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Archive for August, 2007

Viva New Orleans—for Art’s Sake!

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

One of the happy (re)discoveries at the Rising Tide 2 conference of Katrina bloggers this past weekend was the New Orleanians’ sheer vitality, creativity, and ingenuity—their will to survive, to renew, to make the city better than it was before. We came away reinvigorated, reassured that in at least one American city democracy and citizen activism are alive and well. (If you keep busy, it doesn’t hurt quite as bad—and anyway, struggling for your very survival has a way of concentrating the mind.) In part because some public officials are lame and passive, and others are working but overwhelmed and underfunded, gutsy determined citizens are taking into their own hands the work of rebuilding, forming civic associations, alerting fellow citizens about opportunities and dangers (potential funding, criminal activity on the streets or in City Hall), etc.

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Making Blogging Sexy: Rising Tide 2 | New Orleans | Saturday Aug. 25, 2007

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

See the Rising Tide blog here. Prepare to meet people you’re gonna like.

“In Levees We Trust.” Engineer Timothy Ruppert gave an excellent one-hour overview of Army Corps of Engineers repairs accomplished and planned through 2011. He compared Corps’ Louisiana work to flood protection systems in the Netherlands and London. Tim Ruppert is president of the Louisiana section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Stay tuned-we’ll be writing more about Tim and his report soon.

Progressive sportswriter Dave Zirin, author of Welcome to the Terrordome, was the widely praised guest speaker. He drew surprising connections between big-money athletics (in which billionaire team owners coerce cities into paying millions in taxpayer dollars for new stadiums, etc.) and the predicament of underfunded New Orleans. See his piece on Rising Tide 2 in the Houston Chronicle here.

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“The mission here is not accomplished”: N.O. City Council Member Shelley Midura’s Stern, Bracing Letter to President Bush

Monday, August 27th, 2007

Here is an eloquent and hard-hitting letter from New Orleans City Council Member Shelley Midura-first seen on Your Right Hand Thief (thanks, Oyster). Please join us in pressing the White House (202-456-1111; comments@whitehouse.gov) to “second” Midura’s motions.

[Note: Midura is now blogging on DailyKos. She writes: “I hope you can take the time to click on the link to my open letter to President Bush, Press Release and Fact Sheet . . . New Orleans will not allow the discussion of our recovery to be anything but factual and done via the reality based community and not through spin and talking points.”]

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Freedom on the March, continued: War President Authorizes Military “to confront Tehran’s murderous activities”

Sunday, August 26th, 2007

Excerpts from the Commander’s remarks to the American Legion in Reno, Nevada, Aug. 28. Hear any echoes of Dick Cheney’s speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in August 2002 (almost five years ago to the day)?

“[W]e are advancing freedom and liberty as the alternative to the ideologies of hatred and repression. . . .

Iran has long been a source of trouble in the region. It is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Iran backs Hezbollah who are trying to undermine the democratic government of Lebanon. Iran funds terrorist groups like Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which murder the innocent, and target Israel, and destabilize the Palestinian territories. Iran is sending arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan, which could be used to attack American and NATO troops. Iran has arrested visiting American scholars who have committed no crimes and pose no threat to their regime. And Iran’s active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.

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Katrina Bloggers Unite! Rising Tide 2 is August 24-26 in New Orleans

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

Rising Tide 2, the second annual Katrina bloggers’ conference in New Orleans, is only a few days away: Aug. 24-26, with Sat. 25th the main event at the New Orleans Yacht Club (map here). RT2’s theme this year is “No Holding Back” (which we interpret as determination, efforts?-we hope they’re not referring to the levees). A $20 ticket gets you in to a gathering of bloggers, writers, activists, and more, all coming together to talk and brainstorm and organize actions on behalf of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast’s recovery. Kickoff is 7:00 Friday at Buffa’s on Esplanade (1001 Esplanade, corner of Burgundy). Tickets can be purchased through PayPal. Rising Tide’s toll-free phone number is 866-910-2055.

Organizer Kim Marshall says this year’s emphasis is on ground-level, grass-roots efforts. “It has become clear to us in south Louisiana that we will have to watch the watchmen, and take the upper hand in setting the city back on track. To that end, there will be presentations on local politics and how to influence them, making civics sexy, sustainability, levee engineering, and media outreach.”

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July 2007 Deadliest Yet for U.S. Troops; Cheney Sees Surge “Producing Results”

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

BBC reports that Vice President Dick Cheney-who predicted in March 2003 that “we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators” and claimed in May 2005 that the insurgency was in its “last throes“-is ready to declare the surge a success. Meanwhile, in the reality-based community, Juan Cole at Informed Comment counters that in July, normally a low-casualty month in Iraq because of the searing heat, U.S. military deaths were nearly double the casualty rate in July 2006.

• July 2003: 48
• July 2004: 54
• July 2005: 54
• July 2006: 43
• July 2007: Now up to 79

[Source: Iraq Coalition Casualty Count]

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Disaster Planning Behind Closed Doors

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

The Washington Post reports that state and local officials are irked-and worried about future chaos and blame games-because the White House and DHS are ignoring their input in shaping the National Response Plan, a document intended to guide federal, state, and local emergency response. The plan was supposed to be ready by June 1, the official start of the hurricane season, but it is still being revised-behind closed doors.

Federal officials apparently are trying to create not a plan but a “legalistic document” that will put the burden on state and local officials and shield the federal government from responsibility, according to Albert Ashwood, Oklahoma’s emergency management chief and president of the National Emergency Management Association, a league of state emergency managers.

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A Timely Special Report

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

Run, don’t walk, to your newsstand now to buy the Aug. 13 issue of Time, featuring a 14-page special report, “Why New Orleans Still Isn’t Safe.” With a stark image of a drainage canal floodwall, the cover teases: “Two years after Katrina, this floodwall is all that stands between New Orleans and the next hurricane. It’s pathetic. How a perfect storm of big-money politics, shoddy engineering and environmental ignorance is setting up the city for another catastrophe.”

The “main course” of the special report is Michael Grunwald’s “The Threatening Storm.” Right off the bat in the lead paragraph Grunwald says the drowning of New Orleans “wasn’t a natural disaster. It was a man-made disaster, created by lousy engineering, misplaced priorities and pork-barrel politics.” (Investigative environmental reporter Grunwald’s powerful article “Rotten to the Corps” appeared in Grist in 2006 and is linked on our “Environment” page at “Read All About It.”)

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