlooked Robertson's misdeeds. In October 2002, just months after he denounced the White House's faith-based initiative as "a real Pandora's box"--and one month before midterm elections--Robertson pocketed $500,000 in government grants to Operation Blessing. Since then, with the sole exception of his criticism of the US intervention in Liberia, Robertson has served as a willing surrogate for the Administration. His Regent University gave John Ashcroft a cushy professorship to cool his heels after his contentious tenure as US Attorney General. And Robertson's legal foundation, the American Center for Law and Justice, is spearheading the effort to rally right-wing Christian support for Judge John G. Roberts Jr.'s confirmation as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Now, as fallout from the President's handling of Hurricane Katrina threatens to derail the GOP's long-term agenda, Robertson is back at the plate for Bush, echoing the White House's line that state and local authorities--and even the disaster victims themselves--are to blame for the tragedy engulfing New Orleans.

The September 5 edition of The 700 Club included a report by Christian Broadcasting Network correspondent Gary Lane from outside the ruined New Orleans Convention Center, which had housed mostly impoverished black disaster victims throughout the weekend. "A number of possessions left behind suggest the mindset of some of the evacuees," Lane said. "They include this voodoo cup with the saying, 'May the curse be with you.' " A shot of a plastic souvenir cup from one of New Orleans's countless trinket shops appeared on the screen. "Also music CDs with the titles Guerrilla Warfare and Thugs 'R' Us," Lane stated, pointing out a pile of rap CDs strewn on the ground.

The 700 Club's featured guest was Wellington Boone, a black minister invited by Robertson to provide a counterpoint to the ubiquitous Rev. Jesse Jackson. Boone is a member of the Coalition on Revival (http://home.datawest.net/esn-recovery/artcls/COR.htm), a Christian Reconstructionist organization that advocates replacing the US Constitution with biblical law. Throughout his career, he has distinguished himself from his black clerical colleagues with such remarks as "I believe that slavery, and the understanding of it when you see it God's way, was redemptive" and "The black community must stop criticizing Uncle Tom. He is a role model."

Though Boone's appearance on The 700 Club consisted mostly of benign appeals for "laser-beam prayer," CBN featured a separate interview (http://www.cbn.com/700club/Guests/Bios/Wellington_Boone090505.asp) with Boone on its website in which he declared, "We need to consider the culture of those people still stranded in New Orleans. The looting of property, the trashing of property, et cetera, speaks to the basic character of the people." He added, "These people who have gone through slavery, segregation and the Voting Rights Act are doing this to themselves."

Boone's appearance on The 700 Club had been preceded by an interview with Operation Blessing President Bill Horan. Horan discussed his group's activities in Biloxi, Mississippi, where it plans to set up a mobile kitchen, and in Houston, Dallas and Beaumont, Texas, where it is disbursing cash grants to numerous, mostly unspecified mega-churches, purportedly to support their work with evacuated hurricane victims.

As for the people still stranded in New Orleans who "are doing this to themselves," as Boone said, Operation Blessing has a special plan: avoid them like the plague.

"I've actually heard reports that they [the people of Mississippi] were in worse trouble" than those in New Orleans, claimed Gordon Robertson, the son of Pat Robertson and vice president of The 700 Club. "They were actually harder hit."

"Oh, absolutely," agreed Horan.

At the segment's conclusion, Gordon Robertson asked Horan, "What can people do today? If you were asking for help today, what's the number-one need?"

"It's cash. Cash is what we need more than anything," Horan pleaded. "The more cash we get, the more good we can do." And the Bush Administration, through FEMA, is doing its best to insure that Pat Robertson is getting that cash just as quickly as humanly possible.

September 7th, 2005, 07:17 PM
http://img.thehill.com/img/logos/logo_large.jpg (http://www.thehill.com/thehill/export/TheHill/index.html)

The Newspaper for and about the U.S. Congress

Witt makes presence known in La.

By Jonathan E. Kaplan (http://www.thehill.com/thehill/export/TheHill/About/jonathan_kaplan.html)
September 7, 2005


It didn’t take long for James Lee Witt, the former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to throw his weight around in hurricane-ravaged Louisiana.

Witt, who headed FEMA during the Clinton administration, has been hired by Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D) to help coordinate state and federal responses to the natural disaster.

Blanco introduced Witt to President Bush on Monday, according to a source who has spoken with Witt. Bush promised Witt whatever support he needed and said that Mike Brown, FEMA’s embattled director, is his man in charge.

Andrew Card, Bush’s chief of staff, called Witt to give him his home phone number and reiterate Bush’s support.

According to the source, Witt told Brown, “Mike, you’re going to do your job, and I’m going to make you do your job. And I’m going to show you how to do your job.”

Many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are pleased that Witt, who contributed thousands of dollars to congressional Democrats last year, is involved in the disaster-relief effort.

Over the past several years, GOP lawmakers have sought Witt’s counsel, including Reps. Bill Shuster (Pa.), Christopher Shays (Conn.) and Jerry Lewis (Calif.).

“James Lee Witt was an outstanding director of FEMA and is a good choice by the governor, regardless of the activities of FEMA,” said former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.), who is now a top lobbyist.

Witt met with Shuster and Shays earlier this summer to discuss the fallout of removing FEMA’s emergency-preparedness function from its mission.

As fires raged in his congressional district in 2003, Lewis — who had chaired the appropriations subcommittee that funds FEMA when Witt was FEMA’s chief — became frustrated with the agency because it did not respond to the disaster as quickly as it should have, said Lewis spokesman Jim Specht.

“[Lewis’s] biggest concern was that FEMA hadn’t been able to come up with a plan” to prepare for a disaster, Specht added.

Lewis relied on Witt to help cajole FEMA’s bureaucracy to plan for what could have become a federal disaster area. Lewis and Brown eventually toured the vicinity in a helicopter.

After a week of mixed signals and non-communication, state and federal officials began holding joint press conferences, set up a joint command structure, worked to restore cell-phone coverage to the area and prepared to restore electrical power in New Orleans by stationing an additional 1,000 firefighters in case there were fires when the power came on.

For the first 45 to 60 days, Witt is working on a pro-bono basis for the state of Louisiana. After that, a contract will be negotiated, said a spokeswoman for Witt.

The spokeswoman added, “Witt is going to be the Bush administration’s knight in shining armor.”

“FEMA has never been without criticism, but it was once much more nimble, as it needs to be, and now is apparently becoming a responsive afterthought,” said former Rep. Ken Bentsen (D-Texas), who often dealt with FEMA when tropical storms and hurricanes flooded Houston and who credited Joe Allbaugh, Bush’s first FEMA director, for responding effectively to Tropical Storm Allison in 2001.

“Congress should look into this quickly and employ some management expertise to boot,” Bentsen said.

Witt left the government in 2001 to start his own consulting and lobbying shop.

September 7th, 2005, 08:20 PM

September 7th, 2005, 08:48 PM

Top FEMA leaders short on experience

By Andrew Zajac and Andrew Martin
Washington Bureau
Published September 7, 2005


WASHINGTON -- Top officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency have strong political connections to President Bush, but they also share at least one other trait: They had little or no experience in disaster management before landing in top FEMA posts.

Michael Brown, who heads FEMA as undersecretary of homeland security for emergency preparedness and response, already has endured sharp criticism for comments he made last week that seemed to suggest he did not understand that thousands of victims of Hurricane Katrina had taken refuge at the New Orleans convention center.

Before joining FEMA in 2001, Brown, a protege of longtime Bush aide Joseph Allbaugh, was commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association and had virtually no experience in disaster management.

An official biography of Brown's top aide, acting deputy director Patrick Rhode, doesn't list disaster relief experience.

The department's No. 3 official, acting deputy chief of staff Brooks Altshuler, also does not have emergency management experience, according to FEMA spokeswoman Natalie Rule.

Rule said the absence of direct experience managing emergencies is irrelevant because top managers need "the ability to keep the organization running."

But Eric Holdeman, director of the King County Office of Emergency Management in Seattle, said familiarity with the specifics of disaster management is essential.

"Experience is not just general managerial experience, it's experience in the field," he said.

Rhode and Altshuler worked in the White House's Office of National Advance Operations, which arranges Bush's travel and scripts his appearances.

The credentials of top FEMA managers stand in contrast to the backgrounds of leaders of the agency during the last years of the Clinton administration.

Clinton-era FEMA Director James Lee Witt headed the Arkansas office of emergency services before he was tapped by Clinton in 1993 to run the federal disaster relief agency.

Witt's top aides in 2000, Lynn Canton and Michael Armstrong, ran regional FEMA offices for at least three years before assuming senior positions in Washington.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said the lack of experience in FEMA's top ranks was evident in the sluggish response to the hurricane.

"Disaster preparedness, whether it's in anticipation of potential weather-related incidents or terrorist incidents requires a skill set that in my mind someone has to be trained for," said Thompson, ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Homeland Security.

Moreover, The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Brown waited until hours after Katrina had struck the Gulf Coast before asking his boss to dispatch 1,000 Homeland Security Department employees to the region--and gave them two days to arrive, according to internal documents.

Brown sought the approval from Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff roughly five hours after Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29, the AP said.

Before then, FEMA had positioned smaller rescue and communications teams across the Gulf Coast. But officials said Tuesday that the first department-wide appeal for help came only as the storm raged.

Brown has stoutly defended FEMA's performance, saying the agency has done the best it could under bad circumstances.

Last week, Bush, while saying that the initial federal response to the hurricane was "not acceptable," nonetheless lauded Brown, telling him, "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job."

On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan declined to echo such praise.

"We've got to continue to do everything we can in support of those who are involved in the operational aspects of this response effort," McClellan said.


September 7th, 2005, 09:33 PM
And back to Tragedy...

A powerful first-hand video account from Charmaine Neville, a heroic resident of the Ninth Ward:


Wow! Lofter, thank you for posting that. Absolutely riveting. It left me stunned.

September 7th, 2005, 11:41 PM
Sadly the FARCE continues ...

Two Bush 2000 Florida recount aides were rewarded with top FEMA posts


Reversing an eight-year crusade to rid the now-embattled Federal Emegency Management Agency of political patronage, a newly elected George W. Bush in 2001 named two key players in his Florida recount fight to important FEMA posts.

Neither man, Jacksonville attorney Reynold Hoover (http://www.fema.gov/about/bios/hoover.shtm) and Miami lawyer Mark Wallace (http://www.akerman.com/public/attorneys/aBiography.asp?id=795), had any experience in emergency management before they were named by the Bush administration to FEMA, now under fire for its botched response to Hurricane Katrina.

Hoover, a longtime "explosives expert" with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms who became a lawyer in 1996, is still with FEMA as its director of national security coordination. Wallace left the Bush administration in 2004 to become deputy manager of the president's re-election campaign, and is now a lobbyist.

They are two more names to add to the list of political appointees and out-and-out hacks at FEMA. Many are calling for the firing (http://www.philly.com/mld/dailynews/news/opinion/12577979.htm) of agency chief Michael Brown (http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/12554964.htm), the ousted head of a horse association who was hired at FEMA in 2001 along with his college roommate, top Bush advisor Joe Allbaugh. And it was reported yesterday (http://thinkprogress.org/2005/09/06/fema-deputies/) that FEMA's No. 2 and No. 3 officials, Patrick Rhode and Scott Morris, are also former campaign aides.

Consider this quote:

"FEMA is widely viewed as a 'dumping ground,' a turkey farm, if you will, where large numbers of positions exist that can be conveniently and quietly filled by political appointment," the preliminary report said. "This has led to a situation where top officials, having little or no experience in disaster or emergency management, are creating substantial morale problems among careerists and professionals. "

Appropriate in the wake of the agency's bungled efforts over the last 10 days in Louisiana and Mississippi? Yes -- but the above quote is from 1992, during the administration of George H.W. Bush. It came from a preliminary report from the staff of the House Appropriations Committee, and it was written before FEMA came under fire that year for a tardy response to Florida's Hurricane Andrew. (Note: Any article not linked came from the Nexis search engine.)

The Andrew debacle was one of many factors in the first President Bush's failed re-election bid. They say that good government is good politics, and so when Bill Clinton arrived at the White House in 1993, he made a serious effort to rid FEMA of political hackery.

Clinton hired a professional, James Lee Witt, to run the agency and that May Witt told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee, according to a Washington Post article, "that FEMA 'will not be doing business as usual' and that he was committed to making his organization 'one of the most respected agencies in this nation.'

Did he succeed? Here's what the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote in a January 1996 editorial:

FEMA has developed a sterling reputation for delivering disaster- relief services, a far cry from its abysmal standing before James Lee Witt took its helm in 1993.

How did Witt turn FEMA around so quickly? Well, he is the first director of the agency to have emergency-management experience. He stopped the staffing of the agency by political patronage. He removed layers of bureaucracy. Most important, he instilled in the agency a spirit of preparedness, of service to the customer, of willingness to listen to ideas of local and state officials to make the system work better.

But if Clinton and Witt stopped the staffing of FEMA by political patronage, George W. Bush re-started it within days of taking the oath of office -- rewarding some of the people who'd helped him become president in the grueling 2000 Florida recount.

One of those was Wallace -- a young lawyer who, according to a July 14, 2002, article by the Miami Herald's Carol Rosenberg (http://www.georgewalkerbush.net/recounttroopslandplumdcjobs.htm) -- "fought on behalf of the GOP in Palm Beach County during the butterfly ballot brouhaha." He was hired in 2001 as FEMA's general counsel and was the chief lawyer for the agency on its Sept. 11 recovery effort. After his 2004 stint as a top official in the Bush campaign, he was hired in March as a D.C. lobbyist for a Florida-based law firm, Akerman Senterfitt.

Hoover, the former ATF agent turned attorney, was active in the Duval County GOP at the time of the Florida recount, and because a point man in the Jacksonville area. He initially served as FEMA's chief of staff for a time, but he's currently listed on the agency's organizational chart (http://www.fema.gov/about/bios/bio.shtm) as director of the Office of National Security Coordination.

Of course, we all know that Bush has rewarded a number of people who went to bat for him in Florida in 2000 with plum jobs. One of those is his new UN ambassador John Bolton, who -- as the Herald article reminds us -- "[burst] into a Tallahassee library on behalf of the Bush-Cheney campaign to stop a recount of Miami-Dade County ballots." Another was recently picked by Bush to become chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, John Roberts (http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/12230971.htm).

What's more, Wallace and Hoover -- and Brown and Rhodes and Morris -- aren't the only political hires at FEMA. Indeed, the officials tasked with the response to Hurricane Katrina -- Dan Craig (http://www.fema.gov/about/bios/craig.shtm), the director of the recovery division -- is another. As his bio notes, "Craig worked as a campaign advisor, and political fundraiser and research analyst" and was also a lobbyist. At the risk of stating the obvious by this point, he did not have emergency management experience.

He was the key player in a 2004 FEMA controversy that may get some new scrutiny in light of recent events. From a May 15, 2005, Knight-Ridder article:

As Hurricane Frances made landfall 100 miles north of Miami-Dade County in September, a top official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency declared the county a major disaster area with no evidence of damage and contrary to a presidential order, federal auditors have found.

That decision allowed more than 12,000 Miami-Dade residents, many with minimal or no damage, to collect $31 million and brought unprecedented scrutiny to the federal disaster aid program...

On Sept. 5, as the storm continued its trek into central Florida, FEMA added to the declaration Miami-Dade and the other 12 counties originally requested by Gov. Jeb Bush. The decision was made by FEMA's recovery division director in Washington. The report did not name him, but Nicol D. Andrews, FEMA spokeswoman, identified him as Dan Craig.

The ruling came just two months before the 2004 presidential election, with Florida the top battleground state.

Also in 2004, up the Gulf Coast, FEMA was involved in a mock drill called Hurricane Pam (http://www.ohsep.louisiana.gov/newsrelated/hurripamends.htm), in which a hurricane with 120 mph winds topped the levies of New Orleans. FEMA's chief representative at the drill was its regional director at the time, Ron Castleman.

"We made great progress this week in our preparedness efforts," said Ron Castleman, FEMA Regional Director. "Disaster response teams developed action plans in critical areas such as search and rescue, medical care, sheltering, temporary housing, school restoration and debris management. These plans are essential for quick response to a hurricane but will also help in other emergencies."

When the very real Hurricane Katrina struck last month, Castleman had already moved on to a job in the private sector. Would his presence have helped? We don't know.

We can only tell you Castleman's immediate job before he became FEMA's top person in the Gulf region. He had been the chief administrative officer -- for the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign.

September 8th, 2005, 01:06 AM
If getting a BJ from a willing intern and lying to protect the dignity of your wife is an impeachable offense, I challenge anyone to tell me why this willful dereliction of duty by George W. Bush is not?

This guy needs to stand trial for this AND Iraq. "Crimes against humanity" seems a good first charge. I'm not seeing much difference between him and Saddam Hussein - except that Saddam was probably smarter. I do believe this president should go to jail for this and the long string of offenses he has commited cumlinating in this.

I'd like to bitch slap that smirk off Barbara Bush's uppity face. Talk about your "white trash". She's still breast feeding George from her dust filled teet. Bi-otch.

September 8th, 2005, 12:31 PM
The Story of the Hurricane

In Washington, Lies, Third Worldliness—George W. as Imelda M.

New York Observer, 9/12/2005 edition
By Chris Lehmann


The tragedy of New Orleans is not that desperate need turned the city’s overwhelmingly poor and black flood survivors into “the Third World,” as so many put it. Rather, it was that the federal government feels free to behave like a tin-pot Third World regime in responding to crises involving its neediest citizens.

First there were the lies: President Bush’s false claim to Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America that “I don’t think anybody anticipated” the breaches in New Orleans’s levees, and Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff’s repeating of that big lie on Meet the Press. And somehow, Federal Emergency Management Agency head Mike Brown said on CNN last Thursday that he had not until that day seen any intel indicating that the New Orleans Convention Center had been designated an emergency evacuation site.

Mr. Brown also spoke glibly of the flood victims left in New Orleans in Katrina’s wake as “those who chose not to evacuate, who chose not to leave the city,” as though the flood victims in one of America’s poorest cities stayed home on some sort of madcap lark and now had to own up to the consequences of their poor individual judgment.

Yet Mr. Brown is at least as outrageous for what he represents as for what he says. The college roommate of former FEMA head Joseph Allbaugh, Mr. Brown perfectly embodies the thoughtlessly privileged yet reflexively punitive outlook of the Bush administration’s entire policy elite. Indeed, Mr. Brown has presided over the misguided patriation of his agency into Homeland Security and the corresponding shift of its chief mandate from disaster preparedness to terror response.

FEMA has worked toward an overarching approach of “disaster mitigation,” says Walter Gillis Peacock, who directs Texas A&M University’s Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center. The idea of mitigation is to develop a comprehensive “all-hazards” strategy for minimizing death and property loss. Under Clinton-era FEMA head James Lee Witt’s direction, the agency worked out a plan to use hospital ships as evacuation transports in the event of a major storm flooding New Orleans.

(In fact, the hospital ship USS Bataan rode out Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico and came to New Orleans’ aid almost immediately, sending out helicopters from her deck just 40 miles away. But as of Monday, her beds were still empty, and she had been ordered by FEMA to move from just outside New Orleans to Biloxi. “It was a disappointment,” one of the ship’s officers told Knight-Ridder. “I figured we’d be a big help in New Orleans. We’ve got electricity, and the police could have charged up their radios. We’ve got water, toilets. We’ve got food.”)

“We ought to be building back better; we ought to be restoring resources as we rebuild,” Mr. Peacock said, speaking of the pre-Bush ethos of the agency. “But now the agency has been folded into D.H.S., and it’s forgotten its real mission. Actually, that mission has even been pulled away from it. That whole component has been ripped out.”

In its place is a single agency mandate to structure all agency efforts to address the terror threat. “It’s been typical in many communities, what’s happened to emergency-management organizations: Funds that used to go to those issues got diverted,” Mr. Peacock said. “They went to police functions, some fire—anything that could seen as terror-related.”

As FEMA has been systematically hollowed out, the bulk of disaster-mitigation work falls to state and local jurisdictions. And this is the state of affairs that now permits administration apologists to cynically claim that Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans’ patchwork of underfunded parish and city authorities bear primarily responsibility for the calamity after the flood. (Then again, maybe city residents just “chose,” in that feckless way of theirs, not to earn enough money to support a surrogate Corps of Engineers or FEMA directorate in their midst.)

Foreign critics of the Bush administration are quick to point out that such devolutions of power are commonplace in other parts of the globe. It’s hard not to see the fortunes of FEMA as a “parable” of sorts, according to longtime international-aid critic George Monbiot, author of the recently published The Age of Consent: A Manifesto for a New World Order and a columnist for The Guardian. “You could begin it, ‘Once upon a time, there was a government which tried to serve its people’s needs … ,” Mr. Monbiot said.

And the moral: “One thing that keeps occurring to me over and over again as I watch the coverage: This is what happens when you have minimal government. I mean, you have maximum government in the U.S. when it comes to things like foreign investment, but minimal government when it comes to providing essential services.” Mr. Monbiot referred to early Katrina reports that described FEMA workers arriving on the scene in New Orleans with anti-anthrax and chemical-weapons kits. “When people were asked what they were doing with all this, they responded, ‘Well, this is what we’ve been told to bring.’”

Mr. Monbiot sees such grotesque mismatches as of a piece with the thwarted priorities of traditional “Third World” powers, preoccupied with distant threats and indifferent to economic inequities within their own borders. “The prime example would be Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines,” Mr. Monbiot said. “Here was a regime which invested in military power on a massive scale. You had huge weapons-buying programs for complete white elephants; you had nuclear-power stations that were built on earthquake fault zones. So profoundly callous and neglectful was he that his wife, Imelda—she oversaw construction of a new sports stadium for the Asia Games. Workers fell into concrete—into the wet cement—and died, and she instructed the project contractors not to take them out, simply to press on and stay on deadline. It was a government which couldn’t give a damn about its own people, yet invested massively in prestige projects. And that’s what you’re seeing here.”

Anthony Borden, who directs the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting, which coordinates coverage of humanitarian-aid efforts across the globe, saw much of the Katrina coverage while on a trip to the institute’s Johannesburg office. “My African friends—their jaws are dropping. People have never seen poor folk in stadiums starving in the U.S. They just think it’s completely amazing. You never see it, this version of America, on TV in other parts of the world. You might know, intellectually, that it exists. But you never see it.”

As a longtime observer of humanitarian-aid fiascos, Mr. Borden points out that the early response to Katrina shares key deficiencies with other now-infamous failures of Western aid. “I was thinking—to take an example from a long time ago and another country—of Bosnia. At many turns in that situation, the international community would promise and fail to deliver on its promises. The enclave in Srebrenica—that was an international promise that we couldn’t do. And if you’re going to do homeland security, well, you can agree or disagree with that political decision when it’s made, but for God’s sake, carry it out.

“I’m not sure that it matters whether you’re left-wing or right-wing,” Mr. Borden continued. “Once you take a political decision to do something, you do it, you follow through. It’s simply the competence factor. I see this in a lot of international situations. The U.S. is not doing a good job in Afghanistan, and it’s doing a bad job in Iraq. I think that undermines the ideals we went in for, and it definitely hurts the people who are there.

“With Katrina, right now,” Mr. Borden said, “I think you’re seeing that same confidence and competency gap. I mean, it’s true in any disaster situation: A reasonable amount of shit happens. But in our reactions, I think there’s a certain level at which we can learn from this. I asked my friends, ‘Would you jump to the conclusion that you’re seeing a case for multilateral collective security’—of the ‘soft power’ versus the ‘go-it-alone’ superpower model? Does this enter into the discourse? I think it does at some point. I mean, look at the tsunami. There you had a more complicated disaster covering a greater stretch of territory, but aid got through pretty efficiently. It’s definitely confusing to see a response like this in New Orleans. It may be feeding a big dilemma for the U.S.: As a global emperor, you have a clothing problem. Are you clothed?”

Many Americans are asking the same question now, as more and more details of the Bush administration’s blinkered, go-it-alone approach to the Katrina crisis are coming to light. FEMA officials refused an offer of air-transport support for flood survivors from the Canadian government; they also rebuffed an offer from Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, prior to the storm’s arrival, to send hundreds of workers and mitigation equipment.

Even urgent requests earlier in the summer from the Louisiana National Guard for the return of equipment sent to Iraq—explicitly for hurricane-relief efforts under the aegis of Homeland Security—apparently went unheeded. “You can see the testosterone sort of emanating from the screen,” said Mr. Peacock, referring to the confident pronouncements from Mr. Brown and Mr. Chertoff.

The same mentality governs FEMA’s response on the ground, Mr. Peacock added. “They’re treating this as a war zone. You have helicopters hovering just above the victims on rooftops, tossing out water bottles because they’re afraid of being shot at.”

Army forces deployed to New Orleans for crowd control hit that note of menace outright. “This place is going to look like Little Somalia,” Brig. Gen. Gary Jones, commander of the Louisiana National Guard’s Joint Task Force, told the Army Times. “We’re going to go out and take this city back. This will be a combat operation to take this city under control.”

Mr. Peacock doesn’t discount the dangers that spreading lawlessness can represent to rescue workers. At the same time, however, he notes that a rigid and closed command structure proves dangerous and counterproductive when it comes to sharing information and material support. “I worry about the culture of ‘need-to-know’ communications control at FEMA,” he said. “All the social-science research on disaster relief shows the opposite is what works. Communities become more inclusive in these situations, open up networks of support. And emergency administrators need to cut across [political] turf and step on toes to make sure that happens.”

There does seem to be a careful coordination of effort in one sphere, however. When the President finally managed to land on the ground at hurricane-devastated sites in the Gulf, Presidential flacks and handlers made certain he was surrounded by impressive amounts of supplies and equipment, symbolizing federal commitment to the relief effort. It appears, however, that this equipment was chiefly mobilized for the purposes of photo-op display.

A German TV crew in Biloxi reported that a relief station was erected behind the President, even though Biloxi is a site where relief had managed to reach citizens in a somewhat timely fashion last week and therefore had few victims on hand to gratefully accept the feds’ symbolic largess. When the President moved on, ZDF correspondent Christine Adelhardt reported that the Potemkin relief stations were promptly dismantled.

Likewise, when the President toured the breached 17th Street levee, construction equipment bulked significantly around him as he burbled that “there’s a flow in progress.” Yet in a blistering press release issued over the weekend, Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, who had accompanied Mr. Bush to the levee, said that the critical breach-repair equipment had flowed away.

“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.”

A week ago Tuesday, after Hurricane Katrina’s landfall, Mr. Bush delivered his most hubristic speech yet on the Iraq war, using the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II to liken that epic struggle with the Iraqi occupation, and to liken himself to a latter-day F.D.R.

But a fortnight later, the nation’s worst natural catastrophe has blown away such fond reveries once and for all. Peel away the stage sets, the rote platitudes, the crony appointments, the stage-managed intelligence and precooked casus belli—and there stands Imelda Marcos.

September 8th, 2005, 12:46 PM
CBS Poll: Blame All Around
NEW YORK, Sept. 8, 2005


Americans think the response to Hurricane Katrina was inadequate, and spread the blame around all levels of government. President George W. Bush finds disapproval on his handling of the matter, too -- and the public now shows diminished confidence in his abilities to handle a crisis or provide leadership, as well as in the government’s ability to protect the country.

These are highlights from this latest CBS News Poll. There will be a longer release, with more questions and analysis, later today.


President George W. Bush's overall response to Katrina meets with disapproval today – a dramatic change from the public’s reaction just after the storm hit on August 29th. Last week, in the two days immediately after Katrina made landfall, a majority of Americans said they approved of Bush's response, although more than a third were not sure. Now, only 38% approve. A majority disapproves.


Approve 38%
Disapprove 58%
Don't Know 4%

Approve 54%
Disapprove 12%
Don't Know 34%

Last winter, eight in ten Americans approved of how Bush handled the Tsunami disaster in Asia.

Bush is also seen as acting too slowly in responding to the disaster that followed the storm.

Large majorities think the Federal Government, FEMA, and Louisiana's state government all could have performed better in Katrina's wake.


Federal government
Yes 20%
No 77%

Yes 24%
No 70%

State and local government
Yes 24%
No 70%

In 1992, after Hurricane Andrew decimated parts of Florida, 41% of voters thought the Federal government performed adequately there. 40% of Floridians that year said the same.

Americans see the response to Katrina as insufficient in part because it was slow: an overwhelming eight in ten say the federal government didn't act fast enough.

Yes 16%
No 80%

Now, with evacuation efforts having been stepped up over Labor Day weekend, more Americans see things looking up. Currently, 60% of Americans say the federal government is doing all it can to help now.

Yes 60%
No, could be doing more 36%


President Bush’s image appears to have suffered in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The public now has lower confidence in his response to crisis, and his leadership in general.

Now, just 48% of Americans say Bush has strong qualities of leadership – the lowest number ever for the President in this poll. A year ago, as he was campaigning for re-election, 64% of voters said Bush was a strong leader. And in the weeks after the attacks of September 11th, 2001, 83% of Americans said the President had strong qualities of leadership.

Moreover, just 32% express “a lot” of confidence in the President’s ability to handle a crisis. This is a sharp change from four years ago when, in the weeks after the 9/11 attacks, 66% expressed “a lot” of confidence in Bush’s ability to handle a crisis.


A lot 32%
Some 19%
A little 25%
None 23%

A lot 66%
Some 24%
A little 7%
None 2%

Despite the fallout from Hurricane Katrina, Bush’s overall approval rating is virtually unchanged from last week. Now, 42% of Americans approve of the job Bush is doing as President, while 52% disapprove.


Approve 42%
Disapprove 52%

Last week
Approve 41%
Disapprove 51%

As for the government in general, only half of Americans have confidence in the U.S. government to respond to natural disasters. Only 19% have a great deal of confidence. 15% have none at all.

A great deal 19%
Fair amount 32%
Not much 34%
None at all 15%

There has even been a decline in just the last week in the perception of the government’s ability to protect Americans from terrorist attacks – 40% now have little or no confidence, up from 26% a week ago.


Americans fault governments at all levels for lack of preparation before the storm hit. More than two-thirds of Americans say the Federal government did a poor job preparing for Katrina. State and local governments fare just as poorly.

Other factors get blame, too. Most Americans – 69% - point to cutbacks in spending on New Orleans' levees that had taken place in recent years as a factor in the flooding – including 45% who call that a major factor.

However, most say the race and class of those in need did not play a role in the speed of the response. 50% say the fact that most of those left stranded were African-American did not impact how quickly authorities responded; Americans say that had most of those left behind been white, the response would have been the same.

Yes, major factor 29%
Yes, minor factor 19%
No, not a factor 50%

TLOZ Link5
September 8th, 2005, 02:52 PM
New York Times, September 8, 2005

No Strangers to the Blues


The tragedy in New Orleans did not occur in a vacuum. There is no way, even in the face of a storm as violent as Katrina, that a great American city should have been reduced to little more than a sewage pit overnight.

The monumental failure of the federal government to respond immediately and effectively to the catastrophe that resulted from Hurricane Katrina was preceded by many years in which the people of New Orleans (especially its poorest residents) were shamefully neglected by all levels of government.

New Orleans was not a disaster waiting to happen when the screaming winds of Katrina slammed the city with the force of an enemy attack. The disaster was already under way long before Katrina ever existed. The flood that followed the storm, and the Bush administration's ineptitude following the flood, were the blows that sent an already weakened city down for the count.

The public school system, for example, is one of the worst in the nation. Forget about educating the children, 96 percent of them black. School officials, enveloped in a bureaucratic fog and the toxic smoke of corruption, do not even know how many people are employed by the system. The budget is a joke. Money had to be borrowed to pay teachers.

The classroom environment has been chaotic. About 10,000 of the 60,000 students were suspended last year, and nearly 1,000 were expelled. Half of the high school kids fail to graduate in four years. To get a sense of the system's priorities, consider the following from a Times-Picayune editorial last fall:

"When it was still unclear which way Hurricane Ivan would go, school system employees on school system time driving school system vehicles using school system materials were sent to board up the superintendent's house."

That superintendent left (and not a moment too soon), but the abject neglect of the young remained. Long before the hurricane, the children of New Orleans had been failed by the adults responsible for them, starting in many cases with their parents and going right on up through their teachers, city officials, state officials and a national administration that sees the kids mostly as objects - totems - to be hugged during campaign photo-ops.

Crime in New Orleans is another issue that has gotten a lot of attention in Katrina's aftermath. It should have gotten more attention before the hurricane hit. A great deal of the mayhem reported or rumored to have occurred over the past several days appears to have been exaggerated. But New Orleans has long had a serious crime problem. And it has never been properly dealt with.

A couple of days ago I was talking with a woman named Julia Cass who had fled the flood and settled temporarily in Montgomery, Ala. It turns out that Ms. Cass, a former reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, had just completed a paper for the Children's Defense Fund, which is concerned about the effect on children of the chronic violence plaguing New Orleans.

Ms. Cass noted that as of Aug. 19, there had been 192 murders in the city, an increase of 7 percent over that period last year. (You can get a decent perspective on the violence if you note that New Orleans, with a population of 500,000, had 264 homicides last year, compared with the 572 homicides in New York, which has a population of 8 million.)

Ms. Cass wrote that in homicide cases in New Orleans, witnesses frequently refuse to come forward, or do not show up at trials. "The general explanation is that they are afraid," she said, "and with good reason, since the perpetrators too often are not arrested or get out on bail or are never prosecuted or are not convicted. A person who murders another in New Orleans has less than a one in four chance of being convicted."

New Orleans had has high rates of illiteracy and high rates of poverty, and long before the hurricane blew in, high rates of children and families with extraordinarily low expectations. In short, much of the city was a mess, and no one was marshaling the considerable resources necessary to help pull its stricken residents out of the trouble of their daily lives.

Those were the residents who, for the most part, were left behind to suffer and die when the people of means began sprinting toward higher ground. They are the ones who are always left behind, out of sight and out of mind, and I'd be surprised - given the history of this country - if that were to change now.

E-mail: bobherb@nytimes.com

©New York Times Company 2005

September 8th, 2005, 06:12 PM
Not that this accomplished a hell of a lot, but damn it must have been satisfying to say...

Dick Cheney: "Go F--k Yourself"



Vice President Dick Cheney, in Gulfport, Mississippi on a tour of the Katrina hurricane zone was cursed out as he answered questions from reporters...

Video (http://movies.crooksandliars.com/Cheney_090805.wmv)-WMP

Video (http://movies.crooksandliars.com/Connected--Cheney-F-himself.mov)-QT

Raw Story (http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Cheney_told_to_go_****_yourself_in_Gulfport_Missi_ 0908.html) has the transcript: Off camera, a protester shouts, "Go f--k yourself, Mr. Cheney. Go f--k yourself." The camera remains on Cheney while we hear scuffling in the background.

CNN's reporter asks Cheney, "Are you getting a lot of that Mr. Vice President?"

Cheney replies, "First time I've heard it., Must be a friend of John..., er, ah - never mind."

Cheney laughs it off, but there are many people dead that aren't laughing right now.

Comments (390) (http://javascript<b></b>:HaloScan('4856');) permalinkhttp://www.scripting.com/images/2001/09/20/sharpPermaLink3.gif (http://www.crooksandliars.com/2005/09/08.html#a4856)

September 8th, 2005, 11:06 PM
Wow! Lofter, thank you for posting that. Absolutely riveting. It left me stunned.
An update on that video clip of Charmaine Neville from http://www.andrewsullivan.com (http://www.andrewsullivan.com/)


The video clip of the African-American evacuee I linked to earlier, ( http://www.wafb.com/Global/SearchResults.asp?qu=charmaine+neville&x=13&y=10 ) I should have mentioned, was not of any person. It was of Charmaine Neville. A New Orleans native emails:
I saw the clip you linked to earlier of the woman who escaped the 9th Ward. That's not just any woman, either. In New Orleans, she's about as big a celebrity as her uncle, Aaron Neville, the singer. To New Orleanians, it's shocking that even she was trapped in the city.Here's more detail (http://www.charmainenevilleband.com/cncharmaine.html) on her. One thing I keep thinking: there's still so much we don't know about what really went on in New Orleans. Imagine what they have kept from us on Iraq. Or do they even know?

September 9th, 2005, 12:31 AM
OK, maybe I'm obsessing over this Michael Brown guy (before too long he might need his own thread), but the stories keep coming:

How Reliable Is Brown's Resume?

A TIME investigation reveals discrepancies in the FEMA chief's official biographies

By DAREN FONDA AND RITA HEALY (http://javascript<b></b>:void(0))
Posted Thursday, Sep. 08, 2005


When President Bush nominated Michael Brown to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in 2003, Brown's boss at the time, Joe Allbaugh, declared, "the President couldn't have chosen a better man to help...prepare and protect the nation." But how well was he prepared for the job? Since Hurricane Katrina, the FEMA director has come under heavy criticism for his performance and scrutiny of his background. 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 (http://www.fema.gov/about/bios/brown.shtm), was "serving as an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight." The White House press release from 2001 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/12/20011203-6.html) 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."

In response, Nicol Andrews, deputy strategic director in FEMA's office of public affairs, insists that while Brown began as an intern, he became an "assistant city manager" with a distinguished record of service. "According to Mike Brown," she says, "a large portion [of the points raised by TIME] is very inaccurate."

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 (http://pview.findlaw.com/view/2507976_1) — 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). "He may have been an adjunct instructor," says Johnson, but that title is very different from that of "professor." Carl Reherman, a former political science professor at the University through the '70s and '80s, says that Brown "was not on the faculty." As for the honor of "Outstanding Political Science Professor," Johnson says, "I spoke with the department chair yesterday and he's not aware of it." Johnson could not confirm that Brown made the Dean's list or was an "Outstanding Political Science Senior," as is stated on his online profile.

Speaking for Brown, Andrews says that Brown has never claimed to be a political science professor, in spite of what his profile in FindLaw indicates. "He was named the outstanding political science senior at Central State, and was an adjunct professor at Oklahoma City School of Law."

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." She says there was a board of directors until a couple of years ago, but she couldn't find anyone who recalled him being on it. According to FEMA's Andrews, Brown said "he's never claimed to be the director of the home. He was on the board of directors, or governors of the nursing home." However, a veteran employee at the center since 1981 says Brown "was never director here, was never on the board of directors, was never executive director. He was never here in any capacity. I never heard his name mentioned here."

The FindLaw profile for Brown was amended on Thursday to remove a reference to his tenure at the International Arabian Horse Association, which has become a contested point.

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. Stephen Jones, a prominent Oklahoma lawyer who was lead defense attorney on the Timothy McVeigh case, was Brown's boss for two-and-a-half years in the early '80s. "He did mainly transactional work, not litigation," says Jones. "There was a feeling that he was not serious and somewhat shallow." Jones says when his law firm split, Brown was one of two staffers who was let go.

— With reporting by Jeremy Caplan, Carolina A. Miranda/New York; Nathan Thornburgh/Baton Rouge; Levi Clark/Edmond; Massimo Calabresi and Mark Thompson/Washington

September 9th, 2005, 07:43 AM
September 9, 2005
Point Those Fingers

By PAUL KRUGMAN (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/opinion/editorialsandoped/oped/columnists/paulkrugman/index.html?inline=nyt-per)

To understand the history of the Bush administration's response to disaster, just follow the catchphrases.

First, look at 2001 Congressional testimony by Joseph Allbaugh, President Bush's first pick to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA, he said, would emphasize "Responsibility and Accountability" (capital letters and boldface in the original statement). He repeated the phrase several times.

What Mr. Allbaugh seems to have meant was that state and local government officials shouldn't count on FEMA to bail them out if they didn't prepare adequately for disasters. They should accept responsibility for protecting their constituents, and be held accountable if they don't.

But those were rules for the little people. Now that the Bush administration has botched its own response to disaster, we're not supposed to play the "blame game." Scott McClellan used that phrase 15 times over the course of just two White House press briefings.

It might make sense to hold off on the criticism if this were the first big disaster on Mr. Bush's watch, or if the chain of mistakes in handling Hurricane Katrina were out of character. But even with the most generous possible assessment, this is the administration's second big policy disaster, after Iraq. And the chain of mistakes was perfectly in character - there are striking parallels between the errors the administration made in Iraq and the errors it made last week.

In Iraq, the administration displayed a combination of paralysis and denial after the fall of Baghdad, as uncontrolled looting destroyed much of Iraq's infrastructure.

The same deer-in-the-headlights immobility prevailed as Katrina approached and struck the Gulf Coast. The storm gave plenty of warning. By the afternoon of Monday, Aug. 29, the flooding of New Orleans was well under way - city officials publicly confirmed a breach in the 17th Street Canal at 2 p.m. Yet on Tuesday federal officials were still playing down the problem, and large-scale federal aid didn't arrive until last Friday.

In Iraq the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran the country during the crucial first year after Saddam's fall - the period when an effective government might have forestalled the nascent insurgency - was staffed on the basis of ideological correctness and personal connections rather than qualifications. At one point Ari Fleischer's brother was in charge of private-sector development.

The administration followed the same principles in staffing FEMA. The agency had become a highly professional organization during the Clinton years, but under Mr. Bush it reverted to its former status as a "turkey farm," a source of patronage jobs.

As Bloomberg News puts it, the agency's "upper ranks are mostly staffed with people who share two traits: loyalty to President George W. Bush and little or no background in emergency management." By now everyone knows FEMA's current head went from overseeing horse shows to overseeing the nation's response to disaster, with no obvious qualifications other than the fact that he was Mr. Allbaugh's college roommate.

All that's missing from the Katrina story is an expensive reconstruction effort, with lucrative deals for politically connected companies, that fails to deliver essential services. But give it time - they're working on that, too.

Why did the administration make the same mistakes twice? Because it paid no political price the first time.

Can the administration escape accountability again? Some of the tactics it has used to obscure its failure in Iraq won't be available this time. The reality of the catastrophe was right there on our TV's, although FEMA is now trying to prevent the media from showing pictures of the dead. And people who ask hard questions can't be accused of undermining the troops.

But the other factors that allowed the administration to evade responsibility for the mess in Iraq are still in place. The media will be tempted to revert to he-said-she-said stories rather than damning factual accounts. The effort to shift blame to state and local officials is under way. Smear campaigns against critics will start soon, if they haven't already. And raw political power will be used to block any independent investigation.

Will this be enough to let the administration get away with another failure? Let's hope not: if the administration isn't held accountable for what just happened, it will keep repeating its mistakes. Michael Brown and Michael Chertoff will receive presidential medals, and the next disaster will be even worse.

E-mail: krugman@nytimes.com (krugman@nytimes.com)

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

September 9th, 2005, 08:39 AM
Read on...

Don't Count Mardi Gras Out in New Orleans
Sep 06 9:13 AM US/Eastern

Associated Press Writer


NEW ORLEANS"Mardi Gras is a brew, it's a gumbo. It's defined by what people bring to it," Lambert said. "There will definitely be a Mardi Gras. No doubt about it."

On the Net: http://www.mardigrasguide.com/ (http://www.mardigrasguide.com/)

I'm glad to hear it. I've always wanted to go to Mardi Gras, but have never made the time. I think, assuming I can find accomodations, this February is the time. Being here in NYC I appreciated (FOR ONCE!) the tourists that stuck it out and came to the city post-9/11.

September 9th, 2005, 10:21 AM
My visceral reaction to events tends to be impulsive (naturally), peaks quickly, followed by rationalization and, finally, the subsiding of emotion. This disaster however finds my rage building with each passing day.

It becomes easier to see why a country like Sri Lanka, Thailand or Bangladesh can respond to these types of disasters quickly and move on. Where they go and immediately help people, in this country that action is preceded by securing "property" first. Disgusting.

In the meantime, Republicans are now strategizing that they can pick up a seat or two in Congress now that the black vote has been dispersed. George Bush has suspended the minimum wage in states affected by the storm - thus depriving people of a living wage to restart their lives. Ah, compassionate conservatism. A kinder, gentler government.

What we are seeing in New Orleans is ethnic / racial cleansing by the rich white folk in government.

September 9th, 2005, 02:33 PM
From columnist Chris Rose of The Times-Picayune www.nola.com

Dear America,

I suppose we should introduce ourselves: We're South Louisiana.

We have arrived on your doorstep on short notice and we apologize for that, but we never were much for waiting around for invitations. We're not much on formalities like that.

And we might be staying around your town for a while, enrolling in your schools and looking for jobs, so we wanted to tell you a few things about us. We know you didn't ask for this and neither did we, so we're just going to have to make the best of it.

First of all, we thank you. For your money, your water, your food, your prayers, your boats and buses and the men and women of your National Guards, fire departments, hospitals and everyone else who has come to our rescue.

We're a fiercely proud and independent people, and we don't cotton much to outside interference, but we're not ashamed to accept help when we need it. And right now, we need it.

Just don't get carried away. For instance, once we get around to fishing again, don't try to tell us what kind of lures work best in your waters.

We're not going to listen. We're stubborn that way.

You probably already know that we talk funny and listen to strange music and eat things you'd probably hire an exterminator to get out of your yard.

We dance even if there's no radio. We drink at funerals. We talk too much and laugh too loud and live too large and, frankly, we're suspicious of others who don't.

But we'll try not to judge you while we're in your town.

Everybody loves their home, we know that. But we love South Louisiana with a ferocity that borders on the pathological. Sometimes we bury our dead in LSU sweatshirts.

Often we don't make sense. You may wonder why, for instance - if we could only carry one small bag of belongings with us on our journey to your state - why in God's name did we bring a pair of shrimp boots?

We can't really explain that. It is what it is.

You've probably heard that many of us stayed behind. As bad as it is, many of us cannot fathom a life outside of our border, out in that place we call Elsewhere.

The only way you could understand that is if you have been there, and so many of you have. So you realize that when you strip away all the craziness and bars and parades and music and architecture and all that hooey, really, the best thing about where we come from is us.

We are what made this place a national treasure. We're good people. And don't be afraid to ask us how to pronounce our names. It happens all the time.

When you meet us now and you look into our eyes, you will see the saddest story ever told. Our hearts are broken into a thousand pieces.

But don't pity us. We're gonna make it. We're resilient. After all, we've been rooting for the Saints for 35 years. That's got to count for something.

OK, maybe something else you should know is that we make jokes at inappropriate times.

But what the hell.

And one more thing: In our part of the country, we're used to having visitors. It's our way of life.

So when all this is over and we move back home, we will repay to you the hospitality and generosity of spirit you offer to us in this season of our despair.

That is our promise. That is our faith.

Chris Rose can be reached at noroses@bellsouth.net

TLOZ Link5
September 9th, 2005, 03:31 PM
It becomes easier to see why a country like Sri Lanka, Thailand or Bangladesh can respond to these types of disasters quickly and move on. Where they go and immediately help people, in this country that action is preceded by securing "property" first. Disgusting.

I've read reports about rescued victims being raped by their rescuers after the tsunami. Not to mention that many children were orphaned or separated from their families thanks to the disaster, which sent up a major red flag because that made them vulnerable to child traffickers, particularly in Thailand. And Indonesia and Sri Lanka had both been trying to quell rebellions by militant ethnic groups (Acehnese and Tamils, respectively) at the time of the tsunami. So I'm quite certain that the responses of some of the Indian Ocean nations' governments to the tsunami were less than stellar -- or, in the case of anarchic Somalia, nonexistent.

September 9th, 2005, 09:13 PM
Looking on the bright side...

DeLay to evacuees: 'Is this kind of fun?'
RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/)



A report on the Houston Chronicle blog by Chronicle reporter Purva Patel (http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/business/3333915) reveals that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay asked Hurricane Katrina evacuees if their current situation was "kind of fun," RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) has found. Excerpts follow.


While on the tour with top administration officials from Washington, including U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao and U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, DeLay stopped to chat with three young boys resting on cots.

The congressman likened their stay to being at camp and asked, "Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?"

They nodded yes, but looked perplexed.

"You are becoming famous all over this country and even the world," he said, adding that he's often approached by lawmakers commending Houston's response to the disaster.


See full story on the Chronicle's Domeblog (http://blogs.chron.com/domeblog/archives/2005/09/delay_to_evacue.html):

September 09, 2005

DeLay to evacuees: 'Is this kind of fun?'

U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's visit to Reliant Park this morning offered him a glimpse of what it's like to be living in shelter.

While on the tour with top administration officials from Washington, including U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao and U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, DeLay stopped to chat with three young boys resting on cots.

The congressman likened their stay to being at camp and asked, "Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?"

They nodded yes, but looked perplexed.

With a group of reporters and press officers in tow, DeLay then moved on, chatting with others, including a local IRS representative. He then visited with job recruiters set up in Reliant Park.

Earlier DeLay spoke with volunteers and thanked them for their service.

"You are becoming famous all over this country and even the world," he said, adding that he's often approached by lawmakers commending Houston's response to the disaster.

--Purva Patel

September 10th, 2005, 11:49 AM
Perhaps this should be the first in the new thread for FEMA / Michael Brown (horse's ass / flunky / raider of the national treasury), but I'm posting it here to continue the saga...

EXCLUSIVE!!! FEMA Chief Brown Paid Millions in False Claims to Help Bush Win Fla. Votes in '04

Friday, September 09, 2005
By Jason Leopold
© 2005 Jason Leopold

Michael Brown, the embattled head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, approved payments in excess of $31 million in taxpayer money to thousands of Florida residents who were unaffected by Hurricane Frances and three other hurricanes last year in an effort to help President Bush win a majority of votes in that state during his reelection campaign, according to published reports.

Some Homeland Security sources said FEMA's efforts to distribute funds quickly after Frances and three other hurricanes that hit the key political battleground state of Florida in a six-week period last fall were undertaken with a keen awareness of the looming presidential elections,” according to a May 19 Washington Post story.

Homeland Security sources told the Post that after the hurricanes that Brown “and his allies [recommended] him to succeed Tom Ridge as Homeland Security secretary because of their claim that he helped deliver Florida to President Bush by efficiently responding to the Florida hurricanes.”

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel uncovered emails from Florida Gov. Jeb Bush that confirmed those allegations and directly implicated Brown as playing politics at the expense of hurricane victims.

Full report at: http://jasonleopold.blogspot.com/2005/09/exclusive-fema-chief-brown-paid.html

September 10th, 2005, 12:05 PM
Police made their storm misery worse (http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/09/09/BAGL1EL1KH1.DTL)

by Chip Johnson
Friday, September 9, 2005


Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky, two San Francisco paramedics trapped in New Orleans for five days last week, have a different story to tell than many of the tales that have come out in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

By their account, the cops weren't necessarily the good guys, and it was crystal clear that most of the city government structure collapsed along with the levees that left the city at the mercy of the rising waters.

When Hurricane Katrina hit Aug. 29, Bradshaw and his longtime live-in girlfriend were at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans' French Quarter, in town for a three-day paramedics conference at the convention center.

After the storm died down the next day, they were among 500 people sheltered in hotels throughout the tourist district -- foreign tourists, conference attendees and locals who'd checked in to ride out the storm.

The stranded crowd stared at food and water locked in a drugstore across the street from the hotel only to be shooed away by police officers whenever anyone approached the store. Finally, after hours of cat and mouse, the crowd finally broke into the store.

"At that point, we had not seen any of the TV coverage or looked at a newspaper, but we guessed there were no video images of European and white tourists, like us, looting the Walgreens in the French Quarter,'' the couple wrote in an eight-page account of their experience.

When it became clear that the help they so desperately needed was not coming anytime soon, the group pooled their resources in an effort to buy their way out of the surrounding hell. They ponied up $25,000, enough to lease 10 buses that would carry them out of the city.

But as the buses they paid for approached the city, they were immediately commandeered by the National Guard forces that were in New Orleans, Bradshaw and Slonsky said Thursday in an interview back home.

"If they used the buses to get the most severely ill out of the Superdome and convention center, I have no problem with that,'' Bradshaw said. "The thing that gets me is that if we could get on the phone and get 10 buses, why couldn't FEMA make that call?''

With no food, no water and no transportation out of the city, about 200 of the former hotel guests wandered the streets and tried to set up a camp next to a police command center on Canal Street, where they hoped to get aid, protection and information, the couple said.

But officers told them they couldn't stay, they had no water for them, and they needed to get up on Highway 90, a bridge that spans the Mississippi River, and walk until they saw the rescue buses they promised would be waiting for them.

So late Wednesday afternoon, the group set out for a bridge called the Crescent City Connection, where they would find the help they so desperately needed. But when they arrived atop the highway, the paramedics said, they were met by more police officers, this time from neighboring Gretna, La., who weren't letting anyone pass.

"If I weren't there, and hadn't witnessed it for myself, I don't think I would have ever believed this," Bradshaw said.

The officers fired warning shots into the air and then leveled their weapons at members of the crowd, Bradshaw said. He approached, hands in the air, displaying his paramedic's badge.

"They told us that there would be no Superdomes in their city,'' the couple wrote. "These were code words that if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River -- and you weren't getting out of New Orleans.''

And when exhausted hurricane victims set up temporary shelters on the highway, Gretna police came back a few hours later, fired shots into the air again, told people to "get the f -- off the bridge" and used a helicopter to blow down all the makeshift shelters, the paramedics said.

When the officers had pushed the crowd back far enough, one of them took the group's food and water, dropped it in the trunk of a patrol car and drove away.

Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson confirmed that his officers were under his orders to seal off the suburban city of 17,500 residents.

"We had individuals bused into Gretna and dropped off, and we had no idea they were coming. No one ever called us -- we have no shelter in Gretna, and our citizens were under a mandatory evacuation. This place was already locked down.''

The few buses that did show up received much the same treatment as Bradshaw, Slonsky and their compatriots: Gretna police officers did not allow anyone off the buses, and like their brothers in blue across the river, they sent them packing.

Police officers in Gretna also went into the city's lone sporting goods store and pawn shop and removed more than 1,400 weapons from the shelves to ensure the public safety, Lawson said.

Throughout the ordeal, Slonsky said members of the group they camped with became a community that helped each other, shared with each other and, in the end, relied on each other for their very survival.

The San Francisco paramedics were finally airlifted Friday to San Antonio, where they endured another couple of days in cramped conditions while they were examined for disease before being released. "We got out of there with only the clothes on our back,'' Bradshaw said. "And the money in my underwear,'' added Slonsky.

September 11th, 2005, 02:38 AM
I'm not really sure how much of this one is Bush's fault. The piss-poor FEMA response is his fault, but most of the blame in the post-mortem of this tragedy will fall on the city and state govts.

They had NO workable plan to get people out of the city. Everyone down there knew a disaster like this could happen and they didn't prepare for it.

September 11th, 2005, 12:49 PM
How Bush Blew It

Bureaucratic timidity. Bad phone lines. And a failure of imagination.
Why the government was so slow to respond to catastrophe.

By Evan Thomas


Sept. 19, 2005 issue - It's a standing joke among the president's top aides: who gets to deliver the bad news? Warm and hearty in public, Bush can be cold and snappish in private, and aides sometimes cringe before the displeasure of the president of the United States, or, as he is known in West Wing jargon, POTUS. The bad news on this early morning, Tuesday, Aug. 30, some 24 hours after Hurricane Katrina had ripped through New Orleans, was that the president would have to cut short his five-week vacation by a couple of days and return to Washington. The president's chief of staff, Andrew Card; his deputy chief of staff, Joe Hagin; his counselor, Dan Bartlett, and his spokesman, Scott McClellan, held a conference call to discuss the question of the president's early return and the delicate task of telling him. Hagin, it was decided, as senior aide on the ground, would do the deed.

The president did not growl this time. He had already decided to return to Washington and hold a meeting of his top advisers on the following day, Wednesday. This would give them a day to get back from their vacations and their staffs to work up some ideas about what to do in the aftermath of the storm. President Bush knew the storm and its consequences had been bad; but he didn't quite realize how bad.

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.

How this could be—how the president of the United States could have even less "situational awareness," as they say in the military, than the average American about the worst natural disaster in a century—is one of the more perplexing and troubling chapters in a story that, despite moments of heroism and acts of great generosity, ranks as a national disgrace.

President George W. Bush has always trusted his gut. He prides himself in ignoring the distracting chatter, the caterwauling of the media elites, the Washington political buzz machine. He has boasted that he doesn't read the papers. His doggedness is often admirable. It is easy for presidents to overreact to the noise around them.

But it is not clear what President Bush does read or watch, aside from the occasional biography and an hour or two of ESPN here and there. Bush can be petulant about dissent; he equates disagreement with disloyalty. After five years in office, he is surrounded largely by people who agree with him. Bush can ask tough questions, but it's mostly a one-way street. Most presidents keep a devil's advocate around. Lyndon Johnson had George Ball on Vietnam; President Ronald Reagan and Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, grudgingly listened to the arguments of Budget Director Richard Darman, who told them what they didn't wish to hear: that they would have to raise taxes. 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.

The war in Iraq was a failure of intelligence. The government's response to Katrina—like the failure to anticipate that terrorists would fly into buildings on 9/11—was a failure of imagination. On Tuesday, within 24 hours of the storm's arrival, Bush needed to be able to imagine the scenes of disorder and misery that would, two days later, shock him when he watched the evening news. He needed to be able to see that New Orleans would spin into violence and chaos very quickly if the U.S. government did not take charge—and, in effect, send in the cavalry, which in this case probably meant sending in a brigade from a combat outfit, like the 82nd Airborne, based in Fort Bragg, N.C., and prepared to deploy anywhere in the world in 18 hours.

Bush and his advisers in his "war cabinet" have always been action-oriented, "forward leaning," in the favorite phrase of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. They dislike lawyers and sometimes brush aside legalistic (and even sound constitutional) arguments. But this time "Rummy" opposed sending in active-duty troops as cops. Dick Cheney, who was vacationing in Wyoming when the storm hit, characteristically kept his counsel on videoconferences; his private advice is not known.

Liberals will say they were indifferent to the plight of poor African-Americans. It is true that Katrina laid bare society's massive neglect of its least fortunate. The inner thoughts and motivations of Bush and his top advisers are impossible to know for certain. Though it seems abstract at a time of such suffering, high-minded considerations about the balance of power between state and federal government were clearly at play. It's also possible that after at least four years of more or less constant crisis, Bush and his team are numb.

The failure of the government's response to Hurricane Katrina worked like a power blackout. Problems cascaded and compounded; each mistake made the next mistake worse. The foe in this battle was a monster; Katrina flattened the Gulf Coast with the strength of a vengeful god. But human beings, beginning with the elected officials of the City of New Orleans, failed to anticipate and react in time.

Congressional investigations will take months to sort out who is to blame. A NEWSWEEK reconstruction of the government's response to the storm shows how Bush's leadership style and the bureaucratic culture combined to produce a disaster within a disaster.

Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, didn't want to evacuate. New Orleanians have a fatalistic streak; their joyful, jazz-blowing street funeral processions are legendary. After many near misses over the years since Hurricane Betsy flooded 20 percent of the city in 1965, longtime residents prefer to stay put. Nagin's eye had long been on commerce, not catastrophe. A former executive at Cox Communications, he had come to office in 2002 to clear out the allegedly corrupt old guard and bring new business to the city, which has not prospered with New South metropolises like Atlanta. During Nagin's mayoral campaign, the promises were about jobs, not stronger floodwalls and levees.

But on Saturday night, as Katrina bore down on New Orleans, Nagin talked to Max Mayfield, head of the National Hurricane Center. "Max Mayfield has scared me to death," Nagin told City Councilwoman Cynthia Morrell early Sunday morning. "If you're scared, I'm scared," responded Morrell, and the mandatory order went out to evacuate the city—about a day later than for most other cities and counties along the Gulf Coast.

As Katrina howled outside Monday morning and the windows of the Hyatt Hotel, where the mayor had set up his command post, began popping out, Nagin and his staff lay on the floor. Then came eerie silence. Morrell decided to go look at her district, including nearby Gentilly. Outside, Canal Street was dry. "Phew," Morrell told her driver, "that was close." But then, from the elevated highway, she began seeing neighborhoods under eight to 15 feet of water. "Holy God," she thought to herself. Then she spotted her first dead body.

At dusk, on the ninth floor of city hall, the mayor and the city council had their first encounter with the federal government. 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. "Do you have a conference-call line?" According to an aide to the mayor, he seemed a little taken aback when the answer was no. Long neglected in the city budget, communications within the New Orleans city government were poor, and eventually almost nonexistent when the batteries on the few old satellite phones died. 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."

Around New Orleans, three levees had overtopped or were broken. The city was doomed. There was no way the water could be stopped. But, incredibly, the seriousness of the situation did not really register, not only in Washington, but at the state emergency command post upriver in Baton Rouge. In a squat, drab cinder-block building in the state capital, full of TV monitors and maps, various state and federal officials tried to make sense of what had happened. "Nobody was saying it wasn't a catastrophe," Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu told news-week. "We were saying, 'Thank you, God,' because the experts were telling the governor it could have been even worse."

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."

Bush, the governor later recalled, was reassuring. But the conversation was all a little vague. Blanco did not specifically ask for a massive intervention by the active-duty military. "She wouldn't know the 82nd Airborne from the Harlem Boys' Choir," said an official in the governor's office, who did not wish to be identified talking about his boss's conversations with the president. There 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.

By the predawn hours, most state and federal officials finally realized that the 17th Street Canal levee had been breached, and that the city was in serious trouble. Bush was told at 5 a.m. Pacific Coast time and immediately decided to cut his vacation short. To his senior advisers, living in the insular presidential bubble, the mere act of lopping off a couple of presidential vacation days counts as a major event. They could see pitfalls in sending Bush to New Orleans immediately. His presence would create a security nightmare and get in the way of the relief effort. Bush blithely proceeded with the rest of his schedule for the day, accepting a gift guitar at one event and pretending to riff like Tom Cruise in "Risky Business."

Bush might not have appeared so carefree if he had been able to see the fearful faces on some young police officers—the ones who actually showed up for roll call at the New Orleans Second District police headquarters that morning. The radio was reporting water nine feet deep at the corner of Napoleon and St. Charles streets. The looting and occasional shooting had begun. At 2 o'clock on the morning of the storm, only 82 of 120 cops had obeyed a summons to report for duty. Now the numbers were dwindling; within a day, only 28 or 30 officers would be left to save the stranded and fight the looters, recalled a sad and exhausted Capt. Eddie Hosli, speaking to a NEWSWEEK reporter last week. "One of my lieutenants told me, 'I was looking into the eyes of one of the officers and it was like looking into the eyes of a baby'," Hosli recalled. "It was just terrible." (When the AWOL officers began trickling back to work last week, attracted in part by the promise of five expense-paid days in Las Vegas for all New Orleans cops, Hosli told them, "You've got your own demons to live with. I'm not going to judge you.")

At emergency headquarters in Baton Rouge, confusion raged. Though more than 100,000 of its residents had no way to get out of the city on their own, New Orleans had no real evacuation plan, save to tell people to go to the Superdome and wait for buses. On Tuesday, the state was rounding up buses; no, FEMA was; no, FEMA's buses would take too long to get there ... and so on. On Tuesday afternoon, Governor Blanco took her second trip to the Superdome and was shocked by the rising tide of desperation there. There didn't seem to be nearly enough buses, boats or helicopters.

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. Hours later, Blanco called back and insisted on speaking to the president. When he came on the line, the governor recalled, "I just asked him for help, 'whatever you have'." She asked for 40,000 troops. "I just pulled a number out of the sky," she later told NEWSWEEK.

The Pentagon was not sitting idly. By Tuesday morning (and even before the storm) the military was moving supplies, ships, boats, helicopters and troops toward the Gulf Coast. But, ironically, the scale of the effort slowed it. TV viewers had difficulty understanding why TV crews seemed to move in and out of New Orleans while the military was nowhere to be seen. But a TV crew is five people in an RV. Before the military can send in convoys of trucks, it has to clear broken and flooded highways. The military took over the shattered New Orleans airport for emergency airlifts, but special teams of Air Force operators had to be sent in to make it ready. By the week after the storm, the military had mobilized some 70,000 troops and hundreds of helicopters—but it took at least two days and usually four and five to get them into the disaster area. Looters and well-armed gangs, like TV crews, moved faster.

In the inner councils of the Bush administration, there was some talk of gingerly pushing aside the overwhelmed "first responders," the state and local emergency forces, and sending in active-duty troops. But under an 1868 law, federal troops are not allowed to get involved in local law enforcement. The president, it's true, could have invoked the Insurrections Act, the so-called Riot Act. But Rumsfeld's aides say the secretary of Defense was leery of sending in 19-year-old soldiers trained to shoot people in combat to play policemen in an American city, and he believed that National Guardsmen trained as MPs were on the way.

The one federal agency that is supposed to handle disasters—FEMA—was dysfunctional. On Wednesday morning, Senator Landrieu was standing outside the chaotic Superdome and asked to borrow a FEMA official's phone to call her office in Washington. "It didn't work," she told news-week. "I thought to myself, 'This isn't going to be pretty'." Once a kind of petty-cash drawer for congressmen to quickly hand out aid after floods and storms, FEMA had improved in the 1990s in the Clinton administration. But it became a victim of the Iron Law of Unintended Consequences. After 9/11 raised the profile of disaster response, FEMA was folded into the sprawling Department of Homeland Security and effectively weakened. FEMA's boss, Bush's close friend Joe Allbaugh, quit when he lost his cabinet seat. (Now a consultant, Allbaugh was down on the Gulf Coast last week looking for contracts for his private clients.) Allbaugh replaced himself with his college buddy Mike Brown, whose last private-sector job (omitted from his official resume) had been supervising horse-show judges for the International Arabian Horse Association. After praising Brown ("Brownie, you're doing a heck of job"), Bush last week removed him from honchoing the Katrina relief operation. He was replaced by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen. The Coast Guard was one agency that performed well, rescuing thousands.

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. 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 (who took advantage of the opportunity to take a shower aboard the plane). One by one, the lawmakers listed their grievances as Bush listened. Rep. Bobby Jindal, whose district encompasses New Orleans, told of a sheriff who had called FEMA for assistance. According to Jindal, the sheriff was told to e-mail his request, "and the guy was sitting in a district underwater and with no electricity," Jindal said, incredulously. "How does that make any sense?" Jindal later told NEWSWEEK that "almost everybody" around the conference table had a similar story about how the federal response "just wasn't working." With each tale, "the president just shook his head, as if he couldn't believe what he was hearing," says Jindal, a conservative Republican and Bush appointee who lost a close race to Blanco. Repeatedly, the president turned to his aides and said, "Fix it."

According to Sen. David Vitter, a Republican ally of Bush's, the meeting came to a head when Mayor Nagin blew up during a fraught discussion of "who's in charge?" Nagin slammed his hand down on the table and told Bush, "We just need to cut through this and do what it takes to have a more-controlled command structure. If that means federalizing it, let's do it."

A debate over "federalizing" the National Guard had been rattling in Washington for the previous three days. Normally, the Guard is under the control of the state governor, but the Feds can take over—if the governor asks them to. Nagin suggested that Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, the Pentagon's on-scene commander, be put in charge. According to Senator Vitter, Bush turned to Governor Blanco and said, "Well, what do you think of that, Governor?" Blanco told Bush, "I'd rather talk to you about that privately." To which Nagin responded, "Well, why don't you do that now?"

The meeting broke up. Bush and Blanco disappeared to talk. More than a week later, there was still no agreement. Blanco didn't want to give up her authority, and Bush didn't press. Jindal suggested that Bush appoint Colin Powell as a kind of relief czar, and Bush replied, "I'll take that into consideration." Bush does not like to fire people. He told Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to go down to Louisiana and sort out the various problems. A day later FEMA's Brown was on his way back to Washington.

Late last week, Bush was, by some accounts, down and angry. But another Bush aide described the atmosphere inside the White House as "strangely surreal and almost detached." At one meeting described by this insider, officials were oddly self-congratulatory, perhaps in an effort to buck each other up. Life inside a bunker can be strange, especially in defeat.

With T. Trent Gegax, Arian Campo-Flores, Andrew Murr, Susannah Meadows, Jonathan Darman and Catharine Skipp in the gulf coast region, and Richard Wolffe, Holly Bailey, Mark Hosenball, Tamara Lipper, John Barry, Daniel Klaidman, Michael Isikoff, Michael Hirsh, Eve Conant, Martha Brant, Patricia Wingert, Eleanor Clift and Steve Tuttle in Washington

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.

September 11th, 2005, 01:03 PM

September 11th, 2005, 08:03 PM
From the Daily Telegraph (link below)

Patients put down

September 12, 2005

DOCTORS working in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans killed critically ill patients rather than leave them to die in agony as they evacuated.

With gangs of rapists and looters rampaging through wards in the flooded city, senior doctors took the harrowing decision to give massive overdoses of morphine to those they believed could not make it out alive.

One New Orleans doctor told how she "prayed for God to have mercy on her soul" after she ignored every tenet of medical ethics and ended the lives of patients she had earlier fought to save.

Her heart-rending account has been corroborated by a hospital orderly and by local government officials.

One emergency official, William Forest McQueen, said: "Those who had no chance of making it were given a lot of morphine and lain down in a dark place to die."

Euthanasia is illegal in Louisiana and the doctors spoke only on condition on anonymity.

Their families believe their confessions are an indictment of the appalling failure of US authorities to help those in desperate need after Hurricane Katrina flooded the city, claiming thousands of lives and making 500,000 homeless.

"I didn't know if I was doing the right thing," the doctor said.

"But I did not have time. I had to make snap decisions, under the most appalling circumstances, and I did what I thought was right.

"I injected morphine into those patients who were dying and in agony.

"If the first dose was not enough, I gave a double dose.

"And at night I prayed to God to have mercy on my soul."

The doctor, who finally fled her hospital late last week in fear of being murdered by the armed looters, denied her actions were murder.

"This was not murder, this was compassion. They would have been dead within hours, if not days," she said.

"What we did was give comfort to the end. I had cancer patients who were in agony. In some cases the drugs may have speeded up the death process.

"We divided the hospital's patients into three categories: Those who were traumatised but medically fit enough to survive, those who needed urgent care, and the dying.

"People would find it impossible to understand the situation.

"I had to make life-or-death decisions in a split second.

"It came down to giving people the basic human right to die with dignity.

"There were patients with 'do not resuscitate' signs. Under normal circumstances some could have lasted several days. But when the power went out, we had nothing.

"Some of the very sick became distressed. We tried to make them as comfortable as possible.

"The pharmacy was under lockdown because gangs of armed looters were roaming around looking for their fix.

"You have to understand these people were going to die anyway."

Mr McQueen, a utility manager for the town of Abita Springs, half an hour north of New Orleans, told relatives that patients had been "put down", saying: "They injected them, but nurses stayed with them until they died."

Mr McQueen, who worked closely with emergency teams, added: "They had to make unbearable decisions."


September 11th, 2005, 08:51 PM
And thanks should be given that these professionals made these difficult decisions -- rather than allow drawn-out suffering to take place. Even if the patients had not given a directive for pain relief, this was the humane thing to do given the circumstances.

I think the man on the street might be shocked by how often this occurs in the real world. I have relatives in the medical profession that have given morphine to those in their last days (some even did self-medication when they knew their own end-time was nigh).

The relief of unnecessary pain is somethng that I have planned for, and sincerely hope that if I am without the capacity to directly give the instruction that my wishes will be followed.

September 11th, 2005, 08:57 PM
It is preferrable to the Bush Administration's way of dealing with people's pain.... Toss them in the briar.

TLOZ Link5
September 11th, 2005, 10:58 PM
My mother has been fighting Stage IV stomach cancer for the past year. The only way that she can get sufficient nutrients now is through an intravenous TPN. The equipment is obviously powered by electricity; suffice it to say that if we lived in New Orleans, Mom would have starved to death unless we got her to a hospital equipped with a generator that could stay on long enough for power to be restored. If she had no way out like the patients in those hospital wards did, then she would have preferred to go with dignity.

September 11th, 2005, 11:30 PM
I wonder how much New Orleans will spend rewriting this.


September 12th, 2005, 09:00 AM
Mercenaries guard homes of the rich in New Orleans

Jamie Wilson in New Orleans
Monday September 12, 2005
The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/)


Hundreds of mercenaries have descended on New Orleans to guard the property of the city's millionaires from looters.

The heavily armed men, employed by private military companies including Blackwater and ISI, are part of the militarisation of a city which had a reputation for being one of the most relaxed and easy-going in America. After scenes of looting and lawlessness in the days immediately after Hurricane Katrina struck, New Orleans has turned into an armed camp, patrolled by thousands of local, state and federal law enforcement officers, as well as 70,000 national guard troops and active-duty soldiers now based in the region.

Blackwater, one of the fastest-growing private security firms in the world, which achieved global prominence last year when four of its men were killed and their bodies mutilated in the Iraqi city of Falluja, has set up camp in the back garden of a vast mansion in the wealthy Uptown district of the city.

David Reagan, 52, a semi-retired US army colonel from Huntsville, Alabama, who fought in the first Gulf war and is commander of Blackwater's operations in the city, refused to say how many men he had in New Orleans but indicated it was in the hundreds.

Asked if they had encountered many looters so far, Mr Reagan said that the sight of his heavily armed men - a pump action shotgun was propped against the wall near to where he was standing - was enough to put most people off.

Two Israeli mercenaries from ISI, another private military company, were guarding Audubon Place, a gated community. Wearing bulletproof vests, they were carrying M16 assault rifles.

Gill, 40, and Yovi, 42, who refused to give their surnames, said they were army veterans of the Israeli war in Lebanon, but had been living in Houston for 17 years. They had been hired by Jimmy Reiss, a descendant of an old New Orleans family who made his fortune selling electronic systems to shipbuilders. They had been flown by private jet to Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana, and then helicoptered to Audubon Place, they said.

"I spoke to one of the other owners on the telephone earlier in the week," Yovi said. "I told him how the water had stopped just at the back gate. God watches out for the rich people, I guess."

Hmmm...that's one way to look at it.

September 12th, 2005, 09:03 AM
Subject: Roe v Wade

Q: What is George W. Bush's position on Roe vs. Wade?

A: He really doesn't care how people get out of New Orleans.

September 12th, 2005, 09:11 AM
"They told us that there would be no Superdomes in their city,'' the couple wrote. "These were code words that if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River -- and you weren't getting out of New Orleans.''

And when exhausted hurricane victims set up temporary shelters on the highway, Gretna police came back a few hours later, fired shots into the air again, told people to "get the f -- off the bridge" and used a helicopter to blow down all the makeshift shelters, the paramedics said.

When the officers had pushed the crowd back far enough, one of them took the group's food and water, dropped it in the trunk of a patrol car and drove away.

Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson confirmed that his officers were under his orders to seal off the suburban city of 17,500 residents.

This explains my mystery of why people didn't walk out of town. Thank you lofter1, and LOL to your joke!

September 12th, 2005, 05:24 PM
Mercenaries guard homes of the rich in New Orleans

A follow-up to the above post:

Blackwater USA...offering "relief" at the business end of a Glock 17


Last week we told you about the growing New Orleans presence of Iraq-hardened security firm Blackwater USA, which on its Web site (http://www.blackwaterusa.com/) hails its entry into the Katrina "relief" effort. Apparently, at some point there was some "mission creep," since Blackwater's efforts have morphed into hundreds of heavily armed mercenaries (http://dailykos.com/story/2005/9/10/15555/1458) patrolling the flooded ciity with M-16s (http://www.pnionline.com/dnblog/attytood/archives/002349.html).

Now here's a first-hand account (http://www.blackwaterusa.com/btw2005/articles/091205frank.html) (first spotted at Daily Kos (http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/9/12/131236/771)). It was written by Frank Borelli, who identifies himself as a contractor for Blackwater. And it's legit: We found it by going through Blackwater's Web site and finding the newest issue of its Blackwater Tactical Weekly (http://www.blackwaterusa.com/btw2005/archive/091205btw.html). The whole thing is a must read, but here are a few highlights:

I came into Baton Rouge on Tuesday afternoon, and was picked up at the Baton Rouge Airport for transportation to "Saber Camp". Once there I checked in with the headshed and found a cot. I was lucky in that I knew several guys on site and therefore had friends in the tent I slept in. Before racking out I got a briefing that included info on Wednesday morning, an intel dump on the situation (to include health concerns) and tentative assignments for Weds morning. I was told to be up, dressed and "packed for three" (days) in front of the headshed at 0700. I was issued a Glock 17 and a Mossberg M590A shotgun. I was also issued a shotshell pouch with ten rounds of slug and ten rounds of 00 Buck. There was (at that time) no 9mm ammo available, but I was blessed to be in a camp full of trigger-pullers. Before I racked out I had 51 rounds of 9mm ammo loaded into three magazines for the G17. Thanks, Vince! The lack of ammo IS NOT a negative comment on Blackwater. The logistics effort to support the operation is awesome and I KNOW ammo was just flown in on Monday. More came in on Wednesday. It is a comment on the spirit of the American cop / warrior that Blackwater can put SO MANY men on the ground SO FAST. Supporting them is a daunting challenge.

Before I go further, let me give you a brief rundown about the camp. It's simply amazing what people can do when a disaster strikes. Tents were in abundance. Some are circus-size tents. Others are camping tents. I slept in a six-man cabin tent. Dining tent, storage tent, first-aid station, "City Hall", post office, barber shop, laundry - all were set up and operational. Trailored in were latrines (heads for you Navy guys) and showers. Hot water was available on site. HUNDREDS of cases of bottled water, sodas, hydration drinks, etc were on hand. Food was also available. For the Blackwater guys we could have meals in the Dining tent while in camp, but on assignment we were to take prepackaged food, or MREs...

Wednesday morning saw us going out on assignments. I was ready and standing by at 0700. The assignment I received - and where I sit as I type this - is essentially a static guard site. Restoring public service is a HUGE necessity and some of the facilities are in NOT so good neighborhoods. The site I'm at is a relatively secure 1-acre (give or take) compound surrounded by a six-to-eight foot fence with concertina wire around the top. Access is one controlled gate. Two buildings. To one side of us is the "low rent" district - low income housing where there are still some folks living even though they have no safe water and little food. On the other side is welfare apartment complexes otherwise known to cops as "the projects". It seems that no matter what city you're in there is always The Projects. More people still living in there.

Wow -- hard to know where to start on this one. Isn't this a bizarre account of a flood "relief" effort? Somehow, when we saw the flooding and human suffering in New Orleans, our first thought wasn't to send the "trigger pullers." Heaven forbid we had to respond to a bona fide riot somewhere.

We know there are looters, and a criminal element in New Orleans, and a serious need for security to make sure that relief efforts are directed where they need to go. But...isn't that one of the reasons we've sent thousands of National Guard and active duty military down to the Gulf? Doesn't a bunch of "trigger pullers" from a private company -- with no rules of engagement -- make New Orleans less secure?

Also, is it just us, or is there some sick irony in a mercenary sitting atop "HUNDREDS of cases of bottled water, sodas, hydration drinks, etc" sitting behind barbed wire and casually observing that apparently people are still living in the "low rent district...even though they have no safe water and little food"? Quite a humanitarian effort.

We wrote last week that we didn't like Blackwater USA's presence in New Orleans.

We still don't.

September 12th, 2005, 10:42 PM
Okay, so I try to help this woman who works in the New Orleans office of my sister's company. To understand the "shopping challenged", read on. This is my real email letter, only my and my sister's names have been changed....

Hi Robin-

You don't know me, but I am Maureen Xxxxxx's brother, Tom. Maureen passed on your family's wish list to me. I watched in horror as we saw what Katrina did to the South and then in more horror as the levees failed in New Orleans. This wish list gave me something positive to focus on and a way to channel my outrage at the President and government's response.

Anyway, Maureen lives in the suburbs, but I live in the City. Brooklyn to be exact. It is espcially meaningful to me to have this opportunity. On September 11th, 2001, we lost 11 firefighters from our local firehouse at the World Trade Center. People from all over gave money to the "victims funds". There were millions of dollars flowing into the city. I can't tell you what happened to a cent of it. I think the rich got richer and the poor poorer despite all that "giving". The one thing I did see - a tangible, real asset - was a new fire truck for our city from a town in Louisiana! I think everyone in this city wants to payback Lousiana for that gesture. Not sure if you have TV or not, but we have 300 NYPD police officers there and about 400 NYFD fire fighters and rescue workers. I hope they help get you guys up and running quickly! So, anyway, this is MY way of saying thanks and my opportunity to "pay it forward" as the saying goes.

So, I got that wish list....

I don't know what I was thinking, but I immediately set out to find a 46C bra. I wanted to get the most bang for my buck, so I headed to K-Mart. I've never bought a bra before and I asked one of the sales people to help me out. So, there was me and this cute girl walking toward the Ladies Under Garment Department. She asked me if I needed one with padding underneath. I told her I didn't know. She asked me if I needed one with underwire. I told her didn't know. She asked me if it was for an older woman or younger woman. I told her I didn't know.

We moved into the bra section together. She seemed to have a plan. I was surrounded by brassieres at every turn. Naturally, the bras we needed were on the rack near the floor. We got on our knees together and started looking through the bras. She stopped for a moment to ask what color I wanted. I told her I didn't know. I asked her what color bra SHE would want if she could only own one. She smirked and ignored me. We dug back into the rack. She was having trouble, but I fished out a black satin bra - 46C! She told me it was "strapless" and that it probably wouldn't do. I didn't understand the point of a strapless bra and, frankly, I still don't. Without the straps to hold those babies up, is it a bra or a tube top? It was all lost on me.

Another woman came over and parked her baby carriage right next to me, making the bra hunt more dfficullt. She had a newborn baby in her arms and a toddler holding her hand. She claimed she "didn't want to interrupt" me and the sales lady, but she did. I told the sales lady to go ahead and help her and that I would continue to look on my own. As I was looking, another woman came up to me and asked if she could help me. I told her I was looking for a 46C bra. She asked, "What color?" I said, "Nevermind" and left.

Had I been a drag queen, the whole exercise would've been a piece of cake. I decided I would concentrate on the men and stick with what I know. I focused on the "Pant Size" column and picked out Lorey III, Larry, Lorey Jr, Mike and Lance Sr. I know men and those waist line numbers and inseam numbers screamed "men". So, those guys each have a new pair of Levi Strauss blue jeans, a new button up shirt and couple pair of new underwear heading down ASAP. My partner, Bill, will ship it to Lois Jones Moore tomorrow. It will likely come with a label from "XXXXXX" - the company he works for. I bought sizes per your list, but I am going to keep all the tags on the clothes and enclose the receipt (I'm wasn't sure how many common stores we have between NY and LA, so I bought everything at K-Mart).

I can't imagine losing everything like your family did. I hope this helps. If there is anything of you guys are in dire need of, please feel free to write and we'll hunt it down up here. I've also copied some other folks on the communication back and forth below, so you might hear from some other strangers looking to help. (For them, start reading from the very bottom and work your way up. The wish list is attached).

Warm regards,

Tom XXXXXX (and Bill XXXXXX)

__________________________________________________ ________

My Dear Forum Brothers and Sisters,

Do not go bra shopping alone. It's grueling.

Brooklyn Rider.

September 13th, 2005, 05:38 PM
Investigation finds Red Cross agreed to withhold Orleans aid,
Operates in tandem with Homeland Security

Jennifer Van Bergen

http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Investigation_finds_Red_Cross_agreed_to_withhold_N ew_Orleans_aid_operates_in_tandem_with_Home_0913.h tml

Top Red Cross official Bush appointee, donor

New information surrounding relief efforts by the American Red Cross in New Orleans raises questions about whether the organization provided adequate relief and whether funds are actually being directed to Katrina victims, RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) has found.

Previous investigations have shown that the Red Cross mishandled its 9/11 fund, attempting to divert more than half into a "war fund" before Congress intervened, and moved $10 million from a fund in 1989 for earthquake victims towards other uses. Allegations of similar holdbacks following the Oklahoma City bombing and several later disasters, coupled with the discovery that the Red Cross, mandated by its Code of Conduct to remain independent of government, is officially part of the Bush Administration's national security apparatus, led RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) to dig deeply into the Red Cross and its recent disaster relief efforts.

Why did the Red Cross not enter New Orleans?

While many were outraged that the Red Cross failed to enter New Orleans, unsafe conditions and reports of shootings and lootings may have informed the decision. The Red Cross is not chartered to conduct search and rescue operations.

We "will not put [our] own workers in harm's way," Red Cross spokesperson Renita Hosler told RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/).

Hosler explained that the Red Cross was "at the table" with "Emergency Management" numerous times while conditions deteriorated in New Orleans and that a decision was reached that if the group set up shop within the city, it might encourage others to come back, creating a secondary crisis.

Hosler confirmed that authorities turned down repeated offers by the Red Cross to enter New Orleans with supplies. New Orleans, she asserted, was considered too unsafe for the Red Cross to enter.

The Emergency Management Team, Hosler says, was comprised of city, state, and federal officials.

The Associated Press reported Sept. 8 that Col. Jay Mayeaux, deputy director of the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security asked the Red Cross not to enter the city at least for the first 24 hours after the storm in order to have to time to "set up a feeding station to feed a large number of people." By Saturday, there was a large-scale evacuation under way.

New Orleans artist Daniel Finnigan told RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) there were helicopters everywhere, mostly military.

"That's what confused us," Finnigan said, "there was such a huge presence of military in the air but nothing on the ground."

Amid reports that thousands were trapped in the Superdome and the Convention Center, the Red Cross did not distribute or drop supplies to either location. The group's explanation that its presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city mirrors a National Guard decision not to drop food supplies, saying they did not want to spark riots.

The Red Cross is still not distributing supplies in the city.

Hosler says that although the city is now fully occupied by the National Guard, the Red Cross remains outside the city and is not distributing supplies, largely because of the decision to forcibly evacuate those who remain.

Some residents have been forced to travel at least 17 miles for water.

"Goods that the government personnel are bringing in are for their own forces," one eyewitness report (http://answer.pephost.org/site/News2?abbr=ANS_&page=NewsArticle&id=6667&security=1023&news_iv_ctrl=1521) states. "They are not distributing provisions to people who desperately need them… Thousands of troops are in New Orleans but water is premium and still not available."

New Orleans resident and construction worker Mark Klar confirmed this account.

Klar managed to stay in his Garden District home in until Sept. 7, when he was handcuffed and forcibly removed by police. Klar's home is above flooded areas and he was able to gather water and distribute to those in need, in the absence of relief from officials.

Humanitarian imperatives first?

The Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement declares that humanitarian imperatives come first, that "the prime motivation of our response to disaster is to alleviate human suffering" and that "the need for unimpeded access to affected populations is of fundamental importance in exercising that responsibility."

The Red Cross was incorporated by Congressional Charter in 1905 in order to "provide volunteer aid in time of war to the sick and wounded of the armed forces" in accordance with the spirit and conditions of various treaties, among which were the Geneva Conventions.

Unknown to most Red Cross donors, Congress incorporated the Red Cross to act "under government supervision" and eight of the fifty members of the Board Governors are to be appointed by the President, seven of whom are federal officials.

Though not a government agency, the Red Cross may purchase supplies from the armed forces and use government buildings for its offices and storage. Its employees may in some cases be provided meals and housing while serving with the Army. Commissioned officers of the Army, Navy and Air Force may be detailed for duty with the Red Cross.

While courts have considered the Red Cross a "government instrumentality" immune from state taxation, they have not viewed it as such for purposes of religious discrimination or Freedom of Information Act claims. In other words, the Red Cross obtains the tax benefits of being a "government instrumentality," but is exempt from the obligations that government carries.

One federal court noted (http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=3rd&navby=case&no=940974p) that, "Close cooperation with government is essential to the work of the Red Cross. A perception that the organization is independent and neutral is equally vital."

The Supreme Court has found (http://www.redcross.org/images/pdfs/charter.pdf) that "time and time again, both the President and the Congress have recognized and acted in reliance upon the Red Cross' status virtually as an arm of the Government."

Questionable affiliations

In recent years, affiliations between the Red Cross and federal agencies have grown. Prior to 9/11, the Red Cross was a key organization in what is known as the Federal Response Plan, enacted (http://www.fema.gov/library/stafact.shtm) in 2000.

The Federal Response Plan could only be triggered by a request for support by a governor and a declaration of emergency by the President. In providing relief and assistance under the Act, the President was given authorization to utilize the personnel and facilities of the Red Cross and to enter into agreements with it to coordinate disaster relief efforts.

In 2002, the Federal Response Plan was superseded by the similarly-named National Response Plan. This Plan was created under the 2002 Homeland Security Act. FEMA and the Red Cross were brought under the Department of Homeland Security.

The Red Cross again became a signatory.

The National Response Plan "establishes multi-agency coordinating structures at the field, regional and headquarters levels" which "execute the responsibilities of the President."

Under the Plan, the Red Cross "provides relief at the local level and also coordinates the mass care element" to include mass care, disaster housing, and human services. It is obligated to timely deliver these resources.

The Red Cross is an active participant and works closely with federal agencies to formulate disaster responses.

Who runs the Red Cross?

The day-to-day activities of the Red Cross are run independently of the government. The Board of Governors is, by the Congressional Charter, the governing body. President Bush has appointed six persons to the Board.

The Red Cross' leading officers are Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, Chair of the Board, and Marsha J. Evans, the President and CEO.

McElveen-Hunter was appointed by Bush in June 2004. Her Red Cross bio (http://www.redcross.org/pressrelease/0,1077,0_314_2477,00.html) says she is the "former U.S. Ambassador to Finland (2001-2003) and the CEO and owner of Pace Communications, Inc., the largest private custom publishing company in the United States. The company's clients include such Fortune 500 companies as United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, AT&T, Carlson Hotels, and Toyota."

McElveen-Hunter donated (http://www.newsmeat.com/washington_political_donations/Bonnie_McElveen-Hunter.php) more than $130,000 to the Republican Party since 2000, RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) has found. Her largest donations were $25,000 to the Republican National Committee in April 2004 and $100,000 in July 2000. In May 2000, she gave $1000 to "Bush for President, Inc."

Marsha J. Evans, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Red Cross, is a Rear Admiral in the Navy and the Director of Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc., a global investment bank serving the financial needs of corporations, institutions, governments and high-net-worth investors worldwide, according to the corporation's web site. Evans also sits on the boards of the May Department Stores Company and Weight Watchers International and was recently elected to the board of the Huntsman Corporation, a large chemical and plastics manufacturer. She is also a presidential appointee to the Board of Visitors of the U.S. Military Academy.

Evans donated (http://www.opensecrets.org/indivs/search.asp?NumOfThou=0&txtName=Evans%2C+Marsha+J.&txtState=%28all+states%29&txtZip=&txtEmploy=&txtCand=&txt2004=Y&Order=N) $500 to the Republican National Committee in 2004.

Red Cross mishandling donations?

As of Sept. 11, 2005, the American Red Cross estimated that it had received $578 million in gifts and pledges for the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

During previous disaster relief efforts, however, the Red Cross has withheld funds intended for victims and placed them into a reserve fund for future use, including for what one Red Cross president described as a “war fund."

The Red Cross has repeatedly been cited for poor handling of donations for disaster victims. Some have even referred accused them of "bait-and-switch fund raising."

An investigation by the House Energy and Commerce Committee's oversight panel after 9/11 revealed that while pledging that 9/11 donations (minus overhead) would all go to victims, the Red Cross held back more than half of the $543 million it had raised.

The Red Cross says they funneled these monies to prepare for terrorist attacks.

"We had planned for a weapon of mass destruction attack," former Red Cross President Dr. Bernadine Healy said, saying funds were diverted to a "Liberty Fund."

"The Liberty Fund is a war fund," Healy added.

During the oversight panel's hearings, Representative Bill Tauzin (R-LA), declared (http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/11/06/rec.charity.hearing/?related): "What's at issue here is that a special fund was established for these families. It was specially funded for this event, September 11. And it is being closed now because we are told enough money's been raised in it, but we're also told, by the way, we're going to give two-thirds of it away to other Red Cross needs."

The subcommittee asked the Red Cross to provide (http://slate.msn.com/id/2058498/) the exact language of its television and newspapers appeals for donations to determine whether it had intentionally deceived the public. The Red Cross responded by refocusing the Liberty Fund back to meeting the needs of 9/11 relief.

Red Cross holdbacks were also evident after the 1989 earthquake in San Francisco, where it was alleged that the Red Cross turned over to victims only $10 million of the $50 million raised, keeping the difference for future disasters and organizational expansion. According to one researcher, critics also protested (http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=95001506) holdbacks following the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, Red River flooding in 1997 and a San Diego fire in 2001.

Red Cross spokesperson Janine Moss says the organization has always had two ways to contribute. People may contribute to a specific relief fund (such as the Katrina Relief Fund) or to a general Disaster Relief Fund.

Moss told RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) that the Red Cross has always had these options but that the 9/11 hearings brought the issue out into the open more. According to Moss, all Katrina-designated donations to the Red Cross will be used only for Katrina victims.

Moss said she was uncertain how funds obtained through supermarkets and other local donation boxes would be used.

September 14th, 2005, 08:44 AM
The shoe drop behind the Responsibility moment?

(September 13, 2005 -- 02:53 PM EDT // link (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2005_09_11.php#006524) // print (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/006524.php))

Back on September 7th, Rep. John Conyers wrote (http://blog.dccc.org/mt/archives/003513.html) to the Congressional Research Service (one of the few parts of the government that can legitimately be called non-partisan) and asked them to review the record to see whether Gov. Blanco of Louisiana took the necessary steps in a timely fashion to secure federal assistance in the face of hurricane Katrina.

The report (http://www2.dccc.org/docs/conyersgaokatrina.pdf) came back yesterday. Yes, she did. Read it yourself (http://www2.dccc.org/docs/conyersgaokatrina.pdf).

I have no brief for Gov. Blanco and none of the president's critics should either. I'm not saying dump on her. But let the chips fall where they may. My friends in Louisiana tell me that on the ground Nagin is coming off better than she is, to the extent that public opinion can be gauged under such circumstances. But the White House has been hitting her for weeks now claiming that in various ways she dropped the ball. And that seems quite simply to be false.

-- Josh Marshall

TLOZ Link5
September 14th, 2005, 11:32 AM
Only local official to place the blame on left is C. Ray Nagin, who is actually a Republican who ran as a Democrat in 2002.


September 14th, 2005, 12:38 PM
I don't know why Bush does this all the time. You may have seen the video of him in the truck in New Orleans. He was obviously pissed when he answered the question about the resignation of FEMA director Brown, but right after the harsh response, he flashed that goofy grin.

TLOZ Link5
September 14th, 2005, 04:33 PM
Senate Kills Bid for Katrina Commission

By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer

Senate Republicans on Wednesday scuttled an attempt by Sen. Hillary Clinton to establish an independent, bipartisan panel patterned after the 9/11 Commission to investigate what went wrong with federal, state and local governments' response to Hurricane Katrina.

The New York Democrat's bid to establish the panel — which would have also made recommendations on how to improve the government's disaster response apparatus — failed to win the two-thirds majority needed to overcome procedural hurdles. Clinton got only 44 votes, all from Democrats and independent Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont. Fifty-four Republicans all voted no.

"Just as with 9/11, we did not get to the point where we believed we understood what happened until an independent investigation was conducted," Clinton said.

The Senate vote is hardly likely to be the last word on whether to create an independent commission or as an alternative a special congressional committee to investigate Katrina. The 9/11 Commission was established in 2002 after resistance from Republicans and the White House, and opinion polls show the public strongly supports the idea. In a CNN/USA Today Gallup poll taken Sept. 8-11, 70 percent of those surveyed supported an independent panel to investigate the government's response to Katrina. Only 29 percent were opposed.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has rebuffed a bid by House and Senate GOP leaders to create a committee patterned after the 1987 Iran-Contra panel that would have a GOP majority — reflecting their dominance of Congress.

Reid has instead vowed that any bid by Republican leaders to establish a special bipartisan committee involving lawmakers from both House and Senate will go forward only if Democrats have equal representation.

Separately, Senate Homeland Security Committee chair Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Wednesday that Post-9/11 changes to improve the government response to catastrophic disasters failed their first major test in Hurricane Katrina's wake.

Despite billions of dollars to boost disaster preparedness at all levels of government, the response to Katrina was plagued by confusion, communication failures and widespread lack of coordination, said Collins as she opened hearings into the disaster.

"At this point, we would have expected a sharp, crisp response to this terrible tragedy," Collins said. "Instead, we witnessed what appeared to be a sluggish initial response."

The hearing marked Congress' first step in investigating major gaps in the country's readiness and response systems that Katrina exposed. It comes even as Republican and Democrats grapple over whether to appoint an unusual House-Senate panel to investigate the matter, or to create an 9/11-style commission.

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, the top Democrat on the committee, said the response to Katrina "has shaken the public's confidence in the ability of government at all levels to protect them in a crisis."

Lawmakers said they did not ask officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the Homeland Security Department to appear at the hearing out of fear that would disrupt the ongoing recovery process in the battered Gulf Coast. Instead, a slew of former city and state officials testified about their experiences in facing faced major disasters in their communities.

Calling Katrina a "national tragedy," former New Orleans Mayor Marc H. Morial put the primary responsibility for disaster response squarely on the federal government's shoulders. Morial, president of the National Urban League, was New Orleans' mayor from 1994 to 2004.

Meanwhile, the House, by voice vote, on Wednesday approved legislation that provides liability protections for people and groups providing volunteer aid for Hurricane Katrina victims.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said the Red Cross has cited lawsuit concerns among people interested in taking evacuees into their homes and that doctors traveling to states where they are not licensed face increased liability.

The bill, which needs Senate action, would protect from lawsuit volunteers who in good faith and without expectation of compensation offer aid or medical assistance. It would not protect those who willfully carry out criminal acts.

Other bills, however, to cut federal red tape and otherwise make it easier to get aid to Katrina victims have hit a slow patch as lawmakers wrestle over how to shape their response.

They include proposals to provide Medicaid health benefits to those made homeless by Katrina, lift work rules for welfare recipients, and implement tax changes to help hurricane victims and charitable donors.

©2005 Associated Press

September 14th, 2005, 09:57 PM
I don't know why Bush does this all the time. You may have seen the video of him in the truck in New Orleans. He was obviously pissed when he answered the question about the resignation of FEMA director Brown, but right after the harsh response, he flashed that goofy grin.
Because he is an adolescent dufus. Go here: http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=65278&postcount=12

September 15th, 2005, 01:23 AM
Separate but Equal?
Schooling Of Evacuees Provokes Debate

September 14, 2005; Page B1

http://online.wsj.com/public/article/0,,SB112666498176540100-DQgawuLyt4mP5qjjI_nsJlY369A_20060914,00.html?mod=b logs

The 372,000 schoolchildren displaced by Hurricane Katrina are stirring an old debate about whether separate education can really be equal.

A number of states, including Utah and Texas, want to teach some of the dispersed Gulf Coast students in shelters instead of in local public schools, a stance supported by the Bush administration and some private education providers. But advocates for homeless families and civil rights oppose that approach.

At the center of the dispute is whether the McKinney-Vento Act, a landmark federal law banning educational segregation of homeless children, should apply to the evacuees. In addition, because many of the stranded students are black, holding classes for them at military bases, convention centers or other emergency housing sites could run afoul of racial desegregation plans still operating in some school districts.

Separate education for the evacuees is "unconscionable," says Barbara Duffield, policy director for the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth. "Many states have worked extremely hard to comply with the law and give these kids a regular school experience. The federal Department of Education is seeking to undermine the law at a time when it is most needed."

But officials of some states contend that separate classes would be less disruptive to both school districts and displaced families. U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings is expected to ask Congress soon for authority to waive McKinney-Vento and other key education legislation, such as the 2001 No Child Left Behind law, which holds districts and schools accountable for test scores of students in each racial group. Without a waiver, the penalty for violating McKinney-Vento is to deny states the funding they receive under the act for homeless education. Although the act was enacted in 1987, the desegregation requirement was adopted in 1994 and strengthened in 2001.

Susan Aspey, an Education Department spokeswoman, said that "we still don't know" how broad a waiver the secretary will seek and that the secretary plans to be "prudent" in exercising the waiver authority. She also said the department doesn't know how many children have re-enrolled in public schools, how many are being educated separately and how many are awaiting placement. Since it's unclear how long the children will be displaced, she added, the secretary won't be granting waivers "in perpetuity."

Businesses from charter schools to distance-education providers are already pressing for permission to teach the homeless in shelters and other makeshift housing, hoping to gain broader acceptance for their approaches to education. Mark Thimmig, chief executive of White Hat Ventures LLC, which educates nearly 5,000 students in Pennsylvania and Ohio via the Internet, said last week that his company would be eager to educate displaced students in the Astrodome.

After nearly 600 evacuees landed at Camp Williams, a National Guard training center in Utah, officials at the neighboring Jordan school district were ready to bus the children to school. The district, which is 1% black, has more than 75,000 students, including 1,800 homeless pupils.

But Pamela Atkinson, a special consultant to Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., had other ideas. The displaced families had experienced "so much trauma, anxiety and separation" that the parents "wanted their children close by," said Ms. Atkinson. "Since we had classrooms at Camp Williams, it made more sense to keep them there."

She contacted Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, who then asked Secretary Spellings to seek to waive McKinney-Vento. "These displaced and homeless children are not the typical homeless children," Sen. Hatch wrote. "Nearly all of them are with their families. It is important to keep families together as the Katrina victims receive aid and support." The secretary had already made a verbal commitment to Sen. Hatch that she would not enforce McKinney-Vento, according to the letter.

Now, while many families have moved off Camp Williams, about 20 displaced children in kindergarten through 12th grade are studying art, reading and other subjects in classrooms on the base. The state brought in two black educators to advise district teachers on "cultural sensitivity," Ms. Atkinson said. "As long as there's one child at Camp Williams, we will continue to hold that school."

Texas Education Commissioner Shirley Neeley, noting that 25,000 evacuees are housed at a closed Air Force base in San Antonio, asked the federal Education Department last week for "flexibility" to serve students "at facilities where they are housed, or otherwise separate from Texas residents during the 2005-2006 school year." U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican, introduced legislation Monday that would grant Secretary Spellings authority to waive McKinney-Vento.

Such proposals are arousing consternation among advocates for the homeless, who fear that nearly two decades of gains in public-school enrollment for homeless children will be wiped out. They note that the act, which also requires school systems to enroll homeless children even without documentation such as health and residency records and to employ liaisons to the homeless, was vital to the swift, open-armed response of school districts to the student influx in the hurricane's aftermath. Also, they say, thousands of storm-battered children have already enrolled in public schools across the country without ill effects.

Gary Orfield, director of a Harvard University project that monitors school integration, said that segregating a predominantly black group of evacuees could raise "constitutional questions of racial discrimination." He also said that because many of them may be traumatized, have learning deficits, or come from failing schools, it would be "terrifically difficult" to teach a separate class of the displaced students, and that placing them in middle-class schools and communities would benefit them educationally.

William L. Taylor, chairman of the Citizen's Commission on Civil Rights, said the administration's plans to ease McKinney-Vento and No Child Left Behind could leave the displaced students warehoused and forgotten. "We need some focus on the needs of the children, and not go around waiving a lot of regulations without deciding whether there's a need," Mr. Taylor said.

Not all states are seeking waivers. Mississippi officials turned down a proposal from a Navy base to hold classes there. Nikisha Ware, a Mississippi Department of Education official, said the law had helped evacuees to enroll in schools without red tape. "If there were no McKinney-Vento," she said, the hurricane "would have created it."

September 15th, 2005, 03:46 PM
Senate Kills Bid for Katrina Commission

By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer
Wed Sep 14, 3:36 PM ET

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050914/ap_on_go_ot/katrina_washington_29&printer=1;_ylt=ApLfSZuNQS2WZFWfkADHBrd2wPIE;_ylu=X 3oDMTA3MXN1bHE0BHNlYwN0bWE-

Senate Republicans on Wednesday scuttled an attempt by Sen. Hillary Clinton to establish an independent, bipartisan panel patterned after the 9/11 Commission to investigate what went wrong with federal, state and local governments' response to Hurricane Katrina.

The New York Democrat's bid to establish the panel — which would have also made recommendations on how to improve the government's disaster response apparatus — failed to win the two-thirds majority needed to overcome procedural hurdles. Clinton got only 44 votes, all from Democrats and independent Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont. Fifty-four Republicans all voted no.

"Just as with 9/11, we did not get to the point where we believed we understood what happened until an independent investigation was conducted," Clinton said.

The Senate vote is hardly likely to be the last word on whether to create an independent commission or as an alternative a special congressional committee to investigate Katrina. The 9/11 Commission was established in 2002 after resistance from Republicans and the White House, and opinion polls show the public strongly supports the idea. In a CNN/USA Today Gallup poll taken Sept. 8-11, 70 percent of those surveyed supported an independent panel to investigate the government's response to Katrina. Only 29 percent were opposed.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has rebuffed a bid by House and Senate GOP leaders to create a committee patterned after the 1987 Iran-Contra panel that would have a GOP majority — reflecting their dominance of Congress.

Reid has instead vowed that any bid by Republican leaders to establish a special bipartisan committee involving lawmakers from both House and Senate will go forward only if Democrats have equal representation.

Separately, Senate Homeland Security Committee chair Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Wednesday that Post-9/11 changes to improve the government response to catastrophic disasters failed their first major test in Hurricane Katrina's wake.

Despite billions of dollars to boost disaster preparedness at all levels of government, the response to Katrina was plagued by confusion, communication failures and widespread lack of coordination, said Collins as she opened hearings into the disaster.

"At this point, we would have expected a sharp, crisp response to this terrible tragedy," Collins said. "Instead, we witnessed what appeared to be a sluggish initial response."

The hearing marked Congress' first step in investigating major gaps in the country's readiness and response systems that Katrina exposed. It comes even as Republican and Democrats grapple over whether to appoint an unusual House-Senate panel to investigate the matter, or to create an 9/11-style commission.

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, the top Democrat on the committee, said the response to Katrina "has shaken the public's confidence in the ability of government at all levels to protect them in a crisis."

Lawmakers said they did not ask officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the Homeland Security Department to appear at the hearing out of fear that would disrupt the ongoing recovery process in the battered Gulf Coast. Instead, a slew of former city and state officials testified about their experiences in facing faced major disasters in their communities.

Calling Katrina a "national tragedy," former New Orleans Mayor Marc H. Morial put the primary responsibility for disaster response squarely on the federal government's shoulders. Morial, president of the National Urban League, was New Orleans' mayor from 1994 to 2004.

Meanwhile, the House, by voice vote, on Wednesday approved legislation that provides liability protections for people and groups providing volunteer aid for Hurricane Katrina victims.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said the Red Cross has cited lawsuit concerns among people interested in taking evacuees into their homes and that doctors traveling to states where they are not licensed face increased liability.

The bill, which needs Senate action, would protect from lawsuit volunteers who in good faith and without expectation of compensation offer aid or medical assistance. It would not protect those who willfully carry out criminal acts.

Other bills, however, to cut federal red tape and otherwise make it easier to get aid to Katrina victims have hit a slow patch as lawmakers wrestle over how to shape their response.

They include proposals to provide Medicaid health benefits to those made homeless by Katrina, lift work rules for welfare recipients, and implement tax changes to help hurricane victims and charitable donors.

Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press
Copyright © 2005 Yahoo! Inc.

September 15th, 2005, 04:17 PM
It will be interesting to see what Bush says about Chertoff in his speech from New Orleans on Thursday 9/15 ...

Ex-FEMA Chief Tells of Frustration and Chaos

By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK&inline=nyt-per)
and SCOTT SHANE (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=SCOTT SHANE&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=SCOTT SHANE&inline=nyt-per)


WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 - Hours after Hurricane Katrina passed New Orleans on Aug. 29, as the scale of the catastrophe became clear, Michael D. Brown recalls, he placed frantic calls to his boss, Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security, and to the office of the White House chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr.

Mr. Brown, then director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said he told the officials in Washington that the Louisiana (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/louisiana/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) governor, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, and her staff were proving incapable of organizing a coherent state effort and that his field officers in the city were reporting an "out of control" situation.

"I am having a horrible time," Mr. Brown said he told Mr. Chertoff and a White House official - either Mr. Card or his deputy, Joe Hagin - in a status report that evening. "I can't get a unified command established."

By the time of that call, he added, "I was beginning to realize things were going to hell in a handbasket" in Louisiana. A day later, Mr. Brown said, he asked the White House to take over the response effort.

He said he felt the subsequent appointment of Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré of the Army as the Pentagon's commander of active-duty forces began to turn the situation around.

In his first extensive interview since resigning as FEMA director on Monday under intense criticism, Mr. Brown declined to blame President Bush or the White House for his removal or for the flawed response.

"I truly believed the White House was not at fault here," he said.

He focused much of his criticism on Governor Blanco, contrasting what he described as her confused response with far more agile mobilizations in Mississippi (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/mississippi/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) and Alabama (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/alabama/index.html?inline=nyt-geo), as well as in Florida (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/florida/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) during last year's hurricanes.

But Mr. Brown's account, in which he described making "a blur of calls" all week to Mr. Chertoff, Mr. Card and Mr. Hagin, suggested that Mr. Bush, or at least his top aides, were informed early and repeatedly by the top federal official at the scene that state and local authorities were overwhelmed and that the overall response was going badly.

A senior administration official said Wednesday night that White House officials recalled the conversations with Mr. Brown but did not believe they had the urgency or desperation he described in the interview.

"There's a general recollection of him saying, 'They're going to need more help,' " said the official, who insisted on anonymity because of the delicacy of internal White House discussions.

Mr. Brown's version of events raises questions about whether the White House and Mr. Chertoff acted aggressively enough in the response. New Orleans convulsed in looting and violence after the hurricane, and troops did not arrive in force to restore order until five days later.

The account also suggests that responsibility for the failure may go well beyond Mr. Brown, who has been widely pilloried as an inexperienced manager who previously oversaw horse show judges.

Mr. Brown was removed by Mr. Chertoff last week from directing the relief effort. A 50-year-old lawyer and Republican activist who joined FEMA as general counsel in 2001, Mr. Brown said he had been hobbled by limitations on the power of the agency to command resources.

With only 2,600 employees nationwide, he said, FEMA must rely on state workers, the National Guard, private contractors and other federal agencies to supply manpower and equipment.

He said his biggest mistake was in waiting until the end of the day on Aug. 30 to ask the White House explicitly to take over the response from FEMA and state officials.

Of his resignation, Mr. Brown said: "I said I was leaving because I don't want to be a distraction. I want to focus on what happened here and the issues that this raises."

Governor Blanco said Wednesday that she took responsibility for failures and missteps in the immediate response to the hurricane and pledged a united effort to rebuild areas ravaged by the storm, adding, "at the state level, we must take a careful look at what went wrong and make sure it never happens again." A spokesman for Ms. Blanco denied Mr. Brown's description of disarray in Louisiana's emergency response operation. "That is just totally inaccurate," said Bob Mann, the governor's communications director. "Everything that Mr. Brown needed in terms of resources or information from the state, he had those available to him."

In Washington, Mr. Chertoff's spokesman, Russ Knocke, said there had been no delay in the federal response. "We pushed absolutely everything we could," Mr. Knocke said, "every employee, every asset, every effort, to save and sustain lives."

As Mr. Brown recounted it, the weekend before New Orleans's levees burst, FEMA sent an emergency response team of 10 or 20 people to Louisiana to review evacuation plans with local officials.

By Saturday afternoon, many residents were leaving. But as the hurricane approached early on Sunday, Mr. Brown said he grew so frustrated with the failure of local authorities to make the evacuation mandatory that he asked Mr. Bush for help.

"Would you please call the mayor and tell him to ask people to evacuate?" Mr. Brown said he asked Mr. Bush in a phone call.

"Mike, you want me to call the mayor?" the president responded in surprise, Mr. Brown said. Moments later, apparently on his own, the mayor, C. Ray Nagin, held a news conference to announce a mandatory evacuation, but it was too late, Mr. Brown said. Plans said it would take at least 72 hours to get everyone out.

When he arrived in Baton Rouge on Sunday evening, Mr. Brown said, he was concerned about the lack of coordinated response from Governor Blanco and Maj. Gen. Bennett C. Landreneau, the adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard.

"What do you need? Help me help you," Mr. Brown said he asked them. "The response was like, 'Let us find out,' and then I never received specific requests for specific things that needed doing."

The most responsive person he could find, Mr. Brown said, was Governor Blanco's husband, Raymond. "He would try to go find stuff out for me," Mr. Brown said.

Governor Blanco's communications director, Mr. Mann, said that she was frustrated that Mr. Brown and others at FEMA wanted itemized requests before acting. "It was like walking into an emergency room bleeding profusely and being expected to instruct the doctors how to treat you," he said.

On Monday night, Mr. Brown said, he reported his growing worries to Mr. Chertoff and the White House. He said he did not ask for federal active-duty troops to be deployed because he assumed his superiors in Washington were doing all they could. Instead, he said, he repeated a dozen times, "I cannot get a unified command established."

The next morning, Mr. Brown said, he and Governor Blanco decided to take a helicopter into New Orleans to see the mayor and assess the situation. But before the helicopter took off, his field coordinating officer, or F.C.O., called from the city on a satellite phone. "It is getting out of control down here; the levee has broken," the staff member told him, he said.

The crowd in the Superdome, the city's shelter of last resort, was already larger than expected. But Mr. Brown said he was relieved to see that the mayor had a detailed list of priorities, starting with help to evacuate the Superdome.

Mr. Brown passed the list on to the state emergency operations center in Baton Rouge, but when he returned that evening he was surprised to find that nothing had been done.

"I am just screaming at my F.C.O., 'Where are the helicopters?' " he recalled. " 'Where is the National Guard? Where is all the stuff that the mayor wanted?' "

FEMA, he said, had no helicopters and only a few communications trucks. The agency typically depends on state resources, a system he said worked well in the other Gulf Coast states and in Florida last year.

Meanwhile, "unbeknownst to me," Mr. Brown said, at some point on Monday or Tuesday the hotels started directing their remaining guests to the convention center - something neither FEMA nor local officials had planned.

At the same time, the Superdome was degenerating into "gunfire and anarchy," and on Tuesday the FEMA staff and medical team in New Orleans called to say they were leaving for their own safety.

That night, Mr. Brown said, he called Mr. Chertoff and the White House again in desperation. "Guys, this is bigger than what we can handle," he told them, he said. "This is bigger than what FEMA can do. I am asking for help."

"Maybe I should have screamed 12 hours earlier," Mr. Brown said in the interview. "But that is hindsight. We were still trying to make things work."

By Wednesday morning, Mr. Brown said, he learned that General Honoré was on his way. While the general did not have responsibility for the entire relief effort and the Guard, his commanding manner helped mobilize the state's efforts.

"Honoré shows up and he and I have a phone conversation," Mr. Brown said. "He gets the message, and, boom, it starts happening."

Mr. Brown said that in one much-publicized gaffe - his repeated statement on live television on Thursday night, Sept. 1, that he had just learned that day of thousands of people at New Orleans's convention center without food or water - "I just absolutely misspoke." In fact, he said, he learned about the evacuees there from the first media reports more than 24 hours earlier, but the reports conflicted with information from local authorities and he had no staff on the site until Thursday.

There were also conflicts with the Congressional delegations that wanted resources for their offices and districts, FEMA officials said. Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi said he "resisted aggressively" a decision by Mr. Brown to dispatch a Navy medical ship to Louisiana instead of his home state.

Mr. Brown acknowledged that he had been criticized for not ordering a complete evacuation or calling in federal troops sooner. But he said the storm made it hard to communicate and assess the situation.

"Until you have been there," he said, "you don't realize it is the middle of a hurricane."

Richard W. Stevenson contributed reporting from Washington for this article, and Eric Lipton from Baton Rouge, La.

************************************************** ********
t-shirt available: http://www.surrendermartha.com/rknhowtotapi.html


September 15th, 2005, 07:00 PM
Like Senate, House Committee rejects independent Katrina commission

John Byrne

http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Like_Senate_House_Committee_rejects_independent_Ka trina_commis_0915.html

Republicans on the House Rules Committee unanimously approved a commission to investigate failures surrounding the Hurricane Katrina disaster, refusing a proposal from Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) which would have created an outside, independent commission to investigate the disaster, RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) has learned.

The vote in the Rules Committee, which will bring a vote to the full House floor, was made late last night.

Democrats were outraged by the vote. They note that the Katrina panel will have an 11-9 Republican majority, which will give only Republicans the power to subpoena.

Hastings proposal is co-signed by 160 House members.
A recent ABC/Washington Post poll found that over 70 percent of Americans preferred that a commission of outside experts investigate the disaster instead of a partisan congressional committee.

In a statement to RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/), ranking Rules Democrat Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) said the commission is comparable to "the fox guarding the hen house," and provided the Democrats' dissenting views (http://www.louise.house.gov/HoR/Louise/Hidden+Content/In+Support+of+Creation+of+Indep+Commission.htm).

The Senate knocked down a proposal by Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) to create an independent commission earlier this week. It is expected that the Senate will draw up a similar Republican-led panel to investigate Katrina.

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) told The Hill that support among Republicans is strong for an internal commission.

“I think we’re fine,” Blunt said.

September 15th, 2005, 10:52 PM
I missed the president's speech tonight.

How was it?

September 15th, 2005, 11:52 PM
blah, blah, blah, money, resources, blah, blah, blink, blah, blah ...

Here's a bloggers live account: http://www.wonkette.com/politics/liveblogging/index.php#liveblogging-the-new-orleans-presidential-address-125901

Liveblogging the New Orleans Presidential Address (http://www.wonkette.com/politics//liveblogging-the-new-orleans-presidential-address-125901.php)

First, a warning: The first martini is in the process of being consumed at this very moment. Who knows where I'll be by nine. Second: If the President is addressing the flood victims, why is he in New Orleans? I thought we finally succeeded in getting most of the people out of the city. If he wants to talk to people who lost everything, shouldn't he be at the Astrodome or something?

Bush to Outline New Aid Package in Address (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/bush;_ylt=AjDB530PcKY9YSmgr92iU.Cs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMT A2Z2szazkxBHNlYwN0bQ--) [AP]

9:02 PM My that was a long walk.
9:04 PM "A wasteful storm" as opposed to productive ones he's so fond of. Also, "we" saw "dead bodies lying in the street": Good thing they put together that DVD for him.
9:06 PM He's more wooden than ever. He only looks comfortable when talking about how powerful America is. He's like a national Viagra commercial. "If your patriotism should last longer than four hours...."
9:08 PM He's totally tripping over words. Also? Giving out the phone number? It's SO the detail thing a President shouldn't have to do. He sounds like Lionel Hutz. "Free set of knives if you act now."
9:11 PM The people in Biloxi look kind of pissed. Why should they be? The post office is PROCESSING THEIR CHANGE OF ADDRESS. What more do these people want??
9:12 PM When does he announce the free chocolate and ice cream?
9:14 PM "As all of us saw on television, there is deep and persistent poverty in the region as well." Again: THANK GOD FOR THE DVD VERSION, or else our filter-averse CoC would have thought everyone in the Gulf was just waiting to sit on Trent Lott's porch.
9:17 PM Ah, yes, "Gulf Opportunity Zone." See, what happened after Katrina wasn't a mistake, it was an opportunity-stake.
9:17 PM A correspondent writes: "He acknowledged that there are poor black people, AND that that's a bad thing. And it can be solved by lowering their wages, naturally."
9:19 PM "Good people wanting to make a difference, deployed to the Gulf Coast".... five days too late.
9:19 PM If he gives another website address, I'm going to throw an old Wired stock certificate at the TV.
9:22 PM Scout troops! That's who Brownie should have called! The missing link!! Just NO gays
9:22 PM So the reason it was so bad was that it was not a "normal hurricane." Discuss: What is a "normal hurricane"? A "normal" disaster response?
9:22 PM Getting DHS involved. He's so totally bombing the next hurricane.
9:25 PM Another correspondent writes: "Sure, Let's fix this ****up by having the ****ed up agency investigate it."
9:25 PM "The despair of any touches us all," he says.... as long as we all get the dvd of it.
9:26 PM Oh no. No, please no. He didn't just reference the fact that black people are optimistic and have a sense of rhythm, did he? Oh, sorry, that's "jazz musicians."
9:27 PM Cue dixieland band.
9:28 PM Asshole.

September 16th, 2005, 08:54 AM
Bush doesn't seem to understand that the impression he is creating is that he is afraid of the people of New Orleans, failing to face them directly after they have been driven from their city. Instead he continues with the photo-ops, which don't seem to be doing him all that much good, as the following will attest:

They Scoff at Bush's Promises

New York Daily News
http://www.nydailynews.com (http://www.nydailynews.com/)

Friday, September 16th, 2005

BATON ROUGE, La. - As President Bush spoke from New Orleans last night, few of the thousands of residents of that evacuated city, lying on rows and rows of cots in the sprawling River Center shelter here, paid him much attention.

"What can he say to me that he hasn't said already?" scoffed Leslie Garnier, 29, a student from New Orleans. "I don't think he should say anything anymore. He should just do. We're getting jobs before we're getting a FEMA check. I've already got a job at the Baton Rouge Sheraton. But I've seen nothing from FEMA. His promises mean nothing to me."

Outside the shelter, a Norwegian TV crew, determined to get some reaction to the speech, set up a TV so people could watch. Only about 25 men gathered around, many seemingly out of boredom.

They snorted at Bush's reference to aid being given out and just stared blankly when he mentioned spending billions. But several nodded and laughed when he talked about "rebuilding, but higher" and they liked it when he said more people should own, not rent.

"It touched me in my heart when he talked about the funerals," said Bernard Evans, 50. "He was very compassionate and heartwarming."

Anthony Adams, 55, the caretaker of Jackson Park, which Bush used as a backdrop, was enthralled, though mostly by the sight of his beloved park.

"It was so beautiful," he sighed. "I was tickled to death just to see it. I want to go home."

Others wondered why he was talking in an empty city instead of to its residents, 60 miles away.

"He should come and face us," said Eugene Rogers, 39, smoking a cigarette and pointedly ignoring the TV. In the French Quarter of New Orleans, as White House advance teams spruced up the park, there were sneers around the corner from the locals at Molly's Bar - one of only two to stay open during the hurricane, flood and looting. "He should come in here and get behind the bar. We won't hurt him - we just want to ask him a lot of tough questions," said bar owner Jim Monaghan.

September 17th, 2005, 12:50 AM
Some views from around the world...

After the Deluge
All Eyes On New Orleans
A look at what the rest of the world is saying

SEPTEMBER 16 - 22, 2005

Though the New York Times wins first prize for outrage in its Katrina coverage (NYT columnist Maureen Dowd actually referred to resigned FEMA head Michael Brown as a “blithering idiot” while columnist Paul Krugman intoned, “At a fundamental level, I’d argue, our current leaders just aren’t serious about some of the essential functions of government”), the tone of the foreign press has been mostly stunned by how the underbelly of the American Dream was so brutally revealed in the storm, though there were also expressions of compassion coming from Thailand and China. The Agencee France Presse was particularly quick to announce that Fats Domino had been rescued, and Germany’s Der Spiegel obsessed on the scandal surrounding the Green Party’s environmental minister, Jürgen Tritten, who criticized U.S. policy on climate change while neglecting to express condolences for the hurricane’s victims.

What follows are excerpts reported from beyond our borders.

The Racial Levee

“Against such a backdrop, it does not take much to tear the tissue-thin divide between order and anarchy. Katrina has ripped through it in New Orleans with the force of an atomic bomb. And in such moments, the hidden underclass of American life makes its voice heard in terrifying fashion . . . This is raw anger — anger seeking revenge for generations of poor social conditions, inadequate education and unaffordable health care; revenge for the endemic racism which still thrives in the States.” —The Daily Mail, London
“And, as often, when misfortune strikes the U.S., the social inequalities within it are starkly exposed. Most of the 80 per cent of New Orleans residents who managed to evacuate before the hurricane were white and well off. Most of those who stayed and lost loved ones are predominantly black or Hispanic.” —The New Zealand Herald

“How America now responds to their desperate plight will tell the wider world much about what Americans really value.” —The Herald, Glasgow

“But before we get too piously smug about America, just imagine a flood crashing through the Thames barrier and drowning London and Essex. What would we see? Essentially the same thing, even if mayor Ken Livingstone did evacuation well. The middle classes would escape to friends and relatives. The poor who have no networks beyond other poor people would collect in camps. They would be as pitifully helpless and there would be millions of them too — even for those with basic accounts, banks never lend so much as a bus fare to those who most need it. Half of London’s children live under the poverty line. So don’t look across the Atlantic and preen over our European values, welfare state and beneficent government. We may do better, but the UN report puts us closer to the US model than to Europe’s.” —Polly Toynbee, The Guardian, London

[b]Our Government’s Response

“The bloody anarchy that has gripped New Orleans these past five days is staggering and tragic. How could it have been allowed to happen? How is it possible that the city’s estimated 80,000 refugees have gone without food and water, some for as many as three days, how could some collapse and die while waiting for buses that never came? How could supposedly safe havens, such as the Superdome and the city’s convention center, be permitted to degrade into fetid, lawless hellholes?” —The National Post, Canada

“The Army Corps of Engineers, like every other authority charged with preventing the flooding of New Orleans, has had its budget cut repeatedly in recent years. The Federal Emergency Management Administration has had its resources diverted toward the Bush administration’s ‘war on terror,’ and many of the National Guardsmen who might have been in place to intervene sooner have been diverted to Iraq.” —The Belfast Telegraph

“Up to a third of all national guardsmen in Louisiana and Mississippi are currently serving in Iraq. They simply weren’t available to rescue the stranded or prevent widespread looting after Katrina struck.” —The Herald, Glasgow

“Dudya: No Cash, No Aid, And No Sign of Bush for Five Days” —headline in The Daily Mirror, London

“There’s only one word to describe the Bush administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina — pathetic.” —The Toronto Sun, Canada

“On the left, Katrina has become an opportunity to re-amplify a half decade’s worth of accusations against the Bush administration. The storm, it’s alleged, is the President’s fault for not signing Kyoto. (Never mind that hurricanes have become less frequent over the past 70 years.) The flood, it’s alleged next, is the President’s fault for cutting back flood control budgets (even though the levee that was breached had only just been rebuilt). The disorder, it’s alleged again, is the President’s fault for sending the Louisiana National Guard to Iraq (regardless of the fact that 8,000 of the state’s 11,700 Guardsmen — including four of the state’s five engineering battalions — remained ready at home) . . . Environmentalists who detest dams, canals and all other works of man may now rage at the Bush administration for failing to give the Army Corps of Engineers everything it asked for.” —The National Post, Canada

“President Bush wound his holidays down to fly to California for a Republican Party fundraising event as Lake Pontchartrain poured into New Orleans. An absence of leadership has plagued U.S. rescue efforts since Katrina cut her deadly swathe across the Gulf of Mexico. Confusion and chaos are inevitable parts of any major search and rescue operation, but what we are witnessing, and what the hurricane’s victims are suffering, is so scandalous as to be grotesque. —The Irish Times

“Why are thousands of light, medium and heavy helicopters parked on bases up and down the U.S. while people in New Orleans die? Why has the air force not created a forward airbase on the serviceable runways of the city’s airport? Why are there no military communications systems in place? Why are there no water purification units on the banks of Pontchartrain? Why, on Wednesday, could the Sun Herald, in Biloxi, Mississippi, report horrific stories of death at the city’s junior high school shelters while U.S. Air Force personnel directly across Irish Hill Road were playing basketball and performing calisthenics? Because their commander-in-chief, President Bush, had not ordered them into action.” —The Irish Times

As the Russian Federation’s National Television Network was decrying the Bush Administration’s refusal to allow Moscow’s elite search and rescue team, as well as two helicopter-carrying transport planes, into New Orleans, it showed Americans on rooftops holding up signs reading, “Help.” Meanwhile, Russia’s TASS News Agency ran the following headline: “U.S. Thanks Russia for Offer of Help, Says It Can Handle Crisis.”

Whitey Loots, Too

“Holidaymakers Teresa Cherrie, 42, a nurse, and her partner, John Drysdale, 41, a lorry driver, from Renfrew in Scotland, were forced to join in the looting to find food in New Orleans. The couple were desperately awaiting rescue on the roof on an apartment block with 10 American refugees in the French quarter of Baton Rouge. They were forced to scavenge and steal food from supermarkets while trying to hide from the gangs that roam the streets of the lawless city.” —Scottish Press Association

“Officials at the shelter ‘totally let us down,’ he told reporters at the [Houston] Astrodome. The floors were covered in dog and cat waste and there was nothing to eat or drink, he said, adding: ‘We were left to starve.’ Mr. Mackels said he and other men had to find boats on dry ground and loot grocery and convenience stores to get food and drink to the hundreds in the high school. ‘There were people passing out left and right. We had to loot. I had no choice,’ he said.” —The Irish Times

“In one report, New Orleans radio station WWL claimed that looters were helping feed those huddled inside the Superdome. Earlier that same day, FEMA and the U.S. military suspended relief supplies to the giant concrete refugee camp when it was reported that a single shot was fired at one military helicopter. How is it that street gangs can achieve what trained emergency professionals and soldiers could not? —The National Post, Canada

Kinder and Gentler Coverage

“We have difficulty comprehending that the clusters of people, their clothing ragged, their bodies mud-streaked, waiting to board vehicles that will take them from their wrecked or submerged homes, are Americans. Many of these images could just as well be of the aftermath of a typhoon that lashed southern China, Taiwan or the Philippines . . . Even if our money may not be needed, at the least we should be offering moral support.” —South China Morning Post

“The rest of the world that has benefited from American generosity should show solidarity with Americans who are now picking up the pieces. Regardless of what other peoples think of the U.S. government and its foreign policies, most of the world owes it to themselves to reciprocate goodwill to the American people.” —The Nation, Thailand

September 17th, 2005, 09:57 AM
What W and his crew won't do to serve their own ends...

Behind the Curtain


More reporting like this, please.

From the blog of NBC anchor Brian Williams: (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9314188/#050916)

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.

September 17th, 2005, 10:10 AM


September 17th, 2005, 10:30 AM
Dangerous levels of bacteria, lead detected in floodwaters

By JOHN HEILPRIN Associated Press Writer



New government tests show dangerous amounts of sewage-related bacteria and lead from unknown sources in the floodwaters in New Orleans, and high levels of chemicals such as hexavalent chromium, used in industrial plating, and arsenic, used in treating wood.

Environmental Protection Agency officials are taking samples daily at sites around New Orleans for biological pathogens and more than 100 chemical pollutants, including pesticides, metals and industrial chemicals.

Elevated levels of E. coli and other coliform bacteria that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain and fever have been found at up to 109 times the EPA's safe swimming limit. Lead, which can cause nerve damage, was found in one sample at 56 times the EPA's limit for drinking water; two other samples had it at nearly twice and more than three times the limit.

Five sites in the region containing some of the nation's worst toxic messes were flooded, and one of them, a landfill where residents took trash for decades, remains underwater and can't be reached. Among all the flooded areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, there are 31 such sites that are part of the federal government's "Superfund" program to clean up hazardous waste.

There have been five oil spills in the New Orleans area. Some hazardous waste railcars are believed to be flooded, with water at least up to the wheels, although federal rail officials say they've had no reports of leakage so far.

EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, who called the hurricane flooding the biggest disaster his agency has ever faced, said the lead contamination is a mystery.

"Whether it's lead paint or lead from batteries, we don't know what the source is. But we know we've got a high level, and that's of concern to us," he said Wednesday, revealing test results from samples taken during the past two weeks. Johnson said he has convened a panel of outside experts to advise the agency on how to assess and clean up the flood damage.

Johnson briefed reporters after giving the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee what Sen. James Jeffords called "a grave and sobering assessment" of the trouble.

"We heard that the degree of environmental damage is considered catastrophic," Jeffords said. "We also heard that the EPA is still in the very early stages of collecting the soil and water samples that are needed to determine whether it is safe for residents to return to the area."

Tests of the city's air, which has a strong stench even from a couple hundred feet (dozens of meters) up, indicated no potential health issues. Only a few air pollutants were detected, such as methanol, a wood alcohol, isobutylene, a flammable gas, and freon, a refrigerant.

Federal agencies aren't predicting when the city will be habitable.

The latest chemical samples were drawn Sept. 4 and Sept. 6 by the EPA and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. Like previous tests, they turned up high levels of chemicals such as hexavalent chromium, arsenic and lead. A slightly elevated level of thallium was detected at one sampling location, but it was not enough to harm the public.


On the Net:

Environmental Protection Agency: http://www.epa.gov/katrina/ (http://www.epa.gov/katrina/)

September 17th, 2005, 10:42 AM


September 20th, 2005, 10:34 AM
So who is really being kept in the dark here, the people of that area, or our "President" figurehead?

Also, as bad as this may sound, I hope this flood turns out to be a good thing for as many people as possible. I hope that the people that made it out of there find a way out of that disgusting run down corupt to hell area and find that people DO like and appreciate what they can do in other states.

I really do not think that ANYBODY should return there for their god daamned "Red beans and rice and Gumbo cookin in the pot" as the Mayor is SO fond of saying. Good move mayor! Allow people to come back in when the Levees are still not repaired and Hurricane season is still not over!

I hope that most of these people find more stable, viable areas to live in where they can do something more with their lives than live in an area that cares less about them than the oil beneath their homes.

September 20th, 2005, 10:51 AM
Bush Aide Will Lead Hurricane Inquiry

By RICHARD W. STEVENSON (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=RICHARD W. STEVENSON&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=RICHARD W. STEVENSON&inline=nyt-per) and CARL HULSE (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=CARL HULSE&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=CARL HULSE&inline=nyt-per)
September 20, 2005


WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 - President Bush has named Frances Fragos Townsend, his domestic security adviser, to lead an internal White House inquiry into the administration's performance in handling Hurricane Katrina, Scott McClellan, Mr. Bush's spokesman, said Monday.

Mr. McClellan said Ms. Townsend's job would be "to follow through on the president's commitment to determine what went wrong, what went right and lessons learned."

Ms. Townsend, a former federal prosecutor, has undertaken a number of sensitive and high-profile tasks for Mr. Bush, most recently overseeing the reorganization of the nation's intelligence services after the intelligence failures about Iraq's (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/iraq/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) weapons capabilities.

A Republican who served in the Clinton administration's Justice Department before holding a number of jobs under Mr. Bush, Ms. Townsend has a reputation for being tough and independent. But her appointment is unlikely to mute calls from Democrats in Congress for a fully independent investigation.

Mr. McClellan said the White House had instructed each cabinet secretary to designate a senior official to work with Ms. Townsend. He said she would convene a meeting of the cabinet secretaries within a few days to discuss the inquiry.

On Capitol Hill, Congressional Republicans continued their efforts Monday to persuade Democrats to take part in a special Congressional inquiry into government failures in the response to the hurricane. Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/tennessee/index.html?inline=nyt-geo), the majority leader, made a new proposal to Senator Harry Reid of Nevada (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/nevada/index.html?inline=nyt-geo), the Democratic leader, that would broaden the scope of the inquiry to include the recovery effort.

"In these challenging times our country expects its leaders to work together, and not to engage in petty bickering," Mr. Frist said in a letter to his counterpart.

Democrats said Mr. Frist's proposal was unsatisfactory. Mr. Reid, along with Representative Nancy Pelosi of California (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/california/index.html?inline=nyt-geo), the House Democratic leader, say that an outside commission is needed to conduct an inquiry.

Mr. Bush has derided what he calls the "blame game" and the White House has resisted pressure for a full-scale independent inquiry of the sort conducted into the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But he has acknowledged shortcomings in the government's response and pledged to seek out all the facts. By moving quickly to get his own inquiry under way, he is addressing the nation's ability to handle a major disaster while also attempting to head off demands by Democrats for an investigation outside of the administration's control.

The White House confirmed Ms. Townsend's appointment on a day when the two parties sparred over the budget implications of the storm.

Under intense pressure from conservatives to hold the line on spending as the government confronts the bill for Hurricane Katrina, the White House resisted calls to delay the new prescription drug benefit for the elderly and suggested that Congress instead look for savings in a wide range of other domestic programs identified by President Bush.

Mr. McClellan appeared to rule out a proposal floated by Republicans on Capitol Hill to put off for one year the start of the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, a delay that could save the government $40 billion.

Asked at a briefing whether Mr. Bush would consider the delay, Mr. McClellan said it was "important to move forward on the prescription drug benefit, and we are."

Despite protests from some Republican leaders who say there is little room to squeeze domestic programs, the White House urged Congress to revisit scores of proposed cuts contained in Mr. Bush's budget for the coming fiscal year, most of which have been ignored by the House and Senate.

The intramural debate among Republicans about how far to go in offsetting the costs of storm-related spending, which by some estimates could reach $200 billion or more, was the latest evidence of how the hurricane has upended politics.

After making an open-ended pledge last week to do what is necessary to rebuild New Orleans and assist the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the storm, Mr. Bush has had to scramble to reassure conservatives that he has not abandoned his commitment to limited government and fiscal prudence.

House Republican leaders are scheduled to meet Tuesday with rank-and-file conservatives to consider possible spending cuts, and on Monday some lawmakers kept the pressure on for delaying the new Medicare drug program. Some conservatives have opposed the drug benefit from the beginning and have seized on the hurricane as an opportunity to delay it.

"I never believed that it was responsible to create this new entitlement, but it's even more irresponsible now, given that Hurricane Katrina has created new spending priorities for the federal government," Representative Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/arizona/index.html?inline=nyt-geo), said.

Lawmakers expect the first major test over the push for spending cuts to occur when they receive the next emergency spending request for the hurricane. John Scofield, a spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee, said he expected that Congress would take a deliberate approach to that request , in contrast to the way the first $62 billion in hurricane aid was sped to approval.

Mr. Bush's response to the storm came under withering attack Monday from the Democratic ticket he defeated last November - Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/massachusetts/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) and John Edwards, the former senator from North Carolina (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/northcarolina/index.html?inline=nyt-geo).

In a speech at Brown University, Mr. Kerry referred to the White House as the "Katrina administration." Asserting that the storm "stripped away any image of competence and exposed to all the true heart and nature of this administration," he said, "The truth is that for four and a half years, real life choices have been replaced by ideological agenda, substance replaced by spin, governance second place always to politics."

Republican officials accused Democrats of trying to take political advantage of a tragedy.

David Johnston contributed reporting for this article

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

September 20th, 2005, 09:17 PM
Report: Hurricane tax aid does more for wealthier survivors

9/20/2005, 3:39 p.m. CT By MARY DALRYMPLE
The Associated Press


WASHINGTON (AP) — Tax breaks designed to help Hurricane Katrina victims get their hands on needed cash could do more for higher income survivors than for the neediest, a congressional report says.

The Congressional Research Service, an office that provides nonpartisan legislative analysis to lawmakers, pointed to several items in virtually identical bills that passed in the House and Senate last week.

One helps hurricane victims get access to their savings by waiving penalties imposed on taxpayers who tap into their retirement savings accounts before retirement. Others let taxpayers write off more of their destroyed property, and erase taxes regularly imposed when a debt, like a mortgage, is forgiven.

The report says lower income survivors are less likely to have retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs to tap into for recovery. Because many lower income individuals and families pay little tax, assistance efforts that lower their taxes may do little good, the report said.

However, the same tax bills also include tax assistance specifically for lower income families that help the working poor hang onto their income tax credits, which can be disrupted by unemployment or family separation.

The provision lets those left unemployed or earning less because of Hurricane Katrina calculate their earned income tax credit based on income earned last year, allowing some families to claim a bigger credit. A similar calculation could be done for the child tax credit.

The House and Senate bills must be reconciled and signed by President Bush before becoming law.

Congress has started working on other fronts to help the poorest victims of Hurricane Katrina. Lawmakers sent the president a bill giving states immediate access to more welfare funds. Lawmakers have also discussed giving hurricane survivors access to Medicaid health care and making unemployment insurance funds more flexible.

Two Illinois Democrats, Sen. Barack Obama and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, suggested getting cash quickly into the hands of hurricane victims through an advance earned income credit payment.

Peter Orszag, a budget and tax policy expert at the Brookings Institution, said lawmakers would be better off directing aid through assistance programs like food stamps and unemployment insurance because they "are going to be better targeted to the severe cases of hardship."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press.

September 21st, 2005, 09:22 AM
Raise your hand if you are surprised by this.

September 25th, 2005, 07:00 PM
Check out the video mentioned in this article: http://www.theblacklantern.com/ (http://www.theblacklantern.com/)

Art Born of Outrage in the Internet Age

September 25, 2005

IN the 18th century, songwriters responded to current events by writing new lyrics to existing melodies. "Benjamin Franklin used to write broadside ballads every time a disaster struck," said Elijah Wald, a music historian, and sell the printed lyrics in the street that afternoon.

This tradition of responding culturally to terrible events had almost been forgotten, Mr. Wald said, but in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, it may be making a comeback, with the obvious difference that, where Franklin would have sold a few song sheets to his fellow Philadelphians, the Internet allows artists today to reach the whole world.

For example, an unlicensed rap song describing the frustration of African-American evacuees has been made available free on the Internet. The song, "George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People," by the Houston duo called the Legendary K.O., vividly recounts the plight of those who endured the hurricane, occasionally using crude language in the process. It has already been downloaded by as many as a half-million people. The videos have been seen by thousands.

"A. J. Liebling famously commented that freedom of the press belongs to those who own one," said Mike Godwin, legal director of Public Knowledge, a First Amendment group. "Well, we all own one now."

"George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People" takes its title from remarks made by the hip-hop star Kanye West at a televised benefit for storm victims on Sept. 2. It took shape in Houston, where two friends were helping evacuees at the Astrodome and convention center the Sept. 3 weekend.

"When they got to Houston, people were just seeing for the first time how they were portrayed in the media," said Damien Randle, 31, a financial adviser and one half of the Legendary K.O. "It was so upsetting for them to be up on a roof for two days, with their kids in soiled diapers, and then see themselves portrayed as looters."

In response, Mr. Randle and his partner, Micah Nickerson, wrote a rap based on the stories of the people they were helping. On Sept. 6, Mr. Nickerson sent Mr. Randle an instant message containing a music file and one verse, recorded on his home computer. Mr. Randle recorded an additional verse and sent it back, and 15 minutes later it was up on their Web site: www.k-otix.com (http://www.k-otix.com/).

"Within the first 24 hours, it was downloaded 10,000 times," Mr. Randle said. "It crashed our server." Since then at least five sites have posted the song, with downloads of 100,000 each, he said.

In New Brunswick, N.J., Marquise Lee, a freelance video producer, heard the song and thought it called for a video. He downloaded scenes of African-Americans in New Orleans, intercutting them with images of President Bush and unrelated scenes from a Kanye West video. "It was a first-person account of the struggle - 'Come down and help me,' " said Mr. Lee, 25.

Mr. Lee posted the video on his site, www.theblacklantern.com (http://www.theblacklantern.com/), on Sept. 14. In 48 hours, he said, thousands of people had downloaded the video, even as other sites also made it available. Franklin Lopez, a filmmaker, created another video to the song, available at submediatv.com (http://submediatv.com/).

"It's very hip-hop, baby," said the rap personality Fab 5 Freddy, who said he sent the Lee video to dozens of his friends. "It's taking something that's out there and turning it into something new - getting your thing out by any means necessary."

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

September 26th, 2005, 09:49 AM
Reports of anarchy at Superdome overstated

Newhouse News Service
Monday, September 26, 2005


NEW ORLEANS — After five days managing near riots, medical horrors and unspeakable living conditions inside the Superdome, Louisiana National Guard Col. Thomas Beron prepared to hand over the dead to representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Following days of internationally reported murders, rapes and gang violence inside the stadium, the doctor from FEMA — Beron doesn't remember his name — came prepared for a grisly scene: He brought a refrigerated 18-wheeler and three doctors to process bodies.

"I've got a report of 200 bodies in the Dome," Beron recalled the doctor saying.

The real total?

Six, Beron said.

Of those, four died of natural causes, one overdosed and another jumped to his death in an apparent suicide, said Beron, who personally oversaw the handoff of bodies from a Dome freezer, where they lay atop melting bags of ice.

State health department officials in charge of body recovery put the official death count at the Dome at 10, but Beron said the other four bodies were found in the street near the Dome, not inside it. Both sources said no one had been murdered inside the stadium.

At the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, just four bodies have been recovered, despite reports of heaps of dead piled inside the building. Only one of the dead appeared to have been murdered, said health and law-enforcement officials.

That the nation's frontline emergency-management officials believed the body count would resemble that of a bloody battle in a war is but one of scores of examples of myths about the Dome and the Convention Center treated as fact by evacuees, the news media and even some of the city's top officials, including the mayor and police superintendent.

The vast majority of reported atrocities committed by evacuees — mass murders, rapes and beatings — have turned out to be false, or at least unsupported by any evidence, according to key military, law-enforcement, medical and civilian officials in positions to know.

"I think 99 percent of it is [expletive]," said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Lachney, who played a key role in security and humanitarian work inside the Dome. "Don't get me wrong — bad things happened. But I didn't see any killing and raping and cutting of throats or anything ... 99 percent of the people in the Dome were very well-behaved."

Dr. Louis Cataldie, the state Health and Human Services Department administrator overseeing the body-recovery operation, said his teams were inundated with false reports.

Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan said authorities have only confirmed four murders in the entire city in the aftermath of Katrina — making it a typical week in a city that anticipated more than 200 homicides this year.

"I had the impression that at least 40 or 50 murders had occurred at the two sites," he said. "It's unfortunate we saw these kinds of stories saying crime had taken place on a massive scale when that wasn't the case. And they [national media outlets] have done nothing to follow up on any of these cases; they just accepted what people [on the street] told them. ... It's not consistent with the highest standards of journalism."

As floodwaters forced tens of thousands of evacuees into the Dome and Convention Center, news of unspeakable acts poured out of the nation's media: People firing at helicopters trying to save them; women, children and even babies raped with abandon; people murdered for food and water; a 7-year-old raped and killed at the Convention Center.

Police, according to their chief, Eddie Compass, found themselves in multiple shootouts inside both shelters, and were forced to race toward muzzle flashes through the dark to disarm the criminals; snipers fired at doctors and soldiers from downtown high-rises.

In interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Compass reported rapes of "babies," and Mayor Ray Nagin spoke of "hundreds of armed gang members killing and raping people" inside the Dome. Other unidentified evacuees told of children stepping over so many bodies "we couldn't count."

The picture that emerged was one of the impoverished, overwhelmingly African-American masses of flood victims resorting to utter depravity, randomly attacking each other, as well as the police trying to protect them and the rescue workers trying to save them. The mayor told Winfrey the crowd has descended to an "almost animalistic state."

Four weeks after the storm, few of the widely reported atrocities have been backed with evidence. The piles of murdered bodies never materialized, and soldiers, police officers and rescue personnel on the front lines assert that, while anarchy reigned at times and people suffered indignities, most of the worst crimes reported at the time never happened.

"The information I had at the time, I thought it was credible," Compass said, admitting his earlier statements were false. Asked the source of the information, Compass said he didn't remember.

Nagin frankly acknowledged he doesn't know the extent of the mayhem that occurred inside the Superdome and the Convention Center — and may never. "I'm having a hard time getting a good body count," he said.

Compass conceded that rumor had overtaken, and often crippled, authorities' response to reported lawlessness, sending badly needed resources to situations that turned out not to exist.

Military, law-enforcement and medical workers agree that the flood of evacuees — about 30,000 at the Dome and an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 at the Convention Center — overwhelmed their security personnel.

The 400 to 500 soldiers in the Dome could have been easily overrun by increasingly agitated crowds in the Dome, but that never happened, said Col. James Knotts, a midlevel commander there. While the Convention Center saw plenty of mischief, including massive looting and isolated gunfire, and many inside cowered in fear, the hordes of evacuees for the most part did not resort to violence.

"Everything was embellished, everything was exaggerated," said Deputy Police Superintendent Warren Riley. "If one guy said he saw six bodies, then another guy the same six, and another guy saw them — then that became 18."

Inside the Superdome, where National Guardsmen performed rigorous security checks before allowing anyone inside, only one shooting has been verified — and even that shooting, injuring Louisiana Guardsman Chris Watt of the 527th Engineer Battalion, has been widely misreported, said Maj. David Baldwin, who led the team of soldiers who arrested the alleged assailant.

Watt had indeed been attacked inside one of the Dome's locker rooms, where he entered with another soldier. In the darkness, as they walked through about six inches of water, Watt's attacker hit him with a metal rod, a piece of a cot. But the bullet that penetrated Watt's leg came from his own gun — he accidentally shot himself during the commotion. The attacker was sent to jail, Baldwin said.

Inside the Convention Center, Jimmie Fore, vice president of the state authority that runs the center, stayed in the building with a core group of 35 employees until Thursday. He said thugs hot-wired 75 forklifts and electric carts and looted food and booze, but he said he never saw any violent crimes committed, nor did any of his employees. Some, however, did report seeing armed men roaming the building, and Fore said he heard gunshots in the distance on about six occasions.

Rumors of rampant violence at the Convention Center prompted Louisiana National Guard Col. Jacques Thibodeaux to put together a 1,000-man force of soldiers and police in full battle gear to secure the center around noon on Friday.

It took only 20 minutes to take control, and soldiers met no resistance, Thibodeaux said. They found no evidence, witnesses or victims of any murders, rapes or beatings, Thibodeaux said.

One widely circulated story, told to The Times-Picayune by a slew of evacuees and two Arkansas National Guardsman, held that "30 or 40 bodies" were stored in a Convention Center freezer.

But a formal Arkansas Guard review of the matter later found that no soldier had actually seen the corpses, and that the information came from rumors in the food line for military, police and rescue workers in front of Harrah's Casino, said Col. John Edwards of the Arkansas National Guard, who conducted the review.

Reports of dozens of rapes at both facilities — many allegedly involving small children — may forever remain a question mark. Rape is a notoriously underreported crime under ideal circumstances, and tracking down evidence at this point, with evacuees spread all over the country, will be nearly impossible. The same goes for reports of armed robberies at both sites.

While numerous people told The Times-Picayune that they had witnessed rapes, in particular the rape of two young girls in the Superdome ladies' room and the killing of one of them, police and military officials say they know nothing of such an incident.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/news/general/copyright.html)

September 28th, 2005, 09:16 AM
$236 Million Cruise Ship Deal Criticized

By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 28, 2005; A01


On Sept. 1, as tens of thousands of desperate Louisianans packed the New Orleans Superdome and convention center, the Federal Emergency Management Agency pleaded with the U.S. Military Sealift Command: The government needed 10,000 berths on full-service cruise ships, FEMA said, and it needed the deal done by noon the next day.

The hasty appeal yielded one of the most controversial contracts of the Hurricane Katrina relief operation, a $236 million agreement with Carnival Cruise Lines for three ships that now bob more than half empty in the Mississippi River and Mobile Bay. The six-month contract -- staunchly defended by Carnival but castigated by politicians from both parties -- has come to exemplify the cost of haste that followed Katrina's strike and FEMA's lack of preparation.

To critics, the price is exorbitant. If the ships were at capacity, with 7,116 evacuees, for six months, the price per evacuee would total $1,275 a week, according to calculations by aides to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). A seven-day western Caribbean cruise out of Galveston can be had for $599 a person -- and that would include entertainment and the cost of actually making the ship move.

"When the federal government would actually save millions of dollars by forgoing the status quo and actually sending evacuees on a luxurious six-month cruise it is time to rethink how we are conducting oversight. A short-term temporary solution has turned into a long-term, grossly overpriced sweetheart deal for a cruise line," said Coburn and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in a joint statement yesterday calling for a chief financial officer to oversee Katrina spending.

Carnival's bid totaled $192 million over six months, plus $44 million in reimbursable expenses, such as port charges, fuel, food and docking costs. To Carnival executives, the contract will ensure only that the company breaks even when it pulls three ships from holiday operations. About 100,000 passengers had their vacations canceled to accommodate the government's needs, said J. Michael Crye, president of the International Council of Cruise Lines, who has been answering questions about the deal for Carnival.

"In the end, we will make no additional money on this deal versus what we would have made by keeping these ships in service," said Jennifer de la Cruz, a Carnival spokeswoman. "That has been our position from the outset, and it has not changed."

Government contracting officials defended the deal. "They were the market," Capt. Joe Manna, director of contracts at the Sealift Command, said of Carnival. "Under the circumstances, I'd say we're getting a pretty good value."

Coburn and Obama disagreed. "Finding out after the fact that we're spending taxpayer money on no-bid contracts and sweetheart deals for cruise lines is no way to run a recovery effort," they said in the statement.

The Carnival deal is only one of several instances in which a lack of FEMA preparation may have left federal taxpayers with an outsized bill. Despite its experiences with last year's busy hurricane season, FEMA found itself without standing contracts for standard relief items such as blue tarps to cover damaged roofs, according to Thomas A. Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste.

"It is ridiculous that they can't have the supply on hand for these basics that you know you'll need in every instance," Schatz said.

But the Carnival deal has come under particular scrutiny. Not only are questions being raised over the contract's cost, but congressional investigators are examining the company's tax status. Carnival, which is headquartered in Miami but incorporated for tax purposes in Panama, paid just $3 million in income tax benefits on $1.9 billion in pretax income last year, according to company documents. "That's not even a tip," said Robert S. McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice. U.S. companies in general pay an effective income tax rate of about 25 percent, analysts say. That would have left Carnival with a $475 million tax bill.

Carnival's public records boast "that substantially all of our income in fiscal 2004, 2003 and 2002 . . . is exempt from U.S. federal income taxes," largely because it maintains that its operations are not in the United States but on the high seas.

Carnival does not want to see that tax status jeopardized just because three major ships are clearly operating in the United States. After it won the FEMA bid, Carnival appealed to Treasury Secretary John W. Snow for a waiver of U.S. taxes. "We do not want to jeopardize our tax exemption, nor do we want to interrupt our relief efforts for failure to secure this assurance from the Treasury Department," wrote Howard Frank, Carnival's chief operating officer.

Cruise line council President Crye said the company will reduce its billings under the contract by the amount of income taxes forgiven. The waiver would spare Carnival and its employees the paperwork of filing tax returns.

But critics say Carnival deserves to be treated no differently than a hotel housing relief workers under a FEMA contract. "Carnival should be contributing to the relief effort just like all other taxpayers are," McIntyre said. "Why should they be singled out for special treatment, just because they've been so good at tax avoidance in the past?"

Treasury spokesman Taylor Griffin said the matter is under review.

But Congress's main focus remains on cost and how the Carnival contract came to pass. After a one-day competition, Sealift Command had bids from 13 ships, but only four met FEMA's requirements, which included full meal service, between-meal snacks, linen and maid service, medical support, even prescription refills. Four ships -- the Ecstasy, Sensation and Holiday, all owned by Carnival, as well as the ferry the Scotia Prince -- landed the contracts.

The ships are not holding nearly the number of people FEMA had expected. Many evacuees said they saw the ships as a dead end, far away from any job or potential new life. The Ecstasy and Sensation have become the homes of New Orleans first responders who have stayed at their posts, said FEMA spokesman James McIntyre. At the peak, the ships did house around 2,000 such workers and their families.

The Ecstasy and Sensation had to set sail for safer seas as Hurricane Rita rolled in. They re-docked Monday. By Tuesday morning, 625 were aboard the Ecstasy, a fraction of the 2,544 passengers once registered. An additional 820 were aboard the Sensation, down from 2,579.

And those ships have fared better than the Holiday, docked in Mobile, Ala., with 342 on board. FEMA had hoped for 1,800. McIntyre said the ship has been waiting for repairs to the Mississippi port of Pascagoula, where more evacuees are expected to board. FEMA expects the Holiday to steam for Pascagoula this week, McIntyre said.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

September 28th, 2005, 10:30 AM
From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:


Abrupt departure comes as NOPD Katrina
response is questioned

Mayor calls Compass a hero

By James Varney
and Michael Perlstein
Staff writers
Wednesday, September 28, 2005


New Orleans Police Superintendent Eddie Compass, whose emotional media appearances since Hurricane Katrina made him one of the city's most recognizable figures nationwide, abruptly announced his retirement Tuesday.

The stunning departure of the city's top cop roiled New Orleans leaders, and raised questions of whether Mayor Ray Nagin forced Compass from his job. Earlier this month, on Sept. 9, Compass said, "I want to be police chief here as long as I can and as long as Mayor Nagin will have me."

Compass made the announcement at an afternoon news conference. Neither Compass nor Nagin provided any background or explanation as to why the chief chose this moment, when New Orleans is enduring its greatest crisis, to depart. Nagin said, when asked, that he did not ask for Compass' resignation.

Although Compass' performance during Katrina has brought forth some criticism, his three-and-a-half year tenure as superintendent had its rocky moments before Katrina, most notably as the city witnessed a resurgence in its infamously high murder rate. Nagin picked him as chief, but he and Compass were not particularly close, according to people who know both men.

Compass appeared at the news conference at the Sheraton Hotel, flanked by Nagin, his three assistant superintendents and a handful of commanders and bodyguards, to announce his retirement. Deputy Superintendent Warren Riley has been announced as interim chief.

"Since I was a little boy, my whole life, I wanted to be the superintendent of police," Compass said Tuesday, appearing to fight back tears. "In the life of every leader the time comes to reflect on his life, and I'm very, very thankful God gave me the wisdom and discernment to make tough decisions.

"Over the next 30 to 45 days of a transition period, I will be retiring as superintendent of police," he said. "I ask you to respect my privacy and my decision, and my right to be by myself."

Nagin characterized Compass' retirement as "a sad day in the city of New Orleans," and hailed the chief as a hero. He added, somewhat cryptically, that he thought Compass would make a lot of money and asked him to send the occasional Christmas card.

"My heart goes out to the chief and his family," he said. "I wish him nothing but the best."

The news conference ended abruptly, with Nagin and Compass quickly parting and leaving through separate exits. In response to a shouted question about whether he asked for Compass' resignation, Nagin said, "No." The mayor also declined to elaborate in an email Tuesday afternoon.

"No comment," Nagin wrote. "The chief asks everyone to respect his privacy. He requested the press conference be held the way it was handled. He is a good man. Don't mess with him!"

But several sources said the sudden retirement came after a private meeting between Compass, 47, and the mayor not long before the announcement.

The announcement came two days after several comments Compass had made repeatedly about the alleged violence that had engulfed emergency shelters at the Superdome and Ernest N.Morial Convention Center were countered by others to be hyperbolic and based on faulty intelligence.

Compass had come under fire for a variety of other reasons after Katrina. At first, he seemed invisible, holed up in the Hyatt Hotel with Nagin and other city leaders. As anarchy threatened to overwhelm the city, cops on the street said they "had no chief."

Widespread looting, some of it conducted by police officers, branded New Orleans worldwide as lawless, and almost 249 officers left their posts without permission.

After that first week, however, Compass became a seemingly omnipresent fixture in media accounts, and was feted by broadcast news stars. After the crisis was in full swing, Compass was a virtual quote machine, offering a down-home mix of empathy and bravado.

"I'm still standing. I'm the ultimate warrior," Compass was quoted two weeks after the storm. "I'm going to be the last person to leave the battlefield."

While his tearful interviews made him a compelling local face of the horrors of the storm, his decision to leave the city and flip the coin at a New Orleans Saints game in Giants Stadium on Monday Night Football on Sept. 19 was criticized by some of his rank and file.

Then, on Friday, Nagin's press office issued an unusually tart news release that rescinded statements Compass had made to media outlets about taking guns from residents coming back to New Orleans, comments that prompted a lawsuit from the National Rifle Association. What's more, Nagin's staff made clear, Compass' statements "were made without the knowledge or the approval of the mayor."

After Tuesday's news conference, as the brass got into their tinted-window SUVs and rolled away, Riley, a favorite at City Hall whom Nagin supported in an unsuccessful bid for criminal sheriff last year, eluded a question about whether he has been tapped as a replacement.

But just a few minutes after Compass quit, Riley leaned up against the hood of a black SUV, next to department spokesman Capt. Marlon Defillo, smiling and talking into a cell phone. As he hung up, another colleague walked up to him and slapped his hand.

"Congratulations, bro!" the officer said. Riley smiled and thanked him.

In less than an hour, Nagin's office released a statement announcing Riley's appointment as acting chief.

The new head of the department declined any comment on his ascension to power or his boss's exit, but said he would address the topic today at an 11 a.m. news conference.

Top brass and patrol officers were jolted by the news.

"It was a little shocking," said Capt. Kevin Anderson, commander of the 8th District. "There was no indication earlier, but I'm sure he had his reasons. I can tell you this much: This has been the most trying incident anyone could go through in their lifetime," referring to Katrina.

Anderson praised Compass as an "outstanding" superintendent, who had been "a friend to me and a friend to the entire city."

Several district captains said they heard about Compass' sudden retirement through the media or by telephone as the news rippled through the department. They said they were surprised that Compass didn't follow the typical protocol of informing his officers before any public announcement.

"I'm extremely surprised by this, but these have been surprising times," said Police Association of New Orleans President David Benelli.

Two captains said they met with the chief Monday and nothing seemed amiss.

Capt. Timothy Bayard, the vice and narcotics chief who has commanded boat rescues since Katrina, said the timing of Compass' retirement was unfortunate, whether it was voluntary or forced.

"The timing is not good, man, not good at all," Bayard said. "We're in the middle of a crisis and now this? He was driving the ship. I have a lot of young officers with their heads cocked sideways, looking to someone for leadership, wondering which way they're going. It's going to have a trickle-down effect and it's not the right trickle-down effect."

Compass is the latest in a series of high-profile members of the Nagin administration to resign during the mayor's first term. Those who preceded him out the door included two chief administrative officers, an intergovernmental aide, the economic development director and a communications director.

Benelli heaped praise on a man he considered both a boss and a friend.

"The men and women of this department had a real friend in Eddie Compass. He was a cop's cop. He rose through the ranks and he experienced the department at every level," Benelli said. "He was the one who really brought the family tradition back to the New Orleans Police Department. He represented the spirit of this department and during the darkest hours of the hurricane, it was the spirit of the men and women of this department that kept this city afloat."

Other city politicians were also taken aback by the news.

"This is a big loss. He gave a damn," City Council President Oliver Thomas said. Thomas declined to speculate on whether Compass' handling of the Katrina crisis precipitated his departure.

"I have not had time to rate his performance," he said. "All I know is he managed to keep together as much of his department as possible."

Council member Jackie Clarkson said she, too, had no clue this was coming, and praised Compass for "the masterful job the police did in the saving of so many citizens of New Orleans."

On the choice of a permanent successor for Compass, Benelli said his only preference is someone from within the department.

"The next chief should be someone within the ranks of the NOPD. No outsider need apply," Benelli said. "If it's Chief (Warren) Riley or any of the deputy chiefs, I'm sure they'd serve the city well."

Staff writers Martha Carr, Meghan Gordon, Trymaine Lee, David Meeks, Bruce Nolan and Gordon Russell contributed to this report.

September 29th, 2005, 08:27 AM
September 29, 2005

Fear Exceeded Crime's Reality in New Orleans

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Sgt. Dan Anderson of the New Orleans Police Department inspected stolen car parts in the living room of a house used by looters.


NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 25 - After the storm came the siege. In the days after Hurricane Katrina, terror from crimes seen and unseen, real and rumored, gripped New Orleans. The fears changed troop deployments, delayed medical evacuations, drove police officers to quit, grounded helicopters. Edwin P. Compass III, the police superintendent, said that tourists - the core of the city's economy - were being robbed and raped on streets that had slid into anarchy.

The mass misery in the city's two unlit and uncooled primary shelters, the convention center and the Superdome, was compounded, officials said, by gangs that were raping women and children.

A month later, a review of the available evidence now shows that some, though not all, of the most alarming stories that coursed through the city appear to be little more than figments of frightened imaginations, the product of chaotic circumstances that included no reliable communications, and perhaps the residue of the longstanding raw relations between some police officers and members of the public.

Beyond doubt, the sense of menace had been ignited by genuine disorder and violence that week. Looting began at the moment the storm passed over New Orleans, and it ranged from base thievery to foraging for the necessities of life.

Police officers said shots were fired for at least two nights at a police station on the edge of the French Quarter. The manager of a hotel on Bourbon Street said he saw people running through the streets with guns. At least one person was killed by a gunshot at the convention center, and a second at the Superdome. A police officer was shot in Algiers during a confrontation with a looter.

It is still impossible to say if the city experienced a wave of murder because autopsies have been performed on slightly more than 10 percent of the 885 dead.

[On Wednesday, however, Dr. Louis Cataldie, the state's medical incident commander for Hurricane Katrina victims, said that only six or seven deaths appear to have been the result of homicides. He also said that people returning to homes in the damaged region have begun finding the bodies of relatives.

[Superintendent Compass, one of the few seemingly authoritative sources during the days after the storm, resigned Tuesday for reasons that remain unclear. His departure came just as he was coming under criticism from The New Orleans Times-Picayune, which had questioned many of his public accounts of extreme violence.]

In an interview last week with The New York Times, Superintendent Compass said that some of his most shocking statements turned out to be untrue. Asked about reports of rapes and murders, he said: "We have no official reports to document any murder. Not one official report of rape or sexual assault."

On Sept. 4, however, he was quoted in The Times about conditions at the convention center, saying: "The tourists are walking around there, and as soon as these individuals see them, they're being preyed upon. They are beating, they are raping them in the streets."

Those comments, Superintendent Compass now says, were based on secondhand reports. The tourists "were walking with their suitcases, and they would have their clothes and things taken," he said last week. "No rapes that we can quantify."

Rumors Affected Response

A full chronicle of the week's crimes, actual and reported, may never be possible because so many basic functions of government ceased early in the week, including most public safety record-keeping. The city's 911 operators left their phones when water began to rise around their building.

To assemble a picture of crime, both real and perceived, The New York Times interviewed dozens of evacuees in four cities, police officers, medical workers and city officials. Though many provided concrete, firsthand accounts, others passed along secondhand information or rumor that after multiple tellings had ossified into what became accepted as fact.

What became clear is that the rumor of crime, as much as the reality of the public disorder, often played a powerful role in the emergency response. A team of paramedics was barred from entering Slidell, across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, for nearly 10 hours based on a state trooper's report that a mob of armed, marauding people had commandeered boats. It turned out to be two men escaping from their flooded streets, said Farol Champlin, a paramedic with the Acadian Ambulance Company.

On another occasion, the company's ambulances were locked down after word came that a firehouse in Covington had been looted by armed robbers of all its water - a report that proved totally untrue, said Aaron Labatt, another paramedic.

A contingent of National Guard troops was sent to rescue a St. Bernard Parish deputy sheriff who radioed for help, saying he was pinned down by a sniper. Accompanied by a SWAT team, the troops surrounded the area. The shots turned out to be the relief valve on a gas tank that popped open every few minutes, said Maj. Gen. Ron Mason of the 35th Infantry Division of the Kansas (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/kansas/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) National Guard.

"It's part of human nature," General Mason said. "When you get one or two reports, it echoes around the community."

Faced with reports that 400 to 500 armed looters were advancing on the town of Westwego, two police officers quit on the spot. The looters never appeared, said the Westwego police chief, Dwayne Munch.

"Rumors could tear down an entire army," Chief Munch said.

During six days when the Superdome was used as a shelter, the head of the New Orleans Police Department's sex crimes unit, Lt. David Benelli, said he and his officers lived inside the dome and ran down every rumor of rape or atrocity. In the end, they made two arrests for attempted sexual assault, and concluded that the other attacks had not happened.

"I think it was urban myth," said Lieutenant Benelli, who also heads the police union. "Any time you put 25,000 people under one roof, with no running water, no electricity and no information, stories get told."

Crimes of Opportunity

The actual, serious crime began, in the recollection of many, before the catastrophic failure of the levees flooded the city, and much of it consisted of crimes of opportunity rather than assault. On the morning of Monday, Aug. 29, in the half hour or so that the eye of Hurricane Katrina fell on the city - an illusory moment of drawn breath, sunshine and fair breezes - the looters struck, said Capt. Anthony W. Canatella, the police commander in the Sixth District.

Using a chain hitched to a car, they tore open the steel doors at the back of a pawn shop called Cash America on Claiborne Avenue. "Payday Advances to 350," read a sign where the marquee would have been.

"There was nothing in there you could sustain your life with," Captain Canatella said. "There's nothing in there but guns and power tools."

The Sixth District - like most of New Orleans, a checkerboard of wealth and poverty - was the scene of heavy looting, with much of the stealing confined to the lower-income neighborhoods. A particular target was a Wal-Mart store on Tchoupitoulas Street, bordering the city's elegant Garden District and built on the site of a housing project that had been torn down.

The looters told a reporter from The Times that they followed police officers into the store after they broke it open, and police commanders said their officers had been given permission to take what they needed from the store to survive. A reporter from The Times-Picayune said he saw police officers grabbing DVD's.

A frenzy of stealing began, and the fruits of it could be seen last week in three containers parked outside the Sixth District police station. Inside were goods recovered from stashes placed by looters in homes throughout the neighborhood, said Captain Canatella, most but not all still bearing Wal-Mart stickers.

"Not one piece of educational material was taken - the best-selling books are all sitting right where they were left," Captain Canatella said. "But every $9 watch in the store is gone."

One of the officers who went to the Wal-Mart said the police did not try to stop people from taking food and water. "People sitting outside the Wal-Mart with groceries waiting for a ride, I just let them sit there," said Sgt. Dan Anderson of the Sixth District. "If they had electronics, I just threw it back in there."

Three auto parts stores were also looted. In a house on Clara Street, Sergeant Anderson picked his way through a soggy living room, where car parts, still in their boxes, were strewn about. On the wall above a couch, someone had written "Looters" with spray paint.

"The nation's realizing what kind of criminals we have here," Sergeant Anderson said.

Among the evacuees, there was gratitude for efforts by the police and others to help them get out of town, but it was clear that some members of the public did not have a high opinion of the New Orleans Police Department, with numerous people citing cases of corruption and violence a decade ago.

"Don't get me wrong, there was bad stuff going on in the streets, but the police is dirty," said Michael Young, who had worked as a waiter in the Riverwalk development.

French Quarter Is Spared

As the storm winds died down that Monday, small groups that had evacuated from poor neighborhoods as far away as the Lower Ninth Ward passed through the historic French Quarter, heading for shelter at the convention center.

"Some were pushing little carts with their belongings and holding onto their kids," said Capt. Kevin B. Anderson, the French Quarter's police commander. He said his officers gave food, water and rides. "That also served another purpose," he said. "That when they came through, they didn't cause any problems."

The jewelry and antique shops in the French Quarter were basically left untouched, though squatters moved into a few of the hotels. Only a small grocery store and drugstores at the edge of the quarter were hit by looters, he said. From behind the locked doors of the Royal Sonesta hotel on Bourbon Street, Hans Wandfluh, the general manager, said he had watched passers-by who seemed to be up to no good. "We heard gunshots fired," Mr. Wandfluh said. "We saw people running with guns."

At dusk on Aug. 29, looters broke windows along Canal Street and swarmed into drugstores, shoe stores and electronics shops, Captain Anderson said. Some tried, without success, to break into banks, and others sought to take money from A.T.M.'s.

The convention center, without water, air-conditioning, light or any authority figures, was recalled by many as a place of great suffering. Many heard rumors of crime, and saw sinister behavior, but few had firsthand knowledge of violence, which they often said they believed had taken place in another part of the half-mile-long center.

"I saw Coke machines being torn up - each and every one of them was busted on the second floor," said Percy McCormick, a security guard who spent four nights in the convention center and was interviewed in Austin, Tex.

Capt. Jeffrey Winn, the commander of the SWAT team, said its members rushed into the convention center to chase muzzle flashes from weapons to root out groups of men who had taken over some of the halls. No guns were recovered.

State officials have said that 10 people died at the Superdome and 24 died around the convention center - 4 inside and 20 nearby. While autopsies have not been completed, so far only one person appears to have died from gunshot wounds at each facility.

In another incident, Captain Winn and Lt. Dwayne Scheuermann, the assistant SWAT commander, said they both shot and wounded a man brandishing a gun near people who had taken refuge on an Interstate highway. Captain Winn said the SWAT team also exchanged gunfire with looters on Tchoupitoulas Street.

The violence that seemed hardest to explain were the reports of shots being fired at rescue and repair workers, including police officers and firefighters, construction and utility workers.

Cellphone repair workers had to abandon work after shots from the Fischer housing project in Algiers, Captain Winn said. His team swept the area three times. On one sweep, federal agents found an AK-47 semiautomatic rifle, Captain Winn said.

For military officials, who flew rescue missions around the city, the reports that people were shooting at helicopters turned out to be mistaken. "We investigated one incident and it turned out to have been shooting on the ground, not at the helicopter," said Maj. Mike Young of the Air Force.

Nathan Levy contributed reporting from Austin, Tex., for this article.

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

October 4th, 2005, 10:55 PM
The idiots at the top are clearly control freaks (what will this accomplish?):

Commerce Department tells National Weather Service media contacts must be pre-approved

Larisa Alexandrovna


The Department of Commerce has issued a blanket media policy to employees of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), requiring that all requests for contact from national media be first approved by the Department, RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) has learned.

According to a leaked Sept. 29 email memo sent out to NOAA staff, including employees of the National Weather Service (NWS) -- both of which are under the Department of Commerce -- employees must collect information from reporters and forward it to the Department.

The memo was leaked to RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) last week.

Employees must obtain the following:

-The name of the reporter and their affiliation

-Their deadline and contact phone number

-The name of the individual being requested to give the interview

-The purpose of the interview

-The expertise of the requested interviewee on this subject.

“Prior to this policy change, if a media organization called our office (or any other National Weather Service office) and wanted an interview, we would do our best to accommodate the request as quickly as possible,” said one NOAA employee who requested anonymity. “While often such requests are from local media, local offices do get requests from national media if a weather event is big enough to be a national story.”

The policy requires that local weather offices forward media requests to the NWS press office, who in turn would forward the request on to the Commerce Department’s public relations office. The Department would then decide whether comment should be granted.

Under this new policy, the Department, rather than the weather agencies, would also determine who would then provide comment.

“There has been no explanation as to why this policy was issued. It does appear the intent of this policy is to restrict the flow of weather information to the national media,” said the NOAA employee who also expressed concern over why Commerce is suddenly making blanket policy decisions for the NWS and deciding who can speak to the media.

Confusion over policy

NOAA’s public affairs director and the author of the recent memo say the policy has long been in place. Employees who spoke to RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/), however, said they had never heard of such restrictions being in force before the memo was sent out last week.

NWS Regional Public Affairs Director Jim Teet -- who sent the policy email memo -- said the latest policy is merely a way to coordinate the message.
“I do not set the policies,” Teet said. “All I was doing was passing it along. It's a coordination policy to make sure the most qualified people speak to an issue.”

NOAA Public Affairs Director Jordan St. John said “the policy has been in existence all along,” adding that he rewrote it in June 2004 with “several others,” including lawyers and Commerce Department policymakers.

St. John asserts the media policy was simply “updated” and is not a mandatory directive. Rather, he says it is a set of guidelines to ensure that weather service employees report back to him “when they’ve spoken to someone.”

He added that Mr. Teet is “new on the job and issued the [directive] just as an email reminder.”

While Teet is new to NOAA’s press office, starting in June of this year, he is not new to the PR field, having served as Community Relations Chief and External Relations Chief at Laughlin Air Force Base directly prior to joining NOAA.

Teet provided support ( al+guard%22&hl=en) in 1999 for spokeswoman Karen Hughes’ defense of then Governor George W. Bush’s National Guard record, claiming that training constituted “active duty.”

Some National Weather Service staff expressed surprise when RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) recounted the media policy St. John articulated. Some employees stated that they had never seen the original media policy before, and find the timing of the reminder from Teet to be suspect given the recent political impact of hurricane Katrina.

“I have been worked for NOAA for roughly 15 years,” said a NOAA employee speaking of both the Department media policy and the Teet email. “There has never been a blanket policy of needing approval before granting an interview with a national media outlet.”

Another NOAA employee, also wishing to remain anonymous, concurred.

“This is a big change in our policy with the media,” he said. “This comes all the way down from DOC,” he added, indicating that such media decisions were formerly made at the local level.

St. John provided RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) with both the original and his updated 2004 version of the Department’s media policy. He said employees were aware of it.

The policy St. John provided differs from Teet’s recent email reminder of media restrictions. For example, the emailed policy states that routine contact with national media outlets has to be pre-cleared with the Commerce Department, requiring extensive information about the journalist and media outlet.

The media policy St. John provided does not stipulate such restrictions on interacting with national media. Nor does it state that the Commerce Department must approve media requests.

Instead, the policy focuses on certain types of media interactions, including press conferences, news features and technical papers. These types of media requests simply require that a NOAA/NWS employee notify the NOAA Public Affairs office either prior to or after the media interaction.

Weather Service employees of NWS wonder why they were never told of the original policy. More importantly to some employees, they wonder why Commerce has to approve weather media requests.

The email memo follows.

From "Jim Teet" XXXXX@noaa.gov (XXXXX@noaa.gov)
Date Thu, 29 Sep 2005 12:04:34 -0600
To _NWS WR WFO MICs wr.wfo.mics@noaa.gov (wr.wfo.mics@noaa.gov), _NWS WR WCMs wr.wcms@noaa.gov (wr.wcms@noaa.gov)
Subject DOC Interview Policy

Good Day All:

I have been informed that any request for an interview with a national media outlet/reporter must now receive prior approval by DOC. Please ensure everyone on your staff is aware of this requirement.

Any request for an interview requires the following information to be forwarded to me immediately, so this process may begin:

The name of the reporter and their affiliation; Their deadline and contact phone number; Name of individual being requested for the interview and purpose of the interview; Additional background about the interview subject, and expertise of requested interviewee on this subject.

The request will be forwarded through NWS/NOAA to DOC; however, the individual to be interviewed ultimately will be determined by DOC.

If any requests for an update concerning the interview are received from the media, refer the individual to me for a response via my cell phone: (XXX) XXX-3516.

Thanks, Jim Teet

October 5th, 2005, 09:01 AM
I can partially understand this in the realm of trying to keep tabs on all the information granted by the NOAA and to also make sure that everyone is saying the same thing (not one group saying one thing about a storm that others do not agree on.)

OTOH, this looks like another case of over-bureaucratization of an agency.

Maybe they are looking to create jobs or something.

October 6th, 2005, 09:54 PM
Senators Accuse EPA of Minimizing Health Hazards in New Orleans
By John Heilprin Associated Press Writer

Published: Oct 6, 2005

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration was accused Thursday by senators in both parties of minimizing health hazards from the toxic soup left by Hurricane Katrina, just as they said it did with air pollution in New York from the Sept. 11 attacks.

More than a month after the storm, compounded by Hurricane Rita, Environmental Protection Agency officials said 1 million people lack clean drinking water around New Orleans. Some 70 million tons of hazardous waste remain on the Gulf Coast.[/b]

While EPA officials have warned of serious health hazards from bacteria, chemicals and metals in the region's floodwaters and sediment, they haven't taken a position on New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's aggressive push to reopen the city.

"EPA may not be providing people with the clear information they need," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. "EPA should be clear about the actual risks when people return to the affected areas for more than one day."

A week ago, on a visit to the Gulf Coast, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson stopped short of judging Nagin's plan to allow certain New Orleans residents and business people back into the city. Johnson said it created "a myriad" of potential health concerns, and the agency was "very concerned about the opening of those parts of the city."

Republican members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee also were skeptical of post-Katrina work being done by EPA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers.

"The people of New Orleans need to feel safe, need to feel like there's a plan," said Sen. David Vitter, R-La.

The committee's chairman, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., expressed skepticism about the two-page government handouts on environmental and public health risks that EPA helped compile.

"It bothers me a little bit," Inhofe said. "How many people are going to see the report?"

EPA Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock said thousands of copies are being delivered door-to-door, at relief centers and other public places.

But Peacock acknowledged "room for improvement" in handling the Katrina cleanup and recovery. Agency workers first helped save 800 people's lives, then shifted to contaminant monitoring before focusing on long-range cleanups.

"We've been through a sprint, and now we're staging a marathon," he said. EPA is now assessing 54 Superfund toxic waste sites in the paths of Katrina and Rita. So far, Peacock said, there have been no signs of chemicals released or ruptures in the waste containers.

Samples of floodwater and sediment in the Gulf Region have shown high levels of bacteria, fecal contamination, metals, fuel oils, arsenic and lead. Air monitoring has shown high levels of ethylene and glycol. EPA said the results are "snapshots" that can quickly change.

Sen. James Jeffords, I-Vt., called the government's response to Katrina "apparent chaos."

Some recalled the Bush administration's response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, when the White House directed EPA officials to minimize the health risk posed by the cloud of smoke from the World Trade Center collapse. Within 10 days of those attacks, EPA issued five news releases reassuring the public about air quality without testing for contaminants such as PCBs and dioxin.

It was only nine months later - after respiratory ailments began showing up in workers cleaning up the debris and residents of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn - that EPA could point to any scientific evidence, saying then that air quality had returned to pre-Sept. 11 levels.

"I hope that we're not seeing history repeat itself," said Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.

October 13th, 2005, 01:50 AM
Abuse, Forced Labor Rampant in New Orleans Justice System

by Jessica Azulay
http://newstandardnews.net/content/index.cfm/items/2475 (http://newstandardnews.net/content/index.cfm/items/2475)

New Orleans, Oct 12 - When Robert Davis emerged from the temporary detention center in New Orleans, his eye was swollen nearly shut, his face was bruised, and he had a couple of stitches under his left eye. He told The NewStandard that police had beaten him and then charged him with public intoxication and battery, even though he had not had a drink in 25 years and had merely asked a police officer to leave him alone.

The 64-year-old retired elementary school teacher sat sadly in a chair Sunday morning outside the makeshift jail and struggled to read the ticket he had been issued, a carbon copy stub, much of it illegible. Perhaps most alarming to Davis at the time was that on the line for the arresting officer’s name – probably one of the men who had beaten him – there was only an "X."

"He didn’t even have his name on there," Davis remarked. "I don’t even know who he is."

What Davis also did not know was that an Associated Press cameraman had caught the beating on video, and the officers responsible now face charges. On the tape, which has since made national headlines, white police officers pummel Davis – who is black – with their fists before brutally tackling him to the ground while the bewildered retiree shows no signs of resistance.

But what did not make it into the tape or national attention was that Davis is just one of more than nearly a thousand people who have suffered in a horrific place the police call "Camp Amtrak," an improvised jail in what used to be the New Orleans bus terminal.

[PHOTO: Retired school teacher Robert Davis shows his wounds minutes after his release from Camp Amtrak. Though the story of his beating and arrest at the hands of New Orleans police are national news, the rest of his ordeal -- and that of nearly a thousand others -- exposes a far bigger, more systemic crisis.]

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans authorities are arresting hundreds on minor charges such as breaking curfew or public intoxication, housing them in brutal conditions and then pushing them through a court process that forces most into working on clean-up projects at police facilities, according to numerous interviews and documents obtained by TNS.

At the converted Greyhound terminal, which now serves as a different kind of way station, no passengers arrive with luggage. Instead, police bring people in and book them at what used to be a ticket counter. In the back, where travelers used to board buses, police now push detainees into wire pens where they sleep on the concrete in the open air.

In interviews both inside and outside of Camp Amtrak, people who had been through the process told harrowing accounts of police brutality and harsh conditions. Some of them, like Davis, had visible injuries. Many said police had attacked them or others in their cells with pepper spray. All recounted trying to sleep on the concrete floor of the bus parking lot with just one blanket – or in some cases no blanket – to protect them from the cold and the mosquitoes which swoop in on randomly alternating nights here. None was given a phone call or access to an attorney.

“It makes me really angry, man. It made me realize that the law isn’t working the way it is supposed to.” --Anthony Jack, former inmate
"They treat us like shit," said one inmate through the wire cage. Others chimed in. One said he had not been given a blanket the night before because there were not enough to go around. Many worried that their family members did not know where they were because they had not been allowed to contact them.

[PHOTO: Inmates held at Camp Amtrak are given only a blanket to protect them from the cold and mosquitoes that arrive with the New Orleans night. Jailers keep them in chain-link pens and refuse them access to legal representation and any contact with the outside world.]

Michael Resovsky was one of several men outside the jail yesterday waiting to be picked up for a shift of what the sheriff’s department calls "community service." He recalled the night he spent inside: "They threw you a blanket and they gave you those MREs – you know, those meals in a bag – and they take the heater part out of it and the little bottle of hot sauce so you have to eat it cold. And you sleep on the concrete with a blanket, and the smell is not too nice.

"They were coming in there and macing people, and people were hollering and I couldn’t get no sleep, and you know, it was pretty bad," said Resovsky, who is white.

Anthony Jack, another former detainee, added: "It was cold ; I couldn’t sleep." Jack, a black immigrant from Trinidad and Tobago, said police had arrested him on his own property and charged him with violating curfew, which in most neighborhoods here is still in affect from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

"I was in my yard, and a young white guy came by the gate and I was talking to him and the police came and arrested both of us," he recounted. "He was outside breaking curfew; I was inside… behind the gate. The police broke my gate down with a pick-ax. They broke it completely off the fence."

Jack continued: "It makes me really angry, man. It made me realize that the law isn’t working the way it is supposed to."

Sandy Freelander, a relief volunteer from Wisconsin, was also one of the hundreds arrested. He said that he and two friends – one a New Orleanian widely known here for having helped rescue hundreds of people in the Seventh Ward during the flooding – were detained by police in a parking lot last Thursday. He said that they were on their knees with their hands behind their heads when a police officer attacked his friend.

“If they needed someone to clean up their city, they could have just asked.” --Brandon Toussainthttp://newstandardnews.net/content/photos/azulay_nola_camp-amtrack_booking.jpg
[I][PHOTO: The lobby of the New Orleans Greyhound bus depot has been converted into a makeshift booking center run by members of the New York City police department. Arrestees are processed here before being thrown into pens constructed in the Bus parking area, before ultimately taken upstairs to "court" where most are offered a choice between forced labor and continued incarceration.]

"This middle-aged white [police officer] got real excited about kicking Reggae, Freelander said. "He came running across the parking lot and kicked [Reggae] in the hip while [Reggae] was down on his knees with his hands behind his head. [The officer] pushed [Reggae] on the ground and put his foot to the back of his neck and pointed his gun at him and said he was going to blow his ****ing brains out if he moved again. This guy was really excited about beating up the first black guy he saw or something."

Even though Freelander said the three had permission from the owner to be in the parking lot, the police arrested them on charges of criminal trespassing.

Inside, Freelander said his friend was denied medical attention and that they witnessed police pepper-spraying other detainees police handcuffing a woman to a pole and leaving here for hours and other abuse. He, like all others interviewed by TNS said he was not permitted a phone call or legal counsel, even after repeated requests.

Major Troy Poret, part of a team that runs Camp Amtrak, was unapologetic about the treatment of inmates there. He stressed that the police have been working under extraordinary conditions since Hurricane Katrina and that many of the prisoners were from out of state.

"These poor police officers are stretched out as far as they can be and yet you’ve got to mess with a bunch of gourd heads like we have down here and we have to make a jail for these kind of people," he said. "That’s what’s really bad about this whole [situation]."

Poret, like many of the people working at Camp Amtrak, used to work at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, a notorious jail among prisoners’ rights activists for its cruel conditions.

Asked whether police were pepper-spraying prisoners, Poret was again unapologetic. "I have randomly had to use it," he said. "We have to use it if they are endangering other people in the pen or endangering their [own] lives.

"Look up at the setup that we have," he said. "It’s an old bus terminal. It’s keeping the bad guys off the streets from harassing the poor people of the New Orleans district from worrying about their houses being broken into or worrying about some drunk laying on their porch…"

When asked why police were denying detainees phone calls, Poret said the station did not have any phones for them to use.

"I have a fax phone and I have one local line [here] and that’s it," he said, "I have a cell phone, but I can’t afford a cell phone bill for a thousand people."
But Freelander stressed how important access to the outside world was during incarceration. "The phone call was the biggest thing," he said. "I mean, how are you supposed to even find out what your options are talking to a lawyer? They’re steamrolling the whole process without giving you any legal representation."

Freelander, Resovsky and Jack all said that in the mornings after their arrest, they were taken to a courtroom upstairs where most prisoners were pressured into pleading guilty and accepting between 40 and 80 hours of unpaid labor.

A visit to the courtroom yesterday confirmed their accounts. In a stark, second-floor room of the Greyhound station, police brought in about 20 inmates who had spent the night in the cages. When they entered the room, public defender Clyde Merritt briefly explained the options while the defendants strained to hear him. In most cases, he told them, they could plead guilty and they would be sentenced to about 40 hours of "community service." If they wished the maintain their innocence, he said, they would be sent to Hunts Correctional Facility where they could wait as long as 21 days to be processed, no matter how minor or unsupported their charges.

Many of the defendants were obviously confused. They swarmed him with questions, but he held them off, telling them that he could not give them individual advice. For that, he said, they would have to retain their own attorneys.

Off to the side, the lone female defendant stood shyly in her pajamas and flip-flops. She later told the judge she had been arrested right in front of her house.

In the end, given the choice between unpaid work and continued incarceration, nearly all chose to plead guilty.

According to documents obtained by The NewStandard, most who pass through Camp Amtrak are brought in on charges of possession of stolen property, looting or violating curfew. But the vast majority of those interviewed or observed in court this week were arrested for alleged curfew violations or public intoxication.

[PHOTO: According to documents obtained by The NewStandard, nearly 1,000 individuals have been held at Camp Amtrak since it was established in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.]

"The situation down there is really bad," said Don Antenen, a prisoner support activist from Cincinnati, Ohio who has been monitoring Camp Amtrak and working to secure legal support for people whose rights have been violated. "It’s not isolated from the rest of the prison system in the United States," Antenen said, "but we’re seeing all of the worst elements of the United States prison system coming all to the forefront and being very concentrated in one location."

He continued: "The police are basically arresting people for curfew violations and public intoxication and just using it as a way to get free labor to clean up the prisons and court houses and the police stations. They’re just using it as a way to get people to do their dirty work for free."

Brandon Toussaint, a black 18-year-old who spoke to TNS as he was waiting to be picked up and taken to perform a day of punishment, said he was arrested going from the downstairs of is apartment complex to another apartment upstairs. Police charged him with violating curfew and public intoxication, and Toussaint accepted forced labor rather than a transfer to Hunts, even though he said he had been wrongly arrested. He said he was worried that he would now have a criminal record, this being his first "offense."

Toussaint said he had already done a few days of work for the police, cleaning up and painting their facilities.

"If they needed someone to clean up their city, they could have just asked," he said.

************************************************** **********

All of the interviews quoted and conditions described by the journalist are fully documented on audio and/or videotape. Documents used were provided by Camp Amtrak officials.

The NewStandard will be running stories from correspondent Jessica Azulay in New Orleans for at least the next two weeks, as well as weblog entries provding more background about gathering this story and eyewitness testimony from sources.

&#169; 2005 The NewStandard

October 13th, 2005, 08:55 AM
John Smith, a purple man, said he was shocked about police behavior in the region.

You think the article goes a WEEE bit out of its way to describe the races of everyone in the story?

What the cops are doing down there is inexcusable, but lets not make this a racial issue and loose focus on the fact that the department down there is just plain BAD!

October 13th, 2005, 02:23 PM
The two issues intertwine. It is a very corrupt department AND minorities, specifically blacks, are often on the receiving end of their bad behavior. It wasn't a white man that got beat up in front of cameras. It wasn't a majority white population that was abandoned in the Ninth Ward. By noting the race of the individuals, it clarifies the argument that "hate crimes" exist, "hate crimes" are often ignored, and "hate crimes" legislation is needed to impose stiffer penalties on people, like these officers, who treat people differently because of attributes beyond their control. The issues of race, class, and power and corruption should be exposed with as much detail as possible to give us the clearest picture. Noting a fact does not diminish the story. Facts enhance understanding.

October 13th, 2005, 05:42 PM
The two issues intertwine. It is a very corrupt department AND minorities, specifically blacks, are often on the receiving end of their bad behavior. It wasn't a white man that got beat up in front of cameras. It wasn't a majority white population that was abandoned in the Ninth Ward. By noting the race of the individuals, it clarifies the argument that "hate crimes" exist, "hate crimes" are often ignored, and "hate crimes" legislation is needed to impose stiffer penalties on people, like these officers, who treat people differently because of attributes beyond their control. The issues of race, class, and power and corruption should be exposed with as much detail as possible to give us the clearest picture. Noting a fact does not diminish the story. Facts enhance understanding.



Again, one man beats another, regardless of motivation or reason, it is BAD.

What about the WHITE reporter that was shoved around by one of the participating cops? Oh, he does not count, he was a reporter.

Noting a fact AD NAUSEAM is intended to try to appease people looking for just that kind of conflict. Even the victim added the "by a white cop" as an afterthought at the end of his statement at the end of the interview he had on CBS morning show.

And I don't believe I heard the "N" word or anything near it when he was getting this handed to him. (I may be wrong, but I do not hear it).
http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/10/10/taped.beatings.ap/index.html has the full video.

Also, you seem to want to focus on race against a police force that was caught trying to steal and launder 400 cars. Lets just call them bad and leave race out of this for once!

BTW, it aint just NO:

Montreal: http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20051012/quebec_helicopterarrestvideo_20051012/20051013?hub=Canada

October 13th, 2005, 08:21 PM
^ Ninja: Do you really believe that race isn't part of the equation?

October 13th, 2005, 09:48 PM
Who Cares.

Clearly not you. I do.

What about the WHITE reporter that was shoved around by one of the participating cops? Oh, he does not count, he was a reporter.

The white reporter was roughed up because he caught the white policemen and FBI agents beating a defenseless black man to a bloody pulp on film. They also caught the policeman physically threatening the reporter. Another young man also caught the assault of the black man and the reporter on tape from a window above the scene. He too was roughed up, cuffed and thrown to the ground.

Each are crimes. Each had a different motivation.

The latter crimes have the appearance of being an enraged reaction to being caught red handed. The initial crime seems to have no provocation whatsoever.

October 14th, 2005, 08:59 AM
^ Ninja: Do you really believe that race isn't part of the equation?

It always is, and it will always be.

But people will look to bring it out as THE reason for this.

The guy could have been white and gotten beaten, but he wasn't. The beating itself is the crime. The cop had no right to do that, therefore any reason he had is not valid, no matter what people feel about the reason itself.

Like I said, I heard no "N" words or similar derogatory comments made by the cops. But a racial crime has more of a chance of being fought by people like the ACLU than a simple case of "bad" cops. If you listened to the guy talk about it after, he added the fact they were white like it was an afterthought.

Even he did not really think of it as a race thing. Why do so many people WANT to think of it this way?

October 14th, 2005, 09:09 AM
Clearly not you. I do.

Then the media will love you.

The white reporter was roughed up because he caught the white policemen and FBI agents beating a defenseless black man to a bloody pulp on film.

And you are saying that what they did to the white man was OK? You are mixing up deed with unprovable motive. It does not matter what race the perp or the victim were. A CITIZEN got beat by the local cops for no reason.

Pencils down.

They also caught the policeman physically threatening the reporter. Another young man also caught the assault of the black man and the reporter on tape from a window above the scene. He too was roughed up, cuffed and thrown to the ground

Proving that this was a racist event, or that too many people were catching the cops doing something wrong?

What about the woman that tried to stop them, how she was shooed away by the mounted policeman (who was previously trying to block the camera). The way she was "asked" to move did not look too friendly there...

Oh, I forgot to tell you. She was white too.

Each are crimes. Each had a different motivation.

The latter crimes have the appearance of being an enraged reaction to being caught red handed. The initial crime seems to have no provocation whatsoever.

Um, the initial did not seem to have any. All we know is that it COULD have been a cop arresting an uncooperative man. We did not see anything before the ONE cop was on him.

Then the other two come in and start wrestling him and pounding on him. What could have been something as simple as an unlawful arrest turned into assault and battery. These cops came in, as the oh so eloquent press abusing cop pointed out, with something no their shoulders. They were at the end of whatever short rope they were on and went ape on a guy that did not deserve, or warrant that ammount of force.

The thing that gets me, even if you throw away all the excessive violence and whatnot, was the simple fact that it took 3-4 cops that long to apprehend/ "subdue" a 64 year old retired elementary school teacher?

WTF kind of training do these b00bs have?

Also, who is the leg-wrestler guy in the vest and shorts? And what the hell is he doing?

October 14th, 2005, 10:11 AM
Also, who is the leg-wrestler guy in the vest and shorts? And what the hell is he doing?

Actually, he was from the "fashion police" and found those shoes to be in violation of good taste.

October 14th, 2005, 10:55 AM
Actually, he was from the "fashion police" and found those shoes to be in violation of good taste.

I was wondering about that.

I never saw that leg lock before. It was like he was trying to get his ankle up to be hancuffed.

Maybe he was just looking for a date for later......... :eek:

October 14th, 2005, 01:05 PM
Clearly a foot fetish. I've seen dogs in heat control themselves better. If you watch the video closely, you will see him stroking the foot as he humps the calf.

October 14th, 2005, 04:06 PM

November 3rd, 2005, 09:27 AM
Brownie's Back !!
Amazingly this guy is STILL on the Federal payroll :eek:

Brown's E-Mails After Katrina Show Concern About His Image, Dog


Nov. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown discussed his appearance, his dog and his public image as the government's relief effort unraveled after Hurricane Katrina, based on e-mails released yesterday.

``If you'll look at my lovely FEMA attire you'll really vomit,'' Brown wrote to colleagues the morning of Aug. 29, the day the storm hit the Gulf Coast. ``I am a fashion god.''

The e-mails were among 1,000 pages of electronic messages the Homeland Security Department turned over to a special House panel probing the federal response. They show Brown wasn't fully engaged in managing the emergency response to the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, according to a report by Representative Charles Melancon, a Louisiana Democrat.

The messages show ``Mr. Brown made few decisions and seemed out of touch,'' said the report written by Melancon's aides.

In an e-mail early on Aug. 29, Brown acknowledged a colleague's compliment about his clothing. ``Are you proud of me?'' he wrote. ``Can I quit now? Can I go home?''

Nicol Andrews, a FEMA spokeswoman, said the selective release of the e-mails distorts the decision-making process during the storm and in the immediate aftermath. Brown didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

`What Went Right'

``FEMA is cooperating fully with Congress in looking at what went right and what went wrong during the federal response to Katrina,'' she said. It's ``hard to believe that supplying the media with a few e-mails taken entirely out of context helps to accomplish that task.''

Rob White, a spokesman for Republican Representative Tom Davis of Virginia, chairman of the special panel investigating the hurricane response, said that while ``I can't say we agree 100 percent'' with the Democratic analysis, ``these e-mails do raise important questions about what actions he was taking or not taking.''

After receiving several e-mails about the breach of levees that were supposed to protect New Orleans from flooding on Aug. 29, Brown questioned their accuracy, writing, ``I'm being told here water over not a breach.''

Most congressional critics and administration officials have said the breaching of the levees overwhelmed the federal, state and local responses. TV images of stranded New Orleans hurricane survivors without food, water or medical attention prompted outrage among Americans and Congress and led to Brown's resignation on Sept. 12.

`How To Do It'

In a Sept. 27 appearance before the House panel, Brown defended his actions. ``I get it when it comes to emergency management, I know what it's all about,'' he said. ``I know how to do it, and I think I do a pretty darn good job of it.''

On Aug. 31, in response to a message detailing how people are being ``kicked out'' of New Orleans hotels and that food and water had run out at the Superdome, the city's primary shelter, Brown responded, ``Thanks for the update. Anything specific I need to do or tweak?''

On Sept. 4, as criticism mounted of the federal effort, Brown received an e-mail from Sharon Worthy, whom the Melancon report identified as the former director's press secretary, telling him: ``You just need to look more hard-working...ROLL UP THE SLEEVES!''

In other e-mails, Brown searched for someone to care for his dog at his home and recommended former colleagues to defend him in a potentially negative story about his past management of the International Arabian Horse Association.

Brown wrote ``do you know of anyone who dog sits?'' in an e-mail to his assistant on Aug. 30. ``If you know of any responsible kids, let me know.''

In another, he asked a friend to ``make the connection'' so that ex-colleagues could defend his past work for reporters.

November 3rd, 2005, 09:48 AM
Some of those are bad, but who the hell cares if he asked if anyone dog-sits?

He is supposed to go to NO and let his dog stay at home without anyone to care for him? Come on people!!!

As for the sarcastic remarks about his fasion, that would only be bad if that was ALL he talked about. In the time it took him to write a sarcastic reply like that, he could have, I don't know, sharpened a pencil?

Sometimes people focus on the entirely wrong things.

November 3rd, 2005, 09:56 AM
Sometimes people focus on the entirely wrong things.
I think that's the point.

November 3rd, 2005, 11:35 AM
I think that's the point.

BOTH sides.


TLOZ Link5
November 5th, 2005, 05:03 PM
It doesn't look like much of a smile. She might be grimacing, or perhaps she's reacting to whatever it is that she's looking at off-camera. Maybe she's squinting into the sun.

What's with the bag? She might have brought something for some of the local residents she was visiting or to the construction workers in the background, or perhaps one of those two gave it to her. I highly doubt that she did some quick shopping downtown before this photo-op.

November 6th, 2005, 02:24 PM
Whenever I go to a disaster area, I tried to put on my white Chanel suit as well. As for the bag, where would you suggest she carry the tiara?

Oh, and although it looks like an ugly grimace, it is actually one of the better british smile you'll see on a Brit. Dentistry being what is is (or isn't ) in the UK.

November 20th, 2005, 06:34 PM
New Orleans Today: It's Worse Than You Think

Neighborhoods are still dark, garbage piles up on the street, and bodies are still being found.

The city's pain is a nation's shame

TIME Magazine
Sunday, Nov. 20, 2005
Nov. 28, 2005 issue
By CATHY BOOTH THOMAS/NEW ORLEANS (http://javascript<b></b>:void(0))


Photo: Chris Usher
Friends clean out the mold encrusted home of a woman with no flood insurance

MAG: New Orleans, It's Worse Than You Think


$62.3 Billion in Federal Hurricane Relief Funds Mostly Unspent - More Than $37.5 Billion Still Sitting in FEMA's Account, Waiting For a Purpose, TIME Reports

Federal Emergency Management Agency 'Awash in Money,' As Agency Announces End of Emergency Housing Program Dec. 1

Only 60,000 People Staying Overnight These Days in New Orleans

Still Finding Bodies in New Orleans -- 30 in Past Month

Sun Nov 20 2005 09:01:52 ET

New York - They're still finding bodies 13 weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit-30 in the past month-raising the death toll to 1,053 in Louisiana, TIME's Cathy Booth-Thomas reports from New Orleans. The looters are still working too, brazenly taking their haul in daylight. But at night darkness falls, and it's quiet. “It's spooky out there. There's no life,” says cardiologist Pat Breaux, who lives near Pontchartrain with only a handful of neighbors. The destruction, says Breaux, head of the Orleans Parish Medical Society, depresses people. Suicides are up citywide, he say, although no one has a handle on the exact number. Murders, on the other hand, have dropped to almost none.

Delays and squabbles in the recovery efforts mean that Congress's $62.3 billion largesse has mostly gone unspent. More than half-$37.5 billion-is sitting in FEMA's account, waiting for a purpose. Under fire for being slow to respond, the Bush Administration had rushed two emergency supplemental bills to Congress with little thought about how the money would be spent and how fast. Now FEMA is “awash in money,” says a Democratic appropriations aide. Of the nearly $25 billion assigned to projects, checks totaling only about $6.2 billion have been cashed. As a result, a third supplemental-funding bill sent to Congress suggests taking back $2.3 billion in aid. Mayor Ray Nagin attempted to shore up support for the city's recovery before Congress last week, but he came home with little new. The comment of a G.O.P. aide was typical: “We want to see them helping themselves before they ask us for help,” TIME reports.

November 24th, 2005, 07:37 PM
Doubts Now Surround Account of Snipers Amid New Orleans Chaos

Los Angeles Times
November 24, 2005
By James Rainey, Times Staff Writer


NEW ORLEANS — Even in the desperate days after Hurricane Katrina, the news flash seemed particularly sensational: Police had caught eight snipers on a bridge shooting at relief contractors. In the gun battle that followed, officers shot to death five or six of the marauders.

Exhausted and emotionally drained police cheered the news that their comrades had stopped the snipers and suffered no losses, said an account in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. One officer said the incident showed the department's resolve to take back the streets.

But nearly three months later — and after repeated revisions of the official account of the incident and a lowering of the death toll to two — authorities said they were still trying to reconstruct what happened Sept. 4 on the Danziger Bridge. And on the city's east side, where the shootings occurred, two families that suffered casualties are preparing to come forward with stories radically different from those told by police.

A teenager critically wounded that day, speaking about the incident for the first time, said in an interview that police shot him for no reason, delivering a final bullet at point-blank range with what he thought was an assault rifle. Members of another family said one of those killed was mentally disabled, a childlike innocent who made a rare foray from home in a desperate effort to find relief from the flood.

The two families — one from New Orleans East and solidly middle class, the other poorer and rooted in the Lower 9th Ward — have offered only preliminary information about what they say happened that day. Large gaps remain in the police and civilian accounts of the incident.


News of the Danziger Bridge shootings roared across cable television for a time. But as with many overblown reports of crime and violence immediately after the hurricane, the facts remain elusive.

The final findings seem likely to become a provocative centerpiece in assessments of the New Orleans Police Department's performance in the hurly-burly days after Katrina.

Many officers remained at their posts during and after the storm. Despite losing their patrol cars and running out of ammunition, they improvised to keep assisting in relief efforts. But others abetted the lawlessness — abandoning their posts or joining in the looting.

As in all officer-involved shootings in New Orleans, the Police Department has undertaken a review and is expected to turn its findings over to the district attorney's office in the next few weeks. Police Department spokesman Marlon Defillo said it was not unusual that the suspects had given a divergent view of the shootings. But he said homicide investigators would take all accounts seriously, a position reiterated by the office of Dist. Atty. Eddie Jordan.

"We are looking at everyone's involvement," said Leatrice Dupre, the district attorney's spokeswoman. She said the investigation "may find that the police were unjust in this shooting. Or it may not. We just don't know."

Today, a late-autumn chill has descended on New Orleans, signaling the end of hurricane season, at last. The Danziger Bridge stands mostly quiet, with an occasional car or truck crossing to and from New Orleans East neighborhoods left in ruins.

On Sept. 4, it was different. The half-mile-long span delivers the Chef Menteur Highway over the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal and into the city's east side. As a high and dry ridge in the middle of inundated neighborhoods, the highway became a magnet for evacuees.

A small dose of order had emerged in parts of New Orleans on that Sunday morning, with the National Guard deployed in force and evacuations underway at the teeming Superdome and Convention Center. But before 9 a.m., the police reported snipers shooting from the bridge. Initial accounts given to the media by Deputy Police Chief W.J. Riley had the targets as 14 civilian contractors, part of a convoy that drove to the area to help with storm repairs.

But in a measure of the confusion and poor communication that prevailed, another police official gave a different account.

"Five men who were looting exchanged gunfire with police. The officers engaged the looters when they were fired upon," killing four, said Steven Nichols, the police official, according to the Reuters news agency.

In the following weeks, the official account would be modified again. It turned out, police said, that only two of the suspects had been killed.

Although not disclosed by police, one of the dead was the mentally retarded man, 40-year-old Ronald Madison, family and friends said. The other was a 19-year-old man. Four others were injured: Leonard Bartholomew, 44; his wife, Susan, 39; their daughter, Leisha, 17; and their nephew, Jose Holmes Jr., 19.

A month after the shootings, the Police Department issued a statement giving its most complete account. It said that seven officers had responded to a call, not from contractors but from two officers "down." The statement said a sheriff's deputy from a neighboring parish had requested backup because of "gunfire from several persons on the same bridge" — shots directed at relief workers in boats.

Lance Madison and his brother Ronald walked to the highway that morning. But family and friends insist that they couldn't be further from the profile of those who would shoot at police.

Lance Madison, 49, had played football at Southern University, a wide receiver who had a chance at the pros before settling into a career with Federal Express, his relatives said. Ronald Madison, nearly a decade younger, had been mentally disabled since birth. He seldom ventured beyond the tidy family home on Lafon Drive, where he lived with his mother, 1 1/2 miles east of the bridge.

Ronald had a childlike demeanor and was best remembered in the neighborhood of well-kept homes for endlessly walking the family dog, Bobby, up and down the block. Neighbors said if they needed to borrow milk or a cup of sugar, Ronald liked to deliver it, usually at a dead run.

Another brother, Raymond Madison, was also mentally disabled. "They were very clean and very polite and everything like that," said Louis Bart, who last week was cleaning out a home across the street from the Madisons'. "They were grown men but they wouldn't hurt a fly."

A fourth Madison brother, Romell, is a dentist and a prominent community figure who has served on several state commissions, mostly involving healthcare. He said that his brothers, after being stranded for several days on the roof of Lance's apartment building in New Orleans East, were trying to reach his office on the Chef Menteur Highway. To get there they had to cross the Danziger Bridge.

But when they were nearing their destination, gun-toting teenagers shot at the brothers and sent them running, Lance testified at a September preliminary hearing.

"We ran for our lives," Lance told a judge at the hearing, where he faced eight felony counts for the attempted murder of eight police officers. The brothers escaped only to encounter another group of men — assembled at the west end of the bridge.

Police officers in those unsteady days appeared far from standard issue. Many were out of uniform, and some carried their own "toys" — hunting rifles, AK-47s, carbines — one officer said in an earlier interview. Their police pistols had become useless when they ran out of ammunition.

The police said Lance Madison had fired on officers then fled, heaving his gun into the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal, known locally as the Industrial Canal, which connects the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain.

Chief Orleans Parish Magistrate Judge Gerard Hansen, who presided at the preliminary hearing, said he found it "hard to believe" that Madison would have been shooting at anyone that day.

In the police statement on the incident, Ronald is not named. It says only that the "suspect" accompanying Lance fled to a motel about a block from the west end of the bridge. "The suspect reached into his waist and turned toward the officer," the statement said, "who fired one shot fatally wounding him."

Despite the judge's skepticism, he did not dismiss charges against Lance Madison, who still faces attempted murder charges — one count for each of the seven New Orleans police and one for the sheriff's deputy on the scene. He is free on bail but is not speaking about the case, on advice from his lawyer, Nathan Fisher.

Dressed in his green dentist's scrubs at the end of one recent workday, Romell Madison said his family was anxious to tell the full story — once the lawyer gives the OK.

"It will be worth a movie," he said. "The truth will come out at the end of this."

Members of the Bartholomew family, driven out of the Lower 9th Ward by the flooding, also arrived at the bridge that morning. They had evacuated to the higher ground of the Chef Menteur Highway and found two rooms at a Family Inns of America motel.

Instead of refuge, however, the 10 relatives found themselves packed into the motel with drug addicts, prostitutes and criminals. Gunfire rang out regularly, they said.

"A lot of people were running past us with guns and robbing people in the hotel and stuff," said Jontae Holmes, 16, a niece of the Bartholomews. "Then the generators got messed up and the lights started going off. It was scary."

Six days after the storm hit, Jontae said, her aunt and uncle crossed the bridge to retrieve a wallet they had left at home. Susan and Leonard Bartholomew hoped to catch a rescue boat to navigate the still-flooded streets, the teenager said.

The Bartholomews' nephew, Jose Holmes Jr., 19, went along, as did one of his friends, another 19-year-old, who planned to search for his missing mother, Holmes said. Several other family members remained at the motel.

Police said Jose Holmes and his friend were among a group of "at least four suspects" near the east end of the bridge who began shooting at officers. When police returned fire, they said, the shooters jumped over a concrete barrier to a pedestrian walkway along the north side of the span. The suspects continued firing from behind the barrier, the police said.

On the day he was released from the West Jefferson Medical Center last week, Jose Holmes Jr. insisted that was not how it happened. Speaking haltingly, just above a whisper and nodding to answer some questions, the 108-pound teenager continued to move slowly after 10 weeks in the hospital.

The teenager said he was "just walking" with his family and his friend when gunfire erupted behind them.

"It was loud, real loud. After we heard the gunshots, we just started running," said Holmes, who displayed wounds to his arm, neck, chin and stomach. "Then we hopped over into a little walkway."

Holmes said he was down and badly wounded when one of the men approached, put an assault rifle to his stomach and pulled the trigger. He said he didn't get a good look at the shooters.

"They came up real close, real close," Holmes said, adding that he was too terrified to look up. "They was trying to kill us."

A colostomy bag now drains Holmes' bowels. His left forefinger and thumb are frozen. Doctors told him the hand had nerve damage.

Leonard, Susan and Leisha Bartholomew were also wounded by the police. Susan lost an arm to what the family believed was a shotgun blast.

Relatives said all three — who evacuated to Texas after their hospital stays — were too traumatized to talk about the incident.

The preliminary conclusion of the investigation is that none of the three Bartholomews was carrying a gun that day, said police spokesman Defillo. But their nephew, Jose Holmes, who has moved into his father's Georgia home, is suspected of targeting the police. He will be charged with attempted murder and possibly other crimes "imminently," Defillo said.

The police spokesman said the snipers' weapons were found at the scene, although he said he did not know what type of guns they were. Authorities have not identified the other man killed by police that day. But Holmes said it was his friend.

"Out of anger, frustration, no leadership, the police just went berserk," said Jose Holmes Sr. on the day he brought his son home from the hospital.

Defillo said police would investigate claims by both sides. He rejected earlier accounts that officers had celebrated the bloody outcome.

"I was there and I didn't hear anybody cheering," Defillo said. "No one was in the mood to be cheering about anything. We were rescuing people, dealing with the loss of two police officers who committed suicide and [coping] with 85% of our police officers being homeless. I didn't see joy then. I still haven't seen it."


New Orleans police say they shot and killed two snipers who fired from the Danziger Bridge on Sept. 4. The Bartholomew and Madison families say they did nothing to threaten police and were looking for relief and refuge after Hurricane Katrina when the police opened fire.


Bartholomew family's version: The Bartholomews walked from a Family Inns of America motel to the bridge. When they were about 100 yards onto the bridge, police began shooting. They dove over a concrete barrier to a pedestrian walkway for protection.

New Orleans police version: Police accuse Jose Holmes Jr., 19, a Bartholomew nephew, of being one of the snipers. Police say the shooters used the concrete barrier for protection and continued firing. A friend of Holmes, also 19, was killed.


Madison family's version: Lance Madison said he and his brother Ronald, who was mentally disabled, were crossing the bridge to reach the safety of a dental office owned by their brother Romell. Family and friends said Ronald Madison posed no threat to police.

New Orleans police version: Police say Lance Madison shot at them and then dumped his gun into the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal. Police say they chased Ronald Madison, shooting and killing him when he made a threatening motion in a motel parking lot near the west end of the bridge.


Sources: Times reporting, ESRI, TeleAtlas

November 25th, 2005, 08:55 AM
Who would be stupid enough to pay this guy for more of his "good work"?

Ex-FEMA Head Starts Disaster Planning Firm

Fri Nov 25, 5:25 AM ET


Former FEMA Director Michael Brown, heavily criticized for his agency's slow response to Hurricane Katrina, is starting a disaster preparedness consulting firm to help clients avoid the sort of errors that cost him his job.

"If I can help people focus on preparedness, how to be better prepared in their homes and better prepared in their businesses — because that goes straight to the bottom line — then I hope I can help the country in some way," Brown told the Rocky Mountain News for its Thursday editions.

Brown said officials need to "take inventory" of what's going on in a disaster to be able to answer questions to avoid appearing unaware of how serious a situation is.

In the aftermath of the hurricane, critics complained about Brown's lack of formal emergency management experience and e-mails that later surfaced showed him as out of touch with the extent of the devastation.

The lawyer admits that while he was head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency mistakes were made in the response to Katrina. He also said he had been planning to quit before the hurricane hit.

"Hurricane Katrina showed how bad disasters can be, and there's an incredible need for individuals and businesses to understand how important preparedness is," he said.

Brown said companies already have expressed interested in his consulting business, Michael D. Brown LLC. He plans to run it from the Boulder area, where he lived before joining the Bush administration in 2001.

"I'm doing a lot of good work with some great clients," Brown said. "My wife, children and my grandchild still love me. My parents are still proud of me."

Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press

November 30th, 2005, 03:40 PM
Hurricane Season Ends Today

By JOHN PAIN, Associated Press WriterWed Nov 30, 7:51 AM ET

The victims of the busiest and costliest Atlantic hurricane season on record may be comforted now that it's finally ending Wednesday: No hurricane has been known to hit the United States between December and May.

But despite the end of the June 1-to-Nov. 30 season, tens of thousands of Americans are still dealing with the devastation from Hurricanes Wilma, Rita and Katrina, the nation's worst natural disaster in modern times.
And hurricanes still could form over the next few months. In fact, a tropical storm took shape in the Atlantic on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, thousands remain homeless along the Gulf Coast, where Katrina hit three months ago. The storm plunged New Orleans into the kind of chaos usually seen in developing countries, exposing the gap between rich and poor, and raising serious doubts about the country's readiness for another catastrophe, caused by man or nature.

Forecasters say 2006 could be another brutal year because the Atlantic is in a period of frenzied hurricane activity that began in 1995 and could last at least another decade.

Government hurricane experts say the increase is due to a natural cycle of higher sea temperatures, lower wind shear and other factors, though some scientists blame global warming.

The 2005 season obliterated many long-standing records:

_In 154 years of record-keeping, this year had the most named storms (26, including Tropical Storm Epsilon, which formed Tuesday), the most hurricanes (13), the highest number of major hurricanes hitting the U.S. (4), and the most top-scale Category 5 hurricanes (3).

_Katrina was the deadliest U.S. hurricane since 1928 (more than 1,300 dead) and replaced 1992's Andrew as the most expensive one on record ($34.4 billion in insured losses).

_Total insured losses from hurricanes this year were put at $47.2 billion, above the previous record of $22.9 billion set last year when four hurricanes also hit the U.S., according to risk-analysis firm ISO.

_Wilma was briefly the most intense Atlantic hurricane on record in terms of minimum central pressure (882 millibars). It also was the fastest-strengthening storm on record — its top sustained winds increased 105 mph in 24 hours in the Caribbean.

_Forecasters exhausted their list of 21 proper names (Arlene, Bret, Cindy and so on) and had to use the Greek alphabet to name storms for the first time.

The worst damage, of course, was inflicted by Katrina. Miles of coastal Mississippi towns such as Waveland and Gulfport were smashed. Eighty percent of New Orleans was under water after its levees broke. The world saw families stranded on roofs, and hungry and thirsty refugees stuck in the Superdome and Convention Center. Bodies lay on streets for days or floated in the fetid floodwaters. Hundreds of thousands of people have yet to return to their homes — or have no homes to return to.
So far, Congress has approved $62 billion in mostly short-term relief aid, and estimates put the cost of rebuilding at up to $200 billion.

The Bush administration was bitterly criticized for its slow response to Katrina. Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, lost his job, and the president's approval ratings sank.

Wilma, Dennis and Rita, the other hurricanes that hit the United States, were not as deadly or destructive, but they also exposed weaknesses: There were 14-hour traffic jams as Houston emptied out ahead of Rita, which struck the Texas-Louisiana coast on Sept. 24, and South Florida was crippled for days after Wilma knocked out power to more than 6 million people on Oct. 24.

The president has ordered the Homeland Security Department to review disaster plans for every major metropolitan area. FEMA is also pledging to manage the flow of personnel and supplies better.

"We have to make it a much more nimble, more adaptable organization. ... We've got good people in place to make it happen," said R. David Paulison, FEMA's acting director. He added: "As long as I'm here, I can tell you, we will not have another Superdome."

Despite government warnings that people be prepared to survive on their own for three days after a catastrophe, polls found that a majority of Americans are no better prepared for a disaster than they were before Katrina.

But some Americans have learned their lesson.

"Next time they say evacuate, I'm gone," said Tracy Haywood, 38, of New Orleans, who spent three days stranded on a roof during the storm before being rescued.
Associated Press writer Connie Mabin and Kevin McGill in New Orleans and Emily Wagster Pettus in Jackson, Miss., contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

January 4th, 2006, 09:21 AM

When Katrina hit, where were the police?
Issue of 2006-01-09
Posted 2005-01-02

Tim Bruneau discovered New Orleans in 1997, when, as a twenty-three-year-old soldier at Fort Polk, Louisiana, he was close enough to the city to hit Bourbon Street on weekends. He’d spent two years in Panama as a military policeman, and New Orleans reminded him, in a good way, of Central America—hot, sensual, and easygoing. Rather than go home to Texas after leaving the Army, he joined the New Orleans Police Department.
Bruneau is tall and thin, with a big Adam’s apple in a long neck. He walks like a marionette, lurching along with his knees slightly bent and his feet dragging. In 2002, he was hit by a car as he was running after a drug suspect. When he awoke, six weeks later, he couldn’t move his left side. Bruneau assumed that his career was finished, but the department stood by him, paying for several operations, including the amputation of the little finger of his left hand, and keeping a job open for him. When it became clear that he would never be strong enough to return to patrol, he was made a detective.
The Hurricane Katrina crisis began for Bruneau on Monday, August 29th, shortly after the storm had passed through. A young woman lay dead in the middle of the 1900 block of Jackson Avenue. Her skull was crushed, and a fallen street light, blown down by the ninety-five-mile-an-hour winds, lay beside her. Along Jackson Avenue, people were emerging from shotgun shacks into a world of smashed oak trees and downed power lines. Some of them knew the woman. She had gone out during the storm to buy drugs.
Bruneau’s police radio carried reports from the Lower Ninth Ward, three miles away: it was flooding rapidly, from a breach in the so-called Industrial Canal. But that was another district’s problem. Bruneau radioed for the coroner. Nobody showed up. Bruneau called again. Nothing. An hour passed. The dispatcher told Bruneau that floodwater was heading toward him. The Seventeenth Street and London Avenue Canals had breached their levees, and Lake Pontchartrain was pouring into northern New Orleans. Bruneau asked for an ambulance. None was available, because most of them had been moved out of the city before the storm. He asked the dispatcher to try the coroner again, but the coroner’s office was flooded.
Bruneau waited by the body for two hours, and finally left it with a patrolman and drove off to another call. When he checked back, in the early afternoon, the woman still lay uncovered on the hot pavement. Standard operating procedure, it seemed, no longer applied. In some nearby storm wreckage, he and the patrolman found a deflated water-bed mattress. Neighbors watched as the two men rolled the woman onto it and hoisted her into the back seat of Bruneau’s unmarked white Crown Victoria. He explained to the neighbors that he planned to deliver the woman to the morgue. “So they wouldn’t think I was up to no good,” he told me. After informing the dispatcher that he had a 29-U, a victim of an unclassified death, in his back seat, he drove to Charity Hospital, about a mile away. Water was approaching the building’s steps, and the doctors and staff members were evacuating. They couldn’t take the body. At Tulane University Hospital, down the street, an emergency-room doctor refused to let Bruneau in the door.
By this time, Bruneau knew from police reports that his own house and car were underwater. He parked a few blocks from the Superdome, staring through the windshield at the huge structure rising incongruously from deep water. “I was dazed and confused,” he told me later. All he had was his uniform, the cash in his wallet, and his gun. He didn’t know what to do with the corpse. The entire edifice of city government seemed to have dissolved in the floodwaters. He sat gazing at the Superdome for two hours. Finally, the dispatcher got back to him.
“Undo what you did,” she said.
“You mean dump the body?”
“Undo what you did.”
Bruneau drove back to Jackson Avenue. A sergeant met him there with a body bag, and the neighbors watched again as the cops pulled the woman out of the car and onto a strip of grass. They unrolled her from the water bed and zipped her into the bag. This time, Bruneau didn’t know what to say to the neighbors, so he simply drove away. During the days that followed, he headed back toward Jackson Avenue every now and then. The 1900 block eventually lay four blocks into the flood zone, and he stood at the water’s edge and peered through his binoculars. The woman floated this way and that, and came to rest about half a block from where he’d first found her.

All over New Orleans, officers like Tim Bruneau were trying to do their best. One swam from his flooded house with his Rottweiler. A heavyset female officer who could not swim huddled on her daughter’s desk all night, floated out on a door, and reported for duty. Kristi Foret, a tiny twenty-five-year-old single mother who joined the department in August after serving with the Army in Afghanistan, spent two days trapped on her roof in the sun. After a neighbor with a boat rescued her, she stayed with him for another three days, sleeping in the boat and pulling people off roofs and out of attics. “It’s called an oath,” she told me. “Whenever you give your word, you do exactly what you say you’re going to do.”
As an institution, though, the New Orleans Police Department disintegrated with the first drop of floodwater. The current chief, Warren J. Riley, likes to say that no department anywhere has ever faced “an enemy like Katrina.” The flood deprived the department of ammunition, communications, and cars. But the loss of equipment doesn’t fully explain a collapse that shocked even the department’s oldest veterans.
The N.O.P.D. was notorious long before Katrina for failures of leadership, professionalism, and discipline. The department was one of the most poorly paid in the country—even the highest-ranking patrolmen earned less than eight hundred dollars a week before taxes. Officers had to buy their own uniforms, gun belts, raincoats, and handcuffs—everything except a badge, a gun, a radio, and a nightstick. They were required to live within the city limits, and many sent their children to New Orleans’ notoriously underfunded public schools. Nearly all patrolmen worked private security details to make ends meet. For instance, Sabrina Richardson, the single mother of an eight-year-old boy, worked eight-hour shifts for the department and then a midnight-to-six shift in a Wal-Mart parking lot. On weekends, she patrolled the stands of the Superdome. “My son didn’t like it,” she said. “I’d tell him, ‘You gotta suck it up. Put on your tough skin, and man up!’ ”
New Orleans disrespected its police, and often the police seemed to disrespect themselves. Even the department’s official history reads like a multicount indictment of graft, ineptitude, and brutality, as far back as the Louisiana Purchase. The first police force in French New Orleans was organized in 1803, but after “numerous complaints” the entire unit had to be dismissed, and that set the tone for two centuries of bribe-taking, drug-dealing, beatings, torture, and murder of civilians and fellow-officers alike. In 1994, the United States Attorney in New Orleans suggested that as many as fifteen per cent of the department’s fifteen hundred officers were corrupt, an estimate that—judging by the arrests and firings that followed—was probably short of the mark. Many officers came to the force from the public schools with limited writing skills. Their inability to produce clear reports was one of the reasons that about half of the serious cases the N.O.P.D. cleared between 2002 and 2004—some twenty-two thousand—were rejected by prosecutors. (The traditional reluctance of many New Orleanians to testify on behalf of prosecutors may have been another.) The mistrust and contempt between the city and its police became as established a feature of New Orleans as the humidity. The largely black underclass suffered most for it, and filed scores of brutality complaints over the years, but for some citizens, particularly among the white middle class, the department served as a topic of ironic amusement. The force wasn’t just rotten; it was flagrantly, exuberantly, entertainingly rotten—a city signature, like the food and the music. “It isn’t something you’re ever going to change, so you may as well have another drink and enjoy the spectacle,” a local rug dealer named Bob Rue told me. “You’re not in America here. You’re not even in Louisiana. This is New Orleans.”
Everything is viewed through a racial lens in New Orleans, but it refracts differently there than elsewhere in the South. Louisiana was colonized first by the French, whose Code Noir encouraged intermarriage between whites and their black slaves to create a buffer class that might prevent insurrection; and briefly by the Spanish, whose custom of coartación let slaves buy their freedom. By the time the United States took over, in 1803, the two customs had helped to create a large educated middle class of black freemen and black French Creoles that divided itself socially according to skin color. The Americans who poured into Louisiana made no such distinctions and generally treated all of them as inferiors, which rankled especially in New Orleans, where the most privileged blacks and Creoles lived.
Before the hurricane, New Orleans was more than two-thirds black. For many years, though, the police department was largely white. When Marc Morial—the son of New Orleans’ first black mayor, Ernest (Dutch) Morial—became mayor, in the mid-nineties, the influx of black officers accelerated. By this year, slightly more than half the officers were black. Some white New Orleanians malign Morial’s administration as the acme of corruption. Blacks, though, tend to remember him as a Robin Hood. In addition to helping increase the number of blacks in the department, he delivered the first serious effort to clean it up.
In 1994, Morial broke with tradition and went outside the department to recruit, as chief of police, Richard Pennington, an African-American who was then the No. 2 of the Washington, D.C., force. Pennington hadn’t applied for the job, and accepted only when Morial promised not to interfere. Pennington, by his own account, was something of a prig. “I never went to a police party. I didn’t want to be the officers’ friend,” he told me this fall in Atlanta, where he is now chief. Pennington forbade officers from working details at bars and strip joints, banned the practice of patrolmen lavishing expensive presents on their commanders at Christmas, and stopped hiring officers with criminal records or bad credit. During his eight years as chief, he fired, arrested, or forced out more than three hundred cops.
Crime and brutality complaints fell significantly. Pennington wrested a big pay raise for his cops from the city council, but felt it necessary to carry a gun—as much to protect himself from cops, he said, as from ordinary crooks. In 2002, Pennington ran for mayor against Ray Nagin, the general manager of Cox Communications’ cable-TV monopoly in New Orleans. Pennington lost, and resigned. Nagin reverted to tradition and hired a chief from within the department, a friend since primary school: Edwin P. Compass III.
In personality and management style, Compass was Pennington’s opposite. He was known as “a cop’s cop.” He was as likely to greet an officer with open arms and a cry of “Give me some love!” as with a handshake or a salute. Compass had been highly regarded as a street cop and was among the few African-Americans ever asked to command one of the department’s eight districts. In a department riven with racial divisions, he went out of his way to be color-blind. “Once, when some mid-level officers were saying I was racist, Eddie Compass stood up at a meeting and backed me up,” said Felix Loicano, who is white and was at the time in command of the Public Integrity Division, which investigated crooked cops. “He was just a lieutenant then—this took guts.” But Compass himself seemed to question his qualifications as chief. An old friend of his said that Compass never seemed comfortable in the role and harbored self-doubts. As chief, Compass was criticized for limiting the scope of an investigation into whether district commanders were downgrading crimes to make their statistics look good. The murder rate in New Orleans rose. By the time Katrina struck, it was ten times the national average. Whatever respect the department had earned during the Pennington years was gone; by the middle of 2005, the Times-Picayune and the weekly Gambit, in news stories and editorials, were upbraiding the department regularly. And then, in a gesture that typified relations between the city’s poor and its police, the cops picked a needless fight with one of New Orleans’ most beloved institutions, the Mardi Gras Indians.

Captain Anthony Cannatella, the commander of the Sixth District, is, for better or worse, a New Orleans Police Department legend. Supporters and detractors use the same adjective to describe him: old-school. In the positive sense, it means incorruptible, hard-charging, and devoted to the city and its police department. N.O.P.D. officers can retire after thirty years with a pension equal to a hundred per cent of their pay. Cannatella, who has been on the force almost forty years, has essentially worked the last ten for free. In his first year as commander, the Sixth District, a triangular slice of uptown New Orleans, suffered about half as many murders—twenty-seven—as it had the year before. In the negative sense, “old-school” connotes roughness, racial insensitivity, and the convoluted family relationships that make the police force resistant to reform. Cannatella likes to say that he is related to twenty-five current and former cops. He is built like a street-corner mailbox, with a fringe of hair around a neckless, bald head, and he walks with a busy, short-legged gait. He usually doesn’t carry a gun, preferring to talk his way out of trouble. New Orleans experienced the same wave of nineteenth-century immigrants that swelled the East Coast—from Ireland, Germany, and Italy—and Cannatella’s accent (“Get to woik!”) suggests Jersey City rather than the Old South. It’s a good accent for a cop—contemptuous, authoritative, and intolerant of back talk.
Through most of his career, Cannatella got along with the Indians—the Wild Magnolias, the Geronimo Hunters, Fi-Yi-Yi, the Wild Tchoupitoulas, and others. These tribes of working-class African-American men, as formal in their rituals as Masons or Elks, honor the Native Americans who took in escaped slaves. They compete to create the most lavish faux-Indian costumes and the most outrageous songs and dances. In the early years of Mardi Gras, blacks were banned from the main parades, and “masking Indian,” as it’s called, was a ruse for inclusion. The Indians eventually began participating in a second annual parade as well, on St. Joseph’s Night, an Italian-American holiday celebrated on March 19th. Participants whoop through the streets in beaded, primary-colored, threedimensional polyester-fleece costumes, topped by four-foot-wide headdresses of hot-pink or chromium-yellow fake feathers, shot through with rhinestones and multicolored glass jewels. One place they traditionally gather is A. L. Davis Park, in a rough Sixth District neighborhood not far from where Tim Bruneau found the dead woman.
During his first two years as Sixth District commander, Cannatella continued his predecessor’s practice of giving the Indians free police protection on St. Joseph’s Night, though he regularly charged an uptown Irish club thousands of dollars for police services at its annual parades. “Everybody knows Indians don’t do permits,” he told me in October. “There’s a heritage issue here. They’re always drunk, and selling alcohol on the street, and for years everybody looked the other way. But if you try to stop it you’ll have a riot.” In 2005, though, Cannatella allowed his police pride to get the better of him. He made no plans for extra crowd control on St. Joseph’s Night, because, he said, nobody from the Indians called to let him know they would be gathering. The Indians, he insisted, should come to him. “It’s incumbent upon them to do that,” he said, defiantly thrusting out his chin. “I got no letter, no call. How do I know they’re not having it on the eighteenth, or the twentieth?”
Cannatella was at home on March 19th, packing for his first vacation in five years, when a neighborhood resident called to say the park was filling with drunken Indians, one of whom was carrying a shotgun decorated with feathers like a spear. Cannatella radioed the station, then drove to the park. His officers—some only a couple of years out of high school—were using their sirens and loudspeakers to push the Indians out of the street and into the park. They roughed up several people and arrested one. “Did they say dumb, vulgar things?” Cannatella said. “Probably. I wish they hadn’t.”
Community outrage was heated, and refused to subside. Eventually, the city council scheduled a “reconciliation” session, for June 27th. Cannatella, in his white dress-uniform shirt, sat up front, facing the council. A full house of neighborhood activists, reporters, and the chiefs of the tribes sat behind him. The first chief to speak was the eighty-two-year-old Chief of Chiefs, Allison (Tootie) Montana, the most celebrated craftsman of Indian costumes. Montana walked slowly to the microphone and began recounting forty years of N.O.P.D. mistreatment of Indians. Several minutes into his speech, he coughed once, collapsed to the floor, and stopped breathing. As the room exploded in shouting, Cannatella and another officer performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but Montana was dead. To the Indians, it was as if the Chief of Chiefs had fallen in battle.
Thus began a summerlong decline in the department’s stature and morale. In July, there were two days of street fights and other mayhem in which twelve people were killed or wounded by gunfire; in August the department announced that it had arrested two of its own, one for writing bad checks, the other for rape.
August 27th was White Buffalo Day, another important ritual on the Indian calendar. It fell on a Saturday, and the Indians dedicated ceremonies in Congo Square to the memory of Tootie Montana. That night, the National Weather Service reported that Hurricane Katrina, in the Gulf of Mexico, had made an unexpected right turn. The storm was no longer headed toward the Texas coast but toward the city of New Orleans.

Planning is an ant’s business, and New Orleans tends to view itself as a grasshopper town. “People here aren’t serious,” a white-haired member of an old Mardi Gras krewe told me one evening. “Look at us. All our energy goes into floats and suits and parties. I guess it’s the difference between being Mediterranean and northern European.” The City that Care Forgot wasn’t one to dwell overmuch on hypothetical bad times. Even while local officials conjured the spectre of a catastrophic flood in their pleas to Congress for levee funding, the city failed to prepare adequately for the event. In 2004, the police department produced an elaborate hurricane plan and issued it to all its commanders. But it stayed on their bookshelves. The department didn’t run exercises to familiarize officers with the plan. Few officers I spoke to even knew it existed.
On the Saturday that Katrina took its unexpected right turn, Mayor Nagin signed a proclamation declaring a state of emergency. He asked residents to evacuate and, in a clause that led to untold mischief, authorized police to commandeer private property “necessary to cope with the local disaster emergency.” Police started in on the second directive almost immediately. Doug Stead, president of a large downtown car dealership called Sewell Cadillac Chevrolet, was on his way to Lafayette, Louisiana, at about 10 A.M. on Sunday—some fifteen hours before Katrina hit—when an employee called to say he’d seen N.O.P.D. officers driving around Metairie, a suburb west of New Orleans, in new Cadillac Escalades with Sewell license-plate frames on them. The employee wanted to know whether the officers had permission. They didn’t. Stead spent the next nine days in Lafayette wondering how many cars the police had taken and whether they had sealed up the dealership when they left.
Most of New Orleans, including police headquarters, on South Broad Street, lies below sea level. As the storm approached, officers tucked hundreds of patrol cars into low garages to protect them from wind, or moved them to highway overpasses, where they would be safe from the flooding that occurs in the city during any heavy rainstorm. By about 2 A.M. on Monday, August 29th, Katrina’s winds were so strong that uprooted palm trees were flying down Canal Street, in the words of one cop, “like torpedoes,” and police cancelled patrols; responding to calls would have been too dangerous. That night, electricity failed throughout the city.
In the morning, while Tim Bruneau was trying to find a place to deliver the dead woman, floodwater swamped police headquarters, the crime lab, the evidence room, the armory, the jail, and all the police cars stored in low garages. The cruisers parked on overpasses were stranded; in all, the department lost about a quarter of its cars in the first hours of the flood. Radio antennas were destroyed; the department’s primary radio system died later that day.
Like everybody else in New Orleans, Tim Bayard, the commander of the vice and narcotics squads, assumed on Monday morning that the Hurricane Katrina drama was over. Bayard, whose close-clipped hair and steel-framed eyeglasses give him the look of a high-school science teacher, got one bad piece of news after another: the Lower Ninth Ward, the Seventeenth Street and London Street Canals, the loss of Police Headquarters. He gathered his officers in the valet-parking driveway of Harrah’s casino, on Canal Street in the Central Business District. He tried to reach his commanders by cell phone, but the exchange that handled the 504 area code had perished in the storm. It became clear that the department had no way to respond to the crisis: no boats, no cars, no ammunition, and no way to communicate effectively. Officers who were used to taking their orders by radio were drifting aimlessly around the city. Bayard knew of a mobile command post housed in an eighteen-wheeler’s trailer and equipped with radios, generators, and emergency supplies, but somebody had moved it out of the city for protection from wind and flooding, and no one knew where it was. Instead, the police were trying to fight the disaster with a couple of picnic tables and a few folding chairs set up in a casino driveway. They had nothing to eat, nothing to drink, no cots, no place to relieve themselves.
And, at Harrah’s, no chief. Superintendent Compass spent the night of the storm in the Hyatt Regency with his wife, who was eight months pregnant, and his three-year-old daughter. Mayor Nagin and members of his staff slept there, too. They turned a ballroom into their headquarters, with desks for the power company, the sewage-and-water department, the military, the fire department, and other services. Compass told me recently that he made forays into the city to talk to his officers, but Bayard didn’t see him at the Harrah’s command post during the first three days of the crisis. Aside from one brief encounter with a Times-Picayune reporter on the second day, Compass was also invisible to the press during that period. Many cops believe he left town; Compass insisted to me that he did not.

On Tuesday, as water inched toward the Sixth District station, Anthony Cannatella told his cops to clear out. The few cars they had saved were low on gas or had flat tires from running over debris. The cops crammed into them and fled across the Mississippi River—on the soaring Crescent City Connection bridge—to the parking lot of a McDonald’s in the wind-battered but unflooded part of the city called Algiers. Across the street, people were ransacking a convenience store. Cannatella told several officers to chase them off and salvage what was left: a few boxes of Pop-Tarts, soda, and some bottled water.
Officers could still use their radios as short-range walkie-talkies, but the single band was so crowded with police, fire, and ambulance calls from the extended metropolitan area that it was all but useless. After nightfall, Cannatella picked up a call from then Deputy Chief Warren Riley, who told him that boats were leaving people from the Ninth Ward on Interstate 10, and that he should send patrol cars to take them out of the city. Cannatella grabbed seven officers to accompany him, and in seven of the district’s precious remaining cars they sped back over the bridge to the Louisa Street exit, where hundreds of wet, terrified people milled about in the heat. A hodgepodge of fishing skiffs, makeshift rafts, and waterskiing boats were approaching with more.
Riley, who is short, powerfully built, and very dark, emerged from the crowd. He projects none of Compass’s warm exuberance; he’s all business. A twenty-three-year veteran, he ran (unsuccessfully) for Orleans Parish sheriff last year, with Nagin’s support. Despite his political connections, he is regarded by most cops as sensible and hardworking. He told Cannatella to ferry people to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, a complex of cavernous exhibition halls that had not previously been thought of as a shelter. The Superdome, which was guarded by hundreds of cops and soldiers and was stocked with food and water, was inaccessible to cars.
Cannatella and his officers dropped carloads of traumatized refugees, each clutching a few belongings, at the huge darkened building. They had no food or water to give them and no idea what predators might await them in the center’s stifling heat. The Convention Center is Eighth District police territory, but no police or soldiers were assigned to receive the refugees, and officers visited only intermittently during the five days that the center served as an impromptu shelter.
The Sixth District police left the McDonald’s parking lot Wednesday morning, and set up housekeeping in their own district, in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart on Tchoupitoulas Street, near the Third Street Wharf—the former site of the St. Thomas housing projects. It was, Cannatella felt, a fitting place for them to rally. Some years ago, as part of an ambitious plan to “deconcentrate” poverty, the city had torn down St. Thomas. Residents—including gang members and drug dealers—dispersed all over the city, violating various gangs’ territories. “They didn’t ask us first—they didn’t do anything but move ’em,” Cannatella told me. “They started an instant turf war.” He spread his hands as if to say, “What are you gonna do?”
Cannatella found the Wal-Mart’s glass doors smashed and the place full of people grabbing merchandise. He and his officers chased them away, then took a refrigerated truck from the nearby Brown’s Dairy lot and filled it with the spoiling groceries from Wal-Mart’s coolers. Sabrina Richardson and four other female officers liberated some butane tanks, pots and pans, and a metal rack with which to jury-rig a stove. They set up a kitchen in the parking lot, feeding two meals of gumbo, pasta, or burgers to a hundred officers a day. The mission of the Sixth District police officers, at this point, was their own survival.
They called their outpost Fort Wal-Mart. The short-range function of their radios dwindled and died, because the radios took only rechargeable batteries, which were useless in a city with no electricity.
Cannatella ordered his cops not to use up their gasoline by patrolling. One day, Richardson violated Cannatella’s nopatrols rule, taking a short drive onto the interstate, which was elevated above the floodwaters. Masses of desperate people crowded the searing asphalt. As she rolled past, they banged on her windows and begged her to stop. Terrified, she floored the accelerator. She never went back. At night, Richardson washed her sweat-soaked uniform in one wastebasket, rinsed it in another, and laid it on the hood of her cruiser. Then she crawled into the passenger seat, gun in hand, to sleep. All the officers slept holding their guns.

Four days after abandoning the young woman’s body, Tim Bruneau was driving with another detective, Alan Bartholomew, to a sergeant’s house to take showers.
“Let’s go to my house,” Bartholomew said.
“What?” Bruneau asked.
“I’m leaving,” Bartholomew said.
“For good?”
Bruneau drove in silence. As they pulled up to Bartholomew’s house, he said, “Look, don’t take stuff we can use.” Bartholomew gave Bruneau his M-16, his bulletproof vest, his pistol, and his police credentials. “As long as you can live with what you’re doing, more power to you,” Bruneau said, and drove away. A couple of days later, the police announced that as many as five hundred cops were missing—about a third of the force.
Part of the problem was that the protocols that normally keep cops in line vanished during the crisis. On the same night that Bartholomew deserted, Bruneau answered a looting call at a pharmacy. When he turned on his car’s flashing blue lights and siren, he expected the looters to run. Instead, they started shooting. As Bruneau shifted into reverse, he leaned out the window with his Glock and squeezed off a few shots. Normally, when a cop fires his gun investigators rope off the scene, find the bullets, figure trajectories, and write it up. But Bruneau, who had spent a day chauffeuring a corpse, knew that the department had no time for such procedures. Warren Riley told me later that the department eventually investigated every shooting by an officer in which someone was hit by a bullet; there were seven instances, four of them fatal, during the first month of the crisis.
Without a proper jail, the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections had turned Union Station, a combined bus and train depot, into a lockup. The terminal looked normal, with its schedules and newsstand, but the bus platform was a cellblock. High chain-link fences topped with razor wire ran along either side, and sullen men stood in clumps or sat on the floor. Wired to the fence were crude handlettered signs: “Cell 5 Federal,” “Cell 3 Felony.” Most of the prisoners had been arrested in suburban Jefferson Parish. No N.O.P.D. officers I spoke with knew about the makeshift jail. One captain told me that when his officers caught looters they photographed them with their booty and turned them loose, hoping to arrest them later on a warrant.
Much has been made of looting by N.O.P.D. officers. Most, like those of the Sixth District, took what they needed to stay on the job. Some behaved criminally. One band of cops turned a downtown hotel into a private club, terrorizing the hotel engineer and chilling beer with a generator stolen from Tulane Hospital. Another gang holed up in a Holiday Inn in a nearby suburb, and when a local cop confronted them they threw him on the floor and pressed a shotgun to his head.
Richard Pennington has no compunction about criticizing the department he used to run. “When officers don’t see their commanders, they become renegades,” he said as we sat in his office, which is decorated with laminated newspaper clippings extolling his successes in New Orleans and in the tough Anacostia section of Washington, D.C. While watching the Katrina media coverage, Pennington said, “I never saw the chief for three days. I was saying, ‘Damn, you watch CNN, where’s the police chief?’ ” Low-lying neighborhoods often flooded during hurricanes when Pennington was the N.O.P.D. chief, and he made a point of driving around with the mayor in a National Guard high-water truck, to let his officers see that he was on the job. “Troops will wait for instruction and guidance,” he said. Also, he added, “I had no policy allowing officers to commandeer things. It would have gotten out of control.”
Pennington said he was astonished at the number of officers who disappeared during the storm. “I heard them say they might be moving their families,” he said. “But we had a policy where twenty-four hours before a storm we’d allow all our cops time to get their families out of the city. Then they had to report back to work. When I watched television and heard them say some of these people left and didn’t come back because they’re caught in the water, I said, ‘How did that happen?’ ”

Bayard, the captain of vice and narcotics, and a few other captains organized a makeshift rescue operation out of the Harrah’s casino driveway. They divided the city into quadrants, and put out the word that anybody with a boat—officer, civilian, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department—should check in at Harrah’s each morning for an assignment. The National Guard, with trucks that could negotiate water as deep as eight feet, also took assignments. Bayard could see helicopters over the city but didn’t know whose they were. An aerial view would have helped him assign rescue missions, but he had no means of contacting the pilots. He had no contact with FEMA, and he later found out that FEMA and the N.O.P.D. had unwittingly covered parts of the city in triplicate, delaying by more than a week the intense searching that involved breaking into homes to find survivors. He figures the lack of coördination cost lives.
At four o’clock on the hot afternoon of Friday, September 2nd, Captain Edwin Hosli, Anthony Cannatella’s counterpart in the Second District, sloshed through filthy knee-deep water at the corner of Napoleon Avenue and Carondelet Street, directing his own makeshift operation. The smell of rot and gasoline that blanketed the city was strongest here at the water’s edge, where floating sewage and garbage gathered in foamy skeins. Hosli, at forty-five, is compact and muscular, with spiky hair and a face that narrows from a wide forehead to a pointed chin. He carried a black semi-automatic assault rifle and wore the same squishy wet shoes and uniform he’d had on since the storm. His wife and children had evacuated the city—he didn’t even know where they were—and his house was ruined. Half of the hundred and twenty-three officers under his command were missing. As he climbed aboard a fancy white speedboat, I squeezed in as well.
One of Hosli’s lieutenants, a tall, ropy Cajun named Darryl Albert, was fumbling with a screwdriver at the speedboat’s ignition, trying to hot-wire it. Another, Eddie Selby, thumbed through the handwritten notes that agitated citizens kept pressing on him, scribbled with the addresses of people who needed rescue. Hosli sat heavily on a vinyl seat, leaned against the barrel of his rifle, and closed his eyes.
Like Cannatella, Hosli is old N.O.P.D. On New Year’s Eve, 1972, a Black Panther fatally shot his father, Edwin Hosli, Sr., during a weeklong downtown attack in which four other N.O.P.D. officers were killed. Edwin was twelve. His father’s grieving colleagues closed ranks around him, getting him onto the force right after high school.
The speedboat’s motor came to life and Hosli sat up, blinking. As we started moving, there was a shout, and a shirtless young man in cutoff jeans ran through the water and leaped aboard. His name was Ryan Asmussen, he said, and he had fifteen years’ experience as a Navy diver. “I’m a recovering alcoholic,” he added proudly. “I’ve been living in the Volunteers for America halfway house around the corner. I want to help.”
The boat proceeded slowly up Napoleon Avenue, bumping against sunken cars and fallen trees. Graceful multicolored turn-of-the-century houses reflected prettily in the calm water. The officers ducked a street sign as they rounded the corner onto commercial Claiborne Avenue, and fell silent as their view widened to a panorama of their city. A body floated face down in a used-car lot. The rounded shoulders of another bobbed near a funeral home. The giant root-beer mug that announced Frostop Burgers was upside down and half submerged. On the horizon rose a thick spiral of heavy smoke. A young woman sunbathed on top of a heap of boxed toasters, blenders, and other kitchenware piled into a speedboat moored outside a Walgreens drugstore. She waved nervously and yelled to someone inside the store; the cops cruised past.
A huge gray helicopter scooted in low, sending loose roofing tiles knifing through the air and raising a rotor wash that nearly swamped the cops and drenched everybody on board with filthy spray. The officers waved their arms frantically until the pilot noticed them and veered away. They shook water from their clothes. Around the corner, a man seemed to be drowning, a toothless African-American of indeterminate age, clinging to a pickup-truck toolbox. “Leave me alone! I’m fine!” he yelled, flailing about in the greasy water. “I’ve got to take my sister her medicine.” Asmussen looked straight down from the boat deck into the truck box and cried, “It’s full of liquor!” The truck box tipped, filled with water, and sank. “There it goes!” Hosli yelled. “Like the Titanic. It’s gone. Now get in the boat.” The man was sobbing with fury, thrashing to stay afloat. “I was fine before you got here. Leave me alone!” The cops pulled him aboard, flopping like a fish; he clutched to his chest a blue zippered bag through which the outlines of two bottles showed. Asmussen shook his head with admiration. “That’s a real alcoholic,” he said.
With a hand on his holstered pistol, Hosli disarmed the man of a hammer and a knife. Sunset crept up through the murky air, and night fell. The man sobbed and kicked the floor of the boat, wailing about his medicine and his sister. “You want her to die!” he kept shouting. Hosli pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes. Then he leaned out with a paddle, determined that the water was only waist-deep, and rolled the man out of the boat. The man was speechless for a moment, then beat his hands on the surface and shrieked invectives as he receded in the darkness.
Hosli’s police radio, which had been silent all afternoon, suddenly crackled, and a man’s voice said, “Ah, we just got a report that a police officer has taken his own life.”
No one spoke. The boat chugged on through the darkness.

The flooding covered eighty per cent of the city, leaving dry only a mile-wide sliver of high ground that recalled how New Orleans came to be known as the Crescent City. The mansions of Carrollton and the Garden District, the tall office buildings of the Central Business District, the French Quarter, and the rougher neighborhoods of Faubourg Marigny and Bywater were squeezed between the floodwater and the river. Those in dry New Orleans during the first week of the crisis hardly ever saw cops, or anyone in authority. Except for some orange-and-white Coast Guard helicopters and a few choppers from the Louisiana National Guard, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday went by with little sign of the police or outside help. To those left in the city, it felt as if government at all levels had vanished, as if not only New Orleans but the nation itself had disappeared. Lurid rumors filled the void. A creepy compulsion to believe the worst distorted what New Orleanians saw, heard, and felt, what they chose to do, and what they would remember.
Looters smashed their way along Canal Street, a diverse commercial strip that divides the Central Business District from the French Quarter, grabbing discount clothing, DVDs, and sneakers. Saks Fifth Avenue was sacked and burned. Burglars along St. Claude, the main commercial avenue bordering Faubourg Marigny, cleared taverns’ cashboxes and liquor shelves. In the suburbs, where thieves could use cars to haul booty, they made off with guns, bicycles, and stereos.
Yet what was striking was not how many stores were ransacked but how few. Television crews, their trailers parked on Canal Street, saw the worst. In the French Quarter and the commercial districts along St. Charles Avenue and Magazine Street, storefronts stayed largely intact. Antiques and fine art rested behind unshielded plate-glass windows. People pried open pharmacies and grocery stores, taking diapers, aspirin, food, water, and soft drinks, but left wine and liquor on the shelves, intact.
Even at the Superdome and the Convention Center, signature hellholes of the crisis, peace prevailed. Hundreds of policemen and soldiers kept order in the Superdome. Though half a dozen people died there, mostly from natural causes, nobody was murdered. After six days of misery, without air-conditioning, running water, or working toilets, the citizens lined up politely to be bused out. At the Convention Center, where the miasma of hot garbage, sweat, and feces was sickening, there was one apparent homicide, but evacuees generally took care of one another. A group of young black men brought luggage carts from nearby hotels and used them to gather trash into enormous piles. Those who staggered in with food and water shared it. Even though the police presence was at best intermittent, the windows of stores across the street remained unshattered. A brand-new Chevrolet SSR sat unmolested on a side street.
The citizens of New Orleans tried to weave their own safety net. A casting director and a tax attorney who had never met before the storm commandeered a waterskiing boat to salvage wheelchairs and cots from an abandoned hospital and rescue people from roofs and attics. A curly-haired doctor named Jeff Brumberger painted crude red crosses on the side of a white hearse, loaded it with supplies from deserted hospitals and pharmacies, and roamed the city for days, dispensing care and wisecracks. Mama D, a witchy old woman on Dorgenois Street, stoked charcoal grills in her driveway, feeding whoever walked by. A motherly transsexual on St. Claude Avenue kept her tavern open night and day, dispensing dollar beers and free food to comfort the poor and the bewildered.
Yet public officials who might have counselled calm did the opposite. Mayor Nagin declared on television that he’d watched “hooligans killing people, raping people,” but his spokesperson, Sally Forman, told me that he didn’t see them “with his own eyes. He was relying on reports of people in authority.” Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson told the Associated Press, “Looting is out of control. The French Quarter has been attacked.” Police Superintendent Compass tearfully declared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” that “little babies” were being raped in the Superdome and told a reporter that people had tried to kidnap him. “In hindsight,” Compass told me later, “I should have kept my mouth shut.”
It was the city’s bad luck that, in addition to relentlessly hot weather, there was a new moon that week, and the nights were utterly dark. I gave a ride home late one evening to a man named Jimmy Delery, a black-sheep member of a founding New Orleans family. We drove slowly among fallen oaks and downed power lines cluttering St. Charles Avenue, and as we got out of the car at his house we heard the double click of a shotgun. Two ripply-fit blond men walked toward us in the gloom, shirtless and gleaming with sweat, wearing bandoliers across their chests and holstered sidearms on their hips. The muzzles of their shotguns looked like the entrance to the Holland Tunnel. “Look, guys,” Delery said. “I know you’re all up on your testosterone, but, please, stay home. Don’t be walking around with the guns. You’re just going to get people agitated.”
The men lowered their guns. “It’s not testosterone, Jimmy,” one of them said. “It’s self-preservation.” I noticed that their shotguns were not hunting weapons pressed into emergency service but stainless-steel combat guns with racks of extra shells mounted on the stocks. At some point, these guys had each spent at least eight hundred dollars to be prepared for an occasion like this.
“Yeah, well, whatever it is, I want you, please, to stay near your houses,” Jimmy said. “You don’t need to be out here, patrolling around.” After they left, he said, “They’re looking to pop somebody so they can brag, ‘I shot a nigger looter in New Orleans.’ ”
Bob Rue, the rug merchant, described stepping outside with his .38, ready to shoot someone lurking by his neighbor’s Porsche. “It’s not about the car,” he said. “It’s about chaos. If you let them get started, there’s no telling where it will end.” Of all the white people I met that week who had chosen to remain in the city, only two were unarmed. Jimmy had a .45 automatic in his fanny pack. The hearse-driving doctor had a Bulgarian Army pistol in his armrest. The motherly barkeeper kept an automatic shotgun beside the door and a revolver in her back pocket. The blackout, the crowds of evacuees straggling through their neighborhoods—and, above all, the rumors—persuaded some citizens that an apocalyptic race riot was imminent. But, even in the absence of police, the unspeakable didn’t come to pass.
For the poor, without resources, the disappearance of authority was genuinely terrifying. Many had never left the city, or southern Louisiana, in all their lives. They faced a terrible choice: turn themselves in to face evacuation or tough it out. If we stay, how long will it be before the power and the water come back on and the grocery stores open? If we go, go where? To the Superdome, where babies are being raped and murdered? To the Convention Center, to get on a bus? A bus to where? (The rumor that evacuees weren’t being told their destination before boarding buses turned out to be true.) With no reliable authority to issue information, the holdouts were paralyzed.
National Guard units from as far away as Puerto Rico showed up in force the weekend after the storm. For the most part, they brought no tools other than M-16s—no chain saws or bulldozers, no grappling hooks, generators, or field hospitals. They were not equipped to clear debris, repair power lines, or deliver mass medical care. Like the city’s armed residents, they had prepared for an uprising, and stood on street corners nervously fingering their weapons. Kevin Shaughnessy, a courtly, gray-haired sergeant first class of the California National Guard, stopped me on St. Charles Avenue to demand I.D., and, after letting me pass, called me back. “Say, you don’t have a map of New Orleans you can spare, do you?” he asked. He also accepted a box of canned food and three gallons of water. “We can sure use it,” he said. The active-duty Army showed up, too, in the form of the 82nd Airborne Division, patrolling in full combat gear and snappy maroon berets, but these soldiers had their magazines out of their rifles. I asked a sergeant first class what he and his men were permitted to do, given constitutional constraints against the military enforcing domestic laws. “We’re just trick-or-treating,” he said. “If I saw someone going in that store right there, I couldn’t do anything but radio it in.”
That weekend felt like a lawman’s Mardi Gras. The dry slice of New Orleans filled not only with federal and state troops but with well-meaning deputy sheriffs and policemen from as far away as Oregon and Michigan—cops whose activities were uncoördinated, who knew nothing of the city, and who were pumped on rumors of violence. They tumbled out of their cars in boxy bulletproof vests, pointing their M-4 carbines every which way, as though expecting incoming rounds. Adding to the Dodge City atmosphere were such private soldiers as those of Blackwater, U.S.A., who lurked on the broad steps of several mansions, draped in automatic weapons. As I sat on the porch of a house on tranquil St. Charles Avenue on the Saturday night after the storm, a red laser dot from a gunsight moved slowly across my chest.
The phrase on the lips of the guest enforcers was “martial law.” An Oklahoma Guardsman stopped me Sunday afternoon and ordered me to get out of town. When I told him that the N.O.P.D. was allowing reporters to stay, he said, “It’s not up to the police. We’re in charge now. The city’s under martial law. We’re not backing them up anymore—they’re backing us up.” Later, a California Guardsman whose emblems identified him as Sergeant Kelley pointed an M-4 at me and said, “See this? This is martial law. We’re in charge.” The Constitution makes no provision for anything called “martial law,” though Article I allows for the possibility of calling out militia—even of suspending habeas corpus—in times of unrest. The sole large-scale unrest afflicting New Orleans that weekend was thirst and a hankering to bathe.
By Sunday, the Convention Center was empty. The only traces of the twenty thousand people who had stayed in its exhibition halls were mountains of moldy clothes, empty water bottles, and the brown plastic wrappings of military rations that had arrived, finally, with the buses. It was spooky: twenty thousand people gone within twenty-four hours.
On Tuesday, September 6th, Mayor Nagin—lacking a computer, or even a typewriter—signed a four-page handwritten “Promulgation of Emergency Order” that directed the police, the Fire Department, and “any branch of the U.S. military” to “compel the evacuation of all persons from the city of New Orleans, regardless of whether such persons are on private property or do not desire to leave.” Nagin’s order frightened the holdouts. Each lawman and soldier seemed to interpret it differently. At Lee Circle, two Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents told a couple of old men sitting outside drinking beer that they had to leave the city at once. “We’re using the A.T.M. method,” they barked. “Today we ask. Tomorrow we tell. The day after that, we make you leave.” The men nodded politely, and were still sitting there several days later. On St. Claude Avenue, policemen were ordering people to leave or risk being shot. On Prentiss Avenue, Guardsmen hauled a black fifty-seven-year-old social worker named Ernest Timmons from his house and drove him forcibly to the airport, from where, he told the Times-Picayune, he was flown to Salt Lake City. On the other hand, soldiers calling at the Carrollton home of an engineer merely told him that leaving would be a good idea.
When I tried to leave New Orleans late that week, driving to the Jefferson Parish line on one of the two remaining roads out, officers of the Springboro, Ohio, police department and soldiers of the Oklahoma National Guard refused to let me pass. As frantic drivers lurched through three-point turns, I asked the soldier in charge if he’d been told about the mandatory evacuation. “Sir, turn your vehicle around,” he said.

On Thursday, September 8th, Vice-President Dick Cheney was expected in New Orleans, and television reporters were setting up cameras in Harrah’s driveway, near Tim Bayard’s picnic tables. A medical team offered free tetanus shots. Volunteers manning barbecue grills served hamburgers to anybody who walked by—police officer, soldier, reporter, FEMA official—and the air was thick with greasy smoke. Superintendent Compass showed up for this occasion, in a crisp white dressuniform shirt with four gold stars embroidered on the epaulets. The cameras surrounded him. Off to the side of the grills stood a man who looked wild enough to draw the attention of the Secret Service. It was Anthony Cannatella. He was wearing a filthy white T-shirt, and he clenched and unclenched his enormous fists as he rocked from one foot to the other. “What a cluster****,” he muttered. “I ain’t got time for this shit.” His eye fell on Superintendent Compass, who was talking into a reporter’s microphone. “Look at that guy, acting the hero. I need to be back with my officers, saving people. ****ing Vice-President. Come down here and salute, I’m done. I’ll take my forty and go.”
I returned to Harrah’s the next day to try to clear up the question of martial law and who was in charge of New Orleans. Compass was posing for photographs with California sheriffs’ deputies. When he finished, he sat in a folding chair between two cars, his hands in his lap. He slumped there alone, taking in the scene. I asked whether the Oklahoma Guardsman was correct that the N.O.P.D. was subordinate to the military. “I am in charge of all law-enforcement aspects,” Compass said. “Does it look like I’m not in charge?” I asked if he felt cut off, with no phone, no radio, and no staff to help him. He rose from his chair. “Does it look like I’m not in charge?” he asked twice more. “I don’t spend all day here!” And he walked away.
The New Orleans City Council did not meet in full until September 27th. The chamber was inaccessible, so the seven council members gathered in a boardroom at Louis Armstrong International Airport. Half an hour before the meeting, the news came over the radio that Compass had resigned as chief of police. The radio announcers were stunned into silence. They and their call-in listeners had spent weeks vilifying officers who abandoned their posts in the city’s hour of need, and the Chief was now doing essentially the same thing. The room was crowded with hotelkeepers wanting to know if the city’s water was safe for guests to bathe in; real-estate brokers wanting to hear a plan for drying out title records; restaurateurs hoping for a temporary waiver of health regulations; and ordinary citizens eager to hear when the rubble would be removed and services restored.
The council members proceeded to pack about twenty minutes of useful business into five hours of storytelling, self-congratulation, venting of racial mistrust, and false-hope-raising applause lines. Arguments dragged on about the use of the word “black” versus “African-American,” about construction companies not hiring “brothers with felony records,” about why only houses on the poor side of St. Charles Avenue were red-tagged for demolition. (It was the side that flooded.) “Our people need to be made not ninety per cent whole, not ninety-five per cent whole, but one hundred per cent whole!” the council president, Oliver Thomas, declared to a rousing cheer. The council members were as traumatized as any New Orleanians—four of them had lost their homes—so some cathartic group therapy was to be expected. But, as the meeting wore on, people in the crowd began whispering to one another, “What about Compass?” A FEMA representative was patiently absorbing the council’s wrath when Mayor Nagin walked into the room, alone, wearing a blue-and-white golf shirt. He slipped into a chair in the back, rested his chin on his chest, and closed his eyes until called to the podium to report on repairs. When he finished, Eddie Sapir, an at-large councilman, said, “We don’t even know if the news about Chief Compass is true.” “It’s true,” Nagin said. “He’s a hero as far as I’m concerned. He performed very well during the storm. He asks everyone to respect his privacy.”
A few weeks later, I talked with Nagin in the downtown Sheraton, and he was so tired that his eyes often closed while he spoke, and when he listened his face relaxed into a middle-distance stare. He was still cagey about whether he had fired Compass. “Before the storm, he was in decent shape,” Nagin said. But his wife was about to have a baby, and he had his daughter to consider. Nagin had been shaken by the police suicides—there had been a second as well—during the flood, and when Compass said, “Look, man, I’ve done my share,” Nagin didn’t try to talk him out of it. “If someone says they want to leave, I’m not going to tell them otherwise,” Nagin said. “I’m not a psychologist.” Compass wouldn’t discuss the circumstances of his leaving with me. “That part of my life is over,” he said.

One thing that went better than anybody expected was the pumping. After a couple of weeks under a brutal subtropical sun, the water covering the city’s streets had become an opaque, semi-gelatinous brew of sewage, fluids leaked from submerged cars, and bodies of rodents, cats, dogs, and people. Fumes rising from the surface caused a tickly cough, and an hour in a rescue boat raised tiny white bumps on the skin. It was hard to imagine the stuff leaving. But by the end of September the city’s ingenious network of culverts, canals, and pumping stations had pushed it all out of the city and back into Lake Pontchartrain. New Orleans emerged smashed and muddy. In vast regions, not even birds broke the silence.
At St. Patrick’s Church, on Camp Street—one of the first to reopen—the congregation for the Tridentine Latin Mass on September 25th consisted of fifteen N.O.P.D. cops, who knelt with their guns on their hips, the murmur of their police radios competing with the liturgy. “We pray,” the Reverend Stanley Klores said to the tops of their bowed heads, “that those in civil authority will not succumb to the temptations of this world. Lord, hear our prayer.” “Lord, hear our prayer,” the officers responded.
The church’s counterweight, Bourbon Street, was also starting to come alive. I walked its length several times one night during the last week of September, and each time another bar crew was taking down barstools and plugging in a jukebox. Tropical Isle, the Steak Pit, Café Lafitte in Exile, and Bourbon Street Blues Company were roaring, the music drowning out the constant growl of generators. Outside the Steak Pit, a ten-year-old boy named Daniel held a sign that read “HUGE ASS BEERS TO GO.” On the sidewalk in front of Alex Patout’s Louisiana Restaurant, a wizened cinder of a chef stirred a cannibal pot of spaghetti sauce on a gas burner. The smell, cutting through the vomit-and-mold reek that hung over the city, was heavenly. Except for a few buff F.B.I. women carrying Glocks, a reedy scientist from the E.P.A., and about a dozen determined, don’t-joke-about-it dogrescuers from the Humane Society, the Bourbon Street crowd was all strapping men from myriad law-enforcement agencies, in camouflage fatigues, golf shirts, or T-shirts advertising restoration companies—LVI Services, Belfor—their guns at their sides. Noticeably absent was the New Orleans Police Department; a few cops leaned sullenly into cell phones at the entrance to the Royal Sonesta Hotel, whose formerly radiant ballroom had become the new Police Headquarters.
By then, hardly anyone was left in New Orleans to police. Cannatella’s Sixth District officers moved back to their station house and made desultory patrols, but mostly they gathered around a couple of long folding tables in the open-sided garage under the station—with no electricity, it was the least oppressively hot place to sit—and occupied themselves with such tasks as cleaning pistols that had been submerged for several weeks. They wore purple cards around their necks announcing, in big yellow letters, “ECSTASY.” Most of the eight hundred and ninety cops who had lost their homes were living on the cruise ship of that name, docked behind the Convention Center. Tim Bruneau wore no “ECSTASY” badge, because he’d been expelled from the ship for pulling a gun on another officer and a crewman. “I was sleeping!” he told me. “They screwed up and assigned my room to someone else, and when they came barging in I freaked out! Forgive me! I asked them, ‘Where am I supposed to go now?’ And you know what they said? They said, ‘We don’t care.’ ”
The adrenaline high that had sustained many cops through the crisis was wearing off. They complained about the cramped conditions aboard the Ecstasy, about unpaid overtime throughout the crisis, about case files lost in the flooded evidence room. Tim Bayard, the vice-and-narcotics commander, finally found the mobile command post he had needed so badly the first week of the flood: driving through the Lower Ninth Ward, he saw it in a parking lot. It had been commandeered by firemen. He was so angry he didn’t stop, for fear of getting into a fistfight.

Anthony Cannatella did not take his forty and go. He swung his unmarked gold Crown Victoria into the Sixth’s garage one October afternoon, and called for everybody’s attention. Shaved and cleaned up, he looked powerful, with his bald head, slit mouth, and bull shoulders. Patrolwoman Kristi Foret, the rookie who had been stranded on her roof two days and then had helped her rescuers save other victims, put her arm around him, and he hugged her to his side while delivering a briefing. “We should have our overtime on Thursday or Friday of this week. Start checking your bank accounts on Friday,” he said. “Next, I got a bunch of off-duty details to announce. Wal-Mart will pay thirty dollars an hour. They need two during the day, two at night. They pay every Friday at Marrero School, in cash. Now, don’t **** with the I.R.S.—Wal-Mart’s not going to not report what they’re paying for security. **** with the I.R.S., they don’t give a shit about ten Katrinas. They’ll shove it right up your ass. Next: We still got Wal-Mart guns missing. Four shotguns. Turn them in, no questions asked. They’ll be on the A.T.F. hot list. Don’t embarrass yourself.” He ended with a joke. “Next: There’s a T-shirt going around. It’s blue, and it says, ‘Katrina 2005: I stayed, I worked, I was there, I am—the N.O.P.D.’ I asked for another two hundred and fifty, in yellow: ‘I ran, I left my buddies, I was—a coward.’ ”
“You’re not assigned here anymore,” Cannatella had told a sergeant who deserted and then tried to come back. Alan Bartholomew, who ran out on Tim Bruneau, was unrepentant and gave reasons that sounded a lot like what Nagin says Compass told him. “Look, man, I stayed that whole week,” he said, when I reached him by phone in Jefferson Parish. “No electricity, no radio communications. I hadn’t heard from my wife and kids. . . . I finally decided this, this job . . .” He sighed, looking for words to describe the thanklessness of being a New Orleans cop. “I decided that my family was more important.” More than a hundred and fifty officers were fired or left the department after failing to perform during the crisis. Another forty are under investigation.
On another afternoon, an N.O.P.D. patrol car pulled up outside the Sixth District with a big-screen TV hanging out of the trunk—an attentiongetting sight, given the tales of cops looting. The officers swung open the back of one of three eighteen-wheeler trailers parked on the street, revealing a mountain of bicycles, appliances, diapers, stereos, office furniture. The cops hoisted the big-screen TV into the back. “When we recover looted goods, this is where we keep it,” Cannatella said. “We figure it’s all from Wal-Mart. They’ve already written it all off, so I’m going to ask them to donate it to my officers who lost everything.”
Nagin’s emergency order authorizing cops to commandeer private property required that owners be compensated. Doug Stead, at Sewell Cadillac, lost more than two hundred cars—some to cops, some to looters who followed when the police left the dealership open—but he has not received a call about the cars from either the police department or the city attorney.
A sense of failure, and of failures to come, hangs over the department. Frank Young, a laconic Sixth District detective sergeant who shuttled people to the Convention Center on the night of the flood, pointed to the slogan on the fender of a patrol car on loan to the N.O.P.D. from another city—“Excellence in Policing”—and said, “Obviously not ours.” He drove the car late one night to his house in Lakeview, which borders the ruptured Seventeenth Street Canal. Standing in the back door of his bungalow, he shined a flashlight into the kitchen. The refrigerator lay on its side, a moldy sofa was wedged in the doorway, and black ooze covered the granite countertops he’d installed himself. “Today, it finally hit me,” he said softly. “I woke up and thought, There’s nothing here for me. Not at work. Not at home. What did we accomplish? Nothing. We took such an ass-whipping. We didn’t stop the flooding. We didn’t stop the looting. The whole city got destroyed. We lost.”

Warren Riley, the new chief, still insists that the N.O.P.D. didn’t fail but was overwhelmed. “You take any military commander—any lawenforcement commander—this was a far more formidable opponent than anyone has had to deal with,” he said. John Casbon, the president of the New Orleans Police Foundation, a private agency that raises money for training and equipment, said all American cities need to take better care of their police. “Nobody gives a shit about cops anywhere,” Casbon said. “They get paid nothing. We don’t give them the equipment. That’s the lesson here.” Lots of cops, though, think that a more professional department would have done better. “That they had no cars and no gasoline isn’t important. You put them on foot beats. You put them on bicycles,” Felix Loicano, the former Public Integrity Division commander, said. “If you have to take cars, you sign them out in an orderly fashion and then secure the building, because now it’s your responsibility.”
Yes, the levees should have been built stronger or better, the city should have had an evacuation plan for those without cars, the governor should have called for help earlier, and FEMA should have responded more vigorously. But the police owned the failure. However much other agencies pass the buck, cops know they’re responsible for the safety of a city.
Tim Bruneau used to think of the department as family, and he still thinks of his district that way. But now he’s eager to leave. New Orleans still reminds him of Panama, but in a bad way: autocratic, incompetent, corrupt. “I’m leaving first chance I get,” Bruneau told me. “I’m going to the University of North Texas to study emergency management. I’ve given this city my health, my physical ability, my little finger, and everything I own. Now they want more, and I have nothing left.”

Cannatella is expecting an exodus. At one of his roll-call briefings in the garage, he made a case for standing by the city and the battered, despised police department that he has served since graduating from high school. “Every one of you has been here from the first, and I know you’re contemplating your options,” he said. “Some of you are thinking that this big fat overtime check is coming—maybe you’ll take it and go. If that’s what you want to do, I’m not angry.” He stopped, emotionally gesturing with his big hands while searching for the right words. “But this is a history-making event. Out of this will be a new city, and there’s no new city without cops.”

January 24th, 2006, 10:10 AM
White House Was Told Hurricane Posed Danger

By ERIC LIPTON (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=ERIC LIPTON&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=ERIC LIPTON&inline=nyt-per)
NY Times
Jan. 24, 2006


WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 - The White House was told in the hours before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans that the city would probably soon be inundated with floodwater, forcing the long-term relocation of hundreds of thousands of people, documents to be released Tuesday by Senate investigators show.

A Homeland Security Department report submitted to the White House at 1:47 a.m. on Aug. 29, hours before the storm hit, said, "Any storm rated Category 4 or greater will likely lead to severe flooding and/or levee breaching."

The internal department documents, which were forwarded to the White House, contradict statements by President Bush and the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, that no one expected the storm protection system in New Orleans to be breached.

"I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees," Mr. Bush said in a television interview on Sept. 1. "Now we're having to deal with it, and will."

Other documents to be released Tuesday show that the weekend before Hurricane Katrina made landfall, Homeland Security Department officials predicted that its impact would be worse than a doomsday-like emergency planning exercise conducted in Louisiana in July 2004.

In that drill, held because of common knowledge that New Orleans was susceptible to hurricane-driven flooding, emergency planners predicted that in a Category 3 storm, one million people would be forced to move away, 17 percent of the nation's oil refining capacity would be knocked out and as many as 60,000 lives might be lost.

"Exercise projection is exceeded by Hurricane Katrina real-life impacts," the Aug. 27 department report said, two days before the storm hit New Orleans.

The loss of life in Hurricane Katrina was far less - at least 1,350 deaths have been confirmed so far - but the estimated number of dislocated residents was not far off.

A White House spokesman, asked about the seeming contradiction between Mr. Bush's statement on Sept. 1 and the warning as the storm approached, said the president meant to say that once the storm passed and it initially looked as if New Orleans had gotten through the hurricane without catastrophic damage, no one anticipated at that point that the levees would be breached.

The Senate investigators have also found evidence that at least some federal and state officials were aware last summer that the hurricane evacuation planning in the New Orleans area was incomplete.

"We're at less than 10 percent done with this trans planning when you consider the buses and the people," said a summary of a July briefing held with local, state and federal officials regarding a possible hurricane in Louisiana and referring to transportation planning. "If you think soup lines in the Depression were long, wait til you see the lines at these collection points," the summary said, referring to buses that were supposed to help pick up people to evacuate New Orleans.

Senator Susan Collins (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/susan_collins/index.html?inline=nyt-per), Republican of Maine, who is chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said that despite such evidence, officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency had told investigators that leading up to Hurricane Katrina they believed that local and state governments could handle the evacuation on their own.

"It is another example of a lack of coordination and planning and a disconnect between what the FEMA officials' perception was and what the reality was facing state and local officials," Ms. Collins said.

Separately Monday, a Democrat on the House committee that is also investigating Hurricane Katrina urged Representative Thomas M. Davis III, Republican of Virginia, who is the chairman of the House inquiry, to enforce a subpoena presented to Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/donald_h_rumsfeld/index.html?inline=nyt-per) for documents related to the storm.

The Democrat, Representative Charlie Melancon of Louisiana, said in a letter that recent interviews by House investigators had produced evidence that "the Defense Department frustrated FEMA's attempts to get this aid delivered to the stricken region," and that the documents from the Pentagon were necessary to address the accusations.

A Defense Department spokesman declined to comment on the letter.

Copyright 2006 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

February 8th, 2006, 11:01 AM
Governor Threatens to Block Energy Leases Off Louisiana

By GARY RIVLIN (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=GARY RIVLIN&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=GARY RIVLIN&inline=nyt-per)
Published: February 8, 2006

NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 7 — Seeking more money from Washington for hurricane relief, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco entered uncharted legal territory with a threat on Monday to block oil and gas leases worth hundreds of millions to the federal treasury unless the state received its "fair share" of the revenues.

"It's time to play hardball, as I believe that's the only game Washington understands," Ms. Blanco said Monday night as she opened the second special legislative session she has called since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Oil and gas companies pay for the right to extract natural resources from the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/louisiana/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) collects royalties, as well as severance taxes on resources extracted within three miles of its border. Those programs add hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the state treasury. Louisiana receives no share of the leasing fees on oil and gas reserves beyond the three miles, which are in federal waters.

The federal government negotiates those leases, which give more influential states like Florida and Texas extended state waters, effective every August.
Ms. Blanco, a Democrat, said Monday that she sought to split the leasing fees 50-50. "If no effort is made to guarantee our fair share of royalties," she said, "I have warned the federal government that we will be forced to block the August sale of offshore oil and gas leases."

It remains to be seen whether the governor has the authority to block the leases. By statute, the Minerals Management Service, the agency in the Interior Department that oversees offshore leases, has to seek comment from the affected governors. It is not clear what occurs if a governor refuses to approve a pact.

"You can say we're in unprecedented territory here," said David E. Dismukes, associate director of the Center for Energy Studies at Louisiana State University.

Mr. Dismukes said there could be a protracted legal contest if no settlement was reached and the governor felt compelled to carry through on her ultimatum.

A spokesman for the Minerals Management Service, Gary Strasburg, said Congress could earmark a share of the leasing revenue to any state. As Mr. Strasburg described the process, seeking a governor's advice seemed little more than intergovernmental courtesy.

"It's not an issue of whether or not the governor approves of what we're doing, because if she voices an objection, we'll note that and continue with our negotiations one way or another," he said.

The federal government collected more than $1.5 billion in leasing fees last year from oil and gas companies along the Gulf Coast, a significant part from rigs off Louisiana.

The state faces a shortfall of nearly $1 billion in the current fiscal year.
The fight for a larger share of leasing revenue predates Hurricane Katrina, said Andy Kopplin, executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, and is closely linked to the damage that pipelines and oil-service vessels inflict on coastal wetlands. The greater the coastal erosion, the greater the storm surge after a hurricane.

"There's a very clear connection between our role providing one-quarter of the oil and gas produced in this country and our vulnerability to hurricanes," Mr. Kopplin said. "The governor's point is that we need a greater share of the revenues from offshore oil and gas to help us restore and protect our coastline."

Even if Ms. Blanco never carries through on her threat, her speaking up may help by keeping the recovery question on the radar in Washington, said T. Wayne Parent, a political scientist at L.S.U. "The fear here is that the Congress and the president seem to be moving on to other things," Professor Parent said. "She knows that this will capture people's attention and force people to pay attention to Louisiana."

That fear has been particularly acute since last week, he said, when President Bush "barely mentioned Hurricane Katrina" in his State of the Union speech.

On Monday, Ms. Blanco also announced how the state plans to allocate the $7.7 billion from Washington for block grants and repairing hazards. The bulk of that, $4.6 billion, should be spent helping homeowners replace or repair houses damaged in the storm, she said.

She added that the money was not nearly enough to help compensate people who lost houses to the storms. "We had 10 times more businesses destroyed," Ms. Blanco said Monday. "We had five times more jobs lost. And we weathered more than 75 percent of the total property and infrastructure damage caused by the storm. However, we received only 54 percent of the block grant funding."

Copyright 2006 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

February 10th, 2006, 09:02 AM
White House Knew of Levee's Failure on Night of Storm

Marty Bahamonde/FEMA
A photo taken by a federal emergency official the day Hurricane Katrina
arrived showed the broken 17th Street Canal levee in New Orleans.

By ERIC LIPTON (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=ERIC%20LIPTON&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=ERIC%20LIPTON&inline=nyt-per)
New York Times
February 10, 2006

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/10/politics/10katrina.html (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/10/politics/10katrina.html?_r=1&ei=5094&en=d6fcffd6820bf50d&hp=&ex=1139547600&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&partner=homepage&adxnnlx=1139579609-fBATrD3TSk8+T7ZZ0A8SoQ)

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 — In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Bush administration officials said they had been caught by surprise when they were told on Tuesday, Aug. 30, that a levee had broken, allowing floodwaters to engulf New Orleans.

But Congressional investigators have now learned that an eyewitness account of the flooding from a federal emergency official reached the Homeland Security Department's headquarters starting at 9:27 p.m. the day before, and the White House itself at midnight.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency official, Marty Bahamonde, first heard of a major levee breach Monday morning. By late Monday afternoon, Mr. Bahamonde had hitched a ride on a Coast Guard helicopter over the breach at the 17th Street Canal to confirm the extensive flooding. He then telephoned his report to FEMA headquarters in Washington, which notified the Homeland Security Department.

"FYI from FEMA," said an e-mail message from the agency's public affairs staff describing the helicopter flight, sent Monday night at 9:27 to the chief of staff of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and recently unearthed by investigators. Conditions, the message said, "are far more serious than media reports are currently reflecting. Finding extensive flooding and more stranded people than they had thought — also a number of fires."

Michael D. Brown, who was the director of FEMA until he resigned under pressure on Sept. 12, said in a telephone interview Thursday that he personally notified the White House of this news that night, though he declined to identify the official he spoke to.

White House officials have confirmed to Congressional investigators that the report of the levee break arrived there at midnight, and Trent Duffy, the White House spokesman, acknowledged as much in an interview this week, though he said it was surrounded with conflicting reports.

But the alert did not seem to register. Even the next morning, President Bush, on vacation in Texas, was feeling relieved that New Orleans had "dodged the bullet," he later recalled. Mr. Chertoff, similarly confident, flew Tuesday to Atlanta for a briefing on avian flu. With power out from the high winds and movement limited, even news reporters in New Orleans remained unaware of the full extent of the levee breaches until Tuesday.

The federal government let out a sigh of relief when in fact it should have been sounding an "all hands on deck" alarm, the investigators have found.

This chain of events, along with dozens of other critical flashpoints in the Hurricane Katrina saga, has for the first time been laid out in detail following five months of work by two Congressional committees that have assembled nearly 800,000 pages of documents, testimony and interviews from more than 250 witnesses. Investigators now have the documentation to pinpoint some of the fundamental errors and oversights that combined to produce what is universally agreed to be a flawed government response to the worst natural disaster in modern American history.

On Friday, Mr. Brown, the former FEMA director, is scheduled to testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. He is expected to confirm that he notified the White House on that Monday, the day the hurricane hit, that the levee had given way, the city was flooding and his crews were overwhelmed.

"There is no question in my mind that at the highest levels of the White House they understood how grave the situation was," Mr. Brown said in the interview.

The problem, he said, was the handicapping of FEMA when it was turned into a division of the Homeland Security Department in 2003.

"The real story is with this new structure," he said. "Why weren't more things done, or what prevented or delayed Mike Brown from being able to do what he would have done and did do in any other disaster?"

Although Mr. Bahamonde said in October that he had notified Mr. Brown that Monday, it was not known until recently what Mr. Brown or the Homeland Security Department did with that information, or when the White House was told.

Missteps at All Levels

It has been known since the earliest days of the storm that all levels of government — from the White House to the Department of Homeland Security to the Louisiana Capitol to New Orleans City Hall — were unprepared, uncommunicative and phlegmatic in protecting Gulf Coast residents from the floodwaters and their aftermath. But an examination of the latest evidence by The New York Times shines a new light on the key players involved in the important turning points: what they said, what they did and what they did not do, all of which will soon be written up in the committees' investigative reports.

Among the findings that emerge in the mass of documents and testimony were these:

&#182;Federal officials knew long before the storm showed up on the radar that 100,000 people in New Orleans had no way to escape a major hurricane on their own and that the city had finished only 10 percent of a plan for how to evacuate its largely poor, African-American population.

&#182;Mr. Chertoff failed to name a principal federal official to oversee the response before the hurricane arrived, an omission a top Pentagon official acknowledged to investigators complicated the coordination of the response.

His department also did not plan enough to prevent a conflict over which agency should be in charge of law enforcement support. And Mr. Chertoff was either poorly informed about the levee break or did not recognize the significance of the initial report about it, investigators said.

&#182;The Louisiana transportation secretary, Johnny B. Bradberry, who had legal responsibility for the evacuation of thousands of people in nursing homes and hospitals, admitted bluntly to investigators, "We put no plans in place to do any of this."

&#182;Mayor C. Ray Nagin of New Orleans at first directed his staff to prepare a mandatory evacuation of his city on Saturday, two days before the storm hit, but he testified that he had not done so that day while he and other city officials struggled to decide if they should exempt hospitals and hotels from the order. The mandatory evacuation occurred on Sunday, and the delay exacerbated the difficulty in moving people away from the storm.

&#182;The New Orleans Police Department unit assigned to the rescue effort, despite many years' worth of flood warnings and requests for money, had just three small boats and no food, water or fuel to supply its emergency workers.

&#182;Investigators could find no evidence that food and water supplies were formally ordered for the Convention Center, where more than 10,000 evacuees had assembled, until days after the city had decided to open it as a backup emergency shelter. FEMA had planned to have 360,000 ready-to-eat meals delivered to the city and 15 trucks of water in advance of the storm. But only 40,000 meals and five trucks of water had arrived.

Representative Thomas M. Davis III, Republican of Virginia, chairman of the special House committee investigating the hurricane response, said the only government agency that performed well was the National Weather Service, which correctly predicted the force of the storm. But no one heeded the message, he said.

"The president is still at his ranch, the vice president is still fly-fishing in Wyoming, the president's chief of staff is in Maine," Mr. Davis said. "In retrospect, don't you think it would have been better to pull together? They should have had better leadership. It is disengagement."

One of the greatest mysteries for both the House and Senate committees has been why it took so long, even after Mr. Bahamonde filed his urgent report on the Monday the storm hit, for federal officials to appreciate that the levee had broken and that New Orleans was flooding.

Eyewitness to Devastation

As his helicopter approached the site, Mr. Bahamonde testified in October, there was no mistaking what had happened: large sections of the levee had fallen over, leaving the section of the city on the collapsed side entirely submerged, but the neighborhood on the other side relatively dry. He snapped a picture of the scene with a small camera.

"The situation is only going to get worse," he said he warned Mr. Brown, then the FEMA director, whom he called about 8 p.m. Monday Eastern time to report on his helicopter tour.

"Thank you," he said Mr. Brown replied. "I am now going to call the White House."

Citing restrictions placed on him by his lawyers, Mr. Brown declined to tell House investigators during testimony if he had actually made that call. White House aides have urged administration officials not to discuss any conversations with the president or his top advisors and declined to release e-mail messages sent among Mr. Bush's senior advisors.

But investigators have found the e-mail message referring to Mr. Bahamonde's helicopter survey that was sent to John F. Wood, chief of staff to Secretary Chertoff at 9:27 p.m. They have also found a summary of Mr. Bahamonde's observations that was issued at 10:30 p.m. and an 11:05 p.m. e-mail message to Michael Jackson, the deputy secretary of homeland security. Each message describes in detail the extensive flooding that was taking place in New Orleans after the levee collapse.

Given this chain of events, investigators have repeatedly questioned why Mr. Bush and Mr. Chertoff stated in the days after the storm that the levee break did not happen until Tuesday, as they made an effort to explain why they initially thought the storm had passed without the catastrophe that some had feared.

"The hurricane started to depart the area on Monday, and then Tuesday morning the levee broke and the water started to flood into New Orleans," Mr. Chertoff said on CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday, Sept. 4, the weekend after the hurricane hit.

Mr. Chertoff and White House officials have said that they were referring to official confirmation that the levee had broken, which they say they received Tuesday morning from the Army Corps of Engineers. They also say there were conflicting reports all day Monday about whether a breach had occurred and noted that they were not alone in failing to recognize the growing catastrophe.

Mr. Duffy, the White House spokesman, said it would not have made much difference even if the White House had realized the significance of the midnight report. "Like it or not, you cannot fix a levee overnight, or in an hour, or even six hours," he said.

But Senator Susan Collins (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/susan_collins/index.html?inline=nyt-per), Republican of Maine and chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, said it was obvious to her in retrospect that Mr. Chertoff, perhaps in deference to Mr. Brown's authority, was not paying close enough attention to the events in New Orleans and that the federal response to the disaster may have been slowed as a result.

"Secretary Chertoff was too disengaged from the process," Ms. Collins said in an interview.

Compounding the problem, once Mr. Chertoff learned of the levee break on Tuesday, he could not reach Mr. Brown, his top emergency response official, for an entire day because Mr. Brown was on helicopter tours of the damage.

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/l/joseph_i_lieberman/index.html?inline=nyt-per) of Connecticut, the ranking Democrat on the homeland security committee, said the government confusion reminded him of the period surrounding the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"Information was in different places, in that case prior to the attack," Mr. Lieberman said, "and it wasn't reaching the key decision makers in a coordinated way for them to take action."

Russ Knocke, a homeland security spokesman, said that although Mr. Chertoff had been "intensely involved in monitoring the storm" he had not actually been told about the report of the levee breach until Tuesday, after he arrived in Atlanta.

"No one is satisfied with the response in the early days," Mr. Knocke said.

But he rejected criticism by Senator Collins and others that Mr. Chertoff was disengaged.

"He was not informed of it," Mr. Knocke said. "It is certainly a breakdown. And through an after-action process, that is something we will address."

The day before the hurricane made landfall, the Homeland Security Department issued a report predicting that it could lead to a levee breach that could submerge New Orleans for months and leave 100,000 people stranded. Yet despite these warnings, state, federal and local officials acknowledged to investigators that there was no coordinated effort before the storm arrived to evacuate nursing homes and hospitals or others in the urban population without cars.

Focus on Highway Plan

Mr. Bradberry, the state transportation secretary, told an investigator that he had focused on improving the highway evacuation plan for the general public with cars and had not attended to his responsibility to remove people from hospitals and nursing homes. The state even turned down an offer for patient evacuation assistance from the federal government.

In fact, the city was desperately in need of help. And this failure would have deadly consequences. Only 21 of the 60 or so nursing homes were cleared of residents before the storm struck. Dozens of lives were lost in hospitals and nursing homes.

One reason the city was unable to help itself, investigators said, is that it never bought the basic equipment needed to respond to the long-predicted catastrophe. The Fire Department had asked for inflatable boats and generators, as well as an emergency food supply, but none were provided, a department official told investigators.

Timothy P. Bayard, a police narcotics commander assigned to lead a water rescue effort, said that with just three boats, not counting the two it commandeered and almost no working radios, his small team spent much of its time initially just trying to rescue detectives who themselves were trapped by rising water.

The investigators also determined that the federal Department of Transportation was not asked until Wednesday to provide buses to evacuate the Superdome and the convention center, meaning that evacuees sat there for perhaps two more days longer than necessary.

Mr. Brown acknowledged to investigators that he wished, in retrospect, that he had moved much earlier to turn over major aspects of the response effort to the Department of Defense. It was not until the middle of the week, he said, that he asked the military to take over the delivery and distribution of water, food and ice.

"In hindsight I should have done it right then," Mr. Brown told the House, referring to the Sunday before the storm hit.

Copyright 2006 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

February 15th, 2006, 09:39 AM
House Probe Blasts Katrina Preparation

Associated Press
Feb. 15, 2006


The deaths and suffering of thousands of Hurricane Katrina's victims might have been avoided if the government had heeded lessons from the 2001 terror attacks and taken a proactive stance toward disaster preparedness, a House inquiry concludes.

But from President Bush on down to local officials there was largely a reactive posture to the catastrophic Aug. 29 storm — even when faced with early warnings about its deadly potential.

A 520-page report, titled "A Failure of Initiative," was being released Wednesday as Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff testifies before a Senate committee conducting a separate investigation of the government's Katrina response.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the report Tuesday night.
"The preparation for and response to Hurricane Katrina should disturb all Americans," said the report, written by a Republican-dominated special House committee chaired by Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va.

"Passivity did the most damage," it said. "The failure of initiative cost lives, prolonged suffering, and left all Americans justifiably concerned our government is no better prepared to protect its people than it was before 9/11, even if we are."

The hard-hitting findings allocated blame to state and local authorities and concluded that the federal government's single largest failure was in not recognizing Katrina's likely consequences as it approached. That could have prompted a mobilization of federal assets for a post-storm evacuation of a flooded New Orleans, the report said, meaning aid "would have arrived several days earlier."

It also found that Bush could have speeded the response by becoming involved in the crisis earlier and says he was not receiving guidance from a disaster specialist who would have understood the scope of the storm's destruction.

"Earlier presidential involvement might have resulted in a more effective response," the inquiry concluded.

White House spokesman Allen Abney declined to comment Tuesday night. On Monday, White House homeland security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend said Bush was "fully involved" in Washington's preparations and response to Katrina.

The inquiry into one of the nation's worst natural disasters looked at everything from the evacuation to the military's role to planning for emergency supplies and in each category found much to criticize. The House study is the first to be completed in a series of inquiries by Congress and the Bush administration into the massive failures exposed by Katrina.

Katrina left more than 1,300 people dead in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, hundreds of thousands homeless and tens of billions of dollars worth of damage. Bush has accepted responsibility for the federal government's shortfalls, but the storm response continues to generate finger-pointing.

House Democrats who participated in the inquiry could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday night. But in a 59-page response released last Sunday, Reps. Charlie Melancon and William Jefferson of Louisiana said that while they largely agreed with its conclusions, the report falls short of holding "anyone accountable for these failures."

Despite its accomplishments, the committee "adopted an approach that largely eschews direct accountability," Melancon and Jefferson said in their assessment.

The report finds fault with Chertoff for failing to activate a national plan to trigger fast relief, and with Homeland Security for overseeing a bare-bones and inexperienced emergency response staff. It found that the military played an invaluable role in the response but lacked coordination with Homeland Security and other relief agencies.

Moreover, federal agencies were unclear about their responsibilities under a national response plan issued a year ago. And lessons learned from Hurricane Pam — a fictional storm designed to test Gulf Coast preparedness — went unheeded.

Describing similar delays, the report concludes that Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin waited until too late to order a mandatory evacuation of the city. Despite warnings of Katrina's potential destruction 56 hours ahead of landfall, the evacuation order came only 19 hours before Katrina hit.

Charitable organizations such as the American Red Cross were described as overwhelmed by the sheer size of demands, leading to water, food and other supply shortages and disorganized sheltering processes.

The House panel spent five months investigating the failures. It interviewed scores of federal, state and local authorities, sorted through more than 500,000 pages of e-mails, memos and other documents and held nine public hearings spotlighting sometimes feeble explanations by officials.

Though some Democrats — mostly representing Gulf Coast districts — participated in the House inquiry, their party leaders boycotted it, holding out for an independent commission similar to the one that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Associated Press writers Douglass K. Daniel and Hope Yen contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press.

February 22nd, 2006, 06:23 PM
If I were in the situation that these patients found themselves in then I'd rather have those same doctors deciding my fate rather than anyone from the "Not Dead Yet" gang ...

Court Documents: Hospital Gave Lethal Injections to Patients During Hurricane Katrina

By John-Henry Westen
Feb. 22, 2006


NEW ORLEANS, February 22, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Just after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans rumors circulated that at least one hospital had euthanized patients during the mayhem. LifeSiteNews.com reported in September 2005, that an unnamed doctor admitted to a UK newspaper that such activities had taken place at Memorial Medical Center (http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/sep/05091205.html (http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/feb/<a%20href=http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/sep/05091205.html>http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/sep/05091205.html</a>) ).

In October another doctor at the hospital confirmed in a CNN interview that he suspected such activities and admitted he left the hospital saying he would rather abandon patients than actively kill them. (see coverage: http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/oct/05101303.html (http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/feb/<a%20href=http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/oct/05101303.html>http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/oct/05101303.html</a>) )

Later in October hospital workers were subpoenaed for an investigation (http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/oct/05102806.html (http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/feb/<a%20href=http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/oct/05102806.html>http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/oct/05102806.html</a>) ).

National Public Radio now reports on its access to court documents in the case. In a February 16 report, NPR says it has reviewed secret court documents related to the investigation and not yet released to the public.

The documents, says NPR "reveal chilling details about events at Memorial hospital in the chaotic days following the storm, including hospital administrators who saw a doctor filling syringes with painkillers and heard plans to give patients lethal doses. The witnesses also heard staff discussing the agonizing decision to end patients' lives."

The allegations revolve around a group of patients left on the seventh floor at Memorial Medical Center. This floor was leased to a different entity, LifeCare Hospitals. According to NPR, the patients on the seventh floor were all DNR patients -- they had "do not resuscitate" orders.

The report describes the deplorable conditions in the hospital which was left without power, without sewage removal facilities, and in soaring temperatures with looters attempting to enter the hospital.

Not Dead Yet, a national disability rights organization that leads the disability community's opposition to legalized assisted suicide, euthanasia and other forms of medical killing, points to a section of the NPR report suggesting the staff wanted to eliminate the patients so they could themselves escape.

The NPR report states, "According to statements given to an investigator in the attorney general's office, LifeCare's pharmacy director, the director of physical medicine and an assistant administrator say they were told that the 'evacuation plan' for the seventh floor was to not leave any living patients behind, and that 'a lethal dose would be administered', according to their statements in court documents."

Commenting, Not Dead Yet, says, "In other words, the only way the staff could evacuate was if they could report there were no more living patients to take care of. This was not about compassion or mercy. It was about throwing someone else over the side of the lifeboat in order to save themselves."

Not Dead Yet compared the allegations to what transpired at a New Orleans nursing home where 34 residents who were abandoned by staff drowned. "Death by drowning is easy to prove and so the owners of the nursing home are charged with 34 counts of negligent homicide," said Not Dead Yet. "It's unclear what will happen in the case of LifeCare medical staff. It's hard to prove morphine medication overdoses in badly decomposed bodies."

The group admits the hospital staff "must have been exhausted and scared", but it says, "that doesn't make the alleged killings merciful" as some reports have suggested.

Listen to the full NPR report:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5220802 (http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/feb/<a%20href=http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5220802>http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5220802</a>)

(with tip from http://lostbudgie.blogspot.com/ (http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/feb/<a%20href=http://lostbudgie.blogspot.com/>http://lostbudgie.blogspot.com/</a>) )

&#169; 1997-2006 LifeSiteNews.com

March 1st, 2006, 11:11 AM
Katrina recovery and The Mardi Gras Index


The Mardi Gras Index (http://www.reconstructionwatch.org/MardiGrasReport%206.pdf)

That's the name of the 36-page report from Durham's own Institute for Southern Studies. The bottom line is that the status of New Orleans post-hurricane is a tragic mess. The Mardi Gras Index (http://www.reconstructionwatch.org/MardiGrasReport%206.pdf) looks at 11 areas including housing, public health, the economy and disaster preparedness. Co-author of the report (and editor of the Institute's outstanding blog Facing South (http://southernstudies.org/facingsouth/)), Chris Kromm: "Despite promises from national leaders to "do what it takes" to rebuild New Orleans, the devastated city has been mostly left to fend for itself -- with tragic results. Without a bold, national commitment, the city won't come back."

The facts show the sorry state of affairs six months after Katrina, with the report reviewing over 130 indicators, with success on a few fronts, but there are major hurdles, all man-made, that are stalling much-needed progress. The big picture:
* Percent of those displaced by Katrina who were from New Orleans: 50

* Estimated loss of New Orleans’ black population if people are unable to return to flood-damaged neighborhoods: 80

* Number of FEMA trailer homes requested by New Orleans residents: 21,000

* Estimated number of those homes installed as of early February 2006: 3,000

* Percent of New Orleans small businesses destroyed by Katrina: 60

* Out of 200 samples taken in Orleans Parish, percent that exceeded the Louisiana state cleanup level for pollution in residential neighborhoods: 37

* Number of public school employees Orleans Parish is planning to lay off: 7,500

* Percent of no-bid contracts that FEMA promised to re-bid in October that have been re-bid: 0

* Number of Orleans Parish prisoners who have not seen an attorney, some since before Katrina hit: 4,500

* Number of days until the 2006 hurricane season starts: 93

* Square miles of Louisiana wetlands lost from Katrina and Rita, which experts believe are critical to reducing storm surges: 118

* Amount of federal dollars that have been committed to date for wetland restoration in Louisiana beyond existing programs: 0

* Category of storm for which the Army Corps is currently authorized by Congress to rebuild the Louisiana levees: 2

* Category of Katrina when it hit New Orleans: 3

Source: The Mardi Gras Index, February 28, 2006.
Visit Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch (http://www.reconstructionwatch.org/) for more information.

March 1st, 2006, 07:59 PM
6 months on -- ever since Bush has claimed that there was no way anyone could have known that the levees could be breached.

Here's the damning evidence that proves Bush is either a liar or a complete idiot -- or, even worse, both ...

AP Exclusive:
Video shows Bush, Chertoff clearly warned before Katrina struck

Associated Press Writers
March 1, 2006


WASHINGTON (AP) -- In dramatic and sometimes agonizing terms, federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, put lives at risk in New Orleans' Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage.

Bush didn't ask a single question during the final briefing before Katrina struck on Aug. 29, but he assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared."

http://hosted.ap.org/video/0301dv_katrina_bush.jpg (http://video.ap.org/vws/search/aspx/ap.aspx?t=s60&p=ENAPus_ENAPus&f=PAREA&g=0301dv_katrina_bush)

Katrina: The Warnings Bush Received (http://video.ap.org/vws/search/aspx/ap.aspx?t=s60&p=ENAPus_ENAPus&f=PAREA&g=0301dv_katrina_bush)

The footage - along with seven days of transcripts of briefings obtained by The Associated Press - show in excruciating detail that while federal officials anticipated the tragedy that unfolded in New Orleans and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, they were fatally slow to realize they had not mustered enough resources to deal with the unprecedented disaster.

Linked by secure video, Bush expressed a confidence on Aug. 28 that starkly contrasted with the dire warnings his disaster chief and numerous federal, state and local officials provided during the four days before the storm.

A top hurricane expert voiced "grave concerns" about the levees and then-Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown told the president and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff that he feared there weren't enough disaster teams to help evacuees at the Superdome.

"I'm concerned about ... their ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe," Brown told his bosses the afternoon before Katrina made landfall.

The White House and Homeland Security Department urged the public Wednesday not to read too much into the video footage.

"I hope people don't draw conclusions from the president getting a single briefing," presidential spokesman Trent Duffy said, citing a variety of orders and disaster declarations Bush signed before the storm made landfall. "He received multiple briefings from multiple officials, and he was completely engaged at all times."

Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said his department would not release the full set of videotaped briefings, saying most transcripts from the sessions were provided to congressional investigators months ago.

"There's nothing new or insightful on these tapes," Knocke said. "We actively participated in the lessons-learned review and we continue to participate in the Senate's review and are working with them on their recommendation."

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, a critic of the administration's Katrina response, had a different take after watching the footage Wednesday afternoon from an AP reporter's camera.

"I have kind a sinking feeling in my gut right now," Nagin said. "I was listening to what people were saying - they didn't know, so therefore it was an issue of a learning curve. You know, from this tape it looks like everybody was fully aware."

Some of the footage and transcripts from briefings Aug. 25-31 conflicts with the defenses that federal, state and local officials have made in trying to deflect blame and minimize the political fallout from the failed Katrina response:

- Homeland Security officials have said the "fog of war" blinded them early on to the magnitude of the disaster. But the video and transcripts show federal and local officials discussed threats clearly, reviewed long-made plans and understood Katrina would wreak devastation of historic proportions. "I'm sure it will be the top 10 or 15 when all is said and done," National Hurricane Center's Max Mayfield warned the day Katrina lashed the Gulf Coast.

"I don't buy the `fog of war' defense," Brown told the AP in an interview Wednesday. "It was a fog of bureaucracy."

- Bush declared four days after the storm, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees" that gushed deadly flood waters into New Orleans.

He later clarified, saying officials believed, wrongly, after the storm passed that the levees had survived. But the transcripts and video show there was plenty of talk about that possibility even before the storm - and Bush was worried too.

White House deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Brown discussed fears of a levee breach the day the storm hit.

"I talked to the president twice today, once in Crawford and then again on Air Force One," Brown said. "He's obviously watching the television a lot, and he had some questions about the Dome, he's asking questions about reports of breaches."

- Louisiana officials angrily blamed the federal government for not being prepared but the transcripts shows they were still praising FEMA as the storm roared toward the Gulf Coast and even two days afterward. "I think a lot of the planning FEMA has done with us the past year has really paid off," Col. Jeff Smith, Louisiana's emergency preparedness deputy director, said during the Aug. 28 briefing.

It wasn't long before Smith and other state officials sounded overwhelmed.

"We appreciate everything that you all are doing for us, and all I would ask is that you realize that what's going on and the sense of urgency needs to be ratcheted up," Smith said Aug. 30.

Mississippi begged for more attention in that same briefing.

"We know that there are tens or hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana that need to be rescued, but we would just ask you, we desperately need to get our share of assets because we'll have people dying - not because of water coming up, but because we can't get them medical treatment in our affected counties," said a Mississippi state official whose name was not mentioned on the tape.

Video footage of the Aug. 28 briefing, the final one before Katrina struck, showed an intense Brown voicing concerns from the government's disaster operation center and imploring colleagues to do whatever was necessary to help victims.

"We're going to need everything that we can possibly muster, not only in this state and in the region, but the nation, to respond to this event," Brown warned. He called the storm "a bad one, a big one" and implored federal agencies to cut through red tape to help people, bending rules if necessary.

"Go ahead and do it," Brown said. "I'll figure out some way to justify it. ... Just let them yell at me."

Bush appeared from a narrow, windowless room at his vacation ranch in Texas, with his elbows on a table. Hagin was sitting alongside him. Neither asked questions in the Aug. 28 briefing.

"I want to assure the folks at the state level that we are fully prepared to not only help you during the storm, but we will move in whatever resources and assets we have at our disposal after the storm," the president said.

A relaxed Chertoff, sporting a polo shirt, weighed in from Washington at Homeland Security's operations center. He would later fly to Atlanta, outside of Katrina's reach, for a bird flu event.

One snippet captures a missed opportunity on Aug. 28 for the government to have dispatched active-duty military troops to the region to augment the National Guard.

Chertoff: "Are there any DOD assets that might be available? Have we reached out to them?"

Brown: "We have DOD assets over here at EOC (emergency operations center). They are fully engaged. And we are having those discussions with them now."

Chertoff: "Good job."

In fact, active duty troops weren't dispatched until days after the storm.

And many states' National Guards had yet to be deployed to the region despite offers of assistance, and it took days before the Pentagon deployed active-duty personnel to help overwhelmed Guardsmen.

The National Hurricane Center's Mayfield told the final briefing before Katrina struck that storm models predicted minimal flooding inside New Orleans during the hurricane but he expressed concerns that counterclockwise winds and storm surges afterward could cause the levees at Lake Pontchartrain to be overrun.

"I don't think any model can tell you with any confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not but that is obviously a very, very grave concern," Mayfield told the briefing.

Other officials expressed concerns about the large number of New Orleans residents who had not evacuated.

"They're not taking patients out of hospitals, taking prisoners out of prisons and they're leaving hotels open in downtown New Orleans. So I'm very concerned about that," Brown said.

Despite the concerns, it ultimately took days for search and rescue teams to reach some hospitals and nursing homes.

Brown also told colleagues one of his top concerns was whether evacuees who went to the New Orleans Superdome - which became a symbol of the failed Katrina response - would be safe and have adequate medical care.

"The Superdome is about 12 feet below sea level.... I don't know whether the roof is designed to stand, withstand a Category Five hurricane," he said.

Brown also wanted to know whether there were enough federal medical teams in place to treat evacuees and the dead in the Superdome.

"Not to be (missing) kind of gross here," Brown interjected, "but I'm concerned" about the medical and mortuary resources "and their ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe."

Associated Press writers Ron Fournier and Lara Jakes Jordan contributed to this report.

&#169; 2006 The Associated Press.

March 2nd, 2006, 11:06 AM
This won't affect the middle-America morons who worship this a-hole. He is out to kill and destroy poor people, the disabled, and the sick. Just like Hitler did at the start of his campaign of "national pride."

March 27th, 2006, 01:42 PM
This could be DON"T MISS TV as "Brownie" meets Stephen Colbert ...

The truly serious appear on 'The Colbert Report'

Ex-FEMA chief is the latest public figure to cross his fingers and face the mock newscaster.

By Matea Gold
Times Staff Writer
LA Times
March 27, 2006


NEW YORK — Former FEMA director Michael D. Brown is tired of being caricatured as an incompetent federal appointee who stood by idly while the Gulf Coast was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. During an appearance before a Senate committee last month, he refused to accept all the blame for the government's slow response, insisting that he had warned the White House of the storm's disastrous potential.

Now he's embarking on the next step of his rehabilitation tour: He's going on "The Colbert Report."

On Tuesday, Brown is scheduled to sit down with Stephen Colbert — who plays the bombastic, preening cable anchor on Comedy Central's 11:30 p.m. mock newscast — for an unpredictable interview in which the only thing the former federal official can count on is the likelihood of being embarrassed.

Why, after months of being fodder for late-night television comedians, is he willing to subject himself to such a public ordeal?

Brown admits that he had never heard of "The Colbert Report" until he was invited to be a guest. But after watching several episodes, he says, "I think I know what I'm in for.

"It's not mean-spirited humor, it's just good satire," Brown said in an interview last week. "I go in with my eyes open that they will do whatever they can to make fun of me. But I hope people see I'm human and a decent guy."

Nowadays, it seems, it's not enough to field lighthearted quips on "The Tonight Show" to prove that you have a sense of humor. The real test for a public figure, especially with an image to mend, is to endure a heavy dose of ridicule at the hands of Colbert, whose parody of a pompous television pundit has attracted an impressive lineup of guests since the show premiered in October.

They don't come on to be flattered. New York state Atty. Gen. Eliot Spitzer, known for his crackdown on Wall Street shenanigans, made an appearance on the show to tout his gubernatorial bid, only to have Colbert inquire if he had been a tattletale as a child. California Sen. Barbara Boxer spent most of her interview shaking with horrified laughter as Colbert earnestly read aloud the sex scenes from her new novel. And when George Stephanopoulos visited the program, his host politely inquired if ABC's short-statured chief Washington correspondent needed to sit on a telephone book in order to reach the table.

"If you go into it knowing that you're not going to take yourself too seriously, it's a good way to reach a new audience," Stephanopoulos said. "I was struck how, after I went on, people who normally wouldn't see me on anything were coming up to me — I'm talking about the checkout clerk at the grocery store, the guy at the dry cleaners."

With an average of 1.1 million viewers a night, the program gets solid if not spectacular ratings for a late-night cable show. But 40% of its audience is in the coveted 18- to 34-year-old age group, which means that "The Colbert Report" — like its lead-in, "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," from which it was spun off — offers media figures and politicians valuable airtime in front of young viewers, even if they risk looking silly in the process.

CBS anchor Bob Schieffer said Colbert had successfully bottled the spirit of the annual Gridiron dinner, a clubby inside-the-Beltway roast of major Washington figures, and given it broad appeal.

"I think it's part of the American redemption process now that you have to let people make fun of you a bit," said 69-year-old Schieffer, who joked on the program this month that most viewers of "CBS Evening News" were older than he was.

Emily Lazar, who books "The Colbert Report" guests, said she was in discussions with a raft of likely 2008 presidential candidates who were interested in coming on, including Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Russell D. Feingold (D-Wis.), Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and John F. Kerry (D-Mass.).

"Sparring with Stephen on Comedy Central humanizes politicians and makes them seem — for lack of a better word — cool," she said.

Of course, offering oneself up as Colbert's target is not a risk-free enterprise. Bristle at his needling and you look like a bad sport. Crack jokes, and it can seem like you're trying too hard.

"It's a gamble, because if you mess up and look foolish, it's a negative," said Boxer, who tried to cut off Colbert's recitation of the racy passages in her book by snatching his notecards out of his hand. "But I do think you do get points for just doing it."

Brown said his friends and family had had two reactions to his decision to go on the program: "Either, 'That's so cool,' or, 'Oh my God,' their head in their hands."

Still, such is Colbert's cachet that he was invited to headline the annual White House correspondents' dinner in late April. And the comedian has already managed to persuade more than 20 members of Congress to participate in his "Better Know a District" segment, in which he quizzes befuddled-seeming lawmakers with off-the-wall questions.

Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston got such a great response to his appearance on the program — in which the host engaged the white Republican, who lived in Ethiopia for a few years as a child, in a discussion about his "African American experience" — that he's urged his GOP colleagues to let Colbert interview them as well.

Kingston showed a clip of his appearance at a retreat of House Republicans, and his press secretary, David All, sent an e-mail to other GOP aides urging them to get their bosses on the program and "show 'em that Republicans have a sense of humor too."

"He can do Fox News or CNN live 20 weeks in a row, but it's so repetitive," All said. "We've gotten more mileage out of doing this — not only in the district, but nationally."

Indeed, that's why Democratic Rep. Donna M. Christensen, the nonvoting delegate from the U.S. Virgin Islands, went on.

"I'm a delegate; I don't often get to be on a program that is so widely watched," she said.

That said, Christensen felt a little ambivalent about her interview, in which Colbert noted that the Virgin Islands were under the domain of Denmark, France and Spain before they became a U.S. protectorate.

"Isn't it time to drop the whole virgin act?" he asked her.

"What else would we call ourselves?" she responded warily.

"Trollop Islands?" Colbert offered. "The Been-Around-the-Block Islands? The Not-Until-the-Third-Date Islands?"

Christensen said that although people in her district were generally pleased that the Virgin Islands "got a showing," she was worried that it wasn't her best performance.

"Most of the time, you're trying to project your very best image, and this could leave you vulnerable," she said. "Now that you're asking me, I'm kind of wondering why I did agree to it so quickly."

But Rep. Linda T. Sanchez (D-Lakewood) said going on the show has little downside.

During her interview, Colbert asked her to say, "I took money from Jack Abramoff" in Spanish — then proceeded to grill her about why she accepted money from the indicted lobbyist, dismissing her protestations.

"You do have to have the ability to laugh at yourself," Sanchez said. "Most members of Congress are looked at as really dry, blowhard kind of people. But as I've gotten to know them, I've realized that a lot of my colleagues are really funny, and you never get to see that."

Still, she said she was surprised to hear that someone like Brown — who was such a public target after Hurricane Katrina — would agree to go on the program.

"He's brave, man," Sanchez said with a laugh. "You've got to give him credit."

The former FEMA director said he hoped to hold his own. Although "not a comedian by any stretch," Brown said he does have an ability to jest — a fact he said was lost on critics who assailed him for e-mailing his aides about his wardrobe during the storm.

"I do not believe I'm a 'fashion god,' " Brown said. "That was my dry sense of humor."

Copyright Los Angeles Times

March 28th, 2006, 11:12 AM
This should be good.

March 31st, 2006, 02:03 PM
Unfortunately it ^^ wasn't. Sorry and pathetic performances from both Brown & Colbert.

But not as sorry & pathetic as this ...

Levee Plans Fall Short of FEMA Standards

By JOHN SCHWARTZ (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/john_schwartz/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
NY Times
March 31, 2006


New Orleans's levees do not meet the standards that the Federal Emergency Management Agency requires for its flood protection program, federal officials said yesterday — and they added that the problem would take as much as $6 billion to fix.

FEMA has long based its flood planning on whether an area is protected against a flood that might have a 1 percent chance of occurring in any year, also known as a 100-year flood. Without that certification, the agency's flood maps have to treat the entire levee system as if it were not there at all, which means that people hoping to build in the affected areas might have to rebuild their homes at elevations of 15 or even 30 feet above sea level in order to meet new federal building standards.

But since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the agency has toughened its 100-year standard, based on new information about land subsidence and the increasing severity and frequency of hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico. There is also new data about weak soils in the area and the failure of some of the city's floodwalls.

As a result, the levees that the Army Corps of Engineers is now building will not meet the new FEMA standard. Donald Powell, the federal coordinator for Gulf Coast rebuilding, said Thursday that the Corps now believes it cannot meet that standard without spending additional billions to upgrade the flood protection system still further.

Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana expressed outrage over what she called a monumental miscalculation and said it was shocking to learn that $6 billion more might be needed for the hurricane protection system.

"This means that, just two months before hurricane season, the Corps of Engineers informs us they cannot ensure even the minimum safety of Southeastern Louisiana," Ms. Blanco said in a statement. "This is totally unacceptable."

But Mr. Powell said in a news briefing yesterday that the $2 billion that the Army Corps of Engineers is currently spending and the $1.4 billion in additional funds it has requested will make the system stronger and better than it has ever been. Asked if he would feel comfortable living in the area despite the government's inability to certify the levees, he responded, "after the Corps completes its work, yes."

Mr. Powell called the difference "a regulatory issue, not necessarily a safety issue." When the current work on the levees is complete, he said, there might be flooding from a storm like Hurricane Katrina, but the levee system would not fail catastrophically again.

Although people can rebuild without the federal flood maps today, many homeowners may well decide that the risks of rebuilding are too great. The Louisiana Recovery Authority has said that its plan to provide grants to those who rebuild will favor those who meet FEMA requirements.

Mr. Powell said that to start the process of getting the new flood maps, the federal government only needs to state that it does intend to meet the certification standard — a process that it can undertake for the entire system at the full $6 billion, or pick and choose projects to cut costs.

The flood advisory documents, which will begin the process of creating final flood maps, could emerge within days, Mr. Powell said. It will take up to 18 months to complete the maps.

In the briefing, Mr. Powell said that rebuilding the city could take 25 years — a sentiment shared by many disaster recovery experts. He added, however, "It could be much shorter than that, depending on how they plan their future. I'm going to be doing everything I can to make this as short as possible."

Matt McBride, a member of the community group in Broadmoor, a New Orleans neighborhood that was inundated during Hurricane Katrina, said many city residents would be disappointed by the levee announcement. While many people in his neighborhood were committed to rebuilding, he said, "It's just one more headache on top of the hundreds that we're dealing with."

Copyright 2006 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

April 8th, 2006, 06:06 PM
Corps chief admits to 'design failure'

By Bill Walsh
Washington bureau
New Orleans Times-Picayune
Thursday, April 06, 2006


WASHINGTON -- In the closest thing yet to a mea culpa, the commander of the Army Corps of Engineers acknowledged Wednesday that a "design failure" led to the breach of the 17th Street Canal levee that flooded much of the city during Hurricane Katrina.

Lt. Gen. Carl Strock told a Senate committee that the corps neglected to consider the possibility that floodwalls atop the 17th Street Canal levee would lurch away from their footings under significant water pressure and eat away at the earthen barriers below.

"We did not account for that occurring," Strock said after the Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing. "It could be called a design failure."

A botched design has long been suspected by independent forensic engineers probing the levee failures. A panel of engineering experts confirmed it last month in a report saying the "I-wall" design could not withstand the force of the rising water in the canal and triggered the breach.

But until Wednesday the corps, which designed and oversaw construction of the levees, had not explicitly taken responsibility for the mistake.

"We have now concluded we had problems with the design of the structure," Strock told members of the subcommittee that finances corps operations.

"We had hoped that wasn't the case, but we recognize it is the reality."

Experts from the National Science Foundation, the external review panel for the corps, said potential problems have been known for some time. They cited a 1986 corps study that warned of just such separations in the floodwalls.

But Strock told the panel that the corps was unaware of the potential hazard before Aug. 29, when Hurricane Katrina drove a massive surge of water against New Orleans' storm-protection system. He said the corps is evaluating all the levees to see whether they, too, could fail in the same way.

"There may be other elements in the system designed that way that may have to be addressed," Strock said.

A lawyer who has filed a class-action lawsuit over the levee failures said Strock's statement may mean little for his case because the corps is generally immune from legal liability by virtue of a 1928 law that put the agency in the levee-building business.

"The words are heavy and important," Joseph Bruno said. "The problem is legal impediment called immunity. It was tort reform that began in 1928."

However, lawyer Mitchell Hoffman, who also has filed a lawsuit against the corps, said it could help his case, which seeks to sidestep the corps' immunity by alleging the levee failure amounted to a massive government seizure of peoples' homes and land.

"It simplifies the case significantly because we don't have to have a battle of experts," Hoffman said. "Now the judge can say because of the enormity, it was a taking and the government needs to pay these people for their property."

Under questioning from Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., Strock also told the committee that the stunning $6 billion increase in the price of levee protection announced last week was prompted by a request from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to certify the levees to national flood insurance standards.

Strock said FEMA asked the corps what it would take to make the levees strong enough to withstand a 100-year flood, the standard government level for protection.

"Six billion dollars was our preliminary estimate," Strock said. "That number should come down somewhat."

However, Strock could not say when he might be able to fine-tune the estimate. Timing is critical because the Bush administration is evaluating how much money to request from Congress for more levee repairs. Without a White House request, FEMA says it can't release flood maps that tell property owners whether it is safe to rebuild.

Landrieu has threatened to hold up all presidential appointments to executive branch agencies until the White House issues such a request. Louisiana lawmakers hope to include any new levee financing in the pending emergency supplemental spending bill for hurricane recovery and the war on terrorism.

The bill passed a Senate panel Tuesday and is expected to reach the floor by the end of April.

© 2006 The Times-Picayune. All rights reserved.

May 15th, 2006, 02:01 PM
Has anyone read this article?


So they want to abolish FEMA and replace it with a farther-swooping and more powerful version? One that overrides congress during a state of Martial Law? Hmmm, police state anyone?

On a side note, did anyone notice Laura Bush when referring to Hurricane Katrina she called it (numerous times) "Hurricane Corrina"? How out of touch with reality are you when you can't even get the name of the worst natural disaster in the history of your nation right? Geezum crow...

July 5th, 2006, 11:43 PM
Hurricane Katrina Viewed From the City Desk

Eli Horne
Jed Horne

Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a Great American City.
By Jed Horne.
412 pp. Random House. $25.95.
(http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/06/books/06masl.html)Books of The Times | 'Breach of Faith'
July 6, 2006

There are two Hurricane Katrina deluges to reckon with: the one that hit the city and the one now hitting bookstores. The latter storm surge has barely begun.

"The Great Deluge" by Douglas Brinkley was written at record speed, yet is thus far the most evocative, soul-shaking account of the calamity. Ivor van Heerden, the prophetic deputy director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center, has analyzed the event's scientific and forensic aspects in "The Storm" (written with Mike Bryan). CNN and Time are among the news organizations that have commemorated their coverage in book form.

Now The Times-Picayune, the New Orleans newspaper, joins the fray. "Path of Destruction" is a coming book by two members of its Pulitzer Prize-winning news team, John McQuaid and Mark Schleifstein, with an emphasis on history, climatology and politics.

But Jed Horne, a Times-Picayune metropolitan editor, is after the big picture. His "Breach of Faith" is an amalgam of the feature stories, news analysis, forensic evidence and backroom power plays engineered by New Orleans's most influential citizens and the hellish ordeals suffered by its least.

The model for a book of this scope remains J. Anthony Lukas's "Common Ground," the amazingly multifaceted, gripping and comprehensive account of Boston's racial tensions as seen through the eyes of three very different families. Mr. Horne's book is modeled along similar lines. But while Mr. Horne touches all the necessary bases, his book is thorough without managing to become more than the sum of its miscellaneous parts.

What happened to the hometown advantage? Many Hurricane Katrina authors are New Orleans residents, but The Times-Picayune had a special edge. Its coverage of the disaster was so strong that it became the primary news source for other publications. Its feat in continuing to function despite overwhelming obstacles was part of the event's high drama.

If ever an author were entitled to insert himself into a news story, Mr. Horne is: he and his newspaper had what Random House calls "a front-row seat" for the storm's unfolding horrors. Yet "Breach of Faith" is a measured, impersonal, often dispassionate account of news that has since become all too familiar.

A Hurricane Katrina book is sure to do certain things. It will cite John M. Barry's 1998 "Rising Tide," about the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, as a model for studying a natural disaster and its wider racial, economic and political ramifications. It will incorporate ghastly, graphic examples of extraordinary suffering.

It will refer to the snake-filled muck that swamped the city as "gumbo." It will find controversy in the behavior of New Orleans's mayor, C. Ray Nagin. And it will agree that Michael D. Brown, the director of FEMA at the time the hurricane hit, did do a heck of a job, though that depends on what the meaning of "heck" is.

"Breach of Faith" delivers all of the above. And it incorporates a great many first-person stories, selected with a Noah's Ark approach to diversity as a way of creating a mosaic. Mr. Horne did not conduct all of these interviews himself, and perhaps that's why so many of them lack immediacy.

It's indicative of this book's tone that he identifies one assistant as "the redoubtable Hamilton Simons-Jones, scion of fine journalistic stock and a man acutely sensitive to the ethical issues journalists confront in dealing with the impoverished and disempowered." He also describes one photographer's choice between whether to take action or take pictures as "vexing."

The book is structured so that certain individuals are visited time and again, creating different narrative threads about aspects of Hurricane Katrina's impact. For such tactics to work, the people cited must become very recognizable to the reader. But Mr. Horne lets most of them remain only moderately familiar.

And although the book's separate chapters would seem to be about specific parts of the overall story, their organization is not so succinct. He is apt to mention one aspect of the crisis and then move on to another in ways that meander rather than logically progress.

Time sequences are problematic, since Mr. Horne does not attempt the Herculean job of telling this story chronologically. His separation of different narrative threads can be dizzying, since the book may move from post-storm chaos to anticipation of the imminent hurricane.

"Breach of Faith" works best when its chronology and focus are unmistakable.

In detailing the structure of levees and the difficulty of making them sturdy ("Sinking a sheet pile into peat was like trying to make a fork stand up in salad," he writes), Mr. Horne successfully concentrates the reader's attention and his own.

"Breach of Faith" deals with the aftermath of the storm better than it does with the immediate experience of it. Mr. Horne is patient and diffuse enough to fare well with some of the knottier issues raised by the disaster. Questions about insurance practices, possibilities for rebuilding, levee board consolidation and the Army Corps of Engineers' defensiveness about its work practices are dutifully addressed.

Mr. Horne also takes issue with Mr. Brinkley's harsh assessment of Mayor Nagin and with the perception of Gov. Kathleen B. Blanco as ineffectual. "There had always been something deceptive about Blanco," he writes, "a surprise in the discovery, which might take awhile, that she carried a sharp political knife in the folds of her grandmotherly togs."

But in the end Mr. Horne cannot come up with much of an ending. "Only this much seemed certain," he writes. "The seeds of whatever future lay ahead had been sown." There's no arguing with that. There's not much reason to pay attention to it either.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

August 3rd, 2006, 10:31 AM
Agony of New Orleans, Through Spike Lee’s Eyes

David Lee/HBO
The trumpeter Terence Blanchard is featured in “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts,”
for which he also composed the score.

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/03/arts/television/03leve.html?ref=movies)
August 3, 2006

NEW ORLEANS — From the beginning Spike Lee knew that Hurricane Katrina was a story he had to tell. Watching the first television images of floating bodies and of desperate people, mostly black, stranded on rooftops, he quickly realized he was witnessing a major historical moment. As those moments kept coming, he spent almost a year capturing the hurricane’s sorrowful consequences for a four-hour documentary, “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts,” to be shown on HBO this month.

The film, which Mr. Lee directed and produced, comes 20 years after the August 1986 debut of his first hit, “She’s Gotta Have It,” about Nola Darling, a Brooklyn graphic artist, and her three lovers. The provocative films that followed (“Do the Right Thing,” “Jungle Fever,” “Malcolm X,” among others), with their searing cultural critiques, cemented Mr. Lee’s reputation as his generation’s pioneering black filmmaker. This year he had a commercial and critical success with “Inside Man,” about a bank heist.

Like him or not, Mr. Lee, 49, is an artist many people feel they know. People, black and white, approached him and the “Levees” crew here, he said, imploring: “Tell the story. Tell the story.” “It becomes like an obligation we have,” he said.

Charlie Varley/HBO
The filmmaker Spike Lee in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. “What happened in
New Orleans was a criminal act,” Mr. Lee said of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

Mr. Lee’s reputation helped get his camera crew into the city’s water-soaked homes, he said. It allowed him to stretch out a complex story, with themes of race, class and politics that, he said, have too often been sensationalized or rendered in sound bites. He received permission, for example, from Kimberly Polk to film the funeral of her 5-year-old daughter, Sarena Polk, swept away when the waters ravaged the Lower Ninth Ward. “She came to me in a dream,” Ms. Polk says in the film. “She said, ‘Mama, I’m falling.’ ”

“Levees” opens with the Louis Armstrong song “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?” and offers black-and-white images of the city’s Southern-with-a-twist past — Mardi Gras, Confederate flags — interspersed with scenes of children airlifted from demolished houses, a door marked “dead body inside.”

This gumbo of a film lingers on the politics of disaster response, the science of levees and storms, the city’s Creolized culture, the stories of loss. Many faces are familiar: politicians like C. Ray Nagin, the city’s mayor, and Kathleen Blanco, the governor of Louisiana; celebrities like Harry Belafonte, Kanye West, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Sean Penn; and the native son and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, who talks about New Orleans as the birthplace of jazz. “It’s like somebody violating your mama,” Mr. Marsalis says of the flooding.

Mr. Lee said he intended most of the “Levee” stories to come from the ordinary people who endured the Superdome’s makeshift shelter or long searches for loved ones. So “Levees” includes many people like Phyllis Montana LeBlanc, depressed and outraged after her family was evacuated to different places around the country and she waited four months for a government trailer. “Not just the levees broke,” she says in the film. “The spirit broke.”

And there’s Paris Ervin, a University of New Orleans student, who fled Hurricane Katrina but left behind his mother, Mary Johnell Morant. Months later, after their home was officially searched and marked empty, the police found Ms. Morant’s remains in the kitchen, under a refrigerator. It took two more months for the coroner’s office to identify her officially and release the body.

As a kind of thank-you to the many residents like Mr. Ervin, the first half of “Levees” will be first shown free on Aug. 16 to 10,000 people at the New Orleans Arena. HBO is to show the first two hours of “Levees” on Aug. 21 at 9 p.m., the last two on Aug. 22 at 9 p.m. It will be shown in its entirety at 8 p.m. on Aug. 29, the anniversary of the hurricane, one of the country’s worst natural disasters.

The critics and audience will have the final say on whether “Levees” is the thorough examination that Mr. Lee intends. His views are clear. “What happened in New Orleans was a criminal act,” he said, a tragic backhanded slap to poor, black or politically insignificant people. “The levees were a Band-Aid here and a Band-Aid there. In the famous statement of Malcolm X, the chickens came home to roost. Somebody needs to go to jail.”

Douglas Brinkley, the author of “The Great Deluge,” a book about Hurricane Katrina said: “When I heard Spike Lee was coming down, I felt grateful. I thought the media perspective — while good — still showed that a lot wasn’t being asked.” Mr. Lee is “grappling with the larger question of why so many African-Americans distrust government,” said Mr. Brinkley, a professor of history at Tulane University, who appears in the film.

Just as Michael Apted’s “7 Up,” documentary series followed a group of people, filmed first as children, Mr. Lee said he hopes to return to the people profiled in “Levees.”

One 90-degree Saturday, some of those interviewed gathered in a big meeting room at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel, not far from the Convention Center. Each person was photographed within a frame, intended to convey the idea that each interview is a portrait.

“It’s really just a mood,” Cliff Charles, the cinematographer on “Levees,” said of what he was trying to capture in the various portraits.

“Levees” has no voice-over narration and is stitched together by the witnesses and commentators. Sam Pollard, the producer and supervising editor, said they had made 30 or so versions of the documentary, wading through hours of film for the moments and the elements that best tell the story.

Mr. Pollard, who like Mr. Charles is black, has worked with Mr. Lee on two other documentaries, “4 Little Girls,” about the girls killed in the bombing of a black church in Birmingham in 1963, and “Jim Brown: All American,” about the former pro football star. Mr. Pollard said Mr. Lee came up with the film’s title last year, before they started shooting.

On the set Mr. Lee asked all the questions from a typed list. (“You have to say the question in the answer,” he said to those he interviewed. “Don’t look at me, keep looking at the lenses.”)

The interview lineup on that day in May included Joseph Bruno, a lawyer, talking about the complexities of flood insurance, among other topics; the musician Terence Blanchard (who also did the score for the film); Calvin Mackie, a mechanical engineer; Brian Thevenot and Trymaine Lee (who had Mr. Lee autograph his videos), reporters from The New Orleans Times-Picayune; and Mr. Brinkley.

Mr. Lee’s direction was terse, although he is more soft-spoken than his public image suggests. He told Mr. Mackie, whose father had lung cancer and was supposed to start chemotherapy the day the hurricane hit: “Talk about your father and stepmother. Say their names too.”

Mr. Mackie, 38, a professor of engineering at Tulane, was mourning their deaths. His 43-year-old stepmother Linda Emery Mackie’s breast cancer had metastasized in the weeks after the hurricane. His 63-year-old father Willie Mackie’s cancer treatment was delayed for six weeks, his health records lost.

They died days apart in March.

“I hope that the documentary opens America’s eyes to how we continue to struggle here,” Mr. Mackie, who is black, said after his on-camera interview. “No matter how you feel about Spike, and I don’t like all his movies, people know about his integrity and his unrelenting commitment to African-American people, to tell our stories. You talk about street credibility, well, he has a cultural credibility.”

“Levees” started out as a two-hour, $1 million film. HBO executives looking for a Hurricane Katrina project snapped it up. Mr. Lee and his crew were able to get into New Orleans after Thanksgiving, Mr. Lee said, and he quickly realized that he needed two more hours and $1 million more to give the story a full airing. He got it.

Sheila Nevins, the film’s executive producer and the president of the documentary and family division at HBO, said “Levees” was an easy sell, at both prices.

“I realized this would be the film of record,” she said. “When Spike interviews a forgotten American whose kid floated away in the water, he lets them raise up their poetry. They’re able to express to him what they’re not able to express to anyone else.”

With all those hours of conversations and interviews, he certainly ended up with themes that went beyond the floodwaters, Mr. Lee said.

“Politics. Ethics. Morals,” he said, when asked what Katrina and in turn “Levees” was really about. “This is about what this country is really going to be.”

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

August 22nd, 2006, 12:29 AM
‘When the Levees Broke’:
Spike Lee’s Tales From a Broken City


NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/21/arts/television/21leve.html?_r=1&ref=television&oref=slogin)
TV Review
August 21, 2006

It isn’t the painful recapitulation of the incompetence, indifference and confusion in high places that makes Spike Lee’s epic documentary “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts” a wrenching experience. What breaks your heart is the film’s accumulated firsthand stories of New Orleans residents who lost everything in the flood after Hurricane Katrina, and the dismaying conclusion that a year after the disaster, the broken city has been largely abandoned to fend for itself.

A powerful chorus of witnesses and talking heads that cuts across racial and class lines was assembled for the four-hour film, to be shown tonight and tomorrow on HBO in two-hour blocks. Although seeds of hope are woven into this tapestry of rage, sorrow and disbelief, the inability of government at almost every level to act quickly and decisively leaves you aghast at what amounts to a collective failure of will.

The sights, familiar from television, are as shocking as ever: people stranded on rooftops waving signs pleading for help from passing helicopters and the thousands herded into the Superdome, which over several days turned into a giant, leaky sewer. Saddest of all are the personal stories of people who lost loved ones in the flood that inundated 80 percent of the city, leaving large sections looking like a bombed-out war zone. The sheer volume of suffering and misery chronicled by the film is crushing.

We hear horror stories of the ailing and elderly whose bodies were discovered by family members returning to their devastated homes. At the end of one chapter the film shows corpses, some covered, some not, left on the street to rot.

David Lee/HBO
The destruction after the storm,
from “When the Levees Broke.”

The trumpeter Terence Blanchard, who composed the film’s elegiac soundtrack, tenderly escorts his mother, Wilhelmina, to her ruined house for the first time after the flood, and she breaks down at the sight of destruction far worse than she had imagined.

Some comparative disaster perspective is useful. Calvin Mackie, a professor of mechanical engineering at Tulane University in New Orleans, notes in the film that the damage of 9/11 was confined to 16 square acres of Manhattan, while the devastation wrought by Katrina encompassed 90,000 square miles. At the time of the filming, which took place as recently as June, only 70 percent of the debris had been removed from the city, he says, and that 70 percent amounted to 25 times as much as was carried away after the collapse of the World Trade Center.

Each chapter of the story has a musical prologue and epilogue (Fats Domino’s “Walking to New Orleans” is heard twice) that lends the film the flavor of a traditional New Orleans funeral procession in which grief is transmuted into mournful celebration. Wynton Marsalis, a native son, offers a brief history of the city’s culture and the special way music is embedded in the fabric of New Orleans life.

Even with its formal musical trappings, “When the Levees Broke” is the opposite of a Ken Burns documentary. Where Mr. Burns’s historical panoramas examine momentous events from a magisterial distance, Mr. Lee’s documentary boils with anger and a degree of paranoia. Was it really necessary to bring in voices who suggest that the levees were dynamited, when no tangible evidence is offered beyond people who recall hearing sounds of an explosion during the storm? Occasionally the film can’t resist taking a cheap shot, as when it makes a side trip to Mississippi just to show a visiting Dick Cheney being taunted with obscenities. Thankfully such lapses of judgment are few and far between.

Most of the events in the first two hours will be familiar to anyone who watched television news in the disaster’s early weeks. It is in the last two parts — which examine the uncertain futures of tens of thousands of evacuees, analyze the engineering failures that allowed the flood to breach the levees, and speculate about the city’s future — that the movie rises to greatness.

Lt. Gen. Carl Strock of the Army Corps of Engineers says: “This is the first time the corps of engineers has had to stand up and say we had a catastrophic failure of one of our projects.” No disaster in modern American history better illustrates the risks of cutting corners, then closing your eyes and hoping for the best.

Some of the stories that hurt the most describe indignities suffered by ordinary New Orleanians leaving the city, like those who were turned back by armed police officers as they tried to cross a bridge into the town of Gretna.
There are also firsthand accounts of how the chaotic evacuation process separated parents from children as people were loaded onto buses dispatched to unknown destinations, with no return tickets.

As that evacuation began, even the estimable NBC news anchor Brian Williams referred to the flood victims as refugees, wrongly implying that these people, a majority of them poor and black, were citizens from another country seeking asylum in the United States. The term of course was uncomfortably accurate in evoking the attitude of the federal government toward a city with a high poverty rate, a crumbling educational system and no political value to the Washington establishment.

Douglas Brinkley, the author of “The Great Deluge” (William Morrow), observes that Louisiana has always been treated as colony from which natural resources could be extracted. Because its offshore oil wealth is beyond the three-mile limit, revenue from oil and gas leasing has accrued to the federal government, leaving the state without the funds to restore the protective wetlands, which have been compromised by industrialization, and shore up the levees that everyone from the top down has always known were vulnerable.

Hurricane Katrina actually missed New Orleans when at the last minute it veered slightly to the east, says Garland Robinette, an impassioned New Orleans radio personality. The worst winds to hit the city were of Category 1 or 2 force, he says. But even then, the levee system, which was supposed to withstand a Category 3, failed. The protections hastily erected since the disaster are described by Mr. Brinkley as “Lego levees.”

“When the Levees Broke” has clear-cut heroes and villains. New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin comes across as a salty, tough-talking leader bravely persevering in the face of social breakdown. Harry Belafonte and the Rev. Al Sharpton are treated as sages, and Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, belatedly dispatched to begin the major evacuation, is hailed by Mayor Nagin as “a John Wayne dude.” The villains are the usual ones from the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA.

The film has no major new revelations about the outrageously tardy response of the Bush administration to the crisis, as if any were needed. The failures speak for themselves.

Today some New Orleans neighborhoods remain largely uninhabited, and the future of the Lower Ninth Ward, in particular, remains uncertain. Will it be taken over by developers, bulldozed and gentrified? Or will the city’s spunky, independent spirit, which its residents believe to be one of its greatest resources, prevail? The answers to those questions may be a long time coming.

A Requiem in Four Acts

Directed and produced by Spike Lee; Sam Pollard, producer and supervising editor; Cliff Charles, cinematographer; Geta Gandbhir and Nancy Novack, editors; Terence Blanchard, composer; Butch Robinson, line producer. For HBO: Jacqueline Glover, supervising producer, and Sheila Nevins, executive producer. A Spike Lee Film and a 40 Acres & a Mule Filmworks production.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

August 23rd, 2006, 07:27 PM
HK Anniversary Counter-Progamming???

I Think We Make a Real Sharp Couple of Coconuts (http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/2006/08/i_think_we_make.html)

Andrew Sullivan (http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/2006/08/i_think_we_make.html)
23 Aug 2006 05:40 pm
by David Weigel

Liberal Philadelphia blogger Will Bunch does a modicum of legwork and discovers that Rockey Vaccarella (http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/08/23/bush.katrina.ap/index.html), the Katrina survivor who travelled to DC to thank the president is - quelle surprise! - a devoted Republican.
Turns out that the earthy Vaccarella -- a highly successful businessman in the fast-food industry -- is indeed a Republican pol, having run unsuccessfully under the GOP banner for a seat on the St. Bernard Parish commission back in 1999... and in fact, Vaccarella seemed very confident that he would be meeting with Bush when he left home, to the point where he had a date scheduled ( 22+and+%22president%22&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=1&ie=UTF-8) and everything.Even if this deep, dark secret never matriculates outside the blogs, I'm wracking my brains to understand the point of this "PR coup." Is a cheerful white guy really the mascot who can erase Bush's Katrina problem? Is his sing-song praise of federal spending going to motivate the GOP base? More evidence that Rove's touch has lost any of its Midas-like qualities.

August 23rd, 2006, 07:40 PM
Anniversary Draws Bush to Gulf Coast

His visit next week aims to counter Democrats' plans to focus on the slow Katrina response.

latimes.com (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-katrina23aug23,1,3838186.story?coll=la-headlines-nation&ctrack=1&cset=true)
By Peter Wallsten and Maura Reynolds
Times Staff Writers
August 23, 2006

WASHINGTON — As next week's anniversary of Hurricane Katrina triggers recollections of rooftop refugees and massive devastation along the Gulf Coast, the White House has begun a public relations blitz to counteract Democrats' plans to use the government's tardy response and the region's slow recovery in the coming congressional elections.

President Bush will visit the area Monday and Tuesday, including an overnight stay in New Orleans. He probably will visit the city's Lower 9th Ward, the heavily black area that remains mired in debris, and is expected to meet with storm victims.

The trip will force Bush to revisit sensitive racial issues that arose with the flooding of New Orleans; at that time, civil rights leaders charged that the White House was slow to respond because so many victims were black. GOP strategists acknowledged that the administration's failure to act quickly was a significant setback in their efforts to court traditionally Democratic African American voters.

The White House announced Bush's visit Tuesday as a phalanx of administration officials stood before reporters to argue that billions of dollars had flowed to the region and millions more was on the way. The plans for the trip were disclosed one day after Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales announced that he was sending additional lawyers and resources to the city to fight fraud and abuse.

At Tuesday's briefing, White House aides passed out folders and fact sheets that painted a picture of aggressive recovery efforts. A packet from the Army Corps of Engineers, responsible for the levees that were breached after the storm, carried the slogan: "One Team: Relevant, Ready, Responsible, Reliable."

Donald E. Powell, the White House official in charge of recovery plans, declared that Bush was "fulfilling his commitment to rebuild the Gulf Coast better and stronger."

The administration's coordinated response is the latest example of White House officials maneuvering to cast a positive light on a campaign issue expected to hurt Republicans. Just this week, Bush acknowledged public anxiety over Katrina, along with concern about the war in Iraq and rising gasoline prices. But he defended his record and accused the Democrats of weakness, particularly on national security issues.

The White House effort comes as the Democrats, who plan to challenge Republicans on national security in this year's midterm election campaign, are portraying the government's response to Katrina as evidence that Bush failed to fix inadequacies exposed by the Sept. 11 attacks.

A report being released today by top Democrats, titled "Broken Promises: The Republican Response to Katrina," features a picture of Bush during his Sept. 15, 2005, speech in New Orleans' Jackson Square, in which he promised to oversee "one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen."

The report argues that every aspect of recovery — including housing, business loans, healthcare, education and preparedness — "suffers from a failed Republican response marked by unfulfilled promises, cronyism, waste, fraud, and abuse."

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada is scheduled to spend Thursday in New Orleans with fellow Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana to kick off what they call the "Hope and Recovery Tour." House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco plans to arrive this weekend with about 20 other Democrats for additional events.

White House officials declined Tuesday to offer many details of Bush's trip. Spokeswoman Dana Perino said Bush would travel Monday to two Mississippi towns devastated by the storm, Gulfport and Biloxi, before arriving in New Orleans. He is expected to attend an ecumenical worship service at New Orleans' St. Louis Cathedral, the backdrop to his Jackson Square address.

Leaders of the recovery effort said Tuesday that although progress had been slow in some areas, Bush would be able to point to successes in some New Orleans neighborhoods, including the famed French Quarter and the Garden District. However, neither area was damaged as severely as the Lower 9th Ward. The question for White House schedulers is how much to accentuate the positives while acknowledging the negatives.

"If you go to most of the city you see enormous progress," said Walter Isaacson, president of the Aspen Institute and vice chairman of the Louisiana Recovery Authority. "They are probably going to go to the Lower 9th Ward, which is very honest of them, because that's the place you see the least progress."

Isaacson, a New Orleans native, said he considered many of the Democrats' critiques to be unfair. He credited the White House with safeguarding millions of dollars in grants for housing and levee reconstruction, some of which was only approved this summer amid a contentious budget debate.

"They protected that housing money and the levee money in the appropriation process when every congressman was looking at it greedily," he said.

On Monday, Bush offered a preview of his anniversary message, contending at a news conference that despite frustrations about the slow arrival of housing funds and delays in debris removal, "the money has been appropriated, the formula is in place, and now it's time to move forward."

He suggested that $110 billion in federal funds had been "committed" to help the region rebuild, but confusion persisted Tuesday over what portion of that money had actually been spent.

During the White House briefing, Powell said that about $44 billion, about 40% of the total, had been distributed to hurricane victims, but suggested that state and local governments were mostly to blame for the gap.

The director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, R. David Paulison, was contrite about mistakes made during the disaster aftermath. Paulison, who won Senate confirmation in May, a week before the 2006 hurricane season began, was named acting director in September after Michael D. Brown was forced to resign as FEMA director amid criticism of the federal response.

"Our communications system was broken — it was broken between the local community and the state, it was broken between the state and the federal government, and it was broken within the federal government," Paulison said. "That was the first thing we had to fix."

Times staff writer Janet Hook contributed to this report.

Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times

October 7th, 2006, 02:26 AM
Billie Holiday & Louis Armstrong

Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fX8OLqHYAgE (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fX8OLqHYAgE)

January 20th, 2007, 12:59 PM
Former FEMA head in NYC:
party politics played role in Katrina response

nola.com (http://www.nola.com/newsflash/louisiana/index.ssf?/base/news-29/1169305758250600.xml&storylist=louisiana)
1/20/2007, 8:58 a.m. CT
The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Political storm clouds gathered again over the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina as former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown said party politics influenced decisions on whether to take federal control of Louisiana and other areas affected by the hurricane.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said the partisanship Brown described was "disgusting," while a White House spokeswoman said Brown was making "false statements."

Brown told a group of graduate students Friday that some in the White House had suggested the federal government should take charge in Louisiana because Blanco was a Democrat, while leaving Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican, in control in his state.

Brown, speaking at the Metropolitan College of New York, said he had recommended to President Bush that all 90,000 square miles along the Gulf Coast affected by the devastating hurricane be federalized — a term Brown explained as placing the federal government in charge of all agencies responding to the disaster.

"Unbeknownst to me, certain people in the White House were thinking, 'We had to federalize Louisiana because she's a white, female Democratic governor, and we have a chance to rub her nose in it,'" he said, without naming names. "'We can't do it to Haley (Barbour) because Haley's a white male Republican governor. And we can't do a thing to him. So we're just gonna federalize Louisiana.'"

Brown, 52, declined to say who in the White House had argued for federalizing the response only in Louisiana. He said that he'd later learned of the machinations through Blanco's office and from federal officials.
Blanco reacted sharply to Brown's remarks.

"This is exactly what we were living but could not bring ourselves to believe. Karl Rove was playing politics while our people were dying," Blanco said through a spokeswoman, referring to Bush's top political strategist. "The federal effort was delayed, and now the public knows why. It's disgusting."

Eryn Witcher, a White House spokeswoman, denied Brown's claims.

"It is unfortunate that Mike Brown is still hurling false statements about the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina," she said. "The only consideration made by the administration at the time of this tragedy and since are those in the best interests of the citizens of the Gulf region."

Calls made late Friday seeking comment from the federal Department of Homeland Security were not immediately returned. A spokesman for Barbour, Pete Smith, had no immediate comment.

The question of federal control became a source of contention after Katrina.

Bush asked to put military relief efforts in Louisiana under federal oversight, but Louisiana officials rejected that idea, keeping state control over National Guard troops. They worked together with federal forces.

Associated Press writer Chevel Johnson contributed to this report from New Orleans.

©2006 New OrleansNet LLC.

February 9th, 2007, 02:03 PM
Bizarre things can happen when corporate support / control gets involved with the arts ...

Dispute Leads to Removal of Art Work

tribecatrib.com (http://www.tribecatrib.com/news/newsfeb07/drawers.htm)
By Andrea Appleton
POSTED FEB. 2, 2007

One of the art installations in the lobby of 125 Maiden Lane is a forest of found objects — chair legs, tree limbs, bedposts — nailed together into a freestanding web of wood. In the far corner a small broken rocking horse sits on the floor, facing the wall. The piece, versions of which have appeared in other shows under different names, is called Why is the Horse Facing East? It is not a rhetorical question.

“The horse has never faced the wall before,” said artist Sook Jin Jo, the piece’s creator. “It’s my form of protest.”

The 2,000 invitations sent out in early January to announce Jo’s solo show, on view until April 20, featured a photo of Resurrection II, a wall-mounted installation of found dresser drawers. But by the time the show opened in mid-January, Resurrection II, the show’s centerpiece, had been removed. Instead, another piece stood in one corner, next to a blank wall where Resurrection II was to have hung. Jo, bowing to pressure from the show’s organizers, grudgingly agreed not to include it. That is why the horse is facing east.

The piece’s removal was the culmination of a complicated dispute involving several Downtown entities, including the World Financial Center and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC).

It began in November when Jo learned that another artwork, Floodwall, by New Orleans artist Jana Napoli, would soon be shown on the Liberty Street Bridge. Floodwall is also an installation of found dresser drawers. (An article about Floodwall, on display until Feb. 9, appeared in the January issue of the Trib.)

Napoli collected her drawers in the shambles of New Orleans left by Hurricane Katrina. In this exhibit they sit upright along a platform.


Sook Jin Jo claims that Napoli stole the idea for Floodwall from Resurrection II, which she created in 1996. She cites two photos as her strongest evidence (see below): one depicts her piece, the other, a Floodwall prototype that formerly appeared on the Floodwall Web site and was reproduced in The New York Times.

“The pieces are so strikingly alike,” said Jo, “that I cannot imagine that Floodwall was created without being influenced by my work.” She contends that Napoli must have been inspired by Resurrection II, which has appeared in several galleries, catalogs, and art magazines.


In mid-November, with her show already planned, Jo wrote a letter to both Napoli and the World Financial Center, co-sponsor of Floodwall along with the LMCC. She accused Napoli of copying her work.

A flurry of letters and meetings followed. Jo demanded that the Floodwall prototype photo most resembling Resurrection II be taken out of circulation. She also demanded that Napoli cite Resurrection II as her inspiration. Napoli contended that she had never heard of Resurrection II, and refused to give Jo acknowledgement (though the prototype photo did disappear from her Web site).

“Prior to receiving your letter 24 hours ago, I had never heard of, seen, nor had any knowledge of you or your body of works as an artist,” Napoli wrote Jo in a letter dated Nov. 30. “I can further assure you...that, when presented in its entirety, Floodwall is not similar to Resurrection and any semblance of the two works is purely coincidental.”


(Napoli declined to be interviewed about the dispute, but in a recent e-mail to the Trib, she wrote: “It is all pretty astonishing, but really there is nothing else to say. We have work to do...New Orleans needs my attention for whatever little I can do for my city.”)

Jo said suing would be too expensive and time-consuming. So, having reached an impasse, the matter might have ended there — if it hadn’t been for the removal of Resurrection II from Jo’s show. In early January, Jo received word from Elizabeth Akkerman, her curator, that the piece would have to go.

The decision was precipitated by a call from the LMCC, when Akkerman first learned of Jo’s dispute with Jana Napoli. “Suddenly I was in the middle of something,” Akkerman told the Trib. “And these aren’t my questions as a curator. I’m not interested in people using my space as a battlefield.”

Jo was given three alternatives: to have the show in another space; to have it later in the year; or to pull Resurrection II. She chose the last option.

“It made no sense to postpone the show or have it somewhere else,” Jo says. “The invitation cards had already been sent out.”

Time Equities owns 125 Maiden Lane where Jo’s work is displayed in the lobby. Art philanthropist Francis Greenburger, CEO of the company and an LMCC board member, said he favored pulling Resurrection II from his space.

“It was simple common courtesy,” said Greenburger, who sponsored Jo’s show. “We were contacted by the director [Tom Healy] of LMCC, who indicated that he was uncomfortable with the piece being in the lobby because of the controversy.” The LMCC’s offices are on the second floor of 125 Maiden Lane.

“I didn’t want to do anything that was immediately in the face of the LMCC,” Greenburger said.

Neither the LMCC nor the World Financial Center would comment for this story, but both organizations have close ties with Floodwall. After Hurricane Katrina, the WFC gave 15 displaced Gulf Coast artists a nine-month residency in Manhattan. Napoli was one of them, and Floodwall was the result. Tom Healy, president of the LMCC, went to New Orleans and helped Napoli collect some of the drawers.

For Jo’s part, she is angry that the LMCC had a say in the pieces she showed, and she stands by her decision to protest the action.

“Let the people judge,” she says. “If they think it’s just a coincidence that the two works are alike, why do they prevent me from showing mine?”

(C) The Tribeca Trib

February 9th, 2007, 02:10 PM
Jana Napoli's "Floodwall (http://www.lmcc.net/art/programs/2007.4floodwall/index.html)" as it appears on the pedestrian south bridge ...


Jan. 4 - Feb. 9, 2007
7AM - 11PM Daily
On the Liberty Street Bridge (http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=Liberty+St.+and+W+Side+Hwy,+New+York,+NY&sll=40.710898,-74.014463&sspn=0.007978,0.01016&ie=UTF8&z=17&ll=40.711012,-74.014474&spn=0.007978,0.01016&om=1&iwloc=addr) of the World Financial Center


Photos by Wendy Giffords

February 9th, 2007, 02:40 PM

This is so analy stupid I cannot believe it.

It is a bunch of drawers nailed to a plank! Yes it says something, but their arrangement does not stir anything in me beyond "ooh, drawers".

If these drawers did NOT come from anywhere, would they have the same meaning? If not, then it is really not a piece of art. If art relies on the importance of the pieces it is comprised of to define its own importance than it is not truly are, but rather a memorial to the peices it is comprised of.

And this whole thing about having and removing is rediculous. They all need a serious reality check. :mad:

February 9th, 2007, 02:56 PM
It is a bunch of drawers nailed to a plank! Yes it says something, but their arrangement does not stir anything in me beyond "ooh, drawers".

If these drawers did NOT come from anywhere, would they have the same meaning? If not, then it is really not a piece of art. If art relies on the importance of the pieces it is comprised of to define its own importance than it is not truly are, but rather a memorial to the peices it is comprised of.

I couldn't dissagree more.

February 9th, 2007, 03:55 PM
So what you are telling me is that if the piece was said to be commemorating all the empty lives of the people in NO it would somehow mean less to you, artistically, than if they told you that these came from the site?

We get a little hung up on mementos sometimes Jason. We forget that the object itself is not what is important, but what WE as humans put behind it.

If you need someone to tell you something is important by connecting it physically to an event, you need to see why this is.

I am not totally immune to this myself. I have a bolt from the WTC site. But the bolt itself is not important, but the memory of what it was, and where I found it is.

I could switch it and tell my grandkids later that it was the same and the meaning would still be there for them.

Humans are the important part, not the physical objects they leave behind. That is our own fear of mortality creeping in. Our desire to leave something permanent on our environment. To deny our own depressing realization that we are one of many, and that few will be effected by anything we do, or have done once we are gone.

Geez. I am beginning to sound a bit like Sartre here.... I better not turn into a giant roach... :p

February 9th, 2007, 04:29 PM
... I have a bolt from the WTC site. But the bolt itself is not important, but the memory of what it was, and where I found it is.

I could switch it and tell my grandkids later that it was the same and the meaning would still be there for them.

Not necesarily. Your attitude toward the object would probably change (whether you realize it or not). Your story about the object would now be false (as it would not be what you are claiming it to be).

In some ways a true telling of the story without the addition of an imitation object could be more profound. The impact of your story might not land with the same reverberations if you switch it.

Truth is a funny thing. Many people can sense truth -- and sense BS / falseness.

I find that compositions of found objects can be very evocative. They tell a story. If the person who composes the objects is clear in their mind regarding the story that they want to tell then something is communicated.

Feelings and ideas are shared.

That's the magic of art -- whether it be sculpture, painting, dance, whatever.

Regarding the pieces above: The politics behind the decision that required Ms. Jo remove her piece from her exhibition is still bizarre to me.

February 9th, 2007, 05:03 PM
One fundamental difference between Resurrection II and Flood Wall is the quality of the drawers. The latter are disembodied heirloom quality drawers that certainly beg the question; "why are these fine drawers separated from their dressers?" The former are merely low quality street trash employed as a shallow one-liner.

I can see how exposure to these vacuous one liners could cause the cynicism that would dimiss the more evocative found object art.

April 22nd, 2009, 12:23 AM
April 21, 2009
Civil Lawsuit Over Katrina Begins

By JOHN SCHWARTZ (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/john_schwartz/index.html?inline=nyt-per)

NEW ORLEANS — A groundbreaking civil suit began in federal court here Monday to consider claims by property owners that the Army Corps of Engineers (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/a/army_corps_of_engineers/index.html?inline=nyt-org) amplified the destructive effects of Hurricane Katrina (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/h/hurricane_katrina/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier) by building a poorly designed navigation channel adjacent to the city.

The Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, a 76-mile-long channel known locally as MR-GO and pronounced “Mister Go,” was completed in 1968 and created a straight shot to the Gulf of Mexico from New Orleans. The suit claims that the channel was flawed in its design, construction and operation, and that those flaws intensified the flood damage to the eastern parts of New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish.
One geological expert testified on behalf of the plaintiffs that the channel was “one of the greatest catastrophes in the history of the United States.”

The federal government argued that Hurricane Katrina would have devastated the region whether or not the channel had ever been dug. The government’s filings in the case say the plaintiffs’ assertions that the taxpayers are liable for the damage are based on “misguided and internally inconsistent arguments.”

If they win, the plaintiffs — a local newscaster, Norman Robinson, and five others whose homes or businesses were destroyed by the 2005 storm — could receive hundreds of thousands of dollars each as compensation for their losses. More broadly, a victory could pave the way for more than 400,000 other plaintiffs who have also filed claims against the government over the hurricane’s destruction.

The government has historically enjoyed strong legal protection against lawsuits related to collapsing levees (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/science/topics/dams_and_dikes/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier). The Flood Control Act of 1928 bans suits against the United States for damages resulting from floods or floodwaters. In January 2008, a federal judge, Stanwood R. Duval Jr., ruled that the corps was immune in a different lawsuit related directly to the levee and floodwall failures during Hurricane Katrina in the city’s major drainage canals.

This case, however, is different because MR-GO is a navigation canal, not a flood-control project. In March, Judge Duval allowed the suit to go forward — over repeated efforts by the Justice Department to get him to dismiss it — based largely on a 1971 case, Graci v. United States (http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/cases/immunity/Graci.htm), that found there was no immunity for flooding caused by a federal project unrelated to flood control.

The Graci decision did warn that the lack of immunity still left a “heavy burden” on plaintiffs to prove that the government was negligent in building its projects, and that this negligence, not a hurricane, was the cause of the damage.

The trial is expected to take four weeks. In his opening comments, Judge Duval, who is hearing the case without a jury, called it “significant” and “the first real trial” about Hurricane Katrina, the levees and the role of the federal government.

The canal has been controversial from the start; critics had long called it a “hurricane highway” and warned that it would help carry storm surges into New Orleans. The suit alleges that the channel killed the protective wetlands and cypress swamps to the east of the city by allowing the intrusion of salt water from the gulf and caused the adjacent levees to subside. That, the plaintiffs say, exacerbated the effects of waves coming across the channel.

The corps has consistently argued that the canal’s effect during Hurricane Katrina was insignificant. At the direction of Congress, however, the corps has begun to close the MR-GO canal using 434,000 tons of rock.

During the trial’s opening session, the plaintiffs’ expert on geology and the coastal environment, Sherwood M. Gagliano, cited reports from as early as 1957 that claimed the canal would pose a danger to the people of St. Bernard Parish and reports of his own dating from 1972 that warned of the increased flooding risk from wetlands destruction.

Mr. Gagliano testified that the corps was aware of such research and even prepared a report in 1988 that mentioned “the possibility of catastrophic damage to urban areas” from the channel but did little to reduce the risk.

Under questioning by Kara K. Miller, a lawyer for the government, Mr. Gagliano acknowledged that the corps had agreed to some of his recommendations to improve the canal, like planting grass atop some of the levees to stabilize them.

The plaintiffs say they hope a victory in the case can open the door for a broader class action in which more than 400,000 claims have been filed against the government. A financial projection by the Army has concluded there is a reasonable possibility that potential government losses could ultimately range from $10 billion to $100 billion.

Beyond the monetary damages, many in New Orleans hope the lawsuit could put an end to the search for someone to blame for the flood damage during Hurricane Katrina, a quest that has haunted many who remain angry at the loss of their homes and businesses.

Like so many in the New Orleans area, Lucille Franz, one of the plaintiffs in the case, lost everything in the storm. Mrs. Franz and her husband, Anthony, came back from their evacuation to Texas during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to find that their home on St. Claude Avenue in the Lower Ninth Ward had steeped for three weeks in 18 to 22 feet of water. The water came three feet up the walls of the second floor.

“I’ve been through a lot,” she said in an interview.

The home, which the family owned, was deemed a total loss. The Franzes do not have the money to tear it down, much less to rebuild it. Family photographs, furniture and the accumulations of a lifetime were ruined; a community of neighbors was scattered.

Mrs. Franz is 75, her husband, 80. They were uninsured; she said that they did not have flood insurance, and that the $80,000 they received from the Road Home program was not enough to start again.
“You might purchase a trailer, but you can’t get a house,” she said. The money pays their rent for an apartment in Harahan, west of the city. “We need a home,” she said.

Jonathan Beauregard Andry, one of the lawyers representing the Franzes and other plaintiffs in the case, said the Franzes were typical of those who suffered damage and showed why the suit was important.
“Their whole life is changed,” Mr. Andry said, “and they should be compensated for that.”

Mr. Andry, whose father argued the Graci case in 1971, is a native of St. Bernard Parish and among more than 50 lawyers from 20 law firms around the nation working on the case. The people of the Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish, he said, “don’t want sympathy, and they don’t want something for nothing.”

April 22nd, 2009, 09:32 AM
I think it was more a lack of maintainance and an overall degrading of the situation that made this happen, not the original design.

If these people are suing for money due to the destruction, maybe a study should be made seeing how much the canal actually helped the economy there.

If the canal was responsible for bringing buisness in and providing jobs and salaries....well... it might be responsible for more wealth and development than damages.....

Now the care and maintainance is a different matter.

I just hate these money grubbing lawyers trying to sue for anything they think they can get a chunk out of......