"If you understood everything I said, you'd be me" - Miles Davis
"There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge." - Bertrand Russell
"Take away the right to say fuck and you take away the right to say fuck the government." - Lenny Bruce
"Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!" - Homer Simpson

Utility Fog Banner

Bird Flu
"A new flu pandemic could happen at any time and kill between 5-150 million people, a UN health official warned."
Bird flu 'could kill 150m people'

TV Tidbits
I think it's interesting that "Surface", "Invasion", "Threshold", and "Lost" all have primary or secondary themes of body snatching/infection.

Regarding "Threshold": I can let slide the premise that an alien audio signal can somehow rewrite our DNA. But they've never really explained why these evil aliens intent on taking over our bodies waste their friggin' time on an isolated cargo ship. If I was them I'd have hovered over something like Times Square on New Years Eve and converted a couple hundred thousand people, not counting possible hits through television coverage. Hell, if I'm so damn smart I'd hack into a satellite and broadcast the audio signal into every TV that gets cable.

Interesting take on the I-Ching and Lost


From Season 2 / Episode 1:
Jack's Hospital Badge
Desmond's Injections
From OceanicFlight815, an official ABC site:
Graphic, it spins like a radar display, only in 3 dimensions.
"Script" page easter egg. Click the barcode and enter "theislandiswaiting"

www.theislandiswaiting.com might have something. I didn't have the patience to wait the flash to load/run. It's registered to "Streetwise Concepts & Culture", which looks like a PR/Advertising firm in LA.

I don't know why I didn't think of checking out the Alt.TV.Lost Newsgroup. The group's FAQ has some good stuff.

Fat Beat
drums made of cheese

Drum kit made of cheese -flickr set-
Via Music thing

Picture Of The Day
dog rigged for motion capture
That must be one good-natured dog.
Via createdigitalmusic.com

Al, Run In '08
"We are now told that this is not a time to point fingers, even as some of those saying, "Don't point fingers," are themselves pointing fingers at the victims of the tragedy, who did not -- many of whom could not -- evacuate the city of New Orleans, because they didn't have automobiles, and they did not have adequate public transportation.

We're told this is not a time to hold our national government accountable because there are more important matters that confront us. This is not an either/or choice. They are linked together. As our nation belatedly finds effective ways to help those who have been so hard hit by Hurricane Katrina, it is important that we learn the right lessons of what has happened, lest we are spoon-fed the wrong lessons from what happened. If we do not absorb the right lessons, we are, in the historian's phrase, doomed to repeat the mistakes that have already been made.

All of us know that our nation -- all of us, the United States of America -- failed the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast when this hurricane was approaching them, and when it struck. When the corpses of American citizens are floating in toxic floodwaters five days after a hurricane strikes, it is time not only to respond directly to the victims of the catastrophe but to hold the processes of our nation accountable, and the leaders of our nation accountable, for the failures that have taken place."
Al Gore: A Moral Moment
Via Follow Me Here

You Should Go
serenity banner

"The Rick A. Ross Institute has assembled one of the largest databases of information about controversial groups, some called "cults," and related information on the Internet. The database contains thousands of press articles, court documents, and essays.
Here's the A's

Adi Da
Abusive/Controlling Relationships
African Sects
Aggressive Christianity Missionary Training Corp
Aguilar, Phil
Aish Ha Torah
Alamo, Tony
Alphonso Acampora
Alpha Omega
Al-Qaeda founded by Osama bin Laden
Amadon, aka Steve Arden
    Living Love Fellowship
    Mata Amritanandamyi Math
Ananda Church of Self-Realization
Anderson, Chuck
Animal Rights and Environmental Extremists
Anti-Abortion Extremists
Apostles of Infinite Love
Apostolic Faith Church
    Body of Jesus Christ Newborn Assembly, led by Charles Keyes Sr.
Apostolic Pentecostal Church of Plaster Rock
    founded by Dana McKillop
Aquarian Concepts Community
Arguinzoni, Sonny
Armstrong, Herbert
    founder of the Worldwide Church of God
Army of Mary
Art of Living Foundation
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Aryan Brotherhood
Aryan Nations
Asahara, Shoko
Assembly, The
    Robidoux Sect
Attrill, Gerald
Aum Sect
    Golden Lotus
Awaiting Christ Church

Controversial Groups Database
Via Follow Me Here

Not His Electric Personality
"An Australian man built up a 40,000-volt charge of static electricity in his clothes as he walked, leaving a trail of scorched carpet and molten plastic and forcing firefighters to evacuate a building.

Frank Clewer, who was wearing a woolen shirt and a synthetic nylon jacket, was oblivious to the growing electrical current that was building up as his clothes rubbed together.

When he walked into a building in the country town of Warrnambool in the southern state of Victoria Thursday, the electrical charge ignited the carpet."
He's lucky he didn't have to take a leak.
Power-dressing man leaves trail of destruction
Via Follow Me Here

"As Hurricane Katrina began pounding New Orleans, the sheriff's department abandoned hundreds of inmates imprisoned in the city?s jail, Human Rights Watch said today.

Inmates in Templeman III, one of several buildings in the Orleans Parish Prison compound, reported that as of Monday, August 29, there were no correctional officers in the building, which held more than 600 inmates. These inmates, including some who were locked in ground-floor cells, were not evacuated until Thursday, September 1, four days after flood waters in the jail had reached chest-level.
According to inmates interviewed by Human Rights Watch, they had no food or water from the inmates' last meal over the weekend of August 27-28 until they were evacuated on Thursday, September 1. By Monday, August 29, the generators had died, leaving them without lights and sealed in without air circulation. The toilets backed up, creating an unbearable stench.

"They left us to die there," Dan Bright, an Orleans Parish Prison inmate told Human Rights Watch at Rapides Parish Prison, where he was sent after the evacuation.

As the water began rising on the first floor, prisoners became anxious and then desperate. Some of the inmates were able to force open their cell doors, helped by inmates held in the common area. All of them, however, remained trapped in the locked facility.

"The water started rising, it was getting to here," said Earrand Kelly, an inmate from Templeman III, as he pointed at his neck. "We was calling down to the guys in the cells under us, talking to them every couple of minutes. They were crying, they were scared. The one that I was cool with, he was saying ?I'm scared. I feel like I'm about to drown.' He was crying."

Some inmates from Templeman III have said they saw bodies floating in the floodwaters as they were evacuated from the prison. A number of inmates told Human Rights Watch that they were not able to get everyone out from their cells.

Inmates broke jail windows to let air in. They also set fire to blankets and shirts and hung them out of the windows to let people know they were still in the facility. Apparently at least a dozen inmates jumped out of the windows.

"We started to see people in T3 hangin' shirts on fire out the windows," Brooke Moss, an Orleans Parish Prison officer told Human Rights Watch. "They were wavin' em. Then we saw them jumping out of the windows . . . Later on, we saw a sign, I think somebody wrote `help' on it."

As of yesterday, signs reading "Help Us," and "One Man Down," could still be seen hanging from a window in the third floor of Templeman III.

Several corrections officers told Human Rights Watch there was no evacuation plan for the prison, even though the facility had been evacuated during floods in the 1990s."
"You can trust us, we're with the government"
Prisoners Abandoned to Floodwaters
Via Boing Boing

I'm worried that the explanation for the mysteries on "Lost" may not meet my nitpicky standards. I can see how events on the island can be explained by sufficiently advanced technology but the whole "numbers"/fate/"brought to the island for a reason" aspect of the plot can run into problems. I don't think it could ever be as bad as the incoherent "X-Files" mythology car-wreck but I can see at least 2 ways they can blow it:
1: Lack of internal consistency-If the survivors were all brought to the island by some agency then that agency has almost supernatural powers to effect events all over the world over a period of years. Yet in the end it has to resort to the extremely risky tactic of crashing a jetliner. Unless it can somehow totally control a plane crash. And if it can do that then it's so fricken all-knowing and all-powerful why does it need to spend years subtly manipulating events in order to bring these people to the island in the first place?

2: Touchy-Feely Fuzzy Mysticism: I want somewhat-plausible science-fiction-type explanations. I don't want "fate" or "destiny" bringing the forces of good and evil together to battle each other. Even Walt's psychic powers are a bit too convenient for me.
To avoid spoilers, Observations, net-research, and questions on the season two premier can be found in the Comments Section

Join Us

"The founder of this family, Master Tony Ferrari, is the Earth's representative in an organization called the Light of the Giant Moth. According to the stories of the fathers, the center of the Moon is inhabited. The Moonmonsters were originally men, inhabitants of Ancient Nasquat413G on Earth."
We Have Missed You
Via The J-Walk Blog

I Like Dogs
Bee Dogs

Bee Dogs
Via The J-Walk Blog

It Takes A Village To Flood A City
"The federal official with the power to mobilize a massive federal response to Hurricane Katrina was Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, not the former FEMA chief who was relieved of his duties and resigned earlier this week, federal documents reviewed by Knight Ridder show.

Even before the storm struck the Gulf Coast, Chertoff could have ordered federal agencies into action without any request from state or local officials. Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown had only limited authority to do so until about 36 hours after the storm hit, when Chertoff designated him as the "principal federal official" in charge of the storm.

As thousands of hurricane victims went without food, water and shelter in the days after Katrina's early morning Aug. 29 landfall, critics assailed Brown for being responsible for delays that might have cost hundreds of lives.

But Chertoff - not Brown - was in charge of managing the national response to a catastrophic disaster, according to the National Response Plan, the federal government's blueprint for how agencies will handle major natural disasters or terrorist incidents. An order issued by President Bush in 2003 also assigned that responsibility to the homeland security director.

But according to a memo obtained by Knight Ridder, Chertoff didn't shift that power to Brown until late afternoon or evening on Aug. 30, about 36 hours after Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi. That same memo suggests that Chertoff may have been confused about his lead role in disaster response and that of his department.
White House and homeland security officials wouldn't explain why Chertoff waited some 36 hours to declare Katrina an incident of national significance and why he didn't immediately begin to direct the federal response from the moment on Aug. 27 when the National Hurricane Center predicted that Katrina would strike the Gulf Coast with catastrophic force in 48 hours. Nor would they explain why Bush felt the need to appoint a separate task force.

Chertoff's hesitation and Bush's creation of a task force both appear to contradict the National Response Plan and previous presidential directives that specify what the secretary of homeland security is assigned to do without further presidential orders. The goal of the National Response Plan is to provide a streamlined framework for swiftly delivering federal assistance when a disaster - caused by terrorists or Mother Nature - is too big for local officials to handle.
The Department of Homeland Security has refused repeated requests to provide details about Chertoff's schedule and said it couldn't say specifically when the department requested assistance from the military. Knocke said a military liaison was working with FEMA, but said he didn't know his or her name or rank. FEMA officials said they wouldn't provide information about the liaison."
I like this, working up the line. So who's Chertoff's boss again?
Chertoff delayed federal response, memo shows

"The official autopsies of the flawed response to the catastrophic storm have already begun in Washington, and may offer lessons for dealing with a terrorist attack or even another hurricane this season. But an initial examination of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath demonstrates the extent to which the federal government failed to fulfill the pledge it made after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to face domestic threats as a unified, seamless force.

Instead, the crisis in New Orleans deepened because of a virtual standoff between hesitant federal officials and besieged authorities in Louisiana, interviews with dozens of officials show.

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials expected the state and city to direct their own efforts and ask for help as needed. Leaders in Louisiana and New Orleans, though, were so overwhelmed by the scale of the storm that they were not only unable to manage the crisis, but they were not always exactly sure what they needed. While local officials assumed that Washington would provide rapid and considerable aid, federal officials, weighing legalities and logistics, proceeded at a deliberate pace.

FEMA appears to have underestimated the storm, despite an extraordinary warning from the National Hurricane Center that it could cause "human suffering incredible by modern standards." The agency dispatched only 7 of its 28 urban search and rescue teams to the area before the storm hit and sent no workers at all into New Orleans until after the hurricane passed on Monday, Aug. 29."
NYT Katrina Failure Overview

Fad Gadget
"This work takes advantage of recent improvements in real-time face tracking and gesture recognition to use their face in the control of effect parameters and preset selection. Although the face is the most expressive and malleable part of the body, until now the face has been a largely unused effector in music. This project explores the use of the face for both gestural and continuous control of musical effects. In affording continuous control, the system replaces existing continuous input devices. The gestural/conversational control feature is a new method of interacting with an audio effects processor."
Facial Control for Electric Guitar
Via we make money not art

Big Plans
"A few blocks from Mr. O'Dwyer, in an exclusive gated community known as Audubon Place, is the home of James Reiss, descendent of an old-line Uptown family. He fled Hurricane Katrina just before the storm and returned soon afterward by private helicopter. Mr. Reiss became wealthy as a supplier of electronic systems to shipbuilders, and he serves in Mayor Nagin's administration as chairman of the city's Regional Transit Authority. When New Orleans descended into a spiral of looting and anarchy, Mr. Reiss helicoptered in an Israeli security company to guard his Audubon Place house and those of his neighbors.

He says he has been in contact with about 40 other New Orleans business leaders since the storm. Tomorrow, he says, he and some of those leaders plan to be in Dallas, meeting with Mr. Nagin to begin mapping out a future for the city.

The power elite of New Orleans -- whether they are still in the city or have moved temporarily to enclaves such as Destin, Fla., and Vail, Colo. -- insist the remade city won't simply restore the old order. New Orleans before the flood was burdened by a teeming underclass, substandard schools and a high crime rate. The city has few corporate headquarters.

The new city must be something very different, Mr. Reiss says, with better services and fewer poor people. "Those who want to see this city rebuilt want to see it done in a completely different way: demographically, geographically and politically," he says. "I'm not just speaking for myself here. The way we've been living is not going to happen again, or we're out."
Rebuilding NOLA, Without Those Pesky Poor People
Via robot wisdom weblog

Hey, At Least He's Consistent
"But it's so unfair, isn't it, to attack poor Dubya like this? Just a little misplaced? After all, Bush has always been the rich white man's president. He is the CEO president, the megacorporate businessman's friend, the thug of the religious right, a big reservoir-tipped condom for all energy magnates, protecting against the nasty STDs of humanitarianism and progress and social responsibility.

He has always been merely an entirely selective figurehead, out of touch and eternally dumbfounded, a hand puppet of the neoconservative machine built and fluffed up and carefully placed for the very specific job of protecting their interests, no matter what. Repeat: No. Matter. What. Flood hurricane disaster war social breakdown economic collapse? Doesn't matter. Corporate interests über alles, baby. Protect the core, reassure the base, screw everyone else unless it begins to affect the poll numbers and then finger-point, deflect, prevaricate. All of a piece, really. Because Bush, he was never actually meant to, you know, lead.

So maybe it's time to stop with the savaging of poor Dubya. He is, after all, doing a simply beautiful job of kowtowing to his wealthiest supporters while slamming the poor and running the nation into a deep hole and creating the largest deficit in American history, all while his cronies in oil and industry and military supply and Big Energy gain immense and staggering wealth and pay less and less tax on it. This is what he was hired to do. This is why he is in office. Hell, the day after Katrina, Bush flew right by Louisiana and headed straight to San Diego to party with his Greatest Generation cronies. Reassure the masters, first and foremost, eh Shrub? Understood.

Is this not what we all expected? Can you reasonably say you thought it would be different? Just look. All major social services are being gutted. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is a joke, second in line only to the ungodly useless Homeland Security Department, which has become about as reassuring and trustworthy and humane an organization as a prison in Guantánamo.
Let's say it outright. The truest measure of any president, of any leader, is how well he takes care of his own people. And Bush, well, Bush has done a simply spectacular job of taking care of exactly his own people -- the wealthy, the corporate, the extreme religious right, his core base of supporters -- while happily and fiercely ignoring, restricting, condemning, destroying the rest. Are you educated or progressive or liberal or alternative-minded or sexually open or homosexual or anti-war? This means you. Are you dirt poor and belong to a minority and don't drive an SUV and contribute six figures per annum to the RNC and maybe live in a flooded swamp in the Louisiana bayou? This means you, squared. Sucker.

Here, then, is the new American motto, as reimagined by BushCo: Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, and we'll let them die in a filthy and decrepit storm-ravaged American football stadium while our president languishes on vacation and ponders his oil futures and fondly remembers his good ol' days of getting drunk at Mardi Gras before going AWOL from the military. God bless America."
Morford: What Did You Expect?

Psychic Cheney
"Sept. 7. 2004

Cheney told Republican supporters at a town hall meeting in Des Moines that they needed to make "the right choice" in the November 2 election.

"If we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again -- that we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States," Cheney said."
Veep Predicted Katrina

Yea, Go Prepare
"Statement by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010
September 9, 2005

The effort to respond and recover from Hurricane Katrina is moving forward. We are preparing to move from the immediate emergency response phase to the next phase of operations. Importantly, we must have seamless interaction with military forces as we move forward with our critical work in New Orleans and the surrounding parishes. At the same time, we are still in hurricane season and need to be prepared to deal effectively with the possibility of future hurricanes and other disasters.

Therefore, I have directed Mike Brown to return to administering FEMA nationally, and I have appointed Vice Admiral Thad Allen of the Coast Guard as the Principal Federal Official (PFO) overseeing Hurricane Katrina response and recovery effort in the field. Joe Picciano will continue to be deputy PFO in Baton Rouge to support Admiral Allen's efforts."
Oh goody, Brownie is free to destroy another city.
Brown Moved From Field

Taken On The Same Day
bush superdome mashup
Via Boing Boing

I Don't Know What To Think

Utility Fog reader Zeus points out an incredible story. Note the date.
"Sunday, July 24 2005

City, state and federal emergency officials are preparing to give the poorest of New Orleans' poor a historically blunt message: In the event of a major hurricane, you're on your own.

In scripted appearances being recorded now, officials such as Mayor Ray Nagin, local Red Cross Executive Director Kay Wilkins and City Council President Oliver Thomas drive home the word that the city does not have the resources to move out of harm's way an estimated 134,000 people without transportation.

In the video, made by the anti-poverty agency Total Community Action, they urge those people to make arrangements now by finding their own ways to leave the city in the event of an evacuation.

"You're responsible for your safety, and you should be responsible for the person next to you," Wilkins said in an interview. "If you have some room to get that person out of town, the Red Cross will have a space for that person outside the area. We can help you.

"But we don't have the transportation.""
You're On Your Own
Via My Suddenly Useful Comments System

" At a news conference, Pelosi, D-Calif., said Bush's choice for head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency had "absolutely no credentials."

She related that she urged Bush at the White House on Tuesday to fire Brown.

"He said 'Why would I do that?'" Pelosi said.

"'I said because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right last week.' And he said 'What didn't go right?'"

"Oblivious, in denial, dangerous," she added."
But everything is going to be alright, because GWB himself is going lead an investigation into Katrina relief failures.

"The government's disaster chief waited until hours after Hurricane Katrina had struck the Gulf Coast before asking his boss to send 1,000 Homeland Security employees to the region ? and gave them two days to arrive, according to internal documents.
"FEMA response and recovery operations are a top priority of the department and as we know, one of yours," Brown wrote Chertoff. He proposed sending 1,000 Homeland Security Department employees within 48 hours and 2,000 within seven days.

(Spokesman Russ) Knocke said the 48-hour period suggested for the Homeland employees was to ensure that they had adequate training. "They were training to help the life-savers," Knocke said."
Hey, I've got an idea. Why not train FEMA employees BEFORE THE DISASTER HAPPENS.
Inept FEMA

The Randi Rhodes Show homepage has timeline links:

Very Brief Visual Timeline

More Detailed ThinkProgress Timeline

Very Detailed Wikipedia Timeline

Very Detailed Dkosopedia Timeline

Daily Show ScreenCap

daily show screen cap bush disasters

Give him time.

" As New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin pleaded on national television for firefighters - his own are exhausted after working around the clock for a week - a battalion of highly trained men and women sat idle Sunday in a muggy Sheraton Hotel conference room in Atlanta.

Many of the firefighters, assembled from Utah and throughout the United States by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, thought they were going to be deployed as emergency workers.

Instead, they have learned they are going to be community-relations officers for FEMA, shuffled throughout the Gulf Coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number"
I almost missed the worst part. Wasting badly needed firefighters on community relations is incompetence, but using them for a photo-op when they could be saving lives is criminal.
But as specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas.

From My Comments/Katrina
"I am from New orleans and I know there were thousands of buses,at least one ferry (a block from the convention center and some tour boats also available to evacuate those people both before the storm and in many cases after the levee break. Those people were murdered..pure and simple."

NOLA Badass

NOLA don't try looting sign
The toughest guy in New Orleans underwater
Via Eyebeam Reblog

Little Bit Of Good News

A New Thomas Harris Novel is due out later this year.

Whatever You Say

dune poster
"In film, the Duke Leto (father of Paul) would be a man castrated in a ritual combat in the arenas during a bullfight (emblem of the Atreides house being a crowned bull...) Jessica - nun of the Bene Gesserit -, sent as concubine at the Duke to create a girl which would be the mother of a Messiah, becomes so in love with Leto that she decides to jump a chain link and to create a son, Kwisatz Haderach, the saviour. By using her capacities of Bene Gesserit - once that the Duke, insanely in love with her, entrusts her with his sad secret - Jessica is inseminated by a drop of blood of this sterile man... The camera followed (in script) the red drop through the ovaries of the woman and sees its meeting with the ovule where, by a miraculous explosion, it fertilises it. Paul had been born from a virgin; and not of the sperm of his father but of his blood...
In my version of Dune, the Emperor of the galaxy is insane. He lives on an artificial gold planet, in a gold palace built according to not-laws of antilogical. He lives in symbiosis with a robot identical to him. The resemblance is so perfect that the citizens never know if they are opposite the man or the machine...

In my version, the spice is a blue drug with spongy consistency filled with a vegetable-animal life endowed with consciousness, the highest level of consciousness. It does not stop taking all kinds of forms, while stirring up unceasingly. The spice continuously produces the creation of the innumerable universes."
Go, Baby, Go! Somebody needs to hook Alejandro up with a renegade Korean anime house and enigmatic swiss venture capital financing. He tried to get Dali to play the Emperor. I don't know who is crazier.
Jodorowsky's Dune
Via mike.whybark.com

"This event is emblematic of Republican governance. It encompasses every fuck-up they've perpetrated since they took over the entire national governament --- failure to plan, embracing only the best case scenario, lagging response, ignoring the experts, slashing funds and endless, endless happy talk that we can SEE WITH OUR OWN EYES is bullshit. (They are already saying that nobody is reporting all the "good news.")

The fact that most of these refugees (a word that I can hardly believe I'm typing) are black and poor residents who were unable to leave and were therefore, left to die, is emblematic also.

No, this is all about politics. It is about a GOP era of massive tax breaks for very rich Americans, billion dollar a week elective wars that we are losing while more and more people fall into poverty and the infrastructure of this country crumbles around our ears.

This failed experiment in free-market magical thinking can be summed up entirely by pictures of dead elderly Americans on the streets of New Orleans."
Katrina is all about politics

"Other swimmers had to break through rooftops with their bare hands, prompting the Coast Guard to begin outfitting all of them with axes. Gerald Hoover, 39, of Perry, Fla., used one to break through a window so he could lift a 160-pound woman into a rescue basket. He and his crew, their helicopter hovering, then had to work in concert to carefully lift the 70-year-old between her building and a tree so that the basket would not smash into either.

That incident showed how many New Orleans residents have gone to extraordinary lengths to help the frail. Hoover and his team would never have found the woman without the help of a boy who had been swimming back and forth to her second-story apartment to provide her with food.
The sheer scope of the mission and its emotional toll is something the Coast Guard personnel say they will remember for the rest of their lives.

For Skarra, flying at night over the city of New Orleans presents an image as surreal as it is daunting. "Everyone is shining their flashlights," he said, "so as you're flying over, it's kind of like you see a sky full of sparkling stars. So which star do you pick?"
Somebody on Cable News said that the Coast Guard has made more rescues in the last week than in the last 50 years.
Helicopter Rescues

Katrina/What Went Wrong
"Day after day of images showed exhausted families and their crying children stepping around corpses while they begged: Where is the water? Where are the buses? They seemed helpless, powerless, at the mercy of forces far beyond their control. The lack of rapid response left people in the United States, and all over the world, wondering how an American city could look like Mogadishu or Port-au-Prince. The refugee crisis-a million people without homes, jobs, schools-hardly fit George W. Bush's vision of the American Colossus.

What went wrong? Just about everything. How the system failed is a tangled story, but the basic narrative is becoming clearer: hesitancy, bureaucratic rivalries, failures of leadership from city hall to the White House and epically bad luck combined to create a morass. In the early aftermath, fingers pointed in all directions. The president was to blame; no, the looters. No, the bureaucrats. No, the local politicians. It was FEMA's fault-unless it was the Department of Homeland Security's. Or the Pentagon's. Certainly the government failed, and the catastrophe exposed, for all the world to see, raw racial divisions."
New Orleans-The Lost City
Via robot wisdom weblog

Sidenote: Dr. Phil and Geraldo have leaped into action and camera range, so we have that going for us.

Hurricane Spin

Talking Points Memo is all over Karl Rove's Katrina storyline. Those damn facts seem to keep getting in the way of Bush leading us boldly into a glorious future.
"It's almost awe-inspiring to see the level of energy and coordination the Bush White House can bring to bear in a genuine crisis. Not hurricane Katrina, of course, but the political crisis they now find rising around them.

As we noted yesterday, the storyline and the outlines of the attack are now clear: pin the blame for the debacle on state and local authorities.

So, let's get all the facts out on the table now. And let's not be afraid to let them all fall where they may. There's no need to make saints of Gov. Blanco or Mayor Nagin. In such a storm of error as this, it would not surprise me if they made a number of them too. But the reason you have a federal government and particularly a FEMA in cases like this is that it is in the nature of local and state authorities to be at least partly overwhelmed in disasters of this magnitude." More

Saucing The Goose

I don't really care much about what the American Legion says or does but I'm lifting this post wholesale from Billmon/Whiskey Bar because it's the perfect example of "They say THIS now but they said THIS then"
""The American Legion will stand against anyone and any group that would demoralize our troops, or worse, endanger their lives by encouraging terrorists to continue their cowardly attacks against freedom-loving peoples," Thomas Cadmus, national commander, told delegates at the group's national convention in Honolulu" . . . "We had hoped that the lessons learned from the Vietnam War would be clear to our fellow citizens. Public protests against the war here at home while our young men and women are in harm's way on the other side of the globe only provide aid and comfort to our enemies."

Editor & Publisher
American Legion Declares War on Protestors
August 24, 2005

(via Atrios)

Dear Mr. President:

The American Legion, a wartime veterans organization of nearly three-million members, urges the immediate withdrawal of American troops participating in "Operation Allied Force.''

The National Executive Committee of The American Legion, meeting in Indianapolis today, adopted Resolution 44, titled "The American Legion's Statement on Yugoslavia.'' This resolution was debated and adopted unanimously.

Mr. President, the United States Armed Forces should never be committed to wartime operations unless the following conditions are fulfilled:

  • That there be a clear statement by the President of why it is in our vital national interests to be engaged in hostilities;

  • Guidelines be established for the mission, including a clear exit strategy;

  • That there be support of the mission by the U.S. Congress and the American people; and

  • That it be made clear that U.S. Forces will be commanded only by U.S. officers whom we acknowledge are superior military leaders.

It is the opinion of The American Legion, which I am sure is shared by the majority of Americans, that three of the above listed conditions have not been met in the current joint operation with NATO ("Operation Allied Force'').

In no case should America commit its Armed Forces in the absence of clearly defined objectives agreed upon by the U.S. Congress in accordance with Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution of the United States.

Harold L. "Butch'' Miller,
National Commander

American Legion
Letter to President Clinton
May 5, 1999

The funny thing is that you wish the Legion would apply the 4 Yugoslavian points to Iraq as well, because they're good points.
Via Craig's Booknotes

Katrina/It CAN Get Worse
"BROOKLIN, Canada - Up to 12 more tropical storms are expected to follow Hurricane Katrina, the most destructive storm to ever strike the United States, and four may be major hurricanes, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Katrina, which made landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast Monday, has killed at least 110 people and left a million homeless. Preliminary damage estimates top 25 billion dollars. Refugee camps will be needed to house hundreds of thousands of people for weeks and months -- and perhaps longer, experts say. And it will be another week or two before the full extent of devastation is known.

Shockingly, there may be more storms to come. "This may well be one of the most active Atlantic hurricane seasons on record, and will be the ninth above-normal Atlantic hurricane season in the last 11 years," Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, director of the NOAA National Weather Service, said in a statement.

NOAA forecasts a whopping 21 tropical storms -- double the norm -- before the end of hurricane season on Nov. 30. That means the U.S., Mexico and Caribbean region could still be pounded by another 10 to 12 storms, including a major hurricane on the scale of Katrina. Fortunately, not all of these will make landfall. "
The Endless Hurricane Season
Via robot wisdom weblog

Katrina Meme

"Katrina is the Anti-9/11"

Katrina Denial
  • Michael Chertoff, our Director of Homeland Security, stated today that the disaster along the Gulf Coast is "breathtaking in its surprise" and that its occurrence was "not reasonably forseeable". (You can listen to the second quote yourself.) He claimed outright that the hurricane and the levee breaches were two entirely separate and unrelated catastrophes, and then used that to explain why we weren't prepared for the aftermath. (In that recording snippet, he even panders a bit by offhandedly stating that we weren't prepared for an atomic bomb, either.) A few media outlets, CNN included, immediately called him on the claim, but unfortunately it doesn't seem like anyone did so during the interview. I really can't believe that there are still excuses coming out of the mouths of cabinet-level officials on this.
  • Mike Brown, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has no prior disaster management experience and was forced to resign from his last job for "supervision failures".
Lifted wholesale from Q Daily News

On A Lighter Note

All Cupcakes, All The Time
Via Metafilter

FEMA/Katrina 6
"(CNN) -- The director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Thursday those New Orleans residents who chose not to heed warnings to evacuate before Hurricane Katrina bear some responsibility for their fates.

Michael Brown also agreed with other public officials that the death toll in the city could reach into the thousands.

"Unfortunately, that's going to be attributable a lot to people who did not heed the advance warnings," Brown told CNN.

"I don't make judgments about why people chose not to leave but, you know, there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans," he said.
"Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans -- virtually a city that has been destroyed -- that things are going relatively well," Brown said.

Nevertheless, he said he could "empathize with those in miserable conditions."

Asked later on CNN how he could blame the victims, many of whom could not flee the storm because they had no transportation or were too frail to evacuate on their own, Brown said he was not blaming anyone.

"Now is not the time to be blaming," Brown said. "Now is the time to recognize that whether they chose to evacuate or chose not to evacuate, we have to help them.""
FEMA chief: Victims bear some responsibility

Grim Reaping

grover nordquist drowning NOLA in the bathtub
Via Making Light

Black Humor/Katrina

WASHINGTON (Reuters)-Two key U.S. senators said on Friday they will launch a bipartisan coverup of what they described as an "immense, but probably unavoidable failure" of the government response to Hurricane Katrina.

Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who heads the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the panel's other top-ranking Republican, said they hope to shift as much blame as possible to lower-ranking officials and career federal employees-ideally at an obscure government agency that few Americans have ever heard of.

"In keeping with recent congressional practice, we will try to shield the president and the senior members of his administration from directly responsibility for this fiasco, although a few token resignations may be required this time around," the pair said in a joint statement. "Our primary focus, however, will be on figuring out how to throw billions of dollars in additional funding to the very same agencies that failed so spectacularly this past week."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist expressed his own support for a cover up, saying it would follow in the "proud footsteps" of Congress's refusal to hold anyone accountable for the failure to stop the 9/11 attacks, the completely inadequate investigation into the Abu Ghraib torture abuses, and the Senate Intelligence Committtee's whitewash of administration efforts to cook the intelligence on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Speaker of the House Denny Hastert declined to comment on the hurricane or the proposed Senate investigation, other than to make a loud "BRRRRRRRR" sound while pushing a toy bulldozer across a map of New Orleans.

Via Making Light

Nothing To See Here

If I hear another Authority Figure/Talking Head say "Now is not the time to start blaming people/play politics" I'm going to be seriously tempted to head-butt my TV. Yes, why don't we wait until later when Katina has dropped out of the news cycle and we're all distracted by some new scandal-de-jour and celebrity divorce.

FEMA/Katrina 5

Sisyphus Shrugged's big bunch of Katrina links

Red Cross: "We're not being allowed into New Orleans".

Times-Picayune: An open letter to the president.  
Dear Mr. President:

We heard you loud and clear Friday when you visited our devastated city and the Gulf Coast and said, "What is not working, we're going to make it right."

Please forgive us if we wait to see proof of your promise before believing you. But we have good reason for our skepticism.

Bienville built New Orleans where he built it for one main reason: It's accessible. The city between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain was easy to reach in 1718.

How much easier it is to access in 2005 now that there are interstates and bridges, airports and helipads, cruise ships, barges, buses and diesel-powered trucks.

Despite the city's multiple points of entry, our nation's bureaucrats spent days after last week's hurricane wringing their hands, lamenting the fact that they could neither rescue the city's stranded victims nor bring them food, water and medical supplies.

Meanwhile there were journalists, including some who work for the Times-Picayune, going in and out of the city via the Crescent City Connection. On Thursday morning, that crew saw a caravan of 13 Wal-Mart tractor trailers headed into town to bring food, water and supplies to a dying city.

Television reporters were doing live reports from downtown New Orleans streets. Harry Connick Jr. brought in some aid Thursday, and his efforts were the focus of a "Today" show story Friday morning.

Yet, the people trained to protect our nation, the people whose job it is to quickly bring in aid, were absent. Those who should have been deploying troops were singing a sad song about how our city was impossible to reach.

We're angry, Mr. President, and we'll be angry long after our beloved city and surrounding parishes have been pumped dry. Our people deserved rescuing. Many who could have been were not. That's to the government's shame.

Mayor Ray Nagin did the right thing Sunday when he allowed those with no other alternative to seek shelter from the storm inside the Louisiana Superdome. We still don't know what the death toll is, but one thing is certain: Had the Superdome not been opened, the city's death toll would have been higher. The toll may even have been exponentially higher.

It was clear to us by late morning Monday that many people inside the Superdome would not be returning home. It should have been clear to our government, Mr. President. So why weren't they evacuated out of the city immediately? We learned seven years ago, when Hurricane Georges threatened, that the Dome isn't suitable as a long-term shelter. So what did state and national officials think would happen to tens of thousands of people trapped inside with no air conditioning, overflowing toilets and dwindling amounts of food, water and other essentials?

State Rep. Karen Carter was right Friday when she said the city didn't have but two urgent needs: "Buses! And gas!" Every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be fired, Director Michael Brown especially.

In a nationally televised interview Thursday night, he said his agency hadn't known until that day that thousands of storm victims were stranded at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. He gave another nationally televised interview the next morning and said, "We've provided food to the people at the Convention Center so that they've gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day."

Lies don't get more bald-faced than that, Mr. President.

Yet, when you met with Mr. Brown Friday morning, you told him, "You're doing a heck of a job."

That's unbelievable.

There were thousands of people at the Convention Center because the riverfront is high ground. The fact that so many people had reached there on foot is proof that rescue vehicles could have gotten there, too.

We, who are from New Orleans, are no less American than those who live on the Great Plains or along the Atlantic Seaboard. We're no less important than those from the Pacific Northwest or Appalachia. Our people deserved to be rescued.

No expense should have been spared. No excuses should have been voiced. Especially not one as preposterous as the claim that New Orleans couldn't be reached.

Mr. President, we sincerely hope you fulfill your promise to make our beloved communities work right once again.

When you do, we will be the first to applaud.

Via Looka


It seems my RSS feed has been kaput for at least a week, maybe two. My apologies, it should be fixed now.

"The federal official in charge of the bungled New Orleans rescue was fired from his last private-sector job overseeing horse shows.

And before joining the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a deputy director in 2001, GOP activist Mike Brown had no significant experience that would have qualified him for the positi
Brown - formerly an estates and family lawyer - this week has has made several shocking public admissions, including interviews where he suggested FEMA was unaware of the misery and desperation of refugees stranded at the New Orleans convention center.

Before joining the Bush administration in 2001, Brown spent 11 years as the commissioner of judges and stewards for the International Arabian Horse Association, a breeders' and horse-show organization based in Colorado.

``We do disciplinary actions, certification of (show trial) judges. We hold classes to train people to become judges and stewards. And we keep records,'' explained a spokeswoman for the IAHA commissioner's office. ``This was his full-time job . . . for 11 years,'' she added.

Brown was forced out of the position after a spate of lawsuits over alleged supervision failures.

``He was asked to resign,'' Bill Pennington, president of the IAHA at the time, confirmed last night.
The White House last night defended Brown's appointment. A spokesman noted Brown served as FEMA deputy director and general counsel before taking the top job, and that he has now overseen the response to ``more than 164 declared disasters and emergencies,'' including last year's record-setting hurricane season."
FEMA Head fired from last job, unqualified
Via Boing Boing!

NOLA/Katrina 3

Concise Must-Read:
"Virtually everything that has happened in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina struck was predicted by experts and in computer models, so emergency management specialists wonder why authorities were so unprepared.

"The scenario of a major hurricane hitting New Orleans was well anticipated, predicted and drilled around," said Clare Rubin, an emergency management consultant who also teaches at the Institute for Crisis, Disaster and Risk Management at George Washington University.
In comments on Thursday, President Bush said, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."

But LSU engineer Joseph Suhayda and others have warned for years that defenses could fail. In 2002, the New Orleans Times Picayune published a five-part series on "The Big One," examining what might happen if they did.

It predicted that 200,000 people or more would be unwilling or unable to heed evacuation orders and thousands would die, that people would be housed in the Superdome, that aid workers would find it difficult to gain access to the city as roads became impassable, as well as many other of the consequences that actually unfolded after Katrina hit this week.

Craig Marks who runs Blue Horizons Consulting, an emergency management training company in North Carolina, said the authorities had mishandled the evacuation, neglecting to help those without transportation to leave the city.

"They could have packed people on trains or buses and gotten them out before the hurricane struck," he said. "They had enough time and access to federal funds. And now, we find we do not have a proper emergency communications infrastructure so aid workers get out into the field and they can't talk to one another."

Most of those trapped by the floods in the city of some 500,000 people are the poor who had little chance to leave. "
They Knew What To Expect

I've heard a number of people point out that the question might not be "why aren't these people getting help?" but rather "why weren't these people evacuated before the storm hit?"

We live in Science Fiction: Heavy Weather by Bruce Sterling

I wonder if people are going to say "Everything changed after New Orleans" like they do now for 9/11?

NOLA/Katrina 2
Massive explosions and fire on the New Orleans waterfront.

Good stuff at Looka! , one of my favorite blogs.

Blogging from New Orleans

Lots of NOLA Photos

"Three days ago, police and national guard troops told citizens to head toward the Crescent City Connection Bridge to await transportation out of the area. The citizens trekked over to the Convention Center and waited for the buses which they were told would take them to Houston or Alabama or somewhere else, out of this area.

It's been 3 days, and the buses have yet to appear.

Although obviously he has no exact count, he estimates more than 10,000 people are packed into and around and outside the convention center still waiting for the buses. They had no food, no water, and no medicine for the last three days, until today, when the National Guard drove over the bridge above them, and tossed out supplies over the side crashing down to the ground below. Much of the supplies were destroyed from the drop. Many people tried to catch the supplies to protect them before they hit the ground. Some offered to walk all the way around up the bridge and bring the supplies down, but any attempt to approach the police or national guard resulted in weapons being aimed at them.

There are many infants and elderly people among them, as well as many people who were injured jumping out of windows to escape flood water and the like -- all of them in dire straights.

Any attempt to flag down police results in being told to get away at gunpoint. Hour after hour they watch buses pass by filled with people from other areas. Tensions are very high, and there has been at least one murder and several fights. 8 or 9 dead people have been stored in a freezer in the area, and 2 of these dead people are kids.

The people are so desperate that they're doing anything they can think of to impress the authorities enough to bring some buses. These things include standing in single file lines with the eldery in front, women and children next; sweeping up the area and cleaning the windows and anything else that would show the people are not barbarians.

The buses never stop.

Before the supplies were pitched off the bridge today, people had to break into buildings in the area to try to find food and water for their families. There was not enough. This spurred many families to break into cars to try to escape the city. There was no police response to the auto thefts until the mob reached the rich area -- Saulet Condos -- once they tried to get cars from there... well then the whole swat teams began showing up with rifles pointed. Snipers got on the roof and told people to get back.

He reports that the conditions are horrendous. Heat, mosquitoes and utter misery. The smell, he says, is "horrific."

He says it's the slowest mandatory evacuation ever, and he wants to know why they were told to go to the Convention Center area in the first place; furthermore, he reports that many of them with cell phones have contacts willing to come rescue them, but people are not being allowed through to pick them up."
Via The Interdictor

Here's a forecast: There are 2 words you are going to hear a lot more of in the future-"SELA funding"

Good coverage at The New Orleans Times-Picayune
"What has happened down here is the wind have changed
Clouds roll in from the north and it started to rain
Rained real hard and rained for a real long time
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline
The river rose all day
The river rose all night
Some people got lost in the flood
Some people got away alright
The river have busted through cleard down to Plaquemines
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangelne
Louisiana, Louisiana
They're tyrin' to wash us away
They're tryin' to wash us away
Louisiana, Louisiana
They're tryin' to wash us away
They're tryin' to wash us away
President Coolidge came down in a railroad train
With a little fat man with a note-pad in his hand
The President say, Little fat man isn't it a shame what the river has
done to this poor crackers land.
Randy Newman - Louisiana 1927

It doesn't look like we planned properly for a force-5 hurricane hitting NO. I knew years ago that the entire city could be flooded by a high enough (and possible) storm surge.