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In another life I was a newspaper reporter. I wasn't willing to go where the jobs were (Topeka) and so I gave it up.

People, esp. those in the Army, mistrust the press. I try to explain to them what it was to be in that calling (and like priests and soldiers, it's a calling; one has to give up so much in the search for that piece of the transcendant, and today's triumph wraps tomorrow's fish. In all those ways of life the undertone is, "Yeah, but what have you done lately).

Teresa, at Making Light (where I sent so many of you almost a month ago), has a Story from the Times-Picayune, which I will drag out from now to my dying day, when I need to explain it.

Heroes from the Newspaper Tribe

…McCusker, Pompilio and I pulled up to the St. Claude Avenue Bridge in our truck, stinking of swamp water and the cigarettes I had been chain-smoking. The bridge over the Industrial Canal marked the dividing line between deluged and merely flooded.

I had been there the day before, Monday, with photographer Jackson. We’d found only two police boats running rescue operations for the thousands of people trapped in attics and on roofs. A rescue volunteer had offered to take us out on a third boat.

We floated through the Lower 9th Ward, past the house of the legendary Fats Domino, where a group of men yelled to our boat from a second-story balcony. We passed them and scores of others who screamed for help on our way east to St. Bernard Parish, the white working class suburb where people had fled after school integration first took hold in the 9th Ward in 1960.

Returning from St. Bernard with a deadline looming, we rode on a boat full of rescued people, a dog and a duffel bag full of cats one woman had smuggled onto the boat without the captain’s knowledge. The memory that sticks out most: We had to duck to avoid hitting stoplights that had towered over the street.

Now on Tuesday, refugees, many elderly and handicapped, hobbled and wheeled themselves across the bridge to the corner of Poland and St. Claude Avenues, the dry side of the bridge that had become a rescue boat launch. We found hundreds of people who had been rescued, then abandoned into a whole new struggle for survival. Filthy, soaked and stinking, they lined up behind three National Guard trucks that couldn’t begin to make a dent in the growing crowd. Those that did get taken out would end up in the Superdome or at the Convention Center downtown, which would become their own dark scenes of terror and suffering.

People mobbed us, competing to tell us their stories, hoping to let relatives know they were alive and authorities know they might still die without help. Pompilio and I interviewed a weeping Daniel Weber, a rotund man perched on a black barrel in the muck. I’d never seen a man so broken. He had watched his wife drown and then floated for 14 hours in polluted floodwaters on a piece of driftwood.

“I’m not going to make it,” he told us. “I know I’m not.”

When we got back in the car, Natalie said to me, “I know it may sound inappropriate, but I love my job on days like this.”

It struck me as perfectly appropriate, I told her. We were this man’s only lifeline to plead for help from the outside world. …


Read it, and weep.



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Giving

Sep. 11th, 2005 09:21 pm
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So, [profile] archer904 is up to about a grand. I suspect he will be close to 2,500 bucks before he's done.

I was thinking about this earlier. He says he isn't going to get hit so badly he can't make the donation. He may be donating more than he expected to, but it's not going to break him.

He could have just looked in the bank and figured out every spare penny he has and given it to the Red Cross, or Noah's Wish, or whomever he thought could to the most good. And that would have been good.

So why should I, who posted a comment, and so caused a dollar I don't own to be sent the way of some needy people, be happy because so many others have done so?

Those people haven't actually contributed (other than to give a reason for someone else to donate). He could have given as much (or more) than this. Yes, because he chose this method they have taken part, some small amount of help had them as the proximate cause, and that's a good thing. They can be comforted by it (I am).

But it's bigger than that, and I'm trying to figure out why.

I think, as I've been saying elsewhere, this points out that we are all in this together. This lets a whole lot of people, who don't know each other (save by those degrees of separation pull on the same rope and lift some people out of the mire.

So, kudos to [livejournal.com profile] archer904 and a nod to all of those who chose to help him be generous.



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Edit: I think I know part of what makes this so uplifting. He set no limits. He didn't say, I can give X, and if enough of you care, they will get that much. No, he said he would give as much as people cared. He is living an ideal, and we can share in it.

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
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So, that post I made about folks who were peaceable assembling, and trying to walk out of New Orleans being shot at... The Cheif of Police in Gretna admits it, with a touch of pride.

According to UPI
Police from surrounding jurisdictions shut down several access points to one of the only ways out of New Orleans last week, effectively trapping victims of Hurricane Katrina in the flooded and devastated city.
An eyewitness account from two San Francisco paramedics posted on an internet site for Emergency Medical Services specialists says, "Thousands of New Orleaners were prevented and prohibited from self-evacuating the city on foot."
"We shut down the bridge," Arthur Lawson, chief of the City of Gretna Police Department, confirmed to United Press International, adding that his jurisdiction had been "a closed and secure location" since before the storm hit.
"All our people had evacuated and we locked the city down," he said.
The bridge in question -- the Crescent City Connection -- is the major artery heading west out of New Orleans across the Mississippi River.
Lawson said that once the storm itself had passed Monday, police from Gretna City, Jefferson Parrish and the Louisiana State Crescent City Connection Police Department closed to foot traffic the three access points to the bridge closest to the West Bank of the river.
He added that the small town, which he called "a bedroom community" for the city of New Orleans, would have been overwhelmed by the influx.
"There was no food, water or shelter" in Gretna City, Lawson said. "We did not have the wherewithal to deal with these people.
"If we had opened the bridge, our city would have looked like New Orleans does now: looted, burned and pillaged."
But -- in an example of the chaos that continued to beset survivors of the storm long after it had passed -- even as Lawson's men were closing the bridge, authorities in New Orleans were telling people that it was only way out of the city.
"The only way people can leave the city of New Orleans is to get on (the) Crescent City Connection ... authorities said," reads a Tuesday morning posting on the Web site of the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper, which kept reporting through the storm and the ruinous flooding that followed.


Yep. With no declaration of Martial Law the township of Gretna's Police Dept. decided it had the right to overide the governor of Louisiana's declaration of emergency, and mandatory ecavuation of the city of New Orleans.

I wish I new a lawyer in Louisiana, because I'd love to see a big-assed lawsuit (what with the abuse of power, assault with deadly weapons, assault under color of authority, and whatever other laundry list of charges one can think of to make a civil suit out of) leveled against the chief, and the city.

Because, by their own words, this was deliberate. They sent, by way of gunfire, a host of people back to a place where their lives were in danger.

Lawson says that his officers "acted in the manner they were instructed to" and defends the order to close the bridge as "the right decision."




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An author friend of mine once said he wrote about things which pained him, this seems to be one of the times this is what moves me.

What we did on our vacation by way of Making Light

Words fail me.

Gretna, well right now I want to wipe them from the face of the map. It's not a good response, nor a rational one, and one which; if induldged wouldn't really make me feel any better; but the more I see of the venality of those who might have helped the colder runs my blood, the more coherent becomes my rage and the more I want an Old Testament God of wrath and smiting to manifest himself and show these people how they have failed their fellow man.

"If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am for myself alone, what am I? If not now, when?"

When indeed, and what are they?




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I happen to be a big fan of the Bill of Rights.

The Tenth, as used, is problematic. The Ninth, as ignored, is also problematic.

The Second has some contentious issues (What defines militia? What is meant by well organised? I hold it's an individual right, there are interesting; but to me, non-compelling, arguments to be made it's a collective one).

The First, on the other hand, is pretty damned clear (well, the whole debate about what constitutes political speech, and Holmes' sad use of, "fire in a crowded theater," notwithstanding) and the freedom of the press ought to be cut and dried.

Used to be it was.

Yesterday I linked to Reporters Without Borders talking about a couple of cases of photographers being abused. One had not only his images stolen but his equipment smashed and his press pass destroyed. Given that he was from a local paper, this may not have been the best tactical move those cops made, but that's not the point.

Now I find this from Rueters, which says FEMA is barring reporters from moving freely, to prevent them from taking pictures of the dead.

Brian Wilson, of MSNBC said he saw, what I can only describe as intimidation, a cop pointing a weapon at reporters, as well as being told to cross the street when an Oklahoma Guard sergeant got annoyed.

An interesting dynamic is taking shape in this city, not altogether positive: after days of rampant lawlessness (making for what I think most would agree was an impossible job for the New Orleans Police Department during those first few crucial days of rising water, pitch-black nights and looting of stores) the city has now reached a near-saturation level of military and law enforcement. In the areas we visited, the red berets of the 82nd Airborne are visible on just about every block. National Guard soldiers are ubiquitous. At one fire scene, I counted law enforcement personnel (who I presume were on hand to guarantee the safety of the firefighters) from four separate jurisdictions, as far away as Connecticut and Illinois. And tempers are getting hot. While we were attempting to take pictures of the National Guard (a unit from Oklahoma) taking up positions outside a Brooks Brothers on the edge of the Quarter, the sergeant ordered us to the other side of the boulevard. The short version is: there won't be any pictures of this particular group of Guard soldiers on our newscast tonight. Rules (or I suspect in this case an order on a whim) like those do not HELP the palpable feeling that this area is somehow separate from the United States.

At that same fire scene, a police officer from out of town raised the muzzle of her weapon and aimed it at members of the media... obvious members of the media... armed only with notepads. Her actions (apparently because she thought reporters were encroaching on the scene) were over the top and she was told. There are automatic weapons and shotguns everywhere you look. It's a stance that perhaps would have been appropriate during the open lawlessness that has long since ended on most of these streets. Someone else points out on television as I post this: the fact that the National Guard now bars entry (by journalists) to the very places where people last week were barred from LEAVING (The Convention Center and Superdome) is a kind of perverse and perfectly backward postscript to this awful chapter in American history.


These are not good signs.

Yes, I can hear the counterclaims... respect for the dead, and all. Well we didn't show that sort of tender feeling for the tsunami victims. Right now, painful as it is, the dead are the news. The people who were trapped in nursing homes, who couldn't break out of their homes, who were swept away. The ones who are sitting by the side of the road, waiting to be picked up. The how and the why of their demise, as well as what is being done about it, and how to prevent its like again. Those are the stories we need to hear, and read, and; yes, see.

The people who are going to get dysentery, or cholera, or God knows what from contact with the water sloshing around New Orleans (and no one can say what's going to happen to Lake Pontchartrain when the city is emptied into it, but there's no other place to put the water, and leaving it there to fester is a worse option) are the story.

Those are the stories we need to hear, and read, and; yes, see.

The people who refuse to leave, what happens to them? And who will tell the tale? The Administration isn't happy with the press right now, in part because the press has started to do it's job (the press always needs to play the role of gadfly to the occupant of the White House, by definition the president is one of the Comfortable; since he is also the employee of every single person who lives in the US, has his salary, his rent, and his [not-inconsiderable] household expenses paid for by them; while doing things which directly affect them all, he needs some oversight, and probably some afflicting).

For those who want to see what an active press corps might, and should, have been doing for the past few years, this press gaggle shows something which has been rare, of late, penetrating questions, and an unwillingness to accept pablum as caviar.

My favorite piece of it is,
Q I just want to follow up on David's questions on accountability. First, just to get you on the record, where does the buck stop in this administration?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President.

Q All right. So he will be held accountable as the head of the government for the federal response that he's already acknowledged was inadequate and unacceptable?


It isn't just the pleasure of seeing a pair of politicians skewered (because McClellan was run through on the way to the President) but because the people in office keep talking about accountabilty, but none of them ever seem to be held accountable for the failures they admit to happening, on their watch, by their underlings, or even by themselves.

Blacking the press out of New Orleans, intimidating them into not taking pictures; or notes, is the sort of thing which is meant to reduce accountability, because what is not seen, just isn't. If people don't know, they can't be offended. If they aren't offended, nothing will change.

And looking at the mess which was one of the prettiest, most interesting cities in America... it makes me think something has to change.



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It may be awhile before posts about Katrina stop.

I've been out of the loop for a week (sort of nice actually, apart from waiting for the phone to ring).

For those who wonder just how bad the aftermath can be, who wonder what it's like to be in the tender arms of FEMA, [profile] timiathan has this account of how FEMA is running things in Oklahoma.

All of sudden the landscape changed from picturesque mountainous rural America, to something foreign to me as we approached the rear gate of the camp. Two Oklahoma State Patrol vehicles and four Oklahoma Troopers guarded the gate. We started through and they stopped us.

"Can I help you, ma'am?"

I informed him we're here to deliver supplies to *our church's name* cabin. He stood silent and stared at me. My daughter turned and snapped a picture of his vehicle - very conspicuously.

We arrived at our cabin and started toting the clothes in. We finally found a group of men upstairs in the dorms trying to do something alien to them - make beds. They had almost completed the room of bunk beds and told us we could go over to the ladies' dorm room and start on it. We lugged our sacks of clothes back down the stairs. Then we got the first negative message. "You can't bring any clothes in. FEMA has stated they will accept no more clothes. They've had 30 people sorting clothes for days. They don't want anymore." My mind couldn't help but go back over the news articles that have accused FEMA of refusing water in to Jefferson Parrish, or turning fuel away.

We lugged the bags of clothes back to the car. We then turned to bringing in our personal hygiene products. That's when we learned our cabin had been designated a "male only" cabin. Approximately 40 men, ranging from age 13 on up would be housed there. We started resacking the female products and sorted out everything that would be useful for men.

We lugged the bags of female products back to the car. We asked if they knew of a cabin that had been designated for women. The "host" (the hosts are Oklahoma civilians who have been employed??? by FEMA to reside at each cabin and have already gone through at least one "orientation" meeting conducted by FEMA at "BASE" which is some unknown but repetitively referred location within the camp) told us he believed McAlester cabin was dedicated to females. He then explained there were male, female and family cabins designated.

We then started lugging in our food products. The foods I had purchased were mainly snacks, but my mother - God bless her soul - had gone all out with fresh vegetables, fruits, canned goods, breakfast cereals, rice, and pancake fixings. That's when we got the next message: They will not be able to use the kitchen.

Excuse me? I asked incredulously.

FEMA will not allow any of the kitchen facilities in any of the cabins to be used by the occupants due to fire hazards. FEMA will deliver meals to the cabins. The refugees will be given two meals per day by FEMA. They will not be able to cook. In fact, the "host" goes on to explain, some churches had already enquired about whether they could come in on weekends and fix meals for the people staying in their cabin. FEMA won't allow it because there could be a situation where one cabin gets steaks and another gets hot dogs - and...

it could cause a riot.

It gets worse.

He then precedes to tell us that some churches had already enquired into whether they could send a van or bus on Sundays to pick up any occupants of their cabins who might be interested in attending church. FEMA will not allow this. The occupants of the camp cannot leave the camp for any reason. If they leave the camp they may never return. They will be issued FEMA identification cards and "a sum of money" and they will remain within the camp for the next 5 months.

My son looks at me and mumbles "Welcome to Krakow."

My mother then asked if the churches would be allowed to come to their cabin and conduct services if the occupants wanted to attend. The response was "No ma'am. You don't understand. Your church no longer owns this building. This building is now owned by FEMA and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. They have it for the next 5 months." This scares my mother who asks "Do you mean they have leased it?" The man replies, "Yes, ma'am...lock, stock and barrel. They have taken over everything that pertains to this facility for the next 5 months."

We then lug all food products requiring cooking back to the car. We start unloading our snacks. Mom appeared to have cornered the market in five counties on pop-tarts and apparently that was an acceptable snack so the guy started shoving them under the counter. He said these would be good to tied people over in between their two meals a day. But he tells my mother she must take all the breakfast cereal back. My mother protests that cereal requires no cooking. "There will be no milk, ma'am." My mother points to the huge industrial double-wide refrigerator the church had just purchased in the past year. "Ma'am, you don't understand...

It could cause a riot."

He then points to the vegetables and fruit. "You'll have to take that back as well. It looks like you've got about 10 apples there. I'm about to bring in 40 men. What would we do then?"

My mother, in her sweet, soft voice says, "Quarter them?"

"No ma'am. FEMA said no...

It could cause a riot. You don't understand the type of people that are about to come here...."


The rest of it is more disturbing.

The problems I'm seeing are typical, but typical of central planning, of people who are using bureaucracy to solve trivial problems. The problem with bureaucracy isn't that it can't solve problems, but that it lends an impersonal air to things. Rules become, not useful tools, not even the frame in which to work, but valuable for their own sakes.

Rivka, at Respectful of Otters has some thoughts on how this plays out in missed opportunities here

As if that weren't bad enough, Barbara Bush managed to make the cake eating moments of John McCain's birthday, and those who want to blame people for not being able to get out (yes, Senator, "lets make it impossible for people to see the National Weather Service Info they paid for with tax dollars, unless they pay a private firm for it" Santorum I mean you) said, Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality, and so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."

Yep, the former First Lady, just said all the people in Astrodome are better off for having had everything they own taken from them, spending time wondering if they were going to die, and then being shipped to a bunch of cots (we won't discuss those who no longer know where the rest of their families are) have things, "working very well for them," because they were, "underprivileged."

Reporters without Borders reports of cops in Louisiana not destroying cameras, stealing memory cards and tearing up press passes, because they don't like what the pictures might have shown.

A second incident involved Gordon Russell of the New Orleans-based Times-Picayune daily as he was covering a shoot-out between police and local residents near the convention centre where hurricane victims were awaiting evacuation. The police detained Russell and smashed all of his equipment on the ground. Russell was forced to flee to avoid further violence and reportedly left the city the same day.

This thing is huge. And it was, mostly, preventable. We live in the richest (or so we keep hearing, I don't know quite how to measure that sort of wealth) country in the world. We knew this was coming. We knew that a disaster of this magnitude was going to cause huge problems for New Orleans, someday.

The Governor of Louisiana called a state of emergency two days before Katrina Made landfall. Meteorologists told people about the scope. Bush was told of this in a conference call, probably too late to do anything, but with the declared state of emergency he could (and a couple of days earlier) ordered trains in to take people out of the projected disaster-zone.

Didn't need to be Amtrak either. A couple of long trains, hauling empty boxcars would have worked fine.

A couple of Nat. Guardsmen on each one, to keep too many people from crowding on, and a half-mile of boxcars, could probably have hauled out almost everyone. If that wasn't enough, just get one more.

China cleared 1 million people out of the way of a typhoon. Cuba (with not much of anywhere to hide) managed to evacuate from a similar sort of storm, and only had a dozen people die.

Us, we lost a city (might have been any way to stop it, certainly not with the way things were, on the say it happened. What New Orleans needed was a long term plan and some real will on the part of the people who have to make it happen, neither seems to have been in evidence), and had a couple more pounded to pulp (Biloxi and Gulfport) as well as who knows how many other small towns which no longer exist (I read was purported to be a letter from the mayor of a town of almost 70,000, which claimed it was wiped off the map). We have thousands dead and a nation which now believes there is damn all which can be done to help those who suffer from such a catastrophe.

This is only the beginning of hurricane season.



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Katrina did a huge amount of damage.

In real terms (property damage, economic damage, infrastructural damage, and; probably, loss of life) it makes That Tuesday pale by comparison.

It doesn't have the gut-shot shock value, but it's a bigger catastrophe.

It also shows some of the rot in the way we run things.

The rich, they are all right. The Middle Class, they have real problems, and they may end up poor.

The poor, they're screwed.

They were screwed before Katrina came ashore.

Recall the people who were/are in the Superdome... they had to wait for hours to get in. Why? Ostensibly to be searched for weapons (which I can understand) but there was more to it than that Lew Rockwell reports,

"During coverage by Geraldo Rivera Sunday night, FOX NEWS' video cameras zoomed inside the foyer deck of the Superdome and viewers could see a national guard person going through a powder compact from of a woman's purse that was way too small to hold a liquor bottle or a gun. It was obvious that they were looking for drugs in warrantless searches. They instructed all the refugees far back in the seemingly endless lines to have their prescription-pill bottles out when approaching the security checkpoint and also a photo ID to prove that they belonged with the prescription.

There were THOUSANDS of poor, mostly black citizens of the lower Louisiana area, many of them little children and sickly elderly, being forced to stand for hours while the government violated their civil rights with forced searches that were patently unconstitutional, unjust and unreasonable under the dire circumstances. "Don't want to be searched? That's okay...now turn around, go outside and die!" Big choice."


And he's right. Do you think that would fly if the scene were rich folks from Georgetown heading into the the National's Stadium? Me neither.

And now, the people who are heading for the AstroDome, they won't be allowed in, unless they can prove they were in the Superdome. WTF?

Steve Gilliard's got a long post on The Price of Poverty

Some excerpts:When Andy Sullivan knocks Kos for saying this is worse than 9/11, he's wrong and Kos is right, because I lived through 9/11 without so much as a lost glass of water. This is a lot closer to an attack than any natural disaster we've seen. An entire city has turned into a movie set, and I mean Escape from New York. The people fleeing New Orelans are refugees, soemthing we haven't seen since the Civil War. The Astrodome is a temporary solution, and refugee camps will have to be built. There are sharks and alligators swimming in the streets, nobody will be going home for a long time.

There is still an inability to realize the scale of this. They are talking about trucking in supplies. Why not do what they did in Afghanistan and just drop food and water from C-130's? They need to act like this is a humanitarian crisis, and not just a national disaster.

The decision making here is flawed. While the Louisiana NG sits in Mosul, the mayor has to drag cops from search and rescue to looter patrol. Why? Because armed gangs are playing Baghdad, 2003. One guy shot his AK at a police station.

Why does it matter that the NG is in Iraq? Because the infantry which would be stopping looters is in Iraq. It's one thing to get water and shoes, another to rob anything which came along. Which is what some people are doing.

Of course, as the middle class runs out of class, they will start stealing and going nuts because they are just that desperate.

And the surprise: Atlanta has $5 gas. Hmmm, there's no risk of a riot there, is there.

What bothers me is the pace. When you have starving people in other countries, the AF can drop supplies to the needy. In the US, people have to wait for trucks which may not come for days. People are going to die at this pace.

How poor is NOLA?

Read, then ask yourself if you're suprised at how people are reacting.

...
http://www.realestatejournal.com/cityprofiles/neworleans_la.html
Business

Unemployment rate -- June 2003(for New Orleans): 6.6%

Unemployment rate -- June 2002 (for New Orleans): 6.1%

Unemployment rate -- June 2003 (Louisiana): 7.6%

Unemployment rate -- June 2002 (Louisiana): 7.0%

Civilians employed: 562,100

Civilians unemployed: 32,000

Projected job growth, by state: 4.6%

Projected income growth, by state (projected per-capita income change: 1988 through 2020):
39.8% (for Louisiana)

http://www.bestofneworleans.com/dispatch/2003-10-07/news_scut.html
Once again, the government is telling you what most people know by walking down their street -- people are hurting, financially.

Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that the nation's official poverty rate rose from 11.7 percent in 2001 to 12.1 percent in 2002. Four out of 10 of those poor people live in the South, the poorest part of the nation. In Louisiana, the poverty rate is a third higher than the United States as a whole. Over the past three years, 17.9 percent -- nearly one in five people -- have been poor in this state. That's basically a tie for highest poverty rate in the nation with Arkansas, where the poverty rate officially stands at 18 percent.

http://bizneworleans.com/70+M56d76a2d7b6.html
The underserved
As the 40-year-old DeSalvo sees it, New Orleans represents a gold mine for her research. For one thing, more than a quarter of the city’s population lives below the poverty line. Low-income patients, she says, are more likely than others to suffer from more than one chronic condition, such as obesity, heart disease or diabetes. In addition, more than two-thirds of the local populace is black, constituting what DeSalvo says is an understudied minority group.


And what are we seeing in reaction to the calamaty the citizens there are facing?

A mix. Lots of people are pitching in to help. Some of them from compassion, and some from compassion and anger. [profile] annafddd said I just made a donation to the American Red Cross and I'm posting about it here for purely selfish and vile reasons. I'm pissing mad at people who are whining about stopping foreign aid and who ask belligerently where is the rest of the world now that the USA needs it?

Well, here's my 25 $, fuck it.

Though I think the richest country on Earth should take care of its own and could very well afford to do it if it weren't pissing money out in foreign parts that never asked for aid in the shape of military intervention in the first place, those poor bastards in the Gulf Coast shouldn't suffer for the fact that a) their government doesn't give a damn about them and b) I'm mad at it for this.


I don't blame her. I'm angry too, and a little ashamed, because she's right, we have enough money that we ought to be able to prevent, both the poverty,and the inadequate response we are going to see.

Some people, Jonah Goldberg for example, are just mad. They are frothing that the folks there are suffering, and that other people care. "Several readers complain that it's in fact true that the hurricane will disproportionately affect poor people. I don't really dispute that in the sense most mean it. Yes, the poor will have special hardships. Obviously so. But what I objected to, and still object to, is the reflexive playing of the class card. Is it really true that some middle class retirees who heeded the advice of the government to leave town, only to watch their homes be looted after a lifetime of hardwork for a better life are suffering less than a poor person who lost his rented apartment? What's the metric for measuring this sort of suffering? What about the small businessman who worked his entire life to build something he's proud of? What about the families who lost loved ones, but had the poor taste to make more money than the poverty line?

Whatever happened to the idea that unity in the face of a calamity is an important value? We're all in it together, I guess, except for the poor who are extra-special.


So there you have it, the poor, it's too bad for them, but hey, he's in it with them (the same way his chickenhawk-ass is fighting the good fight for the freedom of Iraq and the destruction of terrorism, safe behind his keyboard).


Jesus said we should always have the poor with us. There are those who see this as absolution, since Jesus said there would always be poor, we don't really have to go all out to help them. They conveniently forget what else he said, to the young man who was obedient to all the commandments, "Then sell all you have and give it to the poor."

I don't think we need to go so far as to make everyone give up all they have (though I don't think that levelling the field some would be a bad idea, if not because it's right and fitting, then because the example of 1798 is horrid, and can be repeated), but we can do a lot to make it better.

I close with this.

Matt: 25 41-46

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.



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Sigh...

Aug. 30th, 2005 03:18 pm
pecunium: (Default)
What's wrong with these pictures?





Nothing, right?

Well, if you go and look at them here and here you will see that the couple in the first picture are just grabbing needed food, where the kid in the second has looted a grocery.

The only differences I can see between them are the color of their skin, and the bag of food the kid has (and the guy has a knapsack, so it's possible they have more than a "bottle of milk, a loaf of bread and come home right away." Absent knowledge of what's in the bag, and of how many people the kid might be taking it too; or of when he might be rescued, I'm willing to cut him the same slack the ones in the top picture get.

The food in those groceries is doomed. The perishables will perish and the semi-durable (canned goods) will probably be unsalvageable by the time they get the waters out of the city for not only are the pumps not capable of more than an inch an hour (as I recall reading) but they put the water into Lake Ponchartrain, which would be, until they repair the levee breaches, a Sysiphean task, since it will just run right back into town, charging anyone with looting; for food, is pointless, but the distinctions made here... sigh.



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