Saturday, September 03, 2005

Katrina Crisis News Tracker (updated)

Wall Street Journal Online Crisis Tracker

Friday, September 02, 2005

Condi the other day; Condi today

From Jossip:

Don't look to see Condoleezza Rice in any "I Love New York" ads anytime soon. After catching a Wednesday night performance of Spamalot (where she was booed when the lights came up), the Secretary of Insensitivity went shopping at Ferragamo on Fifth Avenue. While browsing thousands of dollars in new shoes (replacement dominatrix boots?), a horrified fellow shopper shouted, "How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!" For being so forward, Condi rewarded her by having her security toss the shopper from the store — and then decided to cut her stay short to, uh, do her job.

From NY Daily News:

Did New Yorkers chase Condoleezza Rice back to Washington yesterday?

Like President Bush, the Secretary of State has been on vacation during the Hurricane Katrina crisis, with Rice enjoying her downtime in New York Wednesday and yesterday. The cabinet member's responsibilities are usually international, but her timing contributed to the "fiddling while Rome burns" impression given by her boss during the disaster, which may have claimed thousands of lives.

On Wednesday night, Secretary Rice was booed by some audience members at "Spamalot!," the Monty Python musical at the Shubert, when the lights went up after the performance.

Yesterday, Rice went shopping at Ferragamo on Fifth Ave. According to the Web site www.Gawker.com, the 50-year-old bought "several thousand dollars' worth of shoes" at the pricey leather-goods boutique.
A fellow shopper shouted, "How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!" - presumably referring to Louisiana and Mississippi.

The woman expressing her First Amendment rights was promptly removed from the store. A Ferragamo store manager confirmed to us that Rice did shop there yesterday, but refused to answer questions about whether the protester was removed, and whether by his own security or the Secret Service.
At the State Department's daily briefing yesterday morning, before the New York incident, spokesman Sean McCormack responded to a journalist who asked whether Rice was involved with hurricane relief efforts by saying, "She's in contact with the department as appropriate." He made no mention that his boss had any plans to leave New York.

But yesterday afternoon, Rice had done just that. Department spokeswoman Joanne Moore told us: "The secretary is back in Washington, and she is being briefed on the situation." Moore did not know whether Condi had planned a longer stay here.

That was the other day. Today it was announced:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she would fly to her native Alabama on Sunday to view the destruction there. She acknowledged that the trip is an unusual one for the nation's top diplomat.

"I'm an American and I'm a Southern American," she told reporters. "I just hope I can be a little bit of an extension for a president who cares deeply about what's going on in the Gulf region but can't be everywhere."

Rice, the administration's highest-ranking black, also rejected assertions by black Democratic lawmakers that the government has responded slowly to a disaster affecting many poor people.

From Norman Transcript

The big disconnect on New Orleans

From CNN:

The official version; then there's the in-the-trenches version

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- Diverging views of a crumbling New Orleans emerged Thursday, with statements by some federal officials in contradiction with grittier, more desperate views from the streets. By late Friday response to those stranded in the city was more visible.

But the conflicting views on Thursday came within hours, sometimes minutes of each of each other, as reflected in CNN's transcripts. The speakers include Michael Brown, chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, evacuee Raymond Cooper, CNN correspondents and others.

Here's what they had to say:

Conditions in the Convention Center
FEMA chief Brown: We learned about that (Thursday), so I have directed that we have all available resources to get that convention center to make sure that they have the food and water and medical care that they need. (See video of Brown explaining how news reports alerted FEMA to convention center chaos. -- 2:11)

Mayor Nagin: The convention center is unsanitary and unsafe, and we are running out of supplies for the 15,000 to 20,000 people. (Hear Nagin's angry demand for soldiers. 1:04)

CNN Producer Kim Segal: It was chaos. There was nobody there, nobody in charge. And there was nobody giving even water. The children, you should see them, they're all just in tears. There are sick people. We saw... people who are dying in front of you.

Evacuee Raymond Cooper: Sir, you've got about 3,000 people here in this -- in the Convention Center right now. They're hungry. Don't have any food. We were told two-and-a-half days ago to make our way to the Superdome or the Convention Center by our mayor. And which when we got here, was no one to tell us what to do, no one to direct us, no authority figure.

Uncollected corpses
Brown: That's not been reported to me, so I'm not going to comment. Until I actually get a report from my teams that say, "We have bodies located here or there," I'm just not going to speculate.

Segal: We saw one body. A person is in a wheelchair and someone had pushed (her) off to the side and draped just like a blanket over this person in the wheelchair. And then there is another body next to that. There were others they were willing to show us. ( See CNN report, 'People are dying in front of us' -- 4:36 )

Evacuee Cooper: They had a couple of policemen out here, sir, about six or seven policemen told me directly, when I went to tell them, hey, man, you got bodies in there. You got two old ladies that just passed, just had died, people dragging the bodies into little corners. One guy -- that's how I found out. The guy had actually, hey, man, anybody sleeping over here? I'm like, no. He dragged two bodies in there. Now you just -- I just found out there was a lady and an old man, the lady went to nudge him. He's dead.

Hospital evacuations
Brown: I've just learned today that we ... are in the process of completing the evacuations of the hospitals, that those are going very well.

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta: It's gruesome. I guess that is the best word for it. If you think about a hospital, for example, the morgue is in the basement, and the basement is completely flooded. So you can just imagine the scene down there. But when patients die in the hospital, there is no place to put them, so they're in the stairwells. It is one of the most unbelievable situations I've seen as a doctor, certainly as a journalist as well. There is no electricity. There is no water. There's over 200 patients still here remaining. ...We found our way in through a chopper and had to land at a landing strip and then take a boat. And it is exactly ... where the boat was traveling where the snipers opened fire yesterday, halting all the evacuations. ( Watch the video report of corpses stacked in stairwells -- 4:45 )

Dr. Matthew Bellew, Charity Hospital: We still have 200 patients in this hospital, many of them needing care that they just can't get. The conditions are such that it's very dangerous for the patients. Just about all the patients in our services had fevers. Our toilets are overflowing. They are filled with stool and urine. And the smell, if you can imagine, is so bad, you know, many of us had gagging and some people even threw up. It's pretty rough.(Mayor's video: Armed addicts fighting for a fix -- 1:03)

Violence and civil unrest
Brown: I've had no reports of unrest, if the connotation of the word unrest means that people are beginning to riot, or you know, they're banging on walls and screaming and hollering or burning tires or whatever. I've had no reports of that.

CNN's Chris Lawrence: From here and from talking to the police officers, they're losing control of the city. We're now standing on the roof of one of the police stations. The police officers came by and told us in very, very strong terms it wasn't safe to be out on the street. (Watch the video report on explosions and gunfire -- 2:12)

The federal response:
Brown: Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans, virtually a city that has been destroyed, things are going relatively well.

Homeland Security Director Chertoff: Now, of course, a critical element of what we're doing is the process of evacuation and securing New Orleans and other areas that are afflicted. And here the Department of Defense has performed magnificently, as has the National Guard, in bringing enormous resources and capabilities to bear in the areas that are suffering.

Crowd chanting outside the Convention Center: We want help.

Nagin: They don't have a clue what's going on down there.

Phyllis Petrich, a tourist stranded at the Ritz-Carlton: They are invisible. We have no idea where they are. We hear bits and pieces that the National Guard is around, but where? We have not seen them. We have not seen FEMA officials. We have seen no one.

Brown: I actually think the security is pretty darn good. There's some really bad people out there that are causing some problems, and it seems to me that every time a bad person wants to scream of cause a problem, there's somebody there with a camera to stick it in their face. ( See Jack Cafferty's rant on the government's 'bungled' response -- 0:57)

Chertoff: In addition to local law enforcement, we have 2,800 National Guard in New Orleans as we speak today. One thousand four hundred additional National Guard military police trained soldiers will be arriving every day: 1,400 today, 1,400 tomorrow and 1,400 the next day.

Nagin: I continue to hear that troops are on the way, but we are still protecting the city with only 1,500 New Orleans police officers, an additional 300 law enforcement personnel, 250 National Guard troops, and other military personnel who are primarily focused on evacuation.

Lawrence: The police are very, very tense right now. They're literally riding around, full assault weapons, full tactical gear, in pickup trucks. Five, six, seven, eight officers. It is a very tense situation here.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

(updated) Dumb Things Bush has said about Katrina

"Don't buy gas if you don't need it," was Bush's advice.

Darn...buying expensive fuel for no reason was my plan for Labor Day Weekend.

But there's no doubt in my mind we're going to succeed.

Well that's nice...

Right now, the days seem awfully dark for those affected. I understand that. But I'm confident that, with time, you'll get your life back in order.

Gotta love time...and it's real nice that he "understands" that people are affected by the hurricane.

"We've gotta get a handle on this from the human dimension, first and foremost"

I'm glad humans are his priority!!! (yeah humans!)

"I'm not expecting much from foreign nations, because I haven't asked for it. I'm expecting sympathy and maybe some will send cash"

According to Reuters, at least 20 countries have offered help. But this is news to Bush who seems to think things only happen when he asks for it. And why didn't he ask? Isn't our country a little broke right now? And isn't this disaster a little bad?

I'm honored to be with former Presidents Bush and Clinton

Wow! What an honor to be with his Daddy and the guy who beat his Daddy in an election.

In our judgment, we view this storm as a temporary disruption that is being addressed by the government and by the private sector.

Just a little thing...keep moving...nothing to see here...

"I fully understand people wanting things to have happened yesterday. I mean I understand the anxiety of people on the ground... So there is frustration but I want people to know there's a lot of help coming"

Unfortunatly, the people who needed help 'yesterday' are on rooftops and/or are without power...they can't hear this wonderful message that "there's a lot of help coming."

"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.

In 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S. But the Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war.

The senior project manager for the Army Corps of Engineers' New Orleans district said that the levees were designed to withstand a Category Three hurricane.

Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast at daybreak as a category four storm

For at least a decade, critics have warned that the levee system protecting New Orleans needed serious upgrading. Dire predictions of the complete destruction of the city by either a hurricane or by a historic Mississippi River flood have circulated for many years...

Of course, mabye Bush didn't know this, which explains why he (and congress)
recently cut funding for the Army Corp of Engineers in the area.

"There's a lot of food on its way, a lot of water on the way and there's a lot of boats and choppers headed that way... it just takes a while to float them."

Float the choppers?

"I hope people don't play politics during this period of time,"

I'm sure he doesn't, since he recently cut funds (see above) and his Daddy faced much criticism over his reaction to a hurricane.

He said he wanted to go to the scene but did not want to disrupt the emergency operation.

I'm sure everyone would drop what they were doing to get his autograph...

"There's no doubt in my mind as I sit here talking to you that New Orleans is going to rise up again as a great city"

"Rise up" was probably not the best choice of words at this time...

I'm looking forward to talking to the people on the ground

Sound like a good time!

"I'm not looking forward to this trip"

Changed his tune? (again)

The president rejected suggestions that the United States could not afford both the war in Iraq and the hurricane cleanup. "We'll do both. We've got plenty of resources to do both"

??? When???

Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house — he's lost his entire house — there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch. (Laughter.)

I'm sure the poor refugees, those still needing rescue, and our Nation in general, all feel better now that we know Trent Lott will have a new fantastic house.

This is a devastating storm.


I understand the devastation requires more than one day's attention.

Wow, he understands so much...such tough concepts...

I believe the town where I used to come from, Houston, Texas, to enjoy myself -- occasionally too much -- (laughter) -- will be that very same town, that it will be a better place to come to. That's what I believe.

Proof of Bush's unwaivering Faith that there will be a place for him to enjoy himeself

"The world saw this tidal wave of disaster ascend upon the Gulf Coast. Now they're going to see a tidal wave of compassion."

Who the hell uses a one disaster as a methephor to another disaster, then uses the same disaster metaphor to describe disaster help?

And by the way, I'm traveling with good company. My wife, Laura, is with me, too.

That's nice...

I understand. I understand the damage. I understand the devastation. I understand the destruction. I understand how longit's going to take.

OK, OK, OK...you understand...

And so long as any life is in danger, we've got work to do, and they're going to continue to save lives

"We've got work to do" yet "They're going to..." ???

I hope that makes you feel good to know that you helped save life


In America, we do not abandon our fellow citizens in their hour of need.

except this time...

"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job"

Anyone who thinks Mike Brown has done a "heck of a job" is insane...