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As of March 2010, Google is no longer supporting FTP publishing of it's Blogger blogs. Therefore I will be consolidating all of my blogs into a single front page format that I will be experimenting with and changing from time to time until I find something I like.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:21 PM
Medics held over Katrina deaths
(BBC News, 18 July 2006)
A doctor and two nurses have been arrested in the US city of New Orleans over the deaths of hospital patients after Hurricane Katrina last year. . . . The Louisiana attorney general's office said the three had been charged with murdering four patients. . . . At least 34 patients died at Memorial Medical Center, which was cut off after Katrina hit the city on 29 August. . . . Prosecutors have investigated claims of negligence and euthanasia and subpoenaed 73 staff in the inquiry. . . . Louisiana Attorney General Charles C Foti said: "This is not euthanasia. This is homicide." . . . He added: "While I am aware of the horrendous conditions that existed after Hurricane Katrina... I believe that there is no excuse for intentionally killing another living human being." . . . A lawyer for one of the accused, Dr Anna Pou, said she was innocent of the charges. . . . Patients at Memorial were stranded for four days without power after Katrina struck, before being moved to safety. . . . Tenet Healthcare Corporation, which owns Memorial, said the arrest warrants alleged that the medics "may have administered pain medication that hastened the deaths of certain patients in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina". . . . "If proven true, these allegations are very disturbing. Euthanasia is repugnant to everything we believe as ethical healthcare providers, and it violates every precept of ethical behaviour and the law." . . . In all, more than 970 people are known to have died in Louisiana in the aftermath of Katrina, and more than 200 in neighbouring Mississippi. . . . In a separate case, two nursing home owners were charged with manslaughter last year over the deaths of dozens of people at the St Rita's home. . . . They are accused of ignoring orders to move residents out.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:03 PM
Nameless hurricane victims fill U.S. morgues
(IOL, July 6, 2006)
Nearly 50 people killed by Hurricane Katrina's floodwaters more than 10 months ago remain unidentified, the Orleans Parish coroner said on Wednesday. . . . Some of the remains were discovered in the last several months as family members or construction workers began demolishing heavily damaged homes in the Ninth Ward and Lakeview, said Dr Frank Minyard. Others were found by firefighters doing new searches. . . . "The more they go down and do work, the more remains they're finding. I think this is going to go on a good while," he said. . . . About 40 of the people yet to be identified were found before federal officials turned over the work to Minyard, whose offices and equipment were destroyed by the August 29 storm. . . . Officials have been unable to find DNA matches for those remains. All of them are skeletal, meaning DNA, dental records or prosthetic joint information is needed to make an identification. . . . Nearly 1,600 Louisiana deaths have been attributed to Katrina.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:08 PM
Soldiers deployed in New Orleans
(BBC News, 20 June 2006)
U.S. soldiers are set to be redeployed on the streets of New Orleans to fight crime for the first time since the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. . . . The Louisiana governor asked for the National Guard to return to New Orleans after a weekend that saw six people murdered in the city. . . . New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin had earlier called for 300 soldiers and some 60 state police to be sent to the city. . . . Crime has risen in the city after a brief drop following Hurricane Katrina. . . . The six deaths over the weekend raised the number of murders in New Orleans this year to 52, police said. . . . Police statistics show crime has risen in recent months. . . . According to the BBC's James Coomarasamy, there are concerns about external troops being allowed to police New Orleans - but city officials say safety is paramount, especially if those who fled the hurricane are to be lured back. . . . New Orleans has long been regarded as a hotbed of violent crime but the crime rate there fell sharply in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. . . . However, residents have been complaining that a lack of adequate schooling and housing as a result of the hurricane has forced the crime rate up again. . . . A Florida National Guard spokesman told the Associated Press news agency some 15,000 soldiers had been sent to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, of which 2,000 stayed until February this year. . . . [At least] 1,500 people were killed and hundreds of thousands forced from their homes when Hurricane Katrina lashed the southern US.
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posted by Lorenzo 9:20 AM
Katrina, Rita destroyed 113 petroleum platforms
(KLTV, May 2006)
Officials say Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed 113 petroleum production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. The update came today from the federal agency overseeing offshore drilling. . . . The Minerals Management Service says the 2005 storms also damaged 457 pipelines connecting production facilities in the Gulf and bringing oil and natural gas to shore. . . . That's a sharp rise from the 183 damaged pipelines identified in January. . . . Katrina hit the Gulf coast in late August.. . . Rita slammed southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana in late September. . . . Interruption of the Gulf supply has played a role in record-high oil and gasoline prices. . . . The M-M-S warns that additional damage likely will be discovered as more underwater inspections are conducted. . . . Of the 113 destroyed platforms, four replacements have been approved by the M-M-S.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:58 PM
Red Cross probed on Katrina fraud
(BBC NEWS, 27 March 2006)
Allegations that American Red Cross [ARC] volunteers engaged in theft and fraud after Hurricane Katrina are being probed by Louisiana's attorney general. . . . The inquiry comes as the ARC, the largest recipient of donations after last year's hurricane, unveiled its own probe into claims of impropriety. . . . Concerns include the improper diversion of relief supplies and the failure to follow Red Cross procedures. . . . The ARC's charter could be revoked if it does not overhaul its operations. . . . Attorney General Charles Foti has asked for the names and telephone numbers of those who participated in Louisiana relief efforts as well as copies of any other internal reports or investigations conducted by the American Red Cross. . . . "This is not the first time we have heard reports of abuse involving some charitable agencies and unfortunately it may not be the last," he said in a statement. . . . Specific problems identified by the newspaper included the disappearance of rented cars, generators and some 3,000 of 9,000 air mattresses donated by a private company. . . . They also included the unauthorized possession of ARC computer equipment that could be used to add money to debit cards and manipulate databases, and the case of a kitchen manager who swapped 300 prepared meals for parking spaces for ARC employees. . . . Senator Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has threatened to rewrite or revoke the organization's charter if it does not thoroughly overhaul its operations. . . . The American Red Cross has faced questions in the past over its handling of large emergency relief schemes, notably the Liberty Fund set up in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks. . . . And the organization was hit by controversy in December when it emerged that 49 people were facing criminal charges over a scheme to steal ARC funds meant for Hurricane Katrina victims. . . . Many of those indicted worked at an ARC call centre in California and were accused of helping family and friends make false claims for relief money. . . . Pet fraud inquiry . . . Meanwhile, Mr Foti's office also announced on Monday that is examining allegations involving funds raised by the Humane Society of the United States that were designed to help reunite owners and their animals separated in the chaos of Katrina. . . . Mr Foti has received numerous complaints from pet owners about problems many are having finding their pets, many of which were displaced to shelters around the country - and subsequently adopted. . . . In some cases, owners claim that those who are currently caring for the displaced pets are refusing to reunite the pet with the proper owners.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:07 AM
Multiple Layers Of Contractors Drive Up Cost of Katrina Cleanup
(Joby Warrick, Washington Post, March 20, 2006)
How many contractors does it take to haul a pile of tree branches? If it's government work, at least four: a contractor, his subcontractor, the subcontractor's subcontractor, and finally, the local man with a truck and chainsaw. . . . If the job is patching a leaking roof, the answer may be five contractors, or even six. At the bottom tier is a Spanish-speaking crew earning less than 10 cents for every square foot of blue tarp installed. At the top, the prime contractor bills the government 15 times as much for the same job. . . . "If this is 'normal,' we have a serious problem in this country," said Benny Rousselle, president of Plaquemines Parish, a hurricane-ravaged district downriver from New Orleans. "The federal government ought to be embarrassed about what is happening. If local governments tried to run things this way, we'd be run out of town." . . .
Consider the task of cleaning up storm debris. Just after the hurricane, the Army Corps of Engineers awarded contracts for removing 62 million cubic yards of debris to four companies: Ashbritt Inc., Ceres Environmental Services Inc., Environmental Chemical Corp. and Phillips and Jordan Inc. . . . Each of the four contracts was authorized for a maximum of $500 million. Corps officials have declined to reveal specific payment rates, citing a court decision barring such disclosures. But local officials and businesspeople knowledgeable about the contracts say the companies are paid $28 to $30 a cubic yard. . . . Below the first tier, the arrangements vary. But in a typical case in Louisiana's Jefferson Parish, top contractor Ceres occupied the first rung, followed by three layers of smaller companies: Loupe Construction Co., then a company based in Reserve, La., which hired another subcontractor called McGee, which hired Troy Hebert, a hauler from New Iberia, La. Hebert, who is also a member of the state legislature, says his pay ranged from $10 to $6 for each cubic yard of debris. . . . "Every time it passes through another layer, $4 or $5 is taken off the top," Hebert said. "These others are taking out money, and some of them aren't doing anything." . . . Lower pay is hardly the worst problem subcontractors face. With many tiers to navigate, money trickles down slowly, delaying payment by weeks and months, and frequently imposing hardships on the smallest firms. . . . Several bus company owners said they were still owed tens of thousands of dollars for work they did in the fall. For some, the delays have been ruinous. . . . Thomas Paige, owner of Coast to Coast Bus Line of Dillon, S.C., laid off staff, and two of his four buses were repossessed by creditors after payment for his New Orleans work fell behind by three months. . . . "I went to New Orleans to help people -- and hopefully to help myself -- but now I feel like I've dug a ditch and fallen into it," Paige said. "If I would have known what I know now, I never would have gotten involved. It's just not worth it."
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posted by Lorenzo 6:57 AM
New Orleans Will Seek Foreign Aid ... OR is it being bought out?
(Reuters, 07 February 2006)
Shortcomings in aid from the US government are making New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin look to other nations for help in rebuilding his hurricane-damaged city. . . . Nagin, who has hosted a steady stream of foreign dignitaries since Hurricane Katrina hit in late August, says he may seek international assistance because U.S. aid has not been sufficient to get the city back on its feet. . . . "I know we had a little disappointment earlier with some signals we're getting from Washington but the international community may be able to fill the gap," Nagin said when a delegation of French government and business officials passed through on Friday to explore potential business partnerships. . . . Jordan's King Abdullah also visited New Orleans on Friday and Nagin said he would encourage foreign interests to help redevelop some of the areas hardest hit by the storm. . . . "France can take Treme. The king of Jordan can take the Lower Ninth Ward," he said, referring to two of the city's neighborhoods. . . . Katrina flooded 80 percent of the city and killed more than 1,300 people in Louisiana and Mississippi. . . . The Bush administration has pledged billions of dollars to Katrina victims but five months after the storm, New Orleans remains largely in ruins. . . . Nagin said his message to President George W. Bush would be that the federal government needs to refocus on the devastated area. . . . "We need your undivided attention over the next six months," he said. "We need backup. We need for you to make the words that you spoke in Jackson Square a reality." . . . Nagin was referring to the president's September 15 address to the nation from New Orleans, in which he pledged "we will do what it takes, we will stay as long as it takes" to rebuild. . . . French Transport Minister Dominique Perben, leading the French delegation to a city that was founded by France in 1718, said, "This catastrophe has deeply upset the French people and the French government." . . . France, Perben said through a translator, "wants to be a long-term partner for Louisiana and New Orleans."
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posted by Lorenzo 12:36 PM
Causeway Concentration Camp Survivors Testify Before Congress
(KTRE-TV, December 6, 2005)
New Orleans residents say race and class clearly were the reason for the government's slow response to Katrina. . . . In an emotional and sometimes tearful hearing, the residents spoke of being cursed and threatened at gunpoint by police. . . . The residents charged they were abandoned by their state and local governments. . . . Dyan French, who goes by 'Mama D,' says as winter sets in, many have to rely on makeshift fireplaces for heat.
[COMMENT by Lorenzo: I watched this testimony on C-SPAN, and it was some of the most inspiring, intelligent, truthful, and passionate testimony I have ever heard given before a Congressional Committee. My hunch is that we aren't even seeing the tip of this iceberg yet. At the end of the hearing, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (my first choice for President in 2008!) asked the witnesses a simple "yes or no" question: "Do you believe that the death count we've been given is accurate?" . . . The answer from the panel was a resounding NO! . . . I feel quite certain that the obvious racial overtones of the Katrina disaster are going to continue to reverberate well into the 2008 election cycle. What took place in New Orleans, and what is continuing to take place in that marvelous old city, is approaching very close to ethnic cleansing . . . compassionate conservative style.]
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posted by Lorenzo 2:19 PM
New Orleans mould 'risks health'
(BBC NEWS, November 17, 2005)
Spores from mould growing in New Orleans homes flooded after Hurricane Katrina pose a major risk to health, a US environmental group has warned. . . . Air tests have shown levels of mould high enough to trigger serious allergic reactions in some people, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says. . . . It accuses the government of doing too little to warn residents of the risks. . . . The steamy climate in New Orleans and the fact that many homes were under water for days or weeks following Katrina has made it a fertile breeding ground for mould. . . . The authorities have encouraged returning residents and workers to wear masks and protective clothing when cleaning up buildings. . . . It says lower income households are at particular risk if they try to rebuild their homes without head-to-toe protective suits - which cost about $40 (£23) and should be worn only once - and proper respirators. . . . Tests it carried out in mid-October at 14 sites across New Orleans, nine of which had been significantly flooded, showed high levels of mould spores both indoors and out. . . . Dr Gina Solomon, who led the NRDC study, said: "The outdoor mould spore concentrations could easily trigger serious allergic or asthmatic reactions in sensitive people. . . . "The indoor air quality was even worse, rendering the homes we tested dangerously uninhabitable by any definition." . . . Her team found levels as high as 645,000 spores per cubic metre (35 cubic ft) inside a building in the badly flooded Uptown district and outdoor levels of 81,000. . . . The US National Allergy Bureau considers outdoor mould counts above 50,000 as "very high". . . . The work being carried out to clean up and rebuild the city is likely to continue stirring up mould spores for some time to come, Dr Solomon warned. . . . Those with allergies, lung problems or weak immune systems are at particular risk. . . . The problem of mould contamination was likely to continue for months at least, she added. . . . "This is so unprecedented, this volume of material that we are dealing with. It's hard to estimate how long it's going to take."
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posted by Lorenzo 1:11 PM
Why are They Making New Orleans a Ghost Town?
(Bill Quigley, BuzzFlash, October 31, 2005)
On Halloween night, New Orleans will be very, very dark. Well over half the homes on the east bank of New Orleans sit vacant because they still do not have electricity. More do not have natural gas or running water. Most stoplights still do not work. Most street lights remain out.
Fully armed National Guard troops refuse to allow over ten thousand people to even physically visit their property in the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood. Despite the fact that people cannot come back, tens of thousands of people face eviction from their homes. A local judge told me that their court expects to process a thousand evictions a day for weeks.
Renters still in shelters or temporary homes across the country will never see the court notice taped to the door of their home. Because they will not show up for the eviction hearing that they do not know about, their possessions will be tossed out in the street. In the street their possessions will sit alongside an estimated 3 million truck loads of downed trees, piles of mud, fiberglass insulation, crushed sheetrock, abandoned cars, spoiled mattresses, wet rugs, and horrifyingly smelly refrigerators full of food from August.
There are also New Orleans renters facing evictions from landlords who want to renovate and charge higher rents to the out of town workers who populate the city. Some renters have offered to pay their rent and are still being evicted. Others question why they should have to pay rent for September when they were not allowed to return to New Orleans.
New Orleans, known for its culture and food and music, is now pushing away the very people who created the culture and food and music. Mardi Gras Indians live and paraded in neighborhoods that sit without electricity or water. The back room cooks for many of the most famous restaurants cannot yet return to New Orleans. Musicians remain in exile. Housing is scarce and rents are soaring. Over 245,000 people lost jobs in September. Public education in New Orleans has not restarted. The levees are not even up to their flawed level in August.
Dr. Arjun Sengupta, the United Nations Human Rights Commission Special Reporter on Extreme Poverty, visited New Orleans and Baton Rouge last week. He toured the devastated areas and listened to the evacuees still in shelters and those living out of town with family.
Dr. Sengupta described current conditions as “"shocking" and "gross violations of human rights." The devastation itself is shocking, he explained, but even more shocking is that two months have passed and there is little to nothing being done to reconstruct vast areas of New Orleans. "The US is the richest nation in the history of the world. Why cannot it restore electricity and water and help people rebuild their homes and neighborhoods? If the US can rebuild Afghanistan and Iraq, why not New Orleans?"
The longer the poor and working class of New Orleans stay away, the more likely it will be that they never return. That, some say, is exactly what those in power in New Orleans and Louisiana and the US must want. Otherwise, why are they making New Orleans a ghost town?
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
Bill teaches at Loyola University New Orleans School of Law.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:10 PM
Bush Is in No Hurry on Katrina Recovery
(Peter G. Gosselin, Los Angeles Times, 17 October 2005)
The president's go-slow approach is called a recipe for chaos, even by fellow Republicans. . . . Almost two months after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast and a month after promising in a nationally televised speech to help rebuild the region "quickly," President Bush has settled on a cautious, piecemeal approach that even many members of his own party fear will stall reconstruction and sow economic disarray. . . . Bush has made highly publicized trips to Louisiana and Mississippi on average of once a week since the storm, but the administration has yet to introduce legislation for two of the three proposals the president highlighted during his September speech from New Orleans. . . . In the case of the third proposal, $5,000 accounts to help workers left unemployed by the hurricane, an administration-drafted House bill would provide aid for fewer than a quarter of the jobless. . . . Despite mounting evidence that Washington is having trouble putting to use most of the $62 billion in emergency funds approved by Congress so far, the president has resisted appointing a recovery coordinator or further detailing his vision of how to tackle rebuilding. . . . [COMMENT by Lorenzo: What everyone seems to have forgotten is that Bush actually appointed Karl Rove to coordinate the recovery efforts. In mid-September, The New York Times reported the story, as did other major news sources. But by the 10th of October, Scott McClellan denied that Rove was ever in charge. . . . Sometime in late September little Georgie seems to have begun to distance himself from Rove.] . . . Bush's cautiousness appears to be partly a response to some conservatives' clamor for federal budget cuts to offset aid to the Gulf Coast. . . . However, a variety of prominent Republicans warn that the president's approach is a recipe for trouble. . . . "So far, all we've done is shovel money out the door to meet the humanitarian needs," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). "But henceforth, we've got to be very careful how we spend the money, and that means we're going to need a plan and somebody in charge." . . . A former Cabinet member had similar concerns. . . . "With all due respect to the president, things are not going to bubble up from the bottom," said Jack Kemp, who was Housing and Urban Development secretary under President George H.W. Bush. "There has to be some federal leadership here." . . . Without clear signals from Washington, some reconstruction decisions are essentially being made on autopilot, raising the risk that the region and the nation will repeat past mistakes. . . . In New Orleans, for example, the Army Corps of Engineers last week put an estimated $400 million of work out to bid to bring the area's levee and canal system back to its pre-Katrina condition. Corps officials said the work was necessary to secure the city while more extensive protections were designed. . . . The corps' plans include reviving a large, and largely unused, canal known as "Mr. Go" - the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet - that environmentalists and many local officials say funneled storm surge from Katrina into neighborhoods, increasing rather than reducing the devastation. . . . "The White House has studiously avoided making any choices about what should be rebuilt, and the corps has taken that to mean rebuild everything," said David R. Conrad, a senior water resources specialist with the National Wildlife Federation and a veteran corps watcher. . . . On Wednesday, retired schoolteacher Carolyn Pierce, 63, briefly returned to her white clapboard house at the corner of Gordon and Royal streets beside the huge levees around New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward. It was the first time she had seen it since Katrina struck Aug. 29. About all that escaped the floodwaters were a pair of pennants pinned high on the living room wall that read "Pray for Work!" and "God Loves You." . . . Asked if she would move back to her old neighborhood and house, Pierce said: "I have no idea. I have no idea what we're supposed to do. . . . "I want a plan, but nobody seems to have a plan," she said. She stuffed a few books and a water-soaked dress in a green trash bag and left with her brother and a sister. . . . Among the complaints: that after an initial rush of spending, the administration has been unable to make use of most of the billions of dollars it requested immediately after Katrina, and that it has offered only the sketchiest of accounts for what it has done with the money it has spent. . . . FEMA, which received almost $60 billion of the $62 billion in emergency funds, had "obligated" or assigned only $15.6 billion as of last Wednesday - less than a third of the money available - according to a weekly report the agency sends Congress. . . . "The president put out some very large ideas, but the administration isn't leading on them in any very public way," said Stuart M. Butler, vice president of domestic and economic policy at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank. "There's been a general hands-off approach, which is disturbing." . . . Kemp, the former HUD secretary, agreed. . . . "Laissez-faire, Darwinian capitalism is not going to work here," Kemp said. "Markets do work, but they need the direction of government in situations like this."
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posted by Lorenzo 12:44 PM
Paranoid conspiracy theories about Katrina
(Earl Ofari Hutchinson, AlterNet, October 10, 2005)
The instant Hurricane Katrina's floodwaters raged down Canal Street, New Orleans' main drag, the tongues of the assorted doomsayers, fringe bloggers, fire-and-brimstone fundamentalists, unreconstructed Nazis and Klan members, leftists, black activists, loonies and even some in the mainstream media wagged furiously. . . . All claimed that Katrina was the work of sinister forces. In one of the first e-mails I received after Katrina hit, an unnamed informant (they usually are), swore that, take your pick -- FEMA operatives, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Klan or the CIA -- dynamited the levees to, again, take your pick -- kill blacks, steal their land, save the French Quarter and the tourist traps from destruction. . . . That, or this was a Karl Rove-engineered plot to turn Louisiana into a solid GOP red state. . . . The problem, though, is that President George W. Bush trounced his Democratic presidential opponents Al Gore and John Kerry in 2000 and 2004 in Louisiana. The state was already pretty red. And the loud noises that accompanied the levees' breaking probably had to do with the impact of water pressure, high winds and power outages, not Navy Seal dynamiters. . . . Still, that fantasy quickly soared to the top of the Katrina Urban Legends. In the days immediately after the destruction, it would be spouted incessantly. . . . While the race baiters were the first ones out of the conspiracy box, others soon followed. A big group quickly settled on the notion that Katrina was part of the weather wars supposedly unleashed by greedy oil companies, Bush administration operatives, and the always-favored liberal whipping boy, Halliburton. Their sinister aim was either to hike oil prices, deflect attention from Iraq or ladle out millions in construction contracts to Bush's corporate pals. . . . Lest anyone think the weather-war theory was confined to musty corners on fringe Web sites, Time Magazine led the charge with the headline, "Is Global Warming Fueling Katrina?" . . . By the second week, the divine-retribution crowd jumped into the act with both feet. A Jihadist group claimed that Katrina was God's punishment for America's backing of Israel. Closer to home, a slew of Christian fundamentalist voices said it was God's revenge for America's Satanic tout of homosexuality, abortion, sexual depravity, Ellen DeGeneres, gambling and other vices. One religious leader gleefully declared New Orleans abortion-free, Mardi Gras-free, free of Southern decadence, the sodomites, witchcraft workers and false religion. Alleluia! . . . But taking the cake was a conspiracy theory from an Idaho weatherman who may have read one too many James Bond thrillers. He claimed that Katrina was a put-up job by Japanese crime groups to wreak havoc on the U.S. for the World War II A-bombing of Hiroshima. The crime groups allegedly fired up an old Soviet-made electromagnetic generator to trigger the disaster. . . . Before you chuckle too hard, note that this story didn't come from a screwball Web site; it was a feature Associated Press article, picked up by USA Today. The writer even sought out respected scientists to refute the theory. All, of course, properly denounced it as ludicrous. Still, it got an obscure weatherman his 15 minutes, and along the way managed to stir some debate. This one came three weeks after Katrina hit, and supposedly all the other conspiracy theories had long since been laughed into the crackpot bin. . . . It's really no surprise that Aryan Nation racists, Millennium Christian fundamentalists, anti-Semitic crackpots, and fringe-left radicals along with thousands of seemingly normal, otherwise well-adjusted Americans would indulge in paranoid -- or if you want to be charitable, imaginative -- flights of fancy about disasters. All have long believed that government, corporate, or international Zionist groups busily hatch secret plots and concoct hidden plans to wreak havoc on our lives.
[COMMENT by Lorenzo: Ultimately, it doesn't matter all that much how we came to this state of world affaris. Personally, I don't care if 9-11 and the weather disasters were the result of a conspiracy, fumbling in the dark, or a pissed-off deity. That is all history now. What matters, it seems to me, is that we are in a real big mess right now. The world appears to be coming apart at the seams . . . and that, ultimately, might be a good thing. If we are to give more than just lip service to the concepts of chaos theory, the Mayan calendar, McKenna's Time Wave Theory, or any of the other esoteric ideas out there, then maybe we should just relax and ride this wave of new consciousness that is beginning to build. We can ride with it or let it crash over us, but the choice, I believe, is ours. . . . Press On!]
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posted by Lorenzo 10:27 AM
Follow the Money!
(Palm Beach Post Editorial, September 30, 2005)
Hurricane victims keeled over in the Houston heat Wednesday while FEMA, once again caught off-guard, kept them waiting in line. It's so much cooler to be a Bush administration insider who can shove to the front of the line for the $200 billion Congress may provide in disaster aid. . . . As in Iraq, Halliburton -- which Vice President Cheney once ran -- is one of the most aggressive. The Washington Post reports that Halliburton, which already is benefiting from a $500 million contract to remove debris, sponsored a Katrina Reconstruction Summit hosted by Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., to explore "opportunities for private-sector involvement." . . . Iraq is a model -- but of what not to do. There, Halliburton is accused of rampant overbilling and of poor work on such crucial projects as restoring Iraq's oil industry, for which the company has received more than $10 billion as part of a five-year, no-bid contract. Oversight of U.S. spending in Iraq has been dismal to nonexistent. Billions of dollars are unaccounted for. . . . The Bush administration might be incapable of doing things any other way. The New York Times reported that 80 percent of the first $1.5 billion in aid after Hurricane Katrina was awarded with little or no competition. AshBritt, a Pompano Beach company, got a $568 million debris removal contract. AshBritt is a client of the lobbying firm for which Haley Barbour, Mississippi's governor and a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, used to work [and is owned by a relative]. . . . The Bush administration swears that it will carefully audit spending. But it's as well prepared to do that as FEMA was to provide timely hurricane relief. In the emergency bill to provide the first $60 billion in hurricane aid, Congress expanded the administration's ability to award no-bid contracts. That came at the request of the administration's chief procurement official, David Safavian. Mr. Safavian since has resigned after being indicted [and arrested!] for lying to investigators about his ties to also-indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a great friend of also-indicted Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas. . . . Mr. Safavian got his job overseeing $300 billion in annual government spending because of his ties to Mr. Abramoff and anti-tax Bush ally Grover Norquist. According to Time magazine, experts consider Mr. Safavian one of the least qualified procurement officials ever appointed. That makes him at least as qualified as former FEMA Director Michael Brown. . . . While profit motivates many pursuing easy Katrina and Rita money, ideology motivates others. As The Post reported Wednesday, the administration is pushing a plan to spend $488 million for private-school vouchers. The plan should alarm anyone familiar with Florida's voucher programs, which dole out $140 million a year with little academic or financial accountability. . . . After 9/11, the Bush administration and Homeland Security Department rushed to spend money on equipment and programs that boosted contractors' bottom lines more than they boosted national security. Those profiting in Iraq have faced even less scrutiny. Until Congress starts watching the money, hurricane victims will keep feeling the heat while well-connected profiteers have it made in the shade.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:34 PM
Bush calls Homeland Security a "Titanic struggle"
[PLEASE NOTE: This story is from June 7, 2002.]
(Nicholas M. Horrock, UPI, 6/7/2002)
President George W. Bush chose an unfortunate word in announcing his new Homeland Security Department Thursday, noting that the U.S. is leading the world in a "titanic" struggle against terror, which caused the cynics among us who wondered whether Bush's massive government reorganization was more akin to a re-arrangement of the chairs on the deck of that doomed vessel. . . . Too cynical? Perhaps. But in the concept for the behemoth of a government agency that Bush has designed, and in the almost frantic way it was planned and announced, one gets a sense of an incredibly large and unwieldy ship on an ill-fated voyage. . . . Bush ordered Ridge, Chief of Staff Andrew Card, Mitch Daniels, head of the Office of Management and Budget, and White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales to come up with a plan for a new agency. . . . The drafting was to be top secret with only a handful of aides involved and meetings in the White House basement. It is interesting to note that none of these men has ever headed a large business or government agency. Bush's biggest business experience was with the Texas Rangers, and he had partners with lots experience in management. . . . With this enormous absence of experience in managing or devising a major operation, civilian or otherwise, the team came up with the 170,000 person Department of Homeland Security, a mammoth proposal that seems to go against every trend for streamlined and effective government from the Grace Commission on. . . . Perhaps the most troubling aspect of Bush's plan is that it does not really deal with what we now know is the greatest breakdown in security in the months before Sept. 11. The U.S. security apparatus failed to cooperate and coordinate its terrorism leads so that the president and the policy makers could take preventative action.
[COMMENT by Lorenzo: Of course, we now know that another "troubling aspect" of Bush's collossal bureucratic bungle was that it brought about the impotentence of FEMA and cost thousands of U.S. citizens their lives. Has there ever been a worse example of government or greater failure of leadership and immagination in human history than the Bush Crime Family has brought about? I doubt that there has.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:07 PM
Tons of British aid donated to help Hurricane Katrina victims to be BURNED by Americans
(Ryan Parry, Mirror.co.uk, 20 September 2005)
HUNDREDS of tons of British food aid shipped to America for starving Hurricane Katrina survivors is to be burned. . . . US red tape is stopping it from reaching hungry evacuees. . . . Instead tons of the badly needed Nato ration packs, the same as those eaten by British troops in Iraq, has been condemned as unfit for human consumption. . . . One British aid worker last night called the move "sickening senselessness" and said furious colleagues were "spitting blood". . . . The food, which cost British taxpayers millions, is sitting idle in a huge warehouse after the Food and Drug Agency recalled it when it had already left to be distributed. . . . Scores of lorries headed back to a warehouse in Little Rock, Arkansas, to dump it at an FDA incineration plant. . . . The Ministry of Defence in London said last night that 400,000 operational ration packs had been shipped to the US. . . . But officials blamed the US Department of Agriculture, which impounded the shipment under regulations relating to the import and export of meat. . . . The aid worker, who would not be named, said: "This is the most appalling act of sickening senselessness while people starve. . . . "The FDA has recalled aid from Britain because it has been condemned as unfit for human consumption, despite the fact that these are Nato approved rations of exactly the same type fed to British soldiers in Iraq. . . . "Under Nato, American soldiers are also entitled to eat such rations, yet the starving of the American South will see them go up in smoke because of FDA red tape madness." . . . The worker added: "There will be a cloud of smoke above Little Rock soon - of burned food, of anger and of shame that the world's richest nation couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery and lets Americans starve while they arrogantly observe petty regulations. . . . "Everyone is revolted by the chaotic shambles the US is making of this crisis. Guys from Unicef are walking around spitting blood. . . . "This is utter madness. People have worked their socks off to get food into the region. . . . "It is perfectly good Nato approved food of the type British servicemen have. Yet the FDA are saying that because there is a meat content and it has come from Britain it must be destroyed. . . . "If they are trying to argue there is a BSE reason then that is ludicrously out of date. There is more BSE in the States than there ever was in Britain and UK meat has been safe for years. . . . Food from Spain and Italy is also being held because it fails to meet US standards and has been judged unfit for human consumption. . . . And Israeli relief agencies are furious that thousands of gallons of pear juice are to be destroyed because it has been judged unfit.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 3:45 PM
FEMA is storing Gulf Coast ice in MAINE!
(WGME Channel 13 Report, September 20, 2005)
Portland [Maine] is still floating in ice. As we first reported Monday night, millions of pounds of ice is being diverted from the hurricane-devastated south to storage in Portland, with up to 200 trucks arriving. FEMA now says the ice ultimately may go back south for another disaster, but the truckers seem genuinely confused about what's going on. The truckers have been coming from all over the country, up to 200 of them in all, who say they tried to take ice to Alabama or Mississippi, only to be sent here. It's been a non-stop operation at the Americold Logistics warehouse in Portland, one of several locations the Atlanta-based company is using for emergency ice storage around the country, on orders from FEMA. FEMA admits it simply ordered more ice than it can use or store down south for Hurricane Katrina relief and at least some of those trucks have been sitting with the same loads of ice for more than a week. Add it all up, and the price tag for taxpayers could go into the millions. Many of the truckers declined to speak, saying they've been asked not to. But, those who did seem confused. One even believes he's here to help us after we got hit by our own hurricane! Of course, we did not have a hurricane here. Instead, the feds say its for a future emergency. And, with Hurricane Rita threatening Florida and the Gulf Coast, that ice could be needed very soon. Meanwhile, Portland is also getting another 100 truckloads of bottled water as well, which will likely end up stored at the Jetport or on the waterfront, with no clear picture about where that ultimately will end up either.
[COMMENT by Lorenzo: Gee, do you think those brilliant planners at FEMA could have stored that ice any farther away from where it is needed?]
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posted by Lorenzo 3:26 PM
U.S. pays $2,000 to Americans and $200,000 to Israeli settlers
(William A. Cook, Counterpunch, September 9/11, 2005)
For the past six weeks the American public has been treated to news reporting of two totally different kinds: five weeks of calculated, controlled lies wrapped in sympathy for modern day saintly "Settlers" being evicted from their homes in their land of Judea, and an open, honest, gut reactive reporting resulting from the uncontrolled mayhem wrought by Katrina. What's to be learned from these events? . . . Consider the media's presentation of the pullout from Gaza . . . Consultants were brought in to ensure gingerly treatment of the Settlers by the soldiers, treatment that recognized the "plight" of those being evicted from their homes even as their brothers and sisters in the military shared their grief. Old women and babies streamed before the cameras as busses hauled away the pioneers who were being taken from their homes. . . . But who are these "Settlers"? Why expend such media time on 8000 people being evicted from their homes? They are in truth "Squatters," people who knowingly and willingly accept government financial support to move onto land illegally confiscated by the Sharon government under the pretext that it is "annexed" or "appropriated" land available because Israeli law has legalized its theft contrary to international law or the conventions of the United Nations. These people know that they live on Palestinian land the ownership of which can be traced back through centuries. They accept suburban town home housing provided by the Sharon government and military protection provided by the Sharon government and they, in turn, harass their Palestinian neighbors with impunity. None of this reality is presented to the American people. They are presented as citizens of America's only friend in the mid-east, Israel, having to pullback from their rightful positions in order to accommodate the political process. . . . By contrast with the thousands left behind as Katrina . . . thousands left behind because they had no means of evacuation no cars, no buses, no trains, no military transport, no helicopters the Israeli squatters were provided free transportation, new housing within the state of Israel, grants of $30,000.00 each and, additionally for seniority, NIS 4,800 for each year they lived in Gaza for each family member, in addition to reimbursement of moving expenses to the tune of NIS 14,000-21,000.00 to the Negev, Galilee and Nitzanin. In short, Sharon made sure the settlers he had encouraged to settle on his illegally obtained land were well compensated for as he demanded that they leave. . . . Why mention these matters in conjunction with the events that have ravaged the Gulf Coast these past two weeks? Because the American taxpayer paid for the settlers to be moved and to cover the "disengagement plan" proposed by Sharon: U.S. aid for the pullout "was slated to offset the cost of implementing the disengagement plan." . . . It is estimated that the 1,500 Israeli settler families in Gaza would receive between $200,000 and $750,000 each to move into Israel. The compensation would be for their homes and businesses, but also include additional funds for new housing allowances, business and household relocation, or other expenses." The total cost of the disengagement is estimated "at about 8 billion schekels ($1.74 billion)." . . . Quite a contrast: U.S. administration support of significant magnitude to citizens of a foreign country, citizens who illegally occupied another people's land, while American citizens languished on rooftops or sweltered in makeshift shelters for days on end with no understanding of where they will go or how they will replace their lost homes. Can anyone doubt that this administration's priorities favor those able to offer it political advantage at the expense of the average citizen stranded at the mercy of Nature's might? How about a "disengagement plan" for New Orleans' residents and those made homeless by Katrina? How about diverting the American/Israeli compensation package to Americans? After all, isn't it questionable at best that our tax dollars support "Squatters"?
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 1:01 PM
The Great New Orleans Land Grab
There were numerous incidents that occurred during and immediately after Katrina struck that point to the "unthinkable". It now appears that a sophisticated plan was implemented that utilized the "cover of a hurricane" to first destroy and than take over the City of New Orleans. As the world watched the events unfolding, one could not help think that something was terribly afoot concerning the rescue by FEMA of the city's poor and predominate Black population. . . . Among the most telling anomalies pointing to something terribly afoot is the gun battle, killing 5, that occurred at the breached levee between the New Orleans Police Department and, what have now been identified as US military agents. . . . A spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers said later that those killed were "federal contractors" on their way to "repair" a canal. The "contractors" were on their way to launch barges into Lake Pontchartrain, in an operation to "fix" the 17th Street Canal, according to the Army Corps of Engineers spokesman. Deputy Police Chief W.J. Riley of New Orleans later reported that his policemen had shot at eight suspicious people near the breached levee, killing five or six. . . . Who were these "military agents" that were killed by the police near the 17th Street Canal breached levee and what were they doing there? Why did the New Orleans police find it necessary to shoot and kill 5 or 6 of them? No one is saying anything and it appears that the news story has now been swept under the rug. . . . Another telling incident that points to a "nefarious plan" is what New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said at the height of the crisis. He said publicly, "I fear the CIA may take me out!" Mayor Nagin, a Black, said this twice. He told a reporter for the Associated Press: "If the CIA slips me something and next week you don't see me, you'll all know what happened." Later he told interviewers for CNN on a live broadcast that he feared the "CIA might take me out." What does Mayor Ray Nagin know and why does he fear the CIA? . . . In an interview by WWL TV, Mayor Nagin complained vociferously that Louisiana National Guard Blackhawk helicopters were being stopped from dropping sandbags to plug the levee soon after it breached. There is evidence that no repairs were allowed on the levee until after New Orleans was totally flooded! . . . Many civilian groups who were attempting to aid people trapped in their attics, on their roofs and at the Superdome are reporting that FEMA, other federal agents and the US military essentially "stopped" them from doing so. Convoys that were organized by truckers and carrying "food and water" were blocked by agents of the federal government on the highways and roads leading to New Orleans. The American Red Cross, in addition, encountered numerous incidents and has made formal complaints. . . . A private ham radio network that deployed throughout the hurricane ravished region reported that the airwaves were being "jammed" making it impossible to communicate emergency information. Churches, hospitals and other essential community groups reported that the first thing that the US military did, when they arrived, was to cut their telephone lines and confiscate communications devices. . . . Today, it is very revealing how the federal government is handling the disaster. They want every Black out of New Orleans and those who insist on staying in their homes will be removed by force. The government, through some media, is utilizing scare tactics to cleanse New Orleans of all Blacks. They want no witnesses and this will make the "land grab" a lot easier to undertake. One scare tactic is calling the flood water "a horrid toxic soup of feces a rotting flesh of corpses". The military thugs are now getting tough with Black families that have owned their old but beloved homes for many generations. Mr. Rufus Johnson, a family patriarch who lives in the French Quarter, said in an interview, "The army has given me an ultimatum to leave or suffer the consequences of a forced eviction. I do not understand . My entire family and I survived Katrina and now they want to throw me out of the home we have had for generations". Mr. Johnson lives in a neighborhood where the flood has subsided and his home is not heavily damaged yet FEMA wants him out! . . . The fact that Vice President Dick Cheney is heavily involved in the FEMA operations from behind the scenes is very troublesome. Cheney and his cronies at Halliburton are in line for the lucrative contracts to "reconstruct a New Orleans". Deals are already being made with a Las Vegas business group to construct multi-million dollar casinos in the Big Easy on prime real estate that was owned by Black families.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 2:09 PM
Locals believe Levees were Intentionally blown
Could the levees in New Orleans have been INTENTIONALLY blown out in order to provide the justification for total FEMA federal takeover? . . . The locals certainly seem to think so, yet, as usual, the mainstream media is barely picking up on this wave of opinion . . . Many locals have come forward to suggest that the levees were breached on purpose by the authorities. Resident Andrea Garland, now re-located to Texas, wrote in her blog: "Also heard that part of the reason our house flooded is they dynamited part of the levee after the first section broke - they did this to prevent Uptown (the rich part of town) from being flooded. Apparently they used too much dynamite, thus flooding part of the Bywater. So now I know who is responsible for flooding my house - not Katrina, but our government." . . . This scenario is not so crazy as it sounds, in fact this exact thing has happened before in the same city. In 1927, the Mississippi River broke its banks in 145 places, depositing water at depths of up to 30ft over 27,000 square miles of land. . . . The disaster changed American society, shifting hundreds of thousands of delta-dwelling blacks into northern cities and cementing the divisions and suspicions that benign neglect has ensured remain today. New Orleans’ (mainly white) business class pressurized the state to dynamite a levee upstream, releasing water into (mainly black) areas of the delta. Black workers were forced to work on flood relief at gunpoint, like slaves. . . . Two parishes, St. Bernard and Plaquemines, which had a combined population of 10,000, were destroyed. Just before Katrina, these parishes had about 10 times the 1927 population. Both parishes are now under many feet of water. This information is covered in depth in a book by John M. Barry entitled Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America . . . Furthermore, levees were also intentionally broke after Hurricane Betsy struck New Orleans in 1965, admittedly with less of an impact. The tactic of breaking the dikes is not uncommon, as this CNN report on China's flood plains highlights. . . . Engineers have now punched holes in several levees in parts of New Orleans where flood levels were higher than the water in drainage canals leading to Pontchartrain, in order to let water flow out. . . . There were reports of many explosions heard in New Orleans, officials say they were transformers blowing up. Total Information Analysis has reported a claim by intelligence expert Tom Heneghen that 25 earwitnesses cited explosions immediately before the levee breach. . . . Similar reports are now appearing in many web blogs: "He also mentioned that right before the mass flood there was a loud sound like an explosion." - News from St. Bernard . . . "I'll tell you the worst thing I've heard and I heard it from my mother. She said she heard several blasts - big booms - right before the levees broke. Several blasts and then all the water came pouring in." - aangirfan . . . Although these are obviously not authoritative sources of information, it is interesting to note how many local people are reporting this. So interesting in fact that the mainstream has picked up on it in places. . . . The Washington Post reported on the comments of a retired school teacher: "Mullen has a schoolteacher's kindly demeanor, so it was jarring to hear him say he suspected that the levee breaks had somehow been engineered to keep the wealthy French Quarter and Garden District dry at the expense of poor black neighborhoods like the Lower Ninth Ward -- a suspicion I heard from many other black survivors." . . . The Globe and Mail is also carrying a similar story.
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 11:36 AM
Neck Deep in Toxic Gumbo
(Nicole Makris, AlterNet, September 16, 2005)
As the government drags its feet, the unknown number of human bodies decomposing in the New Orleans floodwaters are becoming hosts for a horde of diseases. The bodies continue to fester and rot, potentially contaminating the city they used to call home. . . . Mike Leavitt has declared a public health emergency for the entire Gulf region, where bacteria and viruses are the most immediate threat to rescue personnel and residents, caused in no small part by all the hurricane's decomposing victims. . . . The Centers for Disease Control has reported four fatal instances of vibrio vulnificus, a cousin of cholera. Red Cross and other relief workers are struggling to prevent outbreaks related to salmonella, e. coli and other bacteria that cause nausea, diarrhea, and can lead to severe dehydration. There is also cause to fear the spread of hepatitis A, a virus that causes liver disease. But a real plan to assess the health problems that could plague the Gulf Coast for decades is noticeably absent. . . . "Virtually anything could be in the water," said Jim Elder, the EPA's former National Director of Drinking Water and Groundwater. "I'm not sure that anywhere has ever seen all these chemicals put together in the same place. That's why people are referring to this as a toxic soup. I think that's a simple but apt description." . . . Elder says the many heavy industries based in Louisiana have been leaching chemicals into the soil and groundwater for decades. But Katrina stirred up an even deadlier mix of waste: submerged automobiles are leaking oil, gasoline and other chemicals into the floodwater; asbestos that may have been contained in old buildings has been released by the flooding and the collapse of buildings; raw sewage, decaying body parts, offshore oil rigs and possibly ruptured pipelines all pave the way for a myriad of serious and potentially fatal medical conditions. . . . Given the government's already shoddy response to the disaster in Louisiana and Mississippi, Kaufman's concerns should raise many alarms. Where the World Trade Center became a deathtrap of poisonous chemicals, at least the site was relatively safe before the towers came down. Louisiana, however, has long been one of the country's most polluted areas. . . . The ongoing pollution of Louisiana's air, water and soil by oil refineries, hazardous waste, and whatever else has been dumped into the Mississippi River over the years have given the 85-mile stretch between Baton Rouge and New Orleans the nickname "Cancer Alley." . . . According to the U.S. Census, about 1 in 10 Americans live below the poverty line. In New Orleans, that number is closer to 1 in 4. According to Beverly Wright, director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice at Xavier University, Louisiana has the largest share of the nation's impoverished children, and about half of the children in New Orleans live at or below the poverty line. . . . Robert Bullard, a pioneering activist in the environmental justice movement, said it's no coincidence that Cancer Alley happens to belch its chemicals into black neighborhoods. . . . The CDC reports that the national average of cancer deaths per 10,000 people is 199.8. In Louisiana, the number is 230.4. The state's cancer mortality rate ranked second highest in the nation in 2003. And African Americans are more likely than whites to have and die from lung, colorectal, breast and prostate cancers -- all which have been linked to prolonged chemical exposure. . . . "People will more readily come back, and will try to clean their homes or porches. And they'll have toxic dust they'll be sweeping around. An they'll inhale it and ingest it. ... If there's no clean-up you have basically people living and trying to clean in the middle of the country's largest Superfund site." . . . "Depending on the type of contamination, we could see every medical illness you can think of," Elder said. "Cancer of any type -- bladder, kidney, intestinal, lung, brain, skin cancer. ... The EPA has a list of regulated drinking water contaminants and what the health effects are of exceeding the standards. You can pick any one of those chemicals, and each of them could be present in the Gulf Coast area right now." . . . Even worse, the combined effects of all these chemicals is completely unknown. "You're gonna have so many of these chemicals interacting, and most of these chemicals have only been tested one at a time," Elder said. "They have never looked at the synergistic effect of all these chemicals on human health." . . . Kaufman believes it's just not a safe place to go home to yet. "Little kids walk around and get dirt in their mouths from their hands," he continued. "And it's not just New Orleans. It's all the areas where there were releases of hazardous material and sewage. The water being pumped out of New Orleans is now spreading that to Lake Ponchartrain, the Mississippi, and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico. It's expanding the area of contamination." . . . Elder and Kaufman maintain that it could, and should, take years to make the area inhabitable again. Some areas could be inhabitable sooner, but what is important, they say, is to make sure that every effected area is tested for contamination. "Based on Love Canal, it will take a minimum of 10 years to do the monitoring and cleanup," Kaufman said. . . . "There needs to be a well-coordinated, well-thought-out strategy as to how this is going to be tracked, assessed, evaluated and proper decisions made," Elder said. . . . With the tragedy of Katrina behind them, the most responsible thing to do for the people of the Gulf Coast is to ensure that the many potential health hazards are avoided. The city of New Orleans, and the Gulf Coast region, must demand a full-fledged clean up, stress Bullard and Dr. Wright. . . . "History has shown us that oftentimes if a community is poor and happens to be a community of color, it has to fight for things that most white people take for granted," said Bullard. "We're gonna have to make sure ... that we address environmental conditions within that particular community, and treat it as if the president of the United States lived next door."
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 10:32 AM
Dead bodies everywhere, what the media isn't telling you
(Michael Moore, September 14, 2005)
My staff and the vets spend their 18-hour days delivering food and water throughout the city of New Orleans and the surrounding areas. What they have seen is appalling. I have asked them to post their daily diaries on my website (www.michaelmoore.com) along with accompanying photos and video so you can learn what is really going on. What the media is showing you is NOT the whole story. It is much, much worse and there is still little being done to bring help to those who need it. . . . Our group has visited many outlying towns and villages in Mississippi and Louisiana, places the Red Cross and FEMA haven't visited in over a week. Often our volunteers are the first relief any of these people have seen. They have no food, water or electricity. People die every day. There are no TV cameras recording this. . . . The truth is that there are dead bodies everywhere and no one is picking them up. My crew reports that in most areas there is no FEMA presence, and very little Red Cross. It's been over two weeks since the hurricane and there is simply not much being done. At this point, would you call this situation incompetence or a purposeful refusal to get real help down there?
That's why we decided not to wait. And we are so grateful to all of you who have joined us. The Veterans for Peace and my staff aren't leaving (and that's why we are hoping those of you who can't get to Covington will make it to the Veterans for Peace co-sponsored anti-war demonstration in DC on September 24: www.unitedforpeace.org.)
If you want to help, here's what we need in Covington right now:
Cleaning Supplies (glass cleaner, bleach, disinfectant, etc.)
Aspirin and other basic over the counter drugs.
Baby Supplies - Baby Food Formula, diapers #4, #5, Wipes, Pedialyte
Batteries - All kinds, from AA to watch and hearing aid batteries.
Volunteers with trucks and cars
Self contained kitchens with generators, utensils, workers
Consider sending supplies in reusable containers. List the contents on the outside of the package so the folks in the warehouse can easily sort the items.
Clothes are not needed. If you go, keep in mind that you MUST be self-sufficient. Bring a tent and a sleeping bag. People are driving to Covington from across the country and often have extra room in their cars for you or for an extra box of supplies. For more information, go to the Veterans for Peace message board.
Send supplies via UPS & FEDEX (U.S. Postal Service Not Yet Deliverable):
Veterans For Peace Chapter 116 C/O
645 Kimbro Drive
Baton Rouge, LA 70808
Omni Mini Storage
74145 Hwy. 25
Thanks again for funding and supporting our relief efforts. It has been a bright spot in this otherwise shameful month.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:14 AM
Chertoff memo shows something nefarious about Bush's response to Katrina
(Jonathan S. Landay, Alison Young and Shannon McCaffrey, Knight Ridder Newspapers, Sept. 13, 2005)
The federal official with the power to mobilize a massive federal response to Hurricane Katrina was Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, not the former FEMA chief who was relieved of his duties and resigned earlier this week, federal documents reviewed by Knight Ridder show. . . . Even before the storm struck the Gulf Coast, Chertoff could have ordered federal agencies into action without any request from state or local officials. Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown had only limited authority to do so until about 36 hours after the storm hit, when Chertoff designated him as the "principal federal official" in charge of the storm. . . . As thousands of hurricane victims went without food, water and shelter in the days after Katrina's early morning Aug. 29 landfall, critics assailed Brown for being responsible for delays that might have cost hundreds of lives. . . . But Chertoff - not Brown - was in charge of managing the national response to a catastrophic disaster, according to the National Response Plan, the federal government's blueprint for how agencies will handle major natural disasters or terrorist incidents. An order issued by President Bush in 2003 also assigned that responsibility to the homeland security director. . . . But according to a memo obtained by Knight Ridder, Chertoff didn't shift that power to Brown until late afternoon or evening on Aug. 30, about 36 hours after Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi. That same memo suggests that Chertoff may have been confused about his lead role in disaster response and that of his department. . . . "As you know, the President has established the `White House Task Force on Hurricane Katrina Response.' He will meet with us tomorrow to launch this effort. The Department of Homeland Security, along with other Departments, will be part of the task force and will assist the Administration with its response to Hurricane Katrina," Chertoff said in the memo to the secretaries of defense, health and human services and other key federal agencies. . . . On the day that Chertoff wrote the memo, Bush was in San Diego presiding over a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. . . . Chertoff's Aug. 30 memo for the first time declared Katrina an "Incident of National Significance," a key designation that triggers swift federal coordination. The following afternoon, Bush met with his Cabinet, then appeared before TV cameras in the White House Rose Garden to announce the government's planned action. . . . That same day, Aug. 31, the Department of Defense, whose troops and equipment are crucial in such large disasters, activated its Task Force Katrina. But active-duty troops didn't begin to arrive in large numbers along the Gulf Coast until Saturday. . . . White House and homeland security officials wouldn't explain why Chertoff waited some 36 hours to declare Katrina an incident of national significance and why he didn't immediately begin to direct the federal response from the moment on Aug. 27 when the National Hurricane Center predicted that Katrina would strike the Gulf Coast with catastrophic force in 48 hours. Nor would they explain why Bush felt the need to appoint a separate task force. . . . Chertoff's hesitation and Bush's creation of a task force both appear to contradict the National Response Plan and previous presidential directives that specify what the secretary of homeland security is assigned to do without further presidential orders. The goal of the National Response Plan is to provide a streamlined framework for swiftly delivering federal assistance when a disaster - caused by terrorists or Mother Nature - is too big for local officials to handle. . . . [Also See: Is Cheney Planning Another 9/11?] . . . The Chertoff memo indicates that the response to Katrina wasn't left to disaster professionals, but was run out of the White House, said George Haddow, a former deputy chief of staff at FEMA during the Clinton administration and the co-author of an emergency management textbook. . . . "It shows that the president is running the disaster, the White House is running it as opposed to Brown or Chertoff," Haddow said. Brown "is a convenient fall guy. He's not the problem really. The problem is a system that was marginalized." . . . A former FEMA director under President Reagan expressed shock by the inaction that Chertoff's memo suggested. It showed that Chertoff "does not have a full appreciation for what the country is faced with - nor does anyone who waits that long," said Gen. Julius Becton Jr., who was FEMA director from 1985-1989. . . . "Anytime you have a delay in taking action, there's a potential for losing lives," Becton told Knight Ridder. "I have no idea how many lives we're talking about. ... I don't understand why, except that they were inefficient." . . . Chertoff's Aug. 30 memo came on the heels of a memo from Brown, written several hours after Katrina made landfall, showing that the FEMA director was waiting for Chertoff's permission to get help from others within the massive department. In that memo, first obtained by the Associated Press last week, Brown requested Chertoff's "assistance to make available DHS employees willing to deploy as soon as possible." It asked for another 1,000 homeland security workers within two days and 2,000 within a week. . . . Mike Byrne, a former senior homeland security official under Ridge who worked on the plan, said he doesn't think the new National Response Plan caused the confusion that plagued the early response to Katrina. . . . Something else went wrong, he suspects. The new National Response Plan isn't all that different from the previous plan, called the Federal Response Plan. . . . "Our history of responding to major disasters has been one where we've done it well," Byrne said. "We need to figure out why this one didn't go as well as the others did. It's shocking to me." . . . [Dick Cheney saw it this way: "I think we are in fact on our way to getting on top of the whole Katrina exercise.]
. . . Read more!
posted by Lorenzo 3:56 PM
25 Mind-Numbingly Stupid Quotes About Hurricane Katrina
(Combiled by about.com)
"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." . . . George W. Bush
"What I'm hearing which is sort of scary is that they all want to stay in Texas. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this is (chuckle)--this is working very well for them." George Bush's Evil Mother, Barbara Bush
"It makes no sense to spend billions of dollars to rebuild a city that's 7 feet under sea level...it looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed." House Speaker Dennis Hastert
"Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans, virtually a city that has been destroyed, things are going relatively well." (former) FEMA Director Michael Brown
"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." George W. Bush, to FEMA director Michael Brown
"I have not heard a report of thousands of people in the convention center who don't have food and water." Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, on NPR's "All Things Considered," Sept. 1, 2005.
"What didn't go right?" George The Idiot Bush, as quoted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), after she urged him to fire FEMA Director Michael Brown
"I also want to encourage anybody who was affected by Hurricane Corina to make sure their children are in school." First Lady Laura Bush, twice referring to a "Hurricane Corina"
"We just learned of the convention center--we being the federal government--today." FEMA Director Michael Brown, to ABC's Ted Koppel, Sept. 1, 2005, to which Koppel responded, "Don't you guys watch television? Don't you guys listen to the radio? Our reporters have been reporting on it for more than just today."
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posted by Lorenzo 3:33 PM
Government Coverup of Dangerous Toxins in New Orleans
(Marc Maron and Mark Riley, Morning Sedition, Air America Radio, September 13, 2005)
Hugh Kauffman, a Senior Policy Analyst at the Environmental Protection Agency who specializes in emergency response, told Morning Sedition hosts Marc Maron and Mark Riley that a government cover-up is taking place right now, as we speak, to hide information about the dangerous toxins in the flood waters of the Gulf Coast region. Kauffman, a 35-year EPA veteran who has served in Republican and Democratic administrations, says that the Bush administration is preventing the EPA from releasing information that oil and chemical companies are mandated by law to provide. Kauffman says the Bush administration's cover-up is endangering residents and relief workers throughout the Gulf Coast region, who are being exposed to dangerous levels of toxins, some of which have been proven to cause cancer and birth defects. . . . MARC: Is the government being honest with the people about the safety of the air and water in New Orleans right now? . . . HUGH: No, they're not. All of the oil and chemical companies that own storage tanks, facilities in that area that were flooded or impacted are required to publish with our regional office in Dallas instantly--whenever there's a release; whenever there's a breakage from pipelines, from storage tanks, refineries. The regional office, under orders, is not releasing that information to the public, and the Society of Environmental Journalists has sued EPA and the Federal Government to try and get that information released, so the public will see the full magnitude of how much toxic material they are being exposed to in that region of the country. . . . MARC: So, Hugh Kauffman, Senior Policy Analyst from the EPA, you're telling me they have that information. The EPA office in Louisiana has that information, and you are absolutely sure that that information is horrendous, but they are keeping it under lock and key, because they don’t want the people to know the truth of what's really going on down there on a toxic level? . . . HUGH: That's correct. And that's why the Society of Environmental Journalists are suing under the Freedom of Information act to try and get that information. . . . MARC: So the government is actively lying to the people about what's going on there, and that is their policy now. . . . HUGH: That's the policy as of last night at eleven o'clock when I went to sleep. . . . MARC: And that is the policy that happened in Nine Eleven as well, isn't it, Hugh Kauffman? . . . HUGH: Same policy in Nine Eleven. That's correct. The heroes went in to try to help--were working for months in there--no respirators, no protective clothing, and now, four years later, over 75% of those responding heroes are sick as dogs and they're starting to die off, and I'm worried that that's going to happen down the line down there. That's why there are billions of dollars of law suites as a result of Nine Eleven, because of the government cover-up.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:46 AM
How Bush Blew It
(Evan Thomas, Newsweek, September 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 . . . 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. . . . 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 [the FRIDAY after the storm!] 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. . . . 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. . . . 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 . . . [Rumsfeld] 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. . . . 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. . . . Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, didn't want to evacuate. . . . 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. . . . At dusk [on Monday after the storm passed], 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 NEWSWEEK. "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." . . . 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. . . . 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. . . . 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."
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posted by Lorenzo 11:58 AM
Macabre Reminder: The Corpse on Union Street
(Dan Barry, New York Times, September 8, 2005)
In the downtown business district here, on a dry stretch of Union Street, past the Omni Bank automated teller machine, across from a parking garage offering "early bird" rates: a corpse. Its feet jut from a damp blue tarp. Its knees rise in rigor mortis. . . . Six National Guardsmen walked up to it on Tuesday afternoon and two blessed themselves with the sign of the cross. One soldier took a parting snapshot like some visiting conventioneer, and they walked away. New Orleans, September 2005. . . . Hours passed, the dusk of curfew crept, the body remained. A Louisiana state trooper around the corner knew all about it: murder victim, bludgeoned, one of several in that area. The police marked it with traffic cones maybe four days ago, he said, and then he joked that if you wanted to kill someone here, this was a good time. . . . Night came, then this morning, then noon, and another sun beat down on a dead son of the Crescent City. . . . That a corpse lies on Union Street may not shock; in the wake of last week's hurricane, there are surely hundreds, probably thousands. What is remarkable is that on a downtown street in a major American city, a corpse can decompose for days, like carrion, and that is acceptable. . . . Welcome to New Orleans in the post-apocalypse, half baked and half deluged: pestilent, eerie, unnaturally quiet. . . . Scraggly residents emerge from waterlogged wood to say strange things, and then return into the rot. Cars drive the wrong way on the Interstate and no one cares. Fires burn, dogs scavenge, and old signs from les bons temps have been replaced with hand-scrawled threats that looters will be shot dead. . . . The incomprehensible has become so routine here that it tends to lull you into acceptance. . . . Rush hour in downtown now means pickups carrying gun-carrying men in sunglasses, S.U.V.'s loaded with out-of-town reporters hungry for action, and the occasional tank.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:12 AM
Blackwater Mercenaries Deploy in New Orleans
(Jeremy Scahill and Daniela Crespo, t r u t h o u t, 10 September 2005)
Heavily armed paramilitary mercenaries from the Blackwater private security firm, infamous for their work in Iraq, are openly patrolling the streets of New Orleans. Some of the mercenaries say they have been "deputized" by the Louisiana governor; indeed some are wearing gold Louisiana state law enforcement badges on their chests and Blackwater photo identification cards on their arms. They say they are on contract with the Department of Homeland Security and have been given the authority to use lethal force. Several mercenaries we spoke with said they had served in Iraq on the personal security details of the former head of the US occupation, L. Paul Bremer and the former US ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte. . . . "This is a totally new thing to have guys like us working CONUS (Continental United States)," a heavily armed Blackwater mercenary told us as we stood on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. "We're much better equipped to deal with the situation in Iraq." . . . Blackwater mercenaries are some of the most feared professional killers in the world and they are accustomed to operating without worry of legal consequences. Their presence on the streets of New Orleans should be a cause for serious concern for the remaining residents of the city and raises alarming questions about why the government would allow men trained to kill with impunity in places like Iraq and Afghanistan to operate here. Some of the men now patrolling the streets of New Orleans returned from Iraq as recently as 2 weeks ago. . . . What is most disturbing is the claim of several Blackwater mercenaries we spoke with that they are here under contract from the federal and Louisiana state governments. . . . Blackwater is one of the leading private "security" firms servicing the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. It has several US government contracts and has provided security for many senior US diplomats, foreign dignitaries and corporations. The company rose to international prominence after 4 of its men were killed in Fallujah and two of their charred bodies were hung from a bridge in March 2004. Those killings sparked the massive US retaliation against the civilian population of Fallujah that resulted in scores of deaths and tens of thousands of refugees. . . . As the threat of forced evictions now looms in New Orleans and the city confiscates even legally registered weapons from civilians, the private mercenaries of Blackwater patrol the streets openly wielding M-16s and other assault weapons. This despite Police Commissioner Eddie Compass' claim that "Only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons." . . . But what has not been publicly acknowledged is the claim, made to us by 2 Blackwater mercenaries, that they are actually engaged in general law enforcement activities including "securing neighborhoods" and "confronting criminals." . . . That raises a key question: under what authority are Blackwater's men operating? . . . The men we spoke with said they are indeed on contract with the Department of Homeland Security and the Louisiana governor's office and that some of them are sleeping in camps organized by Homeland Security in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. One of them wore a gold Louisiana state law enforcement badge and said he had been "deputized" by the governor. They told us they not only had authority to make arrests but also to use lethal force. We encountered the Blackwater forces as we walked through the streets of the largely deserted French Quarter. We were talking with 2 New York Police officers when an unmarked car without license plates sped up next to us and stopped. Inside were 3 men, dressed in khaki uniforms, flak jackets and wielding automatic weapons. "Y'all know where the Blackwater guys are?" they asked. One of the police officers responded, "There are a bunch of them around here," and pointed down the road. . . . "Blackwater?" we asked. "The guys who are in Iraq?" . . . "Yeah," said the officer. "They're all over the place." . . . A short while later, as we continued down Bourbon Street, we ran into the men from the car. They wore Blackwater ID badges on their arms. . . . "When they told me New Orleans, I said, 'What country is that in?,'" said one of the Blackwater men. He was wearing his company ID around his neck in a carrying case with the phrase "Operation Iraqi Freedom" printed on it. After bragging about how he drives around Iraq in a "State Department issued level 5, explosion proof BMW," he said he was "just trying to get back to Kirkuk (in the north of Iraq) where the real action is." Later we overheard him on his cell phone complaining that Blackwater was only paying $350 a day plus per diem. That is much less than the men make serving in more dangerous conditions in Iraq. Two men we spoke with said they plan on returning to Iraq in October. But, as one mercenary said, they've been told they could be in New Orleans for up to 6 months. "This is a trend," he told us. "You're going to see a lot more guys like us in these situations." . . . If Blackwater's reputation and record in Iraq are any indication of the kind of "services" the company offers, the people of New Orleans have much to fear.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:43 PM
Police fired on people trying to leave N.O. by foot
(Kevin Drum, Washington Monthly, September 9, 2005)
For the past couple of days I've vaguely noticed some stories circulating about police preventing people from leaving New Orleans after Katrina hit, but there have been so many urban legendish anecdotes like this making the rounds that I didn't pay much attention to it. . . . Big mistake. Not only is the story true, it's worse than you can imagine. It wasn't New Orleans cops keeping people in, it was cops from other cities keeping people out: "We shut down the bridge," Arthur Lawson, chief of the City of Gretna Police Department, confirmed to United Press International. . . . The bridge in question - the Crescent City Connection - is the major artery heading west out of New Orleans across the Mississippi River. . . . Lawson said that once the storm itself had passed Monday, police from Gretna City, Jefferson Parrish and the Louisiana State Crescent City Connection Police Department closed to foot traffic the three access points to the bridge closest to the West Bank of the river. . . . "If we had opened the bridge, our city would have looked like New Orleans does now: looted, burned and pillaged." . . . [According to an eyewitness account from a pair of San Francisco paramedics who tried to leave the city], As they made their way to the bridge in order to leave the city "armed Gretna sheriffs (sic) formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads." . . . Members of the group nonetheless approached the police lines, and "questioned why we couldn't cross the bridge . . . They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their City. . . . "These were code words," the paramedics wrote, "for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans." . . . This story exposes a calculated savagery far worse than anything that happened in New Orleans.
(Also see: "Cops trapped survivors in New Orleans")
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posted by Lorenzo 2:02 PM
Divers Find Explosive Residue On New Orleans Ruptured Levy
(Hal Turner, September 9, 2005)
[NOTE: On the day Katrina came ashore, I heard an news reporter say (late that Monday night) that she had just seen some FBI sharpshooters or swat team-looking people "coming ashore" in New Orleans from Lake Ponchetrain. Then about a week after the storm hit, I heard Peyton Manning, Jr. (who had been called up by his National Guard unit and was helping with the rescue) say that he spoke with a survivor who "heard the levee break." Manning reported that this man said, "It sounded like a huge explosion." Had I not had these two bits of information, I would have not paid attention to the following story, patricularly since it is coming from an man who claims to be "an ardent Pro-Life, conservative Republican." However, there is something that really stinks about the federal response to this tragedy. IMHO, the Cheney-Bush junta was responsible for 9-11, and I wouldn't put it beyond them to have blown the levees. You can speculate on their motives yourselves, but I think it wise to keep an open mind here and investigate these facts, no matter how horrible and improbably they may seem. . . . Also, it is interesting to note that the Army General in charge on the ground in New Orleans recently said on MSNBC, "If someone had planned to destroy this city, they couldn't have done it any better." . . . Lorenzo.]
Divers inspecting the ruptured levee walls surrounding New Orleans found something that piqued their interest: Burn marks on underwater debris chunks from the broken levee wall! . . . One diver, a member of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, saw the burn marks and knew immediately what caused them. He secreted a small chunk of the cement inside his diving suit and later arranged for it to be sent to trusted military friends at a The U.S. Army Forensic Laboratory at Fort Gillem, Georgia for testing. . . . According to well placed sources, a military forensic specialist determined the burn marks on the cement chunks did, in fact, come from high explosives. The source, speaking on condition of anonymity said "We found traces of boron-enhanced fluoronitramino explosives as well as PBXN-111. This would indicate at least two separate types of explosive devices." . . . The levee ruptures in New Orleans did not take place during Hurricane Katrina, but rather a day after the hurricane struck. Several residents of New Orleans and many Emergency Workers reported hearing what sounded like large, muffled explosions from the area of the levee, but those were initially discounted as gas explosions from homes with leaking gas lines. . . . If these allegations prove true, the ruptured levee which flooded New Orleans was a deliberate act of mass destruction perpetrated by someone with access to military-grade UNDERWATER high explosives. . . . More details as they become available.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:50 PM