Tuesday, April 04, 2006



I'll add my small voice--Scout at First Draft has a post up underscoring the crisis facing the city and region--other bloggers big and small have also been sounding the call:

The Army Corps of Engineers announced last week that another $6 Billion is needed to rebuild the levees for the NOLA area. Here’s a breakdown…
But more than $3 billion in improvements are needed to bring Algiers, eastern New Orleans, the Lower 9th Ward, West Jefferson and most of Jefferson Parish's east bank, St. Charles Parish, Belle Chasse and Lower Coast Algiers to the appropriate protection levels. And $3 billion more would be needed for Plaquemines Parish.

Donald Powell who is Bush’s point man on Katrina reconstruction has said Bush is making no promises regarding the needed $6 billion. The decision will be made this week or next. Powell indicated that Plaquemines Parish is on the chopping block as few people live there. This would be a disaster eventually for NOLA as Plaquemines with its wetlands is a natural buffer to the city. But there is no guarantee that the $3 billion for NOLA metro area will be forthcoming either.

Without levee protection residents and business will not return. It is that simple. This is a crucial time for NOLA which one could make a case has been lying out there for some time and known to the administration. One Republican Senator said the following…
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) said the announcement confirmed his warnings since November that Washington is "stonewalling" and seeking "way too little money" for levee repairs.

Stonewall indeed. No doubt Bush is counting on the fact that people have lost interest and are not paying attention. In such an environment the Denny Hastert's of Washington are free in their "questioning the wisdom of rebuilding the low-lying city." BUT a commitment to levee protection and wetland restoration can save New Orleans. As coastal scientist Roy Dokka, who helped develop part of the information that was the used for the revised levee cost, said...
"It's a dangerous place to live, but we can live here with the right protection," Dokka said. "It's important that people understand that. This isn't going away."

But if there is no pressure it will go away. Bush will take a pass on funding proper levee construction. He will take the money that could save NOLA to buy another month of more insanity in Iraq. And all in our names. Please don’t let this happen.

Schroeder links to this graphic representation of where and how high the levees need to be raised.

And underscoring Scout's observation is this (h/t Cursor) article: while Team Bush hems and haws, essentially giving the finger to the city and region, they can't open the public treasury fast enough for their cronies:

After spending more than $4.5 billion on screening devices to monitor the nation's ports, borders, airports, mail and air, the federal government is moving to replace or alter much of the antiterrorism equipment, concluding that it is ineffective, unreliable or too expensive to operate.

Many of the monitoring tools - intended to detect guns, explosives, and nuclear and biological weapons - were bought during the blitz in security spending after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

In its effort to create a virtual shield around America, the Department of Homeland Security now plans to spend billions of dollars more. Although some changes are being made because of technology that has emerged in the last couple of years, many of them are planned because devices currently in use have done little to improve the nation's security, according to a review of agency documents and interviews with federal officials and outside experts.

"Everyone was standing in line with their silver bullets to make us more secure after Sept. 11," said Randall J. Larsen, a retired Air Force colonel and former government adviser on scientific issues. "We bought a lot of stuff off the shelf that wasn't effective."

Among the problems:

Radiation monitors at ports and borders that cannot differentiate between radiation emitted by a nuclear bomb and naturally occurring radiation from everyday material like cat litter or ceramic tile.

Air-monitoring equipment in major cities that is only marginally effective because not enough detectors were deployed and were sometimes not properly calibrated or installed. They also do not produce results for up to 36 hours - long after a biological attack would potentially infect thousands of people.

Passenger-screening equipment at airports that auditors have found is no more likely than before federal screeners took over to detect whether someone is trying to carry a weapon or a bomb aboard a plane.

Postal Service machines that test only a small percentage of mail and look for anthrax but no other biological agents.

Four and a half billion dollars (i.e., not quite as much as Hastert spends each month in lunch money)...for nothing, not to mention each month of Operation Enduring Clusterfuck, where, as Patrick Cockburn points out, the game is OVER--Iraq no longer exists...

Well, come to think of it, that must be the Bush plan for the Gulf Coast, too.

Like I said yesterday, these so-called Christians better hope like hell, no pun intended, that the god they worship doesn't actually exist...or they're in for an eternity of pain.

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