September 03, 2005
Pronunciation: "re-fyu-'jE, 're-fyu-"
Etymology: French refugie, past participle of (se) refugier, to take refuge, from Latin refugium: one that flees; especially : a person who flees to a foreign country or power to escape danger or persecution.
I've heard a couple of very articulate (are you falling out yet george or george?) and passionate survivors of the horror in New Orleans this week say (on interview snippets) in no uncertain terms STOP CALLING US REFUGEES. We are American Citizens who have been devastated by a hurricane. We are not Refugees.
It's an important distinction. It's an important distinction in American Perception. And American Perception is Everything in America:
Refugees are never white. White people seek asylum.
Refugees are not American by birth.
Refugees are poor. They don't go to school.
Refugees don't live in my neighborhood. They live in herds.
Refugees should be happy with powdered milk and rice.
Refugees are easily converted to Christianity.
Refugees can't vote.
Refugees have runny noses and flies are on them all the time.
Refugees don't need homes; they have blankets.
Refugees don't work.
Refugees can be sent back when things calm down.
If we aren't careful with the language, by 2006 every brother in America will be a Refugee. And the darker you are, the more refugee-er you are.
It's a kick in my ass to remind me about language and perception and the co-opting of power through naming.
They are disaster survivors, fellow citizens, the great ignored, hurricane victims, tenacious people. They are a lot of things.
But they're not Refugees.
Official deadline for Jeneane's passport renewal: yesterday.
JTML pointed out in a comment that the Red Cross FAQ actually says the "state Homeland Security department", so I just called them too. (This time I took better notes.) I called the Communications Center for the Louisianna Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness at 225-925-7500. After an operator ("that's above my pay grade") and some other "officer" (at the Operations desk, I think), I ended up at the Media relations desk talking to a really cool and helpful guy, Lt. Kevin Cowan (Public Information Officer) who said I could quote him ("that's my job"). Although I didn't get everything typed word for word (the parts in quotation marks are though), I read him my notes when we were finished, so this is now 'confirmed'. Here goes...
"As part of the disaster plan there's an agreement between the state and the Red Cross for them not to enter." He didn't know the exact details of the agreement, but he said it had to do with "safety issues" since this is "still a disaster area and still unsafe" with things like "high water, etc."
When I asked specifically about the statement on the Red Cross webpage that said it was because their "presence would keep people from evacuating", he said this wasn't the reason.
Me: "Who on your end made this agreement with the red cross?" He checked with the Operations desk and came back and told me it was probably a decision between the director of their agency, General Landreneau, the Governor, and Mike Brown at FEMA. He said he didn't know the exact groups in these agencies that worked out the agreement, but "ultimately, they're the ones in charge who sign off on it".
He said "it's all a coordinated effort and guidelines are established."
The point is they "don't want to put anyone at undue risk". (I was thinking "anyone, who? surely not the people of New Orleans!", but I didn't say anything because he was being so cool.) Here's the kicker. He then told me that this agreement was for any and all disasters, not just the one in Louisiana!
I asked him how long this policy had been in effect, and he told me, "It's a work in progress; it's always changing."
Also, he asked me who I was and if I was with the media. I told him I was going to post the info on a blog (and asked if I could use his name). His reply was that blogs are media. "Hey, that's information out there, isn't it? It's basically the same thing." He also asked me what blog, and he wrote it down. Anyway, as I said, he was pretty cool..
Update [2005-9-3 4:55:23 by shock: In a comment below, Orj Ozeppi reports that the Salvation Army is telling people the same thing as the ARC: "if we help, people won't leave." So we have a discrepancy between these relief agencies and LA Homeland Security as to the reason. The relief agencies are consistent. It may be that this policy is just because it's a disaster zone, as the LA Homeland Security guy
said, but this question needs to be answered. Was the decision to keep the relief agencies out made to force people to evacuate (and punish those who didn't... perhaps making a lesson of them?) by making conditions intolerable???
If not, why do these relief agencies say so?
I'm experimenting with the idea on ebay.
Could be meat, could be cake. We'll see.
...in my town, if the Highway Superintendent were to announce that he hadn’t anticipated that much snow falling & what were we doing living out in the country anyway, he would not be in office very long. President Bush said the other day that “no one anticipated the levies failing & the Director of Homeland Security announced, sounding for all the world like a fat & greasy Roman senator from the late empire:
“The critical thing was to get people out of there before the disaster,” he said on NBC’s Today program. “Some people chose not to obey that order. That was a mistake on their part.”
September 02, 2005
What if someones phone number accidentally gets in the caption? what if someone's address gets in the information? what if the complete wrong name is thrown up there and its a murder suspect or a kiddie porn suspect? Yahoo bears no responsibility for what they send to their readers? i think not.and isn't it an alleged looter? arent you innocent of a crime until you are proved guilty? did all their sense get hurricaned away while they were writing these captions?what if that Black kid was sent by his father to collect everything that he could from their market before the cop-looters showed up? what, a Black man cant own a market?
I count 12 people in the frame with the President right now on Fox news, and one of them isn't even white. Look, it's the mayor!
Well, that should be one interesting meeting.
NAGIN: I told him we had an incredible crisis here and that his flying over in Air Force One does not do it justice. And that I have been all around this city, and I am very frustrated because we are not able to marshal resources and we're outmanned in just about every respect. (Listen to the mayor express his frustration in this video -- 12:09)
You know the reason why the looters got out of control? Because we had most of our resources saving people, thousands of people that were stuck in attics, man, old ladies. ... You pull off the doggone ventilator vent and you look down there and they're standing in there in water up to their freaking necks.
And they don't have a clue what's going on down here. They flew down here one time two days after the doggone event was over with TV cameras, AP reporters, all kind of goddamn -- excuse my French everybody in America, but I am pissed.
WWL: Did you say to the president of the United States, "I need the military in here"?
NAGIN: I said, "I need everything."
Now, I will tell you this -- and I give the president some credit on this -- he sent one John Wayne dude down here that can get some stuff done, and his name is [Lt.] Gen. [Russel] Honore.
And he came off the doggone chopper, and he started cussing and people started moving. And he's getting some stuff done.
They ought to give that guy -- if they don't want to give it to me, give him full authority to get the job done, and we can save some people.
WWL: What do you need right now to get control of this situation?
NAGIN: I need reinforcements, I need troops, man. I need 500 buses, man. We ain't talking about -- you know, one of the briefings we had, they were talking about getting public school bus drivers to come down here and bus people out here.
I'm like, "You got to be kidding me. This is a national disaster. Get every doggone Greyhound bus line in the country and get their asses moving to New Orleans."
That's -- they're thinking small, man. And this is a major, major, major deal. And I can't emphasize it enough, man. This is crazy.
I've got 15,000 to 20,000 people over at the convention center. It's bursting at the seams. The poor people in Plaquemines Parish. ... We don't have anything, and we're sharing with our brothers in Plaquemines Parish.
It's awful down here, man.
WWL: Do you believe that the president is seeing this, holding a news conference on it but can't do anything until [Louisiana Gov.] Kathleen Blanco requested him to do it? And do you know whether or not she has made that request?
NAGIN: I have no idea what they're doing. But I will tell you this: You know, God is looking down on all this, and if they are not doing everything in their power to save people, they are going to pay the price. Because every day that we delay, people are dying and they're dying by the hundreds, I'm willing to bet you.
We're getting reports and calls that are breaking my heart, from people saying, "I've been in my attic. I can't take it anymore. The water is up to my neck. I don't think I can hold out." And that's happening as we speak.
You know what really upsets me, Garland? We told everybody the importance of the 17th Street Canal issue. We said, "Please, please take care of this. We don't care what you do. Figure it out."
WWL: Who'd you say that to?
NAGIN: Everybody: the governor, Homeland Security, FEMA. You name it, we said it.
And they allowed that pumping station next to Pumping Station 6 to go under water. Our sewage and water board people ... stayed there and endangered their lives.
And what happened when that pumping station went down, the water started flowing again in the city, and it starting getting to levels that probably killed more people.
In addition to that, we had water flowing through the pipes in the city. That's a power station over there.
So there's no water flowing anywhere on the east bank of Orleans Parish. So our critical water supply was destroyed because of lack of action.
WWL: Why couldn't they drop the 3,000-pound sandbags or the containers that they were talking about earlier? Was it an engineering feat that just couldn't be done?
NAGIN: They said it was some pulleys that they had to manufacture. But, you know, in a state of emergency, man, you are creative, you figure out ways to get stuff done.
Then they told me that they went overnight, and they built 17 concrete structures and they had the pulleys on them and they were going to drop them.
I flew over that thing yesterday, and it's in the same shape that it was after the storm hit. There is nothing happening. And they're feeding the public a line of bull and they're spinning, and people are dying down here.
WWL: If some of the public called and they're right, that there's a law that the president, that the federal government can't do anything without local or state requests, would you request martial law?
NAGIN: I've already called for martial law in the city of New Orleans. We did that a few days ago.
WWL: Did the governor do that, too?
NAGIN: I don't know. I don't think so.
But we called for martial law when we realized that the looting was getting out of control. And we redirected all of our police officers back to patrolling the streets. They were dead-tired from saving people, but they worked all night because we thought this thing was going to blow wide open last night. And so we redirected all of our resources, and we hold it under check.
I'm not sure if we can do that another night with the current resources.
And I am telling you right now: They're showing all these reports of people looting and doing all that weird stuff, and they are doing that, but people are desperate and they're trying to find food and water, the majority of them.
Now you got some knuckleheads out there, and they are taking advantage of this lawless -- this situation where, you know, we can't really control it, and they're doing some awful, awful things. But that's a small majority of the people. Most people are looking to try and survive.
And one of the things people -- nobody's talked about this. Drugs flowed in and out of New Orleans and the surrounding metropolitan area so freely it was scary to me, and that's why we were having the escalation in murders. People don't want to talk about this, but I'm going to talk about it.
You have drug addicts that are now walking around this city looking for a fix, and that's the reason why they were breaking in hospitals and drugstores. They're looking for something to take the edge off of their jones, if you will.
And right now, they don't have anything to take the edge off. And they've probably found guns. So what you're seeing is drug-starving crazy addicts, drug addicts, that are wrecking havoc. And we don't have the manpower to adequately deal with it. We can only target certain sections of the city and form a perimeter around them and hope to God that we're not overrun.
WWL: Well, you and I must be in the minority. Because apparently there's a section of our citizenry out there that thinks because of a law that says the federal government can't come in unless requested by the proper people, that everything that's going on to this point has been done as good as it can possibly be.
WWL: I know you don't feel that way.
NAGIN: Well, did the tsunami victims request? Did it go through a formal process to request?
You know, did the Iraqi people request that we go in there? Did they ask us to go in there? What is more important?
And I'll tell you, man, I'm probably going get in a whole bunch of trouble. I'm probably going to get in so much trouble it ain't even funny. You probably won't even want to deal with me after this interview is over.
WWL: You and I will be in the funny place together.
NAGIN: But we authorized $8 billion to go to Iraq lickety-quick. After 9/11, we gave the president unprecedented powers lickety-quick to take care of New York and other places.
Now, you mean to tell me that a place where most of your oil is coming through, a place that is so unique when you mention New Orleans anywhere around the world, everybody's eyes light up -- you mean to tell me that a place where you probably have thousands of people that have died and thousands more that are dying every day, that we can't figure out a way to authorize the resources that we need? Come on, man.
You know, I'm not one of those drug addicts. I am thinking very clearly.
And I don't know whose problem it is. I don't know whether it's the governor's problem. I don't know whether it's the president's problem, but somebody needs to get their ass on a plane and sit down, the two of them, and figure this out right now.
WWL: What can we do here?
NAGIN: Keep talking about it.
WWL: We'll do that. What else can we do?
NAGIN: Organize people to write letters and make calls to their congressmen, to the president, to the governor. Flood their doggone offices with requests to do something. This is ridiculous.
I don't want to see anybody do anymore goddamn press conferences. Put a moratorium on press conferences. Don't do another press conference until the resources are in this city. And then come down to this city and stand with us when there are military trucks and troops that we can't even count.
Don't tell me 40,000 people are coming here. They're not here. It's too doggone late. Now get off your asses and do something, and let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country.
WWL: I'll say it right now, you're the only politician that's called and called for arms like this. And if -- whatever it takes, the governor, president -- whatever law precedent it takes, whatever it takes, I bet that the people listening to you are on your side.
NAGIN: Well, I hope so, Garland. I am just -- I'm at the point now where it don't matter. People are dying. They don't have homes. They don't have jobs. The city of New Orleans will never be the same in this time.
WWL: We're both pretty speechless here.
NAGIN: Yeah, I don't know what to say. I got to go.
WWL: OK. Keep in touch. Keep in touch.
'Cause guess what. Ka-boom.
Washington, DC - Sept. 2, 2005 - President Bush today declared war on Weather, which will be waged alongside other attention-diverting war efforts, including the War on Terror and the War on Drugs, to protect Americans from an enemy with unlimited resources that have recently been targeted against the south and southeastern United States.
"Make no mistake about it," President Bush said Friday, "This will be a long war, a difficult war, but it is a war we will win. Not today. Not tomorrow. But we will come out ahead by making America a safer place for our children and grandchildren."
Without another country to blame for the chaos in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, President Bush dedicated the full capacity of the U.S. military to defeating dangerous atmospheric pressure changes.
"Look, you're either with us or against us," President Bush said. "The weather has the potential to affect every American, and it is only through a direct, targeted effort that we can contain this enemy and overwhelm it. And we will do so."
When pointing out that another war effort could divert much-needed resources from the hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Southern United states now homeless and stateless -- and from recovering the tens of thousands of bodies that pose severe health risk to the entire region -- President Bush promised an organized, centralized effort.
"Make no mistake about it, I can wage 4-6 wars at one time without a problem," he said "In fact, there are other wars that need to be waged in order for me to continue my Presidency in way that lets me blame others for my ineptness. But I can get on planes. You see? I can get on choppers and I can see things from those choppers. I can see out the windows. You understand that? I'm flying in those choppers today to see the destruction first hand, well maybe not first-hand but from high above, well maybe down on the ground in Mississippi or Alabama where there aren't angry colored folks waiting for me, well not as many anyway, you see? That's why we have to wage this war."
Congress today approved an additional $55i33x5lf Billion for the War on Weather, which will be spent on more effective weapons, deployment of troops, and an assessment of the infrastructure of vulnerable American cities, regardless of the fact that such assessments were completed in 2001.
Public School Bus Drivers on their way to help move refugees from the Weather's most recent assault (because Grayhound was busy) to an undetermined location in an undetermined state or states hoped that the President's declaration means bullet-proof vests will arrive in time for them to join the front lines.
This is the President's second term in office. He declared a War on Terror during his first term, during which he held office illegally.
September 01, 2005
What happened to the 23,000 it was supposed to hold?
And where do the buses go next?
And how would you feel if you got to an oasis but the doors were locked?
And how would you like to be those bus drivers?
And where is a FEMA official with news of where the remaining homeless are headed before news gets back to the superdome that there's no room at the inn?
And where's the Houston mayor who was backpatting himself on the air last night for offering his facility?
And where's this President we apparently have?
When the heads of two hospitals so desperately crippled that they can't sustain life have to call the ASSOCIATED PRESS to beg for help, disgrace has reached a new level.
(AP) — Doctors at two desperately crippled hospitals in New Orleans called The Associated Press Thursday morning pleading for rescue, saying they were nearly out of food and power and had been forced to move patients to higher floors to escape looters.
"We have been trying to call the mayor's office, we have been trying to call the governor's office ... we have tried to use any inside pressure we can. We are turning to you. Please help us," said Dr. Norman McSwain, chief of trauma surgery at Charity Hospital, the largest of two public hospitals.
Charity is across the street from Tulane University Medical Center, a private facility that has almost completed evacuating more than 1,000 patients and family members, he said.
No such public resources are available for Charity, which has about 250 patients, or University Hospital several blocks away, which has about 110 patients.
"We need coordinated help from the government," McSwain said.
He described horrific conditions.
"There is no food in Charity Hospital. They're eating fruit bowl punch and that's all they've got to eat. There's minimal water," McSwain said.
"Most of their power is out. Much of the hospital is dark. The ICU (intensive care unit) is on the 12th floor, so the physicians and nurses are having to walk up floors to see the patients."
Dr. Lee Hamm, chairman of medicine at Tulane University, said he took a canoe from there to the two public hospitals, where he also works, to check conditions.
"The physicians and nurses are doing an incredible job, but there are patients laying on stretchers on the floor, the halls were dark, the stairwells are dark. Of course, there's no elevators. There's no communication with the outside world," he said.
"We're afraid that somehow these two hospitals have been left off ... that somehow somebody has either forgotten it or ignored it or something, because there is no evidence anything is being done."
Where is the Louisiana National Guard?! Oh yes, I remember.
But it's pissing me off.
And Dave's right when he talks about the US Open and the head-turning that's going on in states across the U.S.
HELLO PEOPLE. A tragedy is real no matter how many it affects, but let's look at scope here. The horror of this tragedy is not only that tens of thousands (yes, it'll be that many, if not more) have lost their literal lives, but also that hundreds of thousands have lost everything that made up their lives, PLUS their livelihoods.
At least the USTA has been shamed into donating some money. That took a while.
Now go watch some fucking tennis match with that on your mind.
Glad they found Fats Domino.
And the U.S. President obviously didn't think much of the 2001 FEMA report that declared the potential damage to New Orleans as among the three likeliest, most castastrophic disasters facing this country.
Oooooo--watch out for the Middle Eastern boogie man instead.
Yes, it's his fault.
We have troops risking their lives in Iraq to secure freedom and save lives. And they CHICKEN OUT in THIS country? They cut and run in New Orleans? So WHAT you get shot at. You Keep Coming for the innocents you say you care so much about in other countries.
Troops? National Guard? All I see from command and control is cowardice and ineptness.
FEMA's quote FIVE DAYS later:
"We didn't understand the magnitude.... Help is on the way."
ON THE WAY?
It's Past too late.
The city is "out of resources at the convention center and doesn't anticipate enough buses," the mayor said in his statement.
CNN's Chris Lawrence described "many, many" bodies, inside and outside the facility on New Orleans' Riverwalk.
"There are multiple people dying at the convention center," Lawrence said. "There was an old woman, dead in a wheelchair with a blanket draped over her, pushed up against a wall. Horrible, horrible conditions.
"We saw a man who went into a seizure, literally dying right in front of us."
Nagin said that "the convention center is unsanitary and unsafe and we are running out of supplies for [15,000 to 20,000] people."
He said the city would allow people to march up the Crescent City Connection to the Westbank Expressway in an effort to find help.
People were "being forced to live like animals," Lawrence said, surrounded by piles of trash and feces.
He said thousands of people were just lying on the ground outside the building -- many old, or sick, or caring for infants and small children.
More people were arriving at the center, walking south along Canal Street. The route north to the Superdome is blocked by chest-deep water.
The convention center was used as a secondary shelter when the Louisiana Superdome was overwhelmed.
Food drops began Thursday afternoon at the convention center, as rain also began falling.
A National Guard helicopter delivered MREs -- meals ready to eat -- and bottles of water. The amounts in the first few drops, however, were far short of enough for everyone.
State officials believe Katrina and its aftermath killed "thousands" of people in New Orleans and surrounding parishes, but no official count had been compiled, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said Thursday.
THOUSANDS? Spin again. Try tens of thousands.
Try 100s of Thousands.
And more by the hour.
What else will come out of the water there?
What new disease?
What new cancers and poisons?
Wait? You wait.
Give however you can. (Technorati tags are against my religion, so here's a link to Instapundit. He's got a comprehensive list). I'm with Government Cheese -- go to specific red cross sites, like the Atlanta Area Red Cross, to give specifically for Katrina relief. The link takes you directly to the donation page for Katrina relief.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you or your organization can help.
August 31, 2005
Atlantans, you are officially f-ed up. You are watching too much Fox News for your own good. You Dunwoody SUV soccer moms, what the hell were you honking at me for on Johnson Ferry Road? And the elderly woman on the scooter going back and forth across the street--honey, we didn't have a hurricane here. It's okay. Go home. No bus is coming. You're alright.
These were my thoughts when I set out for an appointment this afternoon, only to witness a panic the likes of which I haven't seen since the last blizard.
Gas, it's gas paranoia.
For those of you who don't know, this fine city was dubbed 'the city too busy to hate' before the Olympics, and precisely what kind of moniker is that to strive to uphold? Well, it's getting nasty at the pump. Apparently a rumor fuled by our Esteemed Governor Sonny Purdue's alleged press conference flew across cell phones today. I heard two different variations on the rumors:
A.) Atlanta only has enough gas for the next 7-10 days.
B.) Atlanta is out of gas until 10 days from now. Pumps are closing at 4 p.m.
Pick your version, but the Johnson Ferry Road Kroger check-out lady summed it up best: They just buggin' out.
I'll say. I tried four different gas stations with lines out into the street--something I would have avoided except that I was on my usual "E" (low-gas-light lit) gas reading. So I had to wait. In the process:
I met a woman who forgot how to pump gas because panic had apparently triggered a state of dissociation or your garden-variety amnesia. I helped her. The pump didn't work until we moved to the Premium hose. She was grateful to have her allotment at $3.19 a gallon.
I got away with 2.99 for the middle hose at my pump (regular unleaded was sold out), which, for down south is about a dollar and a quarter higher than normal.
I was honked at by the impatient (not too busy to hate) drivers who didn't want me to help amnesia woman.
I hadn't witnessed a spectacuar site: an attendant helping people pump gas, making me nostalgic for 1977. Yes, they were out there today keeping the peace and hoping to keep gas looting at a minimum I guess.
I paid my $51. I gave thanks for my car, my gas, my home, my safety, my family, my water, my food, my air conditioning, and all of the other things I take for granted every singe day.
And I liked my fellow Atlantans just a little less than the day before.
She's right. They just buggin' out.
I'm with Government Cheese -- go to specific red cross sites, like the Atlanta Area Red Cross, to give specifically for Katrina relief. The link takes you directly to the donation page for Katrina relief.
Which brings us back to the sanguinity of our Mr. and Master Bushes: You will send in the troops, and make large gestures, as you did here on Florida's Gulf Coast last year. And then you will fail to do anything about the white collar thugs whose good hands will dick around with homeowners who have lost everything in Gulfport, Miss. and environs. New Orleans is good at funerals anyway.
You never think in terms of what you actually can do to help the community of people you pretend to lead. That would involve statesmanship. Instead, like the agencies you are charged with managing, you go on about your business (strutting) while the unobtrusive matter of learning from the past, and anticipating the future, continues to make no news.
The correct answer...is that the water isn't going to recede. The only way to get the water out of the city is to pump it out, after the levees are fixed. In the meantime, the water isn't receding, it's going the other way, it's rising.
August 30, 2005
I don't think the world understands yet that entire U.S. cities are now gone. Worse than gone--they are cripled, sick, deadly, and dying. Many of these cities aren't coming back. Some will come back in months, some years, some decades and some -- as officials who've toured parts of southeast Louisiana say -- have been reclaimed by nature.
We have real live refugees in the U.S. and they aren't illegal immigrants, but it probably won't be long before they're treated as such. Lack of the right insurance, combined with FEMA's ineptness, will render tens of thousands poor -- or poorer -- over night.
Our troops are trooping in Iraq. Our Tsunami dollars have tsunamied elsewhere. And in parts of two U.S. states, martial law and a roof-deep, stew of debris and dead bodies and oil and gasoline -- is all that's left. This is a tsumani, only worse: There are more survivors to deal with.
It's not a matter of "covering" this story. I don't cover stories. I'm not a journalist. Bloggers aren't journalists just like corporations aren't people. We are simply human beings who can be silenced in an instant inside the enormous power of nature and the helplessness of poverty.
Meanwhile, Ernie the Attorney is trying to get out. If you know how to escape New Orleans under martial law, without gasoline and quick, let Ernie's proxyblogger know.
Somewhere, in a room of just a few, you have to wonder if they're discussing getting as many poeple as possible out, and then just opening the levies and letting it go.
And Mississipi. My God. Again, it seems pointless to talk about technogy or marketing or PR or conferences today. I don't have the words.
I really don't have the words.