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It Was the Oil, Stupid

By Cindy Sheehan
Day 25
The Peaceful Occupation of Crawford

"If Zarqawi and bin Laden gain control of Iraq, they would create a new training ground for future terrorist attacks," Bush said. "They'd seize oil fields to fund their ambitions. They could recruit more terrorists by claiming a historic victory over the United States and our coalition."(George Bush, August 30, 2005 in San Diego.)

So it is official, Casey had his blood shed in Iraq for OIL. He died so we could pay over 3.00/gallon for gas. Like I suspected all along, my dear, sweet son: almost 1900 others; and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis died so the oil fields wouldn't "fall into the hands of terrorists" and so George and his immoral band of greedy robber barons could become wealthier. Like I have said all along: how can these people sleep at night and how can they choke down their food knowing it is purchased off of the flesh and blood of others? We have found our "Noble Cause." And it is OIL. This man and his handlers need to be stopped.

Well, George and I are leaving Crawford today. George is finished playing golf and telling his fables in San Diego , so he will be heading to Louisiana to see the devastation that his environmental policies and his killing policies have caused. Recovery would be easier and much quicker if almost ½ of the three states involved National Guard were not in Iraq. All of the National Guard's equipment is in Iraq also. Plus, with the 2 billion dollars a week that the private contractors are siphoning from our treasury, how are we going to pay for helping our own citizens in Louisiana , Mississippi, and Alabama? And, should I dare say "global warming?" and be branded as a "conspiracy theorist" on top of everything else the reich-wingers say about me.

We are now packing up Camp Casey and leaving Crawford and heading to George's place of employment. He wouldn't talk to us, his employers, while we were here to give him his "job evaluation," so we must go to him to have our little chat.

I just want to thank a few people and groups for their support, help, and love while we have been here in Crawford. So many people made the Camp Casey experience possible and so successful. If I miss someone, I am so sorry: that is the difficult thing about thanking people. I love you all, even if I don't remember to thank you!!

My sister: Dede Miller: My kids' second mom who is always by my side and supports me 100% in whatever I do. My cause is her cause, and I couldn't do what I do without her.

Carly, Andy, and Janey: Who would love to see more of their mom, but who understand that we are trying to save their future by what we do. I love you guys, and I will see you very, very soon (yea!!) I couldn't do what I do without their love and support.

The Crawford Peace House: I got an email from Hadi Jawad the day that I decided to come and camp in Crawford and he pledged the help and support of the Peace House. At that time, they only had a few bucks in their checking account and the phone was turned off. Now, thanks to America, they have been able to keep Camp Casey going and they will be able to continue their good works indefinitely. Thanks to John Wolf who had the vision for peace in Crawford and I think that Camp Casey was a fulfillment of his vision. They are going to make a garden and call it "The Casey Sheehan Memorial Peace Garden." What a tribute to my son.

Code Pink: Jodie Evans and Tiffany and Alicia were the first ones here on Monday 08/08 to jump in and save me from going crazy and hopping on one of the trains that runs past the Peace House and pulling an "Agatha Christie." Code Pink also worked tirelessly (and I mean tirelessly) outside of Camp Casey.

MoveOn: For organizing the highly successful candlelight vigils.

Lisa Fithian: For all the organizing work she did behind the scenes.

GSFP, IVAW, MFSO, AND VFP: Our organizations with "skin in the game" for all of their support, presence, love, and help.

Bill Mitchell: Bill's son Mike, was KIA in the same battle as Casey and he was the first GSFP member to come to Camp Casey and take some of the heat off of me. He found a new love at Camp Casey (one of our miracles) and I am sooo happy about that. Plus, Bill is one of my most ardent supporters and he just gets in the middle of things, digs in, and helps wherever. I love him and he and his family will be parts of our family forever.

Fred Mattlage: For donating the amazing piece of land for our use that allowed Camp Casey to expand to include thousands.

Air America: The Morning Sedition, Randi Rhodes, Mike Malloy, and Laura Flanders. Thank you for your support . Ed Schultz belongs there, too, although he is not affiliated with Air America Radio. Amy Goodman was here, too!

The bloggers on The Daily Kos (and most bloggers in general): I would read their comments everyday after I posted my diary and I was always heartened and encouraged by their remarks. After all of the negativity, their positivity gave me strength to go on. In addition, the first night we were in Crawford, and being harassed by the SS, they were posting things and getting the word out that we were there alone and defenseless, which may have saved our lives, or saved us from being injured, or harassed out of there.

So many other people: The Camp Casey volunteers…literally hundreds. The more than 10,000 people who came through CC. Ann Wright who kept CC going. Arianna Huffington for her advice and support. Joan Baez who kept CC's spirits alive while I was in California attending to my sick mother. George Bush for not meeting with me on August 6th. Martin Sheen for his support and presence. A.I.M for Dennis Banks and Russell Means. Gary Hart, John Conyers, Maxine Waters, Barbara Lee, Sheila Jackson Lee, Jan Schakowsky, Dennis Kucinich, Frank Pallone, Lynn Woolsey, Chuck Hagel, Ralph Nader, Jim McDermott, Walter Jones, Charlie Rangel and the other politicos who either came to CC, or called me to offer their support and love. I know I am forgetting some, but thanks to you all. Joe Wilson and his family for paving the way for me to be able to ignore and dismiss the reich-wing smear machine who always tried to marginalize and discredit me by exaggerating or twisting my words and lying about me. The clergy who were there with their love and support: Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Rabbi Dennis Shulman; Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Bob Edgars, Rev. Jesse Jackson (who prayed bed time prayers with me), Rita Brock, etc.

There were so many good people who donated money, goods, or services who want to be kept anonymous.

But especially to Americans who resonated with Camp Casey and gave us prayers, support, money, love and most of all hope for the future.

We will take our country back. And it will be a country that we want back.

God Bless America!!!!

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Al Gore Helps Airlift Hurricane Katrina Victims

Al Gore helped airlift some 270 Katrina evacuees on two private charters from New Orleans, acting at the urging of a doctor who saved the life of the former vice president's son.

Gore criticized the Bush administration's slow response to Katrina in a speech Friday in San Francisco, but refused to be interviewed about the mercy missions he financed and flew on Sept. 3 and 4.

However, Dr. Anderson Spickard, who is Gore's personal physician and accompanied him on the flights, said: "Gore told me he wanted to do this because like all of us he wanted to seize the opportunity to do what one guy can do, given the assets that he has."

An account of the flights was posted this week on a democratic party Web page. It was written by Greg Simon, president of the Washington-based activist group FasterCures. Simon, who helped put together the mission, also declined an interview.

On Sept. 1, three days after Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, Simon learned that Dr. David Kline, a neurosurgeon who operated on Gore's son, Albert, after a life-threatening auto accident in 1989, was trying to get in touch with Gore. Kline was stranded with patients at Charity Hospital in New Orleans.

"The situation was dire and becoming worse by the minute - food and water running out, no power, 4 feet of water surrounding the hospital and ... corpses outside," Simon wrote.

Gore responded immediately, telephoning Kline and agreeing to underwrite the $50,000 each for the two flights, although Larry Flax, founder of California Pizza Kitchens, later pledged to pay for one of them.

"None of the airlines involved required a contract or any written guarantee of payment before sending their planes and volunteer crews," Simon wrote of the American Airlines flights. "One official said if Gore promised to pay, that was good enough for them."

He also recruited two doctors, Spickard and Gore's cousin, retired Col. Dar LaFon, a specialist in internal medicine who once ran the military hospital in Baghdad.

Most critically, Gore worked to cut through government red tape, personally calling Gov. Phil Bredesen to get Tennessee's support and U.S. Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta to secure landing rights in New Orleans.

About 140 people, many of them sick, landed in Knoxville on Sept. 3. The second flight, with 130 evacuees, landed the next day in Chattanooga.

© 2005 The Associated Press


Let's see, now: The hurricane hit August 29 and Al Gore waited until September 3rd before doing anything but bitch? And seized the opportunity to help only after being asked by the neurosurgeon who save his son's life?

Where's the outrage?!? Where's Al & Jesse? The Congressional Black Caucus? Nancy Pelosi and her bullshit? Harry Reid? Howeird Dean? If this is about race, as the Angry Piss-Ignorant Left claims it is, where are these clueless fucking hypocrites?!?

TAJI, Iraq, Sept. 9, 2005 — Iraqi soldiers serving at Taji military base collected 1,000,000 Iraqi dinars for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Iraqi Col. Abbas Fadhil, Iraqi base commander, presented the money to U.S. Col. Paul D. Linkenhoker, Taji Coalition base commander, at a Sept. 5 staff meeting. “We are all brothers,

Five (5) lessons to make you think about the way we treat people.
>1 - First Important Lesson - Cleaning Lady.
>During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I
>a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I
>the last one:
>"What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?"
>Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman
>times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know
>I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before
>ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our
>"Absolutely," said the professor. "In your careers, you will meet many
>people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care,
even if
>all you do is smile and say "hello."
>I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.
>2. - Second Important Lesson - Pickup in the Rain
>One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing
>the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm.
>car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet,
>decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help
>generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man took her
>safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab.
>She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and
>him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his
>surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A
>note was attached..
>It read:
>"Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night.
>rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came
>along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's
>just before he passed away... God
>bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others."
>Mrs. Nat King Cole.
>3 - Third Important Lesson - Always remember those who serve.
>In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy
>entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass
>water in front of him.
>"How much is an ice cream sundae?" he asked.
>"Fifty cents," replied the waitress.
>The little boy pulled is hand out of his pocket and studied the coins
>"Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?" he inquired.
>By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was
>"Thirty-five cents," she brusquely replied.
>The little boy again counted his coins.
>"I'll have the plain ice cream," he said.
>The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and
>away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left. When
>waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table.
>placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five
>You see, he couldn't have the sundae, because he had to have enough
left to
>leave her a tip.
>4 - Fourth Important Lesson. - The obstacle in Our Path.
>In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he
>himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some
>the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply
>around it. Many loudly blamed the
>King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about
>the stone out of the way.
>Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon
>the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the
>to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally
>succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he
noticed a
>purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse
>many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was
>the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The
>peasant learned what many of us never understand!
>Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.
>5 - Fifth Important Lesson - Giving When it Counts...
>Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to
know a
>little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare &serious disease.
>only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her
>old brother, who had
>miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the
>needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to
>little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to
give his
>blood to his sister.
>I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and
>saying, "Yes I'll do it if it will save her." As the transfusion
>progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all
>seeing the color returning to her cheek. Then his face grew pale and
>smile faded.
>He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I
>to die right away".
>Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought
he was
>going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save
>Now you have 2 choices.
>1. Delete this email, or
>2. Forward it to people you care about.
>I hope that you will choose No. 2 and remember.
>Most importantly.................. "Work like you don't need the
>love like you've never been hurt, and dance like you do when nobody's
>NOW more than ever - Peace...Pass It On.....

Cynthia McKinney; Hillary Ilyich; Schmuck Schumer; Jackson and Sharpton; Wienerwurst Franken; Maxine Waters; Left Leahy; Baghad Jim McDermott; Patty 'Osama's Mama' Murray; Maxine Waters; The Hero of Tehran; The Hero of Rwanda & Burundi; Jean-Pierre and his sugar titty, the plump hausfrau; Beavis Biden; Butthead Conyers; The Empty Suit from Tennessee; The Fat Drunk from Taxachussetts; Howeird Dean; Paula Begala; Clueless Chris Mathews; Randi Rhodekill; Chronically Nattering Nitwits; PMS-NBC; Air Amerika; Danny Blather; Sheila Jackson Lee; Momma Moonbat; Code Pinko; American Communist Lawyers Union; and Hanoi Jane.


KANYE WEST is firing off at America's white leaders again a week after he shocked TV viewers on a Hurricane Katrina telethon by claiming President GEORGE W BUSH was a racist.

The rapper ignored the telethon script and attacked Bush for not acting quicker to save African-Americans stranded by the storms in Mississippi and Louisiana.

And he isn't finished yet - appearing on ELLEN DeGENERES' US television chat show this morning (09SEP05), West insisted Bush and other politicians knew America's Gulf Coast couldn't withstand a hurricane a year before Katrina hit.

He said, "Back in the days when it was time to clean the kitchen I would try to sweep the dust under the kitchen sink instead of really taking care of it, and if you spilled something on that floor all that dust came right up in front of your face. That's basically what the flood did.

"They have been trying to sweep us (African-Americans) under the kitchen sink and it was so in people's faces and so on TV... that they couldn't even hide it any more.

"Down there, people are living below the poverty level to start off with, before this happened.

"A year ago I was on tour with USHER and we had a hurricane hit Florida and everybody was saying, 'If this hurricane went to Louisiana, if it went to Mississippi, they wouldn't be able to handle it.' (That was) a year ago - and there was nothing done about it."



Fri Sep 09 2005

The chart topping hip hop rapper star who used a network hurricane fundraiser to charge "George Bush doesn't care about black people" was loudly and lustily booed during last night's NFL kickoff show.

The appearance of Kanye West, who was beamed into the Boston stadium via remote from Los Angeles, received a strongly negative response from the crowd.

"The boos were thunderous and lasted for much of his number," reports the BOSTON GLOBE.

the scum bag who put this post is no better than the subject matter just helping fuel the stupidity. U no it was not TOTM cause if it was it would be more like this........
Do U love your children
Then Y are U not standing up to the people who cause yore kids to die for what noble cause?? A drive by shooting don’t count as a noble cause…. I think U should first look at what the real cause is….YOR DAMED ILL-EAGLE WAR ON DRUGS. Ya that’s it, are ya having fun yet? U probley don’t even know how deep down the rabbit hole it goes…

1-U R a baaa, baa-aaa, ba-ad little sheep for reading this….
2-war crimes against the people…what people are you worried about?? The people of world are the only ones that matter--that’s all the people..not just one set..%*#*&%@$!#!!&O-HELL-O U CUTE LITTLE SHEEP burn your ear?
3-blanket of lies--keeps the blinders on all of us…did U no that they are shearing U cute little sheep to make these blankets of lies? Where does it comes from?…where do the lies come from---your local gov. programming? ….i.e. TV, RADIO, INTERNET no no no don’t U believe any thing like that. unless U take the blinders off, so U can see past the lies…most of U can’t.. they even bragg about it, and U still don’t want to git rid of them, Now that is good programming, are U Skee-rooed or what, U don’t even no do U. And the blankets don’t even keep U warm after they shear Your ASS
4-why do the rulers wage wars that other peoples children have to die for?? How many people have asked that one? The trouble is no one cares, hell the sheep can’t see through there blinders, and the ones who sneek-a-peek, they are told not to believe what they see, only what U R told. So they put them back on..quit reading this PHUKEN BULL CHIT
5-no mention ever of the fact that more people die from the ILL-EAGLE DRUG WAR than any other cause. What they don’t want ya to see, is just how far down the rabbit hole it goes, it’s really pretty dam scary.
We have what I call the almost 100 year war going on right here under your nose, some of you have lost friends or loved ones in this crime action against the people of this country by the people of this country,
It’s not much wonder it was so easy for our war mongering leaders to ILL-EAGLEY attack some one in a different country, and expect them to lie down and take it just like the American people did, wow to bad some people fight back to protect there home, why are American people such cowards, (sor-rie!, U cute little sheep!) and we would not even have to fight, see that’s part of the problem war is money, peace ain’t..the people in charge of this ILL-EAGLE DRUG WAR they can not have peace, so what happen if we the sheepole shuved peace in there face. IMAGAIN if they could not make all those billions of $$$ to spend on starting other wars to steal stuff from others, that we would not even need, like OIL, IF JUST HEMP was not ILL-EAGLE, we would not need there dammed oil, can any one, ANY ONE tell me why HEMP is or ever was made ILL-EAGLE? O-HELL-NO. no body ever lied to U and got away with it.
u r not still reading this ru
now if you can not see the connection that the drug war has on us all---, what about all the gang violence, what finances all that? how do we stop it, HOW DID WE GET IT,? They have ewe sheep convinced that it’s just what U need, where dose that come from?? What the hell do you think the drug war is. It’s just like the other wars they have started, they don’t expect any one to fight back, well that’s all it is when a cop gets killed--another victim of your dammed drug war, but I no I’m NOT just one of those crazy sheep just cause I know what is, I’ve lived it, I’ve seen things cause I refused to be issued blinders, my parachute works, U better pull the cord quick, see if U have one packed in there.
This one don’t need a umber, it covers them all..
WORST THING I could think of…we are all victims of the ILL-EAGLE DRUG WAR …how do we as victims do any thing?? What can we do ?? ARE U a victim Turn your self in…U ARE a victim
What the hell does that mean that is the whole problem, it is the only way out and no one wants to see, (blinders) what do U think, are U a victim of this ILL-EAGLE drug war? Most sheep don’t think so , but can’t figure out Y your grandmother was just KILLED for her purse. Probley some mommie sheepole wanted milk money for there kids, HUH? COULD NOT have been your ill-eagle drug war..

yeah right, retard.

Brucey boy.......or is he in hell sauluting the devil

R+B hunk USHER is the latest star to attack KANYE WEST over comments he made at an all-star Hurricane Katrina fundraiser a week ago (02SEP05).

The YEAH! singer claims the rapper was wrong to point the finger of blame at President GEORGE W BUSH, who he accused of being a racist, during the telethon.

And the R+B star, who will be among performers appearing on an MTV telethon tonight (10SEP05), states, "I wasn't mad at Kanye's statement - that's his opinion - but it's obviously not the opportunity or the time to poke fun or appoint blame.

"This is an opportunity where we all need to come together - musicians, actors, politicians - and help the (American) Gulf region."

Usher is grateful that none of his family members live near the disaster zones in southeast America - but he feels like he's lost the musical heritage of New Orleans, Louisiana, which was left devastated by the tragedy.

He explains, "The music that we listen to every day... was founded in New Orleans... This city is basically gone, the history of it has gone."

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Authorities said Friday that their first systematic sweep of the city found far fewer bodies than expected, suggesting that Hurricane Katrina's death toll may not be the catastrophic 10,000 feared.

"I think there's some encouragement in what we've found in the initial sweeps that some of the catastrophic deaths that some people predicted may not have occurred," said Terry Ebbert, New Orleans' homeland security chief.

Ebbert declined to give a new estimate of the dead.

Authorities shifted their attention to counting and removing the dead in a grid-by-grid search after spending days persuading and cajoling the living into leaving the shattered city because of the danger of fires and disease from the filthy, corpse-laden floodwaters.

The sweep was carried out by the Police Department, the Army's 82nd Airborne Division and the National Guard, and covered every part of the city reachable by land, boat or air, Ebbert said.

"Numbers so far are relatively minor as compared to the dire projections of 10,000," Ebbert said.

Mayor Ray Nagin had suggested over the weekend that the death toll could climb that high, and authorities ordered 25,000 body bags as they started gathering up the dead across a landscape awash in corpses.

Separately, Maj. Gen. Bill Caldwell, commanding general of 82nd Airborne Division, said the last of the bodies at the convention center would be taken out on Friday. Thousands took shelter there for days with little or no food or water, in what became an increasingly chaotic and violent situation, and several people were found dead.

In a small sign of progress, authorities said the New Orleans airport will reopen to commercial flights on Sept. 19. Caldwell said water and power are functioning at the airport.

Authorities continued trying to clear the city of holdouts, and also confiscated guns from homeowners. Police and soldiers feared deadly confrontations with jittery residents who have armed themselves against looters.

"Walking up and down these streets, you don't want to think about the stuff that you're going to have to do, if somebody pops out around a corner," said National Guardsman Chris Montgomery.

As many as 10,000 people were believed to be stubbornly staying put in the city, despite orders from the mayor earlier this week to leave or be removed by force. By midmorning, though, there were no reports of anyone being taken out forcibly, police said.

Police are "not going to do that until we absolutely have to. We really don't want to do that at all," Deputy Chief Warren Riley said.

Some residents who had previously refused to leave - whether because they wanted to protect their homes from looters, they did not want to leave their pets behind, or they simply feared the unknown - are now changing their minds and asking to be rescued, police said.

"They realize they're not going to this awful situation like the Superdome or the Convention Center," Riley said. "As days go by, it seems less and less likely that we'll have to force anyone."

He added: "I don't know of any incidents where people are being belligerent."

Some residents said they left under extreme pressure.

"They were all insisting that I had to leave my home," said Shelia Dalferes, who said she had 15 minutes to pack before she and her husband were evacuated. "The implication was there with their plastic handcuffs on their belt. Who wants to go out like that?"

Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Jason Rule said his crew pulled 18 people from their homes Thursday. He said some of the holdouts did not want to leave unless they could take their pets.

"It's getting to the point where they're delirious," Rule said. "A couple of them don't know who they were. They think the water will go down in a few days."

On Thursday, in the city's well-to-do Lower Garden District, a neighborhood with many antebellum mansions, members of the Oklahoma National Guard seized weapons from the inhabitants of one home. Those who were armed were handcuffed and briefly detained before being let go.

"No one will be able to be armed. We are going to take all the weapons," Riley said.

The floodwaters are slowly receding, but the task of gathering rotting corpses and clearing debris is certain to take months.

At two collection sites, federal mortuary teams gathered information that might help identify the bodies, such as where they were found. Personal effects were also being logged.

At a temporary morgue set up in nearby St. Gabriel, where 67 bodies had been collected by Thursday, the remains were being photographed and forensic workers hoped to use dental X-rays, fingerprints and DNA to identify them.

Dr. Bryan Patucci, coroner of St. Bernard Parish, said it may be impossible to identify all the victims until authorities compile a final list of missing people.

Decaying corpses in the floodwaters could pose problems for engineers who are desperately trying to pump the city dry. While 37 of the 174 pumps in the New Orleans area were working and 17 portable pumps were in place Thursday, officials said the mammoth undertaking could be complicated by corpses getting clogged in the pumps.

"It's got a huge focus of our attention right now," said John Rickey of the Army Corps of Engineers. "Those remains are people's loved ones."

Some 400,000 homes in the city were still without power, with no immediate prospect of getting it back. And fires continued to be a problem. At least 11 blazes burned across the city Thursday. Three buildings were destroyed at historically black Dillard University.

Also Thursday, Congress rushed through an additional $51.8 billion for Katrina relief, and President Bush pledged to make it "easy and simple as possible" for uprooted storm victims to collect food stamps and other government benefits.

To counter criticism of the slow federal response to the disaster, Vice President Dick Cheney toured parts of the ravaged Gulf Coast, claiming significant progress but acknowledging immense obstacles remained to a full recovery.

Meanwhile, Democrats threatened to boycott the naming of a panel that Republican leaders are proposing to investigate the administration's readiness and response to the storm. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said it was like a baseball pitcher calling "his own balls and strikes."

Democrats have urged the appointment of an independent panel like the Sept. 11 commission.


Associated Press writers Cain Burdeau, Melinda DeSlatte, Brett Martel, Erin McClam and Doug Simpson contributed to this report.

Join Cindy Sheehan & CODEPINK for the spirit of Camp Casey as we send Cindy off to the bus tour and send aid to Louisiana ... Friday, September 9 7:30-9pm Agape Spiritual Center 5700 Buckingham Parkway Culver City, CA 90230

Speakers will include: Cindy Sheehan, Arianna Huffington, Jodie Evans of CODEPINK, Jeff Key of Mehadi Foundation & Iraq Veterans Against the War, Eisha Mason of Agape International Spiritual Center & AFSC, Members of Veterans for Peace, Gold Star Families for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, as well as inspiring music from LA women!

Event sponsored by Agape, CODEPINK, American Friends Service Committee, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Gold Star Families for Peace, Vets For Peace, MFSO

We will be collecting donations for Camp Casey Covington in Louisiana for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. 10:00am-11:30am: Rectors Forum at All Saints Church132 North Euclid Ave, Pasadena, CA

KPFK, CODEPINK, Progressive Christians Uniting and Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace invite you to “Stop the Next War Now!

Terrorist moms 'yearn for martyrdom'
New Hamas women's units help aim of wiping out Israel

The Palestinian Hamas movement recently established women's units as part of its terrorist wing, reports the Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI. In an interview with the Hamas weekly Al-Risala, the commander of the first of the units, part of the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, said the women were training with light weapons and "yearned for martyrdom." The following are excerpts translated by MEMRI.

© 2005

Q: To begin with, we would like to know who you are.

A: We are a women's unit of Hamas' armed wing, the Martyr Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades.

Q: Why did you join the Al-Qassam Brigades and not one of the other armed groups?

A: Because the Al-Qassam Brigades are considered the standard-bearers and the pioneers of jihad. We have abandoned all paths save that of Hamas and its armed wing – the Al-Qassam Brigades.

Q: Did someone ask you to operate as part of the Brigades, or was it your request?

A: Nobody asked us to operate as part of the Brigades. We simply love jihad and its path … .

Q: What was your aim in joining the military organization?

A: There was only one single aim: jihad and resistance until the lands are liberated.

Q: Wouldn't it be better for you to deal with educating and developing the [next] generation?

A: It's all one path. We raise our children and perform our domestic duties, the duty of encouraging devotion to religion, as well as the other everyday duties, and the epitome of them is jihad for the sake of Allah. Jihad is a duty that every Muslim is required to fulfill if he can. Our joining the military organization is one of the essential everyday tasks.

Q: We understand that you are competing with the men in the battlefield.

A: It is an honor for us to compete with the men, even if their role is more advanced. They are the men in the [battle]field, courageous, and men of sacrifice, but we are trying to relieve [them] of some of the burden. Behind every man is a woman who strengthens his hands.

Q: How do you manage to combine membership in a military unit, educating [your] children and taking care of [your] husbands and your households?

A: That's something completely normal. We manage our time and know our duties, like every working woman … .

Q: Do you do weapons training and activities?

A: We do a moderate level of light weapons training.

Q: Do your husbands know that you are members of military units, and do they encourage you, or is it the opposite?

A: Yes, our husbands know. They encourage us, and we [women] encourage one another.

Yearning for martyrdom

Q: What do you think about women who carried out martyrdom operations, like the martyr Reem Al-Riyashi, who belonged to the Al-Qassam Brigades?

A: The martyr Reem Al-Riyashi is like a crown on our heads and a pioneer of the resistance. Nobody can fathom the magnitude of her sacrifice.

Q: Do you hope to be like Reem Al-Riyashi?

A: By the name of Allah, we hope to become like her at once.

Q: What do women like you tell your children?

A: Our message is to educate them to jihad, which is a sacred duty which cannot be neglected...

Q: What do you think about Palestinian women's role in the Al-Aqsa Intifada?

A: Their role is very important and is no less important than that of the man. The woman is the fighter's wife and sister. She carried the difficult burden of making a living and educating the children to jihad.

Q: Are your activities limited to intelligence and support? We've seen Hamas women prisoners who guided the martyrs, like Tamam Al-Tamimi. Is that your only field of activity?

A: The armed activities are not [limited to] guiding [bombers] or shooting. There are many kinds of jihad and resistance.

Gaza: 'Fruit of resistance'

Q: What do you have to say to Arab and Muslim women in the wake of the defeat of the Zionist enemy in Gaza?

A: Today we are reaping the fruits of the resistance in the hope that there will be further steps, leading to the liberation of all Palestine… [The Palestinian] victory and [Israel's] fleeing the settlements are a result of the painful blows [they suffered] from the resistance.

Q: What message would you, as women [serving] in military units, like to send to the occupation and to the wives of soldiers who have killed our people?

A: The Zionist rulers who talked about the Greater Land of Israel need to learn the lesson that the resistance and its heroic men taught them. Today they are progressively losing their resources. We don't have any desire to kill them so long as they leave the lands that they stole from us. These are our rights and we want to obtain them. If they don't want to go of their own will, they will be defeated and [all that will be left of them] will be the remains of corpses.

Q: What is your final message?

A: Oh sons of the resisting Palestinian people, who defeated the Zionist enemy and humiliated them and made their heads bowed, keep the faith and preserve the victory so that it won't go to waste. This is a victory that we achieved through sacrifice.

Q: Are you the mother of a martyr or a prisoner? If so, what do you [think when you] see the occupation getting out of there now, with your son having carried out an action against one of the settlements which the occupation is leaving?

A: Yes, I have sons who are martyrs, a son who's a prisoner, and sons who were wounded, but all that is of little account [when it is] for the sake of Allah. Thank God, I don't have any regrets and I can take the suffering of these losses. I am very happy that I offered up [a sacrifice] and reaped the fruits. My son's blood was not spilled in vain, and my [other] son's imprisonment is not for naught. The resistance yielded a ripe fruit. This historic turning point is a prologue to the great victory and the re-conquest of the rest of the lands.

I wonder if Cindy is collecting an unemployment check... being that her left winged liberal iflth got her fired. So Cindy... are you collecting an unemployment check?

Even Cindy took time from her cause to help those in need. And to be honest with you it is none of your business. Why don't you go after Bush he is probably putting a lot of extra money in his pocket.

I'm waiting to see if she reports all of the unearned income she's received in the form of 'love gifts' from the saps surrounding her.

In Storm's Ruins, a Rush to Rebuild and Reopen for Business

Published: September 10, 2005

BATON ROUGE, La., Sept. 9 - Private contractors, guided by two former directors of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other well-connected lobbyists and consultants, are rushing to cash in on the unprecedented sums to be spent on Hurricane Katrina relief and reconstruction.

From global engineering and construction firms like the Fluor Corporation and Halliburton to local trash removal and road-building concerns, the private sector is poised to reap a windfall of business in the largest domestic rebuilding effort ever undertaken.

Normal federal contracting rules are largely suspended in the rush to help people displaced by the storm and reopen New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Hundreds of millions of dollars in no-bid contracts have already been let and billions more are to flow to the private sector in the weeks and months to come. Congress has already appropriated more than $62 billion for an effort that is projected to cost well over $100 billion.

Some experts warn . . .


A Growing L.A. Ministry Extends a Helping Hand

By William Lobdell, Times Staff Writer

For two days after Hurricane Katrina made a ruin of his New Orleans neighborhood, David Mince, 50, waited on the roof of his flooded 9th Ward house, eating Spam and crackers, watching dead cats, dogs and humans float by, and waving to helicopters until one finally rescued him.

A few days later at a Baton Rouge shelter, his surreal week took another strange turn. A representative of the Dream Center, a Christian ministry based at the former Queen of Angels Hospital near Echo Park, offered Mince a free Lear jet ride to Los Angeles.

Within hours, he'd arrived in Southern California, where he was offered free room, board and medical care for a year. He picked out a free wardrobe of new clothes. A Dream Center volunteer helped him look for work as a marine electrician.

All the while, Mince said, he waited for a catch. But it hasn't come. There have been no mandatory church services. No required Bible studies. No religious tracts or talk of Jesus.

"People say, 'It's a cult, it's this, it's that,' " said Mince, wearing a new black T-shirt, jeans, underwear, socks and hat. "The proof is in the pudding. They haven't stopped giving to us. They put dreams back in my life."

For the last 10 years, the Dream Center — an Assemblies of God church that is also supported by the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel — has ministered to L.A.'s poor, sick and homeless.

That ministry, along with the center's massive facility, Dream Center officials say, has put the group in a perfect position to assist with hurricane relief.

"This clicks so well with our vision: 'They may not have anything, but they are worth something,' " said Gina Hanley, a worker at the ministry.

Already, the Dream Center has taken in 200 hurricane survivors, mostly families who indicated to center volunteers in Louisiana that they would be interested in relocating. They have been promised care for at least 12 months. Center officials say they have room for as many as 300 evacuees, a number they expect to reach by Sunday.

Just how they will pay for the care they've promised the arrivals, though, is still not entirely apparent. Pastor Matthew Barnett, a 31-year-old with a baby face and a crew cut, said he "stepped out in faith" when deciding to host the evacuees, confident that God would provide even though the center had been struggling just to meet its pre-Katrina monthly budget of about $550,000.

"We could miss God if we didn't do this," said Barnett, who added that donations from individuals and businesses have more than kept pace with the center's evacuee-related needs so far.

In the past, the Dream Center has pulled together operating revenue through fundraising speeches around the country, grants, individual contributions coming in through its website or television show on Trinity Broadcasting Network and donations from other churches and businesses.

Since the Dream Center made public its plan this week, lines of cars and trucks, filled with food and supplies, have formed outside its headquarters. People have stopped by with $100 bills or called in with pledges to sponsor families for six months. Trinity Broadcasting Network donated $100,000 to assist with hurricane relief. Twenty-nine corporations had representatives at a job fair for evacuees at the center Friday, and government officials have set up tables there to get benefits flowing.

Politicians and celebrities have also found the center this week, including television's Dr. Phil McGraw, who has offered two families rent-free housing.

Assisting victims of Hurricane Katrina is an extension of the Dream Center's philosophy of spreading the Christian message by works, not words. "Since we've gotten here, they've showed us nothing but mad, mad love," said Teaaka Burton, 28, who is staying at the center with her fiance, Darren Fountain, and their two children, ages 6 and 1.

This silent form of evangelizing has helped fuel the church's rapid growth — from a few members in 1994 to the more than 7,000 worshipers who attend several services throughout the week, about 400 volunteers and an annual budget of more than $6 million, according to church figures.

It has also made the Dream Center a national model for Pentecostal and other churches, which have found that younger Christians often want to see the tangible results of their faith.

"Increasingly, there is an emergent form of Pentecostalism that balances [proselytizing] with Jesus' proclamation to love others as yourself," said professor Donald E. Miller, executive director of USC's Center for Religion and Civic Culture. "They affirm that God's love is unconditional and therefore their service to other people should, likewise, be unconditional.

"If this expression of the Christian message results in people committing their lives to Jesus, so be it," Miller added. "But Christians are first of all called to be servants to others, not propagandists."

S. Scott Bartchy, director of UCLA's Center for the Study of Religion, said he believed that it would be wrong for a faith-based group to make any aid or support contingent on converting to, or even listening to, the group's views on religion.

But he sees no ethical concerns with faith-based groups initiating dialogues with disaster victims about religion.

"There may well be people who say that such a catastrophe shows that God doesn't exist or doesn't care. I think a catastrophe brings up the issues of the meaning of life acutely, and I imagine there are many discussions about that. In fact, I think those conversations are inevitable," said Bartchy, a professor of religious history.

Still, he cautioned, "it would be wrong to take advantage of people at a time of crisis."

Church officials acknowledged that they would be pleased if the evacuees and others became born-again Christians, but their assistance is offered with no strings attached.

"The philosophy here is to help people because they are made in God's image," said Eric Brockhoff, who works in the center's Hope for Homeless Youth agency, which provides services for prostitutes, gang members and drug addicts. "We hope they will find God, but that's really up to them. We're not manipulating people or buying them. We're just serving them."

Church officials see their role in helping the evacuees as providential and hope that their plight might raise awareness — and money — for others with similar needs in Los Angeles.

Only seven floors of the former Queen of Angels building are in use, with room for about 700 people. Renovating the other eight floors, which would provide 1,500 additional beds, would cost $8 million, church officials said.

"We could fill all those rooms today," Barnett said.

The Dream Center was established in 1994 when Barnett, a 20-year-old Assemblies of God pastor, took over Bethel Temple in Echo Park. His co-pastor was his father, Tommy, an Assemblies of God minister who headed a church in Phoenix and now splits his time between the Phoenix and Los Angeles churches.

Following what was then traditional wisdom, the younger Barnett improved the choir, spruced up the building and worked on crafting stirring sermons.

But after his congregation of 18 dwindled to nine, he was forced to try something different. He asked people in the neighborhood how the church could serve them. From that sprang ministries to addicts, immigrants and the homeless.

One of the church's first programs was "Adopt-a-Block," in which volunteers went into some of Los Angeles' poorest neighborhoods and simply asked, "Is there something I can do for you?" After overcoming initial skepticism, the volunteers have cleaned houses, done electrical and plumbing work, painted, mowed lawns, watched children and provided food, diapers and other supplies.

More than 50 blocks in neighborhoods including Compton, Watts, downtown Los Angeles and Echo Park have been adopted and are tended to weekly.

"You have to earn the right to be heard," Barnett said.

Many residents of those neighborhoods are now Dream Center members, commuting to services in 30 church-provided buses.

In 1996, in need of more space, the church bought the abandoned Queen of Angels building on 8.8 acres for $3.9 million and named it the Dream Center.

By 2001, the church had again outgrown its sanctuary, forcing it to hold more than two dozen services a week. In an unusual display of cooperation between two denominations, the pastorship of the landmark Angelus Temple — established by early 20th century evangelist Aimee Semple MacPherson and now owned by the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel — was given to Barnett. He now had a worship space near the Dream Center that held 3,500 people.

A service there Thursday night attracted 2,000 worshipers, including about 30 hurricane survivors.

After some very loud Christian hard-rock music and hip-hop dancing, Pastor Glen Burris — a guest speaker and Foursquare Gospel minister — talked about how Jesus allows people to go from hopelessness to hope.

"If you find your faith under assault, there's still hope for your life," Burris told the congregation in a sermon geared to the hurricane survivors. "It is the message of the church."

The 90-minute service ended with an "altar call" in which Barnett asked people to come forward if they wanted to accept Jesus Christ as their savior or reaffirm their faith if it had been under assault. Most of the 30 evacuees walked to the stage, along with hundreds of other congregants.

"Don't let the devil … stop you from seeing the future," he told them. "What the enemy tried to destroy, God is going to use for good. You want hope? You grab on to the one who invented hope."

Mince, little more than a week removed from his rooftop vigil in New Orleans, stepped to the stage.

"We've been through a tough thing," he said, hugging Barnett. "Going from hopeless to hope. That's what happened to us."

Thomas "T-Bone" Quinn, a New Orleans native, didn't attend the service Thursday, but he said he would go soon. He hadn't been to church in four decades, since he was a young child and a strict Baptist preacher scolded him.

In fact, he didn't have much use for people in general before arriving at the Dream Center on Sunday. The 47-year-old pipe-fitter said he had spent much of his leisure time away from his New Orleans home, at a campsite near a swamp outside the city.

"I didn't like people and wanted to get away," he said, grinding out a cigarette with his new Reebok shoes. "But it's different now. I can't believe the kindness here. It's better than true."

He said that kindness has restored his faith in God.

"I'm not the smartest guy, but I'm not stupid," Quinn said. "There's a reason why I am here. I was snatched up and put in this place for a reason. And I'm not going to leave here until I find it."

Times staff writers Matt Lait and Scott Glover contributed to this report..,0,7764268.story?col...

Nancy Pelosi Charges Katrina Cover-up

After complaining that President Bush was dangerously "oblivious" as Hurricane Katrina victims suffered, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is now warning that the Republican-controlled Congress is mounting a full-blown cover-up of alleged Bush administration bungling.

Pelosi told reporters Thursday that Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist plan to organize a "sham committee" to "whitewash" FEMA's response to the disaster.

"There has to be an honest assessment," the San Francisco Democrat declared. "We owe these people the truth," she added.

Escalating her rhetoric even further, Pelosi said that FEMA is now run by a group of "political hacks."

The top House Democrat said she favors an independent commission along the lines of a 9/11-style probe - despite recent revelations showing that the panel covered-up important evidence suggesting the 9/11 attacks could have been prevented.




By Brian DeBose
The Washington Times
Published September 10, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Some in the black community are beginning to question what happened to the black leadership during the Hurricane Katrina disaster, especially in the city of New Orleans.

While a few black leaders, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Congressional Black Caucus, have singled out the president for blame, others say Mayor C. Ray Nagin, who is black, is responsible for the dismal response to the flooding that stranded thousands in the city's poorest sections.

"Mayor Nagin has blamed everyone else except himself," said the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, founder and president of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny.

"The mayor failed in his duty to evacuate and protect the people of New Orleans. ... The truth is, black people died not because of President Bush or racism, they died because of their unhealthy dependence on the government and the incompetence of Mayor Ray Nagin and Governor Kathleen Blanco," he said.

As news and images of the dead, stranded, sick and hungry waiting days for help inundated Americans over the last two weeks, public officials at every level have sought to deflect blame. Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael D. Brown and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff have pointed their fingers at the first responders in New Orleans and Louisiana, while the mayor and the governor have sought to tag the Bush administration with botching the emergency response.

The New Orleans mayor has criticized the president for the slow response and the resulting loss of life, but recent reports show he failed to follow through on his own city's emergency-response plan, which acknowledged that thousands of the city's poorest residents would have no way to evacuate the city.

He took a second hit when an Associated Press photo showed 2,000 school buses under water and parked in a lot, unused in the evacuation. Reports say those buses could have ferried thousands of residents to safety outside New Orleans had they been deployed.

Black political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson, author of "The Disappearance of Black Leadership," said the problem lies with the current focus of black leadership, in both the elected and activist crowd, away from the poor and toward the new majority of middle-class black Americans.

"In the past two decades, there has been a middle-class-focused leadership," Mr. Hutchinson said. "It is one thing to talk about affirmative action and moving people into top management positions in corporate America, but that does not do anything for the black poor."

Julian Bond, chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said there is plenty of blame for all governments -- local, state and federal.

"Something like this has been predicted for years and years, and it seems none of [the government officials] did anything about it to stop it, not simply for people who had nothing before the storm and now have less than nothing, but for everyone there," Mr. Bond said.

But taking a cue from prominent black leaders, Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat, put the blame on Mr. Bush and his record as commander in chief. "The president's policies in Iraq contributed to the slow response of federal troops who should have been on alert even before the hurricane struck."

"Now, as bedlam reigns in New Orleans, 35 percent of Louisiana's and 37 percent of Mississippi's National Guard troops are in Iraq. The hurricane is clear evidence of how the war directly affects the domestic security of our country," he said.

Mr. Peterson, however, chastised those who would lay all the blame at the feet of Mr. Bush.

"If black folks want to blame someone for this tragedy, they only need to look in the mirror. Hopefully, this will help black people realize the folly of depending on the government or leaders and serve as a notice to avert future tragedies in other cities," he said.

Four years after 9/11 the postmortem of that disaster continues to focus on the institutional failures of our intelligence agencies and government bureaucracies. Yet the larger intellectual and cultural corruption that in part made possible many of those misjudgments and mistakes does not receive the public attention it deserves. The politicizing of the academy, for example, that accelerated in the sixties had compromised the study of Islam and the Middle East long before Islamic terrorism appeared on our cultural radar. Because of this ideological distortion, centuries of consensus about the aggressive, intolerant, and expansionist nature of Islam — an agreement reflecting both the facts of the historical record and the words themselves of the Koran and Muslim theologians and jurists — were discarded in the service of an anti-Western political and ideological agenda.

In this politicized narrative, the West is the arch-villain of history, and its primal sins of colonialism and imperialism are the engines of oppression responsible for all the world’s ills. With regard to Islam and the Middle East, the West’s scholars are accused of creating “orientalism,

Up until yesterday, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin had refused to join critics who say that Hurricane Katrina rescue efforts were slow because the majority of the storm's victims were black.

In an interview Saturday with the New Orleans Times-Picayune, however, Nagin said his thinking had evolved.

"The more I think about it, definitely race played into this,

His biggest frustration was slow pace of relief

By Gordon Russell
Staff writer

In a stark reminder of how drastically Hurricane Katrina has affected the lives of New Orleanians, Mayor Ray Nagin has purchased a home in Dallas and enrolled his young daughter in school there.

Nagin, who spoke with The Times-Picayune by telephone from Dallas, where he has been since Wednesday, said he plans to return to New Orleans on Saturday. He said he will remain in the Crescent City while his family lives for the next six months in Dallas, making occasional visits to his family when possible.

It's not clear where Nagin will be living: His home on Bayou St. John suffered massive flooding, the mayor said, although he has not inspected it.

In a brief but wide-ranging interview, the mayor reflected on the tragedies of the past two weeks. Acknowledging that he may have made some mistakes, he said he hopes others in positions of authority - including President Bush and Gov. Kathleen Blanco -- are scrutinized as closely as he and his staff have been.

"I'm not pointing any fingers at anyone," Nagin said. "But I was in the fire. I was down there. Where were they? I'm confident the truth is going to come out. But I want everybody's record analyzed just as hard as mine.

"Listen, this was unprecedented. Nothing has ever happened like this. For people to sit back and say, 'You should have done this, you should have done that' it's Monday morning quarterbacking. They can shoot if they want, but I was there, and I will have the facts."

Nagin's biggest frustration, and his biggest source of puzzlement, is the slow pace of the relief efforts. He said state and federal officials made repeated promises that weren't kept.

"This is ridiculous," he said. "I mean, this is America. How can we have a state with an $18 billion budget and a federal government with an I-don't-know-how-many trillion dollar budget, and they can't get a few thousand people onto buses? I don't get that.

"All I saw was a huge two-step, if you will, between the federal government and the state as far as who had the final authority. Promises made that weren't really kept. It was frustrating. We'd analyze things, double-check them, and then, later in the afternoon, we'd find out that someone was changing the plan, moving resources around."

Where were the resources?

Some officials at the state and federal level have suggested that part of the reason for the slow response was a lack of awareness about the level of devastation the city had suffered. They have faulted city officials for not sending out a stronger SOS.

While Nagin has said he didn't think the slow response was related to the demographic of the overwhelmingly poor, African-American residents that needed rescuing, his thinking has evolved.

"Definitely class and, the more I think about it, definitely race played into this," he said. "How do you treat people that just want to walk across the bridge and get out, and they're turned away, because you can't come to a certain parish?

How do resources get stacked up outside the city of New Orleans and they don't make their way in? How do you not bring one piece of ice?

"If it's race, fine, let's call a spade a spade, a diamond a diamond. We can never let this happen again. Even if you hate black people and you are in a leadership position, this did not help anybody."

As hearings on the Katrina response start to crank up in Washington, Nagin said, those questions, among others, need to be asked.

"I think the government ought to be asking itself, 'What happened to the resources?'

"Why were people promised resources and they didn't show up? Where were the military resources? Where was the National Guard? Why were we left with a city on the verge of collapse, fighting for the soul of the city, with 200 National Guardsmen and 1,200 police?

"It was a serious breakdown," the mayor continued. "Make sure that whether it's Ray Nagin or the governor or the president, we take a serious look at this and make the changes that need to be made. I'm afraid some of this was a tug-of-war about who gets to spend the money at the end of the day. And I don't appreciate that.

"I saw too many people die, and a lot of people didn't see any of that. They had a press conference and left. I'm looking up, fighting this incredible battle, and they're doing press conferences and lying to the people. They're telling them 40,000 troops are in New Orleans. It was all bull."

Communications shut down

"Analyze my ass, analyze everyone's ass, man. Let's put the facts on the table and talk turkey. Why was there a breakdown at the federal and state level only in Louisiana? This didn't happen in Mississippi. That's the question. That's the question of the day."

Nagin said the city's communications essentially shut down, but said that state and federal officials were likewise at a loss. Within a few days, city officials, including Chief Technology Officer Greg Meffert aided by a crew from Unisys and other outside volunteers, were able to patch together a rough network.

"All communications broke down," Nagin said. "I got cell phones from as high up as the White House that didn't work. My Blackberry pin-to-pin was the only thing that worked. I saw the military struggle with this, too. No one had communications worth a damn."

Even if communications were challenging, Nagin noted that FEMA officials were up in helicopters inspecting the damage from the storm within about 24 hours after it passed. So the message should have been clear, he said: Send in the cavalry.

"I think they realized the magnitude of what was happening," he said.

The best-laid plans

Federal officials have faulted Nagin's administration for not marshaling its Regional Transit Authority buses and those of the School Board to start ferrying the tens of thousands of evacuees stranded at the Superdome and the Convention Center out of town.

Nagin said perhaps some of the criticism is fair. But he said there were various logistical hurdles that made it hard to use that equipment, and the buses would have hardly created a dent in the size of the crowds anyway.

"It's up for analysis," he said. "But we didn't have enough buses. I don't control the school buses, and the RTA buses as far as I know were positioned high and dry. But 80 percent of the city was not high and dry. Where would we have staged them? And who was going to drive them even if we commandeered them? If I'd have marshaled 50 RTA buses, and a few school buses, it still wouldn't have been nearly enough. We didn't get food, water and ice in this place, and that's way above the local level.

"Our plan was always to use the buses to evacuate to the Dome as a shelter of last resort, and from there, rely on state and federal resources."

Those resources took way too long to arrive, Nagin said - in fact, much of the help didn't arrive until after the mass evacuations from the Dome and the Convention Center had occurred. As a result, people suffered and died needlessly, a truth that has been weighing heavily on his mind.

"I saw stuff that I never thought I would see in my lifetime," he said. "People wanting to die. People trying to give me babies and things. It was a helpless, helpless feeling.

"There was a lady waiting in line for bus who had a miscarriage. She was cleaning herself off so she wouldn't lose her place in line. There were old people saying, 'Just let me lie down and die.' It's bulls---, absolutely bulls---. It's unbelievable that this would happen in America."

Answering criticism

While a number of people in the sea of refugees that packed the Dome and Convention Center complained that Nagin had not come to address them, Nagin said he did visit both facilities and speak with people.

"I went there," he said. "I went through the crowds and talked to people, and they were not happy. They were panicked. After the shootings and the looting got out of control, I did not go back in there. My security people advised me not to go back" after Wednesday, he said.

By Thursday, crowds had gotten increasingly restless. At one point, a crowd surged dangerously around Police Superintendent Eddie Compass, and a knot of police officers had to help him to safety.

Part of the discomfort in the Dome and Convention Center was due to the lack of toilet facilities after the city's water system went down late Wednesday. The city's hurricane plan calls for portable toilets at shelters, but none ever arrived. Nagin said his understanding was that the National Guard was in charge of providing them.

Also, he added, "Our plan never assumed people being in the Dome more than two or three days."

Nagin said he saw a few bright spots amid the rubble of the city. He said the New Orleans Police Department - at least, the majority of it, given that there were a number of desertions - should be hailed for fighting an almost impossible fight, handling search-and-rescue missions while trying to keep an increasingly lawless city in check.

"They were absolutely heroic," he said. "The stuff they were dealing with, man. They spent the first two or three days pulling people out of the water. When the looting started to get to the point that it was a real concern, they had to get involved in serious firefights. I mean, we had radio chatter where police were pinned down in firefights and ran out of ammunition. That's never happened."

'A better city'

Nagin also expressed cautious optimism about the city's future.

"I think we'll be a better city," he said. "I think we're going to see an unprecedented construction boom, and some better-paying jobs. Small businesses will start thriving, and I think the tourist industry will bounce back stronger than ever."

Many people who were stranded for days at the Dome and Convention Center told reporters they were never coming back to their devastated city. The mayor acknowledged that some of them probably meant it, including some of the displaced New Orleanians he's met since arriving in Dallas.

"I think some people will probably not come back," he said. "You know, Texas is treating people very well, probably much better than we treated people.

"But I think once people start to see the rebuilding, and that the culture of the city will not be materially affected, they'll be back."

How things progress will depend largely on the level of federal aid, the mayor said. And it's still unclear whether entire neighborhoods will have to be razed - and whether some areas should be abandoned because of their propensity to flood.

"The longer those neighborhoods stay under water, the harder it's going to be to rebuild them," he said.

Meanwhile, there are going to have to be serious conversations about changes to the housing codes and improvements to the levee system, whose inadequacies were laid bare by Katrina.

"I've been talking to some people in Texas, and I think maybe some better designs for housing that can handle some of this," Nagin said. "And the levee system is designed only to withstand a Category 3 storm. Obviously, we have to do better than that."

Nagin on rebuilding: New Orleanians should take the lead
Sunday, 8:40 a.m.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said Sunday morning that any rebuilding effort should be led by New Orleanians and not outsiders.

"I'll lead that effort come heck or high water," he said on the television show "Meet the Press".

Nagin declined to grade the actions and response of President George W. Bush, but did repeat earlier comments that initial response from the federal government was not what it should have been.

"I think for some reason he did not understand the full magnitude of this on the front end," Nagin said.

But Nagin said the response from the president was much better after any personal meetings between the two.

When asked about the actions of Gov. Kathleen Blanco, Nagin paused before offering an answer: "I don't know about that," he said.

Nagin said he had only 200 National Guardsmen in the city in the early days. "We didn't get a lot of help for three or four days of pure hell," he said. "I don't have much else to say about (Blanco)."

The mayor also said there seemed to be confusion between Blanco and federal officials about just who had ultimate authority in the disaster area.

"I just don't appreciate that stuff when people are dying in my city."

For Storm Survivors, a Mosaic of Impressions


BATON ROUGE, La., Sept. 10 - For the survivors of Hurricane Katrina, there is no shared moment to put one's finger on, no clock-stopping space-holder of history as there was on Nov. 22, 1963, or on Sept. 11 to remind them: this was where we were and what we were doing when it all came down.

The disaster was incremental rather than cataclysmic. Instead of a crystalline moment of memory, there are infinite numbers, each with its own marker: a long journey, a recurring noise, the last words of a dear relative. Depending on where people were, what decisions they made in the blur of the crisis and how the authorities responded, every portrait of the storm is different, like a jigsaw puzzle in which no two pieces are alike.

For Robert Newman Jr., a 32-year-old resident of St. Bernard Parish, about seven miles south of New Orleans, the thing that sticks in his head about the storm is a chorus of screams. People in Mr. Newman's community, one of the most devastated areas in Hurricane Katrina's path, watched for days in growing rage and frustration as helicopter after helicopter raced overhead, bound north for New Orleans with no acknowledgment of the stranded, beleaguered people below. He came to understand, he said, how a person could go crazy enough to shoot at a helicopter, if only from the unbearable stress and anxiety of being ignored for days on a roof without water and food.

"People are just screaming and screaming on every roof," he said, sitting on the couch in his cousin's apartment here in Baton Rouge where he and other family members have taken up temporary residence. "But who do you help?"

Mr. Newman and his brother Paul, 24, eventually managed to find a boat, and rescued as many people as they could, including an elderly couple who were standing side by side, neck deep in a swamp surrounded by snakes. They almost passed the old couple by, until the woman managed to reach up and wave.

But the rescue they both wanted to talk about most because it was the most serendipitous and unlikely came when they were trying to siphon gas from the engine of an empty boat that they had captured. Their own motor was turned off, and that is the only reason they heard the tapping sound from a roof nearby. They hacked through the shingles with a machete and found an elderly woman under the eaves with her little dog.

The strange thing was, they said, that the woman had a hatchet in her hand. They took her and the dog and the hatchet and chugged off into the neighborhood.

Some people, like Stephen Stearns, 20, of St. Bernard Parish, have been thinking about decisions that altered the course of events, for better or for worse. Mr. Stearns's mother, Marion Stearns, 54, insisted on riding out Hurricane Katrina at home, as she had every hurricane before.

But this was not every hurricane before.

On Monday, Aug. 29, with almost no warning, the floodwaters surged in St. Bernard Parish, smashing down the front door of their house, Mr. Stearns said. He managed to get outside, but his mother and his father, Arthur Stearns, were trapped.

They got separated by the raging waters, as the furniture banged and careened through the house. Arthur Stearns dived repeatedly searching for his wife, and finally saved himself by smashing a fist through the ceiling and pushing his head through the hole into the attic to breathe.

Mrs. Stearns didn't make it and drowned.

Her last words to her husband were about their son: "Make sure Stephen gets out," Stephen Stearns said.

Margaret Chopin's family was piling together in their cars on the Sunday before the storm to head north out of New Orleans across the Lake Pontchartrain for higher ground and safety.

At the last second, her younger brother, Roy Joseph Jr., 54, stepped out of the car. His phobia of crossing over water, he told the family, was too much. He could not face the trip and would stay in town.

"We talked to him Monday night," said Ms. Chopin, who is 55, as she stood by the family's cots at a Baton Rouge shelter this week. "He said his car had been crushed by a tree and was underwater, but that he was all right. We haven't heard from him since."

People who specialize in the rich oral history and folklore of Louisiana say that Hurricane Katrina's stories must be saved and that plans are already being put together for a more organized and formal accounting of what hundreds of thousands of people did and thought during the storm. The first interviews could begin as early as this week.

"We want to create a central database for all the different organizations that are collecting stories," said Jocelyn Donlon, co-executive director of the Center for Cultural Resources, a nonprofit group based here. "We want to focus on how these stories might influence future public policy."

Some people came together in support and self-defense, sometimes for hours, sometimes for days, in picaresque, improbable journeys that framed the experience through bonds of friendship.

"We called ourselves the Band," said Greg Lupo, a tourist from Ohio who walked out of New Orleans across the Mississippi River with his girlfriend, Cathi Pentella, and three New Orleans residents who all met one another waiting for a rescue bus that never came.

Mr. Lupo, a 45-year-old drummer and cable television lineman, armed himself with an eight-foot long steel rod to protect the group. But nothing happened. The gangs that he saw breaking windows and smashing cars along the way let the Band pass.

Netanya Watts Hart, a coordinator for the Institute of Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University, described the journey from her shattered New Orleans neighborhood on the afternoon of Aug. 31 in tones that almost sound like a parable from the Bible.

"We eventually walked out of the Ninth Ward in about five feet of water and we put all the children - 14 children - we put them in a flatboat along with a woman with one leg and walked a mile in the water," she said. "Then the water went down enough, and we walked about two more miles and all the children were holding hands, singing gospel songs two by two."

Ms. Hart, her husband, her two stepchildren, the woman with one leg and about 25 other people - relatives, neighbors and members of her church - were eventually taken to safety across the Mississippi River, not unlike Michael's mythic ferry across the Jordan, though in this case by a Coast Guard crew. And the group was all still together this week in a shelter near Houston.

Neliska Calloway, a 911 dispatcher with the New Orleans Police Department, said she has thought of the people she could not help. She worked for 48 hours straight through the height of the storm, taking call after call from desperate, frightened people. The call that has stayed in her mind came from a woman who said she was in labor with twins. She had fled to her attic and the waters were still rising.

"It was so emotional taking those phone calls," Ms. Calloway said. "It was scary. You can't imagine what somebody is going through, knowing that they're trapped in a house, surrounded by water and there's no where to go. I just talked to them as much as I could."

Ms. Calloway said that emergency workers reached the woman. She said she heard that one of the twins had died.

In some cases, though, people took command as the crisis descended. Michael Brown, 24, credited good leadership with getting the 25 members of his extended family out of New Orleans. Mr. Brown said his uncle, Jesse Brown II, became a general. Bags were ordered packed in 15 minutes. A rendezvous point was established in front of the house of Michael Brown's grandmother, Emma Brown.

Everything went according to plan except for one thing, the strapping down of their luggage on the roof of the car, which did not hold. Several suitcases of clothing blew off as they drove out of the city, but there was no time to stop.

Charles Vigee, 46, was also a handy man to have around as the storm struck his house in New Orleans. When water started surging up over the porch and in through the front door, his inspiration was to take the doors off their hinges.

There were four people in the house, said Mr. Vigee, who works in construction, so his idea was to fashion a raft, one person per door, and lash them together. The lashing, with a cord ripped from the vacuum cleaner and other lengths of wire he could find in the watery mess, was wholly inadequate, he said. But the tipping point, literally, came when his mother-in-law, Carolyn Johnson, started to teeter on her door just down the street from their flooded home.

"Please Miss Carolyn, please don't fall off the door," Mr. Vigee said he remembered saying or at least thinking. "But she fell off the door."

Mr. Vigee, sitting in a Baton Rouge shelter surrounded by about 4,500 other people rendered homeless and destitute by the hurricane, laughed.

"But I was not laughing then," he said.

Serendipity intervened, he said, in what could have become a crisis. A person floating by on an air mattress helped pull Ms. Johnson back onto her door, and eventually the family made it to a highway where they were all evacuated by helicopter.

And Michael Cryer and Elvera Boatner fell in love.

They met, indirectly, because the roof of Mr. Cryer's apartment building in New Orleans blew off. But they both speak about that now, interviewed sitting on their side-by-side cots in a downtown Baton Rouge shelter, as a small detail, even on some level a happy turn of events because of where things led from there.

Mr. Cryer, 29, a sheetrock worker, said he hid in his closet behind a mattress when water began coming in through the ceiling.

"When I came out, I was like, dang, the whole ceiling was gone," he said. "I could see the sky and rain was coming through."

So he went looking for an uncle a mile or so away, who happened to live in Ms. Boatner's building.

They got out of the city together and have been together since.

"I love him," said Ms. Boatner, who is 24, "and I wouldn't have ever met him."


WASHINGTON (AP) - Louisiana's senior senator on Sunday escalated the Democrats' rhetoric against the Bush administration's hurricane response, accusing the White House of a "full court press" to blame state and local officials for the initial sluggish rescue effort.

The government's emergency managers came under fire from the lone black senator, Democrat Barack Obama, who said they were clueless about the inner-city in New Orleans when they failed to plan for the evacuation of poor people.

The White House sought to deflect criticism ahead of President Bush's third trip to the stricken Gulf Coast, saying blame could be assessed later.

"It's not the time for blame. It's the time for helping the people on the ground that have been severely impacted by Hurricane Katrina," White House spokesman Ken Lisaius said. "We'll continue to provide aid and assistance to those who have been severely impacted."

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said officials at all levels eventually would share blame for an inadequate response, but she cited only the administration for the finger-pointing that followed the killer storm.

"While the president is saying that he wants to work together as a team, I think the White House operatives have a full court press on to blame state and local officials whether they're Republicans or Democrats. It's very unfortunate," she told CBS'"Face the Nation."

She said Washington was obligated to support local and state officials, "particularly in times of tragedy and stress, not to pile on them, not to make their suffering worse."

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said on 'Fox News Sunday" he would give "the entire big government organized relief effort a failing grade, across the board." But, he added that state and local governments shared in the blame, too.

Landrieu's office said the senator based her accusation in part on comments by the Homeland Security chief, Michael Chertoff, and by administration allies on Capitol Hill, who cited the responsibility of state and local officials in planning for and responding to disasters. She also cited several news stories about a White House campaign to deflect criticism.

Obama was asked on ABC's "This Week" whether there was racism in the lack of evacuation planning for poor, black residents of New Orleans. He said he would not refer to the government response in that way, but said there was a much deeper, long-term neglect.

"Whoever was in charge of planning was so detached from the realities of inner city life in New Orleans ... that they couldn't conceive of the notion that they couldn't load up their SUV's, put $100 worth of gas in there, put some sparkling water and drive off to a hotel and check in with a credit card," Obama said.

"There seemed to be a sense that this other America was somehow not on people's radar screen. And that, I think, does have to do with historic indifference on the part of government to the plight of those who are disproportionately African-American." He added that "passive indifference is as bad as active malice."

The House Democratic leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., proposed an independent commission to watch for contractor scams in hurricane repairs.

"Already we have seen despicable stories of those trying to profit off desperate Gulf Coast residents," she said. Her plan would investigate waste and fraud as soon as contracts are awarded.

the Left-wing train wreck continues.

Mary Landrieu: School Bus Failure Bush's Fault

It was the Bush administration's fault that hundreds of city school buses weren't dispatched to evacuate the hurricane-battered residents of New Orleans two weeks ago before floods swamped the city, Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu said Sunday.

Asked on "Fox News Sunday" why New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin failed to follow the city's evacuation plan and press the buses into service, Landrieu blamed Bush administration cuts in mass transit funding.

"Mayor Nagin and most mayors in this country have a hard time getting their people to work on a sunny day, let alone getting them out of the city in front of a hurricane," she said. "And it's because this administration and administrations before them do not understand the difficulties that mayors . . . face."

Landrieu then added: "In other words, this administration did not believe in mass transit. They won't even get people to work on a sunny day, let alone getting them out."

Saying she was unwilling to criticize Louisiana officials, the Louisiana Democrat insisted that Mayor Nagin's evacuation efforts had been a smashing success.

"Because the mayor evacuated the city, we had the best evacuation . . . of any evacuation I've seen. I'm 50 years old; I've never seen one any better," Landrieu told FNS.

That prompted FNS host Chris Wallace to remind: "But there were a hundred thousand people left in the city."

Landrieu once again blamed the White House, saying:

"They did [have] a hundred thousand people left in the city because this federal government won't support cities to evacuate people, whether it's from earthquakes, tornadoes, or hurricanes. And that's the truth."

Pentagon Revises Nuclear Strike Plan

Strategy Includes Preemptive Use Against Banned Weapons

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 11, 2005; A01

The Pentagon has drafted a revised doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons that envisions commanders requesting presidential approval to use them to preempt an attack by a nation or a terrorist group using weapons of mass destruction. The draft also includes the option of using nuclear arms to destroy known enemy stockpiles of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.

The document, written by the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs staff but not yet finally approved by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, would update rules and procedures governing use of nuclear weapons to reflect a preemption strategy first announced by the Bush White House in December 2002. The strategy was outlined in more detail at the time in classified national security directives.

At a White House briefing that year, a spokesman said the United States would "respond with overwhelming force" to the use of weapons of mass destruction against the United States, its forces or allies, and said "all options" would be available to the president.

The draft, dated March 15, would provide authoritative guidance for commanders to request presidential approval for using nuclear weapons, and represents the Pentagon's first attempt to revise procedures to reflect the Bush preemption doctrine. A previous version, completed in 1995 during the Clinton administration, contains no mention of using nuclear weapons preemptively or specifically against threats from weapons of mass destruction.

Titled "Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations" and written under the direction of Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the draft document is unclassified and available on a Pentagon Web site. It is expected to be signed within a few weeks by Air Force Lt. Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, director of the Joint Staff, according to Navy Cmdr. Dawn Cutler, a public affairs officer in Myers's office. Meanwhile, the draft is going through final coordination with the military services, the combatant commanders, Pentagon legal authorities and Rumsfeld's office, Cutler said in a written statement.

A "summary of changes" included in the draft identifies differences from the 1995 doctrine, and says the new document "revises the discussion of nuclear weapons use across the range of military operations."

The first example for potential nuclear weapon use listed in the draft is against an enemy that is using "or intending to use WMD" against U.S. or allied, multinational military forces or civilian populations.

Another scenario for a possible nuclear preemptive strike is in case of an "imminent attack from adversary biological weapons that only effects from nuclear weapons can safely destroy."

That and other provisions in the document appear to refer to nuclear initiatives proposed by the administration that Congress has thus far declined to fully support.

Last year, for example, Congress refused to fund research toward development of nuclear weapons that could destroy biological or chemical weapons materials without dispersing them into the atmosphere.

The draft document also envisions the use of atomic weapons for "attacks on adversary installations including WMD, deep, hardened bunkers containing chemical or biological weapons."

But Congress last year halted funding of a study to determine the viability of the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator warhead (RNEP) -- commonly called the bunker buster -- that the Pentagon has said is needed to attack hardened, deeply buried weapons sites.

The Joint Staff draft doctrine explains that despite the end of the Cold War, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction "raises the danger of nuclear weapons use." It says that there are "about thirty nations with WMD programs" along with "nonstate actors [terrorists] either independently or as sponsored by an adversarial state."

To meet that situation, the document says that "responsible security planning requires preparation for threats that are possible, though perhaps unlikely today."

To deter the use of weapons of mass destruction against the United States, the Pentagon paper says preparations must be made to use nuclear weapons and show determination to use them "if necessary to prevent or retaliate against WMD use."

The draft says that to deter a potential adversary from using such weapons, that adversary's leadership must "believe the United States has both the ability and will to pre-empt or retaliate promptly with responses that are credible and effective." The draft also notes that U.S. policy in the past has "repeatedly rejected calls for adoption of 'no first use' policy of nuclear weapons since this policy could undermine deterrence."

Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee who has been a leading opponent of the bunker-buster program, said yesterday the draft was "apparently a follow-through on their nuclear posture review and they seem to bypass the idea that Congress had doubts about the program." She added that members "certainly don't want the administration to move forward with a [nuclear] preemption policy" without hearings, closed door if necessary.

A spokesman for Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said yesterday the panel has not yet received a copy of the draft.

Hans M. Kristensen, a consultant to the Natural Resources Defense Council, who discovered the document on the Pentagon Web site, said yesterday that it "emphasizes the need for a robust nuclear arsenal ready to strike on short notice including new missions."

Kristensen, who has specialized for more than a decade in nuclear weapons research, said a final version of the doctrine was due in August but has not yet appeared.

"This doctrine does not deliver on the Bush administration pledge of a reduced role for nuclear weapons," Kristensen said. "It provides justification for contentious concepts not proven and implies the need for RNEP."

One reason for the delay may be concern about raising publicly the possibility of preemptive use of nuclear weapons, or concern that it might interfere with attempts to persuade Congress to finance the bunker buster and other specialized nuclear weapons.

In April, Rumsfeld appeared before the Senate Armed Services panel and asked for the bunker buster study to be funded. He said the money was for research and not to begin production on any particular warhead. "The only thing we have is very large, very dirty, big nuclear weapons," Rumsfeld said. "It seems to me studying it [the RNEP] makes all the sense in the world."

September 11, 2005

Ditch Holocaust day, advisers urge Blair

Abul Taher

ADVISERS appointed by Tony Blair after the London bombings are proposing to scrap the Jewish Holocaust Memorial Day because it is regarded as offensive to Muslims.

They want to replace it with a Genocide Day that would recognise the mass murder of Muslims in Palestine, Chechnya and Bosnia as well as people of other faiths.

The draft proposals have been prepared by committees appointed by Blair to tackle extremism. He has promised to respond to the plans, but the threat to the Holocaust Day has provoked a fierce backlash from the Jewish community.

Holocaust Day was established by Blair in 2001 after a sustained campaign by Jewish leaders to create a lasting memorial to the 6m victims of Hitler. It is marked each year on January 27.

The Queen is patron of the charity that organises the event and the Home Office pays £500,000 a year to fund it. The committees argue that the special status of Holocaust Memorial Day fuels extremists’ sense of alienation because it “excludes

Nagin did not tell everyone to leave immediately, because the regional plan called for the suburbs to empty out first, but he did urge residents in particularly low-lying areas to “start moving — right now, as a matter of fact.

John Kerry & His Katrina Aid Arrives Late

Billionaire Democratic Sen. John Kerry has finally sent his own aid package to hurricane-ravaged New Orleans more than two weeks after the storm hit - and a week after most of the city had been successfully evacuated by the Bush administration.

Kerry traveled to New Orleans on Monday aboard a UPS Boeing 757 loaded with 5,000 bottles of baby formula, 5,000 pairs of sneakers and an array of cleaning supplies, the Associated Press said.

"Everything that any of us can do is so welcome, and it provides just a little bit of help at an extraordinary time," the Massachusetts Democrat told the AP.

But rather than pay for the aid using his wife's ketchup fortune - which the Los Angeles Times estimated last year at over a billion dollars - Kerry's aid package was donated by Boston's Children's Hospital, the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans and the New Balance sneaker company.

UPS donated the plane, the flight crew and fuel, trucks and drivers to transport the goods to Logan International Airport and then to disperse them to Baton Rogue and Lafayette, La.

It's not clear what, if anything, Sen. Kerry paid for.

Jack Kelly: No shame
The federal response to Katrina was not as portrayed

Sunday, September 11, 2005

It is settled wisdom among journalists that the federal response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina was unconscionably slow.

"Mr. Bush's performance last week will rank as one of the worst ever during a dire national emergency," wrote New York Times columnist Bob Herbert in a somewhat more strident expression of the conventional wisdom.

But the conventional wisdom is the opposite of the truth.

Jason van Steenwyk is a Florida Army National Guardsman who has been mobilized six times for hurricane relief. He notes that:

"The federal government pretty much met its standard time lines, but the volume of support provided during the 72-96 hour was unprecedented. The federal response here was faster than Hugo, faster than Andrew, faster than Iniki, faster than Francine and Jeanne."

For instance, it took five days for National Guard troops to arrive in strength on the scene in Homestead, Fla. after Hurricane Andrew hit in 2002. But after Katrina, there was a significant National Guard presence in the afflicted region in three.

Journalists who are long on opinions and short on knowledge have no idea what is involved in moving hundreds of tons of relief supplies into an area the size of England in which power lines are down, telecommunications are out, no gasoline is available, bridges are damaged, roads and airports are covered with debris, and apparently have little interest in finding out.

So they libel as a "national disgrace" the most monumental and successful disaster relief operation in world history.

I write this column a week and a day after the main levee protecting New Orleans breached. In the course of that week:

More than 32,000 people have been rescued, many plucked from rooftops by Coast Guard helicopters.

The Army Corps of Engineers has all but repaired the breaches and begun pumping water out of New Orleans.

Shelter, food and medical care have been provided to more than 180,000 refugees.

Journalists complain that it took a whole week to do this. A former Air Force logistics officer had some words of advice for us in the Fourth Estate on his blog, Moltenthought:

"We do not yet have teleporter or replicator technology like you saw on 'Star Trek' in college between hookah hits and waiting to pick up your worthless communications degree while the grown-ups actually engaged in the recovery effort were studying engineering.

"The United States military can wipe out the Taliban and the Iraqi Republican Guard far more swiftly than they can bring 3 million Swanson dinners to an underwater city through an area the size of Great Britain which has no power, no working ports or airports, and a devastated and impassable road network.

"You cannot speed recovery and relief efforts up by prepositioning assets (in the affected areas) since the assets are endangered by the very storm which destroyed the region.

"No amount of yelling, crying and mustering of moral indignation will change any of the facts above."

"You cannot just snap your fingers and make the military appear somewhere," van Steenwyk said.

Guardsmen need to receive mobilization orders; report to their armories; draw equipment; receive orders and convoy to the disaster area. Guardsmen driving down from Pennsylvania or Navy ships sailing from Norfolk can't be on the scene immediately.

Relief efforts must be planned. Other than prepositioning supplies near the area likely to be afflicted (which was done quite efficiently), this cannot be done until the hurricane has struck and a damage assessment can be made. There must be a route reconnaissance to determine if roads are open, and bridges along the way can bear the weight of heavily laden trucks.

And federal troops and Guardsmen from other states cannot be sent to a disaster area until their presence has been requested by the governors of the afflicted states.

Exhibit A on the bill of indictment of federal sluggishness is that it took four days before most people were evacuated from the Louisiana Superdome.

The levee broke Tuesday morning. Buses had to be rounded up and driven from Houston to New Orleans across debris-strewn roads. The first ones arrived Wednesday evening. That seems pretty fast to me.

A better question -- which few journalists ask -- is why weren't the roughly 2,000 municipal and school buses in New Orleans utilized to take people out of the city before Katrina struck?

Jack Kelly is national security writer for the Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio (, 412-263-1476).

Hospital Staff Tried to Comfort Dying Patients

By Solomon Moore, Times Staff Writer

NEW ORLEANS -- Describing a desperate and harrowing struggle to comfort dying patients as floodwaters rose and the city descended into chaos, hospital staffers from Memorial Medical Center said today that 45 people died there during a six-day vigil.

Dave Goodson, director of support services at the hospital, said rescuers came and left — sometimes they helped take someone from the hospital and other times they brought new evacuees plucked from rooftops.

Elderly patients had the hardest time, Goodson said. Heat and sickness conspired to kill about 16 patients from a nearby convalescent hospital.

"I can tell you it was 106 degrees in that hospital" in the days after the storm, he said. Goodson described the heroic efforts of doctors and nurses who comforted ailing patients — even fanning some to cool them.

Goodson said that their hopes rose when they heard helicopters coming toward them, but the patients weren't airlifted — instead, supplies and evacuees who had escaped their homes in nearby neighborhoods were dropped off.

Joanne Lalla, an oncology nurse, said at least one patient was brought to the hospital with a stab wound.

Goodson said that at one point, National Guardsmen came to the hospital and evacuated some patients and promised to come back for more — but then the floodwaters rose. They didn't return until Friday, Goodson said.

Lalla said that she "couldn't understand why nobody was coming to help us."

Lalla said that many hospital staff members brought relatives to the hulking brick hospital, thinking that it would be safer to be there than in their homes. Goodson estimated that 500 hospital staff members were there along with 2,000 patients.

"A lot of hospital employees brought their children, who were like 2 and 4 and 6 years old," she said. "By Tuesday night, they were leery and worried. I knew we definitely were going to have to get out of that hospital. We were all hot and sweaty because the next thing to go was the generator.

"On Wednesday, I went to the bathroom and realized that we had no water, so we had to make sure that no patient flushed the toilet," she said. "The patients were very hot, so we kept all the doors open."

Goodson and Lalla said that despite their difficult situation, the hospital staff continued to serve the sick as well as they could. For a time they carted patients to the roof of the building to wait for helicopters, but when they realized that they weren't going to be airlifted, they went back downstairs, Lalla said.

"We had the National Guard with us for a little bit, but then they said they had to go because of rioting," she said.

Lalla said she was concerned that patients who needed ventilators and other vital electronic aids to stay alive probably didn't make it through the week. She suspected that many patients in the critical care unit died.

"We were just in survival mode," she said. "We couldn't give out medication because we couldn't regulate their medications.

"We were like MASH units," she said. "All the patients were on little cots and mattresses on the garage floor."

Lalla recalled how a dietary specialist ripped his shirt into rags, dipped them in water and stroked the head of one patient as he lay dying. Lalla said that she knew of three cancer patients who died during their wait at the hospital, including one under her direct care.

The hospital staff filled the morgue, Lalla said, and when the morgue was full, they put bodies in the hospital chapel.

Goodson and Lalla said that people in the hospital tried to evacuate as many people as possible, starting with those who could walk on their own, then those in wheelchairs, and finally, bed-ridden patients. They said that without elevators, the sickest patients were the most difficult to move.

On Tuesday, some citizens on boats came and promised that they would bring many more the next day. But when they returned Wednesday, there were only four boats. They made ferry trips with as many people as they could carry, all day long and into Thursday, Goodson said.

Among the patients who were able to evacuate on the boats were two young bone marrow patients.

"I saw them get into these two-seat boats and saw all these women with newborn babies who were also getting on and I just burst into tears," she said.

By that time, said Lalla, the hospital staff was exhausted and she felt herself beginning to fray.

When she looked out of the hospital windows she could see that the building had become an island in a sea of broken houses and swamped cars.

"On Wednesday morning about 4 a.m. I heard someone trying to kick himself out of his house," she said. "He was screaming for help. Then I heard a plop in the water. I didn't hear anything else.",0,1...

.... "Likewise, a senator may not be the best judge of the need for a vast federal construction project in her state. Landrieu's I-told-you-so's would be more impressive if the press release archive on her website didn't contain equally urgent calls to spend billions of dollars to build boats the Navy hasn't asked for in Louisiana shipyards, self-congratulations for having planted a billion dollars of "coastal impact assistance" for Louisiana in the energy bill (this is before the flood), and so on. Did she want flood control or did she want $10 million to have " America's largest river swamp" declared a "National Heritage Area"?

Obviously — obviously in hindsight, that is — we should have spent the money to strengthen the New Orleans levees. President Clinton should have done it. Presidents Bush the Elder and Reagan should have done it. As Tim Noah notes in Slate, warnings about the perilous New Orleans levees go back at least to Fanny Trollope in 1832. In fact, the one president who is pretty much in the clear on this is our current Bush — not because he did anything about the levees but because even if he had started something, it probably wouldn't have been finished yet."

read complete article

By Ben Stein
Published 9/12/2005 12:11:44 AM

Fact: Katrina was a devastating storm. It left terrible damage to innocent people's lives and to property throughout the Gulf South.

Fact: There have been other storms as damaging and some far more damaging. What, then, is different about this storm? Here are a few tentative thoughts.

First, the incompetence of the local and state authorities in Louisiana and especially New Orleans was breathtaking. To issue a mandatory evacuation order without providing means of transport is almost criminally irresponsible. To take citizens to shelters where they would be beaten, robbed, and raped, and to provide no police protection for them was astoundingly incompetent. To allow armed gangs to shoot at rescuers was almost beyond belief.

Second, the response of the federal government is described as slow, and it was slow at first. But can anyone name a natural disaster in which more federal troops, supplies, and money have been dispatched as quickly as they have been done in this disaster? Bush's response has not been unusually bad, but amazingly powerful and swift. In other hurricanes, survivors have been left for weeks on their own. In Katrina's case, the whole affected area has been covered with money and aid and troops to restore order on a scale and with speed never seen before.

Third, the networks and newspapers have been quick to cry racism because so many of the victims were black. This is total nonsense. New Orleans is a mostly black city. Obviously, most of the victims of the storm would be black. No one has been able to point to a single instance in which black victims were mistreated because of their race by whites. In fact, just the opposite has happened. The whole story is of rescues and salvation by people of all races aimed at people of all races. In a gesture never seen before, the whole heart of the nation has taken in poor, bereft black families and sheltered them absolutely without regard to race. This is a mirror of the basic goodness of Americans and the disappearance of racism as an acceptable action basis of American life. It is also a measure of the total absence of racism in the heart of George W. Bush. The media may play this as a story of race versus race, but that is pure incendiary fantasy, and dangerous nonsense.

What is the real story of Katrina is (I suggest) not so much that nature wrought fury on land, water, people, property, and animals, not at all anything about racism, not much about federal government incompetence. The real story is that the mainstream media rioted.

They used the storm and its attendant sorrows to continue their endless attack on George W. Bush. Wildly inflated stories about the number of dead and missing, totally made up old wives' tales of racism, breathless accounts of Bush's neglect that are utterly devoid of truth and of historical context -- this is what the mainstream media gave us. The use of floating corpses, of horror stories of plagues, the sad faces of refugees, the long-faced phony accusations of intentional neglect and racism -- anything is grist for the media's endless attempts to undermine the electorate's choice last November. It is sad, but true that the media will use even the most heart breaking truths -- and then add total inventions -- to try to weaken and then evict from office a man who has done nothing wrong, but has instead turned himself inside out to help the real victims.

In the meantime, George Bush does not lash out, does not attack those who falsely accuse him of the most horrible acts and neglect. Instead, he doggedly goes on helping the least among us. I don't know how he does it, but we are very lucky he does. As for truth, it eventually may be salvaged from the flooded neighborhoods of The Crescent City, but not as long as there is a lie to use to hurt an honest man trying to do the best he can, and hundreds of thousands of brave, tireless men and women who do more than point fingers and tell tales. The Katrina story is a disgrace to the people who are "reporting" it while pouring gasoline on a fire. They and their crusade against George Bush are the real stories, and they are dismal ones.

Gore: Bush to Blame for Katrina

Former Vice President Al Gore urged Americans on Friday to hold the Bush administration accountable for failing to adequately prepare for and respond to Hurricane Katrina.

"When the corpses of American citizens are floating in toxic flood waters five days after a hurricane struck, it is time not only to respond directly to the victims of the catastrophe, but to hold ... the leaders of our nation accountable," Gore told environmentalists at the Sierra Club's national convention.

Gore had been scheduled to give a speech to state insurance commissioners in New Orleans this weekend about the likelihood that global warming will spawn increasingly deadly hurricanes. He decided to take his speech to San Francisco after that conference was canceled.

"The warnings about global warming have been extremely clear for a long time. We are facing a global climate crisis, it is deepening. We are entering a period of consequences," Gore said.

Bush administration officials have said Katrina's damage could not have been anticipated, but Gore rejected that.

"What happened was not only knowable, it was known in advance, in great and painstaking detail. They did tabletop planning exercises. They identified exactly what the scientific evidence showed would take place," Gore said.

In his Sierra Club speech, the former senator from Tennessee didn't mention an act of mercy that he was personally involved in -- his help airlifting some 270 Katrina evacuees on two private charters from New Orleans to Tennessee on Sept. 3 and 4. He did that at the urging of a doctor who saved the life of his son years earlier.

Dr. Anderson Spickard, who is Gore's personal physician and accompanied him on the flights, told The Associated Press that "Gore told me he wanted to do this because like all of us he wanted to seize the opportunity to do what one guy can do, given the assets that he has."

An account of the flights was posted this week on a Democratic Party Web page. It was written by Greg Simon, president of the Washington-based activist group FasterCures. Simon, who helped put together the mission, also declined an interview.

On Sept. 1, three days after Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, Simon learned that Dr. David Kline, a neurosurgeon who operated on Gore's son, Albert, after a life-threatening auto accident in 1989, was trying to get in touch with Gore. Kline was stranded with patients at Charity Hospital in New Orleans.

"The situation was dire and becoming worse by the minute -- food and water running out, no power, 4 feet of water surrounding the hospital and ... corpses outside," Simon wrote.

Gore responded immediately, telephoning Kline and agreeing to underwrite the $50,000 each for the two flights, although Larry Flax, founder of California Pizza Kitchens, later pledged to pay for one of them.

"None of the airlines involved required a contract or any written guarantee of payment before sending their planes and volunteer crews," Simon wrote of the American Airlines flights. "One official said if Gore promised to pay, that was good enough for them."

He also recruited two doctors, Spickard and Gore's cousin, retired Col. Dar LaFon, a specialist in internal medicine who once ran the military hospital in Baghdad.

Most critically, Gore worked to cut through government red tape, personally calling Gov. Phil Bredesen to get Tennessee's support and U.S. Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta to secure landing rights in New Orleans.

About 140 people, many of them sick, landed in Knoxville on Sept. 3. The second flight, with 130 evacuees, landed the next day in Chattanooga.

Phil Brennan,
Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2005

A steel barge that came crashing into one of the levee walls, and not the failure of that levee to hold back an immense tidal wave, was to blame for much of the flooding that drowned parts of New Orleans.

Lying an average of seven feet below sea level, surrounded by the waters of Lake Ponchartrain, the Mississippi River and Lake Borgne, which separates Lake Pontchartrain from the Gulf of Mexico, and protected by a series of sinking levees, the city of New Orleans was a disaster waiting to happen.

It happened on August 29, 2005, just as the city was breathing a collective sigh of relief that hurricane Katrina had not been as bad as it had been predicted to be.

It turned out to be far worse, not because of the destructive winds of a Category Four hurricane, but because three massive walls of water spurred by those winds inundated many parts of the city after the winds moved away.

As politicians play the blame game, many facts about the roots of the disaster have either been overlooked or deliberately ignored because they are inconvenient to those seeking to put the onus for the tragedy upon their political targets. One of them was the story behind the flood that turned a major disaster into a catastrophe of immense magnitude.

In a fact-filled retrospective that told the full story, the Wall Street Journal explained in great detail just what happened when much of the Big Easy became an adjunct of Lake Ponchartrain.

The Journal told the truth, but the truth hurts when you are seeking to put your spin on the assignment of blame. So the remainder of the media simply ignored a story the American people are entitled to know.

Facts Ignored and Not Investigated

Among the facts exposed of the Journal which the mainstream media has studiously ignored:

# In two cases, storm driven water far higher than the levees were designed to hold back (up to 15 feet of tidal surge) overwhelmed them and went pouring down on parts of the city. According to the Journal, the waves inundated the mostly working-class eastern districts, home to 160,000 people. In some places, the water rose as fast as a foot per minute, survivors told the Journal. These levees did not break.

According to engineers, scientists, local officials and the accounts of nearly 90 survivors of Katrina interviewed by the Journal, the first of the three waves swept from the north out of Lake Pontchartrain.

The wave of undetermined height poured over 15-foot high levees along the Industrial Canal, which were several feet lower than others in the central areas of the city. Wrote the Journal: "About the same time, a similar wave exploded without warning across Lake Borgne, which separates Lake Pontchartrain from the Gulf of Mexico. It filled the lake, engulfed its surrounding marshes, raced over levees and poured into eastern New Orleans."

# Another huge wave came across Lake Pontchartrain in the north. It sent a steel barge ramming through the Industrial Canal, a major shipping artery that cuts north to south through the city, possibly creating a breach that grew to 500 feet, letting water pour into nearby neighborhoods of the city's Ninth Ward.

The barge's remains were found lying on the bottom of the gap. An early eyewitness reported seeing the barge smash through the levee. His report was never followed up by the media.

Shea Penland, director of the Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of New Orleans, said that break was particularly surprising because one of the levee breaks was "along a section that was just upgraded."

"It did not have an earthen levee," Dr. Penland told the New York Times. "It had a vertical concrete wall several feel thick."

# Vital repairs for which a whopping $600 million had been appropriated by the federal government were stopped after residents of the Ninth Ward complained about the noise created by the repair project and sued to halt it.

The Industrial Canal, now operated and maintained mostly by the federal government, which the Journal described as "the area's defining presence since it was built in the 1920s," has been damaged by the passage of time and heavy use.

Barges and ships were routinely delayed because of growing traffic levels and the lock was "literally falling apart at the hinges" in 1998, according to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report, which called it an "antique" and recommended replacing it.

The lock replacement project didn't get very far because Ninth Ward residents complained about noise and launched a legal fight that bogged down the work.

Levees Not Tall Enough

The levees along the Industrial Canal's eastern side are supposed to stand at a height of 15 feet, according to the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Joseph Suhayda, a retired Louisiana State University coastal oceanographer, who told the Journal he suspects the levees aren't actually that tall, partly due to sinking of the land beneath them. Mr. Suhayda now consults for a maker of flood-protection barriers. If he's right, that would mean the levees weren't high enough to handle even a Category 2 or 3 hurricane. Katrina was nearly a Category 5.

The Corps of Engineers concedes some of its levees in the area "have settled and need to be raised to provide" the level of protection for which they were designed, according to a fact sheet on the Corps's Web site dated May 23, 2005. But federal budget shortfalls in fiscal 2005 and 2006 "will prevent the Corps from addressing these pressing needs." Even had sufficient funds been available the work could not have been completed in time to prevent the Katrina floods.

Designed for the Mississippi, Not the Gulf

In an earlier September 2 story the Journal noted that in Louisiana, coastal wetlands provide some shelter from surging seawater, but more than one million acres of coastal wetlands have been lost since 1930 due to development and construction of levees and canals. For every square mile of wetland lost, storm surges rise by one foot.

"Moreover, the levees in New Orleans were built to keep the city from being flooded by the Mississippi, but instead caused it to fall below sea level. Now the Gulf of Mexico has moved into the city," says the Journal.

As the hurricane rolled into New Orleans, scores of boats broke free or sank. In the Industrial Canal, the gush of water broke a barge from its moorings. It isn't known whose barge it was. The huge steel hull became a water-borne missile. It hurtled into the canal's eastern flood wall just north of the major street passing through the Lower Ninth Ward, leading officials to theorize that the errant barge triggered the 500-foot breach. Water poured into the neighborhood.

When the storm was over, the barge was resting inside the hole. "Based on what I know and what I saw, the Lower Ninth Ward, Chalmette, St. Bernard, their flooding was instantaneous," said Col. Rich Wagenaar of the Army Corps.

It didn't help that the Mississippi River, which runs along the southern border of these neighborhoods, rose 11 feet between Sunday and Monday mornings. Coastal experts say that could have worsened flooding by limiting the water's escape route.

As the water roaring out of the Industrial Canal turned the streets of eastern New Orleans into rivers, the same areas were hit from the other side by the storm surge coming off Lake Borgne. Engineers say the estimated 20-foot surge also appeared to overflow levees just north of St. Bernard Parish. Shrimp boats were dumped in a marshy section between Lake Borgne and the city.

Responsibilities Unfulfilled

The city of New Orleans issued a "Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan" for hurricanes well before Katrina arrived. The city accepted the responsibility for issuing a warning, ordering and managing evacuation, arranging for buses for those without any other transportation, setting up and maintaining shelters, and other critical duties.

As one editorialist wrote, "Given the corruption in municipal agencies - one not necessarily cynical Louisiana politician (Billy Tauzin) said some time ago that "Half of Louisiana is under water and the other half is under indictment" - it was inevitable that a picture of responsibilities unfulfilled would emerge after a storm like Katrina."

Among the city's self-proclaimed responsibilities was the job of the mayor to order an evacuation 48 hours before the hurricane came ashore, not 24, hours, as Mayor Nagin did; the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority was meant to "position supervisors and dispatch evacuation buses" to evacuate at least some of the "100,000 citizens of New Orleans [who] do not have means of personal transportation," but it did not, and the flood claimed the buses.

Moreover, the city was responsible for establishing shelters co-ordinated with "food and supply distribution sites" which the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and others were to provision, but the city did not.

Both agencies provided the supplies but as Fox cable News correspondent Major Garret revealed, they were barred by local authorities from delivering them to those stranded in the city at places such as the Superdome who most needed them in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

As the Journal reported on September 2, city officials appear to have been well aware of their responsibilities. As late Aug. 1, officials close to the planning confirmed to the New Orleans Times-Picayune that the transit authority had developed plans to use its own buses, school buses, and even trains to move refugees from the city when disaster struck.

Failed Execution of the Plan

Part of its "Future Plans" section, for example, concerns the levees. It also includes discussion of "the preparation of a post-disaster plan that will identify programs and actions that will reduce of eliminate the exposure of human life and property to natural hazards."

In 9,000 words, there are only four references to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Nowhere, not even in a section on catastrophic events, do the words "Department of Homeland Security" appear.

The city declared that its hurricane preparedness procedures were "designed to deal with the anticipation of a direct hit from a major hurricane." Such a hurricane hit, and New Orleans was not prepared. The first questions that legislators in Washington and in Baton Rouge should be asking are simple: Why didn't the buses run? Why were people left to starve? Where did all those dollars go?

What the Journal reported showed the immense magnitude of the disaster and explained what created a catastrophe beyond anything most people in New Orleans anticipated. The real cause of the tragedy lay in the history of the city's below sea level location – a fact that can be traced back to the city's founding.

The attempts to prevent the Mississippi from rising over its banks and flooding the area has been a recurring problem, as have the miscalculations surrounding the ability of the dikes to deal with storms even less severe than Hurricane Katrina.

Save Yourself

New Orleans had a plan to warn the poor, but it sat on a shelf in L.A.

By Nicholas Riccardi and James Rainey, Times Staff Writers

NEW ORLEANS — After years of warnings, community leaders this summer prepared a video guide to hurricane evacuations with a stark message: Many of this city's poor, including 134,000 without cars, could be left behind in a killer storm.

But the 30-minute DVD still has not arrived. Some 70,000 of the newly minted videos that were to be released this month remain on warehouse shelves in Los Angeles.

Their warning: Save yourself, and help your neighbors if you can.

"Don't wait for the city, don't wait for the state, don't wait for the Red Cross," the Rev. Marshall Truehill warns in the public service announcement.

The program, titled "Preparing for the Big One," was one of several related but incomplete plans aimed in particular at the one-quarter of the city's population that did not own cars or have ready transportation out of town in the event of evacuation orders.

Churches had agreed to provide rides to those without cars as part of "Operation Brother's Keeper," but a pilot program had been started in only four large congregations.

The Regional Transit Authority, the city's bus system, had a plan to transport people from a dozen pre-designated evacuation points, but some residents reported waiting interminably for buses that didn't show up as the storm bore down Aug. 28.

From the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the state government and City Hall, officials knew that the poorest residents in the city would be in danger if New Orleans took a direct or near-hit from a major hurricane. Not only did so many lack the means to flee in an evacuation, but they also tended to live in geographically vulnerable, low-lying parts of town.

"It almost makes me want to cry," Truehill, 57, said of the unfinished evacuation plans during an interview in his temporary Baton Rouge, La., office Monday. "We knew we were going to lose thousands of lives."

Ann Duplessis, the Democratic state senator who represents the Lower 9th Ward, where many of the city's poor lived, said officials had been working on a solution.

"Within nine months a lot happened," Duplessis said. "A strategy was developed. The tapes were done. Commercials were prepared…. [The hurricane] just came too fast."

National Guard Lt. Col. William J. Doran III, who heads Louisiana's emergency response system, said that the state's disaster plan had been 90% complete when Katrina struck. Only the transportation element "hadn't been fleshed out," Doran said.

Those trying to clear the city in advance of the deadly storm faced obstacles besides the dearth of vehicles in the poor sections of the city.

Most significant, residents of the Crescent City had been numbed by years of warnings about hurricanes that either petered out or turned before they reached New Orleans.

"People don't understand this who don't live down here, but when a voluntary evacuation comes, people choose not to go. They have been through hundreds of these," said a state health official who asked not to be named because she was not authorized to speak to the news media. "Then when it's a mandatory evacuation, sometimes it's too late."

The hurricane threat confronting New Orleans' poor had been an open secret for years. In September 2002, FEMA called a meeting with city and church leaders to discuss how to assure that no one was left behind, Truehill recalled.

But even as officials tried to work with community groups and churches to find a solution, problems arose. Among them was a concern that residents and parishioners who gave their neighbors lifts out of the city could face legal liability if something went wrong.

Democratic state Sen. Francis C. Heitmeier last year introduced legislation to release drivers in a hurricane emergency from liability, and the measure passed easily in the Senate. But it encountered unexpected opposition in the Louisiana House of Representatives. Some members wondered, for instance, whether a drunken driver could escape responsibility for an accident if he or she was transporting an evacuee.

Heitmeier recalled arguing, "Why would y'all want to vote against poor people getting out from a storm?" But to no avail. The bill died.

The lack of liability protection slowed progress, and only the four churches were involved in the pilot program.

That left the DVD as a stopgap. The city contracted to have the program produced by Total Community Action. Truehill, pastor of the city's First Baptist Church, heads the community group's faith-based network.

Had the DVDs been ready in time, they would have been delivered through churches in the city. Truehill said he believed that, even in poor parts of town, residents had the equipment to play the discs.

The messages from Duplessis, Mayor C. Ray Nagin and other officials were also supposed to be broadcast on television as public service announcements.

But it was only at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 28, about 18 hours before Katrina made landfall, that most residents would even have heard anything about "Preparing for the Big One."

That's when Truehill appeared on the local ABC-TV affiliate in a taped segment to tell viewers that the helpful DVD was coming soon.

A copy of the DVD, reviewed by The Times, shows Truehill in a series of on-camera chats with co-host Allan Katz, a local public relations executive, and other civic and state leaders. The minister says, "It's your personal responsibility" to escape before a hurricane.

Also on the DVD, Nagin says that public schools are no longer considered safe as city shelters.

"Everybody needs to have their own plans," Nagin says. "Check with your neighbors, check with your relatives."

The program also features advice on how to clear storm drains, pack an evacuation kit and ensure adequate medical supplies. A representative from the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals gives advice on how to keep a pet safe.

Duplessis displays her own evacuation toolbox, a plastic case stuffed with necessities such as flashlights, jumper cables and a battery-powered television.

But for people without transportation, the DVD offers little beyond advising them to find a ride with someone.

Other plans to aid evacuation remained unfinished as well.

Truehill's organization had secured promises from Amtrak to ferry carless residents to safety, for example. There were reports that at least one Amtrak train got out of the city with evacuees.

Some 275 public buses had been lined up to carry the most vulnerable from the city, but drivers were in short supply. Recruitment of bus drivers was barely underway when the storm shut it down.

A plan to warehouse life vests and rubber rafts also remained on the drawing board. Truehill said he had intended to submit an acquisition plan to the city. But even then, city leaders had been counting on federal funding to put much of the plan into place.

At least one goal had been met: the distribution of 700,000 pamphlets specifying what items to bring during an evacuation. Red Cross officials say the pamphlets' advice apparently was heeded by many who fled the storm.

Even if the entire plan had been operational, it contemplated 72 hours' notice to get everyone out. Only half that time was left when mandatory evacuation orders were issued by Nagin and Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco.

Truehill himself had no time to try salvaging elements of his plan. Like most residents, he had learned that Katrina had turned toward the city the morning of Saturday, Aug. 27. He spent the day scrambling to board up his home and his church, then rushed his family out of town hours before his pre-recorded image appeared on New Orleans television.

The last reasonable chance to escape Katrina passed Sunday afternoon. The storm made landfall on the coast at 6:10 the next morning.

The potential danger had become clear at least three years earlier at FEMA's meeting with local religious and political leaders. It was held in the conference room of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

Truehill recalled that FEMA officials showed the gathering a computer simulation, called a slosh model, predicting floodwaters rising to the horse's hoofs of Gen. Stonewall Jackson's statue in the French Quarter.

Detailed surveys and census data had revealed a relatively low percentage of car ownership in much of the city. In the Lower 9th Ward, 36% live below the poverty level; nearly one-third of residents had no car.

Concluded Rev. Truehill: "We knew neither the city nor anyone else had the means to move those people."

By Brit Hume

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin greeted President Bush when he arrived in Louisiana last night, and was at his side as he fielded questions on the Katrina relief efforts this morning. That quality time with the president, however, marks the mayor's first visit to the disaster area since Wednesday when Nagin pulled up stakes and moved his family to Dallas. The Dallas Morning News reports that Nagin has already bought a house in the city, and enrolled his daughter in school.

When the Mayor appeared on "Meet the Press" on Sunday from Dallas, he was never asked about his presence there, or his decision to move his family.

Reuters reports that companies with a web of connections to the Bush administration are winning the first contracts to rebuild New Orleans. The story notes that the Shaw Group of Baton Rouge, which has been awarded $200 million in clean-up contracts, employs former Bush campaign manager and FEMA director Joe Allbaugh to provide "general business consulting."

The Shaw Group's founder and CEO is J.M. Bernhard of Baton Rouge, Louisiana who is the chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party and was co-chairman Governor Kathleen Blanco's transition committee, a fact left out of the Reuters story.

of any responibility for slashing the budget for levy construction and staying on vacation for 2 days after the flood. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

You are not normal. If you are reading these pages, you probably belong to the minority of the world’s population that has a steady job, adequate access to social security, and enjoys substantial political freedoms. Moreover, you live on more than $2 a day, and, unlike 860 million others, you can read. The percentage of humanity that combines all of these attributes is minuscule.

According to the World Bank, about half of humanity lives on less than $2 a day, while the International Labour Organization reckons that a third of the available labor force is unemployed or underemployed, and half of the world’s population has no access to any kind of social security. Freedom House, an organization that studies countries’ political systems, categorizes 103 of the world’s 192 nations as either “not free

Critics say President Bush's personal response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster was too little, too late - with an Air Force One flyover the day after New Orleans' levees broke and a trip to Baton Rouge two days later.

President Clinton, on other the other hand, got glowing reviews for responding to his administration's biggest disaster, the Oklahoma City bombing - even though he took a day longer to arrive on the scene than Bush did last week.

New Orleans' levees broke on a Tuesday - and Bush had his own boots-on-the-ground just three days later on Friday.

When the Alfred P. Murrah Building exploded on Wednesday morning, April 19, 1995, President Clinton didn't travel to the scene for four full days.

And when he finally arrived, there was no grumbling by troubled pundits about the delay. In fact, Clinton's response to Oklahoma City is remembered to this day as the turning point of his political fortunes.

Writing this week in New York Magazine, John Heilemann recalls Clinton's April 23 speech about the bombing:

"With breathtaking subtlety and nimbleness, Clinton used that act of terrorism to illustrate the dangers of the wild-eyed anti-government rhetoric then in vogue among the Gingrichian GOP — a move that set him on the road to political redemption."

The real difference, of course, was that Clinton had a sympathetic media that was just as anxious as he was to blame the disaster on right wing Republicans. Bush, on the other hand, faces a press corps that couldn't wait to use Katrina against him.

The double standard becomes even more obvious when reaction to Katrina is compared with what remains the worst law enforcement debacle in U.S. history - the Clinton administration's decision to rout the Branch Davidians from their encampment at Waco.

More children were killed in that April 19, 1993, assault than died in Oklahoma City. Yet the Clinton administration received little if any blame - and no one was forced to resign.

In fact, after then-Attorney General Janet Reno publicly accepted responsibility, she was hailed as a hero by sympathetic reporters, an irony that's likely not lost on Bush's allegedly "disgraced" ex-FEMA Director Michael Brown.

Point 1
Clinton isn't president.
Point 2
His approval ratings were never as low as our "WAR PRESIDENT"
Point 3
If Clinton could have run again Bush would never have been elected. In fact he would STILL be president, because he didn't take 8 months of vacation in his first term.

I was amazed that Bush actually ended his 5 week vacation 2 days AFTER the hurricane hit. No stirring speeches, no prompt federal action. Just relief supplies trickling in 5 days into the flood. Which if you think about it is about right, I mean it takes a good couple days to put together an operation that large. So...Bush comes of vacation 2 days after the hurricane hits, puts together his plan and bingo, 2 days (well 3 days) later you have convoys. Of course if he weren't on vacation he could have gotten started when it was still off the coast, when it was still a Category 5 hurricane HEADING for New Orleans. But I guess that would take foresight.

Maybe Clinton took longer to go there. I don't blame him...It's a $hithole. But I guarantee he wasn't on vacation during the 5 weeks leading up to it, particularly in a time of war.

I think it's rediculous to even compare the total devestation of the entire gulf region to a single building being bombed. The Oklahoma City bombing was out of the blue and recovery efforts were almost immidiate. However, Hurricane Katrina was tracked all through the Carribean and the Gulf for nearly a week. Bush had plenty of time to atleast put people on standby. Even if Clinton took 24 hours longer to get to Oklahoma City, the recovery efforts were already underway. It simply comes down to Bush, once again, coming out as a complete failure and republicans coming up with the same "blame Clinton" response as always. What else can they say, Bush did a good job??? I think we all can agree--NO.

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