Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Remembering Katrina...

Photo: Ted Jackson/Times-Picayune. Click here for more memorable pictures.

Taking a break...

Light blogging for the next ten days. I'm heading out to Ireland for a family visit. Decided not to haul the labtop along. May post occasionally if I have the opportunity.

Happy Labor Day Weekend! Drive safely.

Remembering Katrina...

This first anniversary of the drowning of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast has resulted in a lot of media coverage...but very little in-depth analysis.

It seems to me that some of the social issues that emerged out of that terrible disaster have been largely ignored. I had naively hoped that the issue of poverty in America would get serious attention.

One of the most thoughtful pieces I read this morning was this post over at FireDogLake. It has links to several video links that help remind us of what the worst natural disaster in U.S. history was like.

Anyway, now that the cable networks don't have JonBenet to obsess about they might provide some useful coverage over the next few days.

Monday, August 28, 2006

One year later...

Renee Daw, 43, looks at debris left near her home in New Orleans' Gentilly neighborhood. She and her 8-year-old son, who have lived in a FEMA trailer in front of their damaged house since April, are the only residents on their block.

One year after Katrina, only $117 million of at least $25 billion in federal aid has reached the city, while federal investigators determined that roughly $2 billion in taxpayer money was wasted in no-bid contracts and disaster aid to people who did not need the help.

(Photo: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Katrina Year: Outlines emerge for a shaken New Orleans...

With the Katrina anniversary just a few days away the media is full of post-mortem stories.

Today's New York Times has this story describing future prospects for the city. An insightful analysis. Somewhere between the extravagant visions of the boosters and the gloomy predictions of the pessimists lies a glimpse of the city's real future.

Everyone seems to agree that the City has only just begun the recovery process.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Katrina: A year after the storm...

According to this article in today's Times-Picayune, over a period of 300 years several key decisions helped create the disaster that befell New Orleans. The article provides some historical perspective.

Photo of wetlands by Michael DeMocker of the Times-Picayune.

Friday, August 25, 2006

New homes in Upper Ninth Ward...

Photo shows a boy riding past new homes being built in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana.

New Orleans Habitat for Humanity is building 81 new homes in what they call the Musician's Village, an idea conceived by popular performers Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis to help displaced New Orleans musicians.

Let's home this is evidence that New Orleans is on the road towards recovery.

(Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Iran, we're coming to get you!

Today must by HYPE UP WAR WITH IRAN DAY. Read a story in the NYT this morning about how the House Republicans are complaining that the intelligence agencies are not doing enough to dig up dirt on Iran. And today some general over at the Pentagon is pointing a finger of blame at Iran for all those IED's that are killing Americans in Iraq.

In the meantime, the rightwing NeoCon lunatics are advancing the same arguments as they advanced for the invasion of Iraq. We'll be welcomed as liberators!

I had originally thought that Bush would put off the attack on Iran until the last six months of his presidency. Looks like the timetable may have changed. Those poll numbers may call for an October "surprise."

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Slow progress in New Orleans...

On August 29, 2005, as Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, the levees constructed by the US Corps of Engineers failed in five places and New Orleans filled with water (top picture).

A few days later, a chemical fire loomed over the skyline. Nearly a year later, the water is gone and the smoke has cleared, but the rebuilding and recovery have been slow.

I had the opportunity to see the damage first-hand last November. Beyond description. I keep hoping that people will come back and rebuild the city. My plans are to make a return visit to New Orleans in November. Hopefully, there will be positive news to report.

(Photo: Vincent Laforet / The New York Times)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The suffering continues in Iraq...

The family of a 13-year-old Iraqi boy after he was killed by gunfire during a pilgrimage to a Shiite shrine last Sunday.

The pain of this family is so obvious. Innocent people simply wanting to worship at a shrine.

I keep wondering what can be done to stop this madness. Our soldiers seem unable to stop the carnage.

Monday, August 21, 2006

We're not leaving Iraq...

The take-away comment from the Bush press conference this morning was as follows: "We're not leaving as long as I'm the President." He kept insisting that if we brought our soldiers home the bad guys would follow them here. He sounded like LBJ defending our presence in Vietnam after most of us knew that the war was over...and we had lost.

In the meantime, John McCain is saying we need more troops on the ground in Iraq. At least the choices for voters in November are becoming clearer.


Here is what Billmon has to say about Bush.

"When the Levees Broke"

The four-hour Spike Lee HBO documentary is set to debut over two nights - tonight and tomorrow night.

Here is a review of "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four acts." If you have access to HBO it will be well worth your time. Over 12,000 saw this documentary in New Orleans Arena last Wednesday. Lots of positive comments.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Panic in Red Sox Nation!

It's a beautiful Saturday morning here in Massachusetts but all is not well in Red Sox Nation.

Yesterday the home team lost two games to the hated New York Yankees. The panic is beginning to set in. Now there is concern over what may happen as the Red Sox play the Yankees in another double-header this afternoon.

The good news is that as we focus on the national passtime we can forget all the wars going on in other parts of the world.

Friday, August 18, 2006

12,000 watch debut of Katrina documentary...

Six days after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in September 2005, people waiting to be evacuated from the Superdome took cover after the National Guard reported shots being fired outside the arena.

Wednesday night, as many as 12,000 people, many of them Hurricane Katrina survivors, jammed the New Orleans Arena for the world premiere of filmmaker Spike Lee's four-hour documentary about the deadly storm.

While most critics heaped praise on Lee's documentary the main criticism is that it primarily focused on the African-American victims of Katrina and did not do justice to the suffering of predominately white victims in neighborhoods such as Lakeview.

(Photo: Nicholas Kamm / AFP)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Convicted by the media...

I've always been turned off by the willingness of the talking heads on cable television to convict individuals of serious crimes without a shred of evidence. Patsy Ramsey who died of cancer last June was one of the people convicted without evidence. Of course there were others like Gary Condit.

The news that an individual has been arrested for the murder of JonBenet Ramsey can be of little consolation to the Ramsey family.

We know it's all about ratings. The television "lawyers" don't really care about justice but about boosting ratings for their shows. I'd love to see John Ramsey take legal action against some of the TV pundits who spent endless hours accusing his late wife of murder.

It is no wonder that the media is held in such low regard by the American people.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Lebanon and the Katrina Response...

After I read that Hezbollah had responded to the humanitarian crisis in Lebanon by immediately assuring homeless victims of the war that they would have $10,000 in aid within 72 hours I immediately thought about the FEMA response last August in New Orleans and on the Gulf Coast.

The television images this evening on the network news shows of Hezbollah social workers contacting families who had lost their homes brought back images of what happened after Hurricane Katrina. Within 24 hours of the ceasefire Hezbollah was out with bulldozers and documenting the names of families who needed assistance. Remember how Bush was playing his guitar while New Orleans drowned.

I'm not the only commentator who came up with the idea that FEMA should send some people to southern Lebanon to study Hezbollah techniques for responding to a humanitarian crisis. I know that is not a serious suggestion since I know that the Bush Administration believes that Hezbollah has been destroyed in the war that ended earlier this week.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Celebrating "victory"...

A Lebanese boy waves a Hizbullah flag as a stream of returning refugees heads back to the City of Tyre.

President Bush yesterday said that Hizbullah had been defeated. This young boy obviously didn't get the message.

Photo: Sean Smith (Courtesy to the Guardian )

Monday, August 14, 2006

Bombs don't win hearts and minds...

Some good news. This morning the guns are finally silent in Lebanon. Let's hope it stays that way.

The post-mortems have already begun. One lesson is that "shock and awe" blanket bombing is not a good political tactic. The people of Lebanon seem now seem to be united in anger towards Israel...a reality that did not exist before the war started. The Bush Administration might want to take this into account before the go bombing Iran.

Maybe the biggest lesson from the war is that America and Israel need to pursue the diplomatic option in the Middle East. The Arab world will no longer see the IDF as invincible. My guess is that Hamas is already taking a look at the Hezbollah training manual.

So there are no real winners or losers. But maybe some valuable lessons for the future.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

More munitions for Lebanon...

A Lebanese girl and her family sit inside a bus as they flee the southern suburbs of Beirut. Israel has asked the Bush administration to speed delivery of short-range antipersonnel rockets armed with cluster munitions, which it could use to strike Hezbollah missile sites in Lebanon.

The Bush Administration has shown a greater sense of urgency in getting bombs and other weaphons to Israel than it did in getting relief to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. I guess it shows the "war on terror" is the top priority.

(Photo: Patrick Baz / AFP)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

What's Next in Connecticut?

Lots of post-mortem commentary in Left Blogistan about the election results in Connecticut...and the future of Joe Lieberman.

I think people should calm down and give the Senator time to come to terms with the reality of the situation. He promoted the war out of deep personal convictions and he has paid a heavy price. Politics is one rough sport!

My guess is that if his showing is weak in the first major poll he'll just bow out. From my vantage point it looks like an almost impossible fight. Of course I could be wrong.

Be bowing out graciously Lieberman will guarantee himself a major role in the upcoming Democratic Administration. Maybe Secretary of State.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Recommended news sources...

It is difficult to find any kind of objective analysis of what is going on in the war between Israel and Lebanon. Much of the commentary in the mainstream media is pretty superficial.

I have found that the Independent (UK) has some excellent reporting, especially the articles by Robert Fisk. Fisk has lived in Lebanon since the early 1980's and is considered the best reporter covering the war.

Each morning I usually read Informed Comment, the blog published by Professor Juan Cole of the University of Michigan. He provides some of the best content available but some consider his commentary to have a somewhat anti-Israel slant. Anyway, if you want to find out what is happening he is an excellent source.

Finally, I've been checking in on Billmon on a regular basis. His posts are really thought-provoking and deal with the politics of what is happening.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The war of mutual destruction continues...

This photo of the cover of today's Independent summarizes what's happening in the Middle East. Looks like the UN will pass a resolution ... and the war of mutual destruction will continue.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Our failed Middle East foreign policy...

After watching Condi on one of the TV talk shows this morning I became even more depressed about the possibility of a resolution of the Israeli-Lebanon War.

Condi seemed to suggest that passing a UN resolution would solve the problem...even if the Lebanonese government was not on board to support the resolution.

This morning Condi seemed to have nothing to offer but the usual NeoCon talking points about Hezbollah. Israel has practically destroyed a country and displaced over a million people because THREE soldiers were captured. And Condi insists on putting all the blame on Hezbollah.

The Bush Administration keeps insisting that a robust international force is needed on the south Lebanese border. But what country is going to want to send in troops without some kind of approval from Hezbollah.

Not much to be cheerful about this morning.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Robert Fisk: There will be another 9/11...

In this article in today's Independent (UK) Robert Fisk predicts there will be another 9/11 as a result of what is happening in Lebanon. Fisk may be the best reporter covering the war. What he has to say provides food for serious thought.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Hundreds of Thousands March in Iraq....

Earlier today thousands marched in Baghdad chanting "Death to America" and "Death to Israel." So much for the Bush plan to remake the Middle East.

At this stage I would be concerned about the safety and security of American and British troops on the ground in Iraq. In the meantime the neocons are clamoring for war against Iran and Syria.

In a very depressing post this morning Billmon predicts we are about to start World War 111.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

College Republicans to canvass for Joe Lieberman..

If you are a political junkie, as I am, you are likely to be keeping an eye on the Connecticut senatorial race. The race is emerging as a referendum on the war in Iraq. To say the stakes are high would be an understatement.

What I find interesting is the number of right-wing conservatives and Republicans that have endorsed Lieberman. Now comes word that the Young College Republicans will be bussing in members this weekend to Connecticut to canvas on behalf of Lieberman. These recent developments suggest to me that Joe is already looking beyond the August 8 primary to his independent or Republican run for the seat in the November general election.

As I said, there is a lot riding on this election. Stay tuned!


The Quinnipiac Poll results, just released, have Lamont over Lieberman, 54-41. I don't think these results mean very much. Internal polls by both campaigns show each side winning by a small margin. It is likely that the side that does the best job of getting out the vote that will come away with a victory on Tuesday.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A Hot One!

It is already 95 degrees at 9:45 am in downtown Haverhill...and climbing. We are not used to this kind of weather here on the North Shore.

Anyway, it is not a day for too much exertion. Stay cool!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Crime getting out of control in New Orleans...

The killing of five young people in a single murder incident in New Orleans in late June left the city in shock. The result was the deployment of National Guard troops to police the abandoned devastated neighborhoods so that the NOPD could be deployed to high crime areas.

Now comes news of six homicides this past weekend. No one has been arrested.

Most agree that these crimes are drug-related. Another factor is a broken-down criminal justice system...primarily because of a lack of funds.

If the crime spree continues it is likely to have an adverse affect on the tourist industry in New Orleans. Not good news for a city already struggling to get back on its feet.