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Katrina: Apathy Blown Away * Stormy Future


06 September 2005
"Unfortunately, the war in Iraq is directly related to the devastation
left by the hurricane. About 35 percent of Louisiana's National Guard is now
serving in Iraq, where four out of every 10 soldiers are guardsmen. Recruiting
for the Guard is also down significantly because people are afraid of being sent
to Iraq if they join, leaving the Guard even more short-handed. "


-- Molly Ivins

1) How the Free Market Killed New Orleans
- - Bush Team Tries to Pin Blame on Local Officials
- - Aaron Broussard - Meet the Press transcript
2) "Katrina blows away political apathy" by Molly Ivins
- - Has Katrina Saved US Media?
3) Impact of CO2-Induced Warming on Hurricane Intensity

Editor's Notes:


The first two items cover Katrina with insight and eloquence, from the writing by Molly Ivins and Michael Parenti. The third item is on a study showing the correlation between global warming and increasing storm intensity:

"In the Sept. 15 issue of the Journal of Climate,
Knutson and colleague Robert Tuleya of Old Dominion
University published a study of 1,300 simulated hurricanes,
using conditions of higher temperatures and carbon-dioxide levels,
like those potentially caused by global warming. The result was a
6-percent increase in maximum surface-wind speed, and an 18-percent
increase in average precipitation in areas within 60 miles of the storm
center. If the number of hurricanes remains consistent, Knutson writes,
"greenhouse gas-induced warming may lead to a gradually increasing
risk in the occurrence of highly destructive category-5 storms.'"



1) How the Free Market Killed New Orleans

- - Bush Team Tries to Pin Blame on Local Officials
- - Aaron Broussard - Meet the Press transcript

How the Free Market Killed New Orleans
by Michael Parenti

The free market played a crucial role in the destruction of New Orleans and the death of thousands of its residents. Forewarned that a momentous (force 5) hurricane was going to hit that city and surrounding areas, what did officials do? They played the free market.

They announced that everyone should evacuate. Everyone was expected to devise their own way out of the disaster area by private means, just like people do when disaster hits free-market Third World countries.

It is a beautiful thing this free market in which every individual pursues his or her own personal interests and thereby effects an optimal outcome for the entire society. Thus does the invisible hand work its wonders in mysterious ways.

In New Orleans there would be none of the collectivistic regimented evacuation as occurred in Cuba. When an especially powerful hurricane hit that island in 2004, the Castro government, abetted by neighborhood citizen committees and local Communist party cadres, evacuated 1.5 million people, more than 10 percent of the country s population. The Cubans lost 20,000 homes to that hurricane---but not a single life was lost, a heartening feat that went largely unmentioned in the U.S. press.

On Day One of the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina, it was already clear that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Americans had perished in New Orleans. Many people had refused to evacuate, media reporters explained, because they were just plain stubborn.

It was not until Day Three that the relatively affluent telecasters began to realize that tens of thousands of people had failed to flee because they had nowhere to go and no means of getting there. With hardly any cash at hand or no motor vehicle to call their own, they had to sit tight and hope for the best. In the end, the free market did not work so well for them.

Many of these people were low-income African Americans, along with fewer numbers of poor whites. It should be remembered that most of them had jobs before Katrina s lethal visit. That s what most poor people do in this country: they work, usually quite hard at dismally paying jobs, sometimes more than one job at a time. They are poor not because they re lazy but because they have a hard time surviving on poverty wages while burdened by high prices, high rents, and regressive taxes.

The free market played a role in other ways. Bush s agenda is to cut government services to the bone and make people rely on the private sector for the things they might need. So he sliced $71.2 million from the budget of the New Orleans Corps of Engineers, a 44 percent reduction. Plans to fortify New Orleans levees and upgrade the system of pumping out water had to be shelved.

Army Corps of Engineer personnel had started work to build new levees several years ago but many of them were taken off such projects and sent to Iraq. In addition, the president cut $30 million in flood control appropriations.

Bush took to the airways ( Good Morning America 1 September 2005) and said I don t think anyone anticipated that breach of the levees. Just another untruth tumbling from his lips. The catastrophic flooding of New Orleans had been foreseen by storm experts, engineers, Louisiana journalists and state officials, and even some federal agencies. All sorts of people had been predicting disaster for years, pointing to the danger of rising water levels and the need to strengthen the levees and pumps, and fortify the entire coastland.

In their campaign to starve out the public sector, the Bushite reactionaries also allowed developers to drain vast areas of wetlands. Again, that old invisible hand of the free market would take care of things. The developers, pursuing their own private profit, would devise outcomes that would benefit us all.

But wetlands served as a natural absorbent and barrier between New Orleans and the storms riding in from across the sea. And for some years now, the wetlands have been disappearing at a frightening pace on the Gulf coast. All this was of no concern to the reactionaries in the White House.

As for the rescue operation, the free-marketeers like to say that relief to the more unfortunate among us should be left to private charity. It was a favorite preachment of President Ronald Reagan that private charity can do the job. And for the first few days that indeed seemed to be the policy with the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina.

The federal government was nowhere in sight but the Red Cross went into action. Its message: Don t send food or blankets; send money. The Salvation Army also began to muster up its aging troops. Meanwhile Pat Robertson and the Christian Broadcasting Network---taking a moment off from God s work of pushing John Roberts nomination to the Supreme Court---called for donations and announced Operation Blessing which consisted of a highly-publicized but totally inadequate shipment of canned goods and bibles.

By Day Three even the myopic media began to realize the immense failure of the rescue operation. People were dying because relief had not arrived. The authorities seemed more concerned with the looting than with rescuing people, more concerned with crowd control, which consisted of corralling thousands into barren open lots devoid of decent shelter, and not allowing them to leave.

Questions arose that the free market seem incapable of answering: Who was in charge of the rescue operation? Why so few helicopters and just a scattering of Coast Guard rescuers? Why did it take helicopters five hours to lift six people out of one hospital? When would the rescue operation gather some steam? Where were the feds? The state troopers? The National Guard? Where were the buses and trucks? the shelters and portable toilets? The medical supplies and water?

And where was Homeland Security? What has Homeland Security done with the $33.8 billions allocated to it in fiscal 2005? By Day Four, almost all the major media were reporting that the federal government s response was a national disgrace. Meanwhile George Bush finally made his photo-op appearance in a few well-chosen disaster areas---before romping off to play golf.

In a moment of delicious (and perhaps mischievous) irony, offers of foreign aid were tendered by France, Germany, Venezuela, and several other nations. Russia offered to send two plane loads of food and other materials for the victims. Cuba--which has a record of sending doctors to dozens of countries, including a thankful Sri Lanka during the tsunami disaster---offered 1,100 doctors. Predictably, all these proposals were sharply declined by the U.S. State Department.

America the Beautiful and Powerful, America the Supreme Rescuer and World Leader, America the Purveyor of Global Prosperity could not accept foreign aid from others. That would be a most deflating and insulting role reversal. Were the French looking for another punch in the nose? Were the Cubans up to their old subversive tricks?

Besides, to have accepted foreign aid would have been to admit the truth---that the Bushite reactionaries had neither the desire nor the decency to provide for ordinary citizens, not even those in the most extreme straits.

I recently heard someone complain, Bush is trying to save the world when he can t even take care of his own people here at home. Not quite true. He certainly does take very good care of his own people, that tiny fraction of one percent, the superrich. It s just that the working people of New Orleans do not number among them.

-------

Michael Parenti's recent books include Superpatriotism (City Lights) and
The Assassination of Julius Caesar (New Press), both available in paperback.
His forthcoming The Culture Struggle (Seven Stories Press) will be published
in the fall. For more information visit: MichaelParenti.org .

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- - Bush Team Tries to Pin Blame on Local Officials
by Julian Borger in Washington

Published September 5, 2005 by the Guardian/UK

Bush administration officials yesterday blamed state and local officials for the delays in bringing relief to New Orleans, as the president struggled to fend off the most serious political crisis of his presidency.

His top officials continued to be pilloried on television talk shows by liberals and conservatives alike, but the White House began to show signs of an evolving strategy to prevent the relief fiasco from eclipsing the president's second term.

The outrage over the government's relief effort has hit Mr Bush at a time when he is already weakened by the grueling war in Iraq. The threat is not only to his place in history; it could also cripple his second-term agenda, undermining his plans to privative the social security system and to end inheritance tax.

Mr Bush also faces a much more difficult task in appointing an ideological conservative to take the supreme court seat of William Rehnquist, who died on Saturday.

The White House drew encouragement from an initial poll suggesting most Republican voters were sticking by him, and his supporters also pointed to Mr Bush's track record of recovering from mistakes. His initial response to the September 11 attacks was also sharply criticized. With that in mind, the first plank in the political recovery strategy has been to try to make up for lost time. On Saturday Mr Bush ordered 7,000 more troops to the Gulf coast.

As important as the content of the speech was its somber tone. It was clear the White House realized that making a joke about his young hell-raising days in New Orleans in the course of a flying visit to the flooded city on Friday, was a mistake that reinforced allegations he had failed to take the disaster seriously enough.

The White House also announced yesterday that the president had canceled public engagements, including a meeting with the Chinese president, Hu Jintao. Instead, he was due to return to the scene of the devastation.

The second element of the White House plan is to insist, in an echo of the September 11 attacks, that the scale of the disaster, the combination of a hurricane and the collapse of the levee system around New Orleans, could not have been foreseen.

Mr Bush was castigated for saying on Wednesday: "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees". It was pointed out that there had been a string of investigations and reports in recent years which had predicted the disaster almost exactly.

Nevertheless, administration officials stuck to the line yesterday. In a string of television interviews, Michael Chertoff, the head of the homeland security department, called the situation an "ultra-catastrophe", as if the hurricane and flood were unrelated events. "That 'perfect storm' of a combination of catastrophes exceeded the foresight of the planners, and maybe anybody's foresight," he said.

The third element in the administration's political response has been to counter-attack against the blame directed at the federal authorities, particularly the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its parent body, the homeland security department.

In his weekend radio address, Mr Bush implied many of the problems had been caused by lower levels of government. The scale of the crisis "has created tremendous problems that have strained state and local capabilities. The result is that many of our citizens simply are not getting the help they need, especially in New Orleans. And that is unacceptable."

Unnamed White House officials, quoted in the Washington Post, directed blame at the Louisiana governor, Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, for being slow to call for outside help and to declare a state of emergency. Ms Blanco, meanwhile, resisted a federal attempt to take over control of local police and national guard units - an attempt some Louisiana officials saw as a political maneuver that would help blame the weak response in the first week on the state.

The depth of America's polarization could prove a bulwark preventing Mr Bush's political support from collapsing altogether. A poll by the Washington Post and ABC News on Friday night, showed that, of those questioned, 46% approved of the way the president had handled the relief efforts while 47% disapproved.

The spotlight began to turn yesterday on Michael Brown, the head of FEMA, who had minimal emergency management experience before joining the agency in 2001, and had spent the previous 10 years organizing horse shows for the International Arabian Horse Association. Press reports claimed he had had to leave that job because of questions about his performance.

Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005
www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,5277736-103681,00.html
also posted
www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0905-02.htm

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- - Aaron Broussard - Meet the Press transcript

Aaron Broussard's comments on NBC's 'Meet the Press' --Tim Russert interviews Jefferson Parish President, Aaron Broussard 04 Sep 2005 "AARON BROUSSARD: We had Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of water, trailer trucks of water. FEMA turned them back. They said we didn't need them. This was a week ago. FEMA--we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. The Coast Guard said, 'Come get the fuel right away.' When we got there with our trucks, they got a word. 'FEMA says don't give you the fuel.' Yesterday--yesterday--FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards on our line and says, 'No one is getting near these lines.'"

Transcript posted at Legitgov.org - A must read! http://legitgov.org/transcript_russert_broussard_segment_040905.html

For MSNBC transcript:
www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9179790/



2) "Katrina blows away political apathy" by Molly Ivins

- - Has Katrina Saved US Media?

"Katrina blows away political apathy" by Molly Ivins

AUSTIN, Texas -- Like many of you who love New Orleans, I find myself taking short mental walks there today, turning a familiar corner, glimpsing a favorite scene, square or vista. And worrying about the beloved friends and the city, and how they are now.

To use a fine Southern word, it's tacky to start playing the blame game before the dead are even counted. It is not too soon, however, to make a point that needs to be hammered home again and again, and that is that government policies have real consequences in people's lives.

This is not "just politics" or blaming for political advantage. This is about the real consequences of what governments do and do not do about their responsibilities. And about who winds up paying the price for those policies.

This is a column for everyone in the path of Hurricane Katrina who ever said, "I'm sorry, I'm just not interested in politics," or, "There's nothing I can do about it," or, "Eh, they're all crooks anyway."

Nothing to do with me, nothing to do with my life, nothing I can do about any of it. Look around you this morning. I suppose the NRA would argue, "Government policies don't kill people, hurricanes kill people." Actually, hurricanes plus government policies kill people.

One of the main reasons New Orleans is so vulnerable to hurricanes is the gradual disappearance of the wetlands on the Gulf Coast that once stood as a natural buffer between the city and storms coming in from the water. The disappearance of those wetlands does not have the name of a political party or a particular administration attached to it. No one wants to play, "The Democrats did it," or, "It's all Reagan's fault." Many environmentalists will tell you more than a century's interference with the natural flow of the Mississippi is the root cause of the problem, cutting off the movement of alluvial soil to the river's great delta.

But in addition to long-range consequences of long-term policies like letting the Corps of Engineers try to build a better river than God, there are real short-term consequences, as well. It is a fact that the Clinton administration set some tough policies on wetlands, and it is a fact that the Bush administration repealed those policies -- ordering federal agencies to stop protecting as many as 20 million acres of wetlands.

Last year, four environmental groups cooperated on a joint report showing the Bush administration's policies had allowed developers to drain thousands of acres of wetlands.

Does this mean we should blame Bush for the fact that New Orleans is underwater? No, but it means we can blame Bush when a Class 3 or Class 2 hurricane puts New Orleans under. At this point, it is a matter of making a bad situation worse, of failing to observe the First Rule of Holes (when you're in one, stop digging).

Had a storm the size of Katrina just had the grace to hold off for a while, it's quite likely no one would even remember what the Bush administration did two months ago. The national press corps has the attention span of a gnat, and trying to get anyone in Washington to remember longer than a year ago is like asking them what happened in Iznik, Turkey, in A.D. 325.

Just plain political bad luck that, in June, Bush took his little ax and chopped $71.2 million from the budget of the New Orleans Corps of Engineers, a 44 percent reduction. As was reported in New Orleans CityBusiness at the time, that meant "major hurricane and flood projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved for now."

The commander of the Corps' New Orleans district also immediately instituted a hiring freeze and cancelled the annual Corps picnic.

Our friends at the Center for American Progress note the Office of Technology Assessment used to produce forward-thinking plans such as "Floods: A National Policy Concern" and "A Framework for Flood Hazards Management." Unfortunately, the office was targeted by Newt Gingrich and the Republican right, and gutted years ago.

In fact, there is now a government-wide movement away from basing policy on science, expertise and professionalism, and in favor of choices based on ideology. If you're wondering what the ideological position on flood management might be, look at the pictures of New Orleans -- it seems to consist of gutting the programs that do anything.

Unfortunately, the war in Iraq is directly related to the devastation left by the hurricane. About 35 percent of Louisiana's National Guard is now serving in Iraq, where four out of every 10 soldiers are guardsmen. Recruiting for the Guard is also down significantly because people are afraid of being sent to Iraq if they join, leaving the Guard even more short-handed.

The Louisiana National Guard also notes that dozens of its high-water vehicles, humvees, refuelers and generators have also been sent abroad. (I hate to be picky, but why do they need high-water vehicles in Iraq?)

This, in turn, goes back to the original policy decision to go into Iraq without enough soldiers and the subsequent failure to admit that mistake and to rectify it by instituting a draft.

The levees of New Orleans, two of which are now broken and flooding the city, were also victims of Iraq war spending. Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, said on June 8, 2004, "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq."

This, friends, is why we need to pay attention to government policies, not political personalities, and to know whereon we vote. It is about our lives.

To find out more about Molly Ivins and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2005 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
Originally Published on Thursday September 1, 2005
www.creators.com/opinion_show.cfm?columnsName=miv

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- - Has Katrina Saved US Media?

Published on September 5, 2005 by the BBC
Has Katrina Saved US Media?
by Matt Wells - BBC News, Los Angeles

As President Bush scurries back to the Gulf Coast, it is clear that this is the greatest challenge to politics-as-usual in America since the fall of Richard Nixon in the 1970s.

Then as now, good reporting lies at the heart of what is changing.

But unlike Watergate, "Katrinagate" was public service journalism ruthlessly exposing the truth on a live and continuous basis.

Article Truncated ~ for the complete BBC article, see

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4214516.stm

also posted:
www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0905-01.htm



3) Impact of CO2-Induced Warming on Hurricane Intensity

From Princeton.edu:

Stormy Future

This year's hurricane season has been devastating, but according to Thomas Knutson of Princeton's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, worse weather may be on the horizon. Changing climate factors in the next 80 years, he says, could make hurricanes stronger. In the Sept. 15 issue of the Journal of Climate, Knutson and colleague Robert Tuleya of Old Dominion University published a study of 1,300 simulated hurricanes, using conditions of higher temperatures and carbon-dioxide levels, like those potentially caused by global warming. The result was a 6-percent increase in maximum surface-wind speed, and an 18-percent increase in average precipitation in areas within 60 miles of the storm center. If the number of hurricanes remains consistent, Knutson writes, "greenhouse gas-induced warming may lead to a gradually increasing risk in the occurrence of highly destructive category-5 storms."

Source:
www.princeton.edu/~paw/archive_new/PAW04-05/05-1117/notebook.html

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Impact of CO2-Induced Warming on Simulated Hurricane Intensity and Precipitation: Sensitivity to the Choice of Climate Model and Convective Parameterization
Issn: 1520-0442 Journal: Journal of Climate Volume: 17 Issue: 18 Pages: 3477-3495
Authors: Knutson, Thomas R., Tuleya, Robert E.
Article ID:10.1175/1520-0442(2004)017<3477:IOCWOS>2.0.CO;2

For the abstract and information on above paper, see:
http://ams.allenpress.com/amsonline/?request=get-document&doi=10.1175%2F1520-0442(2004)017%3C3477:IOCWOS%3E2.0.CO%3B2



For Flyby News updated resource, see:
Mounting Evidence of Global Warming



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