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Archive for October, 2007

Diagnosis of a Stressed-Out Planet

Monday, October 29th, 2007

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Climate change is a central concern here at Levees Not War—it keeps us up late at night. The reasons are obvious: As we’ve said before, even Category 5–strength flood protection is useless if global warming raises sea levels by 10 or 20 feet or more, as scientists have warned may happen in this century. (See ‘Swiftly Melting Planet 2007,’ several posts down.) The trend can be slowed, and eventually reversed, by massive coordinated—and sustained—effort.

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Lessons Learned: FEMA Staff Ask the Questions at FEMA “Press Briefing”

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

Our thanks to Washington Post columnist Al Kamen for unearthing some curious goings-on at Tuesday’s hurriedly called “press briefing” about FEMA’s response to the southern California wildfires. The briefing was broadcast by Fox News and MSNBC as if it were an authentic briefing before actual news reporters.

Deputy administrator Vice Admiral Harvey E. Johnson praised his “very smoothly, very efficiently performing team.” (For the sake of the Californians, we hope he’s right.) “And so I think what you’re seeing here is the benefit of experience, the benefit of good leadership and the benefit of good partnership, none of which were present in Katrina.” (Thanks for reminding us.)

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“Let the Eagle Soar . . .”

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Iraq, Afghanistan wars could cost $2.4 trillion over the next decade = $8,000 per man, woman and child in U.S.

Appropriations for U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and for the  War on Terrorism, in billions of dollars [Congressional Budget Office]Two days after the Bush administration requested $196 billion for wars in 2008 (up 30% from its February estimate of $145 billion)—on top of a $481 billion request for the Pentagon’s 2008 allowance (up 11% from 2007, and 62% from 2001) . . .

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Swiftly Melting Planet 2007

Friday, October 19th, 2007

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Does a global sea-level rise of 10 to 20 feet sound to you like a matter of national security?

Scientists are stunned at the unprecedented speed at which the Arctic ice cap is melting, and fear it may all be gone by 2030, The Guardian (UK) reports. In 2007 the ice melted 24 percent more than it did in 2005. An area almost twice the size of Great Britain disappeared in a single week in September. (The Washington Post’s Oct. 22 report—buried inside on page A10—appears here.)

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Horseman of the Apocalypse: “If you’re interested in avoiding World War III . . .”

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

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Yes, we’re interested in that.

The president held a press conference this morning, Oct. 17. He said this:

. . . we got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel. So I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. [sic]

Do we need this right now?

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The Picayune Has Friends, Indeed

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

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The Friends of the Times-Picayune fund-raiser last night at the Time-Life Building on Avenue of the Americas was quite a success—and a taste of home, with dee-licious hors d’oeuvres and music by Henry Butler (classic in his purple suit) and Davell Crawford. Mr. John Huey of Time Inc. welcomed everyone and pledged that Time will keep the spotlight on New Orleans and vicinity. (See Aug. 13 cover story below, “A Timely Special Report,” featuring Michael Grunwald’s “The Threatening Storm”) Other underwriters were Environmental Defense, the National Basketball Association, the National Press Foundation, Citi, and Goldman, Sachs. With the colorful neon lights of Radio City Music Hall shining just across the street, Henry Butler played some fine piano as a projector showed slides of the flooded homes of T-P staffers and the office’s temporary relocation in Baton Rouge. (Mark Schleifstein’s home in Lakeview, for example, took in 12 feet of water.)

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Blind Justice and Verschärfte Vernehmung: Sullivan Sees “War Criminals in the White House”

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

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Andrew Sullivan gets right to the point: “We have war criminals in the White House. What are we going to do about it?”

Sullivan and Marty Lederman at Balkinization have fittingly harsh judgments on what today’s New York Times article “Secret U.S. Endorsement of Severe Interrogations” tells us about the Bush Justice Department’s blind eye toward torture. (“A place of inspiration” is how former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales described DOJ.) Lederman, who worked many years at Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, writes:

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In Memoriam – Harry Lee, Sheriff of Jefferson Parish 1980-2007

Monday, October 1st, 2007

LNW_Sheriff_Harry_Lee With respects and condolences to the family and many admirers of Sheriff Harry Lee of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana-the second-longest-serving sheriff in the parish’s history and an extraordinary politician even by Louisiana standards. Mr. Lee lost a five-month battle with leukemia on Monday, Oct. 1. He was 75. The son of Chinese immigrants, Lee was born in the back room of his family’s laundry on Carondelet Street in 1932. He was a protégé of the late U.S. congressman Hale Boggs. Regularly outspoken, often controversial, sometimes impolitic, but always reelected (in 1994 his approval rating was 84 percent), Harry Lee served seven terms.

Read the extensive Times-Picayune obituary here and Reuters’s obit here. The New York Times obituary focuses on the many ways he angered his black neighbors in Orleans Parish.