Saturday, July 26, 2008

Louisiana Environmental Disaster: Where Are The MSM?

Back in 1988 when the Exxon Valdez ran aground, I can recall at least a few weeks of steady coverage by both the three major networks and cable news (just CNN at the time) of the disaster, its environmental impact, and efforts to clean it up.

But the fuel oil spill that happened in Louisiana earlier this week proves to be a much larger disaster with farther-reaching consequences--yet for some news briefs I've seen on NBC Nightly News and a couple of cable channels, there hasn't been the major coverage it should be getting. Why aren't the MSM taking it seriously?

And scorpiorising says,
it is somewhat shocking to me, given the size of the spill and its potential impact on fragile wetlands, that there isn't more help coming to help wildlife, and to help with cleanup.

In my view, the fact that the mainstream national media have been keeping coverage to a bare minimum has something to do with the lack of help for wildlife and cleanup.

The dire consequences of this disaster are already being seen: New Orleanians-area residents drink water from the river, so many are now buying bottled water.

Also, the Delta National Wildlife Refuge, where many waterfowl have their home base during the winter, is preparing for the disaster's future effects.
As he piloted his boat out of the refuge's headquarters in Venice on Thursday, manager Jack Bohannan pointed out thick black chunks of oil and multicolored sheens near the river bank. A floating water hyacinth caked in thick black muck floated by.

"Remember this is nothing compared to what's going to be happening," he said. "This is just a sign of things to come."

And I haven't run across anything yet in my sources, but I shudder to think of the impact a hurricane would have on this fuel oil spill.

Below is the comment I posted on NBC's Daily Nightly website. If it doesn't appear there later today, it's been censored:
Bear with me for being off-topic, but an environmental disaster is taking place that needs much more intensive coverage not only because of the difficulty of cleaning it up, but because of its long-term effects.

I mean the oil spill on the Mississippi at New Orleans. I will say that Nightly did headline the spill both last night and Wed., but that was not enough news coverage for such a big disaster. Where's Anne Thompson when we need her awesome environmental reporting?

This oil spill is a bigger disaster than the Exxon Valdez disaster, which received several weeks of steady coverage after it happened. It endangers Louisiana's fragile wetlands and could only add to the growing "dead zone" in the Gulf off Louisiana.

Could NBC be practicing self-censorship by keeping full coverage of this environmental disaster off the air, to make sure the Republicans stay in the White House?

Louisiana 1976
If this comment doesn't appear under NBC's Daily Nightly. it's been censored.

And last but not least, there was this intriguing comment by wordene:
This is the real reason why Grampy McSamepants didn't show up for his photo-op. Wouldn't want the Lazy Media to accidentally report some real news. They haven't filled their daily quota of propaganda disbursement.
This article by Huffpo's Karen Dalton-Beninato provides confirmation of this view, which makes sense to me.

(Bear with me for concluding with a quick rant, but I would have included some photos I found on flickr the way scorpiorising did, but I just can't get them to transfer over to DKos. Under one of her diaries, someone said there's a code you can pull up from a photographer's photostream, but there's no way I can find it? WTF? And I tried to see if Photobucket has anything, but they don't.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Louisiana's Relationship From Hell: The Sequel

For anybody who thought Louisiana would get a far better deal from BushCo under GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal than she did under Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco, they'd better think again. For Bush's pattern of abuse against Louisiana seems to transcend her politics. According to the Baton Rouge Advocate,
Bobby Jindal, angered over the increased costs that storm-wounded Louisiana must shoulder for construction of hurricane protection levees, asked Washington for more time — and a little fairness.

Under the latest war spending bill, Louisiana must kick in $1.8 billion by 2011 in order to activate $5.8 billion in federal funding needed to strengthen the New Orleans-area levee system.

Jindal said Louisiana’s share for repairs to the 360-mile, federally maintained levee system, is higher post-Katrina, than before the storm. "It seems ridiculous," Jindal said, tersely.

According to this Times Picayune article, Jindal is pressing Bush over Louisiana'a levee costs.

Jindal was quoted as saying,
"We think it's wrong that the state of Louisiana should be required to pay $200 million more in matching dollars than we would have paid (under rules in effect) before Katrina."

The article adds that
President Bush also could issue an executive order to trigger a provision included in the 1986 Water Resources Development Act, which would allow the state to pay back its share of construction costs over 30 years instead of three years, which presents a financial crisis for Louisiana.
and that California and Nevada have gotten such deals.

"We’re willing to pay our share; we just want the flexibility that has been offered to other states,”
Jindal was quoted as saying in the Advocate.

He also said in effect that Louisiana's having to pay such a large share of these costs would force her to make massive cuts in schools, social services, and coastal restoration.

In the Times Picayune Jindal was quoted as saying,
"We've encouraged people to come back to their homes, to their businesses....It would be irresponsible to ask the people of Louisiana to go through even one additional hurricane season without the protection they've been promised by their government. We will keep our word to the people of Louisiana."
According to the Advocate article, Jindal
also issued an ominous warning: “Over the next few years, we as a state have to make generational decisions on areas we want to protect and areas we want to restore.”

He said many federal policymakers have expressed sympathy for Louisiana, which suffered a one-two punch from hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, but that sympathy “needs to be translated into legislative action.”

“The administration can administratively give us the time we’re asking for,” Jindal said of President Bush, a fellow Republican. In the alternative, new language could be included in a congressional housing bill before Congress breaks for its August research.

Bush's discriminatory treatment of Louisiana is especially devastating at a time when storm season is heating up with Tropical Storm Dolly poised to enter the Gulf. While forecasters are calling for landfall at the Texas-Mexico border, this is only July. Who knows what the most active months of August and September will bring?

Also, a congressional delegation has been in New Orleans taking a look at the need still present nearly 3 years after Katrina and the federal flood hit.
For U.S. Rep. Laura Richardson, one member of a congressional delegation touring the New Orleans region, a few images from the opening two days made her wonder, "Do we live in America?"

She recalled a large family in St. Bernard Parish living in a FEMA trailer containing a single twin bed, with a bathroom that would cramp just one adult trying to bathe. The family was recently notified by FEMA that it would have to leave the trailer, according to Richardson, a Democrat from California.

Government has to "stop looking at a manual and look at the people," she said.

Monday, July 14, 2008

"Madness: A Bipolar Life"

by Marya Hornbacher is the shattering sort of memoir about which I've a personal rule of not starting to read before bedtime. Because I won't want to put it down until it's finished.

When we first meet Marya, she's lying on the bathroom floor in a pool of blood, having severed an artery while cutting herself. This is what draws us into the living hell of her condition--rapid-cycling Bipolar I, the worst form of the disease.

We experience Marya's turbulent early life as she tells us about the "Goat Man"--who her mother tries to assure is a nightmare, but 4-year-old Marya knows is very real. She's seen him and felt his fur.

Marya also struggles with serious eating disorders, about which she has written in more detail in the Pulitzer Prize-nominated book Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia (P.S.)

She adds that back in the 70's children weren't diagnosed as bipolar and that even now there's a debate over whether or not children can have bipolar. Also, we learn that the term "bipolar" was first used in 1980--before that, the illness had been called manic-depression.

As a teen Marya abuses street drugs and, in order to obtain them because she doesn't have much money, trades promiscuous sex for them. Also, she begins drinking heavily on top of her eating disorders which prove life-threatening and for which she ends up in the hospital.

She's taken to her mother's psychiatrist who diagnoses her with depression (which those with eating disorders were thought to suffer from then) and prescribed Prozac--the "in" med of the time, but the worst thing you can give someone with bipolar.

Later in life she experiences the surreal roller-coaster of an illness that, even after she's finally been properly diagnosed at the age of 24, she still doesn't take seriously. Because bipolar, like diabetes, is a disease that must be managed throughout one's life. She doesn't take presctibed meds and instead drinks in order to self-medicate. One day she has 17 drinks and still doesn't think she's had too much. Also, she still has anorexia and bulimia at times. This sort of thing ruins her liver and otherwise threatens her life.

In the best of times, she energetically works for a magazine; in the worst she's hospitalized more than a few times--sometimes even enduring electroshock treatment which wipes out large blocks of her memories. And because she's so ill she must endure heavy side-effects from her meds.

Sometimes there's even some humor in her story--like when she mentions being in a new psychiatrist's office and notices that she sees the same magazine there as she's seen in all other psychiatrists' offices. She adds that the pictures on the waiting room walls are the same in every office. This reminds me of Johnny Carson's joke about there being only only one fruitcake and around Christmas everybody sends it to everybody else.

Everyone who has bipolar or any other mental illness needs a steady rock in her life--and Marya's has always been her mother. Her mother visits her when she's in the hospital and, when she has to recover in her mother's home, supports her throughout and treats her with kindness and gentleness.

Such a far cry from my own movie-buff mother who, since I was unable to deliiver the "Oscar-winning performance" of tight emotional control she demanded, verbally/emotionally abused me for years as I was growing up--but that's subject for another diary that I'll write when I feel up to it. I don't feel like it now.

I can, however, relate to many other things Marya went through, although so far I've escaped the substance abuse, self-injury, and promiscuous sex, and never have had it badly enough to be hospitalized. But in ways, my life has been just as surreal and disjointed between the disease and its fallout as was hers. I've been coming down from a manic or high hypomanic episode and mentioned this to my psychiatrist who said I should up the Depakote to 4 a day--so I'll give that a try. Wish me luck!

"Madness" reads like a novel and is a very fast read. It'a a must read whether you've bipolar and want to know about another person's experience with the condition, know someone with bipolar and want to better understand what they're going through, or just want to learn about bipolar. You won't want to miss it.

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