Wednesday, June 06, 2007

More on New Orleans, Racism, Economics...

Articles and sources for this week's 'toon:
  • It's hurricane season again, and the Feds are scrambling to compensate for another winter of half-assing on emergency preparedness in New Orleans. The N.O.A.A. is predicting a whopper of a hurricane season, with a 49% probability of a major storm hitting the Gulf Coast. Meanwhile, Sue Sturgis of Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch (an indispensable resource for those still following the situation in New Orleans) reports that "serious weaknesses" have been found in the newly "repaired" levee system, which could cause the system to fail in as little as a Category 2 storm.

    See also a previous post on the ongoing debacle involving faulty pumps installed by MWI (owned by J. David Eller, a pal of Jeb Bush's).

  • For more on the federal government's catastrophic failure of leadership, check out an outstanding column by Rebecca Solnit, who points out that it has not "fully sunk in that the city was flooded not by a hurricane but by the failure of levees inadequately build by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers." Greg Palast argues that this is why the White House has tried to stifle the coverage of this aspect of the issue, because once the federal levees go, the whole thing stops being about an "act of God" and becomes their responsibility.

  • Nothing quite captures the federal government's indifference on New Orleans quite like the war spending-slash-hurricane recovery bill they just passed. Let's see... killing brown people in Iraq and Afghanistan: $99.5 billion... doing "whatever it takes" to rebuild a city right here on American soil: $4.1 billion... ethnically cleansing a major metropolitan area and delivering it into the hands of corporate developers: PRICELESS! (Meanwhile, it has been revealed that the Bush administration turned down $800 million in aid offered by other countries after Katrina.)

    Is it really about racism? Glen Ford says the disaster has revealed a corporate plan to drive out Black populations and bring about a corporate urban "renaissance" in cities across the country.

    For those who think that this kind of racism doesn't exist, I'd suggest you take a look at the amendment proposed by Rep. Jeb Hensarling that would require Katrina victims to perform 20 hours/week of approved "work activities" to receive federal housing aid. Can anybody in their wildest dreams imagine a congressman proposing such an amendment after 9-11? They would be finished forever in professional politics.

    I was struck by the power of a particular phrase that Solnit used in her column:
    New Orleans is recovering from... not just physical devastation, but social fissures and racial wounds in a situation that started as a somewhat natural disaster and became a socially constructed catastrophe. Nothing quite like it has happened in American history. (my emphasis)
  • Yet again, the Daily Show comes up with a joke that I wish I'd thought of:
    Stewart then turned to the indictment of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA), saying, "On the downside, Jefferson faces 235 years in prison. On the upside, now we know what it takes for the federal government to pay some attention to a black man from New Orleans."

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