Sunday, July 30, 2006

NYT's latest on NO praises her spirit.

Despite a City’s Hopes, an Uneven Repopulation - New York Times:
"'No one pursued City Hall after a certain amount of time, so we decided to be creative,' said Nicole Dufour, a member of the Claiborne-University Neighborhood Association. 'We don’t know when we’ll have real signs, so people are banding together and taking things into their own hands.'

They are also planting trees in public spaces and cleaning their neighbors' yards.

'If you want people to populate the city and help make a new New Orleans, you’ve got to help yourself,' said Kenyatta Hills, who recently returned from Atlanta. 'If the place looks like Katrina just hit it, who’s going to want to come back home?'"

Jefferson gets a break. | News for New Orleans, Louisiana | Local News:
"WASHINGTON-- A federal appeals court on Friday barred the Justice Department from reviewing evidence seized from a Louisiana congressman's office during an unprecedented FBI raid on his Capitol Hill office in May.

A three-judge panel ordered a federal trial judge to ensure that Democratic Rep. William Jefferson be given copies of seized evidence contained on more than a dozen computer hard drives, several floppy disks and two boxes of paper documents.

The panel said Jefferson then must be given the opportunity to invoke legislative privilege claims in private with the trial judge."

Could this "floater" turn into a tropical storm?

As thunder rumbles outside, note that the "floater" off the coast of Colombia seems headed into the Gulf. If so, it will strengthen.

Gov will run again.

Governor tells party she will seek a second term:
"Gov. Kathleen Blanco told officials of the state Democratic Party on Saturday she will seek a second term as governor next year so she can continue to oversee the rebuilding of the hurricane-ravaged state.

'I am not going to quit; I am going to lead the battle,' Blanco said at the regular meeting of the Democratic State Central Committee, the governing arm of the state party she leads."

Run away! Run away! Here come female priests. NewsFlash - Catholic women face excommunication: "The Associated Press

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Joan Houk has ministered to the sick and needy, run two Roman Catholic parishes that were without priests and has presided over baptisms and funerals. Her calling now, she says, is to be a priest.

Houk will be one of a dozen women participating in a ceremony Monday in which eight will proclaim themselves priests and four deacons. The ceremony won't be recognized by the Catholic church, which has a 2,000-year tradition of an all-male priesthood."
This might be just what the church needs.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Huey??!! I don't think anybody needs a new Huey.

Experts excoriate recovery leaders:
"'It's virtually a city without a city administration and it's worse than ever,' McIlwain said. 'New Orleans needs Huey Long. You need a politician, a leader that is willing to make tough decisions and articulate to the people why these decisions are made, which means everyone is not going to be happy.'"

Dr. John

Music's Dr. John outraged about New Orleans' shape | Entertainment | Music |
"'I feel like I'm living under another corrupt dynasty,' he said. 'I'm so full of anger at what's going down.'"

Friday, July 28, 2006

Love those images.

Third Battle has a bunch of images like this one up at his blog. They indicate relative elevation of this city. IN this one you can clearly see the ridge that runs through Mid City, and the high buildings near the Quarter. Go see them all.


Go read carefully.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

And we're gonna pick up the trash. | News for New Orleans, Louisiana | Local News:
"About 70,000 building permits have been issued, Nagin said. Most have been in the higher elevation areas, with neighborhoods like the Ninth Ward trailing, he said.

He estimates about 250,000 residents have returned to the city; New Orleans had about 455,000 residents before the storm.

University of New Orleans Chancellor Tim Ryan, a former dean of the business college and a member of Nagin's commission, said the city's economic recovery seems to be progressing well.

About 70 percent of the city's jobs are back, and some businesses, like oil and gas, have added more employees than they had pre-Katrina, he said."
Nagin makes it sound all pretty.

Ever the cutting edge blog.

There's a new widget on Blagueur, courtesy of the Sunlight Foundation. If you roll over the little "sun" next to the names below, a popup appears with infomration about the record of the politicians named. In this case it's Bobby Jindal or Nancy Pelosi

And there have been a few changes to the typeface and color scheme. Hope this makes the site more readable. Let me know if you liked the old template better.

I'll keep this post at the top for a day or so, so it doesn't get buried.

UPDATE: Widget no longer working. I'm on the case. But don't expect much.

MORE UPDATING: It works on one of the posts down below, but not in this post. Very mysterious.

UPDATISSIMUS: Solved. Only took an hour and half a pint of blood. Plus the sacrifice of three hamsters.

Freedom of speech restored. (Before there's a giant lawsuit.)

FEMA dropping media restrictions at trailer parks:
"BATON ROUGE, La. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency is ending a policy that restricted media access to its trailer parks.
. . . . . . .

U.S. Rep. , D-Napoleonville, who condemned FEMA's restrictive policy Monday, was cautiously optimistic Tuesday when he was told about the new policy by a reporter.

'When political pressure starts building, they immediately say they are going to change things and make them better,' Melancon said.

'I just hope they're being honest with you,' Melancon added. 'I think I'll have to see it first before I believe it.'"

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Check out this FEMA roundup from Right Hand Thief. Shocking.

Your Right Hand Thief:

"How does the richest, freest country on earth help its displaced citizens? "

One more reason not to read the Wash. Post. | News for New Orleans, Louisiana | Local News:
"Eight Senators representing Gulf Coast states said Tuesday the Washington Post was unfair and misstated facts in an editorial which ran last week in that paper referring to recent legislation about lifting the moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling."

Corpse attempts to evade responsibility for flood

New Orleans CityBusiness -- The Business Newspaper of Metropolitan New Orleans:
"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants a judge to grant it immunity from legal action in the wake of Hurricane Katrina..

Attorneys and plaintiffs who filed suit in federal court seeking compensation for damages, injuries and deaths caused by the surge of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet during Hurricane Katrina today denounced the motion.

Fourteen California, Florida and Louisiana law firms have filed suit seeking reparations for the damages caused by MRGO, saying the inundation of the Lower Ninth Ward, eastern New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish was caused by glaring deficiencies in the construction, design, operation and maintenance of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet by the Corps.

Pierce O’Donnell of Los Angeles, a lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said “the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet is a navigable waterway and, under federal law, the Corps operations on the MRGO are liable to legal action.”

Attorneys for the Corps asked Federal District Court Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. to throw out the “just compensation” lawsuit on the grounds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is immune from lawsuits, including those finding fault with its work on the MRGO.

“The motions by Corps’ attorneys is just another attempt to cover up the Army Corps’ gross negligence and to avoid responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of local citizens as well as the loss of hundreds and millions of dollars of public and private property during Hurricane Katrina,' O'Donnell said. 'The government’s effort to secure immunity also seeks to delay just compensation for the desperate victims of the MRGO whose lives were utterly shattered by the totally preventable catastrophic flooding caused by the MRGO.”

Joining attorneys and plaintiffs in denouncing the government’s motion was New Orleans City Councilmember Cynthia Willard-Lewis whose district was flooded by the MRGO storm surge during Hurricane Katrina.

“While St. Bernard Parish, eastern New Orleans and the Lower Ninth Ward remain in ruins, tottering on the brink of bankruptcy, the federal government plays games by filing frivolous motions that seek to exempt them from their moral responsibility for what happened,” said Willard-Lewis.

Renewed effort to sell naming rights to Superdome. | AP Top Stories:
"Doug Thornton, the regional vice president of SMG, the company that manages the Superdome, said Tuesday that he is optimistic a naming sponsor could be lined up before the home-opening game against the Atlanta Falcons, but he would give no details."
Hope this works out better than the search for sponsors for Mardi Gras.

FEMA clobbered over free speech rules in trailer parks | News | FEMA media rule sparks fury:
"Members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation said Monday that FEMA’s policy restricting media access to residents living in FEMA-managed trailer parks is absurd, outrageous and denies park residents their rights as American citizens.

“FEMA just strikes you as a bureaucracy that’s out of control,” said U.S. Rep. , R-Kenner. “You don’t lose your fundamental rights just because you’re living in temporary housing. It’s an outrageous pattern of behavior.”"

Allstate breaks Louisiana law.

Law bans dropping coverage:
"Allstate's efforts to drop wind and hail coverage for existing homeowners policies in coastal areas violates Louisiana's most important consumer protection statute on property insurance, Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon said, adding that the efforts are likely to end up in court."

Good idea!!

Dillard delays classes until Sept. 25:

FEMA punsihes state for their own fraud waste and mismanagement.

State protests FEMA cash cut:
"WASHINGTON -- Louisiana lawmakers and state disaster officials expressed outrage Monday at new FEMA antifraud policies that would cut the level of emergency financial assistance for hurricane victims and force states to pick up 25 percent of the tab.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Director David Paulison said the get-tough approach this hurricane season, including ID verification and stricter limits on benefits, is meant to keep a rein on taxpayer money after reports of rampant fraud and abuse in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita."

Alstate cuts and runs.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Witch hunt | Witch hunt: The Louisiana attorney general's probe of Katrina medical workers errs medically, legally and ethically.:

That's the headline from the Houston Chronicle on Foti's arrest of the three medical professionals who stayed behind at Memorial.

Blue roofs, bare trees in Biloxi. Post Katrina

Image from Google Earth. Click on image to enlarge.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Buckley deserts Bush!

That's William F. Buckley, the godfather of the conservative movement for 50 years.

"If you had a European prime minister who experienced what we've experienced it would be expected that he would retire or resign," Buckley says.

"I think Mr. Bush faces a singular problem best defined, I think, as the absence of effective conservative ideology — with the result that he ended up being very extravagant in domestic spending, extremely tolerant of excesses by Congress," Buckley says. "And in respect of foreign policy, incapable of bringing together such forces as apparently were necessary to conclude the Iraq challenge."

But of course, he's been replaced by the Neocons long ago. I expect he'll be swift-boated soon.

"He never was a real conservative" -- Brent Bozell
"Never could spell rite" -- Dan Quayle
"No moral center" --- Ralph Reed
"Greedy old coot" -- Jack Abramoff
"He's dead to me" -- Richard Nixon

Electronic voting comes to Louisiana. Welcome back dirty politics.

We had a minor election in Lafayette last week. It was the first to use new Sequoia voting machines, and similar machines will soon be used all over Louisiana. The machines are cool, electronic, easy to use, but have one very big flaw. They leave no voter verifiable audit trait (vvat). Without such a trail it will be impossible for anyone to determine whether vote counts have been fraudulently altered. And it's frighteningly easy to alter vote counts on electronic voting machines, and numerous tests have shown. There is no federal mandate that these machines have a VVAT or that they be tested. Companies claim that their machines and software are proprietary secrets. Viceo games have better security, and there is no way for citizens to check on the validity of the vote.
If this story is new to you, the link below provides an excellent, short view of the problems inherent in electronic voting.

San Angelo Standard-Times: Opinion Viewpoints:
"Computerized voting was supposed to be the cure for ballot fiascos such as occurred during the 2000 presidential election, but activist groups say it has only worsened the problem, and they've gone to court across the country to ban the new machines."

Saturday, July 22, 2006

N.O. style reimbursement never done before.

Hurricane aid reaching homeowners: "
Our belief is that this has never been done in this country, and certainly not on this scale, said Walter J. Leger Jr., a New Orleans lawyer who serves as chairman of the Louisiana Recovery Authority's housing task force.

Mary C. Comerio -- a professor of architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, who has studied housing after disasters -- agreed that the level of direct assistance to individual homeowners is unprecedented.

This is a dramatic shift in government policy, she said."

NYTimes Headline: But you already knew that.

New Orleans, Getting Less Power, May Pay More - New York Times

Friday, July 21, 2006

Pictures below.

Google has post-katrina pictures of some of the damage done to N.O by Katrina. The ones below show the Ninth Ward. Most other areas of N.O. have not been updated, but I have some pics of Biloxi-Gulfport and Lake Charles before and after, which I'll post later. Also some before-after shots of N.O. East. Maybe this will help some folks out there in the rest of America understand the scale of what happened here.

Ninth Ward just north of the levee breach.

From Google Earth. Click to enlarge.

OK. Tell me now that this isn't a man-made disaster. If a dam had failed somewhere in America, and 1000 people died, there'd be hell to pay. And the Army Corpse of Screwups is responsible. Forget FEMA, the Corpse is the real villain here.

Pleas enlarge these, BTW. It's not possible to grasp the damage with these small pictures. Or better yet, see for yourself by downloading Google Earth.

Lower Ninth Levee Breach from above

From Google Earth. Click to enlarge.

The Levee Breach a few blocks into the Ninth Ward

From Google Earth. Click to enlarge.

The Breach in the levee. Lower Ninth

From Google Earth. Click to enlarge.

I suspect it's Suspect Device

that sent over so many visitors today.

So welcome to the new folks,

and thanks Greg.

(We aren't talking new servers yet, still it's nice to know someone is reading this.)

My friend the bull runner

is writing a novel about New Orleans, a murder mystery set in pre-Katrina time. I don't think he'll mind if I give you a couple paragraphs.

The Ciron family’s tall, weathered, ten bedroom Victorian home was shedding layers of white paint that flaked, peeled and dropped to the ground, exposing hard cypress boards that were pulled from a swamp named for a pirate a hundred years ago by the hands of black men who were still slaves by any other name. Claude loved to say that if ever the millions of Formosa termites inhabiting the walls quit holding hands, the house would fall on the heads of the six Ciron siblings who lived there. When Claude read an article in the daily newspaper that reported these tenacious termites had been found not only dining on dead wood, but also devouring live wood, eating the city’s oaks from the inside out, he had laughed, “That’s it. A perfect metaphor. One day the oaks, symbols of New Orleans, are gonna die just like the substance died a long time ago. The place is literally being eaten from the inside out the way you eat a Sunday dinner roll from Leidenheimer’s Bakery.”
At sixty-three, Claudia or Sista was the second-youngest of the Ciron clan. While everyone else called the pine porch just that, a porch, Sista always referred to it as a gallery. She called everything and everyone by proper names. When asked why she insisted on calling the porch a gallery, Sista had said, “Porches are what people have in other parts of town like Gentilly. Where we live, we have galleries. They have yards in other parts of town, we have gardens. It’s not just different words. It’s who we are and who they are.”

Oh great. I really wanted to have to deal with an even BIGGER monopoly.

BellSouth Corp. shareholders Friday approved the proposed sale of their company to AT&T Inc. for $67 billion in stock. AT&T shareholders later voted to issue new stock in the combined company.

Wouldn't it be better if the AG investigated this?


"The American Civil Liberties Union has asked the state attorney general to release the results of an investigation into a police roadblock on a major New Orleans bridge after Hurricane Katrina. In a letter to Attorney General Charles Foti, Louisiana ACLU Executive Director Joe Cook said the delay in reporting findings "makes no sense." In late September, less than a month after Katrina hit, Foti said he would conduct a "fact-finding mission" into reports that New Orleans evacuees were blocked by several law enforcement agencies from entering neighboring Jefferson Parish by crossing the Crescent City Connection over the Mississippi River."

Would this be better to investigate than the Doctors and nurses at Memorial?

Canal Street 1915

Great fiction on the Middle East and Turkey

After the storm, my brother, and his wife and daughter evacuated to my house. So later as thanks, they sent me Birds Without Wings a novel by Louis de Berniere. It's a great read. Lovely prose. Set in Turkey at the beginning of the 20th century. Full of all sorts of knowledge about Arab, Muslim, Greek, Turkish culture, and a beautiful evocation of the time. If all you know about Turkey is what was in Lawrence of Arabia, this book will set you to rights. Written with compassion, humor and love. Even if you could care less about politics in the Middle East. Go get it and read it.

The Middle East: "Trapped in the Wrong Paradigm"

I know you don't want to read any more about it. But please take a look at this article, and then explore the whole blog. If you are tired of the "same dull round" of violence and counter-violence, this article explains how to break out of it. It's all about the premises we just accept without thinking, and which then pre-ordain our further thoughts. It offers three specific simple rules for thinking about what appears to be this administr5ation's drive to enflame the entire region.

This pretty much speaks for itself. | News for New Orleans, Louisiana | Action Report:
"After serving his country during World War II, 85-year-old Clarence Landry now sleeps on the floor of his gutted home in the sweltering summer heat. Even though the veteran’s FEMA trailer is only a few feet away, it remains locked up."

I agree with Forgotston for once.

The AG probably has better things to do.

United Press International - NewsTrack - New Orleans doctors slam arrests:
"'This is vilifying the heroes,' Dr. Daniel Nuss, Pou's supervisor at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, told the Times. 'I think it's presumptuous for the attorney general or anyone else to try to assign blame for what happened under such desperate circumstances.'"
As the experts have said -- it all turns on whether the intent was to alleviate pain, or to kill. But we all know that decisions to end life are made all the time, every day, and no one's career is ruined.

Whaaaa?! | News for New Orleans, Louisiana | Local News:
"Federal plans to help evacuate the elderly and ill from a disaster do not cover nursing home patients and provide inadequate transportation, congressional investigators reported Thursday."

Just what I have been saying. LA clean; FEDS corrupt.

- -:
"No one expected it to be that way, but it seems obvious that the feds have outdone Louisiana in improper or ineffective spending of hurricane recovery funds. Claims that Washington should handle all the funds because of Louisiana’s history of corruption have ceased.

The change in rhetoric stems from things like a report by the Government Accountability Office yesterday that U.S. Department of Homeland Security workers misused government credit cards in the wake of last year’s hurricanes to purchase items ranging from a 63-inch plasma television to a beer-brewing kit. Weak internal accounting controls exposed Homeland Security to the fraud and abuse, the GAO found."

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Fafblog is back

Fafblog! the whole worlds only source for Fafblog.:
"it involves filing a writ of neener neener according to the precedent of I Can't Hear You v. I'm Not Listening. Only then can the forces of freedom protect America from the hordes of Democrofascists that would menace her with their savage civil liberties!"

Colo. rep.: Blacks. That's what's wrong with New Orleans.

The Raw Story | Colorado state rep blasted for linking 'black culture' to Katrina woes in email:
"Three months ago, Welker apologized on the House floor for forwarding a racially charged essay from a conservative black commentator who called Hurricane Katrina victims 'welfare pampered' and 'immoral,' writes April M. Washington for Rocky Mountain News.

That essay was written by Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson, who is also quoted from in the most recent article Welker forwarded to his constituents.

'All Americans must tell blacks this truth,' wrote Peterson. 'It was blacks' moral poverty – not their material poverty – that cost them dearly in New Orleans. Farrakhan, Jackson, and other race hustlers are to be repudiated – they will only perpetuate this problem by stirring up hatred and applauding moral corruption.'

Welker told the Rocky Mountain News that he wasn't racist, but he refused to apologize for forwarding the article.

'I have black people who work for me,' Welker told Rocky Mountain News. 'Some of my good friends are different colors.'

In 2003, Welker was first warned by his party not to forward 'offensive material.' Back then, the article Welker forwarded blasted gays.

'The article Welker forwarded claimed that gay men regularly ingest the urine and feces of their partners, leading to massive outbreaks of various diseases,' reported Lynn Bartels for Rocky Mountain News (cache link). 'It questioned why gays and lesbians were allowed to work with children, the elderly and in the food industry.'"

Opinion on the "mercy killings" from a lawyer

Murder or Treatment? - TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime: "Is
Dr. Anna Pou a hero or a criminal? Some physicians think Louisiana's attorney general is on shaky ground charging Dr. Pou and two nurses with murdering patients who were stuck at New Orleans' Memorial Medical Center during Hurricane Katrina."
It's worth it to read the comment after the post.

NYTimes take on the alleged hospital killings.

Louisiana Doctor Said to Have Faced Chaos - New York Times:
"Mr. Simmons said that evacuating patients from the hospital had been far more difficult than the state’s attorney general, Charles C. Foti Jr., has indicated, and he disputed Mr. Foti’s assertion that the patients would have survived if they had been evacuated. He said the sickest patients could not have been evacuated on the inflatable boats being used. And he said that to take patients to the roof for helicopter rescues, orderlies had to squeeze them through a 3-foot-by-3-foot hole in a hospital wall and push them on gurneys up the ramps of the parking garage before carrying them onto the roof.

Mr. Simmons said some patients also died while being transported under those conditions.

“This case may present a lot of end-of-life issues faced in hospitals on a daily basis, and they are very sensitive issues,” Mr. Simmons added. “We’re dealing with patients who basically were dying, patients who we believe wouldn’t have made it out. So we will be contesting that part.”"

More on the Senate action on the corpse

New Orleans CityBusiness -- The Business Newspaper of Metropolitan New Orleans: "WASHINGTON (AP) -
The Senate voted Wednesday to require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to submit flood control projects for review by an outside panel after senators cited New Orleans levees as a tragic example of agency shortcomings.

The Corps historically has operated with little oversight except from a small number of lawmakers who control its budget, allowing wasteful spending and a failure to focus on projects posing the greatest flooding risks.

Critics said the levee breaks in New Orleans demonstrated the need for reforming the agency that is responsible for flood control on thousands of miles of inland waterways and protection of coastal areas from hurricane and other storm flooding.

'We want to bring the agency back on track,' said Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., citing a string of reports over the years that he said showed 'a pattern of stunning flaws' in the Corps' planning and priorities when it came to flood control."
Louisiana owes a real debt to McCain and Feingold.

One landmark. Restored.

All shiny and new: Dome's roof finished:
"Workers applied the final coat of white urethane sealant to the roof of the Superdome on Wednesday, completing what officials are calling the largest roof job in American construction history.

Now the focus of the multi-phase renovation heads inside the 30-year-old stadium, where hundreds of contractors are busy trying to complete jobs in time for the building's nationally televised unveiling Sept. 25 when the Saints host the Atlanta Falcons on 'Monday Night Football.'"

Corpse loses control in Senate bill.

Senate OKs slap at corps in bill aimed at aiding La.:
"Added to the bill was a provision offered by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Russ Feingold, D-Wis., to require outside experts to review every project of more than $40 million for engineering design, costs and environmental consequences. Similar proposals have been defeated in the past, but the engineering failures blamed for the collapse of levees that flooded 80 percent of New Orleans after Katrina put pressure on senators to approve more than cosmetic changes in the corps. The amendment won in a 54-46 vote.

'While any hurricane that makes landfall will leave some level of destruction behind, the country has been shocked to learn that there were engineering flaws in the New Orleans levees and that important information was ignored by the corps,' Feingold said. Had independent review been required before Katrina, 'much of the flooding possibly could have been averted' because the levee flaws could have uncovered in time for correction."

Good on you, Governor.

- -:
"Gov. Kathleen Blanco is filing her lawsuit today seeking to block the federal offshore oil lease sale set for August 17.

“We are filing the complaint today in federal court in New Orleans,” Sidney Coffee, the governor’s adviser on coastal protection and restoration issues, said this morning.
The governor’s team is holding at press conference at 2:30 today to explain the details of the lawsuit, which basically charges the federal Mineral Management Services is not adequately addressing the sale’s environmental impact on Louisiana’s coast.

The lawsuit will seek an injunction blocking the sale pending a hearing on the merits of the governor’s complaint. It also asks the court to declare that the environmental impact statement prepared for the sale by MMS is invalid."

FEMA, like Bush, has no use for the Constitution news:
"MORGAN CITY, La. — Residents of trailer parks set up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to house hurricane victims in Louisiana aren't allowed to talk to the press without an official escort, The (Baton Rouge) Advocate reported.

In one instance, a security guard ordered an Advocate reporter out of a trailer during an interview in Morgan City. Similar FEMA rules were enforced in Davant, in Plaquemines Parish.

FEMA spokeswoman Rachel Rodi wouldn't say whether the security guards' actions complied with FEMA policy, saying the matter was being reviewed. But she confirmed that FEMA does not allow the news media to speak alone to residents in their trailers.

'If a resident invites the media to the trailer, they have to be escorted by a FEMA representative who sits in on the interview,' Rodi told the newspaper for its July 15 report. 'That's just a policy.'"

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The lege lacked the courage to do this.

The Daily Advertiser - - Lafayette, LA:
"At the urging of Gov. Kathleen Blanco and several legislators, the Louisiana Civil Service Commission unanimously voted Wednesday to raise the minimum wage for state employees by $1 an hour.
It will cost the state about $800,000 to do the right thing.

Same as the 17th st. canal, the corpse is late.

Drainage forecast cut at London Ave. Canal:
"The Army Corps of Engineers has reduced its target for pumping capacity in the damaged London Avenue Canal in the event it closes the canal's floodgates to block storm surge.

The canal is designed to move rainwater runoff from New Orleans' midsection to Lake Pontchartrain at a rate of 8,000 cubic feet per second in normal times, and the corps had hoped to provide 4,300 cfs for periods when it closes the new floodgates. Now, however, corps officials say they doubt they can provide more than 2,800 cfs unless they figure out a way to add portable pumps to the canal."
Thank the stars that the Corpse is about to get adult supervision.

Breach of Faith -- Katrina first-person stories. - 'Breach of Faith' is New Orleans' story:
"Her story is one of many that author Jed Horne weaves into his wide-ranging, ambitious retelling of the Aug. 29 storm and its aftermath. Horne, metro editor of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, combines diverse eyewitness accounts with exhaustive reporting to tell a story that, in some ways, began not Aug. 29, 2005, but decades ago.

Horne was part of the team of reporters and editors who won two Pulitzer Prizes for Katrina coverage, and he captures with heartbreaking detail how unprepared New Orleans was for the disaster about to happen. Even those who heeded the first mandatory evacuation order in the city's history left with few belongings, assuming they would be home in a matter of days."

Earthlink about to debut N.O. wireless network

PC Pro: News: New Orleans readies for city-wide WiFi network:
"EarthLink says it will offer a free service for a limited time during the city's rebuilding efforts at speeds up to 300Kbs, and users will be able to access the Internet without having to view advertising. The ISP will also move towards a 1Mb paid service costing $20 for customers that want more bandwidth and customer support."
Looks like Earthlink just shut Bellsouth out. Great!

Insurance trial concludes

New Orleans CityBusiness -- The Business Newspaper of Metropolitan New Orleans:
"A groundbreaking Hurricane Katrina insurance trial drew to a close Tuesday with testimony from an engineer who concluded the storm's water, not wind, was responsible for virtually all damage to a Pascagoula couple's home.

Richard 'Dickie' Scruggs, an attorney for plaintiffs Paul and Julie Leonard, suggested that Timothy Marshall of Dallas-based HAAG Engineering Co. used outdated engineering standards and unreliable meteorologic data in the analysis he performed for Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co."
Looks like Dickie Scruggs is going to be a nemesis for insurance companies for a long time.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Pitt, like almost everyone else who visits, surprised by lack of progress.

Pitt shocked by post-Katrina devastation - Yahoo! News:
"NEW ORLEANS - After two days of getting his first up-close look at post-Katrina New Orleans,
Brad Pitt said Friday he was shocked at the devastation that remains almost a year later.

'I was not prepared,' the actor said, describing how he drove for miles and saw street after street of devastation."
It's pretty much everybody's reaction, once they see for themselves.

Friday, July 14, 2006

I wish I could post a link to this.

It's late, and I didn't intend to post again tonight, but you must see this. First of all, you have to have Gogle Earth to view this, but it's free, and you can download it a google (of course), and it helps if you have broadband.

Anyway, they have now apparently updated their images of New Orleans, but not completely. I first took a look at Lakeview, and they still had pre-Katrina pictures up. But if you scroll over to the Industrial Canal levee breech, you'll see the Ninth Ward as it probably looked right after the flood receded.(If you don't know N.O. geography, you can probably get the program to go there by typing Surekote Rd.,New Orleans, LA into the "What" bar at the top of the left screen. That road passes right alongside the levee breech, and then follow the road to about Johnson St. That's the approximate location of the breech. Or type in Almonaster Blvd.into the "What" bar. That's apparently the margin of the flood area. Then scroll around the neighborhood, and zoom in.

My God! It's horrible. You can see the mud on the streets, houses askew, bumped around, apparently having floated into one another. The barge that landed on Roman St. Six blocks or more just wiped clean. Houses moved off their foundations 20 blocks away from the levee. Then if you have the stomach for it, follow Claiborne as it turns into Judge Perez drive down into Chalmette. Have a look at that whole town, covered in mud and oil. I used to work at Andrew Jackson High. Take a look at the roof on that school.

If you have friends who can't see the damage in New Orleans in person, please ask them to look at the Ninth Ward and Chalmette on Google Earth. It may bring home to them just how monumental a job New Orleans has to face.

P.S. If anyone knows how to view these pictures without Google Earth, please let me know. The country has to see this.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Lone gunman? NewsFlash - Suspect arrested in quintuple murder
A suspect was arrested Thursday in the deadly shooting of five teenagers last month that returned the national spotlight on the city's growing violent crime problems.

Richard Baker votes against renewal of voting rights act.

Here's the link: (my blogger is all bloggered tonight)

More later.

Religious leaders quit Katrina fund panel.

Religious leaders quit Katrina Fund panel - Yahoo! News
Nearly all the religious leaders serving on a committee created by the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund to disburse money to churches destroyed by Hurricane Katrina have quit their posts, claiming their advice was ignored.

Seems they didn't want to front for an unaudited giveaway of millions. Good for them!!

Same story, two headlines.

Capitol News Bureau
Published: Jul 12, 2006 | News | Governor replaces LSU board members

Governor replaces LSU board members

Two former LSU Board of Supervisors members say they were not reappointed because they did not support Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s unannounced plans for the university system. | News | Supervisors claim Blanco favoritism:

"Supervisors claim Blanco favoritism

Capitol news bureau
Published: Jul 13, 2006

Two former LSU Board of Supervisors members said Wednesday they lost their spots on the governing panel because they opposed Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s unpublicized agenda for the university system."Governor replaces LSU board members
This seems odd to me. Why repeat the story (with one or two extra paragraphs) a second day with a different headline?

Destroy FEMA and scatter its ashes to the four winds.

Senate approves proposal to revamp, rename FEMA:
"Legislation that would replace the Federal Emergency Management Agency with a new entity that would remain part of the Department of Homeland Security but report directly to the president during major disasters is nearing final Senate approval.

The proposal to replace FEMA with what sponsors call the Emergency Management Authority was added to a Homeland Security spending bill that is expected to win final Senate passage later this week. After the vote for the new agency, the Senate rejected an alternative proposal by Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., that would return the agency to independent status it enjoyed before a 2003 reorganization.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., voted for both proposals, explaining afterward that she wanted to send a message to the House, which ultimately will have to agree on reform legislation, that people from her state want substantial reform."

What where's the assurance that what replaces it will be any better.

Bellsouth, champion of free market competition.

Blanco's veto of their bill "harms consumers."

The Daily Advertiser - - Lafayette, LA:
"BellSouth Louisiana President Bill Oliver said his company will try again next year to pass the legislation, which he said would speed the delivery of fiber optic broadband services, particularly in rural areas.

'I am extremely disappointed,' Oliver said. 'I felt we had legislation that provided Louisiana consumers a choice of cable TV providers and protected them from rate increases unchecked by competition. History has proven that competition drives prices down and improves services.'"

Yep. We all know how much Bellsouth loves competition and the free market.

This seems like a safe move to me.

The Daily Advertiser - - Lafayette, LA:
"At the urging of two Lafayette mothers who lost their sons in Iraq, U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, has co-authored federal legislation that would ban the unauthorized use of a deceased soldier’s name or image for commercial or political purpose."
Nominate him for a Profile in Courage.

N.O.has less recovery than than tsunami-hit area.

The Blog | Sen. Russ Feingold: Our Duty to the People of the Gulf Coast | The Huffington Post:
"What I saw in New Orleans, New Orleans East, the 9th Ward, St. Bernard Parish, and Lakeview, was that in many ways, despite people's tremendous efforts, there has been less progress in those areas than there was in Banda Aceh a year after the tsunami. It is something I will never forget. Imagine driving through your hometown only to find, to this day, deserted streets, destroyed homes, and virtually no sign of reconstruction. While the shells of some homes still stand, they are completely unlivable inside, due to weeks of toxic liquid filth soaking into the structures of every room. Next to some of these homes are concrete slabs where a house used to be, while others have trailers parked in the front yard where a family is living because the house's roof has completely collapsed. There was a house that had the back of it completely ripped off, the front was totally dilapidated and someone had put a sign on the house saying that the insurance company had only paid a little over $10,000 to fix the structure. You could see an orange line around the outside of some houses which showed where the water was standing for some time outside the house. Who knows how high the water got inside the house. This went on for blocks and blocks and blocks of several different areas I toured."
Feingold is truly a friend of NO. If only the rest of the senate would come to Louisiana and see what happened to us.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Katrina defined

Crazy-assed bitch. When she first arrives, she's wet and wild. When she leaves, she takes the house, car and everything else in a 100 mile radius

I ain't paying that bitch Katrina a dime in child support, that's for sure!

by Aniseed Nutz Sep 6, 2005

from Urban Dictionary

See also FEMA

More details about "Road Home" | AP Top Stories:
"Leger warned that the process will be complicated: Damage claims and ownership will be checked, documentation will have to be provided for repair work, and, in the case of property buyouts by the state, clear title will have to be proven.

Byrne said an 'uncomplicated case' with documentation and no title problems would likely take six to eight weeks to process, but any paperwork problems would extend that time.

Under the program, $6.34 billion will be available for homeowners, $1.53 billion will be provided for landlords to rebuild rental property and $1.5 billion will be used for hazard mitigation and buyouts. Homeowners basically have one of four options: repair, rebuilding at the current site, relocation and rebuilding at another site in Louisiana, or a total buyout for those who don't want to rebuild and intend to leave the state.

Elkins said that although the federal government would allow the state to use up to 5 percent of the entire program for administrative costs, the state had created a budget putting that figure at about 2 percent. The startup will cost around $87 million."

I don't get it. If they state only plans to use $87 million to administer the program, why is ICFI getting $756 million? Aren't they a part of administering the program?

Governor vetoes state doggerel. | News | Blanco vetoes state poem:
"Richardson’s work praises the state’s history, beauty and charms. He compares Louisiana to a “soulful mate” whose mere presence instills confidence. It concludes:

“I propose this toast toward her
With my meager pen in hand.
I somehow feel so primitive
To her majesty so grand.”"
Whew! Dodged a bullet on that one.

I wonder if the levees are on this list. Just askin'.

(click on cartoon to enlarge.)
U.S. Terror Targets: Petting Zoo and Flea Market? - New York Times:
"It reads like a tally of terrorist targets that a child might have written: Old MacDonald’s Petting Zoo, the Amish Country Popcorn factory, the Mule Day Parade, the Sweetwater Flea Market and an unspecified “Beach at End of a Street.”

But the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, in a report released Tuesday, found that the list was not child’s play: all these “unusual or out-of-place” sites “whose criticality is not readily apparent” are inexplicably included in the federal antiterrorism database."

The corpse shows no signs of intelligent life. | News | Groups: Coast levee idea doomed to fail:
"Two environmental groups and an LSU professor said the preliminary report on providing Category 5 hurricane protection for Louisiana seems aimed at building a levee across the entire Louisiana coast — an unlikely idea and one doomed to fail and create a future disaster.

They said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ preliminary report issued Monday on protecting the coast from another devastating storm appears to favor levees and doesn’t say enough about coastal restoration or other nonstructural concepts."

The Daily Advertiser - - Lafayette, LA

The Daily Advertiser - - Lafayette, LA:
"Gov. Kathleen Blanco has vetoed four special appropriations and the bill that would make it easier for telephone companies to offer digital television services in competition with cable operators."

The veto of the communications bill is good news. But the Federal communications bill, now being debated in congress may make that veto moot, and grant the telcos a nationwide franchise.

(P.S. In a rare moment of sanity, I predicted the Blanco would use her veto on this bill.)

A silver lining to the Katrina story

New Orleans CityBusiness -- The Business Newspaper of Metropolitan New Orleans:
"Jorge Sanchez and his Hispanic friends from Houston, now working and living in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, were tired of eating fast food every day.

'They tell me all they eat is hamburgers, chicken, chicken and more chicken. They missed their tacos, burritos and the food they’re used to eating where they’re from,' Sanchez said.

So, six months ago, Sanchez began offering a cure for the cravings.

He and his father, Fidel Sanchez, run Taqueria Sanchez el Sabrosito, a family owned taco truck business in Houston."

This is indeed a lucky stroke. The only thing that Houston had and that New Orleans was missing was the taco trailers. It's great food at a great price. Highly recommended by The Cheapskate Gourmand.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

FBI given OK on Jefferson search | News | Judge says FBI search of Jefferson’s office OK:
"WASHINGTON — Saying members of Congress are not above the law, a federal judge ruled Monday that the FBI legally searched the congressional office of U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, D-New Orleans.

In an unprecedented ruling on the first-ever search of a congressional office, U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan quoted Thomas Jefferson in denying Rep. William Jefferson’s motion to get the government to return computer files and two boxes of documents seized in the raid on May 20."

I really feel ambivalent about this. On the one hand, I hate to see an executive branch department searching a congressperson's office. It is just too authoritarian sounding. Seems like the executive branch trying to intimidate the legislative branch. On the other hand, it's Dollar Bill Jefferson.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Delegation finally sticks up for Rita victims. (Except for Jefferson.) | News for New Orleans, Louisiana | Local News:
"Louisiana's U.S. senators, and six of the seven congressmen, have formally joined Governor Kathleen Blanco in asking the federal government to give parishes damaged by Hurricane Rita the same break on clearing debris given to those hit by Hurricane Katrina."

It's about time Mr. Boustany did something for his constituents. But signing a letter is just the least he could do. Hell, I could have done that. How about holding hearings, a press conference, or introducing legislation?!

And Jefferson didn't sign because he "missed the deadline." Way to go for Louisiana solidarity!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

What's an Iraqi Life Worth?

What's an Iraqi Life Worth?

This is an important article by a military writer whose work should be better known. America's insensitivity to the mayhem it causes is fueling the insurgency.

New Louisiana Blogroll

I've added a number of blogs to my links section on the right. Check them out, and let me know of any good ones I have left out.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Aha! The carrot appears. Where's the stick? -- News - EDITORIAL: Offshore drilling plan passes House:
"But on June 29, something changed. Rep. Peterson, Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., and two Louisiana lawmakers -- Republican Bobby Jindal and Democrat Charlie Melancon -- decided to try the world's second-oldest incentive. They included in their latest proposal to lift the offshore drilling ban a provision that would allow individual states to keep the offshore moratorium in place if they so choose, and -- here's the smart part -- changed the revenue sharing arrangement so that states' share of royalties would eventually soar to as much as 75 percent.

For example, the Gulf states where most offshore drilling now takes place get less than 5 percent of total royalties. But under the new proposal, Louisiana's royalties would go from $32 million last year to a total of $8.6 billion over the next 10 years -- and even higher after that.

Imagine that. They offered them money. And lo and behold, on Thursday the House OK'd the new offshore drilling plan, 232-187."
Money. The universal solvent.

Jindal claims all credit - News | Business | Culture - Weekly - Lafayette LA:

Louisiana came one step closer last week to realizing its goal of increasing its share of offshore oil and gas royalties when the U.S. House approved legislation that would guarantee $9 billion over the next decade. Kenner Republican Rep. Bobby Jindal was the lead sponsor of the legislation, and didn’t hesitate to use the victory for a subtle dig at Gov. Kathleen Blanco. The governor is pushing her own plan to up revenue sharing by refusing to sign off on offshore royalties in August, but Jindal says her threats aren’t resonating. “D.C. never focuses on anything but today,” he says. — JA"

Landrieu to get senate vote this week.

Cattle Network - Connecting The Beef Industry Worldwide:
"Under the deal Landrieu described in a June 29 statement, a bill would be debated on the Senate floor following the week-long Independence Day holiday recess. The compromise legislation would open about 8 million acres in the Gulf to energy production and allow 37.5% of the federal revenues generated to flow to Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama, Landrieu said. She added that Louisiana would receive one-third of the funds during the first 10 years, under a formula that would award revenues based on each state's distance to

Florida filibuster?

Oil revenue sharing not a done deal yet.

The Derrick:
"In the Senate, the measure is likely to face a filibuster from Florida senators and possibly others from coastal states that fear offshore energy development could threaten multibillion-dollar tourist and recreation businesses if there were a spill.

The Senate is considering a limited measure that would open an area in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, known as Lease Area 181, that comes within 100 miles of Florida. It is not under the moratorium. Even that is unlikely to pass unless its sponsors get 60 votes to overcome a filibuster from the Floridians."

Florida's perspective on the oil deal.

State: How any chance of an oil deal died:
"“So where are we?’’ Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, said as her colleagues left. “We’re all getting up and walking away?’’

Pretty much, yes.

Florida’s congressional delegation knew for months that House leaders were bent on opening more of the nation’s outercontinental shelf to drilling, and rising gas prices were providing momentum. But as a group, the delegation misread the strength of its opposition and didn’t get serious about trying to mitigate the threat until it was too late."

Tallitsch gets active against Jindal. | Washington Watch | Washington Watch for July 2:
Stacey "Tallitsch remains undeterred. He’s already lobbing grenades Jindal’s way, using Jindal’s much-talked-about possible run for governor as ammunition.

“Bobby Jindal doesn’t want the job. He wants to be governor,” said Tallitsch, 38. “That’s fine, be governor. We need someone in Washington who is going to represent Louisiana.”"
I'm getting emails about Tallitsch's plans from out-of-state websties. He seems to have some netroots support.

Letter writer disputes offshore settlement numbers. | Opinion | Letter: Offshore revenue bill has problems: "
Published: Jul 7, 2006

Congressman Bobby Jindal’s, R-Kenner, offshore revenue-sharing bill, HR4761, geared toward giving Louisiana and other Gulf of Mexico states a bigger share of offshore oil and gas royalties, has passed through the House, yet two developments for this bill still stink.

Jindal’s original bill would have given Louisiana 75 percent of all royalties on oil and gas produced for up to 12 miles offshore. But the bill that passed the House will give Louisiana only 25 percent for five years and gradually 50 percent by 2016, NOT a fair share.

Roughly 80 PERCENT of the country’s oil and gas comes through Louisiana. One-quarter of the nation’s oil, domestic and foreign, comes through Port Fourchon alone. If a major hurricane were to hit Port Fourchon dead-on in the next 5 years to 10 years while our country is greatly dependent on oil, our economy and national security would be greatly threatened. Have the idiots in Washington thought about that?

Second, Florida’s senators are threatening a filibuster. Florida sees this bill as a way to open up drilling off its coast, and Florida doesn’t want its tourists to have to bear that “eyesore.” Florida’s oil supply should be cut, thereby causing gasoline to sell for $7 a gallon throughout the state. Then we will see how their precious tourism industry fares. For Florida to put its tourism industry above national security and coastal protection programs of the remaining Gulf States shows utter disregard for the rest of the country.

Louisiana should continue to fight until we do receive 75 percent of the offshore royalties. This is not a partisan issue. Every Republican and Democrat who cares about this great state should get behind Congressman Jindal’s bill.

Louisiana’s coast, especially Port Fourchon, is vital to the economy and the security of the United States."

I'm seeing a lot of different numbers being put out on this offshore settlement. I guess we won't know until after (and if) it passes the senate and goes through a conference committee.
Update: A similar letter has now appeared in the Lafayette Daily Adversity.

Laissez faire in the Chocolate City

Planning goes yonder in New Orleans - The Boston Globe:

"But another post-Katrina test has been less discussed, though it's pivotal to New Orleans's future. It's City Hall's decision to minimize government meddling in the recovery and rely instead on the magic of the market to allocate Washington's billions and shape the ``new New Orleans.'

This laissez-faire approach is rooted more deeply in political opportunism than in principled faith in the Bush administration's neoconservative creed. But both traits -- opportunism and neocon yearnings -- are incarnate in New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin. To judge from his recent reelection, they are serving him well just now. Whether the city will be as well served over the long haul is debatable. The post-Katrina recovery didn't start out this way. The best advice, including that delivered by Nagin's hand-picked, blue-ribbon recovery commission and the urban planners working with it, strongly urged the city to actively shape the comeback and, meanwhile, retrench."
. . . . . .
One hopes that New Orleans does better in a post-apocalyptic environment than has Baghdad, where an experiment in laissez-faire governance after the invasion led to looting and the collapse of civil and military order. New Orleans will be different, we hope. The National Guard is back on patrol as crime and looting spiral upward. Perhaps the private sector will come back for a second look as well.

Friday Police Cat Blogging (New Orleans Division)

Va. senate candidate whacks GOP on New Orleans, then whacks insensitive opponent George Felix Allen Jr.

This is a great story -- DO NOT mess with Jim Webb.

"ALEXANDRIA, Va. Former Virginia Governor Mark Warner and Democratic U-S Senate candidate Jim Webb are lashing out at President Bush and the Republican-led Congress for the federal response to rebuilding New Orleans.
Warner and Webb criticized Bush and Republican Senator George Allen during a news conference in Alexandria yesterday. Warner -- a 2008 presidential prospect -- also pledged his campaign and financial support for Webb.

Warner just returned from a two-day trip to New Orleans to organize charitable education and health care relief efforts to the city still reeling from Hurricane Katrina. He says it is stunning that a remarkable amount of devastation still exists 10 months after the storm.

Webb said New Orleans is his wife's hometown and that he's amazed at the remaining devastation."

Daily Kos: VA-Sen: Senator Dude Ranch's campaign smacked down again:
"Allen campaign manager Dick Wadham (which really got him picked on a lot as a kid):

On Thursday, after Gov. Mark Warner and Webb remarked to reporters that the devastation in New Orleans was inexcusable ten months after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city, Wadhams issued a statement mocking Webb for standing up for the city.

'We want to congratulate Hollywood movie producer James H. Webb Jr. for finally taking a stand on the issue. We now know that he is opposed to the devastation in New Orleans,' Wadhams said.

'Hollywood movie producer'? Awww shit! Oh no he didn't!

You know the Webb campaign don't take lip from anyone, and the smackdown was delivered by spokesperson/advisor Steve Jarding:

Jarding also took issue with Wadhams' attempt to attack Webb as a 'Hollywood movie producer' for Webb's role in the film 'Rules of Engagement.'

'What part of `Rules of Engagement' did George Felix Allen Jr. and his insensitive mouthpiece Dick Wadhams not respect - military service? Patriotism? Honor? Valor? We know that George Felix Allen Jr. spent much of the Vietnam War years on a dude ranch in Nevada and chose not to serve, but his continued silence as his key staff dismiss military personnel and their patriotism is beginning to shine a very unfavorable light on Senator Dude Ranch,' Jarding said.

And oh yeah, Allen is also wrong on Katrina. But we already knew that."

Jim, thanks for standing up for NO. And thanks for the smackdown. George FELIX Allen Jr.? Sheesh.

Chancellor Ruffner: Apologize to van Heerden. And mean it. | News | Hurricane expert asks chancellor to apologize:
"Ivor van Heerden, the LSU hurricane guru who has come under fire from university executives for discussing levee failures with the media, said Monday night that he wants a public apology.

Van Heerden said he wants Michael Ruffner, LSU vice chancellor for communications, to apologize for criticizing him in a letter to The New York Times last month.

Ruffner had written that van Heerden has “no professional credentials or training” to discuss the engineering of levees.

Ruffner did not return three calls seeking comment Monday night. Van Heerden’s e-mail letter was released at 4:45 p.m.

In his letter, van Heerden defended his credentials and those of the multidisciplinary LSU Hurricane Center, which he heads.

“I am not a professional engineer — and I have never represented myself as such,” van Heerden writes.
“The issues presented by the levee failures following Katrina are well within my expertise. Your implications to the contrary are plainly incorrect,” van Heerden writes.

The open criticism from top administrators signals a lack of university support for the hurricane center, van Heerden said in an interview."
It's damn seldom that an administrator criticizes a faculty member for his opinions, especially his well-informed professional opinions. Ruffner and others at LSU were just afraid of Bush and the Feds because of van Heerden's criticism of the Corpse of Engineers. Van Heerden has no tenure. Expect him to be gone at the next opportunity. LSU will have chased off a good researcher, and a public-spirited scientist. Shame on Ruffner and whoever put him up to this.

Kinks' Davies lost pants in NO. | Davies wonders where clothes went after New Orleans shooting

Someone send this guy some pants.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Electronic voting -- Louisiana's problem.

The Daily Advertiser printed a my letter to the editor on electronic voting, which is being phased in now in Lafayette, and apparently, across Louisiana. I've reprinted the letter below.
How secure will the e-voting machines be?

On the same day The Daily Advertiser published an article with the headline "Voters to select with touch screens" articles appeared in both USA Today and The Washington Post on the dangers of electronic voting.

USA Today headlined "Analysis finds e-voting machines vulnerable" while The Washington Post wrote "... it would take only one person, with a sophisticated technical knowledge and timely access to the software that runs the voting machines, to change the outcome" of an election.These articles seem to reflect Lafayette Clerk of Court Louis Perret's fears about electronic voting as well. Your article indicates that he was "apprehensive."

Nevertheless, your article did not address any questions about the reliability of electronic voting.
  • Who will supply the voting machines? Is there a printed auditable trail?
  • What security measures have been taken to ensure that the machines have not been "hacked?"
  • By what process were these particular voting machines chosen?

    The old machines were cumbersome and expensive to store and maintain, but they were secure.

    How secure will this new system be?

  • The clerk of court began holding practice voting today, and I was able to get an answer to at least one of my questions, and perhaps several others. The machines are manufactured by Sequoia, a subsidiary of Smartmatic, owned by a group of Venezuelan businessmen.There is an abundance of material on Sequoia on the internet and a Google search turned up the following.

    The best summation of the case against Sequoia and e-voting is by Greg Palast.
    He describes how Sequoia's machines in California managed to treat ethnic votes differently.

    Palast writes:
    I'd feel a whole lot better about democracy-in-a-box if I could get a receipt for my vote. I get a receipt for a Slurpee, I get a bank statement on my ATM withdrawals, why not a receipt for my choice for president? And by “receipt,” I don’t mean something you take out of the voting booth. That wouldn’t do much good. The “receipt” is a printed copy of your ballot with all choices marked. Put that printed paper ballot in a locked box at the polling station and—voilá!—any questions about the computer can be answered by matching them to the ballots it printed.

    But, we were told, that can’t be done.

    But it can be. Maybe not in Third World places like Florida or Ohio, but it was accomplished in Venezuela. There, President Hugo Chávez, facing a recall vote, feared that opposition governors would steal the election. All the voting booths in the nation were converted to computers that printed paper ballots—so you could see and touch your ballot (or smell and taste it, if you wished). Chávez won by a million votes—and when the Bush Administration yowled at the outcome, Chávez said, “Well, recount the votes.” A fair election with verified paper audit: one more reason to hate Hugo Chávez.

    There's plenty more to worry about. This article includes questions raised by voters in Ithaca, NY. So does this one from Montclair, NJ.

    Here's an overview from the SF Bay Area.

    In Denver, a non-partisan group is suing to prevent the use of Sequoia machines.

    The Albuquerque National reprints an AP story on the vulnerabilities of electronic voting.

    The Philadelphia Enquirer's columnist titles her latest New machines enough to make you a nonvoter

    Blogger Brad Friedman has been closely covering the problems and election thievery made possible by electronic voting. Here he provides a transcript of CNN's Lou Dobbs, who is on the warpath about this subject. Dobbs can hardly believe how sloppy some of the e-voting companies have been. One oif Friedman's funniest and scariest finds is headlined: FL Candidate Votes for Self, Sequoia Touch-Screen Voting Machine Flips Vote to Opponent!

    There's much more -- just google Sequoia voting.

    Florida holding up Louisiana flood control money.

    Senator: Landrieu spoke too soon on deal: "

    Domenici, R-N.M., issued a statement that there is no deal on the matter until the sides can work out the issue of drilling off Florida’s coast."

    Bush interfering with Corps report

    Senator: Bush interfering with report:
    "WASHINGTON — State officials and U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., are complaining about what they call interference by the Bush administration into a technical report on protecting the New Orleans area from a Category 5 hurricane.

    Landrieu secured $8 million for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report six months ago, but said she is disturbed that the document — due June 30 — was given to the federal Office of Management and Budget. She accused the administration of proceeding with cost-related policy changes to the report.

    My Fav N.O. Billboards

    Love that Nun.

    Tees in the Quarter

    N.O. fights back with tee-shirts.

    "Life guard off duty. Save Yourself"

    "Find Every Mexican Available."

    "Semi-sweet and a little nuts. Willie Nagin and Chocolate City."

    "Deeper Darker Nutty Flavor"

    "FEMA Evacuation Plan. (Run Motherfucker Run.)"

    "FEMA The Other 'F' Word!"

    Wednesday, July 05, 2006

    November July Comparison

    My brother used to live in this house in Lakeview. He sold earlier this year. The damage doesn't look bad from the outside, but the inside is gutted. In the foreground you can see where the sheetrock was dumped before it was cleared away. (Click on the photos for enlargements.)

    Below, the new owners, like a lot of owners in the neighborhood, seem optimistic. They've removed the roof and begun to add a second story.

    In Gentilly, though, things seemed much worse. This picture, taken of the house that used to belong to Blagueurette's grandmother, shows that though the FEMA trailer has come, nothing much has changed. They haven't even closed the front window (on the right)that I used last November to get pictures of the interior. The torn awning is still attached. Most of Gentilly seemed to be in a similar condition. People trying to get their lives back and not making much progress.

    Tomorrow: New Orleans responds with t-shirts.

    One small step to reconstruction

    I passed this house on November 12 of last year, and spoke with the owner. I complimented him on his early Christmas decorations, which I took as a courageous sign of recovery. "I had to dry 'em out somewhere," he replied.

    Here's how the house looks now.

    Progress is visible. The debris in front of the house is cleared away, and there's a FEMA trailer in the driveway. But mostly I was impressed by two small details. One is the sign on the garage entrance that says, "Welcome Home Lakeview." The other, much more hopeful is that the owner has scrubbed the dirty watermarks off the house.

    And here's a pile of his stuff, out on the sidewalk back in November.

    Tuesday, July 04, 2006

    New Orleans July 2, 2006

    (Click to enlarge photos.)

    Former ICFI employee responds in comments

    A reader claiming to be an ex-employee of ICFI comments on this post.
    He's not optimistic about the company's ability to get the job done. This comment makes a similar point -- perhaps the same commenter. It's probably a good idea to keep an eye on this company, which is now in charge of handing out all of the $4.2 billion in "Road Home" money.