Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Desperation, death on the road to safety: Times-Picayune Breaking News Weblog

Keith Spera
Staff writer

At 91 years old, Booker Harris ended his days propped on a lawn chair, covered by a yellow quilt and abandoned, dead, in front of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

Mr. Harris died in the back of a Ryder panel truck Wednesday afternoon, as he and his 93-year-old wife, Allie, were evacuated from eastern New Orleans. The truck's driver deposited Allie and her husband's body on the Convention Center Boulevard neutral ground.

And there it remained.

With 3,000 or more evacuees stranded at the convention center -- and with no apparent contingency plan or authority to deal with them -- collecting a body was no one's priority. It was just another casualty in Hurricane Katrina's wake.

A steady stream of often angry or despondent people, many from flooded Central City, trickled first toward Lee Circle and then to the convention center, hoping to be saved from increasingly desperate straits. Food, water and options had dwindled across Uptown and Central City, where looters seemed to rage almost at will, clearing out boutique clothing shops and drug stores alike. Hospitals would no longer accept emergencies, as staffers prepared to evacuate with patients.

'If you get shot,' said a security guard at Touro Infirmary, 'you%u2019ve got to go somewhere else.'

As a blazing sun and stifling humidity took their toll, 65-year-old Faye Taplin rested alone on the steps of the Christ Cathedral in the 2900 block of St. Charles Avenue. Rising water had finally chased her from her Central City home. She clutched two plastic bags containing bedding, a little food and water and insulin to treat her diabetes.

She needed help but was unsure where to find it. She wanted to walk more than 15 blocks to a rumored evacuation pickup point beneath the Pontchartrain Expressway, but she doubted that was possible.

'I'm tired,' she said. 'My feet have swollen up on me. I can't walk that far.'

The church custodian, Ken Elder, hoped to free his car from the parking lot behind the church as soon as the water went down. He rode out Katrina on the Episcopal church%u2019s altar steps and was well stocked with food. But he feared the marauding looters that roamed St. Charles Avenue after dark.

'I lived in Los Angeles during the Rodney King riots,' Elder said. 'That was a piece of cake compared to this.'

Clara Wallace pushed her brother in a wheelchair down St. Charles from Fourth Street to the Pontchartrain Expressway. Suffering from diabetes and the after-effects of a stroke, he wore only a hospital robe and endured part of the journey through standing water.

'Nobody has a bathroom he can use,' Wallace, 59, said of her brother. 'Nobody would even stop to tell us if we were at the right place. What are we supposed to do?'

A man in a passing pickup truck from the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries finally directed Wallace and the 50 other evacuees under the overpass to the convention center.

But they would find little relief there.

New evacuees were being dropped off after being pulled from inundated eastern New Orleans and Carrollton, pooling with those who arrived on foot. Some had been at the convention center since Tuesday morning but had received no food, water or instructions. They waited both inside and outside the cavernous building.

The influx overwhelmed the few staffers and Louisiana National Guardsmen on hand.

With so much need and so few resources, the weakest and frailest were bound to suffer the most. Seated next to her husband's body on the neutral ground beneath the St. Joseph Street sign, Allie Harris munched on crackers, seemingly unaware of all the tragedy unfolding around her. Eventually, guardsmen loaded her into a truck and hauled her off with other elderly evacuees.

Mr. Harris' body was left behind.

Such a breakdown did not bode well for other evacuees. As the afternoon wore on, hope faded, replaced by anger.

'This is 2005,' John Murray shouted, standing in the street near Mr. Harris' body. 'It should not be like this for no catastrophe. This is pathetic.'"

Democratic Underground - A description of what's going on in Baton Rouge...

(here's another -- every estimate is worse than the last. )

FEMA officials, U.S. Marshalls, National Guard, and of course the survivors. Black Hawks were carrying in victims who were stranded on roofs. Buses rolled in from N.O. with other survivors. As Michael and I rode back to the PMAC, a lady fell out of her wheelchair and we scrambled to help her up. We met Coach Miles and Coach Moffiit in the PMAC to see all the survivors and it was the view of a hospital.

Stretchers rolled in constantly and for the first time in my life I saw someone die right in front of me. A man rolled in from New Orleans and was badly injured on his head. 5 minutes later he was dead. And that was the scene all night. What did we do, we started hauling in supplies. And thousands of boxes of supplies. The CDC from Atlanta arrived directing us what to do.

One of the U.S. Marshalls was on hand so the supplies could not become loot. I asked him what his primary job was. He serves on the committee of counter terrorism, but once he saw of the disaster, he donated his forces to come help. He said the death toll could be nearing 10,000.

...Mothers were giving birth in the locker rooms. The auxiliary gym 'Dungeon' was being used as a morgue. I couldn't take myself down there to see it. I worked from 8 pm until 2:45 am.

Before I left three more buses rolled in and they were almost out of room. People were standing outside, the lowest of the low from NO. The smells, the sights were hard to take.

A man lying down on a cot asked me to come see him. He said,'I just need someone to talk to, to tell my story because I have nobody and nothing left. He turned out to be a retired military veteran. His story was what everybody was saying. He thought he survived the worst, woke up this morning and the levees broke. Within minutes water rushed into his house. He climbed to the attic, smashed his way through the roof and sat there for hours. He was completely sunburned and exhausted.

Nearly 12 hours later a chopper rescued him and here he was. We finished the night hauling boxes of body bags and more were on the way. As we left, a man was strolled in on a stretcher and scarily enough he suffered gunshots. The paramedic said he was shot several times because a looter or a convict needed his boat and he wouldn't give it to him. Another man with him said it was 'an uncivilized society no better than Iraq down there right now.' A few minutes later he was unconcious and later pronounced dead. I then left as they were strolling a 3 year old kid in on a stretcher. I couldn't take it anymore.

WAITING FOR A LEADER - New York Times

(go to cspan.org to see the speech -- it's real short.)

September 1, 2005

Waiting for a Leader

George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast. He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end.

We will, of course, endure, and the city of New Orleans must come back. But looking at the pictures on television yesterday of a place abandoned to the forces of flood, fire and looting, it was hard not to wonder exactly how that is going to come to pass. Right now, hundreds of thousands of American refugees need our national concern and care. Thousands of people still need to be rescued from imminent peril. Public health threats must be controlled in New Orleans and throughout southern Mississippi. Drivers must be given confidence that gasoline will be available, and profiteering must be brought under control at a moment when television has been showing long lines at some pumps and spot prices approaching $4 a gallon have been reported.

Sacrifices may be necessary to make sure that all these things happen in an orderly, efficient way. But this administration has never been one to counsel sacrifice. And nothing about the president's demeanor yesterday - which seemed casual to the point of carelessness - suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis.

While our attention must now be on the Gulf Coast's most immediate needs, the nation will soon ask why New Orleans's levees remained so inadequate. Publications from the local newspaper to National Geographic have fulminated about the bad state of flood protection in this beloved city, which is below sea level. Why were developers permitted to destroy wetlands and barrier islands that could have held back the hurricane's surge? Why was Congress, before it wandered off to vacation, engaged in slashing the budget for correcting some of the gaping holes in the area's flood protection?

It would be some comfort to think that, as Mr. Bush cheerily announced, America 'will be a stronger place' for enduring this crisis. Complacency will no longer suffice, especially if experts are right in warning that global warming may increase the intensity of future hurricanes. But since this administration won't acknowledge that global warming exists, the chances of leadership seem minimal."

MUST READ - Katrina shows us the neocon brave new world.

(this post from Democratic Underground really sums it up for me. here's their vision. this is your country george F bush. words by NikkiStone1 at DU. images are collected from today's surfing in Katrina's wake -- brook)



The neocon/conservative movement has been spouting the rhetoric of 'self-reliance' and 'local control' for a long time. These sound like positive terms, especially when government seems to interfere in people's personal lives. But these terms mean NOTHING when we are talking about a cataclysm like Katrina. Only a well-funded national government can even begin to handle a disaster like this.



While the working and middle-class Bush supporters heard 'self reliance' and 'local control' and thought it meant that the Feds couldn't dictate speed limits or tolerance education in school, the neocon power brokers REALLY meant 'government will no longer be there to serve your needs.' The power-neocons want to shrink government--or destroy it, as Paul Krugman said on NPR--and in doing so, destroy the functioning necessary for an advanced society.



There are some things only the Public Sector can do on a consistent basis: disaster rescue and rebuilding, monitoring environmental problems, analyzing and approving medications---all public safety functions, in fact--because these things aren't profitable. They are done for the greater good, not the bottom line. The neocon mantra of replacing Public sector structures with Private sector (business, private charities) is just a pretense. Ultimately, private charities without public funding are limited in scope, and business runs purely on the profit motive, not an altruistic one. And even businesses don't have the resources or the interest in the public good that governments do. Wal Mart put up what--a million dollars? The estimates for Katrina are in the 10-13 BILLION dollar range. There is absolutely no comparison. When a government ceases to provide public safety and public works for its people, it can no longer function as an advanced society.



What Bush and the neocons are doing is dissolving the national public sector. Hence the cutting of funds from the Army Corps of Engineers project to plan and build stronger structures to protect the inhabitants of New Orleans. The message is, 'The Federal Government will not help you--you are on your own.'



Local municipalities do not have the funds to handle disasters of this magnitude. Even state coffers are not large enough. To blame the local governments is simply a PR strategy for the neocons in order to combat the media images.



The things that most people didn't realize is that the neocons meant what they said: smaller government--or, more bluntly, no government. This means that in everything from healthcare to engineering to relief from major disasters, Americans are on their own. And if they happen to die in flood waters because levees break, oh well.



Why do you think the neocons hawk religion--or their own particular brand of it? They know that replacement of the public sector is really not possible. So they encourage people to rely on God to deal with all their problems. In the end, if their city gets hit by a hurricane, the godly will blame either themselves (a common biblical behavior if you actually read scripture) or others (another common behavior). In either case, they won't blame the government.



So the long and the short of it is, we are finally seeing the neocon dream come to fruition--and it means that people die instead of live because the government is no longer available to organize and fund large scale human rescue and urban rebuilding operations. Welcome to the neocon nirvana--the rich get richer and the poor (and middle class) are left to fend for themselves."

what can be done to help these people?

Name: JUSTIN DEES
Home: ***-***-****
Email: ------------
Subject: My Hurricane Story -- IMMEDIATE RESCUES NEEDED AT HOSPITAL

Story: MY FATHER IN LAW, DR. OSCAR BALLESTER, IS INSIDE UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL AT 1415/1430 TULANE AVENUE IN DOWNTOWN AND HAS REQUESTED IMMEDIATE RESCUE EFFORTS DUE TO THE HOSPITAL BEING COMPLETELY NON-FUNCTIONAL.

HE STATES THAT THE REPORTS THAT THE HOSPITAL IS FUNCTIONING IN ANY CAPACITY ARE COMPLETELY WRONG, THAT ALTHOUGH CHARITY HOSPITAL MAY BE IN DESPERATE NEED OF HELP, THIS HOSPITAL IS LOSING PATIENTS BY THE MINUTE AND IS DESPERATE NEED OF HELP. LIVES CAN BE SAVED IF RESCUE EFFORTS ARE DIRECTED TO THIS ADDRESS.

FURTHERMORE, DR. BALLESTER VOLUNTARILY STAYED TO HELP THE PATIENTS, AND UNFORTUNATELY, HE CURRENTLY FINDS HIMSELF IN A LIFE-THREATENING SITUATION AS HE IS AN INSULIN DEPENDENT DIABETIC AND IS STARTING TO "GO DOWN." PLEASE LET ALL (RESCUERS, RED CROSS, THE CITY) KNOW THAT THEY NEED HELP.

THANK ALL AND MAY HEALTH AND HUMAN SPIRIT PREVAIL




here's a map i pulled up of the address of the hospital that needs help.

in a place where people are swimming around their neighborhoods, what the hell? you know it's bad when a HOSPITAL has to send out an SOS on internet blogs. but here you have it. this is not a drill. this one's for real.

New Orleans Mayor being stonewalled by FEMA, White House

"At another Press Conference, Nagin complained about being unable to reach the White House, as the White House said they were in constant communication, and FEMA representatives claimed everything were under control."

Entire City Will Soon Be Underwater -- levee repair mysteriously called off

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is 'very upset' that an attempt to fix the breach in the levee at the 17th Street canal has failed, and he said the challenges that the city is facing have 'escalated to another level.

''The sandbagging that we had hoped would happen didn't materialize today, so the water continued to rise at that particular location,' he said.

Nagin said the sandbagging was scheduled for midday, but the Blackhawk helicopters needed to help did not show up. He said the sandbags were ready and all the helicopter had to do was 'show up.'

He is still not sure who gave the order.
(more at link)

how many LEFT BEHIND?

"He described scenes of bodies hanging in trees and entire families found drowned in their homes. When told the official number of dead, 'he got very quiet,' then said 'dude, we are picking up 30 at a time...thousands are dead. Why aren't they saying...?

I guess I better shut up then - don't give my name.'"

LEFT BEHIND: the Faith-Based response to Katrina

The poorest of the city was left behind to drown. This was the plan. Forget the sanctimonious bullshit about the bullheaded people who wouldn't leave.

The evacuation plan was strictly laissez-faire. It depended on privately owned vehicles, and on having ready cash to fund an evacuation. The planners knew full well that the poor, who in new orleans are overwhelmingly black, wouldn't be able to get out. The resources -- meaning, the political will -- weren't there to get them out.

The email attributed to a rescue worker reads:

There are dead animals floating in the water, pets left behind.
The rescuers smell like gas when they come back in; there's gas in all of the water that consumes the area. Fires are burning all over the place.
...
Entire teams are working on nothing but evacuating the hospitals. All four of the major hospitals are beginning to flood. Critical patients have to get out or surely they will be lost. Generators cannot run forever; that's just the way it is. There are limited facilities to take those that are rescued and those that need to be evacuated. Anything that leaves by air leaves by helicopter. There are no runways for planes that aren't under water. Only one drivable way in and out.

Until they can do something about the three levees that are broken, more water will come and more water will kill. The water poses major health threats. Anyone with even a small open cut is prone to infection.
(more at link)

strange animal behavior signals catastrophe

Funny how history is recorded in memories.

My grandmother who lived through all the last century's worst hurricanes, used to say crabs and sandpipers and all kinds of beach life would hightail it west from the ocean a few days before the worst storms. She said that people were stupid for not paying attention to good old cracker wisdom on these things. When the animals pack up and go it's something to pay attention to.

I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when stories surfaced about mysterious runs of fish fleeing the Gulf of Mexico along the shoreline of Florida's west coast. It's called Jubilee when fish exhibit this behavior because locals pluck hundreds of delicious fishes from the water like manna from heaven. This last reported Jubilee was associated with an enormous red tide, coincidentally passing Katrina on the way out of the Gulf as she was on her way in.

There seems to be a lot of mass behavior going on with nearly a thousand dead Shiites trampled and jumping to their deaths off the bridge in Bagdad.

At least there's phone service in Iraq, that's how come we have a body count, something we don't have in New Orleans. We have rumors and second- and third-hand accounts. How many in the Superdome? 15,000? 20,000? 60,000? How many dead? How bad is the social situation? anyone who has ever attended a large demonstration knows headcounts always vary wildly depending on who you ask.

When the hurricane was still out in the Gulf, people were anticipating all sorts of authoritarian transgressions as MARTIAL LAW would no doubt be imposed. No one predicted a complete deficit of authority.

While we've been waiting for Bush to finish up his marathon vacation, many wondered what Presidential Daily Briefing would be ignored. What "new products" would be introduced after August. I've read scenarios detailing a false flag operation/cloaked drill in South Carolina involving nuclear weapons brought into the port. While Cheney banged the drum of nuclear confrontation with Iran pending a terrorist attack, our imaginations ran wild trying to find the pattern in the noise. What would it be? How would IT happen? Bush's second term 9-11. What will it be?

As it turns out, it doesn't take a nefarious plan (LIHOP/MIHOP), to create a national emergency. All it takes is NEGLIGENCE.

It was the retreat of beach critters that tipped my grandmother to gathering storms.

It's been the retreat of our president for the rest of us. He didn't have to make this happen on purpose -- all he had to do was continue what he does best, NOTHING. Why am I not surprised he was warned this would happen in 2001?



Where's Bush? Is this the first he's seen of the destruction, I wonder.

this could be your street

Clinton had FEMA at on his CABINET -- BUSH gutted it

"The advent of the Bush administration in January 2001 signaled the beginning of the end for FEMA. The newly appointed leadership of the agency showed little interest in its work or in the missions pursued by the departed Witt. Then came the Sept. 11 attacks and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. Soon FEMA was being absorbed into the "homeland security borg.''

This year it was announced that FEMA is to "officially'' lose the disaster-preparedness function that it has had since its creation.

The move is a death blow to an agency that was already on life support. In fact, FEMA employees have been directed not to become involved in disaster-preparedness functions, since a new directorate (yet to be established) will have that mission.

FEMA will be survived by state and local emergency-management offices (which are being illegally eliminated), which are confused about how they fit into the national picture.
(more at link -- San Jose Mercury News -- registration required)

2001 PDB: Hurrican determined to hit New Orleans

It turns out, Bush did get such a PDB -- and he got it years ago. As the folks at the Center for American Progress note, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a report in early 2001 that identified the three catastrophes most likely to hit the United States: a terrorist attack on New York, an earthquake in San Francisco and a hurricane in New Orleans.

As of this week, FEMA is now two-for-three. That leads us to think that the residents of the city by the Bay might think about scoring some flashlights and bottled water just about now.

But it also leads us to wonder what the Bush administration and the Republican-controlled Congress did with the warning that FEMA provided.

Here's what: They cut funding for flood and hurricane projects planned by the New Orleans district of the Army Corps of Engineers. According to one published report, the New Orleans district had $147 million to spend on such projects in 2001. In fiscal year 2005, which ends next month, the district will have had about $82 million, a drop of about 44 percent. As we reported earlier this week, the Bush administration proposed further cuts for the district for fiscal year 2006.

(more at link to Salon War Room)

a quick comparison

THIS is an emergency requiring a SPECIAL SESSION of congress and Bush returniing from vacation in his jammies:




and THIS isn't anything to worry about:





here's where Bush was at the time of that photo.
mmm...cake...




fast forward to THIS:



and still not SPECIAL SESSION OF CONGRESS. still no emergency flight to DC. in fact, this seems like a good time to pick up a new hobby:



this is not hyperbole:



it's tragedy

US refuses international aid to New Orleans

"Being kept from these American people also by their Military Rulers have been the uncounted offers of assistance from Nations all around the world, including:

Venezuela has offered their Medical Airlift Command for the evacuation of peoples trapped in these devastated regions;

Holland has offered the resources of their Public Works Ministry (and who are the acknowledged World Experts for below sea level water evacuation procedures);

Russia has offered over 100,000 temporary living structures, along with Military Personal to assist their American counterparts;

Iran has offered 1 Billion US Dollars in immediate assistance and guaranteed 5,000,000 barrels of oil at $35.00 US Dollars;

China has offered their Military Rescue Forces (Who are acknowledged as one of the best in the world for rescuing peoples in flood ravaged areas.)

All of these offers, and more, the Military Leaders of the United States have declined, and for the their previously stated reason: "The United States Government and its People Respectfully Decline your offer of assistance and refer you to our previous State Department Bulletin (NCO:13788) in which we had stated that this remains an internal action."

Bredesen sues feds over guard unit

Gov. Phil Bredesen's administration will sue the federal government on the grounds of removing a Nashville-based National Guard unit without Bredesen's approval.

The lawsuit comes after the U.S. Department of Defense's decision to break up the 118th Air Lift Wing, which operates from the Nashville International Airport. The 118th's eight C-130 aircraft and about 700 personnel will be disbursed to Illinois, Texas and Kentucky. Bredesen said the state is suing because he feels the federal government has "overstepped its authority" in moving the 118th without his consent.

"Federal law clearly states that an Air National Guard unit cannot be relocated or withdrawn from a state without the consent or approval of the governor," Bredesen said.

(more at CityPaper link -- couldn't find this story on the Tennessean website. astounding.)

Implications MIA National Guard: they're in Iraq, NorthCom IS HERE.

(from scarletwoman on DU -- excellent analysis of the breakdown of our National Guard. -- brook)

Earlier today in the break room at work I caught a bit of CNN post-Katrina disaster coverage and there was an interview with the director(?) of FEMA. He was talking about how, under the auspices of Homeland Security, the Northern Command was mobilizing army troops to deal with the disaster relief efforts.

Not a word about the National Guard -- which, in the old days, would have been the ones in the forefront of relief mobilization.

This is what I want folks to ponder. FEMA, already a sinister entity in our pre-9/11 world (look up what sorts of powers Reagan gave the agency in regard to martial law and suspension of local government powers and the Constitution itself -- it's NOT just a nice 'helping hand' agency granting loans to disaster victims, it's MUCH more), has been rolled into the whole 'Homeland Security' apparatus with more powers than ever for government control over the populace.

Add to this the establishment of the Northern Command, the military arm of Homeland Security, specifically designated for domestic deployment, and under Federal/Pentagon command.

Meanwhile, the National Guard, which is normally under the command of state governors is being effectively moved out of the picture by being deployed to fight on foreign soil.

Our National Guards have always been our neighbors, folks with roots in the communities they were supposed to serve. But they've been sent away, and along with that comes the end of state control over any domestic use of the military. Now any domestic use of the military is under the control of the Feds. The soldiers in the streets are NOT your neighbors and community members, they are the professional, permanent military."

(more at link)

LA should have received FEMA disaster mitigation grants, but got NOTHING

(like everyone else, i've been obsessed with the New Orleans, Katrina story. i've got some stuff to share. this is just the tip of the iceberg. seems New Orleans was a low priority in every imaginable way when it comes to disaster mitigation. read on. brook)

"Louisiana should have been high on the list for FEMA's biggest disaster mitigation grant program -- so why did the state get nothing?



The Federal Emergency Management Agency shook up its way of distributing disaster preparedness money when it introduced its Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) grant program in 2002. Given the program's criteria, Louisiana appeared to have been a shoo-in for federal dollars for 2003, the first year the program began awarding money. Instead, Louisiana got nothing.

Tom Rodrigue, flood zone manager for the Jefferson Parish Office of Emergency Management, says that office had submitted three grant applications and expected to receive some money. 'One of the number one priorities for that PDM grant program is repetitive loss structures; Jefferson Parish, unfortunately, has more repetitive loss structures than any parish in the country,' he says. 'We felt sure we would get some funding out of that grant program, and we didn't.'

...Fifteen parishes applied for 2003 grants, a FEMA spokesman said. But last year, the nearly $60 million pot of federal PDM money went to 31 other states and Puerto Rico.

Texas received the biggest share, more than $8.8 million, followed by California ($6.1 million) and Florida ($5.3 million).

After Jefferson Parish emergency management officials received notice in June that they, and everyone else in Louisiana, had been rejected for PDM money, emergency management director Walter Maestri wrote to the state Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the conduit for FEMA dollars in Louisiana.

After complaining about the lack of direction his office received from DHS and the FEMA regional office that covers Louisiana -- Region VI, based in Texas -- Maestri outlined the lengths to which Jefferson Parish had gone to provide information to FEMA. 'It is therefore difficult for me to understand how this parish, as well as any other parish in the State of Louisiana, was not approved for any PDM funding for (fiscal year) 03,' he wrote, adding that FEMA's stated reasons for declining funds to Louisiana were vague.

(more at link)

meet one of his flying monkeys -- a Bush campaign manager: FEMA head & nutcase.

(from Divernan at DU)

"This man has a truly violent temper and short trigger to go with it. At one of his first meetings with career FEMA high level staff, one woman who was called on to make a report started out by introducing herself to Albaugh with her name and title. He went ballistic, screaming and raging - DID SHE THINK HE DIDN'T KNOW WHO SHE WAS?!?!?!? HOW DARE SHE PRESUME SUCH A THING??? . . .yada, yada, yada



along the same line for minutes to the dead silence of everyone else in the room who had never seen such a display of temper. In other words, someone following standard business etiquette was screamed at and berated in front of her peers.

This was typical behavior for Albaugh, and one result was that many, many of the top level FEMA people left for other jobs or took early retirement because Albaugh wouldn't allow them to do the jobs they were trained to do. This was a tremendous loss of institutional knowledge for the relatively small federal agency. Albaugh hated being at FEMA and left after about a year. Although he had zip experience with disaster relief or any kind of government/public service before his explosive period with FEMA, when he left there he started a very high priced consulting firm on counter-terrorism.

Bush initially put Albaugh in place to gut FEMA - I mean why should all that federal money go to people in trouble and need through some natural disaster. Bush's attitude was that if you weren't wealthy enough to private pay someone to help you handle a disaster, you deserved whatever befell you. Anyway, when 9/11 occurred, he couldn't outwardly gut FEMA, but he pretty much emasculated it by putting it under DHS."

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Hi, I know I haven't written in a while, but things have been a bit hectic

So it’s been awhile since I posted anything. I haven’t been flying as the airplane I use at the school has been crashed; that I was not on it is the good news, that there were no injuries or deaths is the great news. A good landing is one you walk away from, a great landing is one you can immediately use the plane afterwards... this was merely a good landing.

Speaking of the news, have you caught these stories lately?

From USA Today on 8/22/05:

"Pat Robertson calls for assassination of Hugo Chavez
VIRGINIA BEACH (AP) — Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson suggested on-air that American operatives assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to stop his country from becoming "a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism."

or this one from yesterday in Yahoo news:

“ Venezuela offers fuel, food to hurricane-hit US
Mon Aug 29, 7:48 PM ET

CARACAS (AFP) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez offered to send food and fuel to the United States after the powerful Hurricane Katrina pummeled the US south, ravaging US crude production.

The leftist leader, a frequent critic of the United States and a target himself of US disapproval, said Venezuela could send aid workers with drinking water, food and fuel to US communities hit by the hurricane.

"We place at the disposition of the people of the United States in the event of shortages -- we have drinking water, food, we can provide fuel," Chavez told reporters.

Chavez said fuel could be sent to the United States via a Citgo refinery that has not been affected by the hurricane. Citgo is owned by Venezuela's state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela “

or my personal favorite from something called the Jamaican Observer from today:

“CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Sunday that his government could request the extradition of US religious broadcaster Pat Robertson for suggesting American agents should kill him.

Speaking to foreign delegations attending a meeting of the Organisation of American States in Caracas, Chavez said Venezuela would "exercise legal action in the United States" against Robertson.

Robertson's comments last week have increased already tense relations between Caracas and Washington. He called for Chavez's assassination on his TV show The 700 Club, saying the United States should "take him out" because the Venezuelan leader poses a danger to the region.”

yep, you gotta keep up with the news...

take a good long look at global warming



meanwhile...what's Commander Cukoobananas up to?



Talk about "fiddling" while "Rome burns."

Thursday, August 25, 2005

MOAA

The new mother of all insults: "You're Bush's bike seat."

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

BRAC MAKES THEIR RECOMMENDATIONS

I'm back! Surgery went well and I'm recovering nicely. Anyway, I wanted to make a comment about the BRAC commission, which is the Base Realignment and Closure commission. Basically, they are the ones who decide which military bases stay open or need to close. Well, I live in Virginia Beach, home of the east coast Master Jet Base at Oceana Naval Air Station. We just lost Fort Monroe in Hampton, which is an historic landmark and has been here for 180 years. Anyway, I live in a big military town! We also have Norfolk Naval Air Station, Fort Story, Fort Eustis and of course we have a large contingency of military ships. Virginia Beach is not only a touristy destination!
Where my neighborhood is located, we get to hear F18 fighter jets practice flying over us all day long. It's what they call "the sound of Freedom" around here! While I don't mind the noise, we do have some that do, of course.
Anyway, N.A.S. Oceana was targeted for closure by the BRAC commission which of course caused quite a fuss around here. The reason for the recommendation for closure was encroachment. Virginia Beach City Council and our Mayor let contractors and builders build closer and closer to the base's crash zones. They knew that this was a problem yet the money kept coming and the builders kept building. Now we have the people who live closest to the base complaining about jet noise!! For Goddess sakes, they knew they where they were living and now they complain about noise. Move away!! Anyway, Florida's Cecil Field decided they wanted our fighter jets to come there...no thanks to campaigning by good ole Jeb Bush! So now VB was competing w/Bush for our naval air station! When all was said and done, the commission decided to keep Oceana open under certain stipulations. The main one being to control encroachment and for the City of VB to buy up all the properties in the crash zones thus displacing 1800 homes, businesses and much more all for the sake of keeping Oceana alive. And we have 6 months to do this or N.A.S. Oceana will move to Cecil Field in Jacksonville Florida! My girlfriend, her family and myself know people in those areas. They are losing their homes to assessment values only! The majority of the people in this town want Oceana to stay here, but now look at the price some have to pay!

Monday, August 22, 2005

more video and accounts of the National Guard breaking up a Utah rave.

all i say is wow, people. this looks like a freaking movie.

video
http://homepage.mac.com/apexgrin/.Public/fascism.wmv

Accounts of it on message boards:
http://www.404audio.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=14814
http://www.seattlednb.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2840
http://forums.utrave.org/showthread.php?t=19971

soldiers, tear gas, dogs break up LEGAL rave

(reading this made me think of how absurd it would have seemed if this had happened at a Rockin and the River or Woodstick -- and how easy it is to imagine. amazing story of police-state tactics to discourage free association. i guess we've all been waiting for this moment to come in one way or another. it's Utah, but really, how much diff is Utah than say, Carter County? makes me glad the only time i leave the house is to go to costco, lowes and the doctor. -- brook ps... don't miss the video at the link.)

Police/National Guard raid Utah Party. (Posted by DJ Evol Intent)

"Last night, I was booked to play an event about an hour outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. The hype behind this show was huge, they presold 700 tickets and they expected up to 3,000 people total. The promoters did an amazing job with the show.. they even made slipmats with the flyers on them to promote in local shops.

So, we got to the show around 11:15 or so and it was really cool. It was all outdoors, in a valley surrounded by huge mountains. They had an amazing light show flashing on to a mountain behind the site, the sound was booming, the crowd was about 1500 people thick and everything just seemed too good to be true really. Well...

At about 11:30 or so, I was standing behind the stage talking with someone when I noticed a helicopter pulling over one of the mountain tops. I jokingly said "Oh look, here comes big brother" to the person I was with. I wasn't far off.

The helicopter dipped lower and lower and started shining its lights on the crowd. I was kind of in awe and just sat and watched this thing circle us for a minute. As I looked back towards the crowd I saw a guy dressed in camoflauge walking by, toting an assault rifle. At this point, everyone was fully aware of what was going on . A few "troops" rushed the stage and cut the sound off and started yelling that everyone "get the fuck out of here or go to jail". This is where it got really sticky.

No one resisted. That's for sure. They had police dogs raiding the crowd of people and I saw a dog signal out a guy who obviously had some drugs on him. The soldiers attacked the guy (4 of them on 1), and kicked him a few times in the ribs and had their knees in his back and sides. As they were cuffing him, there was about 1000 kids trying to leave in the backdrop, peacefully. Next thing I know, A can of fucking TEAR GAS is launched into the crowd. People are running and screaming at this point. Girls are crying, guys are cussing... bad scene.

Now, this is all I saw with my own eyes, but I heard plenty of other accounts of the night. Now this isnt gossip I heard from some candy raver, these are instances cited straight out of the promoters mouth..

- One of the promoters friends (a very small female) was attacked by one of the police dogs. As she struggled to get away from it, the police tackled her. 3 grown men proceeded to KICK HER IN THE STOMACH.

- The police confiscated 3 video tapes in total. People were trying to document what was happening out there. The police saw one guy filming and ran after him, tackled him and his camera fell, and luckily.. his friend grabbed it and ran and got away. priceless footage. That's not all though. Out of 1,500 people, there's sure to be more footage.

- The police were rounding up the staff of the party and the main promoter went up to them with the permit for the show and said "here, I have the permit." The police then said, "no you don't" and ripped the permit out of his hand. Then, they put an assault rifle to his forehead and said "get the fuck out of here right now."


Now.. let's get the facts straight here.

This event was 100% legal. They had every permit the city told them they needed. They had a 2 MILLION DOLLAR insurance policy for the event. They had liscenced security guards at the gates confiscating any alcohol or drugs found upon entry (yes, they searched every car on the way in). Oh, I suppose I should mention that they arrested all the security guards for possession.

Oh another interesting fact.. the police did not have a warrant. The owner of the land already has a lawsuit against the city for something similar. A few months ago, she rented her land for a party and the police raided that as well. And catch this, the police forced her to LEAVE HER OWN PERSONAL PROPERTY. That's right. They didnt arrest her, but made her leave her own property!!!

Don't get it twisted, this is all going down in probably THE most conservative state in the USA. And this is scary...a gross violation of our civil liberties. The police wanted this party shut down, so they made it happen. Even though everything about this event was legal. The promoters spent over $ 20,000 on this show and did everything they had to to make it legit, only to have it taken away from them by a group of radical neo-con's with an agenda.

This was one of the scariest things I have ever witnessed in person. I can't even begin to describe how surreal it was. Helicopters, assault rifles, tear gas, camoflauge-wearing soldiers...why? Was that really necessary?

This needs to be big news across the USofA. At least in our music scene (edm as a whole)...this could happen to any of us at any time. When we're losing the right to gather peacefully, we're also letting the police set a standard of what we can get away with. And I think that's BULLSHIT!

The system fucked up last night... They broke up a party that was 100% legal and they physically hurt a lot of people there at the same time. The promoters already have 6 lawsuits ready to file with their lawyers and the ACLU is already involved.

I'm sure some pictures (and hopefully some video) will surface soon. I'll make sure to post them up here on 404, so you can see the Police State of America at work."

Here's video:

http://www.angrymobclan.com/facism.mov

23 August: International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

Tonight and tomorrow, Tuesday, August 23rd, marks the International Day for Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition.

All of us who understand its significance need to work for August 23rd to be observed in the manner it deserves.

On the 23rd I will honor the memory of my ancestors enslaved and free in east Tennessee and western North Carolina. These are just a few. HESTER Young Broyles, born in western NC, and married, lived and died in Greeneville (died 1932); NOAH Gudger, who lived in the part of Asheville known as Lower Hominy, Sulphur Springs Post Office, Buncombe County, NC, in dwelling #10: "Noah Gudger, 45, black, [born in] NC; Jackson Bailey, 35, mulatto, NC; Caroline Bailey, 27, mulatto, NC; James Bailey, 6, mulatto, NC; Cate Lynch, 15 black, NC." (From information sent to me by a kind researcher.)

I'll also remember my Greatgreatgrandfather James Franklin "Frank" Broyles, husband of Hester; Adolphus Gudger, whom I believe to be a son of Noah, born in western NC in October 1846, who created a family with Matilda Rice, born April 1, 1850 to Mary "Polly" Ann ("Pop") Rice, a daughter of the large, Irish Protestant Rice family of Isaac and Nancy (KEITH) Rice who had 16 children.

UNESCO - the Paris-based educational, social and cultural arm of the United Nations - chose this date because the night of 22-23 August 1791, a slave rebellion began on the Caribbean island of Santo Domingo. Today San Domingo is shared by Ayiti (Haiti) & la Republica Dominicana. God bless my ancestors. I thank them for their lives and mine, and will try to honor them by my work.

23 August: International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Frist backs intelligent design and I have to say, I'm behind him on this.

Creationism is dead and it's about damn time.

Everyone's talking about Intelligent Design now and it seems nicer. Intelligent Design sounds like a magazine I would subscribe to. When I think of introducing and idea like, Intelligent Design into a classroom, I'm kinda warm to notion. Why not take a break from straight science and examine a few hitherto unexplained things. Or underexplained things. This might spark interest in science. At least in the part where science is people asking questions. If the universe is under the purview of Intelligent Design, well then, we might just be able to figure it out.

Kids are damn sick and tired of "that just happened."
"That just happened," says the cracker boatman in Vernon, FL.
"Lets take all that you call 'that just happened' and put a name on it."

Lets call it 'intelligent design.'

Not bad. I actually, kinda like it. Given half a chance, it might combine with the our slumbering American Ingenuity, and cultivate flexible as well as muscular minds. Flexible minds, that can tolerate staying open for long periods of time. Why look at this as a loss for Darwin? Think of it as a win for Galeleo. Besides, if evolution were the end of the story, there wouldn't still be monkey's, would there?




I'm all about intelligence creating this.




and manipulating this:





From That Just Happened.




to asking questions about "design," of all things.










good design = good idea = intelligent design.



kids would really take to this.







oooh, they like that, don't they?








things that spin.




billiard balls in motion.






spinning



round and round





intelligent design in motion.




it's full of stars.




intelligent design?



intelligent design?





Holy Leap of Language, Batman.

I like this INTELLIGENT DESIGN.

pretty much, people who have been into 'intelligent design'



were right on the money.



things "don't just happen."



there's no stupid questions.




just people who ask them,



and people who don't.



the ability to 'sit with' challenging questions and not react



is a sign of grace of wisdom.



we're just asking:





it's not easy to ask for answers



we're not experts, or the best-dressed, best-looking, best-abled



but dammit, at least we're asking. no one ever told us we couldn't.



well, no one we'd ever pay any attention to.