Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Frontline: A Class Divided

This is one of the most requested programs in FRONTLINE's history. It is about an Iowa schoolteacher who, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in 1968, gave her third-grade students a first-hand experience in the meaning of discrimination. This is the story of what she taught the children, and the impact that lesson had on their lives.

Watch this 46:00 program here in five consecutive chapters. You'll need Windows Media or RealPlayer to watch.

Due to heavy demand video may not always be available due to server capacity. Please try back later if you're having problems.

(a class divided)

Goodbye New Orleans, It's Time We Stopped Pretending

Mike Tidwell in Orion "To encourage people to return to New Orleans, as Bush is doing, without funding the only plan that can save the city from the next Big One, is to commit an act of mass homicide. If, after all the human suffering and expense of this national ordeal, the federal government can't be bothered to spend the cost of a tunnel from Logan Airport to downtown Boston, then the game is truly over" :

AS WE REACH THE 90-DAY mark since Katrina hit, it's time we ended our national state of denial. Turns out House Speaker Dennis Hastert had it right all along, though his reasons were flawed. We should call it quits in New Orleans not because the city can't be made relatively safe from hurricanes. It can be. And not because to do so is more trouble than it's worth. It's not. But because the Bush Administration has already given New Orleans a quiet kiss of death now that the story has run its news cycle.

As someone who dearly loves New Orleans and has experienced many of her charms, it pains me immeasurably to call for this retreat. This is not a rhetorical stunt or a shock argument meant to invite compromise talks. I mean what I say: Shut the city down and board it up before thousands more lives are lost.

In the weeks after Katrina, the American media somehow portrayed the catastrophe as a matter of failed levees and flawed evacuation plans. The "What went wrong?" coverage involved autopsies of every breached dike and a witch hunt for those responsible for the Superdome and Convention Center fiascos. But these were just horrifying symptoms of a much larger disease.

Katrina destroyed the Big Easy—and future Katrinas will do the same—not because of engineering failures but because one million acres of coastal islands and marshland have vanished in Louisiana in the last century due to human interference. These land forms served as natural "speed bumps," reducing the lethal surge tide of past hurricanes and making New Orleans habitable in the first place.

But while encouraging city residents to return home and declaring for the media audience that "we will do whatever it takes" to save the city, the President earlier this month formally refused the one thing New Orleans simply cannot live without: A restored network of barrier islands and coastal wetlands. (more)

Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery at the funeral of Coretta Scott King

REUTERS/Jason Reed
Via (wood s lot) Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery received a standing ovation today at the funeral of Coretta Scott King

""We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there. [Standing Ovation] But Coretta knew and we know that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war billions more but no more for the poor."



NY Times "Mayor: New Orleans Will Seek Aid From Other Nations":

"NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Shortcomings in aid from the U.S. government are making New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin look to other nations for help in rebuilding his hurricane-damaged city. [...] Jordan's King Abdullah also visited New Orleans on Friday and Nagin said he would encourage foreign interests to help redevelop some of the areas hardest hit by the storm.

``France can take Treme. The king of Jordan can take the Lower Ninth Ward,'' he said, referring to two of the city's neighborhoods. [...] French Transport Minister Dominique Perben, leading the French delegation to a city that was founded by France in 1718, said, ``This catastrophe has deeply upset the French people and the French government.''

France, Perben said through a translator, ``wants to be a long-term partner for Louisiana and New Orleans.'' (more)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Homeless again in New Orleans

Michelle Goldberg in Salon :

Without having a lot of money, it's almost impossible to find a place to live in New Orleans. People who came here after Hurricane Katrina, seeking rebuilding jobs, figured they could rent apartments or cheap rooms. But there's little housing to be had in Crescent City, and what is available rents for double what it cost before.

With nowhere to go, dozens of people have taken up residence in New Orleans City Park, sleeping in tents or under jury-rigged blue tarps. A group of Apache Indians from Arizona has even set up a teepee. Seeking to impose some sort of order, the city contracted with an Alabama firm called Storm Force, which has corralled people into a few manageable fields and started charging $300 a month for muddy plots big enough for four or five tents, huddled close together. Showers are available for $5.

Although famous restaurants are reopening in the French Quarter, and a trickle of tourists has returned, much of New Orleans remains apocalyptic. Streets are lined with empty, rotting houses, ugly yellow-brown stripes on the walls marking the floodwater line. A dead dog decomposes in a cage in the middle of a road in Gentilly, the devastated middle-class neighborhood that served as the setting for Walker Percy's "The Moviegoer." The trees and grass are brown and dead, killed by the flood's chemical stew. [...]

On Feb. 6, FEMA held a press conference to brief reporters on the impending end of the hotel program. Little was said that would ease Washington's fears. "We have spent more than $529 million on this emergency sheltering program," said Libby Turner, head of FEMA's transitional housing program for hurricanes Katrina and Rita. "It is not long-term housing assistance that can continue for folks, and it is not what moves them along in their recovery. So we are working to end this program. Throughout disaster history, our partners have addressed the populations that do not qualify for federal assistance, most typically state departments of social and health services and charitable partners like voluntary organizations." (more)

Thousands of Katrina Victims Evicted


NEW ORLEANS - Hauling everything he owned in a plastic garbage bag, Darryl Travis walked out of the chandeliered lobby of the Crowne Plaza, joining the exodus of Hurricane Katrina refugees evicted from their hotel rooms across the country Tuesday.

More than 4,500 evacuees were expected to check out of their government-paid hotel rooms Tuesday as the Federal Emergency Management Agency began cutting off money to pay for their stays. (more)