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> The US Federal Government's Lack of Action, New Orleans & The South USA
Guest_Jox_*
post Sep 2 05, 21:33
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Lori suggested porting this here - so I have done so...

What I don't understand from this side of the Pond is the US Federal Government's (lack of) reaction. I saw GW Bush on tv asking people to give donations to Sally Army and Red Cross. Why? Shouldn't the Government get on and rescue people. I'm completely bewildered that the richest nation on Earth should just abandon people for four or five days whilst society breaks down. Of course, going in is not easy but no attempts at much were made for so long. Many people are saying that the rich powerful men in Washington (at best) don't have a clue about the urban poor of the south - let along the racial issue which is being discussed by the hour on tv over here.

However, that was me being gentle over in that tile. Here I would like to know why the US Government should not be charged with negligent homicide and crimes against humanity. It has presided over many deaths which were preventable. Most people are poor and many black. How much does that tell us about the powerful white Republican establishment in DC?

If the people in this disaster had been New England white liberals, would help have come quicker? There is much discussion on UK tv that this represents a major racial schist in the USA and that the black poor don’t matter to the white republicans. I’m not actually sure I agree with that - as far as I can see this simply looks like massive incompetence. I marvel at the fact that Clinton was impeached for having an affair with his associate simply to attack his liberal regime - using Star as the battering ram - but GWB will probably serve-out his time in office after precising over what seems tantamount to mass murder.

The weather situation was known. But why were the urban poor (mainly black) populations not evacuated? Because they couldn’t afford it? Because they had no cars? Because no one cared?

OK to be logical for a moment we have split responsibilities here. It is hard for a Brit to appreciate that States and local governments do not appreciate having their jurisdictions infringed by the US Federal Government. The US is a federation: to a large degree individual states are politically independent. So the initial failure may be fairly charged at the New Orleans and Louisiana authorities; they must have cases to answer. Of course, they may have asked for Federal assistance then - I don’t know yet.

But from the moment the weather system hit the US State had a responsibility. Instead it has allowed people to thirst to death, to die from lack of medical care, from violence in a society which has partially dived into anarchy. TV showed the New Orleans Police giving up I believe. One can’t blame them - the disaster was overwhelming.

Overwhelming is that a defence? Nope. Because the US could deploy people far faster; break-out reserves of water, food, medicine far faster. The European Union (including the UK) have asked the US if they would like humanitarian assistance. None (to my knowledge) has been taken up. Why? Because the US can cope? Well it should be able to and may be it can but it has not hitherto. Is there a political fear that such aid would be politically damaging to this dreadful President? Important to save the No1 skin, of course.

Troops had to be diverted from humanitarian relief to tackle looters, violent criminals, murderers. Why has that city broken down so quickly? Might existing poverty and deprivation have been factors? Hour upon hour here in the UK we’re seeing women plea that gangs are raping people, others hold babies aloft to the camera, pleading for their lives to be spared from disease and thirst. These are scenes fit for Dante’s Inferno, played out in the Southern swamplands of Louisiana.

Those of us who regard the US as one of our very top international friends are horrified at the state of affairs. Globally, everyone will be appalled at the humanitarian catastrophe that has suddenly happened. As a friend we should be ready to give any human assistance at all which is needed - and we are.  But we should also make sure the utter disgust and contempt, which we feel towards the appalling way in which this crisis has been allowed to fester, over the rotting corpses of New Orleans especially, is voiced. (There are many other places too but their situation - terrible as it is - is not quite as awful). The US Federal Government is only responsible to the US people - I do hope they let no one in the Administration off the hook. But, also, there is a wider responsibility in terms of human care - we are all concerned about that. So we can all, in our own ways, try to help hold the US Federal Government to account.,, if only to maintain pressure to help those that still desperately need it.
J.




 
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Guest_Toumai_*
post Sep 3 05, 02:02
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Hi, James

My heart goes out to all those stranded, desperate people. I know how I'd feel if I was in such a situation with my children.

The biggest horror is the obvious lack of co-ordinated effort and especially the lack of information for those in the area.

The whole mess highlights so many issues of our world.

1) Devisiveness.
America has one of the widest rich-poor divides. There is an ethos of if I get it I'm entitled to it, backed by the myth that if you work hard you can 'make it'. If you are poor, its because you don't deserve any better, so why should anyone help? This makes me particularly sad, because living there I met so many lovely, kind, warm people; but those in control are shaping the nation into something dangerous, based on greed and mistrust, rather than caring and sharing. If you 'belong' to a group, you care about its members. The behaviour of the masses shows the schisms in American society today.

2) Racism.
There is a huge disadvantage at every stage of life, from conception onwards, in being non-white in America. Assumptions are of poverty, drugs, violence. Fear and hatred rule.

3) Guns.
Why are so many troops dealing with crime instead of helping the vulnerable? Because the looters are likely to be armed. It should take a couple of police with truncheons to chase thieves, but instead it takes twenty or thirty armed and jumpy troopers with a shoot-to-kill mandate. Thus those who are trying to help the stranded have the added kick of dodging crossfire.

I shall leave aside what I think of George Dubya as a person or a 'leader'.

When we lived there many were complaining about 'big government' and demanding lower taxes. Now who is going to pay for the clean up? The sad fact is that those who could afford to flee probably had insurance on their property. Those who remain had little and now have nothing at all, reliant on charity donations.

Fran
 
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Guest_Jox_*
post Sep 3 05, 02:40
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Thanks for commentating, Fran.

Anyone else?

J.
 
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Guest_Jox_*
post Sep 3 05, 03:10
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TV this morning - now.

The New Orleans Police Chief is crying as he explains how he needs boats and so on to help dying people.

A hospital doctor explaining that people would not have died if he's had better resources. Now this is Saturday morning (maybe filmed yesterday). When did the disaster strike?

A woman who has escaped said they had to get out at dawn to avoid the gunmen.

The media are there in force - perhaps ABC, NBC and Britain's BBC should have been given the task of disaster-relief instead of trusting it to the Federal Government?

J.
 
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Guest_Nina_*
post Sep 3 05, 03:52
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Like Fran, my heart goes out to all those poor people whose lives have been devastated by this hurricane.  As if that wasn't enough to cope with there seems to have been very little done so far to help them, give them fresh water food, means to care for themselves and their children, milk for babies and a safe place to shelter.  They are living in fear for their lives and safety, fear of disease, rape and lawlessness.  

The greed and utter shelfishness of some people appals me.  Law and order has collapsed.  Watching the pictures on the news gives a terrible message of the state of society today.  "I want, I will get by any means", not caring about who suffers in the process, wielding their guns with menace.

America is one of the richest nations in the world, yet what is happening in New Orleans is worse than any of the third world countries.  It also shows the huge divide between white and black, rich and poor and reveals that racism is still as strong as it was back in times of slavery.

The American government has failed these people.  This deplorable situation didn't need to happen if they'd acted immediatedly

Nina
 
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Guest_Perrorist_*
post Sep 3 05, 04:55
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I agree with all that's been said so far (I kicked off a thread on WD that has become rather heated over this same issue) and you might find the following link provides an insight into why the disaster is so much worse than it should have been:

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/090205Z.shtml

and this one too:

http://www.g21.net/daily.htm




 
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Guest_Jox_*
post Sep 3 05, 05:14
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Thanks Nina and Perry.

Gosh, Perry, those links show that many Americans are attacking the Bush regime - and in extremely bitter tones - for the carnage. Well, let us hope these attacks really - as Americans say - "kick ass" and that the fastest possible response is now underway. The cliche "too little, too late" seems both so inadequate and, yet, so apt.

Those are very interesting links and worth reading. Thank you.

Sorry the WD debate has heated too much - I'll keep away!

J.




 
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Guest_Perrorist_*
post Sep 3 05, 05:26
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It's difficult to see how Bush or the Republican Party can recover from this. From my reading of the US news sites, his administration is copping heaps over the delayed response to the crisis. He was even meeting and greeting fundraisers elsewhere in the country on the day when he should have been leading the effort to bring relief and aid to the distressed.

To make matters worse, two-thirds of the National Guard are in Iraq with all their equipment, such as humvees that are specially adapted to the conditions now prevailing in NO.

There are some terrible stories and images coming out of this that will remain etched into the memories of American voters until long after the next election.




 
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Guest_Toumai_*
post Sep 3 05, 05:29
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Hi Perry

I've been following the WD debate, but not posting (as some people have no manners, lol, and I don't like being flamed). Good luck to you - amazing how calm, factual information and logical discussion can stir some people up.  

Thanks for adding those links here.

Fran
 
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Cleo_Serapis
post Sep 3 05, 06:09
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Hi everyone.

Let me start by saying this: I hope that everyone affected by the worst natural disaster in our history gets all the help they need at this tragic time. That is most crucial to over-coming the obstacles. I am only addressing the points that James raises. Everyone will have their own opinions and I welcome them. I am not stating I agree with what I state below, just what is known.

Jox writes: The weather situation was known. But why were the urban poor (mainly black) populations not evacuated? Because they couldn’t afford it? Because they had no cars? Because no one cared?

As late as Satuday morning, it was still a category 1 hurricane, just off the Floriday coast. Nobody expected it to grow in 24 hours to over a category 5 hurricane before weakening slightly and making landfall as a category 4. How can anyone evacuate a half million people in less than 24 hours regardless of their color?

Jox writes: OK to be logical for a moment we have split responsibilities here. It is hard for a Brit to appreciate that States and local governments do not appreciate having their jurisdictions infringed by the US Federal Government. The US is a federation: to a large degree individual states are politically independent. So the initial failure may be fairly charged at the New Orleans and Louisiana authorities; they must have cases to answer. Of course, they may have asked for Federal assistance then - I don’t know yet.

What happens in this country is that the state must first ask for help before the federal government does anything (by law). It's been know since Camille hit the area in 1969 that this problem could happen again. The state of Louisiana did not make significant strides in increasing the size of the levee walls, pumping stations, building code etc. It does not make a difference who is in the White House, the reaction from the federal authorities would have been no different. Once the request is made, it takes time to get the appropriate logistical resources in place. We just don't have 20,000 army reservists sitting at the ready at their homes bases, (even without wars going on) waiting to handle a disaster.

Plus, most of the people from the area are so entrenched in the area, that they go back to their same house for generations. A hundred miles away is a big deal to them to travel, so they don't have their own forms of transportation at the ready cuz they just haven't needed it.  Remember, they also survived Camille and any number of storms that have come through over the years and even after the limited evacuation attempts that were possible once the severity of THIS storm were known, CHOSE to ride it out anyway.

Jox writes: But from the moment the weather system hit the US State had a responsibility. Instead it has allowed people to thirst to death, to die from lack of medical care, from violence in a society which has partially dived into anarchy. TV showed the New Orleans Police giving up I believe. One can’t blame them - the disaster was overwhelming.

Yes, the individual states had a responsibility to react as swiftly as possible. The storm upgraded SO FAST they didn't have time to react and now they're faced with severe logistical issues. How do you get into the area? Bridges and highways are gone (washed out), other streets are littered with debris (including downed power lines), there was even a 6 foot shark that was swimming the streets along with many 'gators'. The area is still under FEET and FEET of water. The only ways available are helicopter and boat. So, the helicopters arrive, start trying to pick people out, and the people start shooting at them! What the HELL? They are trying to help!

Then there's the issues of looting. Yes, I would most likely do it if a grocery store situation too, since the food will go bad anyway and water is so desperately needed. However, some of the folks robbed nursing homes, kicking the occupants out into the streets (most in wheelchairsand on med equipment), gunnery shops (and now have automatic weapons in hand), among many other stores. The police pulled back because they were out-numbered and out-gunned. How can one blame this behavior on lack of governmental action?

Jox writes: Overwhelming is that a defence? Nope. Because the US could deploy people far faster; break-out reserves of water, food, medicine far faster. The European Union (including the UK) have asked the US if they would like humanitarian assistance. None (to my knowledge) has been taken up. Why? Because the US can cope? Well it should be able to and may be it can but it has not hitherto. Is there a political fear that such aid would be politically damaging to this dreadful President? Important to save the No1 skin, of course.

Whoever was in power, the results would have been the same. The local government bears primary responsibility and has failed for 30 years to do what would be necessary to protect a city that is on the coast and is 20 feet below sea-level. It was only a matter of time before a storm did this.

Jox writes: Troops had to be diverted from humanitarian relief to tackle looters, violent criminals, murderers. Why has that city broken down so quickly? Might existing poverty and deprivation have been factors? Hour upon hour here in the UK we’re seeing women plea that gangs are raping people, others hold babies aloft to the camera, pleading for their lives to be spared from disease and thirst. These are scenes fit for Dante’s Inferno, played out in the Southern swamplands of Louisiana.

Yes, this is sadly true. It might have been so, however, do people in a time of unusual crisis not have a responsibility to assist each other until other resources can arrive? What I see on the news is the stronger taking complete advantage of the weaker within their own neighborhoods. It sickens me, IMO! Yes, the scenes could be from a movie. But horrifically, they are real.

It takes time to get ships to sail into the area and as of yesterday, supplies, a medical ship and 10,000 troups have been giving out food, water and other supplies. The situation likely wold have been significantly different if there were more than 24 hours warning before landfall. Yes, we could discuss all the politicing involved, however, as you all know, I don't like to talk politics.

This is similar to what we saw when Hurricane Andrew hit Florida.

Perry provides excellent links which talk about the politics behind FEMA and how $71 million was cut from levee construction a year ago to fund Homeland Security. What about the other 29 years that the local government had?

Again, this sounds cruel on my part, it is not. It is not meant to be at all. But the federal goverment in our system does not bear primary responsibilty for local disaster preparedness. Even now, with Homeland Security and the other joke agencies that were created, the vast majority of disaster budget planning, falls on local authorities.  We are doing what can be done with floating hospitals, blood drives, food, clothing etc... that we can manage along with evacuations to Texas Astrodome (350 miles away) with the resources that arrive daily (that CAN get to the heart of the city). It boils down to this:

1) A lack of time before it hit.
2) People taking control by sinful means.
3) Local authorities lack of foresight.


It didn't matter where it hit, rich, poor, middle-class. If given the same circumstances had a storm hit Miami for example, the results would be similar. Although the effects might have been slightly shorter lived because the waters would have receded faster and ground access to the area is easier when you're not dealing with what is effectively a bunch a small islands. I had visited Miami shortly after Andrew hit and it was devastating to see. However, in time, it turns itself around.  If you google Hurricane Andrew looting, you'll see 42,000+ hits.

We're left with attempting to pick up the pieces as best we can, as swiftly as we can. We can do it, but time is required.

~Cleo






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Cleo_Serapis
post Sep 3 05, 06:27
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Referred By:Imhotep



Interesting tidbit from commondreams.org has former FEMA chief of staff Jane Bullock comparing the slowness of this response to what happened after Andrew.

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0901-01.htm

"What you're seeing is revealing weaknesses in the state, local and federal levels. All three levels have been weakened. They've been weakened by diversion into terrorism." ~ former Bush administration disaster response manager Eric Tolbert, who until February was FEMA's disaster response chief.






·······IPB·······

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to." ~ J.R.R Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Collaboration feeds innovation. In the spirit of workshopping, please revisit those threads you've critiqued to see if the author has incorporated your ideas, or requests further feedback from you. In addition, reciprocate with those who've responded to you in kind.

"I believe it is the act of remembrance, long after our bones have turned to dust, to be the true essence of an afterlife." ~ Lorraine M. Kanter

Nominate a poem for the InterBoard Poetry Competition by taking into careful consideration those poems you feel would best represent Mosaic Musings. For details, click into the IBPC nomination forum. Did that poem just captivate you? Nominate it for the Faery award today! If perfection of form allured your muse, propose the Crown Jewels award. For more information, click here!

"Worry looks around, Sorry looks back, Faith looks up." ~ Early detection can save your life.

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Guest_Perrorist_*
post Sep 3 05, 06:34
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Lori

Just a few comments by way of correction, or at least another viewpoint.

For almost a week before the hurricane hit the coast, it was been reported here on prime-time news in Australia as having the potential to be the most severe storm in America's history. This is why we're amazed at the tardiness of the response from the authorities.

Federal funding for the levees has been reduced over a number of years, not just the past year.

Many people who remained had little choice. Excluding the ones capable of finding their way unaided to the Superdrome, they were too old, too frail, too ill, too encumbered by children. By all accounts, life in the Superdrome was no picnic either and the authorities conceded that they had not planned for such a contingency.

The fact remains that if this had been a third world country, the situation would have been better managed. If you don't believe me, just check how quickly Mumbai (Bombay) recovered when the city was under five feet of flood water just a couple of weeks ago.

The worst of this tragedy would have been averted had there been proper planning.
 
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Cleo_Serapis
post Sep 3 05, 06:38
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Hi Perry.  :wave:

Excellent points! Thank you.

It is still the local government's responsibility to provide for their own infrastructure. Federal funding may be provided to midigate some of their expense but it is never the sole source of funds.

A week before it hit, it was out in the Atlantic ocean and they would have been discussing it hitting Florida, New Orleans did not have a week's notice. :(






·······IPB·······

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to." ~ J.R.R Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Collaboration feeds innovation. In the spirit of workshopping, please revisit those threads you've critiqued to see if the author has incorporated your ideas, or requests further feedback from you. In addition, reciprocate with those who've responded to you in kind.

"I believe it is the act of remembrance, long after our bones have turned to dust, to be the true essence of an afterlife." ~ Lorraine M. Kanter

Nominate a poem for the InterBoard Poetry Competition by taking into careful consideration those poems you feel would best represent Mosaic Musings. For details, click into the IBPC nomination forum. Did that poem just captivate you? Nominate it for the Faery award today! If perfection of form allured your muse, propose the Crown Jewels award. For more information, click here!

"Worry looks around, Sorry looks back, Faith looks up." ~ Early detection can save your life.

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Guest_Perrorist_*
post Sep 3 05, 06:46
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QUOTE (Cleo_Serapis @ Sep. 03 2005, 21:38)
Hi Perry.  wave.gif

Excellent points! Thank you.

It is still the local government's responsibility to provide for their own infrastructure. Federal funding may be provided to midigate some of their expense but it is never the sole source of funds.

A week before it hit, it was out in the Atlantic ocean and they would have been discussing it hitting Florida, New Orleans did not have a week's notice. :(

True, it wasn't specifically New Orleans that was claimed to be in its path. On the other hand, there was a distinct possibility it could be.

I might add that being an armchair critic is a sight easier than coordinating the relief effort, but it is difficult not to be angry when the most vulnerable among us are the first to suffer in situations like this when it becomes apparent that government has failed in its responsibility to care for and protect those same citizens.
 
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Cleo_Serapis
post Sep 3 05, 07:06
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Referred By:Imhotep



I completely agree, Perry. claps.gif

I cannot even watch the news anymore. I just get far too upset. In a way, it is an apocolytpic event.


·······IPB·······

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to." ~ J.R.R Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Collaboration feeds innovation. In the spirit of workshopping, please revisit those threads you've critiqued to see if the author has incorporated your ideas, or requests further feedback from you. In addition, reciprocate with those who've responded to you in kind.

"I believe it is the act of remembrance, long after our bones have turned to dust, to be the true essence of an afterlife." ~ Lorraine M. Kanter

Nominate a poem for the InterBoard Poetry Competition by taking into careful consideration those poems you feel would best represent Mosaic Musings. For details, click into the IBPC nomination forum. Did that poem just captivate you? Nominate it for the Faery award today! If perfection of form allured your muse, propose the Crown Jewels award. For more information, click here!

"Worry looks around, Sorry looks back, Faith looks up." ~ Early detection can save your life.

MM Award Winner
 
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Guest_Toumai_*
post Sep 3 05, 07:15
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We are used to seeing apocolyptic scenes in 'Third World' Countries, and we can sit in our cosy chairs, watching our TVs or web news and feel sympathy for the victims; maybe dig out our credit cards and send a donation. But what do we expect from places like that? Just the way things happen.

When we see the same scenes of suffering, violence and helplessness and it is within the richest nation on earth, it brings it home just how fragile we - as part of 'humaity' - really are in the face of nature. Quite terrifying. A humility we have forgotton, perhaps, in our technological age?

Fran
 
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Guest_Jox_*
post Sep 3 05, 09:27
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Hi Lori, et al,

Gosh, ok I’ll do my best...

>L>Let me start by saying this: I hope that everyone affected by the worst natural disaster in our history gets all the help they need at this tragic time. That is most crucial to over-coming the obstacles. I am only addressing the points that James raises. Everyone will have their own opinions and I welcome them. I am not stating I agree with what I state below, just what is known.

Jox writes: The weather situation was known. But why were the urban poor (mainly black) populations not evacuated? Because they couldn’t afford it? Because they had no cars? Because no one cared?

>L>As late as Satuday morning, it was still a category 1 hurricane, just off the Floriday coast. Nobody expected it to grow in 24 hours to over a category 5 hurricane before weakening slightly and making landfall as a category 4. How can anyone evacuate a half million people in less than 24 hours regardless of their color?

Sorry, not good enough. The authorities allowed zillions of private cars to block the highways out - private cars carrying the wealthier people. If they were serious about evacuating people they could have used the Hercules and Galaxy USAF transporters to gather buses from anywhere in the US and take the down south. They could have made bus lanes available for evacuation - and used those (now empty) military planes to get people out too. Private cars could have used remaining lanes. I don’t know the railway system down there but, if there is one, that would be another important method of evacuation. Finally, civil airliners could have been hired or commandeered (I see to remember that the US Government ground all air within hours - nothing like 24 hours -  traffic when terrorists hit - and maybe far more people have been killed this time. But, of course, that was DC and NYC again, not the deep south.)

If you say regardless of their colour why is it that the blacks make up the vast majority of those remaining and dying, whilst the whites makes up the vast majority of those who escaped? Easy - the white were able to buy their way out of Hell with private motoring. Don’t get me wrong, those who escaped have and are having a dreadful time, too. Awful. But they did, at least get out. The simple answer is that the blacks represent the vast majority of the urban poor (UK is the same, in terms of ethnic groups being in that category) . The authorities knew this and they new mass exodus was necessary. They have had decades to draw-up plans. This was not as instant as you say in that sense - many people knew that New Orleans was very vulnerable.

Jox writes: OK to be logical for a moment we have split responsibilities here. It is hard for a Brit to appreciate that States and local governments do not appreciate having their jurisdictions infringed by the US Federal Government. The US is a federation: to a large degree individual states are politically independent. So the initial failure may be fairly charged at the New Orleans and Louisiana authorities; they must have cases to answer. Of course, they may have asked for Federal assistance then - I don’t know yet.

>L>What happens in this country is that the state must first ask for help before the federal government does anything (by law). It's been know since Camille hit the area in 1969 that this problem could happen again. The state of Louisiana did not make significant strides in increasing the size of the levee walls, pumping stations, building code etc. It does not make a difference who is in the White House, the reaction from the federal authorities would have been no different. Once the request is made, it takes time to get the appropriate logistical resources in place. We just don't have 20,000 army reservists sitting at the ready at their homes bases, (even without wars going on) waiting to handle a disaster.

Because the National Guard and Army reservists have been sent on their criminal, bloody and insane mission into Iraq - along with much of the UK’s troops too. I support the Americans who say that Bush was far more interested in squashing Iraq than helping his own country. Blair is just the same. The sooner these two evil men are booted out the better. But, ok, the troops may have been on other duties which were legitimate.

I do know (as I mentioned) that the local / regional authorities have jurisdiction - but thanks for the precise law, appreciate that (didn’t know it).

I did also say that the local authorities may be culpable. I don’t know when they first asked the Federal Government for assistance. Does anyone yet, please?

As regards the figures about not having the troops - I don’t have them to hand (would have to spend a while searching the US Department of Defense site) but I’m certain that  more than 20,000 US troops are abroad in action - the UK probably has something approaching that and the US operations are far bigger.

>L>Plus, most of the people from the area are so entrenched in the area, that they go back to their same house for generations. A hundred miles away is a big deal to them to travel, so they don't have their own forms of transportation at the ready cuz they just haven't needed it.  Remember, they also survived Camille and any number of storms that have come through over the years and even after the limited evacuation attempts that were possible once the severity of THIS storm were known, CHOSE to ride it out anyway.

Emm, not according to the US web sites I’ve read. Now I don’t know local law there but as I understood it the NO Mayor ordered an evacuation and that was legally binding. In t’other words people would be breaking the law by remaining. Is that incorrect? Now, if that is so, the Mayor just forgot one thing - transportation. Not 100% of people would have been evacuated of course - some would have hidden. But look at the tens of thousands who did remain. If the NO authorities can’t even enforce their own law what hope is there now?

Bush’s response was pathetic. He admits as much himself. He flew over in Airforce 1 and marvelled at the damage. Played to the cameras. Dreadful. But I never did entirely blame Bush - I blamed the whole US Federal Administration - or at least, that part with any interest in their country. And I did question if the local authorities were responsible. There was time - people were being killed last night in that city and dying last night. That is not 24 hours after. It is days.

Jox writes: But from the moment the weather system hit the US State had a responsibility. Instead it has allowed people to thirst to death, to die from lack of medical care, from violence in a society which has partially dived into anarchy. TV showed the New Orleans Police giving up I believe. One can’t blame them - the disaster was overwhelming.

>L>Yes, the individual states had a responsibility to react as swiftly as possible. The storm upgraded SO FAST they didn't have time to react and now they're faced with severe logistical issues. How do you get into the area? Bridges and highways are gone (washed out), other streets are littered with debris (including downed power lines), there was even a 6 foot shark that was swimming the streets along with many 'gators'. The area is still under FEET and FEET of water. The only ways available are helicopter and boat. So, the helicopters arrive, start trying to pick people out, and the people start shooting at them! What the HELL? They are trying to help!

The need to get into the area fast would have been lessened if more people had been evacuated. OK that’s not the situation, so... The other “told you so” would be the US gun culture. Why the gun shops to break into? Why private guns as they are? Of course there would still be some but the endemic nature of the gun culture and the NRA’s support for these lethal weapons keeps enabling so many Americans to die from gun wounds each minute, hour week...

Sure these problems exist. A BBC film crew easily travelled the NO to Baton Rouge road yesterday. No troops, no relief. Almost one knew it was open. Ok, that one aside. The US military have thousands upon thousands of lorries and semi-aquatic vehicles available for just this sort of work. They and the USN have hundreds or thousands of smaller boats suitable. But the Bush Administration failed to send them in until late in the week. I’ve seen all the pictures and, yes almost all roads are useless. But water, like all elements has its plus and its minus. In this case, its plus is the new canals can act as a form of route to get resources in and people out. That, of course, is if the Federal Government wasn’t too busy polishing its image to actually provide a few boats to carry and goods to be carried. It would have been decent of them.

I’m not angry with the people shooting at helicopters and raping people. they are beyond anger and, in this situation, simply need eliminating as quickly as possible. I am angry with the people who seek office and enjoy its trappings and power but who don’t know how to or can’t be arsed to fulfil their responsibilities. The electorate didn’t plead with Bush to stand - he pleaded for their votes. Now where is his side of that contract?

>L>Then there's the issues of looting. Yes, I would most likely do it if a grocery store situation too, since the food will go bad anyway and water is so desperately needed. However, some of the folks robbed nursing homes, kicking the occupants out into the streets (most in wheelchairsand on med equipment), gunnery shops (and now have automatic weapons in hand), among many other stores. The police pulled back because they were out-numbered and out-gunned. How can one blame this behavior on lack of governmental action?

Well, again their are issues which date back. Poor education and care etc. Also, the “me, me , me” attitude which the Republican party fosters. Lower taxes and screw the poor. We saw it here too with the Tories - not an exclusively American thing. But the Republicans are in power there. They cannot lower taxes then claim they don’t have emergency resources available. They cannot send big chunks of the Louisiana National Guard to repress Iraqis then claim no personnel. Money and resources to kill foreigners but not to save Americans. Again, the evil of the Bush administration - and, for that matter, the Blair Government, too (who are - in theory- a socialist government, by the way).

Jox writes: Overwhelming is that a defence? Nope. Because the US could deploy people far faster; break-out reserves of water, food, medicine far faster. The European Union (including the UK) have asked the US if they would like humanitarian assistance. None (to my knowledge) has been taken up. Why? Because the US can cope? Well it should be able to and may be it can but it has not hitherto. Is there a political fear that such aid would be politically damaging to this dreadful President? Important to save the No1 skin, of course.

>L>Whoever was in power, the results would have been the same. The local government bears primary responsibility and has failed for 30 years to do what would be necessary to protect a city that is on the coast and is 20 feet below sea-level. It was only a matter of time before a storm did this.

Well if people knew that that is also a failure by the Federal Government, over time. Because it has an overall duty to protect America and Americans. So it should have pressurised the area to sort the mess out. Obviously that affects the administrations of Bush Junior (2), Clinton (2), Bush senior, Regan (2), Carter, Ford. That is six Republican admins compared to three Democrat, by the way. Not that the Democrats are less culpable when they were there.

To say “it was only a matter of time” is horrific to me. If the American people knew this why did they en masse not campaign for action? It is sometimes said that democracies get the governments which they deserve. Maybe the US and UK are experiencing that now.

I don’t agree that the results would have been the same. Where is the evidence that Bush ever cared for the poor urban blacks. I’m sure he’s no racist - he’s done more to promote blacks to high political office than any other President, I think. But what has he ever done for the poor without a voice? Oh yes as Governor of Texas he sent many to their deaths, despite much evidence against the charges and poor court procedures. (I’m not against the death penalty if the right people are certainly convicted but Texas procedures were a sick joke.) We did the same with IRA suspects in the 1970s but at least we didn’t murder them so they could be released eventually. This looks like being Bush’s best bag of the poor yet. I’m sure he intended no one to die - but what did he do to stop it? It was HIS job from the impact and even before, he was a southern man - what did he do to shed light on dangerous policies?

Jox writes: Troops had to be diverted from humanitarian relief to tackle looters, violent criminals, murderers. Why has that city broken down so quickly? Might existing poverty and deprivation have been factors? Hour upon hour here in the UK we’re seeing women plea that gangs are raping people, others hold babies aloft to the camera, pleading for their lives to be spared from disease and thirst. These are scenes fit for Dante’s Inferno, played out in the Southern swamplands of Louisiana.

>L>Yes, this is sadly true. It might have been so, however, do people in a time of unusual crisis not have a responsibility to assist each other until other resources can arrive? What I see on the news is the stronger taking complete advantage of the weaker within their own neighborhoods. It sickens me, IMO! Yes, the scenes could be from a movie. But horrifically, they are real.

It is sickening, yes But it would not have been like that with a fast response.

>L>It takes time to get ships to sail into the area and as of yesterday, supplies, a medical ship and 10,000 troups have been giving out food, water and other supplies. The situation likely wold have been significantly different if there were more than 24 hours warning before landfall. Yes, we could discuss all the politicing involved, however, as you all know, I don't like to talk politics.

Ten thousand is far too few - and that was only yesterday.

But you are talking politics, Lori. This is nothing but politics. The politics of failure decades before - as you correctly say. The politics of failure just 24 hours before, as you mentioned. And the vacuum of politics in the days afterwards. The politics of failure and the failure of politics. One of political science is that when politics breaks down there is war. That is what happened in NO with the gun gangs. The political vacuum filled by the violent urban sub-cultures. This whole thing is political and nothing but.

>L>This is similar to what we saw when Hurricane Andrew hit Florida.

That would be Jeb Bush’s state would it not? Any relation to his dynamic brother perchance? Those hanging chads were really worth the effort, obviously.

>L>Perry provides excellent links which talk about the politics behind FEMA and how $71 million was cut from levee construction a year ago to fund Homeland Security. What about the other 29 years that the local government had?

But the Feds over time should have taken the states to task. No they cannot walk over their toes but they can publicise matters - and should.

Also, you say the previous 29 years but this damage was done after the 30th. Real Politick. And it’s great that Bush has done so much for Homeland security - it saves people from terrorism allowing them to die, comfortably from drowning, over-heating, thirst, lack of medication or just being clubbed to death or shot by some fellow citizens. Important that level of care in the community. We all have to go and it is good that, when the time comes, we can go near our home, with our loved ones round. Just a pity if we’re still a baby or young person or an elderly person who simply wants a drink. But at least Bush has beefed up Homeland Security. I hope America is grateful. (Of course, if he hadn’t cut taxes, too...) But hey the Southern poor don’t benefit much from tax cuts as they don’t pay many taxes as they don’t earn much. Oh and no many vote Republican, either (even the survivors).

>L>Again, this sounds cruel on my part, it is not. It is not meant to be at all. But the federal goverment in our system does not bear primary responsibilty for local disaster preparedness. Even now, with Homeland Security and the other joke agencies that were created, the vast majority of disaster budget planning, falls on local authorities.  We are doing what can be done with floating hospitals, blood drives, food, clothing etc... that we can manage along with evacuations to Texas Astrodome (350 miles away) with the resources that arrive daily (that CAN get to the heart of the city). It boils down to this:

1) A lack of time before it hit.
2) People taking control by sinful means.
3) Local authorities lack of foresight.


I don’t think you’re cruel. Let’s not personalise this. nowt is your fault. My argument is with Bush and his cronies. Nothing to do with you and me. We didn’t seek election. I can’t be elected US President as I was born in the UK and would not have allegiance there. You can’t because you’re a woman and understand argument, not a self-confident yob in a suit. (Yes, I know no law prevents women from being elected, ta).

Sin is a strange concept so I’ll leave that aside. But I doubt we’re far apart there.

>L>It didn't matter where it hit, rich, poor, middle-class. If given the same circumstances had a storm hit Miami for example, the results would be similar. Although the effects might have been slightly shorter lived because the waters would have receded faster and ground access to the area is easier when you're not dealing with what is effectively a bunch a small islands. I had visited Miami shortly after Andrew hit and it was devastating to see. However, in time, it turns itself around.  If you google Hurricane Andrew looting, you'll see 42,000+ hits.

It is not which groups it hit it is which groups it did the most damage to. In the main, the white middle classes escaped. In the main the black under-classes didn’t - again, they had no private transportation and the local authorities couldn’t be arsed to save their lives. Following the disaster, the authorities couldn’t be arsed either. Anyway, dead people don’t complain, do they?

It is not the hurricane that matters here - no one and nothing was going to stop that. It is (from your info) that the problem has been known for three decades and nowt done. It is that the authorities didn’t bother providing evacuation facilities for the masses of poor people. It is that, given the poor remained, the authorities did nothing to help them for far too long. Nobody cared about these people. One suspects that the most convenient thing for the politicians in DC would be if they’d been washed away with the detritus. Maybe that’s too harsh but it is beginning to look that way. Remember, Politics DC is a long way from reality - it is even a long way from what happens in the city itself, let along NO.

Looting doesn’t especially bother me (apart from your example of people being hurt). All the stocks will have to be scrapped anyway so better the people have the supplies to enjoy now. As regards looting non-essentials well, again, I suspect all hi-fis etc will be scrapped anyway so it doesn’t matter. Let the people loot if needs be but get them supplies and stop the gun crime.

In time it turns itself around? Sure. I have little doubt that NO will rebuild but there are an awful lot of dead people who won’t be there to see the happier times.

>L>We're left with attempting to pick up the pieces as best we can, as swiftly as we can. We can do it, but time is required.

Yes those who survive will but what about the thousand who have died because of governmental incompetence? Should we take out one politician for each person lost and shoot them? After all, it is a free country - no one had to stand for election but given they stood they have responsibilities. And that means a darn site more than flying over the disaster zone in Airforce One, looking out of the windows with tv cameras watching and looking concerned. Bush does concern very well - I’m sure the people of the South were very impressed. I wonder for how many, the sound of his plane’s engines were the llast thing they heard, as they died on the streets of New Orleans?

-----------

Thanks for your posting Lori, appreciated. Interesting points.

J.




 
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Cleo_Serapis
post Sep 3 05, 09:49
Post #18


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Real Name: Lori Kanter
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Referred By:Imhotep



Hi J.

You are upset and appear to be bent on Bush bashing. Remember what I said above, it's not like any of this is unprecidented. Inthe Galviston, TX storm of 1900 there was looting, people with boats charging exorbinant fees to rescue, and a lot of other social behaviors that mirror what is happening in New Orleans (and what happened in Florida afte Andrew ht just to name 2 examples.

The Mayor is the first call to action, not the US President, who did BTW make a ground visit yesterday. The over-flight in AF1 was done solely to stay out of the way of the low-flying helicopters and other rescue aircraft while on route to Washington. And besides, where would AF1 land? All the strips are under water.

I'm sorry, but your reply above is WAY too political for me to respond in much further detail. You know I don't like this debating stuff.

Let me just say this:

Clinton did the same thing when Andrew hit Florida in 1992.

The Mayer of NO did call for evacuation, but only within 24 hours of it hitting.  And yes, it is illegal NOT to evacuate once the orders have been given, but in this country we don't send the police door to door to drag people away if they fail to obey the order. What it means in effect, is that if you do stay, what you will not have any help from the authorities who have left the area for the duration of the storm and will be back when they are able to.

I don't think Jeb B was there 13 year ago when Andrew hit?

There was no way even with trains, planes, automobiles, buses etc.. that the New Orleans area could have escaped with less than a 24 hour notice, with or without FEMA/Fed Gov assistance.

Armed Forces equipment still require pilots, landing strips and time to mobilize...

As for the rest of your comments, I do not wish to reply.

I will keep my eyes and ears posted as this tragedy continues with the HOPE that those in the the most dire need are served first and that the others 'play nice' while help is offered. Convouys have arrived at least...

~Cleo  






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Guest_Nina_*
post Sep 3 05, 10:33
Post #19





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Hi James, Lori

You  put forward a very convincing argument.  I don't think I'd disagree with anything you said.  I think Bush should have done a lot more a lot faster and earned himself lots of badly needed Brownie points especially after the Iraq fiasco, not only in US but over the whole world where people are sitting, watching and not understanding why there wasn't swift action taken by the Bush regime.  

The hurricane and floods is not just a local disaster, it is a national disaster and one that is already having a knock-on effect all over America and the rest of the world including the big worry of a rise in oil prices.

Nina
 
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Guest_Jox_*
post Sep 3 05, 11:08
Post #20





Guest






Hi Lori,

Thanks for your reply.

>L>You are upset and appear to be bent on Bush bashing.

Let’s not personalise this. I’m not upset with the debate - but yes I’m very upset and angry with the politicians who have failed. Aren’t you? Isn’t everyone? Shouldn’t we all be? Aren't we failing the people of Southern USA if we aren't upset; aren't we failing humanity? What sort of people would we be if we weren't upset and angry?

No. If I wanted to Bush-bash I could dig up vast quantities of evidence. He is the Head of State and Head of the Executive (Government). What was that notice on his predecessor’s desk....? “The Buck Stops Here.” OK, well it has. Well not quite - maybe he should be impeached? Or does he have to commit the ultimate two sins - be a Democrat and have an affair with a member of staff to do that?

But if you read my reply, I do mention the local authorities and the regional authorities and the rest of the Bush Administration. Let’s spare none of them, please. They should not hide behind GWB’s incompetence - many have splendid stories of their own to tell, I expect. But if the buck stops with the President then he must be criticised too - and where the Federal Government fails it is, ultimately, his fault.

>L> Remember what I said above, it's not like any of this is unprecidented. Inthe Galviston, TX storm of 1900 there was looting, people with boats charging exorbinant fees to rescue, and a lot of other social behaviors that mirror what is happening in New Orleans (and what happened in Florida afte Andrew ht just to name 2 examples.

I don’t see the relevance of the storm per se - except that past experience simply further indicts present failures.

Besides as the quote from “Cider With Rosie” (I think) goes “The past is a foreign country - they do things differently there.”

I don’t know what people charging high fees has to do with it. The US is built on capitalism; it is in the blood. it is what has made it the great country that it is. Therefore, it is the Government’s responsibility to cater for market failures - and there will be many.

Let’s assume everyone was sweet and lovely to each other in NO. People would still be dieing because of medical, water and food needs. All that the gangs have done is made helping harder and the lives of those there more miserable. But if sufficient people had arrived early enough...

>L>The Mayor is the first call to action, not the US President, who did BTW make a ground visit yesterday. The over-flight in AF1 was done solely to stay out of the way of the low-flying helicopters and other rescue aircraft while on route to Washington. And besides, where would AF1 land? All the strips are under water.

I know Bush was there - I watched about two hours of the coverage with him meeting and greeting. Why did Bush make a ground visit? What use was that? He should not be there; it is a publicity stunt. He should stay in DC for a few days (or gone to a southern control centre) to help co-ordinate the rescue - and he should have been doing that all week. Then when people were safe he should have gone in to boost morale. His presence merely diverted the attentions pf many people who could better have been used to help the endangered and dying. His visit wasn’t a waste of time; it was far worse. Bush is not a rescuer and had no place there. But as THE person who could have removed red-tape and kicked things when needed, he would be invaluable at the base of the co-ordinators. Another missed opportunity. Still the tv camera gone some very heart-warming pictures of him embracing mother and child. I felt a warm glow.

I didn’t think Air Force One should land anywhere: Bush should keep out. But my point was he used that as publicity (I think that the Secret Service (who protect the President) might have asked the film crews to keep out of the President’s cabin as he surveyed the damage, if he’d wished.) It was a publicity stunt. But then - far worse (because all politicians would have done that) Bush went back to DC and nothing happened for almost a full working week. That is the real problem. He came; he looked; he shrugged it off.

I know the Mayor has first responsibility but this (as I think you said) is the worst natural disaster to hit the US in living memory. It is the President’s responsibility too.. morally, politically and I believe legally.

>L>I'm sorry, but your reply above is WAY too political for me to respond in much further detail. You know I don't like this debating stuff.

But this is about nothing but politics. Are we going to admonish the storm for mis-behaving? Are we going to examine the swamp biology to ask why the dangerous reptiles entered NO? Shall we bring on the sociologists to produce models of urban social breakdown - or is that for later? It is all politics isn’t it?

>L>Let me just say this:

emm not stopping you, honest. :)

>L>Clinton did the same thing when Andrew hit Florida in 1992.

Ah That is the one you mentioned, sorry I thought you meant a more recent hurricane - my error. I don’t know about that. How many tens of thousands of people were killed then? As many as now? More?

>L>The Mayer of NO did call for evacuation, but only within 24 hours of it hitting. And yes, it is illegal NOT to evacuate once the orders have been given, but in this country we don't send the police door to door to drag people away if they fail to obey the order. What it means in effect, is that if you do stay, what you will not have any help from the authorities who have left the area for the duration of the storm and will be back when they are able to.

So in the USA you have laws - especially for emergency situations - but you don’t bother enforcing them? Why have them then? That is almost the Tony Blair approach isn’t it. bad situation - new law... (ok it’s not a new one but...)

So all those poor, mainly black people, were just being awkward when they failed to jump in their 4x4s and their posh cars and leave town? They all had a choice did they? All their fault? OK.

>L>I don't think Jeb B was there 13 year ago when Andrew hit?

No, as I said above, sorry I thought you meant a more recent hot. My error. Apologies.

>L>There was no way even with trains, planes, automobiles, buses etc.. that the New Orleans area could have escaped with less than a 24 hour notice, with or without FEMA/Fed Gov assistance.

On what basis do you say that? How many aircraft were requisitioned to fly there? How many coaches requisitioned and from how many states? How many USAF Galaxies flew in just before? Sorry, I think this is a failure of politics, not logistics.

>F>Armed Forces equipment still require pilots, landing strips and time to mobilize...

They certainly do. Especially if the President can’t be arsed to grasp the seriousness of the situation. On tv he looked like a lad lost.

>L>As for the rest of your comments, I do not wish to reply.

No prob. Your choice.

>L>I will keep my eyes and ears posted as this tragedy continues with the HOPE that those in the the most dire need are served first and that the others 'play nice' while help is offered. Convouys have arrived at least...

That’s it Lori; you have put you finger on the nub of the problem. Hope - local and national governments just hoped all would be ok. And that has translated to no hope whatsoever for so many and little hope for many many more. Hope didn’t fail - it’s obviously still there. Politics and governments failed.

Thanks for the debate.

J.




 
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