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The New New Deal: Learning the Lessons of Katrina

By Curtis Lang on Sep 7, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

Welcome to the September 7, 2005 edition of the Satya Center newsletter. Warm greetings from your Editor, Curtis Lang.

We are pleased to resume publication of our newsletters today with a special three-part edition, devoted to the spiritual, environmental, political, social and practical consequences of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of the city of New Orleans.

May you and your loved ones be happy, healthy, free from fear, and safe from all harm, and may you attain your highest spiritual goals during the last weeks of this summer season. Please open your hearts to the survivors and refugees of Hurricane Katrina. Donate generously to aid organizations. Meditate and send healing energy to the area.

I will publish a regular edition of our newsletter within a few days. In the meantime, visit our website to see several new articles on a variety of topics displayed on our homepage.


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The ancient mystery school traditions of the East and the West instruct us that we are each linked to people, places, ideas, and things with whom we have shared intense emotional experiences.

We all have powerful memories of key moments in our lives that create powerful bonds, for good or ill, not so easily broken in this life or the next.

A subtle web of energies connects us to family, lovers, friends, enemies, compatriots, business associates, neighbors, the town where we were born, the place we met the love of our lives, the place our children were born, all the places where we share our heart’s desire, where we fight and bleed and work and give of ourselves and our energies in a myriad of ways.

These connections constitute the karmic attachments through which flow the emotions, thoughts, desires, hopes and fears that fuel the scripts that we act out in our relationships in the theater of our lives. These relationships and these connections shape all the activities we avidly pursue from birth to death – and beyond.

We are attuned to the beings and places with whom we have these connections, our emotions flow out to them, and we are often aware of subtle changes in their life passages, even when we are far removed in space and time, just as a young mother remains attuned to the hopes and fears, needs and wants of a newborn infant in another room – even during sleep or when immersed in unrelated activities.

On Sunday night, August 30, I was meditating in my bedroom in Claverack, New York, located in the farming foothills nestled between the Hudson River and New England’s Berkshire Mountains.

I had not been watching the news, or reading newspapers for the last month or so, because my wife Jane and I had recently moved from the suburbs just north of New York city to a promising fixer-upper just a short walk down the road from a family of farmer friends we’ve known for more than a decade.

I had underestimated the time and money required to fix up the house we bought by about 100%, and we were falling behind our commitments to our healing practice and our Satya Center website. I had paid no more than a moment’s attention to reports about Hurricane Katrina, which had passed over the Florida Panhandle a few days earlier.

Suddenly, during my meditation, images began to appear unbidden of New Orleans under water. I was shocked. A huge rush of emotions overwhelmed me from head to toe. I began to see an internal montage of images, each one a container for intense emotions connected to the Big Easy.

I was born in New Orleans, but have not been there for many years, a native son now gone Yankee like so many others for generation after generation who have become self-selecting refugees looking for broader vistas, greater career opportunities, a more liberal political landscape and more tolerant racial relations.

My first memory is of aristocratic St. Charles Avenue, where my parents lived when I was born. I am jumping up and down on the street corner, dressed in a bunny suit, with long, soft fuzzy ears, and my hand is raised in supplication to a man dressed in golden robes, wearing a large crown. The man, whose face is so caked with sweat-stained make-up you can’t tell if he’s white or black, is tossing blue and gold necklaces to the crowd. He sees me! Our eyes lock, and I can recall zeroing in on the incoming necklace like a heat-seeking missile during an aerial firefight. I’m too young to yell, but all around me people are screaming, “T’row me sump’n, Mistuh!” I am in total bliss as I snatch the necklace from the sidewalk a few feet in front of the black iron fence that protects our house from the sea of humanity flowing up and down the Avenue.

I moved to Texas with my folks when I was only four, and grew up in Houston and Dallas, but compared to Texas, New Orleans seemed so sophisticated, so cosmopolitan, so rich in history. The siren song of world-famous N’Awlins culture -- Creole music, cuisine and architecture -- drew me back as a young man, with my first wife, to attend the University of New Orleans, an open admission school located right on Lake Ponchartrain, where I taught English to classrooms full of African American students looking for an escalator into the middle class, partied all night long five days a week, got the best grades in my cohort, and received a Master’s in English the same summer my marriage disintegrated. Can you say “intense emotional experiences”? Can you say “karmic attachments?”

I heard in meditation that night that New Orleans was about to be destroyed. I saw lines of people waiting for food and water, streets and parks submerged, dead bodies floating next to streetlights, and lines of gravestones. I heard that I should turn on the TV as soon as I finished meditating and tune in to CNN.

I did. I saw a picture on the screen of Hurricane Katrina on a path to New Orleans. I told Jane, “This is the big one. I heard in meditation that this is the end of the city – as I know it, anyway. When I lived in New Orleans, we all used to talk about how one day a hurricane would flood the city and everybody would die. When a hurricane hit, my friends all gathered for a big party, but the people who had lived there all their lives were serious about ‘the big one’.”

My heart sank and I felt nauseated. Jane said, “No, the storm won’t destroy the whole city. It’s going to veer off. There’s still hours to go before it hits.”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I just know what I heard.”

This story you are reading is my homage to the city of my birth, the city Esoteric astrologers call the muladhara chakra of America, the city that represents the primal instincts coiled at the base of the American spine, the city that care forgot, a Triple Scorpio city where the party never stops, where decadence reaches a level of refinement unthinkable in the rest of this Puritanical culture. A drowned city now being completely evacuated, a city in an area where one million American refugees have fled, a city inhabited by perhaps 10,000 remaining live residents and 25,000 new hungry ghosts, unburied, separated from their loved ones, where now, ten thousand uniformed soldiers are just beginning to get around to counting the dead.

 

 

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It’s been a week since Katrina swept inland, flooding New Orleans, and devastating much of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Because New Orleans is a sinking city, born below sea level, because New Orleans has been abandoned by generations of policymakers in Washington, and because this disaster is the industrialized world’s first taste of the ecological disasters set to shape civilization in the 21st century, it is vital to understand what has happened in the Crescent City. To do that, it’s necessary to scope out the Big Picture, to embrace a historical perspective, to think globally.

So far, engulfed in the flood of media imagery emanating from the drowned city, onlookers have been watching an epic movie through a soda straw. It’s hard to grasp the enormity of the present situation.

The latest buzz in the media would leave one wondering whether Americans have the will and the wallet and technical expertise to restore New Orleans as a habitable city at all.

The other day, the Deputy Sheriff of New Orleans said the city has been “completely destroyed”. On Thursday September 1, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, from the 14th District of Illinois said, “It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed.” . . .Asked whether he supported allocating billions in federal aid and insurance to rebuild a city that lies below sea level, he replied, "I don't know. That doesn't make sense to me." [1]

Why would local officials or Washington leadership act as though New Orleans was a disposable city? What do they know that we don’t know?

Consider the following: The French Quarter appears to have been spared from destruction. That’s the good news. As of now, it looks like we will leave 10 feet of water polluted by sewage and industrial run-off from flooded petrochemical facilities in many neighborhoods in the city for two or three months. That’s the bad news. To say that many of the buildings in New Orleans are not designed for such an event, and that many are not structurally sound to begin with, is a vast understatement. Old, yes, questionable, yes. And possibly ready to collapse anyway.

The French Quarter, and much of New Orleans, is overrun with Formosan termites. The city spends $300 million a year to combat the damage the bugs cause to priceless architectural gems downtown by the Quarter and to modern McMansions uptown by the Lake. [2] The termites eat through plaster, plastic and asphalt to get at tasty wood tidbits. Environments such as French Quarter row houses, composed of dried timbers and moisture-retaining clays are heaven on Earth to Formosan termites. Ninety-nine percent of French Quarter buildings have suffered from the bugs’ relentless attacks. Thirty percent of the city’s live oaks and cypress trees are infested. Scientists say that eradication is not an option. [3] But the bugs do not limit themselves to older dwellings, they enjoy feeding in suburban Metairie as well as in the Quarter.

Nor should we be overly sanguine about the structural soundness of most homes built in the Twentieth Century. I have lived in several ranch houses, and visited numerous McMansions, and I would not bet heavily on their structural integrity after several water-logged months, steeped in human waste, the stench of death, and assorted toxic chemicals released from industrial sites surrounding the hapless metropolis.

According to an electrical engineer blogger in New Orleans, many of the city’s 30-40 foot skyscrapers “float” on pilings in deep mud that are held in place by sheer friction. [4] What will happen when that mud sits underwater for a couple months? Will the foundations of the buildings begin to erode? Will they lean? And if they lean, what then?

Meanwhile, roads are buckling, copper in the ground will erode, and apparently, there is a lot of copper in the ground in New Orleans, so the communication infrastructure will not fare well during this fall season. And of course, there’s the water system. Which is in a state of catastrophic failure. So given the problems that have already surfaced and the grave prognosis for the city’s recovery, it is appropriate to ask the question – Will New Orleans survive? In what form? And who will pay for rebuilding?

These are the questions the callous Mr. Hastert harbors top of mind, and soon they will be asked more openly and with more urgency by the nation’s imperious elites, who will clamor to see a cost-benefit analysis for the Big Easy’s resuscitation that emphasizes short-term benefits and minimizes cash outlay and long-term planning of any kind.

To begin to answer these questions, we must now turn to the history of New Orleans, and seek our answers to the political, social, environmental, economic, geo-strategic, and spiritual questions this disaster raises for us as individuals, as Americans, and as global citizens.

It’s a tough job, but it’s our duty, and perhaps a more important contribution to the relief effort and to the salvaging of our common cultural heritage than writing a check to the Red Cross. Because consciousness creates culture. Because without vision, the people perish. Now, above all, we need vision. A vision of how we arrived where we are today, and a vision for a sustainable future.



1--“Hastert Questions Rebuilding New Orleans”, AP, 9/1/05 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/01/AR2005090101482.html)

2--“New Orleans’ Earth-Friendly Termite Solutions,” MetropolisMag.com, 3/1/2004. (http://www.metropolismag.com/cda/story.php?artid=143)

3-- “Super-Termites Are Munching Across the US”, ABC News, March 6, 2005 (http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=97695&page=1)

4-- “New Orleans: I Don’t Think We Even Understand the Half of it Yet”, Wizbang, 9/1/05 (http://wizbangblog.com/archives/006945.php)






(All Photos are Clip Art except the portrait of the author)

Historical Background

Spanish explorers Alvarez de Pindéa and Hernando de Soto explored the mouth of the Mississippi River in the years between 1519 and 1542, but created no permanent settlements. They may have been put off by soggy weeks of wet-season explorations in the Mississippi delta region, where the flood plain is over 100 miles wide, and it would have been difficult to find enough solid ground to pitch camp. Later French explorers were not discouraged by their trek through the massive swamp. Robert Cavalier, Sieur de la Salle, traveled down the Mississippi from the Great Lakes in 1682 and claimed the territory for Louis XIV of France, giving it the name Louisiana. [i]

Within a dozen years conflicts broke out between white settlers and indigenous Native American tribes of hunter-gatherer fishermen, who had lived there as long as 2,000 years ago. The Caddo, Natchez, and Chitimachan Indian tribes and their brothers, who numbered around 15,000 at that time, had built a highly developed culture that existed throughout the Mississippi Basin. They resisted the marauding white colonists, who had been wiping out Indian hunting parties.[ii]

Soon, war was declared by both sides, French troops were called in, and after eight bloody years, most of the Indians retreated inland. By 1711, Native Americans were being taken as slaves, to clear the area needed for a port in Mobile.

Meanwhile, back in France, powerful interests perceived the Louisiana territories as a potential source of vast riches to be obtained by real estate development.

The Duke of Orléans, a notorious rake, amateur chemist, necromancer, painter, composer, and world-class art collector, had become the Regent for the new 5 year old French king, after the death of Louis XIV, and had partnered with one of the century’s most ambitious and unscrupulous financiers, the Scottish entrepreneur John Law.

Law and Orléans founded the first national bank of France and issued paper money on such a scale that after the bank failed, France refused to try paper currency again for eighty years.[iii]

In 1717, the French monarch had entrusted the Louisiana territories to the Company of the West (or Mississippi Company) for development as a populated colony.

As head of the Mississippi Company, John Law authorized Bienville to find a suitable location for a settlement on the river that could be used as a port and also a military stronghold to protect French interests in the New World from potential British invasion.[iv]

Indian slaves joined the merchants, soldiers, convicts, and beggars that helped Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville build the city of La Nouvelle-Orléans along the flood-prone banks of the lower Mississippi. Bayou St. John provided portage between the Mississippi River and Lake Ponchartrain, and the crescent shaped city enjoyed relatively easy access to the Gulf on its Southern flank, 100 miles away.

Bienville planned the city from the beginning to be a port that could connect cities and settlers up and down the Mississippi River with European commercial routes that would terminate in New Orleans. Bienville ignored the obvious threat of flooding that overshadowed the low-lying city, virtually surrounded by water, from its inception, because of the commercial advantages the location enjoyed.

In addition, the St. John portage provided a strategic military advantage – a ready escape route should one be needed in case of attack from the sea by rival European powers. Yet the new city, founded to serve as a tool of aristocratic real estate promoters to be used to separate gullible investors from their savings, was always really just a giant swamp, and would be beset by floods, pestilence, and plague throughout its history.

Bienville named the city New Orleans in honor of Law’s partner, the Royal Regent, the duc d’Orléans, and in 1718 construction began on the city following the plan of a late French medieval town – a central square with a grid of streets surrounding it. A few months later, the foundations of the city flooded when the river overflowed its banks.[v] A tiny wooden levee was constructed to protect the newborn city from the rising river, which continued to flood periodically and turned the streets to mud. Today, that central square is known as Jackson Square, and the original settlement is called the Vieux Carré, or French Quarter.

John Law’s company began to market the new city as a paradise on Earth, printing posters displaying a land of tropical palm trees, cool mountain tops, and subservient Indians. Shares in the Mississippi Company opened at 150 livres and sold at 10,000 within months.[vi]

In 1724, with New Orleans recently having replaced Biloxi as capitol of the Mississippi territory, Bienville approved the Code Noir, a legal framework which codified slavery of Africans, banished Jews, and established Roman Catholicism as the official religion of the territory.

Of course, the bubble had to burst, leaving half a million investors bankrupt in the event. In 1731, Law’s company relinquished governance of Louisiana and the King of France took direct control of the troubled territory. In 1735, the environmental miscalculations of the city’s founders became all too apparent when the Mississippi again flooded New Orleans, submerging the city.[vii]

Trade was minimal in the ensuing years, in part due to French laws restricting trade to the mother country. Louis XV thought so little of the area, fallen from royal grace and anathema to investors, that he gave all of Louisiana west of the Mississippi to his cousin, Charles III of Spain. Following another major flood in 1785 and devastating fires in 1788 and 1794, the Spanish rebuilt the French Quarter in the traditional Spanish style of brick-and-plaster, replete with arches, courtyards, balconies, and the ubiquitous slave quarters.

France regained control of the territory in 1800, but Napoleon quickly sold the entire area to the Americans for $15 million, proving that military genius does not generally co-exist with financial savvy.

When the Americans arrived they were relegated by the existing upper class aristocrats to the area across Canal Street, beyond the border of the French Quarter. The more affluent spread out along St. Charles Avenue, Greek Revival mansions rose in the Garden District, and a city firmly divided by hierarchical and very rigid racial, ethnic and class distinctions began to take permanent shape. The Garden District, known as uptown by the locals, sat on the highest ground, and poor neighborhoods occupied the low-lying areas.

The port of New Orleans provided the growing American economy with its most crucial nexus of commercial activity. As American settlers fanned out from the East, committing genocide against Native American tribes from Canada to Mexico as they built homes on vast farmlands from the Alleghenies to the Rockies, they used the system of rivers that flowed from the Midwest into the Mississippi as their transportation system, using barges to connect with the global economy.

The British always understood the geo-strategic importance of New Orleans, which is why they fought so hard to take the city. Andrew Jackson repelled the British in the Battle of New Orleans in 1814, and continued his protective stance toward the crown jewel of American ports when he became President, establishing Texas as a buffer zone between marauding Mexicans and his beloved Crescent City.

By 1812, levees had been erected along the entire length of the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, primarily to protect plantations owned by slave-owning artistocrats.[viii] From 1814 until the Civil War, New Orleans was a boom town. The era of the steam-driven riverboat had begun, and the volume of Mississippi river commerce skyrocketed, putting New Orleans’ port on a par with New York’s in the 1840s.

During this period, King Cotton ruled. By mid-century, cotton-related commercial activities comprised nearly half of New Orleans’ economy. This labor-intensive crop, which required slave labor to keep costs down, was favored by the English industrialists who relied upon cheap American slave cotton to fuel their newly industrializing economic engine, epitomized by the dirty, dreary, dangerous steam-powered mills that spun cloth and manufactured clothes – high-value-added, high-profit-margin products for the global market.

New Orleans’ large and ruthless slave market, housed in the Cabildo, next to the venerable St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square, underwrote King Cotton’s rule with blood, sweat and tears.

Slaves arrived in Portuguese, French, Spanish and Dutch slave ships throughout the century, swelling New Orleans African American population. New Orleans also had one of the largest and most culturally advanced populations of “free men and women of color” in the American South.

By 1860, the population of New Orleans topped 100,000, and a system of plantation farming based upon slave labor had created a new aristocracy. The aristocracy of the slave plantations created a cuisine based upon a mixture of Creole and French roots. The Creole language is a mixture of African American rhythms, Portuguese syntax and French and English vocabulary that is characteristic of the Caribbean cultures created by European slave-trading. New Orleans cooking on the nineteenth century plantations was similarly complex, arguably required more chopping and other prep work than any cuisine in the world. No problem with slave chefs on duty 24/7 to create dishes that outshone traditional French cooking by sheer lavish opulence.

Why serve a fish with Béarnaise sauce, when you can serve a fish with béchamel sauce and then top it with soft shell crabs slathered in glazed Béarnaise sauce? Why not take the time to wring every drop of moisture out of pounds of spinach and watercress, then add mounds of butter soaked in Pernod to replace the lost water, freeze the resulting moosh, cover oysters in the paste and cook on rock salt at high heat? Voilá! Oysters Rockefeller. A dish which, when I lived in New Orleans in the Seventies, was served according to the original recipes in no commercial kitchens because of the expense and prep work involved, and served properly nowhere in New Orleans outside of Antoine’s and Galatoire’s where the true tradition of Creole cooking still lives.

New Orleans Creole cooking was America’s first major contribution to global cuisine. Today, New Orleans is a major oasis of fine dining in the culinary wasteland that extends from our major East Coast cities with their multi-cultural restaurants to the California-style West Coast eateries, a crown jewel of indigenous food wizardry in fast-food America. In New Orleans, people know what good food is like, and rich or poor, they want their red beans and rice and their haute cuisine prepared with fresh ingredients by chefs who know their chops.

During the boom years, carefully constructed hierarchies of race, ethnicity and bloodline began to break down. People had to trace their lineage back to two or even three continents. Waves of Irish and German settlers arrived to provide new sources of cheap, skilled labor.

The swamps around the city were drained, yet New Orleans’ environmental deficiencies continued to precipitate catastrophic consequences as the city grew. In October, 1832, 4,340 people died in a cholera epidemic. In 1847 yellow fever raged throughout the city. In 1850 and 1851 an epidemic of dengue fever appeared. In the summer of 1852, yellow fever killed 8,000 and in 1853 yellow fever killed 7,790 more. [ix]

During the civil war, the Union targeted the city because of its strategic importance as the port of choice for delivery of cotton to the English. Deprived of American slave cotton, the British Empire turned to India, and transformed millions of subsistence farmers into landless serfs so that India could produce the cotton that British industrialists required.

By 1860, the United States government created the Mississippi River Commission to oversee Southern Louisiana’s ongoing war against nature, and protect the strategically invaluable port of New Orleans, nearby riverfront plantations, newly industrializing Baton Rouge, and the growing array of businesses in the area from flooding.

Mark Twain, combining a historian’s vision with the well-honed humor of a riverboat gambler, commented on these ever-increasing efforts to tame the river in his book “Life on the Mississippi”.

“One who knows the Mississippi will promptly aver—not aloud but to himself—that ten thousand River Commissions, with the mines of the world at their back, cannot tame that lawless stream, cannot curb it or confine it, cannot say to it, ‘Go here,’ or ‘Go there,’ and make it obey; cannot save a shore which it has sentenced; cannot bar its path with an obstruction which it will not tear down, dance over, and laugh at. But a discreet man will not put these things into spoken words; for the West Point engineers have not their superiors anywhere; they know all that can be known of their abstruse science; and so, since they conceive that they can fetter and handcuff that river and boss him, it is but wisdom for the unscientific man to keep still, lie low, and wait till they do it. Captain Eads, with his jetties, has done a work at the mouth of the Mississippi which seemed clearly impossible; so we do not feel full confidence now to prophesy against like impossibilities. Otherwise one would pipe out and say the Commission might as well bully the comets in their courses and undertake to make them behave, as try to bully the Mississippi into right and reasonable conduct.”

In 1867, the war-ravaged city suffered additional casualties resulting from the sanitation problems typical of swamp cities prior to the Twentieth Century revolution in social hygiene, as 3,093 more perished from yellow fever. Yet neither war nor plague nor even the forcible ending of slavery and the loss of the British cotton market could stop the growth of “the city that care forgot”. A new wave of immigrants, this time from Italy, poured into the city, and railroads began to connect New Orleans to the rest of the country, increasing the importance of America’s premier international port in the reconstructing South.

As a free New Orleans prepared to enter a new century, the city revived its reputation for fun. By 1880, there were 80 gambling houses, 800 saloons and scores of houses of prostitution engaged in illegal but uncontrolled sexual commerce. “Laissez les bon temps roulez,” locals said. “Let the good times roll.”

But the good times came to a rolling stop in 1882, when the most destructive flood of the nineteenth century hit the city that care forgot. Levees breached in 284 places, and water spread out over seventy miles.[x]

In 1897, Alderman Sidney Story arranged to move the illegal, but highly profitable activities of the city’s professional gamblers and prostitutes into an area next to the French Quarter, quickly nicknamed “Storyville”. The New Orleans Blue Book listed 700 prostitutes alphabetically, with names, addresses, and, of course, races available for public perusal. [xi]

In these bordellos, in the first two decades of the Twentieth Century, Jelly Roll Morton and other African American musicians played early forms of jazz to a larger audience than the experimental music had ever achieved before. New Orleans musicians prepared to market the city’s unique musical blend to a mass audience. Over the years, many emigrated to New York and Paris, where the radical new musical forms found acceptance and the African American musicians who performed jazz and blues became cultural heroes.

Jazz, and blues, like Creole cuisine, were the products of multi-cultural creativity. Jazz and blues married African percussion and syncopation, European instrumentation and chord progressions, and the blue notes and tonality found in musical traditions on two continents. Jazz and blues would reshape the way musicians everywhere thought and felt, and infectious N’Awlins rhythms would eventually rock the world.

The profound sense of world-weary fatality and the musical structures of ephemeral beauty epitomized by blues and jazz must partly have been shaped by the New Orleans environment, where life was continuously disrupted and uprooted by the periodic major floods that no Army Corps project could prevent, just as Mark Twain had suspected. Great floods recurred in 1884, 1890, 1891, 1897, 1898, and 1903, and despite repeated heroic engineering and re-engineering efforts, major floods caused immeasurable damage in 1912, 1913, 1922, and 1927.[xii] In 1927, the river flooded 26,000 square miles from Cairo, Illinois to New Orleans, when the river breached the ever-expanding levee system in hundreds of locations. New Orleans engineers blew up an upstream levee to save the city from total destruction. The explosive levee breaches up and down the river and subsequent flooding killed thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. The river remained at flood levels for three months.

Undaunted, the US government appropriated $700 million for a Mississippi River Flood Control project, an escalation of the ongoing war against nature in the area that would consume $7 billion by the mid-nineteen-eighties.

The port of New Orleans has been an irreplaceable American asset since Napoleon’s era, and despite continuous failures and seemingly insurmountable odds, the Army Corps of Engineers and the inhabitants of South Louisiana have continuously pursued their war against the mighty river throughout the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries, armed with an ever-increasing budget and an increasingly sophisticated set of engineering tools. As the United States has grown in military and economic power, the strategic importance of the South Louisiana industrial complex has only increased with time.

Today, the ports of South Louisiana and New Orleans are just as important as at any time in history to the fortunes of the United States and the smooth workings of the global economy.

The Port of South Louisiana is the largest port in the United States measured by tonnage, and the fifth largest in the world. [xiii] The bulk of US agricultural products flow out of the New Orleans ports, and almost as much cargo enters the port – crude oil, chemicals, fertilizers, coal, concrete, and many other products.

Louisiana’s coast produces one-third of the nation’s seafood, one-fifth of its oil, and one quarter of its natural gas. In addition, the coastal wetlands constitute 40 percent of America’s total wetlands, and provides wintering grounds for 70 percent of America’s migratory waterfowl.[xiv]

New Orleans is where America’s bulk agricultural commodities are exchanged for bulk industrial commodities from the rest of the world. As Stratfor.com’s George Friedman puts it, “The commodity chain of the global food industry starts here, as does that of American industrialism. If these facilities are gone, more than the price of goods shifts: The very physical structure of the global economy would have to be reshaped. Consider the impact on the US auto industry if steel doesn’t come up the river, or the effect on global food supplies if US corn and soy beans don’t get to the markets.”[xv]

There simply are no cost-effective alternatives for American agriculture or industry. There is simply not enough port capacity elsewhere in the US to replace New Orleans. There are too few railcars and trucks to replace barge traffic on the Mississippi. It would be far too expensive a proposition to switch from New Orleans based water transport to any other alternative, even if one wished to do so.

It is only about a month until the fall harvest in the Midwest must be shipped through the New Orleans ports to world markets. Now is simply not the right time for the current Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert to be saying that perhaps we should bulldoze the most important port in America.

One would think that Hastert, would know this, since his Illinois district is in the middle of Midwest farm country.

But how did events in New Orleans reach the point where the implicit price tag for rebuilding the city after a summer storm impels the Speaker of the House to publicly contemplate the permanent destruction of the linchpin of America’s commercial transportation system? Could it be simple short-sightedness and greed? That would be consistent with the historical record in New Orleans.

We have seen that greed for short-term speculative profits provided the original vision for the privileged, aristocratic founding fathers of the Crescent City, and that the burning desire to implement fraudulent real estate development schemes trumped all logic, resulting in the placement of the city where it would be in continuous environmental jeopardy throughout its life.



[i] “New Orleans and Mardi Gras History Timeline”, (http://www.mardigrasdigest.com/html/mardi_gras_history__timeline.htm)

[ii] “New Orleans: Early History”, (http://www.gatewayno.com/history.html)

[iii] “The Father of New Orleans”, bestofneworleans.com, (http://www.bestofneworleans.com/dispatch/2004-06-29/views-virgets.html)

[iv] “New Orleans History”, Frommers.com, (http://www.frommers.com/destinations/neworleans/0020020044.html)

[v] “The Control of Nature: The Atchafalaya”, The New Yorker, 2/23/1987.(http://www.newyorker.com/printables/archive/050912fr_archive01)

[vi] “The Father of New Orleans”, bestofneworleans.com, (http://www.bestofneworleans.com/dispatch/2004-06-29/views-virgets.html)

[vii] “The Control of Nature: The Atchafalaya”, The New Yorker, 2/23/1987.(http://www.newyorker.com/printables/archive/050912fr_archive01)

[viii] “The Control of Nature: The Atchafalaya”, The New Yorker, 2/23/1987.

(http://www.newyorker.com/printables/archive/050912fr_archive01)

[ix] “US Epidemics”, Rootsweb, (http://www.rootsweb.com/~wijuneau/Epidemics.htm)

[x] “The Control of Nature: The Atchafalaya”, The New Yorker, 2/23/1987.(http://www.newyorker.com/printables/archive/050912fr_archive01)

[xi] “New Orleans History”, Frommers.com, (http://www.frommers.com/destinations/neworleans/0020020044.html)

[xii] “The Control of Nature: The Atchafalaya”, The New Yorker, 2/23/1987.(http://www.newyorker.com/printables/archive/050912fr_archive01)

[xiii] “New Orleans: A Geopolitical Prize”, Stratfor.com, (http://www.stratfor.com/news/archive/050903-geopolitics_katrina.php)

[xv] Ibid.

Environmental Degradation

While Jelly Roll Morton played on and on through the endless Storyville nights, and Champion Jack Dupree perfected barrel house blues in nearby bars and bordellos, over the decades when jazz and blues took root in New York and Paris and became America’s most significant early Twentieth Century contribution to global culture, the short-sighted actions of well-meaning civil engineers, generations of greedy real estate speculators, ambitious and unscrupulous politicians in New Orleans and Washington, and the environmentally ignorant US oil and gas industry fueled the long, slow degradation of the South Louisiana environment throughout the Twentieth Century, helping to create the conditions for the greatest natural disaster in US history.

In 1901, drilling began on Louisiana’s first oil well, and the complex of facilities ranging from New Orleans to Baton Rouge along the Mississippi, collectively a central hub for the fast-growing new oil industry, were set on course to become the nation’s largest port.

The Crescent City had outgrown its antiquated system of old natural river levees that restricted development in the swampy Southern Louisiana region to the slightly higher ground adjacent the river and bayous.

In the 1910s, the city embarked on an ambitious plan to drain the entire city, using pumps created by engineer and inventor A. Baldwin Wood, which are still in use today. The system of pumps directed rain water up from the low-lying city basin to a system of canals that drain into Lake Ponchartrain, greatly expanding the area suitable for development in the city.[i]

This plan also involved pumping groundwater from underneath the city, which has resulted in virtually uncontrollable, slow, but steady subsidence. The end result of the well-meaning efforts of Wood and his team has been to dramatically increase the size and population of the city while steadily lowering the land more and more below sea level.

Over the years, New Orleans has become more and more dependent on increasingly heroic engineering feats to hold back the flood waters, in hurricane season, and even during normal rainstorms.

The earth beneath New Orleans’ delta consists of wet peat muck several hundred feet deep, formed by centuries of flooding, according to Cliff Mugnier, an LSU geodesist who works part-time for the Army Corps of Engineers.[ii]

As the Corps constructed more and more levees in and around New Orleans, and along the river, the city and the oil industry drained many large marshlands. This continued construction drained surface water and continued to lower the water table in the area. The topmost layers of muck began to dry out, and as they dried out, they accelerated the natural process of subsidence, so the lands from the city down to the coast dropped further and faster below sea level.

Meanwhile, in the marshlands surrounding the city and stretching down to the coastline, the oil and gas industries were busily extracting resources from below the ground.

Environmentalists questioned the wisdom of unrestrained oil and gas exploration and development, which chopped up the delta marshes with strips of asphalt and dotted the area with petro-chemical facilities, reducing the viability of the wetlands and decimating the wildlife and vegetation that thrived in the fragile coastal eco-system. The vegetation that inhabits healthy coastal wetlands provides some of the most effective natural protection against devastating storm surges that can flood low-lying inland cities like New Orleans.

But the oil and gas industry maintained that their activities caused no harm, that the basic structure of the coastal delta lands remained intact. For decades, geologists believed that resource extraction was targeting deposits too far below ground to cause changes in the contours of the land’s surface, despite the concerns of environmentalists.

But in 2002, geologist Bob Morton, who works for the US Geological Survey, studied the effects of oil and gas industry construction and extraction in the area, and concluded that the highest rates of wetlands loss occurred during or just after the period of peak oil production in Louisiana, in the 1970s and early 1980s.

According to a 2004 article in National Geographic magazine, Morton’s study found that “the removal of millions of barrels of oil, trillions of cubic feet of natural gas, and tens of millions of barrels of saline formation water lying with the petroleum deposits caused a drop in subsurface pressure – a theory known as regional depressurization. That led nearby underground faults to slip and the land above them to slump.”[iii]

Or, as Morton himself said, “When you stick a straw in a soda and suck on it, everything goes down.”[iv]

Geologist Shea Penland, who works for the University of New Orleans and is a contractor for the US Army Corps of Engineers, sits on federal and state advisory groups charged with implementing coastal restoration projects, and also consults for the oil and gas industries.

Penland took a journalist for Scientific American magazine on a tour of the Southern Louisiana delta in 2001, to uncover the primary risks to the area’s environment and the primary causal factors causing environmental degradation that could lead to potentially lethal storm surges endangering New Orleans.[v]

Since 1879, at the request of Congress, the Corps has built more and more levees along the Mississippi River from Northern Louisiana to the Gulf of Mexico, to protect existing towns, facilitate new real estate development, and enable a booming oil and gas industry to go about its very lucrative business in the area.

Before the levees were built, seasonal flooding deposited vast quantities of sediment from the river across the coastal delta marshlands, rebuilding to some extent each year the land that was being slowly eroded by encroaching tidal floods.

As construction of levees prevented that seasonal flooding more and more effectively, the rebuilding of the delta simply stopped, and subsidence accelerated.

In 1947, the first offshore oil facility in Southern Louisiana was built at Port Fourchon, where oil and natural gas pipelines snaking from hundreds of offshore wellheads now converge.

These deep offshore wells provide nearly a third of domestic US oil production, and Louisiana’s Offshore Oil Port, a series of platforms anchored offshore, delivers approximately fifteen percent of the nation’s imported oil.[vi]

Fossil fuel providers have dredged hundreds of miles of navigation channels and pipeline canals through the delicate coastal eco-system over the years. Port Fourchon loses 40 to 50 feet of beach a year to erosion, which is about 20 times greater than the national average.

The web of man-made waterways also allows salty Gulf seawater to invade the interior delta marshlands, raising their salinity and killing vegetation. Penland conducted a study for the oil and gas industry showing that the industry’s activities have caused one-third of the delta’s land loss over the years.

This is important, because a healthy delta, covered in grasses and marsh forests, can really protect inland areas from devastating storms.

Every four miles of marshland is estimated to absorb enough floodwaters from a hurricane’s storm surge to knock the storm surge down by one foot.

With the delta marshes decimated, the coastal barrier islands at the mouth of the Mississippi on the Gulf coast constitute the only significant remaining natural defense against aggressive storms.

But Louisiana’s barrier islands are eroding faster than any in the country. The system of levees that line the Mississippi River has moved the mouth of the river further out into the Gulf. The sediment from the seasonal flooding of a meandering river that used to feed the delta marshes and the barrier islands is diverted now far out to sea, where the precious delta sediment drops over the edge of an underwater cliff into the briny deep.

The stage has been set for many years for a disastrous hurricane to flood the city of New Orleans, effectively destroying its housing stock, communications infrastructure, water system, and transportation system.

The environmental problems for New Orleans created by environmental degradation that has traditionally accompanied economic growth via real estate development and oil and gas extraction have been well known to policy makers in Louisiana for many years. There have been ample warnings of a major, virtually uncontrollable catastrophe to come.

“The flood of 1973 was the most severe since 1927 on the lower Mississippi River, with damages over $117 million (adjusted to 1983 price levels),” a team of researchers, including Paul S. Trotter, G. Alan Johnson, Robert Ricks, David R. Smith, and Donnel Woods reported in a 1998 study of New Orleans floods. [vii] “It was in 1973 that the strain of record high volume flow nearly caused failure of the Old River Control Structure, which would have allowed the Atchafalaya system to capture the main flow of the Mississippi River.” The Old River Control Structure is 560 feet long, an elaborate system of gates and piers built in 1963, to prevent the Mississippi from altering its course, and to prevent the Atchafalaya River from capturing the bulk of the Mississippi River’s flow, which it would do, if left to itself. The Mississippi historically meanders, and the entire South Louisiana delta was created by the sediment deposited by the peregrinations of America’s mightiest river over time. If the Old River Control Structure had failed completely, and the Atchafalaya had captured the Mississippi, Baton Rouge would have been completely destroyed and New Orleans could have ended up in the Gulf of Mexico.

In 1980, a study published by the Water Resources Research Institute, at Louisiana State University, described the proliferating engineering projects in South Louisiana as “the scene of a direct confrontation between the United States Government and the Mississippi River,” and the study predicted a victory for the forces of nature. “Just when this will occur cannot be predicted,” the report concluded. “It could happen next year, during the next decade, or sometime in the next thirty or forty years. But the final outcome is simply a matter of time and it is only prudent to prepare for it.”[viii]

“The second most severe flood on the lower Mississippi since 1927 was that of 1983,” according to the report by Trotter, Johnson, Ricks, Smith and Woods.[ix] “Damages were $15.7 million sustained mostly by river industries, docking facilities and widespread agricultural losses. Finally, in the Great Flood of 1993 on the Mississippi above Memphis, 50 thousand homes were damaged or destroyed, 54 thousand people were evacuated and damages have been put at $15 to $20 Billion.”

Two years after the disastrous 1993 flood, when flooding from a severe rainstorm killed six people in New Orleans in 1995, Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project (SELA), authorizing the Army Corps of Engineers to spend $430 million to shore up existing levees and build new pumping stations.[x] But less than half of the money allocated was actually spent in New Orleans, while hurricane activity in the Atlantic increased dramatically and subsidence accelerated.

By 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a report warning that a devastating hurricane strike in New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters for which the US must be prepared.

The Bush administration had promised “no net loss” of wetlands during W.’s tenure, but in 2003, George W. unleashed the developers. The only wetlands to be protected would be those related to interstate commerce. Four environmental groups produced a joint report in 2004 concluding that without wetlands protection, New Orleans could be virtually destroyed by an ordinary hurricane – let alone a devastating Category 4 or Category 5 storm – like Katrina.[xi]

After 2003, the SELA project ground to a halt. A series of articles in the New Orleans Times-Picayune specifically cite the cost of the war in Iraq as a reason for the cutbacks in flood and hurricane management monies.

One project that was begun but never completed was a bridge and levee job at the 17th Street Canal, site of the catastrophic levee breach during Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall August 31, 2005, scoring a near-miss on the Crescent City.

The results of Katrina’s early morning visit to New Orleans have been almost as severe as an attack with the proverbial dirty bomb.

New Orleans is being entirely evacuated, after a seemingly endless week when no aid seemed to reach the primarily African American urban underclass trapped in the flooded sub-tropical port city, who continued to suffer the neglect of the dominant white culture that has exploited them consistently throughout the city’s history. Hundreds of thousands of refugees have taken shelter in Baton Rouge, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi and other areas around the country. This is the most devastating natural disaster in US history, and we are all shamed by the fact that much of the loss of life, and much of the storm damage could have been prevented, as we shall see in the following section of this story.



[i] “New Orleans”, Wikipedia, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Orleans)

[iii] “Gone with the Water: Louisiana’s Endangered Wetlands”, National Geographic, October 2004, (http://www3.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0410/feature5/)

[iv] Ibid.

[vi] “Gone with the Water: Louisiana’s Endangered Wetlands”, National Geographic, October 2004, (http://www3.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0410/feature5/)

[vii] “Floods on the Lower Mississippi: An Historical Economic Overview”, 3/1/98. (http://www.srh.noaa.gov/topics/attach/html/ssd98-9.htm)

[viii] “The Control of Nature: The Atchafalaya”, The New Yorker, 2/23/1987.(http://www.newyorker.com/printables/archive/050912fr_archive01)

[ix] “Floods on the Lower Mississippi: An Historical Economic Overview”, 3/1/98. (http://www.srh.noaa.gov/topics/attach/html/ssd98-9.htm)

[x] “Did New Orleans Catastrophe Have to Happen? 'Times-Picayune' Had Repeatedly Raised Federal Spending Issues,” Editor & Publisher, 8/31/05, (http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/search/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001051313)

[xi] “No One Can Say They Didn’t See It Coming,” Der Spiegel, http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,372455,00.html)

Hurricane Katrina Timeline

To fully comprehend the enormity of the failure of the city’s and the country’s political leaders in the face of this crisis, it is necessary to review the storm’s progress day by day.

To that end I offer the following timeline.

October 2001 – The Scientific American publishes a feature story called “Drowning New Orleans”, saying that “Now only massive reengineering of southeastern Louisiana can save the city. . .The boxes are stacked eight feet high and line the walls of the large, windowless room. Inside them are body bags, 10,000 in all. If a big slow-moving hurricane crossed the Gulf of Mexico on the right track, it would drive a sea surge that would drown New Orleans under twenty feet of water. ‘As the water recedes’, says Walter Maestri, a local emergency management director, ‘we expect to find a lot of dead bodies.’”

sciam.com

7/24/05 – As Hurricane season 2005 unfolds, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports on preparations for a potential evacuation, should a major hurricane hit the city and breach the levees, causing a devastating flood. Local officials, well aware that there were 100-200,000 impoverished citizens in their city who do not have cars, or even the money for a bus ticket out of town, arrange to distribute DVDs in local churches to inform the poorest of the poor that they should not expect help of any kind in the event of a disaster.

City, state and federal emergency officials are preparing to give the poorest of New Orleans' poor a historically blunt message: In the event of a major hurricane, you're on your own."

‘Their message will be distributed on hundreds of DVDs across the city. The DVDs' basic get-out-of-town message applies to all audiences, but it is especially targeted to scores of churches and other groups heavily concentrated in Central City and other vulnerable, low-income neighborhoods,’ said the Rev. Marshall Truehill, head of Total Community Action.”

‘The primary message is that each person is primarily responsible for themselves, for their own family and friends,’ Truehill said. Times Picayune.

 

8/26/05 Thursday – Hurricane Katrina hits Florida; 3 dead, 1 million in dark. From CNN.com

 

8/26/05 Friday -- Hurricane Katrina is predicted make a "big shift" to the west on its way across the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to reach dangerous Category 4 intensity before making landfall Monday afternoon in Mississippi or Louisiana, the National Hurricane Center said Friday. CNN.com

 

8/27/05 Saturday – Hurricane Katrina builds to Category 4 with winds of 145 mph, expected to be Category 5 as it approaches New Orleans. Computer model runs conducted by a team of Louisiana State University scientists indicate that even if Katrina had winds of only 115 mph, levees protecting Kenner, Metairie and New Orleans on the east bank will be overtopped by a 10- to 12-foot storm surge, topped by waves at least half that high, in some locations along Lake Ponchartrain. From The Times Picayune

 

8/28/05 Sunday -- "We are facing the storm that most of us have feared," New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said as he issued an unprecedented mandatory evacuation order for the city known as "The Big Easy." From CNN.com. Hundreds of thousands of New Orleanians evacuate the city, seeking shelter in Baton Rouge, Texas, and elsewhere. From CNN 

 

8/29/05 Monday – Hurricane Katrina makes landfill just East of Grand Isle Louisiana, 6:30 am ET. Two levees on canals leading to Lake Ponchartrain fail in the hours after the hurricane hits New Orleans, flooding the city with up to 18 feet of water. Katrina rips much of the roof off the Superdome, where thousands of New Orleans residents, too poor or too slow to evacuate in time, have taken shelter from the storm. Los Angeles Times.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown fiddles while New Orleans drowns. “The government's disaster chief waited until hours after Hurricane Katrina had already struck the Gulf Coast before asking his boss to dispatch 1,000 Homeland Security workers to support rescuers in the region - and gave them two days to arrive, according to internal documents. . . Brown said that among duties of these employees was to ‘convey a positive image'’ about the government's response for victims. . .Brown proposed sending 1,000 Homeland Security Department employees within 48 hours and 2,000 within seven days. . . The same day Brown also urged local fire and rescue departments outside Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi not to send trucks or emergency workers into disaster areas without an explicit request for help from state or local governments. Brown said it was vital to coordinate fire and rescue efforts.” The Guardian.

 

8/30-31 Tuesday, Wednesday – Lake Ponchartrain continues to rise in the aftermath of Katrina’s passage, the pump system designed to help protect New Orleans fails, and the water level throughout the flooded city continues to rise, while thousands huddle in the Superdome and the Convention Center. Reports of looting appear in the news media. The European Space Agency, with accompanying satellite photos.

 

9/1 Thursday -- "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees," President George W. Bush told Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America.

The day before, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel had published a story by former Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal highlighting a 2001 Federal Emergency Management Agency report stating that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters to hit the United States, and pointing out that by 2003 federal funding for flood control projects begun after a flood killed six people in southern Louisiana in 1995 was all but halted – diverted to pay for the Iraq war. In 2004, the Bush administration cut funding requested by the New Orleans district of the US Army Corps of Engineers for restraining the waters of Lake Ponchartrain by 80 per cent.

A squad of 300 National Guard troops landed in New Orleans fresh from Iraq, with authorization to shoot and kill "hoodlums", Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco said.

Food and water and medical supplies have not arrived at the Superdome or the Convention Center where thousands wait in the dark for relief, without sanitation, police protection, food, or water. Although the City of New Orleans designated the Superdome as a storm shelter, it had done nothing to stockpile necessities for refugees in that location. No estimate of the dead in New Orleans has been released by any officials, local, state or national. SpaceWar.com/Agence France Presse.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown tells CNN that impoverished New Orleans residents who did not flee the city in advance of Katrina’s landfall bear the responsibility for the devastation the storm visited on them and their families.

"I think the death toll may go into the thousands and, unfortunately, that's going to be attributable a lot to people who did not heed the advance warnings," Brown told CNN.

 

This is in keeping with the city of New Orleans official policy that poor people are on their own in the event of a disaster (see July 24 log entry), and consistent with the neo-Darwinian ultra-conservative ideology of “survival of the economically fittest” that has ruled in Washington, D.C. since the advent of Reaganomics.

“I'm telling you, nobody thought this was going to happen like this,” Bill Clinton told CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux, defending his new friends, the Bush family, while on tour with George H.W. Bush, in response to Malveaux’s questions concerning George W. Bush’s slow response to the New Orleans tragedy. “But what happened here is they escaped -- New Orleans escaped Katrina. But it brought all the water up the Mississippi River and all in the Pontchartrain, and then when it started running and that levee broke, they had problems they never could have foreseen. And so I just think that we need to recognize right now there's a confident effort under way. People are doing the best they can. And I just don't think it's the time to worry about that. We need to keep people alive and get them back to life -- normal life.” The Situation Room.

 

9/2 FridayThree tons of food ready for delivery by air to refugees in St. Bernard Parish and on Algiers Point sat on the Crescent City Connection bridge Friday afternoon as air traffic was halted because of President Bush’s visit to New Orleans, officials said.

The provisions, secured by U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-Napoleonville, and state Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom, baked in the afternoon sun as Bush surveyed damage across southeast Louisiana five days after Katrina made landfall as a Category 4 storm, said Melancon’s chief of staff, Casey O’Shea.

“We had arrangements to airlift food by helicopter to these folks, and now the food is sitting in trucks because they won’t let helicopters fly,” O’Shea said Friday afternoon. The Times-Picayune.

"There was a striking discrepancy between the CNN International reporton the Bush visit to the New Orleans disaster zone, yesterday, andreports of the same event by German TV.

ZDF News reported that the president's visit was a completely staged event. Their crew witnessed how the open air food distribution point Bush visited in front of the cameras was torn down immediately after the president and the herd of 'news people' had left and that others which were allegedly being set up were abandoned at the same time.

The people in the area were once again left to fend for themselves,said ZDF." Blah3.com.

On the fifth day after Hurricane Katrina struck, National Guard troops finally managed to get themselves into downtown New Orleans,” reports Jim Ridgeway, Washington correspondent for The Village Voice . . Although the government could have flown in the medical equipment and doctors to staff existing or makeshift hospitals, it didn’t move. Only at midday today ,did the AP report, “Rescuers finally made it into Charity Hospital, the largest public hospital and trauma center in the city, where gunshots prevented efforts on Thursday to evacuate more than 220 patients. ‘We moved all of the babies out of Charity this morning,’ said Keith Simon, spokesman for Acadian Ambulance Service Inc.”

“This is the United States,” Ridgeway exclaims. “Rescuing babies from a natural disaster took five days!” The Village Voice.

Thousands of refugees remain huddled on rooftops and bridges screaming for help and waving articles of clothing to attract the too-infrequent helicopter overflights by rescue teams in the New Orleans metro area. San Francisco Chronicle.

“Imagine Bill Clinton were president, and he had ignored a FEMA report four years earlier predicting just this disaster, and cut funding over the last five years by 40-plus percent, and then sat on vacation and waited while the mayor and the governor pleaded for help, while people died and folks were huddling with no power and no running water, fearing for their lives,” says former Clinton aide Susan Estrich on NewsMax.com. Do you think the Republicans would blame him? With a midterm election looming? With any number of senators potentially running for president? Especially when there is reason for blame.” NewsMax.com.

 

9/3 Saturday -- "That 'perfect storm' of a combination of catastrophes exceeded the foresight of the planners, and maybe anybody's foresight," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff tells reporters, referring to a situation where a strong hurricane hit New Orleans and levees also burst as a result. Chertoff calls the disaster "breathtaking in its surprise." But the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, The Times Picayune, and academic scientists at the University of New Orleans and at Louisiana State University all say the levees built to prevent catastrophic flooding in New Orleans were designed to withstand only Category 3 hurricanes, and they had publicly proclaimed their concern about inadequate federal funding for flood control generally and levees in particular for many years. Louisiana state officials have warned for years that a Category 4 could cause the levees to fail. Katrina was a Category 4 hurricane, and officials at local, state and federal levels all knew it was targeting New Orleans three days before the storm hit land.

See Editor & Publisher, “Did New Orleans Catastrophe Have to Happen? 'Times-Picayune' Had Repeatedly Raised Federal Spending Issues”.

“I can understand the chaos that happened after the tsunami, because they had no warning, but here there was plenty of warning. In the three days before the hurricane hit, we knew it was coming and everyone could have been evacuated,” explained Malik Rahim, recent Green Party Candidate for New Orleans City Council, in an article for the San Francisco BayView. “We have Amtrak here that could have carried everybody out of town. There were enough school buses that could have evacuated 20,000 people easily, but they just let them be flooded. My son watched 40 buses go underwater - they just wouldn't move them, afraid they'd be stolen. People who could afford to leave were so afraid someone would steal what they own that they just let it all be flooded. They could have let a family without a vehicle borrow their extra car, but instead they left it behind to be destroyed. It's not like New Orleans was caught off guard,” Malik continued. “This could have been prevented. There's military right here in New Orleans, but for three days they weren't even mobilized. You'd think this was a Third World country. I'm in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans, the only part that isn't flooded. The water is good. Our parks and schools could easily hold 40,000 people, and they're not using any of it. This is criminal. These people are dying for no other reason than the lack of organization.” ZNet.

World Press commentary on the New Orleans catastrophe turns ugly:
“Up until Monday, Bush was the president of the war in Iraq and 9/11. Today there are few doubts that he will also pass into history as the president who didn't know how to prevent the destruction of New Orleans and who abandoned its inhabitants to their fate for days. And the worst is yet to come.” – Spain’s El Pais

”The sea walls would not have burst in New Orleans if the funds meant for strengthening them had not been cut to help the war effort in Iraq and the war on terror... And rescue work would have been more effective if a section of National Guard from the areas affected had not been sent to Baghdad and Kabul... And would George Bush have left his holiday ranch more quickly if the disaster had not first struck the most disadvantaged populations of the black south?” -- Switzerland's Le Temps
”About 10,000 US National Guard troops were deployed [in New Orleans] and were granted the authority to fire at and kill whom they wanted, upon the pretext of restoring order. This decision is an indication of the US administration's militarist mentality, which regards killing as the only way to control even its own citizens.” -- Musib Na'imi in Iran's  Al-Vefagh
”My first reaction when television images of the survivors of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans came through the channels was that the producers must be showing the wrong clip. The images, and even the disproportionately high number of visibly impoverished blacks among the refugees, could easily have been a re-enactment of a scene from the pigeonholed African continent.” -- Ambrose Murunga in Kenya's Daily Nation
”Katrina had more than the power of the wind and water, because, now, when they have subsided, it can still reveal the emptiness of an era, one that is represented by President George W Bush more than anyone.” -- Argentina's Clarin

 

9/4 Sunday -- “The guy who runs this building I'm in, emergency management, he's responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, ‘Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, Mama, somebody's coming to get you. Somebody's coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody's coming to get you on Friday.’ And she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night,” a sobbing Aaron Broussard, President of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, which contains the bulk of the lily-white affluent New Orleans suburbs, told Tim Russert on Meet the Press. “Nobody's coming to get us. Nobody's coming to get us. The secretary has promised. Everybody's promised. They've had press conferences. I'm sick of the press conferences. For God sakes, shut up and send us somebody,” Broussard wailed. Meet the Press.

 

9/5 Monday -- "Almost everyone I’ve talked to says we're going to move to Houston,” proclaimed Barbara Bush, on a tour of hurricane relief centers in Houston. Then she added: "What I’m hearing which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this -- this [she chuckles slightly] is working very well for them." Editor & Publisher.

The USS Bataan, equipped with six operating rooms, hundreds of hospital beds and the ability to produce 100,000 gallons of fresh water a day, has been sitting off the Gulf Coast since last Monday – without patients. The New York Times.

 

9/6 Tuesday -- Saying the city was "completely destroyed" and "a hazard," the New Orleans deputy police chief Warren Riley urged remaining residents Monday to get out because there was no power, drinkable water or food supply. "We advise people that this city has been destroyed. It has been completely destroyed," said Riley. Most of the streets are filled with stagnant, fetid waters streaked with iridescent oil and smelling of garbage, human waste and death. NO estimates of the number of the dead have been released by any local, state or federal agency. CNN.com.

 

9/7 Wednesday -- "There's a martial law declaration in place that gives us legal authority for mandatory evacuations," the superintendent of New Orleans police, P. Edwin Compass III, said at a news conference today. "We'll use the minimum amount of force necessary." 10,000 residents remain in the beleaguered city, many in dry, undamaged homes. President Bush has asked Congress to authorize a total of $61.8 billion for reconstruction efforts. To police the area, 10,000 National Guard troops and 4,000 members of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division are in place in the city. There are now more troops than citizens left in New Orleans, which is still 60% under water. “In the first indication of how many dead Louisiana might expect, a spokesman for the Louisiana State Department of Health Hospitals, Robert Johannessen, said today that FEMA had ordered 25,000 body bags.” The New York Times.

“Not long after some 1,000 firefighters sat down for eight hours of training, the whispering began: ‘What are we doing here?’

   As New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin pleaded on national television for firefighters - his own are exhausted after working around the clock for a week - a battalion of highly trained men and women sat idle Sunday in a muggy Sheraton Hotel conference room in Atlanta.

    Many of the firefighters, assembled from Utah and throughout the United States by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, thought they were going to be deployed as emergency workers. Firefighters say they want to brave the heat, the debris-littered roads, the poisonous cottonmouth snakes and fire ants and travel into pockets of Louisiana where many people have yet to receive emergency aid.

. . .But as specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas." (emphasis added)

Salt Lake City Tribune.

 




(All Photos are Clip Art except the portrait of the author)

The New New Deal

It is now one week after Katrina’s onslaught. The political and social dimensions of the crisis are just now beginning to surface.

The conflict between entrenched economic interests and environmental concerns is much older than many of us realize. The racial tensions that Katrina exposed have simmered beneath the surface in New Orleans and throughout America for many years. The cold indifference to human suffering displayed by American elites in New Orleans and in Washington have put a harsh spotlight upon the Utopian free-market, laissez-faire ideology promoted by Ronald Reagan, accepted by Bill Clinton, and extended by George Bush Sr. and George Bush Jr. over the last twenty-five years.

The prevailing ideology of Reaganomics and the Washington consensus of neo-liberal globalization assumes that each and every individual is at war, economically, with every other individual, and that the community is best served by this war, in which only the economically fittest, the most warlike, the most predatory, will survive.

This harsh, dogmatic, mechanistic neo-Darwinian view of human nature and human community assumes that the least government is the best government, and that government’s most important functions are directed toward aggressive military adventures to command and control resources and markets for the benefit of the community’s elites, and toward police and surveillance activities designed to repress the unhappy losers in the societal struggle of all against all.

Thus, New Orleans leaders abandoned the poor to their fate, warning them that they would do so in July, in advance of Katrina’s onslaught. Thus, the Bush administration failed to provide meaningful relief efforts to the abandoned poor in New Orleans following the flood, and FEMA Director Michael Brown blamed the victims for failing to have enough money to get out of town at a moment’s notice when the last-minute warnings were issued.

But it is important to recall that this free market ideology is not an aberration in US history, but rather the main stream of political and economic thought that we encounter from the very beginning of the American experiment. It is imperative to remain aware that the racism implicit in the actions of government officials during the Katrina debacle has been the foundation stone upon which the American Empire was built.

It is important for outraged citizens to rise up and demand that their government take its rightful place as an enlightened leader in the 21st century, protecting endangered environments, providing all citizens with education, housing, health care and job opportunities, relinquishing the sword and taking up the hard work of finding alternatives to a society addicted to oil and gas, and willing to pay any price to continue consuming natural resources.

 

 

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US history presents us with an eerie parallel to Katrina’s devastation, and indicates that the present moment may indeed be an inflection point that marks a major turning of the tide in American society and American politics – away from the politics of privilege and toward the politics of compassion, away from the politics of competition and toward the politics of co-operation, away from the politics of exploitation and toward the politics of inclusion, away from a society dedicated to consumption and warfare and toward a society dedicated to service, invention, innovation and sharing. That would give a greater meaning to the suffering that has been unleashed in New Orleans.

In the spring of 1927, incessant rains blew away levees from the headwaters of the Mississippi River to the Gulf Coast, unleashing flash floods from Cairo, Illinois to New Orleans, inundating hundreds of towns and thousands of homesteads and farms, killing one thousand people.

In New Orleans, the catastrophe unleashed predictably shameful, racist behavior. As New York Times columnist David Brooks points out, "Blacks were rounded up into work camps and held by armed guards. They were prevented from leaving as the waters rose. A steamer, the Capitol, played ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’ as it sailed away. The racist violence that followed the floods helped persuade many blacks to move north."  [23]

New Orleans civic leaders purposely flooded poor and middle class neighborhoods to ease the flow entering wealthy areas, promised citizens full compensation for damages, and then reneged on their promises.

By August 1927 the flood subsided,” according to the Wikipedia. [24]  “During the disaster 700,000 people were displaced, including 330,000 African-Americans who were moved to 154 relief camps. Over 13,000 refugees near Greenville, Mississippi were gathered from area farms and evacuated to the crest of an unbroken levee, and stranded there for days without food or clean water, while boats arrived to evacuate white women and children. Many African-Americans were detained and forced to labor at gunpoint during flood relief efforts.”

“Several reports on the poor situation in the refugee camps, including one by the Colored Advisory Commission by Robert Russa Moton, were kept out of the media at the request of Herbert Hoover, with the promise of further reforms for blacks after the presidential election. When he failed to keep the promise, Moton and other influential African-Americans helped to shift the allegiance of black Americans from the Republican party to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Democrats.”

The Democrats, who had been operating as a pale imitation of the Republican party, and whose primary platform involved balancing the budget on the backs of the middle class and the poor, found themselves suddenly shoved in a much more progressive direction by the anger unleashed in Louisiana, a populist rage that raised Huey P. Long to the Governor’s mansion in Baton Rouge in 1928, and elevated his radical political agenda to national prominence.

Long advocated a progressive income tax, substantial funding for public education, public works to rebuild Louisiana and the rest of flood-ravaged America, an end to wars for Empire, and an end to financial oligarchy.

Textbooks were expensive in Louisiana at that time, and Long said that the oil companies who were profiting so handsomely from their activities in his home state should pay for books for the schoolchildren of Louisiana. [25]

Standard Oil of New Jersey refused to pay the tax Long levied on the fossil fuel interests, and Long ordered the National Guard to seize Standard Oil’s delta fields. Long was soon under attack as a “demagogue” and a “dictator”, but was elected to the US Senate and was considered a prominent presidential hopeful until he was assassinated on September 8, 1935.

A major threat to the mainstream Democrats, led by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, evaporated, and FDR proceeded to adopt a more moderate version of Huey Long’s agenda under the banner of the New Deal.

Perhaps the time has come for a New New Deal in America. In the next sections of this essay, we’ll explore the lessons of Katrina, and outline elements of what this New New Deal might encompass.

 

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Environmental issues are inextricably intertwined with any agenda for rebuilding New Orleans. New Orleans is the industrialized world’s poster child for endangered global mega-cities on subsiding coastlines with dying wetlands. Environmental groups say many major world cities are threatened, including Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya, in Japan. In the Philippines, China and Indonesia, millions more urban coastal dwellers face displacement as sea levels rise over the next century from a mixture of over-development, erosion, subsidence, increased storm activities and rising sea levels resulting from global warming.In the US, Houston, San Francisco Bay, Miami, and even New York could find themselves struggling to cope with rising waters throughout the 21st Century.

Here in America, the population continues to grow, and more and more people are moving into high-risk coastal areas.

Here are some general environmental lessons that Americans must learn if we are to avoid repetitions of the Katrina disaster.

First, policies that erode the integrity of natural ecosystems should be terminated and policies enacted that will protect the remaining vital coastal wetlands, great barrier islands and the delicate ecosystems that nourish them.

This means, among other things, spending substantial sums of money to rebuild coastal marshes and re-engineer existing river levee systems to allow for intermittent runoff into delta marshes.

We must spend substantial sums to investigate global water-management successes such as the famous DeltaWerks in The Netherlands, considered the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. After World War II, a war-ravaged, financially challenged Dutch people, faced with the agonizing and expensive task of rebuilding their devastated country, were appalled by a 1953 flood that killed 1835 and generated 100,000 evacuees, so they constructed an amazingly successful system of dams, dykes, drainage locks, and flood barriers and built an entirely new, man-made system of vegetation, including agricultural development, in the affected regions. Tidal floods have been reduced, shores have been uncovered and transformed into recreational areas and nature preserves. America has the resources and ability to reproduce the hydraulic engineering and environmental successes the Dutch have achieved. All that we need is the political will to do so.

Second, we must abandon the pernicious practice of using short term cost-benefit analyses to drive public policy. This is the mindset that allocated flood control and environmental protection funds to the military so they could pursue the disastrous Iraq war. This is the mindset that reduced protections for wetlands for generations in Southern Louisiana to promote real estate development and subsidize the activities of the immensely profitable oil and gas industry. This is the mindset that fails to allocate emergency preparedness funds to the evacuation of the poor and disabled under the protective mantle of free-market ideology. This is the mindset that asks, “Should New Orleans be saved?”

A new, long-term vision of a sustainable, equitable society must be the foundation for all policies in this country, beginning with the rebuilding of New Orleans.

This means that tax breaks for those who build expensive homes and businesses in endangered coastal areas all over America should be terminated. In fact, individuals with property in those areas should pay a tax surcharge because they are benefiting from increased expenditures required to secure, repair, and often, rebuild the infrastructure they depend upon in their daily lives. It means that those industries that have benefited most from one hundred years of policies that promoted economic growth at the expense of the community’s environment must be made to pay their fair share of rebuilding expenses through explicit taxes. It means that those who consume fossil fuels across America, and who have benefited from a century of policies that systematically degraded Southern Louisiana’s environment must pay a surcharge, a tax to help rebuild New Orleans, and the coastal wetlands all around the country.

Third, the sound science which substantiates the threat of global warming and the attendant expected rise in sea levels must be accepted by the current ideologically obsessed and faith-based administration.

America must join the rest of the civilized world in a concerted effort to understand the effects of global warming and to fund major initiatives to ameliorate the anticipated effects. The President must sign the Kyoto Treaty immediately.

At a minimum, global warming is creating massive problems for degrading coastal environments around the world, as glaciers melt, sea levels rise, and deep ocean currents are displaced, disrupting normal storm patterns.

Many commentators have stepped forward to offer their opinions on the correlation between global warming and the incidence and severity of tropical storms since Katrina’s onslaught.

The science of tropical storms is called global climatology, and is designed to tell us such things as whether storms will increase with global warming, whether they will be more intense, and where they will probably occur.

The number of storms is not increasing, and there is no theoretical basis to believe that it will,” says Dr. Robert Korty, who works at the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Policy Change at MIT University. “Globally, roughly 90 tropical cyclones form each year. This number has been remarkably stable for as long as a global record has existed – typically varying less than plus or minus 10 storms each year -- though the physics that controls this number and its stability remains enigmatic (why 90 storms? why not nine? why not 900?).”

Storms in the Atlantic constitute roughly 11% of the global total, but the number varies from year to year, correlated to known variables such as El Niño, and the number of storms seems to oscillate in cyclical patterns.

“During the past decade, the Atlantic has returned to an
active period, which is believed to be part of a multi-decadal, natural
oscillation,” Korty explains.

The co-incidental uptick in cyclical storms and rising sea levels from global warming creates a condition of environmental emergency around the world, at least as serious as New Orleans experienced over the last thirty years. It would be a crime against humanity to ignore the lessons of New Orleans.

New Orleans was warned, and ignored the warnings. The result is horrendous to behold. Now the rest of the United States and the world is being warned. We ignore Katrina’s warning only by putting our descendants in tremendous peril.

The federal government and the people of the United State have an obligation to their children and grandchildren and great grandchildren to undertake serious initiatives to make sure that the New Orleans disaster is not repeated again and again.

A serious federal initiative obviously includes more than research. In addition to wetlands restoration, and comprehensive coastal environmental protection measures, the government must provide substantial funding for incentives to homeowners, businesses and cities around the country to implement substantial energy conservation measures, to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and to fund incentives for innovative approaches to construction of systems delivering alternative forms of energy, including wind and solar.

The government should also fund a crash program to research and support organic methods of agriculture, including both soil and water management and pest control, so that America can build a strong local system of small farms, co-operative community farms and family farms, that use less intense petrochemical inputs to produce more healthy, more vital food at affordable prices. A strong system of local agricultural producers also reduces the enormous shipping costs currently built-into global industrial agricultural models, and helps reduce global warming.

 

 

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The environmental cost for the immediate, highly circumscribed task of rebuilding of New Orleans according to this handful of environmental principles will cost tens of billions of dollars at a minimum.Here are some of the primary components that have already been suggested for an environmentally aware process of restoration for the South Louisiana eco-system.

In 1998, the office of the Governor of the State of Louisiana issued a blueprint for restoring coastal Louisiana entitled “Coast 2050”, which would cost about $14 billion. [26]

The plan envisions the rebuilding of the area’s vast delta marshlands, and the restoration of the barrier islands along the Coast, so they can absorb storm surges from the Gulf.

New channels would be cut at key intervals in levees along the course of the Mississippi, to provide for controlled flooding of the marshlands, rebuilding them with sediment. This would admittedly disrupt oyster beds, and the industry that depends upon harvesting them, but that expense would be part of the overall cost of the project.

The Army Corps of Engineers would use 500 million cubic yards of sand from the Southern Louisiana Ship Shoal to rebuild coastal barrier islands, and cut a new channel in the river delta further above the coast. The Corps would no longer dredge the southern end of the river, allowing the mouth of the Mississippi to return to its historical position above the islands. The mouth would fill with sediment and overflow to nourish the protective barrier islands as it did prior to 1897.

Using the Netherlands DeltaWerks project as a model, the Corps would then gate the narrow straits on Lake Ponchartrain’s northern edge where the lake connects to the Gulf.

In addition to these over-arching terraforming projects, rebuilding New Orleans requires many substantial infrastructure investments to render the city’s buildings and infrastructure safer. The fact is that the city continues to sink, and that over the next century, stronger storms are set to become more frequent.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune has outlined a number of other local projects that must be considered of prime importance. [27]

One current proposal involves raising the levees in the city by another ten feet and then building a restraining giant wall, more than 30 feet high in places, through the heart of the city and its suburbs.

From New Orleans to the Gulf, thousands of homes must have their roofs fortified to withstand high winds and be outfitted with steel storm shutters.

Outside the levees, most homes would have to be raised on pilings at least 15 feet high. Main roads and highways would be accorded similar treatment.

Some coastal communities would want to build elevated storm shelters capable of withstanding 175 mile per hour winds, similar to those constructed in Bangladesh.

 

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Social and healthcare issues raised by the Katrina disaster must also be addressed in any comprehensive plan for rebuilding.

Will the rebuilding of New Orleans along environmentally sound principles be so expensive that real estate prices in the area will skyrocket, pricing middle class and poor people out of the city and its suburbs altogether?

Will reconstruction of the French Quarter and the rest of New Orleans preserve the original character of the world-famous architecture, or will the whole city become a kind of theme park for the rich and for highly trained workers who are essential to the smooth functioning of the port and the petrochemical facilities in the area?

Will the citizens of New Orleans, rich and poor alike, be given full recompense for their economic losses, and the suffering they have endured?

How will local, state and government officials insure that poor, African-American refugees will not be stigmatized and marginalized, unable to return home and unable to afford housing and healthcare in whatever locale they have sought shelter?

How will the government guarantee public oversight of the expenditure of what could easily end up being $100-200 billion or more in Katrina relief and rebuilding funds given the horrendous record in Iraq where Halliburton and other companies with close connections to the current administration are squandering billions of dollars and billions of dollars spent are classified “unaccountable” with no record of how they were spent?

 

 

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It is time for a New New Deal. The disaster in New Orleans is so immense that only a co-ordinated, co-operative national response is adequate to the occasion.

This country spends $350 billion per year on our muscle-bound military and $50+ billion and counting on foreign military adventures like the Iraq war designed to consolidate control over key energy producing areas of the world and the key transportation routes that move that energy around the world. America’s military is several times more robust and more expensive than any competing country in the world. Much of this money goes to pay for ridiculous items such as nuclear weapons, which can not and should not be used, and Star Wars programs designed to create a shield for America to use when engaging in aggressive military operations against countries all over the world as part of its plan to create an invulnerable global military Empire.

It is time to take one-half of that money to fund a New New Deal. It is time to ask those Americans and those corporations who have profited most from the current low-tax cut-throat competition economic and political system to pay their fair share for the infrastructure of a new 21st Century American Peace Economy.

It is time to provide educational opportunities and retraining, homes, healthcare, food and job opportunities to every refugee, all across the country. It is time to provide these opportunities to every American.

It is time to fund environmental protection policies, innovative alternative energy technologies, energy conservation measures, wetlands restoration projects, and research into global warming and how to mitigate its effects on a grand scale.

It is time to end subsidies for giant agri-business firms and provide government support for local, organic farming initiatives and community-based high-value-added cottage industries based upon organic farm production.

Americans who receive subsidized education and job training can find work teaching; providing health care, including alternative health care modalities such as acupuncture, Reiki and herbal healing; studying and implementing organic farming practices; developing green architecture and green city planning options; inventing and alternative energy technologies; working on terraforming projects to restore our wetlands and other crucial environmental assets; and doing social work with underprivileged sectors of our society.

If such work is lacking, the government must stand ready to provide such work, and at a decent, living wage.

This ambitious program depends upon putting an end to the American Empire by slashing defense spending and closing down military bases unnecessary to the country’s defense, and currently used as outposts for resource command and control.

In addition, those who have benefited the most from the last thirty years of tax reductions on the rich and on corporations must pay their fair share to fund the emerging, sustainable peace economy ofthe 21st Century.

A total re-orientation of our society is called for after the devastation of New Orleans. No less than a revolution in our thinking and in our way of life will do.

 

 



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23--“The Storm After the Storm,” The New York Times, 9/1/05 (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/01/opinion/01brooks.html?incamp=article_popular)

24-- “Great Mississippi Flood”, Wikipedia, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Mississippi_Flood_of_1927)

25-- “Bush Strafes New Orleans: Where Is Our Huey Long?”, GregPalast.com, (http://www.gregpalast.com/detail.cfm?artid=453&row=0)

26--“Drowning New Orleans”, Scientific American, October 2001, (http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&articleID=00060286-CB58-1315-8B5883414B7F0000&pageNumber=1&catID=2)

27-- “Cost of Survival”, The Times Picayune, (http://www.nola.com/washingaway/costofsurvival_1.html)




(All Photos are Clip Art except the portrait of the author)