Sunday, September 04, 2005

From the rest of the world

This is how it looks to the rest of the world (I pulled this from Daily Kos. If you're a staunch supporter of the president, just skip it'll only get angry. Oh well, I've been angry for a while now.)

If you haven't donated yet, the Red Cross is a good place to do it.


The shock of Katrina lies not just in the force of the hurricane and the uncalculated loss of life. This city, fiercely loved by its inhabitants, is cherished by Americans as an enclave of hedonism. It is where graduating college students go to drink themselves stupid, or hip honeymooners to sample some jazz. With its palm trees and exotic French origins, New Orleans is a natural destination for visitors who want to let off steam.

Or was. Now that the stumbling evacuation is gathering pace, a town with a similar population to that of Edinburgh's will be shut down, or left to looters and corpses. A place that was a byword for music and vitality will fall silent, aside from the whirring of choppers and the roar of bulldozers . . .

The romance of New Orleans has obscured the economic state of the region. Roads in Louisiana are bumpy and badly maintained. School buses drop off children at trailer parks. Refineries along the Mississippi spew out emissions that would be forbidden under EU law, even before the toxic leakages caused by Katrina. Mississippi, despite flashes of southern charm, also feels like a place that is down on its luck. Towns that were the backdrop for 1960s films like In the Heat of the Night are economically hollowed out, with people working at two jobs or no jobs. The casino ships destroyed in Gulfport and Biloxi were among the few steady earners.



Hurricane Katrina - Too little, too late from US government

THE frightening thing about the catastrophe of New Orleans is that the world's only super power cannot cope.

In the wake of possibly the worst natural disaster in US history, America is struggling to come to grips with the devastation after hurricane Katrina swamped the city, claiming thousands of lives.

In a calamity of biblical proportions, the question that refuses to go away is why the administration of President George W Bush responded so inadequately to a disaster that was waiting to happen . . .

In forthright terms, he asked why President Bush had failed to co-ordinate an effective relief operation for the city.

Recalling that $8 billion had gone to Iraq and that, in the aftermath of September 11, the president was given unprecedented powers, Mr Nagan said the Bush regime should: "Get off their asses and do something to fix the biggest disaster in the history of the United States."



Bagdad, New Orleans

Night sinks New Orleans into anarchy.

The once alive metropolis works like the abandoned window blind of a disaster film. Gangs plunder, most inhabitants fled. With their last strength the police tries to become the lawyer gentleman. The sweat stands on the 22-year-old policeman's forehead. -- Goggle translation



Storm Reveals Leader Who Divides America

Like the water spilling over the breached dykes of the French Quarter, the propaganda and the polemics will pass. But what will remain, along with the bodies and the broken buildings, is the rift that has split America since the end of the Cold War. Mr. Bush has seen his approval rating fall to its lowest-ever level at 45%. He has won two elections but, with the exception of the epic post-September 11 period, he has always been leader of half the country. His war in Iraq has two implacable Americas facing off against each other, with 53% against and 46% in favor.

Divided in politics, the United States is equally divided in its society. Census Bureau figures for 2004 confirm that the robust economic growth we Europeans so envy is slow to manifest itself as prosperity for the poorest. Just under 46 million Americans have no medical coverage, an increase of 800,000 citizens. Some 12.7% of the superpower's residents live below the poverty line, but what is even worse is that the number has been increasing steadily every year since 2001. The country continues to produce, innovate, consume and create jobs, but it is failing to win the war President Johnson declared on poverty forty years ago.



Hurricane prompts awkward questions

Images from the stricken city of New Orleans show that many of those suffering in its streets and shelters are mainly black and poor.

The plight of those stranded amid the filth and the dead has highlighted a side of the city most tourists did not see - one in which two-thirds of its residents are black and more than a quarter live in poverty.

Anger is mounting among African-American leaders that this section was left behind when others fled.

Some say the chaos in Katrina's aftermath has exposed deep divisions in both the city and US society.

"We cannot allow it to be said by history that the difference between those who lived and... died... was nothing more than poverty, age or skin colour," Congressman Elijah Cummings said.



You're on your own, Britain's victims told

British families trapped in New Orleans last night claimed that US authorities had refused to evacuate them as Hurricane Katrina approached the city.

Although assistance was offered to US residents, British nationals were told they would have to fend for themselves. According to those who remain stranded in the stricken city, police had visited hotels and guest houses on the eve of the hurricane offering to evacuate Americans, but not Britons.




PRESIDENT Bush finally made it to the US flood zone yesterday, amid fury at his administration's failure to give prompt help to New Orleans.

As a Louisiana senator awarded a "grade F" to the response to the crisis and warned of more than 10,000 dead, large-scale aid was at last beginning to arrive in the swamped and lawless city.

Mr Bush, leader of the richest nation on earth and floundering in the face of a Third World-style disaster, conceded five days on that the rescue effort was "not acceptable".

As far back as 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was saying that a major hurricane hitting New Orleans was one of the three "likeliest, most catastrophic disasters facing this country".

But the president nicknamed Dubya has constantly slashed the agency's budget, leaving flood defences unrepaired.

He appointed inexperienced people to run it, then the body was swallowed up by the Department of Homeland Security.

Louisiana had a request for pre-disaster funding rejected in 2004 and army money for flood protection was cut hugely.

One emergency chief, Walter Maestri, said: "It appears the money has been moved to the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq. I suppose that's the price we pay."


NRC - HANDELSBLAD (Netherlands):

Unnecessary Flood Damage: Advice on Dykes From the Dutch

When people were ordered to evacuate, no thought was given to people with reduced mobility. Either they couldn't be transported because they were severely handicapped, or they simply lacked the money for a bus or car. Others (quite understandably) voluntarily stayed behind to protect their homes against looting. And now America is faced with a gas shortage, since substantial refinery capacity is situated near New Orleans.

This disaster is the sad result of years of overt neglect. The general mistrust of American voters in the political process has resulted in a weakened local and federal government. To finance the war in Iraq, the U.S. government reduced (believe it or not, this year) the budget for dykes and flood wall maintenance for the city of New Orleans, as well as for emergency planning.

The Bush presidency (who gave a speech on Wednesday that lacked any direction whatsoever) is in crisis. He has to mobilize the emergency responders. But you can't base policy solely on "wishful thinking." The American Congress will scrutinize all of these blunders, and this will no doubt weaken support for the expensive war in Iraq. Many of the law enforcement personnel are in Iraq. But in these tragic circumstances, European governments cannot just stand on the sidelines and criticize the Bush Administration. We have to support the victims of this unspeakable tragedy.


kris said...

Thanks for posting these. Reading the perceptions of others we respect should be a top priority of those in charge. Maybe it would help in decisionmaking.

Laura said...

Very interesting. How are the Brits supposed to get home I wonder? sigh

kris said...

Shawn - just stopped by to say I loved your comments on Jason's blog. (And of course I always enjoy your comments on mine - especially when we see eye to eye on the TACO BELL . . . delish . . . :)

Shawn said...

I do love the Bell...but I must admit that I get testy at my local one that always shorts me on the hot and fire sauces...I usually make up for by taking extra when I go in, but I figure that they still owe me about 47 of each...