Thursday, August 30, 2007

New Orleans, Katrina, and Iraq

Some things of note as we remember the victims of Hurricane Katrina this week:

Big Easy to Big Empty: How the White House is Still Drowning New Orleans from Greg Palast, whose film, Big Easy to Big Empty: The Untold Story of the Drowning of New Orleans, for Democracy Now! is being re-released this week. From Palast:
It’s the Black survivors without the cash that are a problem. So where New Orleans once stood, Mayor Nagin, in connivance with a Bush regime more than happy to keep a quarter million poor folk (i.e. Democrats) out of this swing state, is creating a new city: a tourist town with a French Quarter, loose-spending drunks, hot-sheets hotels and a few Black people to perform the modern version of minstrel shows.

Operation Eden: Two Years On And Counting, an interview with Clayton James Cubitt about his photos of Katrina victims. And much more at his Operation Eden blog. From an earlier post on New Orleans:
So why has she been abandoned by her country? Why has she been abandoned by her President? Why do we spend more money each month in a foreign war of opportunity than we do in restoring one of our greatest cities from the worst calamity in its long history?

Facing South and its Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch are keeping tabs on the latest reconstruction statistics and reports. Including The Katrina Index. From Facing South's R. Neal:
Thankfully, we will only have to endure one more Katrina Anniversary speech by President Bush. Indeed, there may be better days ahead.

And from the American Association for Justice, a report: AAJ Report Reveals “Pattern of Greed” Katrina Victims Abused by Insurance Companies As Profits Soar. According to this,
...insurers collected billions in premiums from policyholders and then stiffed them in their time of greatest need.
...Facing their darkest hour, even those who had insurance have found themselves victimized a second time by companies that offered pennies on the dollar, refusing to honor many agreements and pay policyholders’ fair claims. Meanwhile, insurance companies continue to pull in record profits each year, having posted $100 billion in profits since Hurricane Katrina.

On another topic, but related, how that money needed on the Gulf Coast is really being spent: from Rolling Stone, The Great Iraq Swindle: How Bush Allowed an Army of For-Profit Contractors to Invade the U.S. Treasury.
Operation Iraqi Freedom, it turns out, was never a war against Saddam ­Hussein's Iraq. It was an invasion of the federal budget, and no occupying force in history has ever been this efficient. George W. Bush's war in the Mesopotamian desert was an experiment of sorts, a crude first take at his vision of a fully privatized American government.
...But what happened in Iraq went beyond inefficiency, beyond fraud even. This was about the business of government being corrupted by the profit motive to such an extraordinary degree that now we all have to wonder how we will ever be able to depend on the state to do its job in the future. If catastrophic failure is worth billions, where's the incentive to deliver success?

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