Monday, March 31, 2008

Demand The Truth About NOLA Levees.....

as well as just, fair compensation for federal flood survivors who lost family members in the manmade disaster of New Orleans' levee breaches.

With the start of hurricane season a little over a month away, New Orleans' storm preparation and flood protection deserves a close look. These things are far more important than Wrightgate or Bosniagate. Because unlike these tempests in teapots, human lives depend on the safety and strength of New Orleans' levees.

Mary Landrieu
has said she intends to file a bill, the 8/29 Investigation Act, shortly after Congress reconvenes on March 31.

"It's very important to really understand with this nonpartisan commission what happened and make sure this never happens again," Landrieu said Wednesday.
Which per this surprising news in a commentary in the New Orleans weekly Gambit is being blocked by, among others, none other than Louisiana Sen. "Bitter Vitter" of diapers fame.
Sen. Landrieu tried to introduce the bill twice last year as an amendment to the 2007 Water Resources Development Act. That made sense because the water bill, which became law, authorizes projects for the Corps. Unfortunately, Landrieu was stonewalled both times by partisan objections. "We have the general support of the Democratic leadership, but Republicans haven't been very welcoming of an investigation of a subject that may show significant failings on the part of the current administration," Landrieu says. "Otherwise, it would have just sailed through."

The most egregious lack of support comes from Louisiana's junior senator, David Vitter. Although Vitter offered lip service to, saying he favors such an inquiry, he isn't even a co-sponsor of Landrieu's bill. Vitter also failed to respond to repeated requests by Gambit Weekly for an interview on the subject.

But back to the levees themselves--every time federal culpability for their failure has been brought up, there have been those who've propagated the meme--a Big Lie first set into motion by a BushCo intent on discrediting Louisiana, Gov. Blanco, and her other Democratic leaders at the time--that Louisiana and New Orleans had been responsible for levee maintenance and upkeep.

This spin is counteracted by the following comment, which also contains detailed info on how previous presidents of both parties have more competently handled major disasters, and how Dubya himself dealt with 2004 hurricanes in an electoral vote-rich Florida led by his brother in that election year by azureblue: are a few tidbits about Bush's string of failures, the first showing how Bush caused the flooding of new Orleans:

It is simple: no money to repair, things (levees) fail. The ACOE gets blamed rightly, but the truth is the ACOE had been begging for money rom Bush & Bush kept cutting the fund to rebuild the levees and stopping work in progress:
February 2001
Bush proposed half of what his own officials said was necessary for the critical Southeast Louisiana Flood Control Project (SELA)--a project started after a 1995 rainstorm flooded 25,000 homes and caused a half billion dollars in damage
February 2002
Bush provided just $5 million for maintaining and upgrading critical hurricane protection levees in New Orleans--one fifth of what government experts and Republican elected officials in Louisiana told the administration was needed. Bush knew SELA needed $80 million to keep working, but the he only proposed providing a quarter of that.
February 2004
The SELA project sought $100 million to strengthen the levees holding back the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, including the industrial canal- which is where the levee gave way, but Bush offered only $16.5 million. The Army Corps of Engineers asked for $27 million to pay for hurricane protection upgrades around Lake Pontchartrain--but the White House cut that to $3.9 million. Levee repairs around Lake Pontchartrain and the IC, stopped because of budget shortfalls.

Comparing previous disaster responses:
President Nixon -- August 1969 when Cat-5 Hurricane Camille hit the MS coast, President Nixon had already readied the National Guard and ordered all Gulf rescue vessels and equipment from Tampa and Houston to follow the Hurricane in. There were over 1,000 regular military with two dozen helicopters to assist the Coast Guard and National Guard within hours after the skies cleared.

President Clinton -- September 1999, Hurricane Floyd -- Cat-3, was bearing down on the Carolinas and Virginia. President Clinton was in New Zealand meeting with President Jiang of China. He declared the area a Federal Disaster so the National Guard and Military can begin to mobilize. Then he cut short his meetings overseas and flew home to coordinate the rescue efforts. All one day BEFORE a Cat-3 hit the coast.

President Bush (41) -- August 1992 -- was in the midst of a campaign for re-election. Yet he cut off his campaigning and went to Washington where he martialed the largest military operation on US soil in history. He sent in 7,000 National Guard and 22,000 regular military personnel, and all the gear to begin the clean up within hours after Andrew passed through Florida.

But look what Georgie does for FL:
Right after Hurricane Charley first made landfall on Aug. 13, 2004, Bush declared the state a federal disaster area to release federal relief funds. Less than two days after Charley ripped through southwestern Florida, he was on the ground touring hard-hit neighborhoods.

Illegitimus non carborundum

by azureblue on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 08:28:35 AM PDT

azureblue also discusses various evacuation-related snafus which have been blamed on the Bush Administration spin machine on Louisiana and New Orleans. He adds that it was Bush's fault, not that of Louisiana officials, that bus evacuation stopped:

Peter Pantuso of the American Bus Association said he spent much of the day on Wednesday, Aug. 31, trying to find someone at the Federal Emergency Management Agency who could tell him how many buses were needed for an evacuation, where they should be sent and who was overseeing the effort. This is a group of companies that could, if asked, rapidly provide large amounts of transportation.
Instead the agency had farmed the work out to a trucking logistics firm, Landstar Express America, which in turn hired a limousine company, which in turn engaged a travel management company. Landstar Express is a subsidiary of Landstar System, a $2 billion company whose board chairman, Jeff Crowe, also was chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the nation's premier business lobbies, from June 2003 until May 2004.
Jeff Crowe owns LandStar Express that had a $100million contract with FEMA to provide emergency evacuation services. LandStar Express didn't start working on the New Orleans evacuation until TWO DAYS AFTER Katrina hit. Then they subcontracted to a limo company who subcontracted to a Virginia travel agent...
They were trying to find 300 buses.
Meanwhile Greyhound and another company were trying to contact FEMA to offer 3500 buses at cost.
For this idiocy, LandStar's contract has been raised to $400million.

Looking for buses
Members of Blanco's staff were struggling to find buses and get them to where they were needed.
The first mention of buses among her top advisers comes from Chief of Staff Andy Kopplin, who sends out a missive to many in the executive ranks. "We need you to find buses that can go to N.O. asap," Kopplin wrote.
In an e-mail, Kim Hunter Reed, Blanco's policy director, complained on the afternoon of August 31 that she needs to know where to send the needed assistance.
"I am getting these calls to (sic) and I have buses and water but can't get word on where and how to send," wrote Reed, who in a separate note that same day also said she needed direction from the Louisiana State Police and the American Red Cross.
According to the timeline, Blanco says she learns late Wednesday, Aug. 31, that "a number of the promised FEMA buses are finally crossing into N. Louisiana, 7 or 8 hours away from New Orleans."

Sunday, August 28
"We're facing the storm most of us have feared," said Nagin. "This is going to be an unprecedented event." [Times-Picayune]
"Special arrangements will be made to evacuate persons unable to evacuate themselves."
This is referring to evacuating people to an emergency shelter within the city, not evacuating people to points outside the city. The Mayor did implement an emergency bussing system that evacuated the city's poor and disabled to the Superdome. This can be verified by reading the plan at

Thursday, September 1
"This is a desperate SOS. Right now we are out of resources at the convention centre and don't anticipate enough buses. We need buses. Currently the convention centre is unsanitary and unsafe and we're running out of supplies."

DHS failed to use catastrophe response plan in Katrina's wake

The Homeland Security Department did not use a plan for handling catastrophes in its response to Hurricane Katrina, even though some officials say that doing so could have saved lives and brought the chaotic situation in New Orleans under control.
The department didn't activate a section of the National Response Plan


From the Chicago Tribune, September 4, 2005: The US Bataan:
"While federal and state emergency planners scramble to get more military relief to Gulf Coast communities stricken by Hurricane Katrina, a massive naval goodwill station has been cruising offshore, underused and waiting for a larger role in the effort.
"The USS Bataan, a 844-foot ship designed to dispatch Marines in amphibious assaults, has helicopters, doctors, hospital beds, food and water. It also can make its own water, up to 100,000 gallons a day. And it just happened to be in the Gulf of Mexico when Katrina came roaring ashore."
Tyson dispatched a landing craft from her ship -- 90 miles up the Mississippi River to New Orleans, carrying medical personnel, food, water. It was over halfway there when it was ordered back to the Bataan because the Bataan itself had been ordered to Mississippi

Investigation finds Red Cross agreed to withhold Orleans aid, operates in tandem with Homeland Security

in Blanco's testimony before Congress:
"I requested massive federal assistance in letters to President Bush on Aug. 27 and Aug. 28 -- before the storm's landfall," she said in one. "I spoke with President Bush on Sunday (Aug. 28) and Monday (Aug. 29) and told him I needed everything he had. I believed FEMA officials who told me that every federal resource was at my disposal. I believed this meant every single available resource."
Later on in the talking points document, she responds to a hypothetical question about what she did wrong in response to Katrina.
"I believe my biggest mistake was believing FEMA officials who told me that the necessary federal resources would be available in a timely fashion," she said."

The Original can be viewed on line at:

Illegitimus non carborundum

by azureblue on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 08:44:17 AM PDT

And remember that picture of all of those flooded school buses, that had been spun as a sign of Mayor Nagin's and Louisiana's incompetence? Actually, Louisiana had wanted to use those buses for evacuation--but FEMA, whose rules specified that buses had to have air conditioning, which those buses didn't have, would not allow her to use those buses.

I've reprinted azureblue's comments from under this diary here because they tell a story that you won't hear from the corporate-owned mainstream media--yet a story far more accurate. What actually happened during the manmade disaster of New Orleans' levee breaches, and the continued effort to keep it covered up, are why we must keep a focus on and demand the truth about New Orleans' levees.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Katrina, PTSD Not Over For Louisiana

While the mainstream media have been concentrating on Bosniagate, Wrightgate, and other scandals, Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf Region are being tortured by the after-effects of Katrina, the federal flood, and by PTSD. It's time the media including bloggers got over the relative trivia of both Bosniagate and Wrightgate and asked our candidates what really matters--why they've been downplaying the continued suffering of the Gulf Region, and what each plans to do if he/she becomes President.

Here's why the continuing trauma lived by Louisiana, Mississippi, and the rest of the Gulf Region needs to be brought up often and not allowed to die. And the continued suffering of their people must not be forgotten. Their people matter--they vote, pay taxes, and send their young people off to fight in Bush's wars just like anybody else. This is why there needs to be on Daily Kos a continuing series of blogathons at least monthly on this topic. We must be persistent and not let our voices be drowned out by a flood of campaign diaries.

First of all, New Orleans' medical care crisis festers on--yet Gov. Bobby Jindal questions the need for a large Charity Hospital which has not re-opened since the flood.

However, Jindal has announced a a comprehensive plan for bringing Louisiana back from her nervous breakdown by boosting mental health care in New Orleans.

Today, Governor Bobby Jindal and DHH Secretary Alan Levine held a press conference in New Orleans to announce legislation to address the mental health care crisis, which will be taken up in the legislative session beginning next Monday.

Jindal said, “The broken pieces in our mental healthcare system affect every Louisianian, but the problem is especially acute in New Orleans. New Orleans officials estimate that the annual suicide rate has more than tripled since Hurricane Katrina...and the World Health Organization estimates that tens of thousands of people in the storm-affect region today have a serious mental illness. We must take a comprehensive approach to address this crisis – one that incorporates the needs of patients, law enforcement, and the community as a whole.”

But Jindal needs to do more--for the painful post-flood mental health crisis wracking Louisiana affects not only New Orleans, but Baton Rouge, Shreveport--any place around the state to which evacuees dispersed with their "baggage" of losses and traumas to find themselves in unfamiliar surroundings in which they're now homesick. And now they're seeking treatment for depression, anxiety, PTSD--and finding it very hard to find.

Then there's this surprising news in a commentary in the New Orleans weekly Gambit. The leading blocker of an 8/29 Commission to look into what happened to the levees has been none other than "Bitter Vitter" of diapers fame.

And the Road Home Program continues to keep its applicants in limbo as they're forced to wait long months for the money they need to get on with their lives. That's not all--poor applicants who'd had titles to their homes through succession have found that the state is unable to pay their legal aid bill.

And these are only a few of the heart-wrenching stories out of New Orleans, the rest of Louisiana's storm and flood ravared parishes, and the Gulf Region in general. These things are making life hell for the people who live there. Such stories--the need to make sure what the people are going through there is not forgotten--are why the mainstream media needs to renew its focus on them.

NOLA Survivors Should Be So Lucky

The other day it was reported that the state of Virginia, nearly a year after the Virginia Tech massacre took place, will be awarding the families of the students killed $100,000 per student in compensation.

This got me to thinking about the comparison of this issue and how the survivors of the failure of NOLA's federally-maintained levees are being treated.

For NOLA flood survivors who lost family members including breadwinners due to this massive manmade catastrophe not only are not seeing one red cent in compensation for these individuals. We are witnessing mainstream media silence about the culpability of a federal goverment which should have kept up these levees and a Bush Administration which first cut the funding for these levees back in 2001 in the first place.

Instead, BushCo and its corporate media mouthpieces, on the extremely rare occasions this issue has been covered, have been spouting the Big Lie that the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana had been responsible for levee maintenance and upkeep.

So it's as if, unlike the lives of the young people at VA Tech which had so tragically been cut short, the lives of those who drowned in New Orleans matter not one whit to a federal government desirous of absolving itself of its guilt in their deaths. I mean, of course, you can't put a price on a human life and similar cliches, but such money might help the bereaved put their lives back together.

When conservative guru Grover Norquist uttered his now-infamous mantra about making government so small you could drown it in a bathtub, little did he know how appropriate this metaphor would be regarding BushCo's drowning of New Orleans.

But back to flood survivors who lost family members on 8/29. They deserve, and should demand, the same attention, respect, and above all compensation received by the surviving family members of the VA Tech students--or of 9/11, for that matter. And they need to demand it loudly in a way other Americans and the mainstream media can hear.

Will Bush Flee To Paraguay?

No, I don't mean immediately--though that would be nice. I mean, after the next President is inaugurated. Because a massive compound supposedly is being prepared for Bush and his family in that country. So Bush, according to rumor, will be following in the footsteps of such notorious "bad guys" as Nazi scientist Joseph Mengele and ousted Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza who found Paraguay a welcoming, extradition-free haven.

The White House has denied this story. Which of course it would. But there must be something substantive to it for there to have been such a story in the first place. So does the Bush family have a Paraguayan compound or doesn't it?

According to an Associated Press article that appeared in the Chicago Examiner last Friday, Bush's younger brother Neil has recently visited Paraguay and met with that country's president Nicanor Duarte and a delegation from the Universal Peace Federation, a group associated with the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. (While the article makes no mention of the rumored Bush compound, the reader has to wonder if there may be more to Neil Bush's visit to Paraguay than meets the eye.)

Reports first surfaced in the fall of 2006 that Bush has purchased land in Paraguay for such a compound. As the article says,
"An Argentine official regarded the intention of the George W. Bush family to settle on the Acuifero Guarani (Paraguay) as surprising, besides being a bad signal for the governments of the region. Luis D Elia, undersecretary for the Social Habitat in the Argentine Federal Planning Ministry, issued a memo... in which he spoke of the purchase by Bush of a 98,842-acre farm in northern Paraguay, between Brazil and Bolivia..."

As we can see confirmed by the Associated Press News Service in their article titled "Jenna Bush joins UNICEF program in Paraguay"...

"Jenna Bush came to this poor, landlocked South American country to take part in a UNICEF program for young professionals who volunteer in its activities here... UNICEF released few details about the program involving the 24-year-old daughter of U.S. President George W. Bush, citing security concerns."

These reports suggest the these actions being taken by the Bush Family are in response to the expected War Crime Charges being filed by the International Committee for the Red Cross....

Hmmm. While Paraguay does have an extradition treaty with the US, there's also a good deal of corruption there--so if the right officials there are paid off, they'll look the other way.

Bush is also believed to have purchased this land because of its massive supply of fresh water as part of his approach to global warming. The writer of this piece ominously asks,
You think he knows something we don't?

We also find out, in an intriguing article published in Nov. 2006, that First Daughter Barbara,
upon returning from Paraguay where she is overseeing the Bush Families Massive Compound, which we have previously reported on in our October 15 report titled “US President Bush Makes Massive Land Purchase In Paraguay Ahead Of Expected War Crimes Charges“, survived an attempt on her life after being targeted by an assassin while entering her hotel in the Argentina capitol of Buenos Aires.
The article adds that Americans who heard about this in the news were told that this had been a "mugging." It seems odd, in light of the Secret Service protection Barbara would have as a First Daughter, that someone would be able even to get close enough to her to mug her.

You won't find this in the mainstream US media, folks, even though it would have been worthy of a 60 minutes piece, back in the day when 60 Minutes had balls, and you could strike terror into the heart of any executive or government official by telling him or her the 60 minutes crew was waiting out front. Or an NBC Nightly News report by Lisa Myers, or any other investigative report. This is because
American propaganda organs, as always, have not released this information to their people choosing instead to describe this assassination attempt as a ‘mugging’, which is beyond our belief to understand as the American Presidents Family are the most protected human beings in the World. Even more incredible than this report are these same American propaganda organs reporting that the wounded Secret Service bodyguard was also ‘mugged’ in an ‘altercation’ in a bar.
The article goes on to add that this happened days after a
similar attack upon the Clinton Family compound in Chappaqua, New York.

Now for more about Paraguay. This country's border region with Brazil and Argentina has for years not only been a hotbed of smuggling drugs, weapons and other contraband, but also, as the MSM focuses on such so-called "War on Terror" sites as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia, has been a long-unsung venue in this war. The Hezbollah members who blew up the Israeli embassy and a Jewish Cultural Center in Argentina in the 90's are said to have come out of this terrorist haven.

And on June 1, 2005, according to the Council on Hemispheric Affairs,
the Paraguayan Congress signed off on an agreement bringing over 400 U.S. troops to that country for “joint training and humanitarian operations.” The deal, which is initially slated to last 18 months, sparked criticism and speculation among both watchdog groups and officials of neighboring South American governments, regarding possible motives behind the presence of U.S. troops in such large numbers in a country long renowned for its crime, corruption and contrabanding. The first of what will be 13 such detachments numbering less than 50 U.S. military personnel arrived on July 1, with a new contingent of 45 soldiers following on July 24. COHA was soon able to establish that the initial reports that 400 troops would be arriving in Paraguay referred to the aggregate number of U.S. troops being sent to the country over the 18 months. This confusion in the size of troop levels to be deployed had been distorted by the lack of clear information coming from the Pentagon regarding U.S. military actions in Paraguay through 2006.

This development has bugged Paraguay's neighbors.
Aside from Argentina’s tart reaction, Adam Saytanides observed in his November In These Times article that in late July “Brazil reportedly launched military maneuvers along the Paraguayan border, a move seen as an expression of Brazilian discontent with Paraguay.” He goes on to note that Brazil’s foreign minister was not amused when he sternly admonished the Duarte government, saying “Paraguay must understand that the choice is between Mercosur [the trade bloc of which Paraguay is a member] and other possible partners.” Nevertheless, the U.S. appears determined to make sure that Paraguay does not “fall to the terrorists.”

And this US involvement in Paraguay was as of Sept. 2006 among the 25 most censored stories there was. This is why you haven't seen anything on CNN, NBC Nightly News, or elsewhere in the mainstream media. So unless we dig for this information, we don't know how deeply Paraguay matters to a US not only engaged in a "War on Terror" against the extremist groups rumored to have bases in the Tri-Border region but also wanting to set up military bases close to Venezuela's ally Bolivia, with which Paraguay has had an interesting relationship.
The U.S. has vested a long-time interest in Paraguay...With Evo Morales’ somewhat anti-U.S. regime in power in Bolivia, it seems that Paraguay in the near future may again even more importance from Washington’s geo-strategic point of view, if it hopes to meaningfully counter-balance the leftward shift in the region.

A factor that Washington may try to utilize to promote close ties with Paraguay could be that the U.S. has been a friend of Asunción for a long time while the same could not be said of the Bolivians, who have had strained relations with its neighbor ever since the Chaco War in the 1930s. That conflict eventually saw Asunción emerge as the victor, which La Paz has neither forgiven nor forgotten. Bolivia, under Evo Morales, has attempted to emphasize its relationship with Venezuela rather than Paraguay, and the Bolivian leader has picked up on Chávez’ geopolitical strategy, culminating with last year’s decision to build a number of bases along the lengthy borders. Bolivian Army Commander General Freddy Bersatti has declared that these are not bases between the two countries, but rather “border modules.”

A possible site for such a base would be
at Puerto Quijarro, located 200 kilometers away from Paraguay’s Bahia Negra. Added to the difficult terrain in that part of the country, there are a number of rivers flowing across the border. As a Peruvian intelligence officer interviewed by COHA observed, “In the jungle, the rivers are like roads,” meaning that Bolivian troops could be sent to the border with Paraguay, if necessary and without too much difficulty. An October 11, 2006 article in El Mundo by Ramy Wurgaft, observed that the new Bolivian base will also be close to Mariscal Estibarriaga, where, according to rumors, the U.S. wants to build a base of its own, perhaps to preside over the Guarani Aquafier, the biggest underground reserve of agua dulce in the world.
If this location sounds familiar, this is because it's the
Acuifero Guarani
mentioned above, where the Bush compound supposedly will be. Per a post in
Wonkette, which puts it all together, this military base will protect Bush's compound. And here's another interesting fact: the Rev. Sun Myung Moon has also bought land in this part of Paraguay.

These reports are only the beginning--Google President Bush Paraguay Compound and related topics like I did and see what you can come up with. Probably enough for several diaries. It's surprising that so far there has been only one diary on this topic in Daily Kos and that was published in April of last year. So get busy and Google this, folks--what you come up with will be far more interesting than yet another campaign diary!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Colombia Vs. Venezuela & Ecuador: Why This Is Important

While the big world news story NBC Nightly News and other news outlets have been focusing on has been the fact that Prince Harry has been fighting in Afghanistan, something major has been going on in South America that could have major implications for our future.

Unfortunately it seems that usually when people in the US think about what's going on south of our border in Mexico and Central and South America, they think of the fact that undocumented immigrants are coming in from Mexico and those other countries.

However, they should (and this includes the MSM and all presidential candidates) start taking notice of the fact that the following threatens to start a new war in South America. Venezuelan troops have been deployed to the Colombian border. Also, Ecuador, which is on Venezuela's side, has sent troops to her border with Colombia, so Colombia is caught in the middle.

This is important--and not only because such a war could cause refugees to migrate north and find their way into the US as undocumented immigrants. Firstly, Venezuela is a major oil producer (Ecuador also exports oil) and if you think you're paying way too much for gas now, just wait until war involving these two oil producers breaks out.

Regarding Colombia, as of now her
defense minister said Monday that he would not be provoked into mobilizing troops in response.
However, I figure that's assuming Venezuela and Ecuador don't actually invade Colombia or otherwise attack her. Also,
President Bush said the United States will stand by Colombia and criticized Venezuela’s government for making “provocative maneuvers.” Colombia has received some $5 billion in U.S. aid to fight drugs and leftist rebels since 2000.

This, especially is why we should pay close attention to Colombia vs. Venezuela and Ecuador. This situation started escalating when
Colombia troops crossed the border with Ecuador and killed Raul Reyes, a top commander of the Colombian FARC rebels who had set up a camp there.
If war were to break out in that region, I wouldn't put it past Bush to send troops from our already-overextended military there. There are already hints that this has covertly been going on, in order to aid Colombia:
Several Latin American leftist leaders have suggested the U.S. was intimately involved in executing the raid that killed Reyes. Colombian military officials have said U.S. satellite intelligence and communications intercepts have been key to putting the FARC on the defensive.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for the U.S. Southern Command would neither confirm or deny American military participation. “We do provide intelligence support to partner nations but I can’t get into details on operations,” Jose Ruiz told the AP from Miami.

However, the US, as many including the MSM and politicians have been focused on Iraq and Afghanistan, and the possibility of action in Iran, not to mention the daily grind of the campaign, is and has been militarily involved in Latin America in a way that has been under the radar. And Colombia has been the largest recipient of such aid, to the tune of
$9.3 million in military training aid since 2000, an increase of almost 90% over six years [as of 2005 when this article was written]
This involvement, which has included troops, has been because of Colombia's drug war.

To end with a prediction, were a hot war to break out involving Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador, the Bush Administration, especially in light of the fact that the US military is already involved in Colombia, will be sending troops in large numbers to the region. And in light of the fact that we're already overextended, could end up instituting some sort of draft to provide these additional troops. For pulling them out of Iraq where so many already are would be out of question for a BushCo bound and determined to keep them there.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Another Reason I Like Barnes & Noble

Bear with me for doing some volunteer advertising in this diary for one of my several "homes away from home," a store which provides a feast for the senses.

If you regularly visit Barnes & Noble, you've familiar with their extensive selection of books you can browse through--on some of which you can get some good deals. It's where I found Chris Rose's excellent collection of post-Katrina columns, "1 Dead In Attic."

You're familiar with the peaceful, homey ambience, with the pleasant music played over their sound system. (That's how I found out about the Fats Domino tribute album Goin' Home.)

And you're familiar with their music department's "Red Dot" system, where not only can you listen to bits and pieces from albums in the store, you also can listen to ones that aren't in stock, that you can have ordered.

You're familiar with the tantalizing aroma from their coffee shop--and may even have eaten goodies there....

But here's yet another reason to enjoy shopping at Barnes & Noble. Or visit their website (though I find actually shopping at the store much more pleasurable.) Or buy stock in that company. Per a recent report in the Times-Picayune, Barnes & Noble chairman Leonard Riggio is planning
an initiative that should place at least 120 families into new houses built with energy-efficient features and elevated to a height that should protect them from future floods. Riggio, the chairman of Barnes & Noble, plans to spend $20 million from his family's charitable foundation on the effort.

In announcing this effort,

Riggio, a devotee of New Orleans music, opened his speech with a reference to Randy Newman's song about the 1927 Mississippi River flood, which includes the lines, "Louisiana, Louisiana, they're trying to wash us away . . ." He said no flood could wipe out the music, food, culture and "genius" that New Orleans has bequeathed the rest of the country.

"Despite the enormity of Katrina's fury, a point was proved once again. No storm or flood or disaster could ever destroy this city, because its people are too resilient and too resourceful, too proud and too anchored in deep roots, to ever be washed away," he said

The only thing that's sad about this is the fact that were it not for philanthropists such as Riggio,
Brad Pitt, and others, and volunteer groups such as Habitat for Humanity who've been building
Musicians Village, New Orleans and her people would be getting far less help because of the inaction of BushCo. And the help from all these individuals and groups is a drop in the bucket compared to what's needed--homelessness is still a major problems in New Orleans. And these homeless, as Crashing Vor says,
are not the cliched caricatures that people think of when they hear the word "homeless." The majority are not transients from elsewhere, but former homeowners and renters from this city. They were not "mainstreamed" to the street from mental institutions, but flooded out of their homes by the failure of a flood-protection system that, by law, their city and state were not allowed to touch, that system being the sole responsibility of the Army Corps of Engineers.

And on the topic of the ACOE, per the Times Picayune, there are plans to build recreational stuff around the Bonnet Carree Spillway. That's a waste--I mean, I'd rather see the money that's being spent on that used to upgrade New Orleans' levees to protect the people living there from a future Cat 5 storm. But what do I know? I'm just an interested observer and blogger from the Midwest.

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Midwest lover of New Orleans and of all things having to do with Louisiana.