The head of New Orleans' emergency operations blasted the federal government and FEMA for its slow response. The official Terry Ebbert said "This is a national emergency. This is a national disgrace." Ebbert went on to say "FEMA has been here three days, yet there is no command and control. We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims, but we can't bail out the city of New Orleans." Ebbert said "It's criminal within the confines of the United States that within one hour of the hurricane they weren't force-feeding us. It's like FEMA has never been to a hurricane."
Criticism is also mounting over the Bush administration's handling of the crisis. President Bush didn't return from his vacation until Wednesday and several other top officials remain on summer breaks. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice had been vacationing in New York City but returned to Washington on Thursday. Meanwhile Vice President Dick Cheney has been in Wyoming and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card has been in Maine.
- New Orleans Mayor Sends "Desperate SOS" To Nation
- Federal Aid Arrives Days Late In Biloxi, MS
- Nightmarish Conditions Reported at City Convention Center
- Top City Official Blasts FEMA: "This Is A National Disgrace"
- Governor Gives Troops Shoot-to-Kill Orders
- White House: National Guard Won't Return From Iraq
- FEMA Suggests Donor Gives To Pat Robertson's Charity
We begin our special coverage of Hurricane Katrina by going to New Orleans to hear the voices of refugees stranded outside the city's Convention Center. As camera crews passed by on Thursday hundreds of stranded people started chanting for help.
We go to New Orleans to speak with New York Daily News reporter Tamer El-Ghobashy. He reports from outside one of the main refugee centers in New Orleans - the Super Dome, where as many as 30,000 people sought shelter.
President Bush is coming under increasing criticism for his slow response to what is now being described as one of the worst natural disasters in the country's history. We play some of the president's remarks as well as excerpts from a White House news conference.
Race and class loom large in the critical discussion of the federal response to the impact of hurricane Katrina. We speak with two African-American activists about the poor communities that have been hit hardest by the hurricane.
With communication lines down in the areas hit by the hurricane, there are thousands of people with no word about their loved ones in the area. We hear the voices of worried family and friends broadcasting their messages to those missing. [includes rush transcript]
We go back to the spring of 1927 when the Mississippi River flooded after weeks of incessant rains. While the federal government response was well-coordinated, African Americans were rounded into work camps by land owners and prevented from leaving as the waters rose.
"They can go into Iraq and do this and do that," Martha Madden, former secretary of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, said Thursday, "but they can't drop some food on Canal Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, right now? It's just mind-boggling."
The policies are matters of priorities. And the priorities of the Bush White House are clear. For killing in Iraq, they spare no expense. For protecting and sustaining life, the cupboards go bare.
The problem is not incompetence. It's inhumanity, cruelty and greed.
Media outlets have popularized some tactical critiques of U.S. military operations in Iraq. But the administration is competent enough to keep the military-industrial complex humming. It's good at generating huge profits for "defense" contractors, oil companies and the like. First things first, and first things last.
Why shore up levees when the precious money it would take can be better used for war in Iraq? Why allow National Guard units to remain home when they can be useful, killing and being killed, in a faraway war based on lies?
And when catastrophe hits people close to home, why should the president respond with urgency or adequacy if their lives don't figure as truly important in his political calculus?
It's time to end the impunity of President George W. Bush.
Over at Slate, Jack Schaefer asks the same questions and responds with some apparently provocative ideas (see reader reaction) as to why the majority of the media isn't discussing what is obvious to anyone watching.
Race remains largely untouchable for TV because broadcasters sense that they can't make an error without destroying careers. That's a true pity. If the subject were a little less taboo, one of last night's anchors could have asked a reporter, "Can you explain to our viewers, who by now have surely noticed, why 99 percent of the New Orleans evacuees we're seeing are African-American? I suppose our viewers have noticed, too, that the provocative looting footage we're airing and re-airing seems to depict mostly African-Americans."
If the reporter on the ground couldn't answer the questions, a researcher could have Nexised the New Orleans Times-Picayune five-parter from 2002, "Washing Away," which reported that the city's 100,000 residents without private transportation were likely to be stranded by a big storm. In other words, what's happening is what was expected to happen: The poor didn't get out in time.
Even the mention of class and race is enough to throw some readers into a flurry. On the Slate message boards, the piece has been dismissed as "race-obsessed liberal commentary" and one poster suggests that Schaefer thinks Katrina itself was racist. What they refuse to acknowledge is they are participating in a long conservative history of denying race -- which is of course intertwined with class -- as a determining factor in American life. But Katrina exposed that perspective for what it is: a lie. Race matters. Often tragically so.
" I hope this is brief message is worth your time. If possible, I am hoping to get attention of someone who has ready access to news outlets.
"There are two pictures being spun of people ravaging for food in theaftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In the attached document are pictures from Associated Press at the Yahoo News. In the document, a picture of a 'white' couple is shown wading in the water having foraged forfood and supplies in a grocery store. There is also a picture of a 'black' couple shown wading in the water after having 'looted' a store.
"Fact: I am unaware of the basis of either party's venture to the store. Within the captions, there is no discernible difference between the two trips except for the word 'loot.' With no other information provided about the pictures, how are they different? In my opinion, the connotations of the captions under are serious. In a time of extreme emergency, a story should not be spun in this manner.
"If this struggle for survival is being depicted falsely, we cannot allow this to occur. Global and local sympathy should not be curtailed by misrepresenting the intentions of people fighting for their lives. Obviously, if the situation was depicted accurately, we would hope that sympathy of the audience would not wain for the many people in need due to the actions of a few."
These captions have been widely discussed and apparently changed -- after the fact.
Just moments ago at the Ferragamo on 5th Avenue, Condoleeza Rice was seen spending several thousands of dollars on some nice, new shoes (weve confirmed this, so her new heels will surely get coverage from the WaPos Robin Givhan). A fellow shopper, unable to fathom the absurdity of Rices timing, went up to the Secretary and reportedly shouted, How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless! Never one to have her fashion choices questioned, Rice had security PHYSICALLY REMOVE the woman.
There's got to be a special corner in hell where this kind of callousness is punished. I hope when Condi gets there, she's wearing those shoes so Satan can shove them down her throat.
Nationally syndicated radio show host Tom Joyner announced Thursday the creation of the BlackAmericaWeb.com Relief Fund, which will assist those displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
"Hurricane Katrina hit the heart and soul of Black America," Joyner said in a news statement. "This is our Tsunami and we want to take care of those people who now may have family or friends who are going to be in their homes for an extended period of time. We know its hard and we want to make it a little easier on everybody."
[. . .]
Joyner Morning Show commentator, Tavis Smiley, and personalities Sybil Wilkes and J Anthony Brown, have each pledged $1,000.
For more information about how the BlackAmericaWeb.com Relief Fund will provide relief to families helping families, visit www.blackamericaweb.com/relief
The BlackAmericaWeb.com Relief Fund will accept donations at www.blackamericaweb.com and by mail at:
BlackAmericaWeb.com Relief Fund
P.O. Box 803209
Dallas, Texas 75240
All relief requests must be submitted by the church or partner organization administrator. Companies, sponsors and potential partners interested in providing matching funds or resources are encouraged to contact Katrina Witherspoon, president and CEO of the BlackAmericaWeb.com Relief Fund, at (972) 371-5850. You can also call toll free at (888) 866-1741 to get the information on how to make a donation and how to receive relief assistance.
We'll also note Roland S. Martin's "Tragedy affects us all" (The Chicago Defender):
President George W. Bush has stated that the devastation along the Gulf Coast wreaked by Hurricane Katrina is a national tragedy, yet in many ways, it is being played out as a southern coastal problem that doesn't require the attention of the rest of the nation.
As CNN, MSNBC and Fox News Channel, devoted hours upon hours of coverage to the unfolding events, my heart grew angry by the minute at the lack of perspective or coverage offered by ABC, NBC, CBS and yes, Fox's national network.
When terrorists attacked our nation on Sept. 11, 2001, our sense of collective outrage was furthered by the images being shown on every major network and multiple cable stations. Yet when we all should be witnessing the worst natural disaster in our nation's history, we can count on the usual fare - soap operas, game shows and infomercials - taking up our time.
Should this have just been a cable story? Absolutely not. Had the networks taken the time to adequately jump on this story - remember how they were all over the blackout in New York and along the East Coast? - maybe the people in Wyoming, the state of Washington, California, Indiana, Maine and other non-affected states would have responded in a much more concerted way than what we have seen up until this point.
The head of FEMA also said that he didn't know there were people stranded at the Superdome until Thursday, even though this was broadcast widely and covered in the newspapers all week.
What does this say about Bush's wasteful use of billions of our tax dollars allegedly on "homeland security." This could have been a terrorist attack. The Busheviks weren't prepared at all, even after days of warning about the storm. With a terrorist attack, they wouldn't have even seen it coming, so their incompetence would have been even worse in not responding, which is hard to imagine.
This is inexcusable. If Bush is a man of God, God must have his head in his hands today, cursing his doltish, feckless self-anointed follower. People have been dying in American streets because the American government can't get water or food to them, even though reporters could get into the city.
with a notebook in his hand," promised to rebuild the state. He didn't. Instead, he left to play golf with Ken Lay or the Ken Lay railroad baron equivalent of his day.
In 1927, the Democratic Party had died and was awaiting burial. As depression approached, the coma-Dems, like Franklin Roosevelt, called for balancing the budget.
Then, as the waters rose, one politician finally said, roughly, "Screw this! They're lying! The President's lying! The rich fat cats that are drowning you will do it again and again and again. They lead you into imperialist wars for profit, they take away your schools and your hope and when you complain, they blame Blacks and Jews and immigrants. Then they push your kids under. I say, Kick'm in the ass and take your rightful share!"
At the time, Louisiana schools were free, but not the textbooks. Governor Long taxed Big Oil to pay for the books. Rockefeller's oil companies refused pay the textbook tax, so Long ordered the National Guard to seize Standard Oil's fields in the Delta.
Huey Long was called a "demagogue" and a "dictator." Of course. Because it was Huey Long who established the concept that a government of the people must protect the people, school, house, and feed them and give every man or woman a job who needs one.
Government, he said, "We The People," not plutocrats nor Halliburtons, must build bridges and levies to keep the waters from rising over our heads. All we had to do was share the nation's wealth we created as a nation. But that meant facing down what he called the "concentrations of monopoly power" to finance the needs of the public.
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