Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Earthlink to the rescue.

Bellsouth's bullying tactics will not work. There are just too many alternatives to this monopoly. But they're trying to cut out the competition in NO just as they have tried in LFT-- and they're going to get beat in the courts and in the court of public opinion. Wise up, Bellsouth, and start making a contribution to Louisiana's reconstruction.

Wi-Fi Networking News: :
"BellSouth has a history over the last few months of being hostile in private, conciliatory in public: In December, they allegedly said that New Orleans’s plans to run its own broadband network would cause it to withdraw an offer to donate a building. Then they denied in public that they’d said this to the city.

Days ago, the New Orleans CIO Greg Meffert said he’d rather go to jail than turn off the vital broadband wireless network operating in the city. BellSouth was trying to force the issue, he said. Louisiana based a ridiculous broadband limitation bill that denies municipalities the right to build broadband networks operating at 144 Kbps in either direction or faster. Under emergency rules, New Orleans was able to turn the network on.

BellSouth now says that they haven’t challenged New Orleans at all. Private lobbying in Baton Rouge doesn’t count, I imagine.

EarthLink has taken advantage of this situation by offering to take over New Orleans network on its usual private basis, spending $15m over the next three years to build a network with a 15-to-20-mile radius. That would be 700 to 1250 square miles—perhaps diameter was meant rather than radius?"

Monday, March 27, 2006


New Orleans CityBusiness:
"Parker LeCorgne, whose 100-year-old company produces an antiseptic that is a household name in New Orleans, said that following Katrina he was courted by companies across the country that wanted to manufacture his product elsewhere but is adamant “that we remain in New Orleans.” The company also manufactures Boudreaux’s Butt Paste, a product owned by Covington pharmacist George Boudreaux."
They make Dr. Tichenor's and Boudreaux's Butt Paste?! Two of my favorite Louisiana products!! (Boudreaux's Butt Paste makes a great gift for your out-of-state in-laws.)

"We cannot contain this thing anymore."

Bird Flu Defies Control Efforts - Los Angeles Times: "

The speed of its migration, and the vast area it has infected, has forced scientists to concede there is little that can be done to stop its spread across the globe.

'We expected it to move, but not any of us thought it would move quite like this,' said Dr. David Nabarro, the United Nations' coordinator on bird flu efforts.

The hope was once that culling millions of chickens and ducks would contain or even eradicate the virus. Now, the strategy has shifted toward managing a disease that will probably be everywhere. Officials are hoping to buy a little more time to produce human vaccines and limit the potential economic damage.

'We cannot contain this thing anymore. Nature is in control,' said Robert G. Webster, a virologist at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., who has been studying the virus since it emerged in 1997."

US "woefully unprepared" avian flu
"C. Everett Koop, MD, and former US Surgeon General, writing in the current issue of Journal of Emergency Management, says this country's disaster response and healthcare systems will be easily overwhelmed by a major bio disaster such as an avian flu pandemic.

Eliot Grigg, Joseph Rosen, MD, and Dr. Koop published an article entitled 'The biological disaster challenge: Why we are least prepared for the most devastating threat and what we need to do about it' in the January/February issue of Journal of Emergency Management.

The authors contend that even though this country's recent response to natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, has been less than adequate, a bio disaster along the lines of an avian flu pandemic will be a 'much more complex and potentially devastating threat.' "

Texas welcome may be wearing thin for N.O. evacuees :
"'Not everybody is a gang-affiliated, crime-spiker from New Orleans,' Palmer said. 'There was never any real attention paid to the fact that some of us have started our lives over and are making a positive contribution.'

Palmer is one of hundreds of educators who have stepped in to fill vacant classroom slots and help the state handle the 46,000 students from hurricane-ravaged areas who enrolled last fall.

She believes their stories have been lost in the ongoing tale of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath. Her concerns seemed confirmed by a poll released last week in which three-quarters of Harris County residents surveyed by a Rice University sociologist said the influx of Katrina evacuees has put a 'considerable strain' on the community.

Palmer said she thinks the poll results have 'a lot to do with the fact that only the sob stories have been told, not the stories of survival and rebuilding.' She wonders how many of those questioned for the poll have actually met and talked to someone like herself who is having a positive influence on her new community."
. . . . . . . .
"I get classified with these so-called 'deadbeats,' " she said. "All these generalizations. I fuss at the kids all the time about generalizing and stereotyping."

Conservative American Spectator slams federal response to Katrina

To appear in the April issue of American Spectator

"To understand the tragedy inherent in Bush's opposition to the most promising conservative approach to disaster relief, offered by conservative U.S. Rep. Richard Baker of Louisiana, a little background is in order. The first thing to understand is that the large majority of Louisianans with destroyed property were victims as much of the federal government as of Mother Nature. The second thing to understand is that very little federal money has actually reached Katrina's victims themselves, and even less of that federal spending has gone for reconstruction as opposed to stop-gap relief. "
. . . . . . . .
"IT IS HERE THAT THE BUSH RECORD, when compared to the opportunities available, is so poor as to go beyond incompetence to sheer negligence. This is where Rep. Baker's bill comes in, and where conservatives more than anybody have reason to be furious with this bullheaded administration."

Sorry, no link available. Get hold of a copy of the magazine.

Judge Refuses to Delay New Orleans Vote - Yahoo! News

Yahoo! News: "A federal judge on Monday refused to delay New Orleans' April 22 mayoral election, telling both sides to solve any problems that might hinder displaced residents' ability to vote.

'If you are a displaced citizen, like I am, we have a burning desire for completeness,' said U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle, whose own New Orleans home flooded after Hurricane Katrina.

Lemelle said voting will help the city rebuild, but he warned that its residents have already lost trust in institutions. 'I recognize that there is still room for improvement in that electoral process,' he said."

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Bellsouth wants to kill free wifi in N.O.
"Ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, and suffering desperately from its after-effects, New Orleans still depends to a great extent on Wi-Fi to maintain communications.

But now telecommunication lobbyists are trying to shut down the network, and Greg Meffert, the city’s chief information officer, fears the state legislature will agree.

'State law prohibits cities from providing more than a relatively sluggish 128-kbps network, but New Orleans offered its faster network as an emergency relief effort,' says Red Herring, going on that with corporate help, New Orleans had hoped to expand the wireless network at a cost of $12 million to $18 million.

'We are talking to Yahoos and Googles to step up and access the rest of the city,' the story has Meffert saying.

But, 'The vendors, the BellSouths of this world, are not only going to force us back, making our existing Wi-Fi illegal, but also they want to close a loophole for emergencies so that we would not do this again.'"

Another asshole in Congress.

"'These results reflect what I’m hearing from my constituents,' said U.S. Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston. 'I think the percentage of people unhappy with the deadbeats from New Orleans would be larger but for the big hearts of Houstonians who want these folks to get back on their feet, as I do.' (emphasis mine)"

That "R" is for republican, btw.

FEMA: "Go ahead, rebuild. . . heh heh!"
"Delays in releasing new federal maps of New Orleans' most flood-prone neighborhoods have slowed rebuilding, frustrated homeowners and created uncertainty about the future of the region ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

And the angst may all be for nothing, the government says.

Residents of the city and surrounding communities have waited since the fall for the maps that will help determine how much flood insurance they will need to rebuild. Under current maps, 80 percent of New Orleans lies in a federally designated flood plain; that figure probably will rise.

Without the maps, homeowners say they do not know if they can afford to stay and buy the additional insurance required by mortgages or if they will be forced to leave and move father inland.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is issuing preliminary new building standards as early as this week, says homeowners do not have to make that decision now."

N.O. racial makeup about the same as before

Times Picayune: "
The new data challenges the popular notion that the out-of-state votes of displaced New Orleans residents loom large over the April 22 election, as well as the perception that in-town voters are overwhelmingly white and those out of town are overwhelmingly black, said Greg Rigamer of GCR and Associates, who produced the data as a consultant for the state."

How many times is this reapeated in N.O. every day?

Firedoglake :
"Well, six months ago, I hit the road trying to get my family out of the way of a big storm. Ended up 400 miles away from new orleans. My oldest son and I came back a couple of weeks later ready to try to start putting things back together and build. It was like running into a brick wall.

For the past six months, I’ve been banging my head against this wall, yelling and screaming..and it hurts."

Friday, March 24, 2006

Vicious email circulating

I just got an email, alleging to come from someone from Salt Lake City Utah, accusing N.O refugees there of all sorts of crimes and atrocious behavoior. I immediately wrote to ask my friend to tell her source that the email was false, but I'm sure it's circulating widely on the internet. It's a slanderous piece that ends

"Poverty is not an excuse to behave like animals. The rest of the Gulf
Coast did not have problems like this! Difficult situations are not an
excuse to loot your neighbor 24 hours before the storm even hits.

I have always said New Orleans was a toilet! Now everyone has proof
that not only was it a toilet, but a toilet long overdue for a flush.

(Unfortunately it got flushed on the rest of the country)"

I don't know where this racist piece of trash came from-- is there any way to track it down to it's source, or at least discredit it widely? It's pretty sickening.

Let me know if you have seen it.

UPDATE: You can find the original email here

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Las Vegas slots more secure than your voting machine.

In Nevada the state has complete access to all slot machine software. Use of any other software is illegal. Voting machine companies' software is a proprietary secret.


Still finding bodies.

Reuters AlertNet :
"Coroner's investigator Orrin Duncan said more bodies are being found each week as the pace of home demolition picks up in the Lower Ninth Ward, a mainly African-American community that was hammered by a torrent when the levee that held back the city's Industrial Canal breached after the Aug. 29 storm.

He is still not used to it.

'It affects me. It's my home,' the 35-year-old said. 'It definitely affects me, thinking that they didn't search.'

The bodies on Tupelo are too decomposed to immediately determine their gender, he said. They are darkened, stiff, vaguely human in form, anonymous."

Subcontracting system inflates cleanup costs

The Boston Globe:
"How many contractors does it take to haul a pile of tree branches? If it's government work, at least four: a contractor, his subcontractor, the subcontractor's subcontractor, and finally, the local man with a truck and chainsaw.

If the job is patching a roof, the answer may be five contractors, or even six. At the bottom tier is a Spanish-speaking crew making less than 10 cents for every square foot of tarpaulin installed. At the top, the prime contractor bills the government 15 times as much for the same job.

For the thousands of contractors in the Katrina recovery business, this is the way the system works -- a system that federal officials say is the same after every major disaster but that local government officials, watchdog groups, and the contractors themselves say is one reason why costs for the cleanup continue to swell.
''If this is 'normal,' we have a serious problem in this country,' said Benny Rousselle, president of Plaquemines Parish, a hurricane-ravaged district near New Orleans.

''The federal government ought to be embarrassed about what is happening,' Rousselle said. ''If local governments tried to run things this way, we'd be run out of town.'"

Friday, March 17, 2006

Thanks again Charlie.

New York Times:
"They're hoping we disappear off the radar screen,' Mr. Melancon said of his colleagues. 'People who wear Christ on their sleeves and vote against helping people are the biggest hypocrites.'"

"We Don't Care if You Drown"

"We Don't Care if You Drown":
"Yesterday freshman Democrat Charlie Melancon, who represents St. Bernard's, Plaquemines and the parishes southwest of New Orleans, offered an amendment to the emergency supplemental that would have restored $260 million for levee funding the President had requested but the Congressional Republicans slashed from the bill. 'The people of southern Louisiana need the levees to protect them,' Melancon said. 'We are in an emergency situation.'

The Republicans don't care that the levees are so compromised that even a minor hurricane hitting southern Louisiana could flood the entire region. They voted down Melancon's amendment, with even two Louisiana Republicans--Jim McCreary and turncoat coward Rodney Alexander--joining the Republican majority in screwing over their home state."

To Charlie Melancon, many thanks.

To McCreary and Alexander ---Watch your backs. We won't forget this fall.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Why trust the Corpse of Egineers now? News:
"Scientists working on an independent study of a floodwall that collapsed during Hurricane Katrina said Monday that a government test 21 years ago predicted the wall could fail.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' built a levee and floodwall system to test a design similar to the 17th Street Canal in 1985, which 'indicated that failure was imminent,' according to a statement from Raymond B. Seed and Robert G. Bea, in charge of the National Science Foundation's Independent Levee Investigation Team."

Axe me what I love about New Orleans.

This is the best. I just wish I had written it. (via Harry Shearer at Huffington Post)

The muddy middle ground:
"I love Mid-City. I've always loved tooling around there. It has its own vibe and languorous pace and never seemed to be in sync with society's inexorable march to revolutions in retail, food service, upholstery, auto repair and flooring.

You could still buy remnants in Mid-City. You could still get your car fixed by a mechanic named Sal.

Mid-City has its own alluring architecture -- some Creolized version of the antiquated American cottage -- and I've always felt that if I were transported blind-folded to the neighborhood and then was asked to divine where I was, I would look around and maybe smell the air and think: We're near Liuzza's."

Monday, March 13, 2006

Bad choice of words, Senator Bennett.

Salt Lake Tribune - Utah:
"Sen. Bob Bennett suggested this week that parts of hurricane-ravaged New Orleans not be rebuilt and that Hurricane Katrina may have been a sign that some neighborhoods - those below sea level - shouldn't exist.
During a committee hearing on rebuilding the devastated Gulf Coast, the Utah Republican questioned witnesses about who would be in charge of the construction because he didn't want money thrown down a 'black hole.' "

Now, remove foot from mouth.

Blacks returning faster-- good news for Nagin? - Louisiana Politics and News:
"The fuel of the large influx of white candidates into the New Orleans Mayor´s race, and the other down ticket contests, was a preception that African-Americans had permanently fled the city in numbers proportionately larger than whites. Eager Republicans and white Democrats reasoned that caucasians would hold a permanent majority in the city, affecting the politics of New Orleans and Louisiana as a whole.

According to Professor Jeff Sadow of LSU-Shreveport, this is wishful thinking. His new study suggests that African-Americans have and will return faster than previously estimated, strenghening the campaigns of Democrats in the short term, and eventually returning the Crescent City to black majority status by the end of the year. "

AOL's New Orleans Documentary

"America Online's AOL Black Voices is set to screen the feature documentary 'New Orleans: My Home, My Life, My Love' Monday as the centerpiece of its Hurricane Katrina-related broadband package.

Other content includes original articles, photo essays and exclusive reportage covering the aftermath of the natural disaster. The special section of also offers extensive opportunities for community involvement and interaction."

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Is this guy connected to Tom Tancredo?

Rocky Mountain News: Government
Loveland lawmaker has been blasted by his colleagues for e-mailing an essay written by someone else that accused "welfare-pampered blacks" of waiting for the government to save them from Hurricane Katrina.

Claude Allen, who ran Katrina task force, arrested for shoplifting


One of Bush's closest advisors involved in petty shoplifting scheme.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Displaced Iraqis Have Better Voting Opportunities Than Displaced Katrina Victims

Think Progress:
"In response, local leaders have wondered why Iraqis living in the U.S. were given this right, yet African-Americans are not. “[Louisiana] had all kinds of excuses why that couldn’t happen,” New Orleans City Council President Oliver M. Thomas Jr. said. “But the Iraqi people voted [at satellite offices]. Why can’t we do that for all of our voters?“"


This is VERY serious. Remember that on January 1, the government advised us all to stock up on food and medicines for an "extended period of time."

New fears as Chinese man dies of bird flu:
"Zhong Nanshan, director of the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases, was quoted in Hong Kong newspapers as saying that the latest death 'may be an indication that poultry is infected but not showing symptoms. This is even more dangerous and serious because people can get infected without any warning.'"

Monday, March 06, 2006

Lots of important news out of N.O. today

First, there is the sad and chilling news reminding us that many of the missing in New Orleans may actually be among the dead. A body was found, mummified, in the attic of a Lakeview home as a new round of searches began. Another body was apparently found two weeks ago. The death toll continues to rise. As authorities begin the first demolitions of buildings in N.O. it is expected that more bodies will be found in the ruins. Cadaver-sniffing dogs will be used to help in the seardh as the demolitions proceed. The searches will concentrate on 200 homes where people have gone missing.

On the political front, the news is good. Gov. Blanco, making use of funds provided by a much better than expected economy, is restoring most of the cuts made earlier. Additionally, her budget makes provisions for pay-raises for school teachers, a development that would have been unthinkable just months ago.
Improved tax collections and federal hurricane aid wiped away grim projections of sweeping budget cuts for next year and boosted Gov. Kathleen Blanco's budget to a $20.3 billion proposal that would spare most state agencies from significant slashing, pour new dollars into colleges and increase public school teacher pay.

The governor's brightened spending plan was presented Monday to lawmakers, who will craft a final version of the state's budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The proposal was a stark contrast to earlier discussions of cuts that could shutter health services and devastate universities, and lawmakers on the House and Senate budget committees had few complaints.

"If there's a problem, I don't know where it is," said Rep. Charlie DeWitt, D-Lecompte. "It looks like everybody's whole. It's a lot better than I expected."

It's a dream scenario for any governor and will no doubt brighten her prospects for re-election.

But it's good-news/bad-news for Orleans teachers, whose union has been all but destroyed by the state's takeover of the public schools.
Today, with its Paris Avenue offices gutted, the union that once represented employees at 117 schools has members at only four campuses.

Union brass talks gamely of an inevitable comeback, but few teachers and administrators see much of a role for the union in post-Katrina New Orleans. The majority of functioning campuses are charter schools and exempt -- at least for now -- from union rules. Like private and religious schools throughout the area, the charter schools operate without negotiated contracts. They hire teachers for a year at a time, keeping those who perform well and letting go of those who don't.

Now for those of you who sigh with relief at the disappearance of the union that is often blamed for the poor performance of Orleans schools -- don't think that this takes the politics out of public schools or that it will now attract only the best and the brightest. What bright young teacher will want to commit his or her career to a system where they will serve at the pleasure of whimsical school pricipals, for low Louisiana salaries with little or no job protection. They will know that as they gain more seniority they will be fatter and fatter targets for cost-cutting as principals will seek to improve the bottom line by hiring cheaper labor. Why would they want to enter such a situation when they can find a better deal in neighboring states, even in neighboring parishes? Only much higher salaries would balance the scales. And that's gonna cost.

But read the whole article. It's "fair and balanced."

And in the realm of the totally useless and irrelevent, Bush visits N.O. on Wednesday in an attempt to bury recent news items indicating that he lied when he said that "no one could have anticipated" the breach in the levees.

Great Headline: Good summary of Bush's inaction

The lie of the storm - The Boston Globe
By fixating on his own war, Bush neglected the threat to America from wind and water.

Three days after Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, Bush went on television to defend his handling of the crisis, saying: ''I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." That may be technically true. The weather specialist who delivered part of the video briefing only expected some water to wash over the levees, but cautioned that worse was possible. Bush did make one misstatement during the video. ''I want to assure the folks at the state level that we are fully prepared," he said. But the Bush administration was not. History will judge him harshly for this failure.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

On Bush's approval ratings

The following is a post by contributor Ray Mouton.

Bush 34%, Cheney 18% - - The results of a CNN-TIME poll of all Americans, published February 27, 2006.

As the poll was being taken last week, in real time, at the actual same time the poll was being taken, the following was occuring - - - -

*** There were more serious signs of the inevitable Iraq civil war playing out on a big stage

***Two trucks laden with explosives were stopped just short of blowing up the Saudi facility that handles two thirds of their oil exports

*** The President of the United States was again acting as a defiant dictator of a defacto theocracy. It is a defacto theocracy for while Bush rails against fundementalist religious regimes, he only has power because or the support of the fundementalist right wing religious fanatics in the U.S. Bush's actions again proved he is head of an active fascist ruling regime. What was he doing? He was making a speech and reasserting his right to illegally wiretap Americans in order to protect America.

*** The President, in the same speech, was stating that he would turn over some U.S. port facilities to the management and control of a company owned by an Arab country that is the transfer point for all nuclear weapons material moving in the region, a money laundering center for terrorists with direct ties to two 9.11 hijackers (and he was again lying to the American people in telling them that neither Homeland Security or the Coast Guard had any security concerns about the deal when both agencies had weighed in months ago in writing with a long list of concerns).

*** The President said he was so committed to this course of giving an Arab country control of U.S. ports that he would veto Republican legislation aimed at blocking the action, if necessary. And what the media missed for the most part is that it is almost a moot point anyway regarding port security as the Bush Regime passed the Port Security Act post- 9.11 that required 540 million to secure the ports and they appropriated only 175 million in that year, and this year they lowered the amount to 46 million which is less than pre-9.11 allocations, i.e. this is proof that they are no more serious about port security than they are about Homeland Security as Hurricane Katrina proved.

*** At the same time, Secretary of State Condi Rice was whispering (unidentified State Department staffers leaking) about maybe punishing Palestine for electing Hamas to its leadership by witholding western funding, the emptiest threat ever made as the Palestian people have to overt support of some of their neighboring regimes, and the covert support of the others, all of whom are awash in cash while the U.S. is drowning in deficits.

It is clear that the ruling regime in Washington has abandoned everything America ever stood far.

This regime will give control of U.S. port facilities to Arab countries, but it will will not allow musician Ry Cooder to record in Cuba again, while it uses Cuba to hold 500 people whom the U.S. tortures, inmate who have never had charges made against them. This is the same regime that tortures people in black prisons, tortures people in Iraqi prisons, and was operating under a legal paper authored by the U.S. Attorney
General that stated his legal opinion that the U.S. was not bound by the Geneva Conventions that apply to the rest of the civilised world - - it was his position the U.S. was not bound by the accord until there is a move to release additional still and video images of Iraqis being tortured by U.S. troops, at which time the Attorney General said that to show images of the prisoners being tortured to the public would violate the prisoner's rights under the Geneva Conventions. This kind of hypocrisy, inconsistency, and irrationality has been the hallmark charaterstic of the Bush regime since the moment the coup occurred that elevated him to the presidency (and make no mistake about it - - when a Republican court steps into an election where they lack jurisdiction to rule and stops the vote counting process, a coup has occurred).

What will happen in Iraq is inevitable. If anyone in this regime had read Kipling, maybe they might have understood. How a Brit like Tony Blair could have missed the history lesson is beyond me. Perhaps Blair was home sick on the days when the lessons learned by the British were taught in the classroom.

The regime is already "spinning" things, floating out the idea that the Iraqi's are ungrateful for the liberation and freedom American gave them and maybe America ought to just pick up their toys and come home. Arch conservative columnist William Buckley tossed that absurd idea out a week ago.

There are only two choices for America and the British in Iraq.
Either remove all of the troops in disgrace or stay and see some of the troops slaughtered in place. Some of our actions will convince the Shia we are on the side of the Sunnis while other actions will convince the Sunnis we are on the side of the Shia. The strategy was doomed months before the invasion, on the first day Tony Blair drank the kool aid with George Bush and made their pact.

At home this regime has amassed a budget deficit larger than all prior administrations combined, the Patriot Act is a fascist document on its face and by its intent, and the U.S. has literally lost the world, including Latin America where five out of nine elections this year will bring anti-U.S. people to the leadership of these countries to our south.

On 9.12 the Paris headlines proclaimed "We Are All Americans" and millions demonstrated in cities across the world in solidarity with the U.S. and all of that support and more has been lost through the actions of this regime who have ruined the reputation of America.

On 9.11 the world was with American. The United States was unified. Then as this fascist regime revealed itself to the people of the world and the people of the United States, most of the world began to despise this regime and now seventy to eighty percent of Americans have turned on the respective leaders of the regime who languish at 34% and 18% respectively in the current poll.

It is worthy of note that when the Atocha train station was bombed in Madrid, other than the usual mike bite stuff in D.C., there was no expression of empathy or sympathy by the American people though it was our war that caused the attack on innocent civilians. And there was no outpouring of sympathy from Americans when London was hit for the same reason last summer. The fact is Americans are fairly stupid, selfish people in political matters, myopic about their country, blind to all others, and they just do not care about the rest of the world that they have no comprehension of.

This is a serious time, the most serious time in our lifetimes, a time testing what America really is. America is failing the tests daily. In failing, America has abandoned all it ever stood for.

___________ R. M. is an American writer living in France

Chancellor misleads on financial exigency for UNO | News | Chancellor says UNO must act quickly to stem 'panic' of faculty:
"New Orleans’ largest university is shrinking.

State spending cuts and a drop in tuition revenue following Hurricane Katrina will force the University of New Orleans to shed programs and faculty, the chancellor said Wednesday.

Chancellor Tim Ryan offered no hard-and-fast plan for what departments will be hit, but said he must act quickly.

“There’s panic on the part of the faculty because we can’t tell what areas will be cut. They all assume they’ll be eliminated,” Ryan said. “They all start sending their résumés out.”"

There is in fact no "panic" among UNO faculty. There is, instead, a healthy distrust of the motives of the administration of that institution, which speaks with one voice in private and another in public.

In fact the administration at SUNO and LSU Health Center have not been using the term "financial exigency" which would preserve some faculty rights, and which the faculty leaders of the Association of Louisiana Faculty Senates (ALFS) and the AAUP have been urging. Instead, they have used the term "FORCE MAJEURE" which would invalidate all contractual obligations and leave the universities free to lay off or fire faculty at will. Dr. Bill Stewart, president of ALFS, has learned that UNO will be using the same process to cut its faculty down to size. He has written a letter of protest to Chancellor Jenkins, advising him of the real hazards involved in terminating faculty without peer review or other traditional academic safeguards, and asking him to work with the faculty to find the best way to make the cuts which faculty representatives acknowledge are necessary.

Why is this important to the general public? Such a move would make it extremely difficult to hire new faculty, especially in competitive fields, since prospective hires would know that the state and the various boards of higher education will not stand behind their promises. The best candidates for employment will choose to work at institutions which they know will stand behind the traditional academic guarantees of peer review and tenure.

Ashes and a Blackberry, oh my!

Taegan Goddard's Political Wire:
"Congressman Caught Working in Church
It’s fairly obvious that Rep. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) will not be giving up his cell phone for Lent. According to Roll Call, while celebrating an Ash Wednesday ceremony at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, the Congressman “spent a great deal of time on his BlackBerry during service and prayer, both reading emails and sending emails.'

Said the informant: 'I guess Rep. Jindal couldn’t sacrifice his BlackBerry for God.”"

Brother Basil would have soooo kicked my ass if he caught me playing with my Blackberry during mass.

Bush: How could we have known?

A Dearth of Answers: "
'I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm. But these levees got breached. And as a result, much of New Orleans is flooded. And now we are having to deal with it and will.'"

Bush was warned, took a vacation, lied.

AP Exclusive: Video shows Bush, Chertoff warned before Katrina:
"WASHINGTON Federal officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief of possible devastation just before Hurricane Katrina struck.
Six days of video footage from briefings and transcripts were obtained by The Associated Press.

The warnings were that the storm could breach levees, risk lives in the New Orleans Superdome and overwhelm rescuers.

A-P reports Bush didn't ask any questions during the final government-wide briefing the day before Katrina struck on August 29th.

He assured state officials that the government was fully prepared."