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Old 09-02-2005, 11:56 PM   #211
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday that a lack of funding for hurricane-protection projects around New Orleans did not contribute to the disastrous flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina.

In a telephone interview with reporters, corps officials said that although portions of the flood-protection levees remain incomplete, the levees near Lake Pontchartrain that gave way—inundating much of the city—were completed and in good condition before the hurricane.

However, they noted that the levees were designed for a Category 3 hurricane and couldn’t handle the ferocious winds and raging waters from Hurricane Katrina, which was a Category 4 storm when it hit the coastline. The decision to build levees for a Category 3 hurricane was made decades ago based on a cost-benefit analysis.

“I don’t see that the level of funding was really a contributing factor in this case,” said Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, chief of engineers for the corps. “Had this project been fully complete, it is my opinion that based on the intensity of this storm that the flooding of the business district and the French Quarter would have still taken place.”

Strock also denied that escalating costs from the war in Iraq contributed to reductions in funding for hurricane projects in Louisiana, as some critics have suggested. Records show that corps funding for the Louisiana projects has generally decreased in recent years.
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Old 09-03-2005, 04:21 AM   #212
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The problem with ideology--well one of them-- is that leaders, even for positions that should not be political--staff their departments with people who share their ideology, not the best people who can do the job. They surround themselves with people who tell them what a great job they are doing instead of surrounding themselves with people who tell them, "Listen, moron "(stick in any politician's name), "this is how it really is. This is how it really works." They surround themselves with people whose function is to make the leader look good or at least look blameless, instead of people capable of seeing something through. Any government too enamored of either ideology will ultimately destroy instead of build, will be incapable of seeing beyond their own short-term and immediate ends.

I'm not an engineer; I'm not a politician; I'm not a social scientist;
I'm not a relief worker. I do not know all of the complexities of solving these problems. But I watch my leaders and their underlings and the one thing I do know is THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK THEY ARE DOING!

I suspect the greatest damage control that will go on now is to control the damage to the Administration's reputation. Luckily for the South, better physical damage control there now will serve the interests of the political damage control.
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Old 09-03-2005, 04:21 AM   #213
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Maybe you should check it out....

Apparently you can argue with it.

Kanye is a loon. I was not impressed with his comments at Live8. I was not impressed with them yesterday. Just me, I must hate black people too.
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Old 09-03-2005, 04:48 AM   #214
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In the event that anyone might think I was Bush bashing above...I was politician bashing. I see no real leadership among the Democrats either, no answers, no ideas. I hope there is political fallout for everyone.

But I don't hold out a lot of hope. At best, we just trade one incompetent party for another. For once, I'd like to vote for somebody who wants the responsibilities of leadership, not just the perks, who really understands what a hard and complicated fucking job it really is, what good can be done and what damage can be done when it is not done well. I'm tired of words.

Including mine.
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Old 09-03-2005, 06:31 AM   #215
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from John Edwards

Dear Friend,

During the campaign of 2004, I spoke often of the two Americas: the America of the privileged and the wealthy, and the America of those who lived from paycheck to paycheck. I spoke of the difference in the schools, the difference in the loan rates, the difference in opportunity. All of that pales today. Today - and for many days and weeks and months to follow - we see a harsher example of two Americas. We see the poor and working class of New Orleans who don't own a car and couldn't evacuate to hotels or families far from the target of Katrina. We see the suffering of families who lived from paycheck to paycheck and who followed the advice of officials and went to shelters at the Civic Center or the Superdome or stayed home to protect their possessions.

Now every single resident of New Orleans, regardless of their wealth or status, will have terrible losses and life-altering experiences. Every single resident will know and care about someone who was lost to this hurricane. But some, ranging from the very poorest to the working class unable to accumulate a cushion of assets to rely upon on a very, very rainy day, will suffer the most because they simply didn't have the means to evacuate. They suffered the most from Katrina because they always suffer the most.

These are Americans some of whom who left everything they possessed behind in order to save those they loved. These are Americans huddled with their children or pushing a wheelchair between rows of those too beaten or weak to stand. In this moment, we have to remember they are part of us, Americans who love their country and are part of our national community. In this moment, it is hard because our hair is clean and our clothes are washed and our eyes are not glazed with hopelessness. But these are our brothers and sisters, and we have to remember this not just for them, but for us. We must finally recognize that when any of us suffer, we are all weaker; it affects us all.

Commentators on television have expressed surprise, saying they think that most people didn't know there was such poverty in America. Thirty-seven million Americans live in poverty, most of them are the working poor, but it is clear that they have been invisible. But if these commentators are right, this tragedy can have a great influence, if we listen to its message.

The people most devastated have always lived on a razor blade, afraid of any setback, any illness, any job loss that could disrupt the fragile balance they achieved paycheck to paycheck. They didn't leave New Orleans because they couldn't leave. Some didn't leave their homes because they wanted to protect the hard-won possessions that made their lives a little easier.

The government released new poverty statistics this week. The number of Americans living in poverty rose again last year. Thirteen million children -- nearly one in every five -- lives in poverty. Close to 25 percent of all African Americans live in poverty. Twenty-three percent of the population in New Orleans lives in poverty. Those are chilling numbers. Because of Katrina, we have now seen many of the faces behind those numbers.

Poverty exists everywhere in America. It is in Detroit and El Paso. It is in Omaha, Nebraska and Stockton, California. It is in rural towns like Chillicothe, Ohio and Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Nearly half of the children in Detroit, Atlanta and Long Beach, California live in poverty. It doesn't have to be this way. We can begin embracing policies that offer opportunity, reward responsibility, and assume the dignity of each American.

There are immediate needs in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, and the first priority is meeting those, but after that, we need to think about the American community, about the one America we think we are, the one we talk about. We need people to feel more than sympathy with the victims, we need them to feel empathy with our national community that includes the poor. We have missed opportunities to make certain that all Americans would be more than huddled masses. We have been too slow to act in the face in the misery of our brothers and sisters. This is an ugly and horrifying wake-up call to America. Let us pray we answer this call. Now is the time to act.
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Old 09-03-2005, 06:46 AM   #216
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The big disconnect on New Orleans
The official version; then there's the in-the-trenches version

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- Diverging views of a crumbling New Orleans emerged Thursday, with statements by some federal officials in contradiction with grittier, more desperate views from the streets. By late Friday response to those stranded in the city was more visible.

But the conflicting views on Thursday came within hours, sometimes minutes of each of each other, as reflected in CNN's transcripts. The speakers include Michael Brown, chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, evacuee Raymond Cooper, CNN correspondents and others. Here's what they had to say:

Conditions in the Convention Center

* FEMA chief Brown: We learned about that (Thursday), so I have directed that we have all available resources to get that convention center to make sure that they have the food and water and medical care that they need. (See video of Brown explaining how news reports alerted FEMA to convention center chaos. -- 2:11)

* Mayor Nagin: The convention center is unsanitary and unsafe, and we are running out of supplies for the 15,000 to 20,000 people. (Hear Nagin's angry demand for soldiers. 1:04)

* CNN Producer Kim Segal: It was chaos. There was nobody there, nobody in charge. And there was nobody giving even water. The children, you should see them, they're all just in tears. There are sick people. We saw... people who are dying in front of you.

* Evacuee Raymond Cooper: Sir, you've got about 3,000 people here in this -- in the Convention Center right now. They're hungry. Don't have any food. We were told two-and-a-half days ago to make our way to the Superdome or the Convention Center by our mayor. And which when we got here, was no one to tell us what to do, no one to direct us, no authority figure.

Uncollected corpses

* Brown: That's not been reported to me, so I'm not going to comment. Until I actually get a report from my teams that say, "We have bodies located here or there," I'm just not going to speculate.

* Segal: We saw one body. A person is in a wheelchair and someone had pushed (her) off to the side and draped just like a blanket over this person in the wheelchair. And then there is another body next to that. There were others they were willing to show us. ( See CNN report, 'People are dying in front of us' -- 4:36 )

* Evacuee Cooper: They had a couple of policemen out here, sir, about six or seven policemen told me directly, when I went to tell them, hey, man, you got bodies in there. You got two old ladies that just passed, just had died, people dragging the bodies into little corners. One guy -- that's how I found out. The guy had actually, hey, man, anybody sleeping over here? I'm like, no. He dragged two bodies in there. Now you just -- I just found out there was a lady and an old man, the lady went to nudge him. He's dead.

Hospital evacuations

* Brown: I've just learned today that we ... are in the process of completing the evacuations of the hospitals, that those are going very well.

* CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta: It's gruesome. I guess that is the best word for it. If you think about a hospital, for example, the morgue is in the basement, and the basement is completely flooded. So you can just imagine the scene down there. But when patients die in the hospital, there is no place to put them, so they're in the stairwells. It is one of the most unbelievable situations I've seen as a doctor, certainly as a journalist as well. There is no electricity. There is no water. There's over 200 patients still here remaining. ...We found our way in through a chopper and had to land at a landing strip and then take a boat. And it is exactly ... where the boat was traveling where the snipers opened fire yesterday, halting all the evacuations. ( Watch the video report of corpses stacked in stairwells -- 4:45 )

* Dr. Matthew Bellew, Charity Hospital: We still have 200 patients in this hospital, many of them needing care that they just can't get. The conditions are such that it's very dangerous for the patients. Just about all the patients in our services had fevers. Our toilets are overflowing. They are filled with stool and urine. And the smell, if you can imagine, is so bad, you know, many of us had gagging and some people even threw up. It's pretty rough.(Mayor's video: Armed addicts fighting for a fix -- 1:03)

Violence and civil unrest

* Brown: I've had no reports of unrest, if the connotation of the word unrest means that people are beginning to riot, or you know, they're banging on walls and screaming and hollering or burning tires or whatever. I've had no reports of that.

* CNN's Chris Lawrence: From here and from talking to the police officers, they're losing control of the city. We're now standing on the roof of one of the police stations. The police officers came by and told us in very, very strong terms it wasn't safe to be out on the street. (Watch the video report on explosions and gunfire -- 2:12)

The federal response:

* Brown: Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans, virtually a city that has been destroyed, things are going relatively well.

* Homeland Security Director Chertoff: Now, of course, a critical element of what we're doing is the process of evacuation and securing New Orleans and other areas that are afflicted. And here the Department of Defense has performed magnificently, as has the National Guard, in bringing enormous resources and capabilities to bear in the areas that are suffering.

* Crowd chanting outside the Convention Center: We want help.

* Nagin: They don't have a clue what's going on down there.

* Phyllis Petrich, a tourist stranded at the Ritz-Carlton: They are invisible. We have no idea where they are. We hear bits and pieces that the National Guard is around, but where? We have not seen them. We have not seen FEMA officials. We have seen no one.

Security

* Brown: I actually think the security is pretty darn good. There's some really bad people out there that are causing some problems, and it seems to me that every time a bad person wants to scream of cause a problem, there's somebody there with a camera to stick it in their face. ( See Jack Cafferty's rant on the government's 'bungled' response -- 0:57)

* Chertoff: In addition to local law enforcement, we have 2,800 National Guard in New Orleans as we speak today. One thousand four hundred additional National Guard military police trained soldiers will be arriving every day: 1,400 today, 1,400 tomorrow and 1,400 the next day.

* Nagin: I continue to hear that troops are on the way, but we are still protecting the city with only 1,500 New Orleans police officers, an additional 300 law enforcement personnel, 250 National Guard troops, and other military personnel who are primarily focused on evacuation.

* Lawrence: The police are very, very tense right now. They're literally riding around, full assault weapons, full tactical gear, in pickup trucks. Five, six, seven, eight officers. It is a very tense situation here.
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Old 09-03-2005, 07:23 AM   #217
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Originally posted by anitram
Good post U2Bama!

...

I think you deserve better from your leadership.
Thanks, anitram. And I meant to include in my post that in addition to the federal response being unacceptable, I do also find Condi Rice's shoe shopping and Dick Cheney's (Whom I'm not a fan of anway) vacationing to be unacceptable in the immediate aftermath of this. What day was her Manhattan shopping spree?

But my point, still, is that the waterfront and geological/geographical structure and location of NOLA creates a situation which does not bode well for a severe hurricane, both during impact and the immediate aftermath. There is one passable roadway into NOLA right now, a bridge on the west bank. It can be said that we deserve a better administration, but how do any of us know that any other adminstration would be able to handle such a logisitical nightmare any better? And I am dfeinitely in agreement with Newt's nomination of Rudy Giuliani; send him in. But let's not forget that he implemented zero tolerance policing in NYC, and some people might not want that inthis situation.

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Old 09-03-2005, 07:55 AM   #218
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What day was her Manhattan shopping spree?
Thursday!
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Old 09-03-2005, 07:57 AM   #219
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Thursday!
Then I stand by my earlier statement that it was unacceptable and inappropriate. And she's from the same city I'm from. I'm disappointed.

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Old 09-03-2005, 08:44 AM   #220
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300 troops with kin in Katrina zone sent home
Air Force personnel in Afghanistan, Iraq can now 'attend to families'

Saturday, September 3, 2005; Posted: 10:53 a.m. EDT (14:53 GMT)

(CNN) -- Three hundred Air Force members in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere abroad will return to their Mississippi Air Force base "so they can attend to their families' needs after Hurricane Katrina," according to an Air Force command statement.

The personnel -- active duty and reserves -- had been assigned to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, an area hard-hit by the hurricane.

The troops were assigned to bases throughout the Central Command area of responsibility and were supporting operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Nearly 100 airmen who were scheduled to deploy from Keesler AFB will not deploy now. Their jobs supporting the war on terrorism will be filled by others throughout the Air Force not affected by the hurricane," the statement said.

"Many of these 300 airmen have served for nearly four months and are going home as part of the Air Force's normal air expeditionary force rotation. Others have just arrived and are going home."

While this applies only to 300 troops assigned to Keesler, "Airmen assigned to other home stations who may have had families displaced by the hurricane or affected in other ways may be granted emergency leave depending on their individual situation," the military said.

"While our focus remains on fighting the war on terrorism, taking care of people is a top priority -- they can't effectively perform the mission if their heads and hearts are focused on the safety and welfare of their loved ones," said Brig. Gen. Allen G. Peck, Combined Forces Air Component deputy commander, quoted in a news release.

"We are facilitating the effort to expeditiously replace airmen directly affected by this catastrophe with other Air Force personnel," Peck is quoted as saying.
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Old 09-03-2005, 08:53 AM   #221
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An evacuee from New Orleans put it best for me. It was in response to the looting of tvs, lack of patience, the government bashing.
I'll paraphrase--People are always looking for the opportunity to act out how they already feel. It just comes out more under stress. She called the situation a test.
On tv the politics of Katrina has sunk to just plain ol gov bashing....
As to the poor and down and out population we need to create less dependence on government. Empowering people to do for themselves will help them be able to do for themselves. Let's not advocate more dependance on big brother in the form of more programs. Or at least let's not be surprised when we become slaves to it.
With that said however NOW is the time to help our brothers and sisters in need.
This is a test, this is only a test......
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Old 09-03-2005, 10:04 AM   #222
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Originally posted by BorderGirl
As to the poor and down and out population we need to create less dependence on government. Empowering people to do for themselves will help them be able to do for themselves. Let's not advocate more dependance on big brother in the form of more programs. Or at least let's not be surprised when we become slaves to it.
I agree with you here, actually. But you can't just create a welfare state and pull the plug suddenly. Then you get exactly what you get in New Orleans.

But at the same time, we have an economy that thrives on literally keeping a section of the country in poverty. Who would Wal-Mart hire, if all the poor people suddenly had an education? Mexican immigrants, probably. And we'd be back to square one: we'll always have poor people on welfare, because that's exactly what we want. Hell, supply-side economists always talk about wanting to repeal the minimum wage, so they could pay people even less. So what do you think they encourage?

So we have a choice here:

1) Educate everyone so that the supply bloats so much that educated people are on unemployment rolls.

2) Ensure that even Wal-Mart employees are paid fairly and can live a decent life.

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Old 09-03-2005, 10:10 AM   #223
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I've skimmed through the various Katrina threads and listened to plenty of political rhetoric over the last few days.

It is simply disgusting. I have a half-sister who lost her home in Slidell, LA. She and her family are refugees in the area, poor as dirt and have a far more positive attitude than the jaded observers casting political criticisms.

People who bitch and moan when their internet connection goes down for an hour act as if the Federal Government should be able to clean up the affected areas by dinner.

I hope more energy will be spent (by people in the US and around the world) in helping those who suffer instead of fiddling as political pundits.


on Wednesday, i would have agreed with you.

my anger with the politicians as a whole and the Bush administration in particular did not come into focus until Friday.

i'm also a little mad at people who equate criticism -- pointed, direct, very warranted and fair criticism at many different people, but always at those who are in charge because the buck must stop somewhere -- with sitting around and doing nothing and being "negative" and "partisian." firstly, to label any criticism as "partisan" is a more partisan act, and as well everyone should know, criticism is an act of love, if you didn't care you wouldn't criticize.

what freaks me, and most of us who are steaming mad at the Bush administration, is not the breaking of the levees. it's not the fact that there was even a hurricane.

it is the fact that the last 4 years have been all about preparation for another disaster in the homeland. this was why FEMA was gutted -- to fund Homeland Security. and now we see the fruits of their efforts, the fruits of what the last 4 years and the 2004 election has been about : WE ARE NOT SAFER.

what if Al-Qaeda had destroyed the levees? would the response have been any better?

what should give everyone night sweats is the fact that, NO, it would have been no better. we are unprepared, greviously unprepared to deal with calamity -- what if this had been the Hoover Dam? an airplane into a nuclear power plant? any and myriad other disasters that could just as easily been perpetrated by a bunch of hard-up, 21 year old religious fanatics.

for you, or anyone, to label this anger as nothing more than politics is missing the point entirely.

i want to save more lives. i want a better government.

i do think, however, we might have just gotten our press corps back.
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Old 09-03-2005, 10:37 AM   #224
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http://www.chicagotribune.com/services/site/premium/access-registered.intercept


found this letter on a blog in response to this exact article:


"I've worked closely with Corps personnel for 6 years in various scientific and regulatory capacities on wetlands issues. While the Corps is often maligned by environmentalists, I will be the first to defend the professionalism, commitment and skill of their regulatory field staff.
The Corps, however, is Army - the institutional culture is one of top-down control and damn-the-torpedoes, and a deeply-ingrained instinct against criticising the chain of command. In an email yesterday that eventually ended up on Wonkette, I predicted that they would be good soldiers and insulate Bush against charges that the levees weren't finished, and indeed I woke up to Al Naomi saying just that on NPR. And General Strock from HQ had to be brought in to do the real damage control: "I don't see that the level of funding was really a contributing factor in this case," said Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, chief of engineers for the corps. "Had this project been fully complete, it is my opinion that based on the intensity of this storm that the flooding of the business district and the French Quarter would have still taken place." (from Chi Trib).
But there are really TWO questions that must be answered:

1) Was the levee complete and at design spec?

2) Would a design-spec levee have withstood Katrina?

1) The truth is that short of a whistleblower, we may never know the condition of that levee on 8/29. My source on its inadequate condition isn't solid enough. But I know the following things:

a) You don't finish levees and walk away. They need regular maintenance - even when you haven't built them on dewatered organic soils that settle every year.

b) A District that had just taken a one-year budget cut of $71 million will have had to make some very hard choices about whether maintenance on this particular levee fell (in Corps parlance) "above the line - priority" or "below the line - optional". Their SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) guidance might tell us, but somebody needs to get a FOIA cookin' on this right now.

c) The question of levee adequacy breaks down at least into "was it at spec height?" [yes!] and "was it structurally sound to spec?" [oops!]. Because of the nature of the levee failure (not overtopped, but burst), watch for Corp HQ to focus on the first question (which pins the deaths on nature), and ignore the second (which might pin the deaths on budget decisions).

2) Over the coming days, the Corps' message will be this: "Katrina was greater than the design storm for this levee." This is at least an open question - purportedly the levees were designed to withstand a direct hit from a Category 3 hurricane. Katrina was a Category 4 at landfall, presenting her weak side to the levees at a distance of some 40-50 miles. The question appears debatable on its technical merits, and Strock's facile answer is far too politically expedient a conclusion to take at face value from Corps HQ. I have seen them fall on their sword for Presidents before, and the need has never been greater.

To sum up: Gen. Strock is asking us to accept that the Army Corps could maintain the structural integrity of every last mile of levee built on subsiding soils in a District that had taken a $71 million budget cut in one year. AND that they would admit it if they hadn't, when the reputation of the President is at stake. All my experience rejects both propositions."

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Old 09-03-2005, 10:37 AM   #225
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But to abandon thousands upon thousands of people to their deaths like this...this is just fucking inexcusable. It's sickening. It's morally repugnant.
I would make a distinction (a significant one) between failing to make effective decisions, and abandoning thousands upon thousands of people to their deaths.

but regardless, this is a freaking horror.
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