Wednesday, September 07, 2005



THE LEFT BEHIND Posted by Picasa

SIGN OF THE TIMES Posted by Picasa


NEW ORLEANS Posted by Picasa

Laura Bush says " WHY DIDN"T THEY JUST CALL A CAB ! "
as if she thought like Marie Antoinnete -

So anyway here’s another rant for you. It can’t be helped the news from New Orleans & the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is all over the TV & the Internet.

There are lots of informative articles to be found in News Agencies all over the world . I’m surprised by the depth of the coverage.
For instance one can readily access info on the various studies done over the years on the poor state in which the levees were left & that there had been demands for large sums of money to be spent to upgrade them & to coordinate Emergency Services in case of the event of a disaster as befell Mississippi, Alabama & Louisiana & that there were discussions which took place concerning what would be done to insure that the poor & disabled were evacuated in such dire circumstances.
So to say no one could have predicted this event in fact they had & had put pressure on the US FEDERAL GOVERNMENT for year to do something but the Neo-Conservatives refused to listen having their own agenda of ridding the country of Big Government & giving substantial tax breaks to the wealthy & insisting on the naive principle that disaster relief should be handled by Private Charities which do not have anywhere near the resources need in such a massive undertaking.

It is surprising that there are so many articles in American & foreign newspapers which are critical of the Bush Administrations slow & inadequate response to the Katrina Hurricane disaster. I take no delight as it were in watching people perish needlessly in the affected areas while Bush gives one upbeat news conference after another. He appears somewhat out of his element & seems to spend a lot of time thanking people for the great job they were or are doing when in fact very little was actually being accomplished on the ground. But this is part of what Bush is all about appearances & putting a good face on a situation which he may have completely botched or doesn’t appreciate the gravity of the situation.
Bush seemed to forget he is the one in control & that the buck stops at his office & he has various discretionary powers at his disposal especially since he is also the Commander in Chief of the US armed forces. These are not powers which individual state governors have or the mayors of the various cities & towns affected by this disaster.
Many are still asking why more troops & equipment along with food water & medical supplies were not sent immediately. All the President had to do was pick up the phone & demand action & if these orders were not carried out in a timely fashion he then could lean on those who were not acting fast enough or even let a few heads role & appoint new people to those positions . Yet President Bush seemed to think it was not up to him but to someone else & they would take up the slack for him.
Is it possible that he has surrounded himself with ideologically like minded people but who may not be up to the positions of trust & authority he has given them.
One wonders what in the world he was thinking .
He may have believed that he could slide through this horrifying event on his smile & charming ways & a few more folksy anecdotes about his drunken days in New Orleans.
Maybe as an Evangelical Christian Fundamentalist he believed that the whole situation was in the hands of GOD.
Maybe he thought the power of positive thinking combined with prayer would somehow feed the hungry & provide water for those who were dying dehydration.
One can only hope that the pressure which has been brought to bare on him from the American & foreign press & by those people who were most affected who managed to survive will continue.
Though the American voters seem to have a limited attention span & will be more worried about Monday Night Football & the World SERIES & what to do for Thanksgiving & Christmas & what presents to buy than to worry their heads over a few thousand dead mostly poor African Americans.
It seems race & class relations in the USA are no better than they were when Martin Luther King forty years ago marched on Washington pleading for equality for African Americans & for the poor of America.

AND here is an article from the LA TIMES which tries to answer what went wrong this time? I think it is pertinent enough to pass on .


Why FEMA Was Missing in Action
# Most of the agency's preparedness budget and focus are related to terrorism, not disasters.

By Peter G. Gosselin and Alan C. Miller, Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON — While the federal government has spent much of the last quarter-century trimming the safety nets it provides Americans, it has dramatically expanded its promise of protection in one area — disaster.

Since the 1970s, Washington has emerged as the insurer of last resort against floods, fires, earthquakes and — after 2001 — terrorist attacks.

But the government's stumbling response to the storm that devastated the nation's Gulf Coast reveals that the federal agency singularly most responsible for making good on Washington's expanded promise has been hobbled by cutbacks and a bureaucratic downgrading.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency once speedily delivered food, water, shelter and medical care to disaster areas, and paid to quickly rebuild damaged roads and schools and get businesses and people back on their feet. Like a commercial insurance firm setting safety standards to prevent future problems, it also underwrote efforts to get cities and states to reduce risks ahead of time and plan for what they would do if calamity struck.

But in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, FEMA lost its Cabinet-level status as it was folded into the giant new Department of Homeland Security. And in recent years it has suffered budget cuts, the elimination or reduction of key programs and an exodus of experienced staffers.

The agency's core budget, which includes disaster preparedness and mitigation, has been cut each year since it was absorbed by the Homeland Security Department in 2003. Depending on what the final numbers end up being for next fiscal year, the cuts will have been between about 2% and 18%.

The agency's staff has been reduced by 500 positions to 4,735. Among the results, FEMA has had to cut one of its three emergency management teams, which are charged with overseeing relief efforts in a disaster. Where it once had "red," "white" and "blue" teams, it now has only red and white.

Three out of every four dollars the agency provides in local preparedness and first-responder grants go to terrorism-related activities, even though a recent Government Accountability Office report quotes local officials as saying what they really need is money to prepare for natural disasters and accidents.

"They've taken emergency management away from the emergency managers," complained Morrie Goodman, who was FEMA's chief spokesman during the Clinton administration. "These operations are being run by people who are amateurs at what they are doing."

Richard W. Krimm, a former senior FEMA official for several administrations, agreed. "It was a terrible mistake to take disaster response and recovery … and disaster preparedness and mitigation, and put them in Homeland Security," he said.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff acknowledged in interviews Sunday that Washington was insufficiently prepared for the hurricane that laid waste to New Orleans and surrounding areas. But he defended its performance by arguing that the size of the storm was beyond anything his department could have anticipated and that primary responsibility for handling emergencies rested with state and local, not federal, officials.

"Before this happened, I said … we need to build a preparedness capacity going forward," Chertoff told NBC's "Meet the Press." He added that that was something "we have not yet succeeded in doing."

Under the law, Chertoff said, state and local officials must direct initial emergency operations. "The federal government comes in and supports those officials," he said.

Chertoff's remarks, which echoed earlier statements by President Bush, prompted withering rebukes both from former senior FEMA staffers and outside experts.

"They can't do that," former agency chief of staff Jane Bullock said of Bush administration efforts to shift responsibility away from Washington. "The moment the president declared a federal disaster, it became a federal responsibility…. The federal government took ownership over the response," she said. Bush declared a disaster in Louisiana and Mississippi when the storm hit a week ago.

"What's awe-inspiring here is how many federal officials didn't issue any orders," said Paul C. Light, an authority on government operations at New York University.

Evidence of confusion extended beyond FEMA and the Homeland Security Department on Sunday.

Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said that conditions in New Orleans and elsewhere could quickly escalate into a major public health crisis. But asked whether his agency had dispatched teams in advance of the storm and flooding, Leavitt answered, "No."

"None of these teams were pre-positioned," he told CNN's "Late Edition." "We're having to organize them … as we go."

Such an ad hoc approach might not have surprised Americans until recent decades because the federal government was thought to have few responsibilities for disaster relief, and what duties it did have were mostly delegated to the American Red Cross.

Anyway that’s all for now,

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