September 30, 2005
This is a tough one. If the U.S. cedes control of the Internet, we should get some significant concessions elsewhere. Don't give it up for no gain.
September 29, 2005
Note that one of the funders for this project is Google who runs Linux on their tens of thousands of servers. I have to believe that Mircosoft is concerned, but there's nothing stopping them form providing a stripped down version of Windows for a cheap PC.
The time seems right for this project.
Move over Microsoft, Dell. The $100 PC cometh. From MIT. by ZDNet's David Berlind -- As a part of what he says is his life's most important work, MIT Media Labs director Nicholas Negroponte is on course to deliver a $100 laptop to the people who need it most: the world's children.
GE Healthcare to Acquire IDX Systems Corporation; Significantly Expands GE Presence in Healthcare Information Technologies
September 28, 2005
"It is turning out to be much more difficult than anyone expected to discover if diet affects cancer risk. Hypotheses abound, but convincing evidence remains elusive."
Dr. Schatzkin said. "We have a responsibility to give the best advice we can while pointing out where the evidence is uncertain and how we're working to improve the science."
"That, however, is little consolation to cancer patients and family members who are terrified that cancer might strike them next. And there are more and more. As the population ages, the number of cancer patients is soaring. From 1997 to 2004, the number of Americans with cancer jumped, to 9.6 million from 9.4 million. Cancer strikes one in two men and one in three women in their lifetimes."
Can the statement above be correct? One in two men will get some form of cancer???
September 27, 2005
I hope the Court agrees.
"The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which includes Vermont, endorsed the state's approach in a 2-to-1 ruling last year that concluded that Buckley v. Valeo was not a complete prohibition on spending limits and that such limits could be justified by rationales the Supreme Court had not considered at the time, including public cynicism about the impact of money on politics."
To his credit, he's testifying clearly and without obfuscation. Go here for the transcript of his testimony. He's an able guy who's telling it like it is. The media is wrong to blame FEMA for all the response problems. Blanco and Nagin are the culprits. Is any media besides Fox willing to tell the full story? I applaud the Times for this piece. Now, let's see how they editorialize it.
It's already clear that the Times' headline writers have a bias! Here's the headline that should have appeared: Former FEMA Head Testifies Local Officials Failed. If you read the transcripts, you'd agree.
If you buy into the rhetoric that FEMA alone is responsible for the failure, Go here to read about the resignation of the New Orleans police chief today. CNN last night had strong statements from a guy named Brinkley that Nagin is inept and most interested in covering his political backside.
"Former FEMA director Michael Brown aggressively defended his role in responding to Hurricane Katrina on Tuesday and put much of the blame for coordination failures on Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.
Michael D. Brown, the former director of FEMA, said many people incorrectly believe the agency serves as something of a federal rapid-response force.
'My biggest mistake was not recognizing by Saturday that Louisiana was dysfunctional,' two days before the storm hit, Brown told a special congressional panel set up by House Republican leaders to investigate the catastrophe."
The Times' editorialists have now weighed in:
"...Republicans used a sham hearing to help Michael Brown, who resigned under fire as the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, pass the buck to Democratic officials in Louisiana despite the now-transparent record of federal ineptness.
According to Mr. Brown's self-serving tale, the heart of the mismanagement of Katrina was that officials in Baton Rouge and New Orleans were too "dysfunctional" for their part of the challenge.
"BBC world affairs correspondent Nick Childs says that while the killing could be an important public relations boost for the US, it is not clear how significant Azzam is or whether his death could have a lasting impact."
- Real name reported to be Abdallah Muhammed al-Juhaari
- Also known as Sheikh Abdullah Abu Azzam, or the Emir of Anbar
- Based in Baghdad since April
- Financier and aide to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, oversaw bombing campaign in the capital
- Believed to be Palestinian
- $50,000 reward for his death or capture
Here's another piece about VoIP on other devices like PDAs, iPods, etc.
Verizon's purchase of MCI provides a substantial Internet backbone network on which this VoIP traffic can ride, as well as entry into a large number of large business accounts and a worldwide presence. The question is how to exploit for increased revenue from VoIP?
"One of the key services that might help Microsoft create a legacy beyond Windows in its next 30 years is Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP), an emerging market ripe for domination by a large software company, Helm said. Microsoft has been 'gradually getting the pieces in place' to provide VoIP service, a technology with the potential to be as disruptive as the Internet was ten years ago, he said.
Earlier this week Microsoft unveiled its first telecommunications customer, Qwest Communications, to develop services using its new VOIP software platform.
And in August, Microsoft acquired Teleo, a developer of services and technology that allows users to make and receive voice phone calls on their PCs via the Internet. The company plans to incorporate Teleo's VOIP technology into its own software to upgrade online services from its MSN division.
'If [Microsoft] could make the same economics of the PC apply to telephony--a small number of dominant hardware standards, a large number of hardware players and one big software company--it could yield returns [for the company] commensurate to the PC [market],' Helm said."
September 26, 2005
Many would despoil Vermont's pristine ridgelines to build monstrous 300+ foot wind turbines vainly seeking a tiny, unreliable natural source of electric power. The good news is that the Burlington Free Press opposes this development.
At the same time, some of these same folks oppose upgrading our power transmission system arguing that we can conserve our way out of the rising demand. How do they expect the wind energy electricity to get from our mountaintops to the grid supplying homes and businesses? Oh, and if upgrading the transmission grid, the NIMBYs want the line buried or moved so their view is unobstructed. Some even resort to junk science to support their claims that EMF causes all manner of terrible diesase and defects. To their credit, the Vermont Public Service Board refused to reopen ["For the reasons explained above, we decline to exercise our discretion to reopen this proceeding, and we deny New Haven's and CLF's motions to do so."]their decision to allow the upgrade.
And... some want to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon which produces the cheapest 1/3 of Vermont's electricity without offering anything to replace it beyond conservation and windmills.
What a place!!
"More than 80 percent of the $1.5 billion in contracts signed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency alone were awarded without bidding or with limited competition, government records show, provoking concerns among auditors and government officials about the potential for favoritism or abuse.
Already, questions have been raised about the political connections of two major contractors - the Shaw Group and Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton - that have been represented by the lobbyist Joe M. Allbaugh, President Bush's former campaign manager and a former leader of FEMA."
September 25, 2005
"Modern physicians first began to suspect that alcohol might protect against heart disease almost a century ago, when autopsies revealed that the arteries of heavy drinkers were remarkably free of atherosclerosis. Researchers in the 1970s began to look at large populations of people to compare drinkers and non-drinkers and their risk of heart disease. In 1974, Arthur Klasky, M.D., a cardiologist at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland California, published the first epidemiological evidence that consuming alcohol was associated with a lower risk of coronary disease. In a recent update of those original findings, which now include data from 128,934 people who have been followed for more than 20 years, he and his colleagues calculated that people who imbibe one to two drinks a day enjoy a 32% lower risk of dying from coronary heart disease than those who abstain from alcohol.
"The benefits show up in men and women, in people with diabetes and without, in all ethnic groups across the board," says Klasky. More than 100 studies, in fact, conducted in countries around the world, have confirmed that people who consume moderate amounts of alcohol are about one-third less likely to get heart disease or dies of a heart attack than those who do not drink at all." (From: October/November 2005 Issue of Eating Well magazine Special Report: The Power of Spirits: New science explores just how much a glass of cheer can do for your health; by Peter Jaret)
"'Low-income students who have an opportunity to go to middle-class schools are surrounded by peers who have bigger dreams and who are more academically engaged,' said Richard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation who has written about economic integration in schools. 'They are surrounded by parents who are more likely to be active in the school. And they are taught by teachers who more likely are highly qualified than the teachers in low-income schools.'"
"Add it all up - which The New York Times did, in an analysis of the major costs and benefits of owning and renting, including tax breaks - and owning a home today is more expensive than renting in much of the Northeast, Florida and California. Only if prices rise well above their already lofty levels will home ownership turn out to be the good deal that it is widely assumed to be."
"They often say that people who retire at the age of 65 can safely remove only about 4 percent of their portfolios each year, along with adjustments for inflation. On that basis, the initial withdrawal from a portfolio worth $1 million would be just $40,000.
But some experts have been making waves by suggesting that it may make more sense to withdraw bigger amounts in the early years of retirement.
Ty Bernicke, a financial planner in Eau Claire, Wis., for example, says retirees generally spend less as they age, so that it is reasonable for them to spend more when they are in retirement's early stages. Mr. Bernicke's conclusions, which relied on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Survey for 2002, were published in June in The Journal of Financial Planning (www.fpanet.org/journal/articles/2005_Issues/jfp0605-art7.cfm)."
September 24, 2005
Fascinating speculation about Google's business plan. They clearly are good at what they do and pose a significant challenge to traditional desktop vendors. But the network is not an operating system...yet.
GoogleNet and the Internet Age by ZDNet's Dan Farber -- Elinor Mills of news.com writes about Stephen Arnold's "The Google Legacy: How Google's Internet Search is Transforming Application Software," (available for $180 from the author), which posits that Google is building a highly scalable platform for virtual applications and services (VoIP, Wi-fi, content distribution, etc.) on any kind of device. It's not an anti-Microsoft issue--it's [...]
Trackback URL for this post: http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/wp-trackback.php?p=1892
"Educated parents not only pass down economic resources to their children, they pass down expectations, habits, knowledge and cognitive abilities. Pretty soon you end up with a hereditary meritocratic class that reinforces itself generation after generation."
"'At a certain point, the ones that are left are going to stay,' said Jonathan Gaw, an analyst at IDC, a market research firm based in Framingham, Mass. Current AOL members are sticking with their pokey dial-up service, paying AOL $23.95 a month, even in areas served by Verizon and SBC Communications where D.S.L. service - offering download speeds 7 to 25 times as fast - is now available for $14.95 a month."
September 23, 2005
"Appearing before the Media Institute, a research group supported by major news media companies and devoted to free-press issues, Mr. Tomlinson said Thursday that there was nothing substantive he would have done differently as head of the corporation.
'If I threatened the cozy atmosphere of public broadcasting over the failure to balance the liberal advocacy journalism of Bill Moyers, so be it,' he said before a luncheon sponsored by the institute. 'This thing of balance is not rocket science, and that is why I had so little tolerance for public broadcasting's inability to achieve balance. Let the record show that I gave as good as I got.'
'I am highly skeptical of so-called nonpartisanship in public broadcasting because that appears to mean the same old liberals making the same old decisions,' he added."
We should be learning serious lessons about the inherent problems when millions of people evacuate a major metropolitan area. The exodus is simply overwhelming the capacity of the infrastructure to deal with it.
Meanwhile, ignorant reporters ask foolish questions.
"Officials in Texas also said they recognized a serious situation had arisen in the evacuation, with many people stranded on traffic-choked highways, without gas and without water. The state had promised to send gas trucks to relieve the problem, Mayor White said, but he could not say how long it would be before those trucks arrived.
In the meantime, he said, the city intended to send out vans and buses filled with water to take to the stranded people, and to evacuate some on the buses, as needed. To that end, Judge Eckels put out a call for volunteers to help load these vans and buses with water, and said that their help was needed immediately.
Mayor White deflected questions from reporters asking him to assess who was to blame for what happened Thursday, specifically the lack of gasoline where needed.
'This is not the time to look at who should have done what on the emergency,' the mayor said. 'This is not the time we're going to get into who should've done what.'"
"In the Lower Ninth Ward, where two gaping breaches in the Industrial Canal levee submerged and splintered one of the poorest sections of the city, four to eight inches of water began seeping back into some abandoned and destroyed neighborhoods by noon on Thursday. Small waterfalls of leakage could be seen several feet below the top of the repaired levee as wind pushed rising water from Lake Pontchartrain through the Industrial Canal.
This was to be expected, said Chad Rachel, a civil engineer with the corps, after an inspection of the repaired breaches. There did not appear to be any erosion of the compacted clay base of the patched dike, he said, adding that he felt certain the large, interlocking stones atop the base would be able to withstand the expected storm surge.
'We don't expect any problem with a catastrophic breach,' Mr. Rachel said.
By dusk, however, water had continued to rise, and Maj. Barry Guidry of the Army offered a direr assessment after examining the leaking at the Industrial Canal. 'The levee's going to cave in,' Major Guidry said. 'In the middle of the night, this thing is going to be gone.'"
September 22, 2005
"The Kerry-Edwards contrast is characteristic of the argument that now divides the Democratic Party. On one side are those who believe that the party's essential problem is with its political style.
The Republicans win because they are simply rougher, so the Democrats must be just as tough in response. They must match Karl Rove blow for blow. Democrats in this camp are voting against John Roberts just to show the world, and their donors above all, that they are willing to give no quarter.
On the other side are those who believe that the Democratic defeats flow from policy problems, not from campaign style or message framing. They don't believe that Democrats can win wrapped in their own rage, or kowtowing endlessly to their psychologically aggrieved donor base. For them, the crucial challenge is to come up with policies more in tune with voters.
Kerry speaks for the first group, which believes in more partisanship, and Edwards for the second, which believes in less.
I have discussions with my Democratic friends over whether the party will snap back to Clintonite centrism after the polarizing Bush leaves town. Some think yes. I suspect no. As Kerry's speech shows, the emotional tenor of the party has changed. The donors are aroused. Bush may end up changing the Democratic Party more than his own. "
September 21, 2005
Just this minute TV reports that Bush has declared a state of emergency in Texas and Louisiana.
Update: Congratulations to the pilots who landed this Airbus safely. Under the circumstances, they performed with the best skills. Thank you, Lord!
The 'Big government' Times should know better as they begin to extract costs from their operation through layoffs announced yesterday.
"Katrina cannot and should not be paid for by cutting government programs, unless the goal is to end up with a government that's even less effective than it was before Katrina. True, there's fat that Congress should trim. But even if members of Congress were willing to rescind the porkiest of the pork spending they approved in the highway bill passed last summer, doing that would raise about $24 billion"
"Only one other Democrat on the committee, Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, has announced his position on the nomination. On Tuesday, Mr. Kennedy said, as expected, that he would vote no, and today his fellow Massachusetts senator, John Kerry, said he would vote against Judge Roberts on the Senate floor."
September 20, 2005
"But smaller medical practices have typically been ineligible for such bonuses because the doctors lack the computerized records that help them qualify. The hurdles typically include up-front costs as high as $30,000 for each doctor, and the need for support and training.
As a result, fewer than 5 percent of physicians nationally are using a computerized system as part of patient care, said Dr. Thomas J. Handler, a research director at the Gartner market research group. For most doctors who work in groups of five or fewer, the portion is probably 3 percent or less, he said.
To overcome such obstacles, Dr. Heslin and his regional colleagues, who call their cooperative effort the Taconic Health Information Network and Community, are pooling their resources and knowledge."
September 19, 2005
My translation: Don't do anything so stupid you zealous fool. Listen to the experts.
Update 5:20 Sep 19:
The mayor has listened to reason.
September 18, 2005
This piece should stir our thinking. I believe Roberts will be the kind of justice who will tackle these thoughtfully. Let's hope Bush can nominate another equally qualified jurist. I'll bet he's trying to find a woman this time.
Bush must find a way to fund it by cutting the present budget. The Times had it right in a previous editorial. The Congress must give up some of its pork spending in the Transportation bill. Let's get on with it.
"Now the Bush administration is trying to change all that. That means trying to get around the corruption that made the city such a rotten place to do business. The White House is trying to do this by devising programs in which checks and benefits flow directly to recipients, not through local agencies.
That means challenging the reigning assumptions. Right now the White House is fighting with Louisiana over where to house evacuees. The state wants to put temporary trailer parks on faraway military bases, where there are no jobs and where they will live in "abject dependency," as one senior White House official puts it. The Bush folks want to put temporary housing within a mile of the original neighborhoods so people can become self-sufficient as quickly as possible."
We have a failed system that enables people to make extraordinary profits and bonuses while the government, and perhaps eventually the taxpayers, is left to pick up the pensions and benefits of the retirees.
Even more perverse is the idea that healthy companies with solid pension plans may be required to pay higher premiums into the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation to bail out those companies that have failed to provide for the benefits of their retirees and employees.
One lesson that's clear, defined benefit pension plans and guaranteed health benefits for retirees are dead in large corporations. They simply cannot afford the financial liabilities involved.
In a hurricane disaster one of the first systems to fail is the power grid. With power the WiFi mesh is a fine backup. Without it WiFi is worthless.
September 16, 2005
Well worth the read.
From THE DWINELL POLITICAL REPORT September 15, 2005 Vol. 6, No. 13 ,
DESCRIBING VERMONT, 2005
"What we see here is a political structure that no longer corresponds to its economic base, a society where productive forces are hampered by political ones." --Ronald Reagan, June, 1982
"A less benign outcome would have foreigners suddenly deciding to dump their U.S. stocks and bonds, sending stock prices plunging and interest rates soaring. Such a stampede for the exits by foreigners could be enough of a jolt to push the country into a recession."
"Anthony Townsend, research director at the Institute for the Future in California, pointed out that many of those high-flown ideas could run up against a fundamental problem: The services rely on electricity, which often goes out during such disasters. The nation must focus on finding more flexible ways of distributing power, he said."
September 11, 2005
September 10, 2005
From the beginning, Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin have been part of the problem rather than the solution.
The chain of responsibility for the protection of the citizens in New Orleans is:
1. The Mayor
2. The New Orleans director of Homeland Security (a political appointee
of the Governor who reports to the Governor)
3. The Governor
4. The Head of Homeland Security
5. The President
What did each do?
- The mayor, with 5 days advance, waited until 2 days before he announced a mandatory evacuation (at the behest of the President). Then he failed to provide transportation for those without transport even though he had hundreds of buses at his disposal.
- The New Orleans director of Homeland Security failed to have any plan for a contingency that has been talked about for 50 years. Then he blames the Feds for not doing what he should have done. (So much for political appointees).
- The Governor, despite a declaration ion of disaster by the President 2 DAYS BEFORE the storm hit, failed to take advantage of the offer of Federal troops and aid until 2 DAYS AFTER the storm hit.
- The Director of Homeland Security positioned assets in the area to be ready when the Governor called for them.
- The President urged a mandatory evacuation, and even declared a disaster State of Emergency, freeing up millions of dollars of federal assistance, should the Governor decide to use it.
of the local landowners and the local levee board to maintain, NOT THE
Katrina..................the rest of the real story.
This is a post from Bill Weiler, freelance journalist, over in Merritt Island, FL, who has been researching what went on before the storm hit. These are the authors comments - very interesting.
Politics over Duty
I think all of Mayor Nagin's pomp and posturing is going to bite him hard in the near future as the lies and distortions of his interviews are coming to light. On Friday night before the storm hit Max Mayfield of the National Hurricane Center took the unprecedented action of calling Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco personally to plead with them to begin MANDATORY evacuation of New Orleans and they said they'd take it under consideration. This was after the NOAA buoy 240 miles south had recorded 68' waves before it was destroyed.
President Bush spent Friday afternoon and evening in meetings with his advisors and administrators drafting all of the paperwork required for a state to request federal assistance (and not be in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act or having to enact the Insurgency Act).
Just before midnight Friday evening the President called Governor Blanco and pleaded with her to sign the request papers so the federal government and the military could legally begin mobilization and call up. He was told that they didn't think it necessary for the federal government to be involved yet.
After the President's final call to the governor she held meetings with her staff to discuss the political ramifications of bringing federal forces. It was decided that if they allowed federal assistance it would make it look as if they had failed so it was agreed upon that the feds would not be invited in."
Saturday before the storm hit the President again called Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin requesting they please sign the papers requesting federal assistance, that they declare the state an emergency area, and begin mandatory evacuation.
After a personal plea from the President, Nagin agreed to order an evacuation, but it would not be a full mandatory evacuation, and the governor still refused to sign the papers requesting and authorizing federal action.
In frustration the President declared the area a national disaster area before the state of Louisiana did so he could legally begin some advanced preparations. Rumor has it that the President's legal advisers were looking into the ramifications of using the insurgency act to bypass the Constitutional requirement that a state request federal aid before the federal government can move into state with troops - but that had not been done since 1906 and the Constitutionality of it was called into question to use before the disaster.
Throw in that over half the federal aid of the past decade to New Orleans for levee construction, maintenance, and repair was diverted to fund a marina and support the gambling ships. Toss in the investigation that will look into why the emergency preparedness plan submitted to the federal government for funding and published on the city's website was never implemented and, in fact, may have been bogus for the purpose of gaining additional federal funding as we now learn that the organizations identified in the plan were never contacted or coordinating into any planning - though the document implies that they were.
The suffering people of New Orleans need to be asking some hard questions as do we all, but they better start with why Blanco refused to even sign the multi-state mutual aid pact activation documents until Wednesday which further delayed the legal deployment of National Guard from adjoining states.
Or maybe ask why Nagin keeps harping that the President should have commandeered 500 Greyhound busses to help him when according to his own emergency plan and documents he claimed to have over 500 busses at his disposal to use between the local school busses and the city transportation busses - but he never raised a finger to prepare them or activate them."
This is a sad time for all of us to see that a major city has all but been destroyed and thousands of people have died with hundreds of thousands more suffering, but it's certainly not a time for people to be pointing fingers and trying to find a bigger dog to blame for local corruption and incompetence. Pray to God for the survivors that they can start their lives anew as fast as possible and we learn from all the mistakes to avoid them in the future.
September 9, 2005
"...But just as important to the administration were worries about the message that would have been sent by a president ousting a Southern governor of another party from command of her National Guard, according to administration, Pentagon and Justice Department officials.
"Can you imagine how it would have been perceived if a president of the United States of one party had pre-emptively taken from the female governor of another party the command and control of her forces, unless the security situation made it completely clear that she was unable to effectively execute her command authority and that lawlessness was the inevitable result?" asked one senior administration official, who spoke anonymously because the talks were confidential.
Officials in Louisiana agree that the governor would not have given up control over National Guard troops in her state as would have been required to send large numbers of active-duty soldiers into the area. But they also say they were desperate and would have welcomed assistance by active-duty soldiers.
"I need everything you have got," Ms. Blanco said she told Mr. Bush last Monday, after the storm hit.
In an interview, she acknowledged that she did not specify what sorts of soldiers. "Nobody told me that I had to request that," Ms. Blanco said. "I thought that I had requested everything they had. We were living in a war zone by then.""
September 8, 2005
September 7, 2005
"...We do not plan, even when the case for planning seems overwhelming. Examples abound. We know that over the next few decades the number of retirees will double and that the costs of federal retirement programs will explode, requiring huge tax increases (at least a third), unsustainably large budget deficits or deep (and undesirable) cuts in other government programs -- or some combination of all three. All of this has been evident for years: indeed, it is the subject of countless government reports. But successive presidents and Congresses have done little to change matters, the current stalemated Social Security "debate" being a case in point."
"With the size and difficulty of the task of rescuing and rebuilding New Orleans and other Gulf Coast areas still unfolding, it seemed early to talk about investigating how this predicted cataclysm had been allowed to occur and why the government's response was so slow and inept. Until yesterday, that is, when President Bush blithely announced at a photo-op cabinet meeting that he, personally, was going to 'find out what went right and what went wrong.' We can't imagine a worse idea."
"More taxes Thomas" should be his new pen name.
September 6, 2005
The governor has not declared a state of emergency, a political move to thwart the feds, I wonder?. Awful!
This from Mario Gabelli of Gabelli Funds.
"Much of our imported oil is purchased from the Saudis, about 1.5 million barrels of oil per day. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded on an 18th century alliance between the Wahhabi religious movement - an extremely strict Muslim faction - and the House of Saud, which has ruled Saudi Arabia since the 1930s. The Wahhabi movement is a rigidly exacting interpretation of Islam, far more inflexible than Sunni or Shiite Islam. It is the Wahhabis - to whom millions in oil dollars are funneled - who fund the religious madrassas that teach virulently anti-American, anti-Western thoughts and ideas. It has been announced that at least two of the London subway and bus suicide bombers recently attended Wahhabi-funded madrassas in Pakistan. Our oil dollars pay for this, there are few voices arguing that American purchases of Saudi oil are not in the national interest.
What the U.S. needs now is an intense focus to reduce its dependency on oil. In the 1940s it was the Manhattan Project that led to the discovery, building, and use of a nuclear weapon in six years. In 1957, the Soviet launch of Sputnik I led to the creation of NASA the following year; and when Yuri Gagarin became the first man to orbit the earth in 1961, the U.S. responded just 8 years later by landing men on the moon - and bringing them back again. This is the sort of concentrated, rapid pace focus needed now to reduce American dependence on oil. This has many facets - reducing American dependence on foreign oil, improving auto and truck and airplane efficiency, developing alternate sources of energy and other fuel conservation efforts."
"With those barriers at least temporarily restored, engineers began draining the flooded streets and sending the water back into Lake Pontchatrain, but carefully, using portable pumps set up at near the lake on the 17th Street canal. Gregory E. Breerwood, a city engineer, said, 'We intend to take it slowly so we don't overtax the pumps themselves, because they have not been in service for a while.'"
Update 9/07/05: The scientists have taken a common sense approach on pumping flood waters back into Lake Pontchatrain.
"...Some scientists outside government tended to agree that the risk of long-term damage to the coastal waters was not high. One reason is that the lake is fed by several rivers and flushed by tides through its link to the Gulf of Mexico.
There will probably be an "initial toxic slug" entering the lake but that will be diluted and degraded by bacteria, said Frank T. Manheim, a former geochemist for the United States Geological Survey who teaches at George Mason University and was a co-author of a 2002 report on pollution issues in the lake."
September 5, 2005
Or is the Times deciding to publish anything that could be used later when the commissions and investigations begin their work to embarrass the Bush administration.
If destructive political motives are behind this crap, the writers, editors and political operatives behind this should be ashamed of themselves and called to account.
As for the governor of Louisiana, she strikes me as incompetent.
"...But local officials, who still feel overwhelmed by the continuing tragedy, demanded accountability and as well as action.
"Why did it happen? Who needs to be fired?" asked Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, south of New Orleans.
Far from deferring to state or local officials, FEMA asserted its authority and made things worse, Mr. Broussard complained on "Meet the Press."
When Wal-Mart sent three trailer trucks loaded with water, FEMA officials turned them away, he said. Agency workers prevented the Coast Guard from delivering 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel, and on Saturday they cut the parish's emergency communications line, leading the sheriff to restore it and post armed guards to protect it from FEMA, Mr. Broussard said.
One sign of the continuing battle over who was in charge was Governor Blanco's refusal to sign an agreement proposed by the White House to share control of National Guard forces with the federal authorities."
The shriveled Louisiana coastline is dying a slow death at human hands
1 Over the centuries, the Mississippi flooded periodically, bringing downstream fresh silt that replenished wetlands and water that nourished the plants growing there
2 This flow created a large delta of swamps and barrier islands that absorbed storm surges and protected inland areas
3 When the river is constrained to a channel by levees, the silt is funneled out to sea
4 Without water flow and natural silt replenishment, the land outside the levees dries and sinks under its own weight, allowing salt water to intrude and killing plants that fed off the fresh water
5 Drawing drinking water from the land outside the levees only makes matters worse, hastening the sinking"
Here's an excellent graphic from Time Magazine showing the track and size of hurricane Katrina. I think it requires Macromedia Flash Player to view it appropriately.
September 4, 2005
"Part of the problem is that the quick mobilization of massive human and material resources takes expert management from the top, as well as the coordination of dozens of different federal agencies. That would have enabled a quicker entry into the city by National Guardsmen to establish order, distribute food and get people out.
Emergency management plans are for the most part based on the assumption that the people involved will be relatively cooperative.
The eruption of violence, disorder and confusion in and around New Orleans caught many people by surprise. A simulation that emergency management officials ran last year of a catastrophic flood and hurricane hitting New Orleans did not address the possibility of widespread violence and disorder, said Madhu Beriwal, the president of EIM, the company based in Baton Rouge that ran the exercise, which brought together emergency managers from local, state and federal agencies."
"Certainly what happened was some degree of a lack of coordination between federal, state and local folks prior to the arrival of the hurricane and immediately afterward," said Suzanne Mencer, a former Department of Homeland Security official who worked with state and local agencies. "It’s that coordination piece that is always the most difficult."
...But new problems are beginning to emerge. More than 220,000 hurricane refugees are already in Texas and thousands more are coming. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas said yesterday that local officials were reporting "they are quickly approaching capacity in the number of evacuees they believe they can assist."
Why aren't nearby states like Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas accepting more refugees?
...Mr. Chertoff said the war in Iraq was not hurting the Guard's ability to respond to domestic catastrophe. He said the issue was not numbers, but logistics. "These are citizen soldiers, we have to get them mobilized and deployed," he said.
Painful as it is to understand and accept, time and thousands of people are required to mobilize the resources for a disaster of this magnitude. They and the resources aren't just sitting around ready to move at a moment's notice.
Sending in the active duty military with effective leadership, supplies and communications was the necessary step. Bush should have done this sooner. His remarks yesterday in the Rose Garden, are here. He is desperately trying to make up for the slow initial response of the federal government.
...Superintendent P. Edward Compass III of the Police Department said 200 of the 1,500 officers on his force had walked off the job, citing the perils of fighting armed and menacing refugees, and he reported that two officers had committed suicide.
A terrible statement of the reality faced in New Orleans by an outmanned/outgunned police force with a reputation for corruption and patronage. One thing they did do well historically is keep Mardi Gras revelers under some control. I have mixed emotions about this abandonment of duty. I am probably a very poor judge of their actions sitting in my comfortable home.
Here's what the Times-Picayune has to say about the police actions.
"Throughout the inundated city, what remained of the New Orleans Police Department was transformed into a virtual militia operation, Compass and other commanders said, forcing officers to freelance without radios, supplies or clear orders. Dozens of officers turned in their badges or fled without a word.
Some joined in with looters and marauders, plunging an already jittery situation into moments of complete societal breakdown.
"These events do two things: they show your strengths and they expose your weaknesses. We had both," Compass said.
But according to Compass, the majority of the 1,700-person force held its ground, figuring out ways to save lives and restore order, working to save the city despite, in many cases, becoming victims themselves.
"The bulk of this police department stood intact," Compass said in an interview, tears streaming down his face. "We fought the most unbelievable war imaginable and we survived . . . Some officers lost their houses and they’re still out there. Some officers lost family members and they’re still out there."
Like every other city, state and federal agency, the police department was almost instantly overwhelmed by Hurricane Katrina, Compass said. With the city plunged into a near-total communications blackout, the police radio system was reduced to walkietalkies among small squads.
As much as possible, the squads began organizing themselves at key points around the city, Compass said. The SWAT team tried to quell looting, track down armed gangs and restore order. The vice squad took over the search-and-rescue boat patrols. District patrol officers set up satellite evacuation points as refugees began streaming out of flooded neighborhoods. Compass bounced between the City Hall emergency command post, the law enforcement staging area at Harrah’s Casino and the field.
At one point, there was a rumor that Compass had fled to Baton Rouge. He said the bad information circulated because his car was seen heading to the Capitol, carrying his eight-months-pregnant wife when she went into distress.
"I’ve been rolling on calls, backing people up on the ground, fighting off people with my bare hands," he said.
Police protocol was tossed out the window. The force’s usual show of crisp white and blue uniforms was largely supplanted by t-shirts, jeans, bandanas, hip-waders, shirts with the sleeves torn off. The department’s polished and immaculately groomed spokesman, Capt. Marlon Defillo, armed himself with a pistol in one hand and an semiautomatic shotgun in the other."
September 3, 2005
"'If we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?' asked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Republican."
The best thing that can be done now is to put seasoned military commanders in charge of this huge effort. People with experience in life and death situations, not inept politicians and bureaucrats are needed to muster resources and give clear direction for their deployment.
Update on the lack of leadership from the governor of Louisiana: This from the Washington Post on 9/3.
"Behind the scenes, a power struggle emerged, as federal officials tried to wrest authority from Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D). Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans, a source within the state's emergency operations center said Saturday.
"'No one cares about disasters until they happen. That is a political fact of life,' he said.
'Emergency management is woefully underfunded in this nation. That covers not only first responders but also warning, evacuation, damage assessment, volunteer management, donation management and recovery and mitigation issues.'"
September 2, 2005
September 1, 2005
"But by hanging back and trimming her positions, by keeping her powder dry until a more politically advantageous time, she may miss the moment when Americans are looking for someone to emerge from her cowering party to articulate their anger about Iraq or their fear about a Supreme Court that will scale back women's rights and civil rights here, as Islamic courts do the same in Iraq.
Hillary may get caught flat-footed. Or she may be right in betting that there's no need to do anything rash now, like leading."
"While additional supplies of oil will be helpful in keeping crude prices from reaching 80 dollars a barrel, the real supply constraints are with refined products made from crude, said Wachovia economist Jason Schenker.
'There is no strategic government reserve of natural gas or refined products, and right now the biggest concerns in the marketplace are for products,' Schenker said.
'At the end of the day, it may not matter for gasoline and heating oil prices how much crude comes out of the SPR,' he said."