Saturday, September 17, 2005

Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy

INTERROGATING AUSTRALIANS: A Group Interview My fellow Writer of the Future Cat Sparks Speaks!

More Katrina Fallout

'Sun-Sentinel': Katrina Only Latest of FEMA Foul-Ups. Two-day investigative series starting September 18 at The Sun-Sentinel.

Louisiana's Environmental Assessment(s)

Some links that came up in my Environmental Law class last week re: Katrina.

Katrina Environmental Issues 'Almost Unimaginable'

Louisiana's Dept of Env. Quality Secretary makes the state's first major assessment of the "havoc" in southern La. 140K-160K homes unsalvageable (where do you put that much debris?) and "years" to restore full water service. Two major oil spills, and 500 sewage plants damaged or destroyed.

Few Choices To Rid New Orleans of Poisoned Water
NOLA's water not toxic per se, but polluted, and there's really no place to pump it except into Lake Pontchartrain or the Mississippi, which could prompt fish die-offs and poison area wetlands.

Global Warming Making Hurricanes More Ferocious?

Study Links Hurricanes to Global Warming: Fiercer storms may be due to greenhouses gases, but more data needed, scientists say

Global Warming and Hurricanes
...the hurricanes that do occur near the end of the 21st century are expected to be stronger and have significantly more intense rainfall than under present day climate conditions.

From last week:
NOVA weighs in.
Downplays idea pretty straightforwardly, after an overaggressive opening.,8599,1099102,00.html
Superficial analysis of how warming could create stronger hurricanes, comes down in the "maybe" department. (Pump more energy in, put or keep temperature gradients in the hurricane-creating zone more often.)
Brief descriptions of the discussion space: warming as cause v. 'normal' multi-decade cycle.,1518,372179,00.html
Paints a very politicized picture of what different German papers are saying.,1518,372176,00.html
Includes link to the paper by Kerry Emanuel, "Increasing Destructiveness of Tropical Cyclones Over the Past 30 Years", published in Nature, and which is not a hard read. Only 3 pages.
Points out there will never be a "smoking-gun" type link between global warming and any particular disaster, which is well worth remembering.

Bush Admin looking to blame anyone, everyone, but themselves

E-mail suggests government seeking to blame groups

Federal officials appear to be seeking proof to blame the flood of New Orleans on environmental groups, documents show.
The Clarion-Ledger has obtained a copy of an internal e-mail the U.S. Department of Justice sent out this week to various U.S. attorneys' offices: "Has your district defended any cases on behalf of the (U.S.) Army Corps of Engineers against claims brought by environmental groups seeking to block or otherwise impede the Corps work on the levees protecting New Orleans? If so, please describe the case and the outcome of the litigation."

Whoever is behind the e-mail may have spotted the Sept. 8 issue of National Review Online that chastised the Sierra Club and other environmental groups for suing to halt the corps' 1996 plan to raise and fortify 303 miles of Mississippi River levees in Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas.
The corps settled the litigation in 1997, agreeing to hold off on some work until an environmental impact could be completed. The National Review article concluded: "Whether this delay directly affected the levees that broke in New Orleans is difficult to ascertain."
The problem with that conclusion?
The levees that broke causing New Orleans to flood weren't Mississippi River levees. They were levees that protected the city from Lake Pontchartrain levees on the other side of the city.[Emphasis added --sid]
When Katrina struck, the hurricane pushed tons of water from the Gulf of Mexico into Lake Pontchartrain, which borders the city to the north. Corps officials say the water from the lake cleared the levees by 3 feet. It was those floodwaters, they say, that caused the levees to degrade until they ruptured, causing 80 percent of New Orleans to flood.
[Sierra Club Attorney David] Bookbinder said the purpose of the litigation by the Sierra Club and others in 1996 was where the corps got the dirt for the project. "We had no objections to levees," he said. "We said, 'Just don't dig film materials out of the wetlands. Get the dirt from somewhere else.' "

Nibbling Away at the Doctrine of State Sovereignty?

UN ‘must never again be found wanting on genocide’

This promise, part of a new doctrine called the responsibility to protect, reflects a profound shift in international law, whereby a growing sense of global responsibility for atrocities is increasingly encroaching upon the formerly sanctified concept of state sovereignty.

The Responsibility to Protect

From the summary:

Throughout the humanitarian crises of the 1990s, the international community failed to come up with rules on how and when to intervene, and under whose authority. Despite the new focus on terrorism, these debates will not go away. The issue must be reframed as an argument not about the "right to intervene" but about the "reponsibility to protect" that all sovereign states owe to their citizens.

Responsibility to Protect: Engaging Civil Society Project

THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT: Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty

Friday, September 16, 2005


Holy Crap. Karl Rove in charge of the New Orleans reconstruction effort?

Who's in Charge? Karl Rove!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Landfill in New Orleans

Love Canal-type landfill submerged in New Orleans floodwaters

Katrina Quotes, Compiled

Did They Really Say That?

Yes, yes, they did.

Oh, look, there's history, repeating itself

Republicans block efforts to amend relief bill, hold vote without providing copy of bill

Democrats said no one had even seen a copy of the legislation.
Voting along party lines, Republicans denied a measure that would have allowed for two hours of discussion and opened up the measure to be amended.

Well, that's just great. The PATRIOT Act was the same damn way. Can we not learn from our mistakes? Maybe just once?

Congress takes up $51.8 billion Katrina relief bill

The bulk of the money would go into a Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief fund that is offering the debit cards. FEMA anticipates handing out 320,000 cards, at a cost of $640 million, to help displaced residents buy clothing, pay for transportation and other "emergency supplies they need," Director Michael Brown said.

Now that article is from the 8th of September, but if they're not going to do the debit cards after all, where will the money go, and how?[*]

FEMA, Red Cross Programs Confusing

The plan to give displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina instant financial help by issuing debit cards seemed, to many, like a good idea at the time."

[*] Evacuees Grow Anxious in Houston Mentions FEMA stopping distribution of cards, but from other news-googling it's not clear if that's a temporary halt in that locale, or discontinuing the program entirely.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

National Response Plan, or lack thereof

Breakdowns Marked Path From Hurricane to Anarchy

On the DHS's "National Response Plan":

The National Response Plan set out a lofty goal in its preface: "The end result is vastly improved coordination among federal, state, local and tribal organizations to help save lives and protect America's communities by increasing the speed, effectiveness and efficiency of incident management."

I think we can all agree that it failed to meet that goal, eh? The upsetting thing is that -- wait, let me rephrase that. One of many upsetting things is that --

Mr. Knocke, the homeland security spokesman, said the department realizes it must learn from its mistakes, and the department's inspector general has been given $15 million in the emergency supplemental appropriated by Congress to study the flawed rescue and recovery operation.

I thought we did that already. Studied, I mean. And that's why the Department of Homeland Security got created, and plans like this one established. Because of the lessons of September 11, 2001.


Well, then, what was the point?