Saturday, September 10, 2005

Cornel West: Exiles from a city and from a nation

I've been waiting for this. THANK YOU DR WEST.

This from Cornel West in the Observer Exiles from a city and from a nation. West writes, "It takes something as big as Hurricane Katrina and the misery we saw among the poor black people of New Orleans to get America to focus on race and poverty. It happens about once every 30 or 40 years. What we saw unfold in the days after the hurricane was the most naked manifestation of conservative social policy towards the poor, ...."

Friday, September 09, 2005


Published in the San Francisco chronicle and online on common dreams Color-blind Coverage? "Because many whites believe a fact only when someone who resembles them informs them of it, black opinion-makers are wasting their time when they talk about the racist features of the New Orleans' calamity. It's better to leave that job to Maureen Dowd, writing in the New York Times, Francis Fox Piven, appearing on KPFA radio and, remarkably, Don Imus on MSNBC." ...


Naomi Klein's Power to the Victims of New Orleans. "With the poor gone, developers are planning to gentrify the city ...."

The Nation has a slightly different version of the Naomi Klein article Let the People Rebuild New Orleans. "On September 4, six days after Katrina hit, I saw the first glimmer of hope. "The people of New Orleans will not go quietly into the night, scattering across this country to become homeless in countless other cities while federal relief funds are funneled into rebuilding casinos, hotels, chemical plants.... We will not stand idly by while this disaster is used as an opportunity to replace our homes with newly built mansions and condos in a gentrified New Orleans." ...

Eric Alterman's Found in the Flood. "The New Orleans flood produced a dizzying array of images both striking and shocking, but what was perhaps most unusual about them was the return to American television screens and newspaper front pages of poor people in a manner that was neither condescending nor condemnatory." ...

Polly Toynbee's The chasm between us. "Katrina has exposed the scale of US inequality, but we have little reason to be smug about our own social divide ...."


From Orlando Patterson's Slavery and Social Death:
"The joint rise of slavery and the cultivation of freedom was no accident. It was, as we shall see, a sociohistorical necessity. [...] Americans have never been able to explain how it came to be that the most articulate defender of their freedoms, Thomas Jefferson, and the greatest hero of their revolution and history, George Washington, both were large-scale, laregly unrepentant slaveholders. Slavery, for all who look to Enlightenment Europe and revolutionary America as the source of their most cherished political values, is not the peculiar institution but the embarrassing institution.

Our distress, however, stems from a false premise. We assume that slavery should have nothing to do with freedom; that a man who holds freedom dearly should not hold slaves without discomfort; that a culture which invented democracy or produced a Jefferson should not be based on slavery. But such an assumption is unfounded. [...] Our embarrassment stems from our ignorance of the true nature of slavery and freedom."


The Time Magazine website has an article on Michael Brown's cv How Reliable Is Brown's Resume?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Old-Line Families Escape Worst of Flood And Plot the Future

This was passed on to me by JH, a friend from Louisiana.

The entire article, which appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Old-Line Families Escape Worst of Flood And Plot the Future can be found on common dreams. "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.""


This posted on Common Dreams UN Hits Back at US in Report Saying Parts of America are as Poor as Third World. "Parts of the United States are as poor as the Third World, according to a shocking United Nations report on global inequality."

Hurricane Katrina-–Our Experiences

This is what the otherwise reprehensible Shepard Smith was reporting on Fox news last week on the O'Reilly show. See video here from crooks and liars Shepard Smith.

This article 'Get Off The Fucking Freeway' was posted to H-Afro-Am and it appears on New Orleans Indymedia New Orleans Indymedia. The Full text appears below. One more thing - the subject heading for the H-Afro-Am H Afro-Am Discussion Network post is "Subject: Saramago's Blindness Revisited --an eyewitness account from New Orleans." If you've read Blindness, this is a great connection.

'Get Off The Fucking Freeway': The Sinking State Loots its Own Survivors

by Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky Wednesday, Sep. 07, 2005 at 3:13 AM

Two paramedics stranded in New Orleans in the wake of hurricane Katrina give their account of self-organisation and abandonment in the disaster zone. Two days after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the Walgreen's store at the corner of Royal and Iberville streets remained locked. The dairy display case was clearly visible through the widows. It was now 48 hours without electricity, running water, plumbing. The milk, yogurt, and cheeses were beginning to spoil in the 90-degree heat. The owners and managers had locked up the food, water, pampers, and prescriptions and fled the City.

Outside Walgreen's windows, residents and tourists grew increasingly thirsty and hungry.

The much-promised federal, state and local aid never materialized and the windows at Walgreen's gave way to the looters. There was an alternative. The cops could have broken one small window and distributed the nuts, fruit juices, and bottle water in an organized and systematic manner. But they did not. Instead they spent hours playing cat and mouse, temporarily chasing away the looters.

We were finally airlifted out of New Orleans two days ago and arrived home yesterday (Saturday). We have yet to see any of the TV coverage or look at a newspaper. We are willing to guess that there were no video images or front-page pictures of European or affluent white tourists looting the Walgreen's in the French Quarter.

We also suspect the media will have been inundated with "hero" images of the National Guard, the troops and the police struggling to help the "victims" of the Hurricane. What you will not see, but what we witnessed,were the real heroes and sheroes of the hurricane relief effort: the working class of New Orleans. The maintenance workers who used a fork lift to carry the sick and disabled. The engineers, who rigged, nurtured and kept the generators running. The electricians who improvised thick extension cords stretching over blocks to share the little electricity we had in order to free cars stuck on rooftop parking lots. Nurses who took over for mechanical ventilators and spent many hours on end manually forcing air into the lungs of unconscious patients to keep them alive. Doormen who rescued folks stuck in elevators. Refinery workers who broke into boat yards, "stealing" boats to rescue their neighbors clinging to their roofs in flood waters. Mechanics who helped hot-wire any car that could be found to ferry people out of the City. And the food service workers who scoured the commercial kitchens improvising communal meals for hundreds of those stranded.

Most of these workers had lost their homes, and had not heard from members of their families, yet they stayed and provided the only infrastructure for the 20% of New Orleans that was not under water.

On Day 2, there were approximately 500 of us left in the hotels in the French Quarter. We were a mix of foreign tourists, conference attendees like ourselves, and locals who had checked into hotels for safety and shelter from Katrina. Some of us had cell phone contact with family and friends outside of New Orleans. We were repeatedly told that all sorts of resources including the National Guard and scores of buses were pouring in to the City. The buses and the other resources must have been invisible because none of us had seen them.

We decided we had to save ourselves. So we pooled our money and came up with $25,000 to have ten buses come and take us out of the City. Those who did not have the requisite $45.00 for a ticket were subsidized by those who did have extra money. We waited for 48 hours for the buses, spending the last 12 hours standing outside, sharing the limited water, food, and clothes we had.

We created a priority boarding area for the sick, elderly and new born babies. We waited late into the night for the "imminent" arrival of the buses. The buses never arrived. We later learned that the minute the arrived to the City limits, they were commandeered by the military.

By day 4 our hotels had run out of fuel and water. Sanitation was dangerously abysmal. As the desperation and despair increased, street crime as well as water levels began to rise. The hotels turned us out and locked their doors, telling us that the "officials" told us to report to the convention center to wait for more buses. As we entered the center of the City, we finally encountered the National Guard.

The Guards told us we would not be allowed into the Superdome as the City's primary shelter had been descended into a humanitarian and health hellhole. The guards further told us that the City's only other shelter, the Convention Center, was also descending into chaos and squalor and that the police were not allowing anyone else in. Quite naturally, we asked, "If we can't go to the only 2 shelters in the City, what was our alternative?" The guards told us that that was our problem, and no they did not have extra water to give to us. This would be the start of our numerous encounters with callous and hostile "law enforcement".

We walked to the police command center at Harrah's on Canal Street and were told the same thing, that we were on our own, and no they did not have water to give us. We now numbered several hundred. We held a mass meeting to decide a course of action. We agreed to camp outside the police command post. We would be plainly visible to the media and would constitute a highly visible embarrassment to the City officials. The police told us that we could not stay. Regardless, we began to settle in and set up camp. In short order, the police commander came across the street to address our group. He told us he had a solution: we should walk to the Pontchartrain Expressway and cross the greater New Orleans Bridge where the police had buses lined up to take us out of the City. The crowed cheered and began to move. We called everyone back and explained to the commander that there had been lots of misinformation and wrong information and was he sure that there were buses waiting for us. The commander turned to the crowd and stated emphatically, "I swear to you that the buses are there."

We organized ourselves and the 200 of us set off for the bridge with great excitement and hope. As we marched pasted the convention center, many locals saw our determined and optimistic group and asked where we were headed. We told them about the great news. Families immediately grabbed their few belongings and quickly our numbers doubled and then doubled again. Babies in strollers now joined us, people using crutches, elderly clasping walkers and others people in wheelchairs. We marched the 2-3 miles to the freeway and up the steep incline to the Bridge. It now began to pour down rain, but it did not dampen our enthusiasm.

As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and of the commander's assurances. The sheriffs informed us there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.

We questioned why we couldn't cross the bridge anyway, especially as there
was little traffic on the 6-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their City. These were code words for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans.

Our small group retreated back down Highway 90 to seek shelter from the rain under an overpass. We debated our options and in the end decided to build an encampment in the middle of the Ponchartrain Expressway on the center divide, between the O'Keefe and Tchoupitoulas exits. We reasoned we would be visible to everyone, we would have some security being on an elevated freeway and we could wait and watch for the arrival of the yet to be seen buses.

All day long, we saw other families, individuals and groups make the same trip up the incline in an attempt to cross the bridge, only to be turned away. Some chased away with gunfire, others simply told no, others to be verbally berated and humiliated. Thousands of New Orleaners were prevented and prohibited from self-evacuating the City on foot. Meanwhile, the only two City shelters sank further into squalor and disrepair. The only way across the bridge was by vehicle. We saw workers stealing trucks, buses, moving vans, semi-trucks and any car that could be hotwired. All were packed with people trying to escape the misery New Orleans had become.

Our little encampment began to blossom. Someone stole a water delivery truck and brought it up to us. Let's hear it for looting! A mile or so down the freeway, an army truck lost a couple of pallets of C-rations on a tight turn. We ferried the food back to our camp in shopping carts. Now secure with the two necessities, food and water; cooperation, community, and creativity flowered. We organized a clean up and hung garbage bags from the rebar poles. We made beds from wood pallets and cardboard. We designated a storm drain as the bathroom and the kids built an elaborate enclosure for privacy out of plastic, broken umbrellas, and other scraps. We even organized a food recycling system where individuals could swap out parts of C-rations (applesauce for babies and candies for kids!).

This was a process we saw repeatedly in the aftermath of Katrina. When individuals had to fight to find food or water, it meant looking out for yourself only. You had to do whatever it took to find water for your kids or food for your parents. When these basic needs were met, people began to look out for each other, working together and constructing a community.

If the relief organizations had saturated the City with food and water in the first 2 or 3 days, the desperation, the frustration and the ugliness would not have set in.

Flush with the necessities, we offered food and water to passing families and individuals. Many decided to stay and join us. Our encampment grew to 80 or 90 people.

From a woman with a battery powered radio we learned that the media was talking about us. Up in full view on the freeway, every relief and news organizations saw us on their way into the City. Officials were being asked what they were going to do about all those families living up on the freeway? The officials responded they were going to take care of us. Some of us got a sinking feeling. "Taking care of us" had an ominous tone to it.

Unfortunately, our sinking feeling (along with the sinking City) was correct.

Just as dusk set in, a Gretna Sheriff showed up, jumped out of his patrol vehicle, aimed his gun at our faces, screaming, "Get off the fucking freeway". A helicopter arrived and used the wind from its blades to blow away our flimsy structures. As we retreated, the sheriff loaded up his truck with our food and water.

Once again, at gunpoint, we were forced off the freeway. All the law enforcement agencies appeared threatened when we congregated or congealed into groups of 20 or more. In every congregation of "victims" they saw "mob" or "riot". We felt safety in numbers. Our "we must stay together" was impossible because the agencies would force us into small atomized groups.

In the pandemonium of having our camp raided and destroyed, we scattered
once again. Reduced to a small group of 8 people, in the dark, we sought refuge in an abandoned school bus, under the freeway on Cilo Street. We were hiding from possible criminal elements but equally and definitely, we were hiding from the police and sheriffs with their martial law, curfew and shoot-to-kill policies.

The next days, our group of 8 walked most of the day, made contact with New Orleans Fire Department and were eventually airlifted out by an urban search and rescue team. We were dropped off near the airport and managed to catch a ride with the National Guard. The two young guardsmen apologized for the limited response of the Louisiana guards. They explained that a large section of their unit was in Iraq and that meant they were shorthanded and were unable to complete all the tasks they were assigned.

We arrived at the airport on the day a massive airlift had begun. The airport had become another Superdome. We 8 were caught in a press of humanity as flights were delayed for several hours while George Bush landed briefly at the airport for a photo op. After being evacuated on a coast guard cargo plane, we arrived in San Antonio, Texas.

There the humiliation and dehumanization of the official relief effort continued. We were placed on buses and driven to a large field where we were forced to sit for hours and hours. Some of the buses did not have air-conditioners.

In the dark, hundreds if us were forced to share two filthy overflowing porta-potties. Those who managed to make it out with any possessions (often a few belongings in tattered plastic bags) we were subjected to two different dog-sniffing searches.

Most of us had not eaten all day because our C-rations had been confiscated at the airport because the rations set off the metal detectors. Yet, no food had been provided to the men, women, children, elderly, disabled as they sat for hours waiting to be "medically screened" to make sure we were not carrying any communicable diseases.

This official treatment was in sharp contrast to the warm, heart-felt reception given to us by the ordinary Texans. We saw one airline worker give her shoes to someone who was barefoot. Strangers on the street offered us money and toiletries with words of welcome.

Throughout, the official relief effort was callous, inept, and racist. There was more suffering than need be. Lives were lost that did not need to be lost.


I saw this link to an MSNBC video editorial by Keith Olbermann on the response of the federal government on Bitchphd The media seems to be growing some very sharp teeth.


Jodi Dean I cite writes in response to PART II: REFUGEE VS EVACUEE

"Each term provides a site for critique. What is it to emptied, to be that which has been emptied out? We can think of the medical version of evacuation. And, the more obvious question and problem: doesn't our hesitation and fear of calling Americans refugees embody our own racist/colonialist/imperialist attitudes toward all those others who are somehow more properly named refugees?"

Yes. They are the refugee(d) and the evacuated. Also in the figurative sense of evacuate as in, "to deprive (a term, concept, etc.) of its contents or value."

A thought: On the refugee Agamben writes in Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life :

"If refugees (whose number has continued to grow in our century, to the point of including a significant part of humanity today) represent such a disquieting element in the order of the modern nation-state, this is above all by breaking the continuity between man and citizen, nativity and nationality, they put the originary fiction of modern sovereignity in crisis. Bringing to light the difference between birth and nation, the refugee causes the secret presupposition of the political domain ––bare life––to appear for an instant within that domain. In this sense, the refugee is truly the "man of rights," as Arendt suggests, the first and only real appearance of rights outside the fiction of the citizen that always covers them over."

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Refugee vs. Evacuee. Let's stick with refugee as another profound indication of the degree to which the black and the poor, but not only the black and the poor b/c working and middle class black people were also among those to shelter in the superdome and the convention center, are dispossessed, disinherited, unclaimed. There is something to be gained by dealing with the word refugee and launching a critique from there. I.E. that we are "owing to religious persecution or political troubles" seeking refuge (i.e. "Shelter or protection from danger or trouble; succour sought by, or rendered to, a person.").

Tuesday, September 06, 2005



a. One who, owing to religious persecution or political troubles, seeks refuge in a foreign country; orig. applied to the French Huguenots who came to England after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. b. A runaway; a fugitive from justice, etc. rare. c. transf. of migratory birds. Obs. rare1. d. Someone driven from his home by war or the fear of attack or persecution; a displaced person. Also fig.


A person who has been evacuated.

Anne Rice on Losing New Orleans

Rice writes, "WHAT do people really know about New Orleans?

Do they take away with them an awareness that it has always been not only a great white metropolis but also a great black city, a city where African-Americans have come together again and again to form the strongest African-American culture in the land?" Do You Know what it Means to Lose New Orleans?.

Now with Bill Moyers September 2002

Here is a link to the show that Bill Moyers did 3 years ago on NOW. He talks about "A natural disaster in America that could dwarf any we've ever experienced."

Yet Bush and the administration and the FEMA chief maintain that this was something "Nobody expected." (Like those planes that nobody expected to fly into the twin towers despite an August 6, 2001 memo.)

Here's the link to the full transcipt Now Transcript.

"WALTER MAESTRI: It's going to look like a massive shipwreck. There's going to be-- there's going to be, you know-- everything that that the water has carried in is going to be there. Alligators, moccasins, you know every kind of rodent that you could think of.

All of your sewage treatment plants are under water. And of course the material is flowing free in the community. Disease becomes a distinct possibility now. The petrochemicals that are produced all up and down the Mississippi River --much of that has floated into this bowl. I mean this has become, you know, the biggest toxic waste dump in the world now. Is the city of New Orleans because of what has happened." ...

Gone with the Water

Thanks to Regina Rodriguez's chicana on the edge blog for the link to the National Geographic's October 2004 article Gone with the Water.

The beginning reads: " It was a broiling August afternoon in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Big Easy, the City That Care Forgot. Those who ventured outside moved as if they were swimming in tupelo honey. Those inside paid silent homage to the man who invented air-conditioning as they watched TV "storm teams" warn of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Nothing surprising there: Hurricanes in August are as much a part of life in this town as hangovers on Ash Wednesday.

But the next day the storm gathered steam and drew a bead on the city. As the whirling maelstrom approached the coast, more than a million people evacuated to higher ground. Some 200,000 remained, however—the car-less, the homeless, the aged and infirm, and those die-hard New Orleanians who look for any excuse to throw a party.

The storm hit Breton Sound with the fury of a nuclear warhead, pushing a deadly storm surge into Lake Pontchartrain. The water crept to the top of the massive berm that holds back the lake and then spilled over. Nearly 80 percent of New Orleans lies below sea level—more than eight feet below in places—so the water poured in. A liquid brown wall washed over the brick ranch homes of Gentilly, over the clapboard houses of the Ninth Ward, over the white-columned porches of the Garden District, until it raced through the bars and strip joints on Bourbon Street like the pale rider of the Apocalypse. As it reached 25 feet (eight meters) over parts of the city, people climbed onto roofs to escape it.

Thousands drowned in the murky brew that was soon contaminated by sewage and industrial waste. Thousands more who survived the flood later perished from dehydration and disease as they waited to be rescued. It took two months to pump the city dry, and by then the Big Easy was buried under a blanket of putrid sediment, a million people were homeless, and 50,000 were dead. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States.

When did this calamity happen? It hasn't—yet. But the doomsday scenario is not far-fetched." ...

Monday, September 05, 2005

Murder and Rape-Fact or Fiction

Gary Younge writes from Baton Rouge Murder and Rape-Fact or Fiction "There were two babies who had their throats slit. The seven-year-old girl who was raped and murdered in the Superdome. And the corpses laid out amid the excrement in the convention centre.

In a week filled with dreadful scenes of desperation and anger from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina some stories stood out.

But as time goes on many remain unsubstantiated and may yet prove to be apocryphal." ...

And see the Times-Picayune article "Mayor says Katrina may have claimed more than 10,000 lives" on From the article: ""Don't step in that blood - it's contaminated," he said. "That one with his arm sticking up in the air, he's an old man." Then he shined the light on the smaller human figure under the white sheet next to the elderly man. "That's a kid," he said. "There's another one in the freezer, a 7-year-old with her throat cut." ...

Daryl Pinckney: "We are on our own"

Daryl Pinckney author of High Cotton writes in The Guardian, "In the US, white people can't imagine black people who are just like them" We are on our own


This is ongoing:

NANCY PELOSI ON GEORGE BUSH: 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 had urged Bush at the White House on Tuesday to fire Michael 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. From the NYTimes Democrat's Assail White House on Katrina Effort.

BARBARA BUSH: "So many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway. This is working very well for them." -- former First Lady Barbara Bush, regarding flood evacuees at the Astrodome in Houston. Audio link at crooks and liars Barbara Bush's remarks.

'The police were afraid to do anything,' said Chantelle, a black 22- year-old. 'They wouldn't come in. They took two white guys out one night but left the rest of us in here.'

FRANK RICH: "But a president who flew from Crawford to Washington in a heartbeat to intervene in the medical case of a single patient, Terri Schiavo, has no business lecturing anyone about playing politics with tragedy."

GEORGE BUSH: "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job"

"LIKE many seismic events, Katrina's true impact might take a while to absorb. The poverty, anarchy, violence, sewage, bodies, looting, death and disease that overwhelmed a great city last week made Haiti look like a paradise."

WOLF BLITZER: "You simply get chills every time you see these poor individuals, as Jack Cafferty just pointed out, so tragically, so many of these people, almost all of them that we see, are so poor and they are so black, and this is going to raise lots of questions for people who are watching this story unfold."

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: (dispatched by Bush to Alabama) "Later, during a service at the Pilgrim Rest AME Zion church outside Mobile, Rice nodded in agreement as the Rev. Malone Smith Jr. advised the congregation, "Wait for the Lord."

"There are some things the president can do; there are some things the government can do," Smith told about 300 worshippers during a rollicking two-hour service. "But God can do all things. I want you to know he's never late. He's always on time."

Rice later echoed the call for patience."

"The Lord is going to come on time — if we just wait," she said.

MARY LANDRIEU: ""If one person criticizes them or says one more thing - including the president of the United States - he will hear from me," she said on the ABC program "This Week." "One more word about it after this show airs and I might likely have to punch him. Literally."

ANDERSON COOPER TO MARY LANDRIEU: "With all due respect, Senator, I watched a dead woman get eaten by rats on the streets this morning. Do you understand why people here would be disgusted to hear politicians thanking each other on TV?"


Andrew Buncombe The city where the dead are left lying on the streets "In a makeshift grave on the streets of New Orleans lies the body of Vera Smith. She was an ordinary woman who, like thousands of her neighbours, died because she was poor. Abandoned to her fate as the waters rose around her, Vera's tragedy symbolises the great divide in America today."

David Usborne The dispossessed of New Orleans tell of their medieval nightmare "A brand new city has arisen inside the Astrodome in Houston, Texas, population 15,000. "

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto Apocalypse in the USA "In George Bush's world, he, God and nature are all on the same side. Never has this made less sense...."

Trent Lott to his constituents: "This is not a time for complaining" and "I've got personal problems"


"On Anderson Cooper 360, Cooper interviews Trent Lott. Cooper is in Mississippi talking to Lott on the phone.


LOTT: Anderson, I just as soon not have done any press the last couple days, and hadn't done much because I'm too busy to assess the problems and move things and build my own personal problems.


COOPER: Well, this storm has hit home for Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi. His home in Pascagoula has been destroyed. He joins us tonight.

Senator, thank you for being with us, and I'm sorry for your personal loss in all this, as well as the loss of so many in your state.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R), MISSISSIPPI: You know, I will say this, Anderson. When the people on the Mississippi Gulf Coast suffer, I suffer. And when they lose their homes, I lose mine, too. And I want to thank you for being there and giving, from what I understand, some really good reports about how just how devastating the situation is. Waveland, Mississippi, a neat little town, doesn't exist.

COOPER: It's a beautiful town. My cousins actually came up to me, they're from Meridian, and I got family in Alabama. It turns out they had a house here, too. I didn't know about, it's been destroyed.

You know, there's so much anger here, Senator, as I'm sure you know. I'm sure you've heard this from your constituents. People want answers and they feel like the federal government failed on this. Did the federal government fail? LOTT: Absolutely not. Now, when you've lost everything you have, and when you've lost a loved one, and you're exhausted, and you haven't had a bath in four days, and you're hungry, and you don't have water and ice, and you don't have generator to run, a fan, you know, it's tough.

And I know from having been through a lot of hurricanes and tornadoes and ice storms, always a couple days after a hurricane or whatever you feel like you've hit the wall. You're just completely exhausted and the aid that you need desperately is not quite there.

But it's on the way, and that's what I want to say to the people in Mississippi and Louisiana and even Alabama. A massive aid is coming. In my own home town of Pascagoula, which suffered a devastating blow too, we are now getting generators, ice, food, water in there. And a lot of volunteers...

COOPER: Why is it taking so long? Do you understand why it's taking so long?

For the rest of the interview with Lott . It appears about midway down the page.

In Harm's Way is reposting The Times-Picayune's five part story Washing Away.

Part I In Harm's Way

Part II The Big One

Part III Exposure's Cost

Part IV Tempting Fate

Part V Cost of Survivial

short memories and an incredible tolerance for black suffering

We (KGH, SC and I) say it all the time. White people in the US don't/can't really see black pain; and not only white people. And when they do, are forced to, how to account for the enjoyment? The focus on "looters" and the talk of law and order turning pain and suffering into sport?

And then I heard Jesse Jackson say, in an interview with Anderson Cooper, "We have an amazing tolerance for black pain and for too long after our slave ships landed in New Orleans, you know, we tolerated in the name of God slavery for 246 years (INAUDIBLE) for another 100 years. We have great tolerance for black suffering and black marginalization." AND " Today I saw 5,000 African Americans on the I-10 causeway desperate, perishing, dehydrated, babies dying. It looked like Africans in the hull of a slave ship. It was so ugly and so obvious."

Yes. It is obvious and ugly and intentional. 20,000 plus mostly black people packed into the superdome. Thousands more in the convention centre. Everyone talking about the conditions, stench and death, people going mad trying to escape, violence, babies dying, elderly people dying, no food, no water. But most of all the stench of life and death. You know, they say the stench from the slave ships could be smelled long before you saw the ship. It's what let the traders, those obscene dealers in human beings, those businessmen, know the "slaver" was coming.


Larry Elliott The poor reap the whirlwind "No water. No power. No shelter. Homeless people scavenging for food and armed looters running amok on the street." ...

Gary Younge Left to sink or swim "Tragic events in New Orleans have laid bare America's bigotry and exposed the lie of equal opportunity." ...

Richard Luscombe Black fury at Bush over rescue delay "Civil rights leaders, church officials and rap stars have united in ferocious criticism of President George Bush's attitude towards the tens of thousands of black people still trying to escape the hell of New Orleans." ...

Jamie Doward 'They're not giving us what we need to survive' "Only now, a week after Hurricane Katrina roared across the Deep South, leaving a trail of devastation across America's psyche, is the true story of the Battle of New Orleans emerging." ...

New York Times: On The Crimes against the black and poor in New Orleans

Jason DeParle: NYTimes: What Happens to a Race Deferred"THE white people got out. Most of them, anyway. If television and newspaper images can be deemed a statistical sample, it was mostly black people who were left behind." ...

The New York Times on George Bush's response. Waiting for a Leader "George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom." ...

David Gonzalez writes The Victims: From Margins of Society to Center of the Tragedy "The scenes of floating corpses, scavengers fighting for food and desperate throngs seeking any way out of New Orleans have been tragic enough. But for many African-American leaders, there is a growing outrage that many of those still stuck at the center of this tragedy were people who for generations had been pushed to the margins of society." ...

Frank Rich Falluja Floods the Superdome "AS the levees cracked open and ushered hell into New Orleans on Tuesday, President Bush once again chose to fly away from Washington, not toward it, while disaster struck." ...

Paul Krugman Killed by Contempt "Before 9/11 the Federal Emergency Management Agency listed the three most likely catastrophic disasters facing America: a terrorist attack on New York, a major earthquake in San Francisco and a hurricane strike on New Orleans. "The New Orleans hurricane scenario," The Houston Chronicle wrote in December 2001, "may be the deadliest of all." ...

Der Spiegel Cover Story: The Downfall of New Orleans

The Downfall of New Orleans

"Last week America's Gulf coast sank into the flood waters produced by
Hurricane "Katrina". The catastrophe in New Orleans, made all the
worse by incompetent rescue efforts, shines a glaring spotlight on
the chasm between rich and poor in the southern United States. In New
Orleans, those who couldn't afford to get out ended up struggling for
their lives."


Here is the video courtesy of crooks and liars Kanye West and Mike Myers.

Also worth watching on crooks and liars is the video of Fox's Shepard Smith Shepard Smith.


Myers: The landscape of the city has changed dramatically, tragically and perhaps irreversibly. There is now over 25 feet of water where there was once city streets and thriving neighborhoods.

West: I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family, it says, "They're looting." You see a white family, it says, "They're looking for food." And, you know, it's been five days [waiting for federal help] because most of the people are black. And even for me to complain about it, I would be a hypocrite because I've tried to turn away from the TV because it's too hard to watch. I've even been shopping before even giving a donation, so now I'm calling my business manager right now to see what is the biggest amount I can give, and just to imagine if I was down there, and those are my people down there. So anybody out there that wants to do anything that we can help -- with the way America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off, as slow as possible. I mean, the Red Cross is doing everything they can. We already realize a lot of people that could help are at war right now, fighting another way -- and they've given them permission to go down and shoot us!

Myers: And subtle, but in many ways even more profoundly devastating, is the lasting damage to the survivors' will to rebuild and remain in the area. The destruction of the spirit of the people of southern Louisiana and Mississippi may end up being the most tragic loss of all.

West: George Bush doesn't care about black people!

And he's right. Right on the count of them being given "permission to go down and shoot us." Right that not only George Bush but much of the country doesn't care about black people and doesn't care about poor people.


I've been assembling links and articles all week. I'm going to begin posting all of them.


Written September 1, 2005.

Where to begin:

The total lack of preparation put into place KNOWING that this was a potentially devastating hurricane. The lack of a response when this is a "worst case scenario" that people have predicted and tried to secure federal funding to prevent. Who bears responsibility? Who must show accountability? Justice?

I believe that if these people were other than who they are (the "surplus" they are perceived to be perhaps by the majority of this country) every possible resource would be mobilized for their evacuation, for intensified search and rescue, for medical assistance. Bodies would be attended to, medical workers parachuted into the Superdome to assist those in dire need. There would be no end to the disaster assistance if this was say, Denver, and not New Orleans.

The callousness with which so much of the reporting is being done. The ways that the media sees criminality and not resourcefulness or survival strategies where black and poor people are concerned. Black people knocking on car windows asking for help become car-jackers, black people who know themselves to have been abandoned who take much needed food, water, diapers, medicine become looters and are denied the status of either victims or survivors.

Again the poor are blamed for being poor. There is no body count, people continue to die, and those who survive are increasingly being derided as animals because they dared to survive that which they were never meant to.