Hurricane Katrina

Bush's Waterloo?

FEMA blocked aid to some of the victims in New Orleans

Bush: One of the Worst Disasters to Hit the US

on this page:

"To show power truly you not only have to show how it is used but also the effect on those on whom it is used. You have to show the effect of power on the powerless."
-- Robert A. Caro, "The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York"

"It appears that the money has been moved in the president’s budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that’s the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can’t be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us."
-- Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; New Orleans Times-Picayune,
June 8, 2004.


Official Story

"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."
- George W. Bush, September 1, 2005

The National Hurricane Center warned FEMA and Bush that Katrina was likely to flood New Orleans.
Officially, Hurricane Katrina killed over 1,000, but it is impossible to confirm any figures. Service Corporation International funeral company was hired by FEMA to dispose of bodies -- SCI has ties to Bush and has been caught in body dumping scandals.

Incompetence Theories

A limited hang out is admitting to a small crime to avoid the full scandal. The illusion of incompetence is a key part of the cover-ups of Katrina, 9/11, the Iraq War and related crimes.
The contracts to "rebuild" New Orleans and the oil infrastructure are going to Halliburton, Bechtel and other companies that are "rebuilding" Iraq. New Orleans citizens are not receiving these contracts, just like ordinary Iraqis are not earning money from the alleged rebuilding of their
This profiteering has been called "disaster capitalism" and its organizers are very competent at their crimes. Another term is "collapsitalism."
This is the plan to profit from climate change and Peak Oil: make money creating the problem, and make more money from the misery.

Best Evidence

FEMA is a police state agency focused on "continuity of government," now part of the Department of Homeland Security.
FEMA blocked aid shipments and unplugged local governmental communication systems (which is malicious, not incompetent).
FEMA's response to Katrina reveals the plan for coping with Peak Oil: deliberately ignore the warnings about the crisis, let the poor drown, and suppress grassroots mitigation efforts. This disaster shows the US is now a "failed state."
FEMA now has experience evacuating an entire city, implementing martial law and building semi-permanent camps for former citizens of New Orleans.
If there is a nuclear attack on a US city, or a bird flu pandemic, FEMA’s treatment of New Orleans shows how the federal government will deal with it.


Media coverage of violence in New Orleans after the storm was greatly exaggerated and was used as the excuse for decreasing outside assistance to the survivors at their most vulnerable point.
A few websites with a history of hoaxes (unintentional or deliberate) claim the levees were demolished -- the first was a white supremacist (Hal Turner) with a track record of violent threats (not investigative reporting). While Louisiana has a history of levees being breached during floods (ruin your neighbor to save yourself), the levees broke at the height of the storm, as predicted by many media articles for many years. It is unlikely the levees were deliberately breached, but it is true that New Orleans, if rebuilt, will have been ethnically cleansed of its poorest citizens.It is true that the US Air Force has researched weather manipulation for decades and boasts of a desire to control the weather by 2025 (exactly how much success they have had with this research is not publicly known). However, weather modification claims about Katrina distract from the fact that these superhurricanes show that climate change is here.

Did Katrina Hide the Real Peak in World Oil Production? and Other Oil Supply Insights
Posted by Gail the Actuary on October 9, 2007

In this post, we use a graphical approach for analyzing oil production since 2001. This analysis shows that more and more countries are showing declining oil production, and that this decline in production is not being offset by increases in production elsewhere. If this pattern continues, this analysis suggests that we may already be past the peak in world oil production.

We also look at the question of whether the impact of Hurricane Katrina may have hidden the real peak in world oil production. We find that if an adjustment is made for hurricane impacts, the peak month of production seems to be December 2005 on a crude and condensate basis, and September 2005 on an all liquids basis. The higher adjusted peaks, and greater declines since the adjusted peaks, further suggest that we may be post-peak.


Bush played music while New Orleans drowned

"President Bush plays a guitar presented to him by Country Singer Mark Wills, right, backstage following his visit to Naval Base Coronado, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005. Bush Base Coronado, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005. Bush visited the base to deliver remarks on V-J Commemoration Day. (AP Photo/ABC News, Martha Raddatz)"

Dismantle FEMA and Homeland Security
focus instead on real disaster planning and "Powerdown" preparation for Peak Oil and climate change

It shouldn't surprise anyone that Bush went to a Republican political event at the peak of the crisis (instead of doing anything for the victims), or that Halliburton is already getting lavish contracts to "repair" the damage. It's nice to believe that this is merely incompetence, but it is unlikely to be true.

Everyone demanding impeachment of Bush (and Cheney) should also remember that Bill Clinton gave the Bush family an endorsement by promising to raise money with Poppy Bush to help the victims -- which conveniently forgets that the federal government spends more than $2 trillion every year, so private fundraising by crooked former presidents is not really the scale of what is needed. Voting for Hilary won't solve the crises of the collapsing empire, especially given the business ties between the Clintons and Bushes.

Emperor Nero is said to have fiddled while Rome burned. King George was photographed playing the guitar (?!?!?) while New Orleans drowned. It is hard to imagine any innocent explanation (incompetence) why the public relations people around our Emperor allowed him to engage in blatantly callous behavior as thousands were drowning, in part due to the unwillingness of the national government to send assistance to the victims when it would have been the most helpful. It seems obvious that all of the billions spent on the illusion of "Homeland Security" since Bush read "My Pet Goat" during 9/11 were not efforts to prepare the country against disasters.


You're either with Bush or with the hurricanes ...


The Bush family on vacation

artist unknown ... - Bush: Sell the Ranch!

Look at it from the perspective of the rulers. If you evacuate the people, you have to take care of hundreds of thousands of "useless eaters." On the other hand, if you seal them in until they go mad, and then kill them, then you don't have to take care of them, you create a spectacle for the whole world showing people becoming barbarous without you ruling them, you get the public to sympathize with the use of the American military to kill Americans, your soldiers get accustomed to killing their own citizens, and you send the message to all Americans: this is what happens if you don't obey. The tactics the Empire has always used in the colonies, it is now bringing home.

September 2. heretic fig post with the graphic from the History Channel's upcoming special on Roman engineering, calling the Colosseum "the world's first Superdome." On TV I think I saw an ad that actually morphed the New Orleans Superdome into the Roman Colosseum. You all get the message, right? On top of that, we have the much circulated photo of Bush (Nero) playing a guitar (fiddling) while Rome (New Orleans) burns (drowns). Think back: have you seen Bush, at any other time, playing a musical instrument? It really looks like there's a world behind this one, playing the same records over and over, and every age has its own stereo system on which they sound a little different.


Real efforts to help the victims (a partial list)
a good list of grassroots efforts to help Katrina victims
Veterans for Peace grassroots effort to help Katrina victims.
Don't give to the Red Cross (which stole most of the money donated to 9/11 victims), United Way, Salvation Army or other bureaucracies.



Katrina Timelines

Those 9/11 activists know how critical it is to construct a timeline, because the timeline tells us who did what and when they did it. The timeline will tell us the truth. The timeline cuts through the spin. So, of course, I made a point to get in touch with the folks who were collecting the timelines, and there are a lot of timelines available on the Internet. Think Progress has a timeline, and WWL also has a timeline.
-- Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Georgia)


News From New Orleans
Best grassroots reporting from the aftermath - martial law, federal blocking of assistance, grassroots efforts at mutual aid. Very disturbing.
Interview with the Mayor of New Orleans - he bluntly points out the feds did nothing substantial for days. Very disturbing. (MP3 file)

Tim Russert interviews Jefferson Parish President, Aaron Broussard
Aaron Broussard's comments from NBC's 'Meet the Press' transcript for 4 September 2005

MR. AARON BROUSSARD: We have been abandoned by our own country. Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst storms ever to hit an American coast, but the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history. I am personally asking our bipartisan congressional delegation here in Louisiana to immediately begin congressional hearings to find out just what happened here. Why did it happen? Who needs to be fired? And believe me, they need to be fired right away, because we still have weeks to go in this tragedy. We have months to go. We have years to go. And whoever is at the top of this totem pole, that totem pole needs to be chain-sawed off and we've got to start with some new leadership.
It's not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here. Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area, and bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now. ....
We had Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of water, trailer trucks of water. FEMA turned them back. They said we didn't need them. This was a week ago. FEMA--we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. The Coast Guard said, "Come get the fuel right away." When we got there with our trucks, they got a word. "FEMA says don't give you the fuel." Yesterday--yesterday--FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards on our line and says, "No one is getting near these lines." Sheriff Harry Lee said that if America--American government would have responded like Wal-Mart has responded, we wouldn't be in this crisis.

Posted on Wed, Aug. 31, 2005
South Mississippi needs your help

We are not calling on the nation and the state to make life more comfortable in South Mississippi, we are calling on the nation and the state to make life here possible.
We would bolster our argument with the number of Katrina casualties confirmed thus far, but if there is such a confirmed number, no one is releasing it to the public. This lack of faith in the publics' ability to handle the truth is not sparing anyone's feelings, it is instead fueling terrifying rumors.
While the flow of information is frustratingly difficult, our reporters have yet to find evidence of a coordinated approach to relieve pain and hunger or to secure property and maintain order. ....
On Wednesday reporters listening to horrific stories of death and survival at the Biloxi Junior High School shelter looked north across Irish Hill Road and saw Air Force personnel playing basketball and performing calisthenics.
Playing basketball and performing calisthenics!
When asked why these young men were not being used to help in the recovery effort, our reporters were told that it would be pointless to send military personnel down to the beach to pick up debris.
Litter is the least of our problems.
We need the president to back up his declaration of a disaster with a declaration of every man and woman under his command will do whatever is necessary to deal with that disaster.


Katrina and Peak Oil

This week is the first time that Bush has been heard urging people NOT to consume, urging people not to buy gasoline unless needed. That probably means the oil and natural gas infrastructure is more damaged than has yet been admitted, or that the impacts of taking the petroleum infrastructure off line is going to have more significant havoc on the economy than the media is preparing the public for.

It was known for decades that the City of New Orleans was facing exceptional risks from flooding (as everyone knows now, part of the city -- especially the poorest part -- was below sea level), yet little was done to prepare to mitigate the impacts for the victims (why there weren't extra portable toilets placed in the "shelters" is beyond language to describe).

Similarly, our civilization has known for decades that it is based on destroying the planet's biosphere and using up finite resources - petroleum, natural gas, coal, uranium, other minerals - and over-using semi-renewable resources (water, soils, fisheries, forests, etc) to the point of depletion. How much planning is really going on to bridge the gap between overpopulation and decreasing resources?
YOU BET YOUR LIFE By Michael C. Ruppert
Impact of Katrina on oil supplies, Peak Oil
Clusterfuck Nation
Katrina + Oil Plateau = Crisis
Katrina, New Orleans and Peak Oil
environmental impacts of Katrina
Hurricane an Unnatural Disaster, Root Causes are Ecological
Coastal Ecosystems and Climate Must Be Protected
Earth Meanders by Dr. Glen Barry
August 31, 2005
Katrina enviro disaster


It was not a surprise to anyone

"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."
- George Walker Bush, September 1, 2005
Big Blow in the Big Easy
By Dan Gilgoff

Drowning New Orleans
A major hurricane could swamp New Orleans under 20 feet of water, killing thousands. Human activities along the Mississippi River have dramatically increased the risk, and now only massive reengineering of southeastern Louisiana can save the city
By Mark Fischetti
October, 2001"Scientific American"
The Louisiana bayou, hardest working marsh in America, is in big trouble—with dire consequences for residents, the nearby city of New Orleans, and seafood lovers everywhere.
They Saw It Coming
No one can say they didn't see it coming
Bayou Farewell
The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana’s Cajun Coast
By Mike Tidwell
Pantheon Books
March 2003


Katrina was not the worst case scenario:
the Mississippi will someday move away from
New Orleans to the Atchafalaya distributary

The 1989 book "The Control of Nature" by John McPhee is the classic description
an excerpt is at

or at
The Old River Control Structure on the Lower Mississippi River
Thursday, September 08, 2005
The Case Against Rebuilding New Orleans

(geology, subsidence, Peak Oil, economics, and the eventual shift of the Mississippi to the Atchafalaya distributary -- it is a painful description of the obvious: New Orleans is gone, even if a small part is rebuilt as a tourist destination, at least as long as the cheap oil economy stays intact)

A Sad Truth: Cities Aren't Forever
By Joel Garreau
Sunday, September 11, 2005; Page B01

The city of New Orleans is not going to be rebuilt.
The tourist neighborhoods? The ancient parts from the French Quarter to the Garden District on that slim crescent of relatively high ground near the river? Yes, they will be restored. The airport and the convention center? Yes, those, too.
But the far larger swath -- the real New Orleans where the tourists don't go, the part that Katrina turned into a toxic soup bowl, its population of 400,000 scattered to the waves? Not so much.

Federal Experiments in Martial Authoritarianism FEMA

FEMA - the Federal Emergency Management Agency - is now part of the Department of Homeland Security (a bureaucracy that resembles the "Ministry of Information" from Terry Gilliam's classic dystopia BRAZIL). Perhaps if FEMA spent less energy tracking citizens who don't like the Emperor and more on figuring out how to mitigate the impacts of our dysfunctional way of life, there would have been a serious effort to prevent thousands (tens of thousands?) of people from drowning.

When King George became President, FEMA had a report saying the flooding of New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters facing the US. Bush's response was to cut funding to prepare for this. Another of the most likely catastrophes was a terrorist attack in New York -- and the Bush regime sabotaged numerous efforts in 2001 that sought to prevent this from happening, including suppression of FBI investigations that were on the trail of the "hijackers."

for evidence that 9/11 was deliberately allowed to happen - and given technical assistance to ensure that it happened, please see the links at -- our society's failure to come to grips with the coup against President Kennedy, the Vietnam War, the coup against democracies in Chile, Iran and numerous other countries, Watergate, the 1980 October Surprise, Iran-Contra drug smuggling and "dirty wars," 9/11, and the war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan suggest that the US is now a "failed state." The Cheney-Bush administration is not merely incompetent -- they are extremely dangerous and need to be impeached, assuming that anyone in Congress still is awake and paying attention to what is going on.


"We are in fact convinced that no human experience is without meaning or unworthy of analysis, and that fundamental values, even if they are not positive, can be deduced from this particular world which we are describing. We would also like to consider that the Lager [camp] was pre-eminently a gigantic biological and social experiment.
"Thousands of individuals, differing in age, condition, origin, language, culture and customs are enclosed within barbed wire: there they live a regular, controlled life which is identical for all and inadequate to all needs, and which is much more rigorous than any experimenter could have set up to establish what is essential and what adventitious to the conduct of the human animal in the struggle for life."
-- Primo Levi, "Survival in Auschwitz" Collier Books 1976, p. 79 (Levi spent a year as a prisoner of the Nazis in that camp.)

Prisoners sent by the US military to Guantanamo have been photographed being forced to sit in their own shit for the long flight from Asia to Cuba, with towels underneath to soak up the liquids. This is a form of torture (not being allowed to use a toilet). This is a similar tactic that the Nazis used while transporting Jews to concentration camps -- in both cases, the condemned are filthy and smelly at the end of the trip, which inspires the guards to hate their victims.

See the book "The Survivor: An Anatomy of Life in the Death Camps" by Terrence DesPres (1976) for a discussion of this "Excremental Assault."

The commandant of the Treblinka extermination camp gave an interview after the war, stating that one of the reasons for the degradation of the prisoners (by many means) was to make them appear to be subhumans -- without that attitude toward the victims, the Nazis would have been unable to perpetrate the atrocities.

"Why," I asked Stangl, "if they were going to kill them anyway, what was the point of all the humiliation, why the cruelty?"
"To condition those who actually had to carry out the policies," he said. "To make it possible for them to do what they did." And this, I believe, was true.
-- Gitta Sereny, "Into that Darkness: An Examination of Conscience," Vintage Books (New York), p. 101


FEMA now has practice in the large scale removal of a metropolitan area.

Paul Krugman at the New York Times and Clinton FEMA Director James Lee Witt Leading America Into the Next Slaughter
By Michael C. Ruppert

FEMA won't accept Amtrak's help in evacuations

FEMA turns away experienced firefighters

FEMA turns back Wal-Mart supply trucks

FEMA prevents Coast Guard from delivering diesel fuel

FEMA won't let Red Cross deliver food

FEMA bars morticians from entering New Orleans

FEMA blocks 500-boat citizen flotilla from delivering aid

FEMA fails to utilize Navy ship with 600-bed hospital on board

FEMA turns away generators

FEMA: "First Responders Urged Not To Respond"

FEMA Chief Waited until After Storm Hit

FEMA blocks photos of New Orleans dead


Analysis by G. Edward Griffin, 2005 September 16

... the key to understanding can be found in the following list of news headlines, most of which did not make it into mainstream coverage. These reports make it clear that the government did not fail to respond in a timely fashion. The problem was that it did respond - but in such a way as to actually hinder rescue operations. There were too many instances for this to be merely a mistake or a bureaucratic snafu. There is a clear pattern here that cannot be denied. ....

So what is going on here? Were agents of the federal government trying to kill American citizens? Were they trying to obtain the maximum death toll and the highest level of human suffering? It would seem that way at first, but I would like to suggest that this incredible behavior stems from something else - something equally unsettling.

The primary job of the military, FEMA, and Homeland Security is not to protect the American people in times of emergency but to protect the government in times of emergency and keep it functioning. Their primary assignment is, not to rescue people, but to control them. Their directive is to relocate families and businesses, confiscate property, commandeer goods, direct labor and services, and establish martial law. The reason FEMA and Homeland security failed to carry out an effective rescue operation is that this was not their primary mission, and the reason they blocked others from doing so is that any operations not controlled by the central authority are contrary to their directives. Their objective was to bring the entire area under the control of the federal government - and this they succeeded in doing very well. They did not fail in New Orleans. They were a huge success. Once this simple fact is understood, everything that happened in the wake of Katrina becomes understandable and logical.

If there are new terrorist attacks against the United States or Great Britain (or any other country), what we witnessed in New Orleans may have been a glimpse into the future of what was once a civilized world.


It's not Incompetence - it's worse than that
Bush Photo Strafes New Orleans
US won't let Canada help Katrina victims

"My Pet Goat -- The Sequel"
Bush to New Orleans: Drop Dead by Harvey Wasserman
September 2, 2005
Very good coverage -- Condi Rice goes to see Broadway musical and shops for expensive shoes at the height of the crisis instead of allowing foreign countries to send assistance - is she channeling Imelda Marcos?
FEMA urges the gullible to send donations to Pat Robertson
Lake New Orleans is George W. Bush's fault
New Orleans Died For Bush's Sins
The President’s Priorities:
State of Marriage Took Precedence over State of Louisiana
by Jason Leopold
Why is President Bush more concerned with the state of marriage than the state of Louisiana?
That’s what the New Orleans City Business paper asked in early February, a couple of weeks after Bush’s State of the Union address, in which the president called for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages, upon learning that Bush’s budget proposal recommended slashing $34 million from the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, leaving the city with a $581 million shortfall for flood control and coastal erosion improvement projects.


Racism and Katrina disaster
The ugly truth
Why we couldn’t save the people of New Orleans

Black Commentator has excellent coverage of the Katrina diaspora.


Other interesting perspectives that are worth reading - this is the consequence of a psychopathic dry drunk running the Empire


International Coverage - the world is shocked

Mexico's El Universal
The slowness with which the USA's federal emergency services have joined the rescue operation has already generated great political tension... There is no doubt that the lack of well-timed responses to assist the population will have political costs for President Bush's Republican Party in the next federal elections.

Colombia's El Colombiano
It is now urgent that the world's leaders take heed of nature's warning, look at the evidence and realise that the climate, on a global scale, is changing. This is already known from scientific reports, but they continue to ignore it, to play it down, or not to care about it.

Argentina's Clarin
Katrina had more than the power of the wind and water, because, now, when they have subsided, it can still reveal the emptiness of an era, one that is represented by President George W Bush more than anyone.

Spain's El Pais
Up until Monday, Bush was the president of the war in Iraq and 9/11. Today there are few doubts that he will also pass into history as the president who didn't know how to prevent the destruction of New Orleans and who abandoned its inhabitants to their fate for days. And the worst is yet to come.

Spain's La Razon
Proving that even the gods are mortal, it is clear that the USA's international image is being damaged in a way that it has never known before. The country will probably be able to recuperate from the destruction, but its pride has already been profoundly wounded.

France's Liberation
Bush had already been slow to react when the World Trade Center collapsed. Four years later, he was no quicker to get the measure of Katrina - a cruel lack of leadership at a time when this second major shock for 21st century America is adding to the crisis of confidence for the world's leading power and to international disorder. As happened with 9/11, the country is displaying its vulnerability to the eyes of the world.

France's Le Progres
Katrina has shown that the emperor has no clothes. The world's superpower is powerless when confronted with nature's fury.

Switzerland's Le Temps
The sea walls would not have burst in New Orleans if the funds meant for strengthening them had not been cut to help the war effort in Iraq and the war on terror... And rescue work would have been more effective if a section of National Guard from the areas affected had not been sent to Baghdad and Kabul... And would George Bush have left his holiday ranch more quickly if the disaster had not first struck the most disadvantaged populations of the black south?

Ireland's The Irish Times
This is a defining moment for Mr Bush, just as much as 9/11 was. So far his reputation for prompt and firm crisis management has fallen far short of what is required.

Saudi Arabia's Saudi Gazette
The episode illustrates that when the normal day-to-day activity of society disintegrates, the collapse of civilisation is only a few paces behind. We all walk on the edge of the abyss.

Musib Na'imi in Iran's Al-Vefagh
About 10,000 US National Guard troops were deployed [in New Orleans] and were granted the authority to fire at and kill whom they wanted, upon the pretext of restoring order. This decision is an indication of the US administration's militarist mentality, which regards killing as the only way to control even its own citizens.

Samih Sa'ab in Lebanon's Al-Nahar
The destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina... has proved that even the No 1 superpower in the world is helpless in facing nature's 'terrorism'.

Pakistan's The Nation
To augment the tragedy, the government of the world's richest nation defied the general expectation that at the first sign of the storm it would muster an armada of ships, boats and helicopters for the rescue operation. For nearly three days it sat smugly apathetic to the people's plight, their need for food, medicine and other basic necessities.

Hong Kong's Wen Wei Po
This disaster is a heavy blow to the United States, and a lesson which deserves deep thought... [It] is a warning to the Bush administration that the United States must clear its head and truly assume its responsibility to protect nature and the environment in which humankind lives.

Hong Kong's South China Morning Post
Even if our money may not be needed, at the least we should be offering moral support. Our skills in dealing with storms may be useful to help Americans prevent other such tragedies. We should be offering this help rather than shrugging off what should be our humanitarian duty.

Ambrose Murunga in Kenya's Daily Nation
My first reaction when television images of the survivors of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans came through the channels was that the producers must be showing the wrong clip. The images, and even the disproportionately high number of visibly impoverished blacks among the refugees, could easily have been a re-enactment of a scene from the pigeonholed African continent.

China's Renmin Wang
If the US could shift part of its astronomical military spending to counter-terrorism, guarding against natural disasters, epidemic disease control and other aspects, then the 9/11 attack, Hurricane Katrina, the spread of Aids and other tragedies could be avoided or mitigated.

Malaysia's Berita Harian
When the tsunami hit Asia last December, Bush succeeded in showing off his abilities by offering appropriate and well-organised humanitarian aid, but it seems he has been unresponsive, disorganised and discriminatory in dealing with the Katrina disaster.

Indonesia's Suara Merdeka
People may hate the selfish US stance. They may also condemn its military invasion of Iraq or criticise Washington's threats to Iran, Syria and North Korea. But, it is inhuman to be grateful for the American people's disaster. Indonesia, in particular, must not forget the services of the US military when the tsunami devastated Aceh.

Singapore's The Straits Times
The dead are only beginning to be gathered up. In Aceh and Thailand's beach resorts, those killed by the tsunami last December received the due respect of swift recovery, followed by identification. New Orleans people will not let Mr Bush forget this.

Australia's The Age
President Bush is increasingly seen as out of touch with ordinary people and with reality on the ground - in New Orleans and Iraq - and also on issues such as climate change. The president and, by association, Republicans are highly vulnerable for the first time in years. How the Administration responds has broader implications, too - a deeply unpopular, lame duck president could alter the balance of global leadership.

Afghanistan's Eslah
President Karzai has pledged 100,000 dollars for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. America has helped Afghanistan in various ways. Even if the assistance promised to the victims of Hurricane Katrina seems a symbolic act, it nevertheless shows that our country has credibility and authority in the international community.

Nahum Barnea in Israel's Yediot Aharonot
Just as 11 September 2001 changed the American agenda from internal matters to foreign policy and the war on terror, so Katrina is liable to take America back to its internal agenda: dealing with the environment, society, and the gaps between whites and blacks and between rich and poor.

Adli Sadiq in the Palestinian Al-Hayat al-Jadidah
After Hurricane Katrina, a new section of the American public is waking up to the wretchedness of the administration's policies and to the disasters that have hit Americans as a result. Today's Iraq is worse than yesterday's, and there are not enough helicopters to tackle the hurricane. Bush and his administration will be judged by history.

Iran's Resalat
Katrina was a natural catastrophe, but many experts believe America's policies have deepened the roots of the disaster. America had allocated the budgets for these areas to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nick Reimer in Germany's die tageszeitung
New Orleans has already become a symbol: never before in human history has a natural disaster been predicted in such exact detail. Despite this, the prediction had no effect. It's as if mankind has lost the power to correct its own mistakes: In New Orleans, it slid into catastrophe submissively and with eyes wide open. Climate change has already arrived.

Russia's Komsomolskaya Pravda
[Russian] Emergencies Ministry planes have been under starter's orders for several days. But the go-ahead from the other side of the ocean never came. It leads you to think: Is Washington afraid of having US citizens rescued by people who are not flying the stars and stripes? Are they trying to preserve the prestige of a state that does not take easily to accepting aid from a "third-world" country? But isn't the saving of human life more important than PR or ideological considerations?

South Africa's Star
The death and destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina also revealed the racial fissures in American society. Most of the hapless survivors who filled New Orleans' Superdome were black. Bush's other weaknesses are his poor environment record and his management of the US economy.

Zimbabwe's Herald
The fact that New Orleans is a southern town predominantly populated by African-Americans explains why President George W. Bush did not see the need to cut short his holiday. All that Bush has done so far is to issue threats against the victims, and deploying trigger-happy American troops - fresh from abusing Iraqi prisoners - to go and "restore order".


Liberal Gatekeepers miss the real issues (again)

The Nation magazine denounces Big Oil price gouging, but ignores issues of destroyed oil and gas rigs, and the looming Peak Oil crisis (natural limits to resource consumption are not politically correct).

The solutions involve nationalization of the oil industry so that oil revenues can be used to mitigate impacts on the poor, to fund renewable energy development, Amtrak, public transit, and other ways to reduce overconsumption. Any politicians on the horizon who will dare to mention this? Any environmental groups want to discuss how to use the rest of the oil (to relocalize food production and build as much renewable energy equipment as possible)?

Published on Saturday, March 11, 2006 by
Guantanamo on the Mississippi
by Jordan Flaherty


Sometimes the injustices here in New Orleans leave me numb. But the continuing debacle of our criminal justice system inspires in me a sense of indignation I thought was lost to cynicism long ago. Ursula Price, a staff investigator for the indigent defense organization A Fighting Chance, has met with several thousand hurricane survivors who were imprisoned at the time of the hurricane, and her stories chill me "I grew up in small town Mississippi," she tells me. "We had the Klan marching down our main street. But still, I've never seen anything like this."
Safe Streets, Strong Communities, a New Orleans-based criminal justice reform coalition that Price also works with, has just released a report based on more than a hundred recent interviews with prisoners who have been locked up since pre-Katrina and are currently spread across thirteen prisons and hundreds of miles. They found the average number of days people had been locked up without a trial was 385 days. One person had been locked up for 1,289 days. None of them have been convicted of any crime.
"I've been working in the system for the while, I do capital cases and I've seen the worst that the criminal justice system has to offer," Price told me. "But even I am shocked that there has been so much disregard for the value of these peoples lives, especially people who have not been proved to have done anything wrong." As lawyers, advocates, and former prisoners stressed to me in interviews over the last couple of weeks, arrest is not the same as conviction. According to a pre-Katrina report from the Metropolitan Crime Commission, 65% of those arrested in New Orleans are eventually released without ever having been charged with any crime.
Samuel Nicholas (his friends call him Nick) was imprisoned in Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) on a misdemeanor charge, and was due to be released August 31. Instead, after a harrowing journey of several months, he was released February 1. Nick told me he still shudders when he thinks of those days in OPP.
"We heard boats leaving, and one of the guys said 'hey man, all the deputies gone,' Nick relates. "We took it upon ourselves to try to survive. They left us in the gym for two days with nothing. Some of those guys stayed in a cell for or five days. People were hollering, 'get me out, I don't want to drown, I don't want to die,' we were locked in with no ventilation, no water, nothing to eat. Its just the grace of god that a lot of us survived."
Benny Flowers, a friend of Nick's from the same Central City neighborhood, was on a work release program, and locked in a different building in the sprawling OPP complex. In his building there were, by his count, about 30 incarcerated youth, some as young as 14 years old. "I don't know why they left the children like that. Locked up, no food, no water. Why would you do that? They couldn't swim, most of them were scared to get into the water. We were on work release, so we didn't have much time left. We weren't trying to escape, we weren't worried about ourselves, we were worried about the children. The guards abandoned us, so we had to do it for ourselves. We made sure everyone was secured and taken care of. The deputies didn't do nothing. It was inmates taking care of inmates, old inmates taking care of young inmates. We had to do it for ourselves."
Benny Hitchens, another former inmate, was imprisoned for unpaid parking tickets. "They put us in a gym, about 200 of us, and they gave us three trash bags, two for defecation and one for urination. That was all we had for 200 people for two days."
State Department of Corrections officers eventually brought them, and thousands of other inmates, to Hunts Prison, in rural Louisiana, where evacuees were kept in a field, day and night, with no shelter and little or no food and water. "They didn't do us no kind of justice," Flowers told me. "We woke up early in the morning with the dew all over us, then in the afternoon we were burning up in the summer sun. There were about 5,000 of us in three yards."
Nick was taken from Hunts prison to Oakdale prison. "At Oakdale they had us on lockdown 23 hours, on Friday and Saturday it was 24 hours. We hadn't even been convicted yet. Why did we have to be treated bad? Twenty-three and one ain't nothing nice, especially when you aint been convicted of a crime yet. But here in New Orleans you're guilty 'til you're proven innocent. Its just the opposite of how its supposed to be."
From reports that Price received, some prisoners had it worse than Oakdale. "Many prisoners were sent to Jena prison, which had been previously shut down due to the abusiveness of the staff there. I have no idea why they thought it was acceptable to reopen it with the same staff. People were beaten, an entire room of men was forced to strip and jump up and down and make sexual gestures towards one another. I cannot describe to you the terror that the young men we spoke to conveyed to us."
According to the report from Safe Streets Strong Communities, the incarcerated people they interviewed described their attorney's as "passive," "not interested," and "absent." Interviewers were told that "attorneys acted as functionaries for the court rather than advocates for the poor people they represented..the customs of the criminal court excused - and often encouraged - poor policing and wrongful arrests. The Orleans Indigent Defender Program acted as a cog in this system rather than a check on its dysfunction."
Pre-Katrina, the New Orleans public defender system was already dangerously overloaded, with 42 attorneys and six investigators. Today, New Orleans has 6 public defenders, and one investigator. And these defenders are not necessarily full-time, nor committed to their clients. One of those attorneys is known to spend his days in court working on crossword puzzles instead of talking to his clients. All of these attorneys are allowed to take an unlimited number of additional cases for pay. In most cases, these attorneys have been reported to do a much more vigorous job on behalf of their paid clients.
"We have a system that was broken before Katrina," Price tells me, "that was then torn apart, and is waiting to be rebuilt. Four thousand people are still in prison, waiting for this to be repaired. There's a young man, I speak to his mother every day, who has been in the hole since the storm, and is being abused daily. This boy is 19 years old, and not very big, and he has no lawyer. His mother doesn't know what to do, and without her son having council, I don't know what to tell her."
Pre-hurricane, according to the Safe Streets report, some detainees were brought to a magistrate court shortly after being arrested, "where a public defender was appointed 'solely for the purposes of this hearing.' The assigned attorney did not do even the most cursory interview about the arrestee's ties to the community, charges, or any other information relevant to setting a bond. Other interviewees were brought to a room where they faced a judge on a video screen. These individuals uniformly reported there was no defense lawyer present."
The report continues, "after appointment, (defense attorneys) by and large did not visit the crime scene, did not interview witnesses, did not check out alibis, did not procure expert assistance, did not review evidence, did not know the facts of the case, did not do any legal research, and did not otherwise prepare for trial.with few exceptions, attorneys with the Orleans Indigent Defender program never met with their clients to discuss their case. Appointed council did not take calls from the jail, did not respond to letters or other written correspondence, and generally did not take calls or make appointments with family members.(defenders) frequently did not know the names of their clients."
"This ain't just started, its been going on," Nick tells me. "I want to talk about it, but at the same time it hurts to talk about it. Someone's gotta start talking about it. It's not the judge, its not the lawyers, it's the criminal justice system. Everybody who goes to jail isn't guilty. You got guys who were drunk in public, treated like they committed murder."
I asked Price what has to happen to fix this system. "First, we establish who was left behind, collect their stories and substantiate them. Next, we're going to organize among the inmates and former inmates to change the system. The inmates are going to have a voice in what happens in our criminal justice system. If you ask anyone living in New Orleans, the police, the justice system, may be the single most influential element in poor communities. Its what beaks up families, its what keeps people poor."
How can people from around the US help? "Education, health care, mental health. All these issues that exist in the larger community, exist among the prisoners, and no one is serving them. We need psychiatrists, doctors, teachers, we need all kinds of help," Price says.
"One thing I can't forget is those children," Benny Flowers tells me. "Why would they leave those children behind? I'm trying to forget it, but I can't forget it"
Sitting across the table from Benny, Nick is resolute. "I'm making this interview so that things get better," he tells me. "The prison system, the judicial system, the police. We got to make a change, and we all got to come together as a community to make this change. I want to stop all this harassment and brutality."
Jordan Flaherty is a resident of New Orleans, an organizer with New Orleans Network and an editor of Left Turn Magazine. His previous articles from New Orleans are at:

Grassroots, People of Color-Led Gulf Coast Organizations to Donate To:

Other Resources for Information and Action:

Reconstruction Watch -
New Orleans Network -
Families and Friends of Louisiana's Incarcerated Children -
A Fighting Chance -
Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund -
Justice for New Orleans -
Common Ground -
Four Directions Solidarity Network -
Color Of Change -
Black Commentator -
Comprehensive website for information and action related to prisoners in New Orleans:


New Orleans
a song by David Rovics

Note: I wrote this while in a state of sleep deprivation in Beirut, Lebanon, in early September, 2005, and I recorded it at the studios of Amwaj Radio 91.5 in Ramallah, Occupied Palestine. You will find the song at the top of the "MP3 MUSIC" section of along with everything else I've recorded since 1998. As with all of my music, lyrics, etc., feel free to use it for any purpose and spread the word about the song if you're so inclined!


Everybody knew that it could happen
The likelihood was clear
The future was coming
And now it’s here
They had to fix the levees
Because otherwise they’d break
On one side was the city
Above it was the lake
It was in the daily papers
In bold letters was the writ
What would happen
When the Big One hit
But every year they cut the funding
Just a little more
So they could give it to the Army
To fight their oil war

In National Geographic
And the Times-Picayune
They forecast the apocalypse
Said it was coming soon
Preparations must be made, they said
Now is the time
It was years ago they shouted
Inaction was a crime
They said the dikes must be improved
And the wetlands must be saved
But Washington decided
Instead they should be paved
Because malls were more important
Than peoples’ lives
So put some gold dust in your eyes
And hope no storm arrives

New Orleans, New Orleans, New Orleans

Years and years of warning
No evacuation plan
It was just if the waters rose
Just get out if you can
There were no buses
No one chartered any trains
There was no plan to rescue
All of those who would remain
All the people with no money
All the people with no wheels
All of those who didn’t hotwire
One that they could steal
Thousands and thousands of people
Abandoned by the state
Abandoned by their country
Just left to meet their fate

New Orleans, New Orleans, New Orleans

And the people died
And then they died some more
They drowned inside their attics
An army of the poor
An army of the destitute
Who couldn’t get away
And the world will remember
These sad and awful days
When people shouted from their houses
Dying on their roofs
When people came to find them
They were turned back by the troops
They died there with no water
They died there in the heat
They were shot down by the soldiers
For trying to find some food to eat

New Orleans, New Orleans, New Orleans
And now the city is in ruins
A massive toxic sea
Scattered through the nation
Half a million refugees
Here we are
In the richest country on the earth
Where the color of your skin
Determines what your life is worth
Where oil is the king
Where global warming is ignored
Where the very end of life
Is the place we’re heading toward
Where it’s more than just a metaphor
The flooding of the dike
And if we don’t stop this madness
The whole planet will be like

New Orleans, New Orleans, New Orleans

Created September 2005