Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Saints Go Marching Home...

Those of us keenly interested in the recovery of New Orleans are always on the look-out for every scrap of good news. We got some yesterday.

Tom Benson announced that the Saints would return to New Orleans next season.

Immediately after the city was flooded there was widespread belief that Benson would move his franchise to San Antonio or some other city. He's not known for having much loyalty to the Big Easy.

I suspect that the NFL put some pressure on Benson to keep the franchise in New Orleans. It would have been a crime to have moved the team after the loyalty of the fans for all these years.

I've always been a Saints fan. Back in the late Sixties I regularly joined another 100,000 fans in the old Tulane Stadium to watch the team play. They almost never won but the cheap beer and Al Hirt's trumpet made for an unforgetable experience!

The Superdome will be getting a $100 million face-lift and is expected to be ready for play by mid-September.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Disaster in New Orleans becomes tourist attraction...

Tourists walk the streets of the Lower Ninth Ward near the London Avenue canal breach. (Photo courtesy of

When I visited the Lakeview and Ninth Ward neighborhoods in New Orleans in late November I was most sensitive to not acting as a "disaster tourist." I can understand why former residents would resent people treating their misfortune as a curiosity.

I did take a few photos but only in areas that were totally deserted of people.

Corps never pursued design problems...

New Orleans flooded because the levees failed. Now comes a story in today's Times-Picayune suggesting that the Corps of Engineers were aware of levee design problems as far back as 1990. While higher-ups raised red-flags somehow concerns were ignored.

While this article has technical engineering information that is beyond a lay-person like myself it does leave the impression that the flooding after Hurricane Katrina could have been avoided. Hopefully, something useful can be learned from this post-mortem.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Remembering Katrina...

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina I started publishing this blog with the idea of helping keep public attention on this terrible disaster. We all know the mainstream media has a short attention span - no matter how important the story.

Since I visited New Orleans on Thanksgiving Weekend I've been keeping an eye out for newspaper stories on what is happening on the ground. This story in yesterday's Washington Post is most informative.

What the Post story points out is the difficult decision that people will have to make about returning to what remains of their destroyed homes. The bottom line is that New Orleans will be a much smaller city than it was before Katrina. Many will not return. And the demographics of the city will change.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The View of America in the Arab World...

On Christmas Day I was invited to dinner at the Project Hope Community in Dorchester, Massachusetts. One of the guests was an American woman who has spent the past 30 years working in the Middle East as a medical missionary. Most of this time was spent in Cairo and Suez.

The conversation about changing attitudes in the Arab world left me again questioning our intervention in Iraq.

She pointed out that her community had closed their project earlier this year in Suez because of growing hostility towards Christians in that part of the world. As an aside, she pointed out that since we "liberated" Iraq the substantial Christian community in Baghdad has almost disappeared. Most have left Iraq because of fear for their safety.

This America woman, who has spent her adult professional life in the Arab world, had some very critical things to say about American foreign policy as it relates to the Middle East. She talked about the growing hostility, especially among young people, towards the Bush Administration. She pointed to American policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the invasion of Iraq as major factors in generating widespread hatred for the American government.

It was not a very hopeful conversation on a day we were supposed to be celebrating peace and goodwill among all peoples.


As you may have suspected, the woman I referred to above is a Catholic nun. She's a member of a religious order that is headquartered in Paris, France. What surprised me was her description of the intensity of Moslem hostility towards Christians. This story in yesterday's Guardian (UK) tends to validate what she had to say.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to Everyone!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Random Thoughts on Christmas Eve...

It's a beautiful morning here in what is known as the Merrimack Valley in northeastern Massachusetts. Having lived in the Deep South earlier in my career I can appreciate the mild weather.

I'm looking forward to an annual pre-Christmas dinner this evening with my friends Diane, Jack and Joan. A real home-cooked meal by Joan will be a great treat! Jack and I may end up impeaching the President for malfeasance in office!!

Earlier today as I strolled through downtown Haverhill I had a few random thoughts that I would like to share.

Last night on Hardball Andrea Mitchell seemed to be promoting the idea of regime change in Syria. Scary shit! Looks to me like the Neo-Cons may want to go beyond Iraq in promoting "democracy" in the Middle East.

I've been wondering if VP Cheney really believes that snooping on American citizens has saved America from terrorist attacks since 9/11. This guy does seem to be the dark evil character that Maureen Dowd has been speaking about lately.

My prediction is that the NY Yankees will win the World Series this year...and they'll do it with a player they "stole" from the Red Sox. Who says history does not repeat itself!

Speaking of sports, my prayers go out to the Dungy family this weekend. Having had a member of my family commit suicide I have some appreciation of the terrible hurt they are all experiencing.

Tomorrow, I'll celebrate Christmas with members of the Project Hope community in Dorchester. It will be a privledge to spend time with a group of women who do such wonderful work for families in need.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Time to bring the troops home...

With all the Purple Finger Cheerleading and talk of "victory" in Iraq it's sobering to discover what's really happening.

The best post-election analysis that I've read comes from this article by Patrick Cockburn in the Independent (UK).

Those who expected our invasion of Iraq to result in a pro-Western democracy will be disappointed with Cockburn's conclusions.

According to Cockburn, "Iraq is disintegrating." The religious fundamentalists now have the upper hand. The secular and nationalist candidate backed by the U.S. and Britain was humiliatingly defeated.

This article is "must" reading. It has the kind of analysis you are not likely to find in our mainstream American media. Cockburn sums up his conclusions with this sentence: "The election marks the final shipwreck of American and British hopes of establishing a pro-Western secular democracy in a united Iraq." In the meantime, we're learning that the Interior Ministry, with their death squads, is borrowing a chapter from the Saddam Hussein legacy.

I would not want to be the person with the responsibility of communicating this information to President Bush.

Let's declare victory and bring our troops home.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Keeping up with political developments...

Light blogging this week because of the holidays. I've been keeping up on fast-changing political developments in Washington by way of several progressive blogs, including Firedoglake. This post by Jane Hamsher is particularly informative on what's happening to the Democrats.


Okay, the link does not seem to be exactly correct. Scroll down to the post titled "On Image" to get the post on what's happening to the Democrats.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The news about Iraq continues to be depressing...

This morning I'm not feeling much of the spirit of Peace that is supposed to be part of this season. I keep asking myself: what the hell are we doing in Iraq?

Bush, aided and abetted by the mainstream media, sold a war that was based on lies and misrepresentations. It was a war instigated by an all-powerful Neo-Con lobby in Washington.

I didn't listen to the speech of President Bush last night because I don't trust him as our leader anymore. Long before we marched into Iraq I said this adventure was doomed to failure. It now looks like the recent election will result in a pro-Iranian theocracy taking control of the country. That's not victory.

The sad fact is that many young Americans are loosing their lives in a war that is not waged for a noble cause.

This past weekend the late Eugene McCarthy passed away. I remember when he courageously challenged the morality of the war we were waging in Vietnam. We need the same kind of leader today to help bring an end to our occupation of Iraq.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Remembering our men and women in the Armed Forces...

Click on photo to see enlarged image.

Each day on the way to the office I travel under this overpass on I-495...and I remember our men and women serving in the Armed Forces oversees. This photo shows an American flag with the flag of the Marine Corps on either side. Not a good photo but you get the idea.
It is encouraging to see so many grassroots expressions of patriotism. Even those of us who opposed the war have great respect for our fellow Americans in uniform.
We hope and pray that all of them will return safely to their families in the not-too-distant future.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Some Good News for New Orleans...

Yesterday, the White House announced that they are planning an additional $1.5 billion towards the reconstruction of the levee system in New Orleans.

Both Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco see this as a very positive development. These funds, added to funds already committed, will make it possible to protect the city from a storm similar to Katrina.

While some would like to see flood protection for a Category 5 hurricane it is not likely to happen in the near future. The $30 billion price tag is considered prohibitive.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Blanco and Nagin on Congressional hot-seat...

Last night I had the opportunity to see on C-Span some of the testimony provided by Governor Kathleen Blanco and Mayor Ray Nagin to a Congressional committee yesterday. I saw enough to let me know that the Republicans were trying to pin as much blame on the Governor and the Mayor as possible.

In the tradition of Louisiana politics, Blanco and Nagin were not intimidated by wise-ass Washington politicians. And they were unapologetic in demanding that the Federal government fulfill its responsibility to the people of Louisiana.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Maureen Dowd on the Bush Bubble...

Here's what Maureen Dowd wrote in this op ed piece in today's New York Times. And you don't have to pay!!

Is she overboard with her criticism...or is George really that isolated?

Breaking News: Murder in Boston

Four young men were found shot to death in the Dorchester section of Boston last night. This despite the best efforts of clergy and police to bring the crime wave under control.

It is predicted that Boston will have a record number of homicides this year. Most people hardly take notice since the victims are usually poor and black. The media simply provide the numbers. Compare coverage of crime in our urban areas with the coverage of the white high school girl who disappeared in Aruba.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Investigating why the levees failed...

Photo courtesy of Baton Rouge Advocate. Click on photo see larger image.

A member of the U.S. Corps of Engineers stands guard over two sections of the 17th Street Canal floodwall that were removed yesterday. These sections will be sent to independent labs for testing as part of the corps' investigation of why the levee failed during Hurricane Katrina.

The investigation of levee failures is of major interest to the many people who lost their homes and are trying to decide if they should rebuild.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Telling New Orleans to "get lost"...

This past weekend I promised myself I would take a break from blogging. Posting new material each day is a challenge...especially since this is not my day job. (Amost 14o posts since this blog was launched three months ago). I'm looking to add one or two contributors in the New Year. More about that later. I'd be particularly interested in someone who would do a "Week in Review" piece on Friday's or Saturday's. Send an email if interested.

Anyway, despite good intentions, I did found myself surfing my favorite blogs and news sites this weekend. Couldn't help noticing this editorial in the New York Times.

The NYT editors say what I've been saying for several weeks: Let's not forsake our beloved city of New Orleans. Let's hold Bush to his promises. Read the editorial ... and post your comments.


Read this post from Think Progress and you'll be trully depressed...or angry!!!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Winter has arrived on the North Shore...

Here is Haverhill, Massachusetts we had 16 inches of snow on Friday. Took me 90 minutes to drive home from my office in North Andover - a drive that normally takes 20 minutes.

The locals in the northern New England states are pretty philosophical about snow storms. It's just the TV weather people that go ballistic.

Anyway, looks like we'll have a snowy Holiday or Christmas...or whatever you call this season when people shop 'till they drop.

The political scene seems very quiet this weekend. A calm before the storm? What to you think?

Saturday, December 10, 2005

A speech worth reading...

I just got through reading Harold Pinter's Nobel acceptance speech. He videotaped the speech since he was too ill to travel to Sweden. Yesterday's Guardian has the complete transcript. In it he excoriates a 'brutal, scornful and ruthless' United States. Some of the Fox gasbags are already accusing Pinter of anti-Americanism.

Pinter does have some very tough things to say about the United States. But his comments deserve careful consideration.

Definitely worth reading!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Katrina update...

Several days ago I promised to publish the draft of an article that I've written on the trip I made Thanksgiving Weekend to New Orleans. Since I've already submitted a copy of this article to a newspaper publisher I'll hold off on publishing the material here.

Let me summarize the three main things I came away with as a result of the visit to the the Big Easy:

  1. New Orleans is 'a tale of two cities' - one area along the crescent of the River (French Quarter, Downtown business district, Garden District) that has little damage and the rest of the city (80%) that was flooded. It is difficult to communicate the scope of the damage.
  2. The situation calls for a federally-funded "Marshall Plan" type effort to rebuild the city
  3. There is growing fear in New Orleans that this area, after experiencing the worst natural disaster in American history, will be forsaken by the Administration. There is talk of a March on Washington.

Post your comments.

Update: has this story about the growing disinterest by the Bush Administration in the Katrina disaster...and the recovery.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A misleading headline...

The headline in today's New York Times reads, "Not Guilty Verdicts in Florida Terror Trial are Setback for U.S." This is a reference to the "not quilty" verdict in the case of Sami al-Arian, an advocate for Palestinian causes.

I agree with Atrios - this NYT headline is misleading.

The assumption behind the headline is that the jury made a mistake. Maybe this person was falsely accused because of his views. I consider it a victory for the people of the United States when a jury has the courage to find a person who may be falsely accused innocent - even when that person has already been convicted by the MSM pundits.

It's still not un-American to advocate for unpopular causes...including the rights of Palestinians.

Remembering Katrina...

Photo courtesy of

In a St.Bernard Parish house, eight-foot floodwaters left this doll perched on a windowsill, a fish in its lap. This photo suggests the extent of the devastation in this area east of New Orleans.

It has been more than three months since New Orleans was hit by Hurricane Katrina. The worst natural disaster in our nation's history is quickly fading into history. The national media has already moved on. We'll continue to post stories and photos that help keep the Katrina disaster in the public eye.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

An invaluable resource...

Visit this Blog!

You'll notice that I generally don't post comments on the case involving the outing of a CIA agent. The blog I visit to stay up-to-date on this fascinating but complicated case in Firedoglake. The two women that contribute are simply the best! Both Jane and ReddHedd understand the legal intricacies and share their insights with their growing audience. Worth a visit...


The drowning of New Orleans is a tragedy that keeps giving. Just heard on CNN that two more bodies were found in the Gentilly section. This is an area that I visited last weekend and is already moving into the reconstruction phase. In this case, people had come in to gut the house and found the bodies of an elderly couple.

Correction: I just learned that the bodies of the elderly couple in Gentilly were discovered by a neighbor who had returned to New Orleans to check on her damaged home.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Lower Ninth Ward still looks like a war zone...

The barge that broke through the levee wall at the Industrial Canal still lies in a Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood. There is growing frustration over the fact that this area has been totally ignored since the floods. Photo courtesy of


This article in today's Times-Picayune describes the poor maintenance of leevees prior to Hurricane Katrina. Leaves one thinking that the drowning of New Orleans was a man-made disaster.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Surveying damage in the Lower 9th Ward...

A father and son surveying their Lower 9th Ward house on the first day they could return to their neighborhood since the flooding. After visiting this past weekend I believe some kind of "Marshall Plan" will be needed if this and other devastated neighborhoods of New Orleans are to be rebuilt. Photo courtesy of

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Devastated Lower Ninth Ward reopens to residents...

Photo courtesy of The Times-Picayune

Former residents of the Lower Ninth Ward started returning for a "look and leave" visit to their flood devastated homes on December 1. In this photo, Carl Simmons, left, reacts as she talks on the phone to her family about their collapsed house.

Wearying Wait for Federal Aid in New Orleans...

During my visit to New Orleans this past weekend I heard repeated concern that "America would forget." I heard stories of futile efforts to get Federal Aid.

The NYT has this article today that documents some of the frustrations of individuals seeking to rebuild their lives. Three months after Katrina, it's clear that behind politicians' rosy declarations are thousands of people still waiting for FEMA assistance.


"You come to these FEMA centers, you sit all day. You get no answers to your questions."

MYRNA GUITY, who lost her import business and home in East New Orleans.

Friday, December 02, 2005

A tale of two cities...

Almost 80% of New Orleans was under water after the levees failed. This photo, taken last Sunday morning, suggests the devastation caused by the floods. New Orleans has become two cities with an enclave of survivors along the River's crescent and a shadow city where the water stood, devoid of power and people.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Louisiana Levee Inquiry Faults Army Corps...

During my visit to New Orleans this past weekend I heard anger vented towards the Parish Levee Boards and the US Army Corps of Engineers over the failure of the levees during Hurricane Katrina. This anger may be justified. According to this article in today's New York Times, preliminary findings indicate that the levee that was toppled at the 17th Street Canal was built without regard for the weakness of the soil.

While the winds of Hurricane Katrina caused considerable damage it was the WATER DAMAGE that destroyed the city. I'll post more photos later this week.

A totally devastated neighborhood...

Photo taken in the Lakeview section of New Orleans this past Sunday morning.

One of the sections of "devastated" New Orleans that I visited during my weekend visit was a middle to upper-middle-class area known as Lakeview. One street, Ponchtrain Boulevard, has trash mountains two stories high. The once beautiful neighborhood has become drab. There's no power. There's no people. The grass and trees, marinated for weeks in saltwater, are a dreary grey-brown. Everyone's life story is out on the street.

Tomorrow I'll write about a Church service I attended in Lakeview before moving on to visit East New Orleans and the Lower Ninth Ward.