Freitag, 2. September 2005

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Subject: [NY-GreenPartyUSA] New Orleans
(Danke für den Tipp, nicht daran gedacht ...)



I've been sending short clips out for the last 24 hours, about the situation in New Orleans, based on phone interviews with my friend Les Evenchick -- a Green activist -- who lives in the French Quarter there and who is refusing to leave his community.

Here are some of them:

hey are sending 5,000 additional national guard troops over the next 3 days into New Orleans but still refuse to provide fresh drinking water and food. In reality, what they will be doing is forcibly remove any residents who don't want to leave
their living quarters, families, pets (such as those thousands in drier areas like our friend Les Evenchick in the French Quarter). The media spin will be in fll play on how the military will be "rescuing" these people. The most important thing they need right now is drinking water and food, not removal.

Is this the new version of urban renewal? We need to investigate which companies will be "rebuilding" and what are the plans. Were these plans to "develop" the poor areas of New Orleans in existence BEFORE the hurricane, just as PNAC's plans were in place before 9-11 hit New York City and before the US invaded Iraq?

I am looking at the 2004 presidential election results from Louisiana, which Bush won overwhelmingly 57%-42%. Bush won every county EXCEPT Orleans, which voted a landslide for Kerry:

STATUS CANDIDATE VOTE VOTE %

Bush
(Incumbent)
1,102,169 57%

Kerry
820,299 42%

Nader
7,032 1%


I then checked the County of Orleans in which Kerry received 152,610 (78%) to Bush's 42,847 (22%)

Cleans out the only major anti-Bush area in the State pretty effectively, wouldn't you say?

I wonder if this is part of a national strategy, to allow (and help along either directly or through negligence) horrible things to happen to the main anti-Bush areas?

**********************************
WEDS. 6 pm
Just spoke with Les, who IS in New Orleans.

He's OK, but WHAT A STORY!!!!

His area is the French Quarter and is dry, but government ordered all water to be turned off this morning to drive people out.

I'll be writing this up, just interviewed him for 1/2 hour.

What's really needed are food and water drops, but FEMA is not doing that. That's why people are looting, for food and water. Gov't is sending in troops today to stop the looting, instead of bringing in food.

All the electricity was turned off in the entire area, instead of doing so by sectors. Some sectors are dry.

Notes are very rough now, but lots of poor people have died, and many did not want to leave because they were not letting their pets into the Superbowl.

French Quarter is above sea-level. All emergency crews had been ordered to leave 36 hours BEFORE the storm hit!

More to come.


**********************************

Former Presidents Clinton and Bush Sr. were interviewed on CNN absolving the terrible performance of this government, saying that "no one predicted" the breech in the levee or the severity of the hurricane.

This is completely untrue. And they know it.

These exact instances have been predicted for years, preparations were made for dealing with them, and then federal funding was drastically cut earlier this year.

Three years ago, the New Orleans Times-Picayune
won journalism awards for an exhaustive five-part series called "Washing Away" which began with the words: "It's only a matter of time before south Louisiana takes a direct hit from a major hurricane. Billions have been spent to protect us,
but we grow more vulnerable every day."

(Wow, Wolf Blitzer and Jack Cafferty just summarized some of this on CNN! Cafferty quoted from Schaeffer on Slate.com today about race and class. It is a tremendous story!)

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez discussed in detail these stories this morning (Thursday) on their radio show Democracy Now!

From DemocracyNow!:
As the devastation continues to unfold, many people around the country are wondering how a catastrophe of this magnitude could have occurred. Well, some have been warning of such an impending disaster for years. Three years ago, the New Orleans Times-Picayune won journalism awards for an exhaustive five-part series called "Washing Away" which began with the words: "It's only a matter of time before south Louisiana
takes a direct hit from a major hurricane. Billions have been spent to protect us, but we grow more vulnerable every day." The newspaper seems to be living its own prophecy. As the hurricane passed but the water continued to rise, the staff of the Times-Picayune was forced to evacuate its downtown headquarters.

Mark Fischetti, contributing editor of Scientific American. In 2001 he wrote an article titled "The Drowning of New Orleans" that warned only massive reengineering of southeastern Louisiana could save New Orleans from a catastrophic flood.

John McQuaid, reporter for the Washington bureau of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. He co-authored Washing Away, a major investigative series in 2002 examining the implications of a hurricane like Katrina hitting New Orleans.

AMY GOODMAN: We're joined right now by John McQuaid, he works in the Washington Bureau of the Times-Picayune, he is one of the co-authors of that 2002 series called Washing Away. We're also joined in Massachusetts by journalist, Mark Fischetti, he is a contributing editor of Scientific American. In 2001, a year before Washing Away, he wrote the article entitled, The Drowning of New Orleans that warned only massive reengineering of Southeastern Louisiana could save New Orleans from a catastrophic flood. We welcome you both to Democracy Now!, And we begin with John McQuaid in Washington, D.C.-- the Washington reporter for the Times-Picayune. First of all,
our condolences on all that is happening in your state and with your colleagues.
Can you talk about your knowledge of the latest, but, what you understood for years, what you have written about?

JOHN MCQUAID: The corps of engineers announced yesterday that the water coming into the city had stopped. Basically the water inside the city kept rising, and the level of Lake Pontchartrain, which was the source of the water, was gradually falling
after the storm and was equalized sometime yesterday morning. So that gave them a little bit of relief in at least the situation was not worsening. They then were dropping giant sandbags, 15,000 pound sandbags into the largest breach in the levee where the water had been coming in. And then they were going to embark on several projects to cut open levees at other places to allow water to flow out. And to fix pumps, that can pump water out. There have been different estimates as to how long
it will take to pump all of the water out. They were saying 30 days. I guess the Los Angeles Times is quoting someone saying it could take much longer than that. So, that's sort of the flood situation.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And in terms of your series, could you for those of our listeners and viewers around the country who are not familiar with it, talk about some of the main findings that your series of articles uncovered?

JOHN MCQUAID: Sure. There are two main problems. One is that the coastline, the entire region of New Orleans and its surrounding areas are built on is sinking and eroding due to a number of different factors. It's been doing that essentially since
the people started living there. Over the years, it's gotten lower. They have built levees and other structures to prevent floodwaters from hurricanes and heavy rains and other things from staying in this area. Get them out and keep them from penetrating into it. But the problem continues to get worse. So, the government is constantly playing catch-up to construct levees, to build up existing structures, to build new structures, and essentially they never caught up.

AMY GOODMAN: We're also joined by Mark Fischetti, contributing editor of Scientific American. You wrote the piece, The Drowning of New Orleans, warning that massive re-engineering of Southeastern Louisiana could save New Orleans from a catastrophic flood. Talk more about this. Talk about what you are seeing today and what you were warning, not one, not two, was it more than three years ago in 2001?

MARK FISCHETTI: Yeah. Right. It was 2001, and a lot of what that was predicated on was actually a plan that was put together in 1998 by a number of local scientists, engineers, and the governor's office of Louisiana, which basically showed with computer models what would happen if a hurricane came in this direction and hit New Orleans directly. The models pretty much predicted exactly what's happened, so this whole group of experts down there came up with a pretty consolidated plan of four or five
major steps that should be taken to protect the city and the delta as much as possible. The plan came out and really didn't get a whole lot of response on a national level. It was an expensive program, as you might have imagined, and it sort of was just
left there.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And John McQuaid, your articles were amazingly describing the scenarios of the experts that you talked to about the potential catastrophe in New Orleans from a direct hit from a hurricane. It's amazing how precisely those predictions have turned out to be as a result of this hurricane. Could you talk about what you warned then of the potential -- how the disaster would play out?

JOHN MCQUAID: Yes. All the experts looked at the basic topography and they saw that New Orleans was on average five feet below sea level. The lake is one-and-a-half feet above sea level, and so -- all that's between them is the levee system, so
if the levee system is over topped by a large storm surge from a hurricane or if it is breached, as happened in this case, then you get a flood the bowl situation where water just flows into the city from the lake, basically until it's at the same level in both, and that means essentially the entire city of New Orleans under
w ater. There's no easy way to get rid of that water. In most flood situations, in natural disasters, floods like the tsunami or river floods, the water will rise very quickly and then it will disappear relatively quickly. In this situation, it's just stuck there, and there's no way to get it out. Electricity that powers the pumps is down. The pumps are inundated. They don't work. So, you have a situation of standing water, and as was mentioned at the top of the program, you have all of the waste, garbage, dead bodies, some of it quite toxic, is just floating around in that. So, and it gets worse the longer it goes on. So, the corps of engineers
is desperately trying to get that water out of there, but again, it's the type of thing where you have to cut holes in the levee and pump the water out, and that just takes a very long time. So, it's a very unique and horrible situation.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, as we reported yesterday in several other media have over the past few days, the Federal government began a project in 1995 to shore up the levees and improve New Orleans' ability to withstand this type of flooding, but your newspaper has written many articles over the last few years talking about the problems with that program, and the cutbacks that occurred in the funding for it. Could you talk about that as well?

JOHN MCQUAID: There are basically two big programs underway. One has to do with flooding within the city and surrounding areas. The other has to do with hurricane protection and levee protection. The first is the one that had its funding cut. Some of that funding was also going to hurricane protection, and in the past few years, it's been very difficult for local officials and members of Congress from Louisiana to get money consistently to fund those things. The Bush administration has obviously had its attention focused in terms of the budget on Iraq, on domestic
terrorism needs, and it's been looking to cut back in the corps of engineers. The corps of engineers has a -- history of -- some say, of wasting money on large projects, however, in this case, these projects are absolutely vital to protecting the city.
So, every year there's been a big scramble to get more money. They have had some of it restored, but when you are sort of constantly fighting budget cuts coming from the administration, it's just been very difficult and local people and members of Congress have been complaining about this for a long time.

AMY GOODMAN: President Bush proposing significantly reducing the amount of Federal money, proposing spending $10 million. Local officials saying six times as much money was needed.


- Mitchel Cohen
Brooklyn Greens / Green Party of New York State

***********************************
Posted in response to comments on WBAI lists:

Wilhelm Reich wrote: "The problem is not 'Why do hungry people steal food?' The problem is why they DON'T."

People are starving, dying, having to walk barefoot through filthy water, drinking water was turned off today (to drive people out, says my source who lives in the French Quarter of New Orleans -- NOT because there is a threat of contamination; there's not, at this time) and markets were full .... so people -- Black and White alike! -- take what they need. Good for them! (The POLICE were the first to loot the Foot Locker sneaker store, and told residents to wait until they finished, by the way ...)

An amazing LACK of violence during the so-called "looting", despite the one or two items that the corporate media plays over and over ....

Anyway, please read this article below, especially the part about the disparity in the way the media are portraying Black "looters" and White "finders" .....

- Mitchel



Related internet links:
· Washington Post - Looting Report
//www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/30/AR2005083000848.html
· First Black "Looter"
//news.yahoo.com/photo/050830/480/ladm10208301530
· Second Black "Looter"
//news.yahoo.com/photo/050830/480/ladm10908301723
· White People "Find" Things
//news.yahoo.com/photo/050830/photos_ts_afp/050830071810_shxwaoma_photo1

*************************
Many people refused to leave their houses because neither FEMA nor local Emergency Management planned for evacuation. Refugee centers could have/should have been set up ahead of time; transportation should have been provided. Instead, they told people to go to the SuperDome. Reports from Les say that 5,000 people were lined up for over 5 hours in 95 degrees heat outside during the first waves of the storm waiting to go in through a single gate as guards searched them for weapons, cigarettes (no smoking rule), etc. Finally people rebelled and rushed the National Guard. Administrators then decided to let everyone in, that they could be searched inside, where it was
air conditioned (at the beginning) and out of the storm. Now people have been rioting trying to get out, but they won't let anyone leave. Instead, they're going to shuttle 10,000 of'm 350 miles away to Houston's AstroDome -- "the Dome people"
-- no toilets working, no running water ... sounds like the Tombs at 110 Centre´St. in Manhattan.

They wouldn't let people bring their pets with them to dome, or anywhere. People told to get out of town at bus station, but when they got there the stations were all closed the night before as bus personnel fled.

The reason the pumps didn't work is because all the crews were ordered to leave BEFORE the storm. Now there is no electricity to run them, but there are manual pumps too, no personnel.

New York and others are sending emergency crews to arrive there today (!!!) but New Orleans sent their own emergency crews packing.

Anyway, back to animals -- I'm not sure the real animal protection people have fled. I've heard that there are many trying to save animals as wekk as people. But there were no provisions made by the government, by FEMA -- which, according to today's Democracy Now!, had been stripped of its mandate to plan for disasters beforehand and has been subsumed under Homeland Security and ordered to only worry about managing disaster relief, not prevention or planning.

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