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Cindy’s Fight Has Just Begun


Published on Thursday, September 1, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
By Dickelle Fonda

Cindy Sheehan set up her lawn chair and umbrella in a ditch on a dirt road in Crawford, Texas. She erected a banner which articulated her question to George Bush: “For what noble cause did my son die?

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Eric Holdeman: Bush team's dismantling of FEMA is a disaster

By Eric Holdeman
September 1, 2005

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The advent of the Bush administration in January 2001 signaled the beginning of the end for FEMA. The newly appointed leadership of the agency showed little interest in its work or in the missions pursued by former director James Lee Witt.SEATTLE - In the days to come, as the nation and the people along the Gulf Coast work to cope with the disastrous aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we will be reminded anew how important it is to have a federal agency capable of dealing with natural catastrophes of this sort.

This is an immense human tragedy, one that will work hardship on millions of people. It is beyond the capabilities of state and local government to deal with. It requires a national response.

Which makes it all the more difficult to understand why, at this moment, the country's premier agency for dealing with such events - FEMA - is being, in effect, systematically downgraded and all but dismantled by the Department of Homeland Security.

Apparently homeland security now consists almost entirely of protection against terrorist acts. How else to explain why the Federal Emergency Management Agency will no longer be responsible for disaster preparedness? Given our country's long record of natural disasters, how much sense does this make? What follows is an obituary for what was once considered the pre-eminent example of a federal agency doing good for the American public in times of trouble, such as the present.

FEMA was born in 1979, the offspring of a number of federal agencies that had been functioning in an independent and uncoordinated manner to protect the country against natural disasters and nuclear holocaust. In its early years FEMA grew and matured, with formal programs being developed to respond to large-scale disasters and with extensive planning for what is called "continuity of government."

The creation of the federal agency encouraged states, counties and cities to convert from their civil defense organizations and to establish emergency management agencies to do the requisite planning for disasters. Over time, a philosophy of "all-hazards disaster preparedness" was developed that sought to conserve resources by producing single plans that were applicable to many types of events.

But it was Hurricane Andrew, which hit Florida in 1992, that really energized FEMA. The year after that catastrophic storm, President Bill Clinton appointed James Lee Witt to be director of the agency. Witt was the first professional emergency manager to run the agency. Showing a serious regard for the cost of natural disasters in both economic impact and lives lost or disrupted, Witt re-oriented FEMA from civil defense preparations to a focus on natural disaster preparedness and disaster mitigation. In an effort to reduce the repeated loss of property and lives every time a disaster struck, he started a disaster mitigation effort called "Project Impact." FEMA was elevated to a Cabinet-level agency, in recognition of its important responsibilities coordinating efforts across departmental and governmental lines.

Witt fought for federal funding to support the new program. At its height, only $20 million was allocated to the national effort, but it worked wonders. One of the best examples of the impact the program had here in the central Puget Sound area and in western Washington state was in protecting people at the time of the Nisqually earthquake on Feb. 28, 2001. Homes had been retrofitted for earthquakes, and schools were protected from high-impact structural hazards. Those involved with Project Impact thought it ironic that the day of that quake was also the day that the new president, George W. Bush, chose to announce that Project Impact would be discontinued.

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

This year it was announced that FEMA is to "officially" lose the disaster preparedness function that it has had since its creation. The move is a death blow to an agency that was already on life support. In fact, FEMA employees have been directed not to become involved in disaster preparedness functions, since a new directorate (yet to be established) will have that mission.

FEMA will be survived by state and local emergency management offices, which are confused about how they fit into the national picture. That's because the focus of the national effort remains terrorism, even if the Department of Homeland Security still talks about "all-hazards preparedness." Those of us in the business of dealing with emergencies find ourselves with no national leadership and no mentors. We are being forced to fend for ourselves, making do with the "homeland security" mission. Our "all-hazards" approaches have been decimated by the administration's preoccupation with terrorism.

To be sure, America may well be hit by another major terrorist attack, and we must be prepared for such an event. But I can guarantee you that hurricanes like the one that ripped into Louisiana and Mississippi on Monday, along with tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, floods, windstorms, mudslides, power failures, fires and perhaps a pandemic flu, will have to be dealt with on a weekly and daily basis throughout this country. They are coming for sure, sooner or later, even as we are, to an unconscionable degree, weakening our ability to respond to them.

Eric Holdeman is director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.

Published: 7:59 AM 9/1/05

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Calling Carol (the one who son served in K)

FACT CHARTS DON"T LIE only BUSH DOES!

Traders work in the arabica coffee futures pit at the New York Board of Trade, Friday, Sept. 2, 2005. The damage caused by Hurricane Katrina to the port of New Orleans will interrupt coffee production in the U.S. New Orleans is the nation's second-largest port for incoming coffee shipments and also a major coffee production center. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) Email Photo Print Photo Recommend THIS PHOTO
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Remember Carol you need to get 2 JOBS now ..............ps i'm sure cindy is fine!

here IT COMES............that toothpaste 4 little oz for $ 8.00.

oops government forgot to tell you about the inflation for the LAST 4 YEARS......IT IS IN YOUR HEAD (NOT)!

World stunned as US struggles with Katrina By Andrew Gray
2 hours, 1 minute ago

LONDON (Reuters) - The world has watched amazed as the planet's only superpower struggles with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, with some saying the chaos has exposed flaws and deep divisions in American society.

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World leaders and ordinary citizens have expressed sympathy with the people of the southern United States whose lives were devastated by the hurricane and the flooding that followed.

But many have also been shocked by the images of disorder beamed around the world -- looters roaming the debris-strewn streets and thousands of people gathered in New Orleans waiting for the authorities to provide food, water and other aid.

"Anarchy in the USA" declared Britain's best-selling newspaper The Sun.

"Apocalypse Now" headlined Germany's Handelsblatt daily.

The pictures of the catastrophe -- which has killed hundreds and possibly thousands -- have evoked memories of crises in the world's poorest nations such as last year's tsunami in Asia, which left more than 230,000 people dead or missing.

But some view the response to those disasters more favorably than the lawless aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"I am absolutely disgusted. After the tsunami our people, even the ones who lost everything, wanted to help the others who were suffering," said Sajeewa Chinthaka, 36, as he watched a cricket match in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

"Not a single tourist caught in the tsunami was mugged. Now with all this happening in the U.S. we can easily see where the civilized part of the world's population is."

SINKING INTO ANARCHY

Many newspapers highlighted criticism of local and state authorities and of President Bush. Some compared the sputtering relief effort with the massive amounts of money and resources poured into the war in Iraq.

"A modern metropolis sinking in water and into anarchy -- it is a really cruel spectacle for a champion of security like Bush," France's left-leaning Liberation newspaper said.

"(Al Qaeda leader Osama) bin Laden, nice and dry in his hideaway, must be killing himself laughing."

A female employee at a multinational firm in South Korea said it may have been no accident the U.S. was hit.

"Maybe it was punishment for what it did to Iraq, which has a man-made disaster, not a natural disaster," said the woman, who did not want to be named as she has an American manager.

"A lot of the people I work with think this way. We spoke about it just the other day," she said.

Commentators noted the victims of the hurricane were overwhelmingly African Americans, too poor to flee the region as the hurricane loomed unlike some of their white neighbors.

New Orleans ranks fifth in the United States in terms of African American population and 67 percent of the city's residents are black.

"In one of the poorest states in the country, where black people earn half as much as white people, this has taken on a racial dimension," said a report in Britain's Guardian daily.

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, in a veiled criticism of U.S. political thought, said the disaster showed the need for a strong state that could help poor people.

"You see in this example that even in the 21st century you need the state, a good functioning state, and I hope that for all these people, these poor people, that the Americans will do their best," he told reporters at a European Union meeting in Newport, Wales.

David Fordham, 33, a hospital anesthetist speaking at a London underground rail station, said he had spent time in America and was not surprised the country had struggled to cope.

"Maybe they just thought they could sit it out and everything would be okay," he said.

"It's unbelievable though -- the TV images -- and your heart goes out to them."

(With reporting by Reuters bureaux around the world)

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