All Articles Tagged "hurricane katrina"
Many widely regard President Bush’s handling of Hurricane Katrina as one of the biggest failures of his presidency. And during the dedication of his new library, it seems that President Bush probably wished things could have gone a little bit differently as well.
During his dedication speech Bush started off light and easy, joking: “There was a time in my life when I wasn’t likely to be found at a library, much less found one.” He honored the President Obama, President Jimmy Carter, his father, President George Bush Sr and President Clinton.
He got emotional toward the conclusion of his speech when he spoke about how, even during the darkest moments of his presidency, he was still inspired by the spirit and resolve of the American people.
“As president I had the privilege to see that character up close. I saw it in the first responders who charged up the stairs, into the flames to save people’s lives from the burning towers. I saw it in the Virginia Tech professor who barricaded his classroom door with his body until his students escaped to safety.
I saw it in the people of New Orleans who made homemade boats to rescue their neighbors during the floods. I saw it in the service members who laid down their lives to keep our country safe. I dedicate this library with an unshakable faith in the future of our country. It was the honor of a lifetime to lead a country as brave and as noble as the United States. Whatever challenges come before us, I will always believe our nation’s best days lie ahead. God bless.”
Though I can say that George Bush probably wasn’t the best man to run the country, there’s at least a level of sincerity in his speech and subsequent emotion that I can’t help but empathize with. I don’t think he’s that great of an actor, that he’d be able to produce tears on command. But don’t take my word for it, check out the 12 minute speech and let us know whether you think he’s sincere or not.
Check out Bush’s entire speech on the next page. And let us know what you think about Bush’s speech and his reaction to discussing Katrina and the Iraq war.
SMH: Former GOP Leader Tweets Racist “Jokes” About Trayvon Martin, Hurricane Katrina Victims And The Super Bowl
Every once in awhile, you come across something that reminds you of just how racist and insensitive some people can be. The most recent reminder came from Todd Kincannon, former executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party. On Sunday, the lawyer utilized his Twitter page to send out some very offensive and callous tweets where he poked fun at slain teen Trayvon Martin and Hurricane Katrina victims.
“The Superbowl sucks more d*** than adult Travon Martin would have for drug money,” he tweeted
“@coreybking Hey what’s the difference between Trayvon Martin and a dead baby? They’re both dead, but Pepsi doesn’t taste like Trayvon.”
“It hasn’t been this dark in the superdome since all those poors occupied it after Hurricane Katrina.”
Of course, these offensive tweets among countless others that he posted sparked a tirade of people blasting Kincannon. Some even threatened to kill him for his obnoxious comments; however, this only seemed to motivate him as he continued to defend his behavior.
Yesterday, Huff Post Live gave Kincannon an opportunity to call in and explain his comments or at the very least apologize to the people he offended. While he did call in, he refused to apologize. Instead, he attempted to offer what he felt to be a “logical” reason for making the comments.
“One of the things I like to do on Twitter is I’ll tweet something inflammatory and borderline crazy just for fun and I enjoy watching people go nuts…”
When asked why he thought anyone would find making fun of Trayvon Martin humorous, he offered an extremely disturbing response.
“Let’s be clear, people have said all manner of just ridiculous, highly offensive things about George Zimmerman…”
“I think it is time for a conversation in this country about why a conservative isn’t allowed to state an opinion that other people happen to disagree with, without having death threats and being threatened with all kinds of various ridiculous things.”
“This is real problem we have. People talk about political discourse in this country — you might think what I said was tasteless, you’re welcome to. But should I get death threats as a result of it?”
“I think a lot of people need to learn how to take a joke and I’ll leave it at that.”
Ironically, his offensive words came just twenty-four hours prior to the day that Trayvon would’ve been celebrating his 18th birthday. I guess this just serves as a reminder of the world we live in.
You can listen to Kincannon’s full interview with Huff Post Live on the next page.
Recently Harry Belafonte caused a minor uproar when he gave his opinion on the state of minorities in Hollywood today:
“And I think one of the great abuses of this modern time is that we should have had such high-profile artists, powerful celebrities. But they have turned their back on social responsibility. That goes for Jay-Z and Beyonce, for example. Give me Bruce Springsteen, and now you’re talking. I really think he is black.”
Much of the backlash to his statement had more to do with his example of Jay-Z and Beyonce, the latter even released a paper thin list of philanthropic efforts to counter his statements, however little introspection is giving to his overall point about how many black artists and celebrities fail to use their platforms for influence outside of themselves. It may be easy to brush Belafonte off as an old hater, in fact, some folks already have, but consider that at the height of his career, Belafonte risked public ostracization by refusing to perform in segregated venues and marched with the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – even at a time when it wasn’t cool to do so. He also financially supported the movement, including bailing him, as well as other protestors, out of Birmingham jail where King wrote his famous letter. And throughout his life, he has continued to be an instrumental voice for human rights, from protesting against apartheid in South Africa and the unfair embargo in Cuba to lending his celebrity to the genocide crisis in Rwanda. If anyone has the right to be critical of today’s black elite involvement, it certainly should be Belafonte.
Yet as many high profile black entertainers, celebrities and political and business leaders continue to enjoy the perks of power and personal influence their visibility has afforded them, most are reluctant to speak truth to power. In some cases, if that truth works against their own personal interest, some high profile blacks will intentionally work against the community’s best interest. We see it in rap music; we see it in Hollywood, we see it in politics too. Even writer Richard Hazell, with EurWeb, noticed the same trend among black athletes when he wrote the following:
“Are there any athletes that stand for something socio-political? Are there any that would be willing to risk fame and fortune in the modern era? Well, many risk fame and fortune over dumb stuff; sexual assault, spousal abuse, disorderly conduct, and DUI are but a few of the charges that have been filed against high profile athletes in the last 10 years. During Kobe Bryant’s trial for sexual assault and rape Nike and McDonalds dropped him within days of the allegations surfacing. So athletes are willing to act a fool on their own accord and risk endorsements, but are not willing to risk those same endorsements by taking a stand for a controversial political stance? It’s looking like a duck, it’s quacking like a duck, so it’s not a pigeon.”
Very few black public figures take an active stance for justice anymore. This includes Condoleezza Rice, the first African-American woman to serve as national security advisor and secretary of state. Recently, it was announced that Rice was admitted to the Augusta National Golf Club‘s, making her the first African American woman member. And the Black community cheered. Somehow this is supposed to be a milestone in Black history. This is Rice’s Jackie Robinson moment. We are supposed to clap, give high-fives and sing the last verse of “We Shall Overcome,” because finally they let one of us into the big house – of golf.
Laugh, but I have been reading this very sentiment all day. I never understood the Black community’s love affair with Rice. In her roles as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, along with her cohorts in the Bush Administration, concocted a scheme to suggest that Saddam Hussien was responsible for the September 11th attacks and then led the U.S. into an illegal invasion, which resulted in the deaths of millions of innocent Iraqis along with over 4000 American soldiers. She also personally approved the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques against so-called “insurgents,” a tactic that would become immortalized in the Abu Ghraib scandal.
Closer to home, while the Gulf Coast was underwater thanks to Hurricane Katrina, Rice decided to jet off to New York for some Broadway theater, a tennis match with Monica Seles and shoe shopping at Salvatore Ferragamo.
But she speaks so well and she is accomplished. She speaks multiple languages and plays a mean classical piano. She certainly is not one of those lacefront-having, welfare queens with 10 kids by four different men. In other words, she is respectable. I know, you were thinking that. In fact, I’m willing to bet that somewhere around the third sentence, some of you have already stopped reading just to write just that very feeling in the comment section below and to remind us that not only is she Condoleeza Rice, she’s DR. Condoleeza Rice.
But what’s so respectable about a woman, whose major contribution to society was torture, war and an indifference to the suffering of the black and poor? So what that she was chosen for membership into a golf club, which only started letting in African-Americans on its green in 1990? Who cares that she now gets to rub elbows with these old white men, who were so defiant against the entry of women of any shade that the former chairman once stated, “There may well come a day when women will be invited to join our membership, but that timetable will be ours, and not at the point of a bayonet.”
No one will ever forget how poorly the government handled Hurricane Katrina when it hit New Orleans in 2005, and now to add insult to injury, FEMA is asking victims to return money they received from the natural disaster.
More than 83,000 debt notices have been mailed out to victims of hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma who FEMA says it paid improperly. The federal agency is attempting to recover more than $385 million, or roughly $4,600 per person. The amount represents slightly less than 5% of the roughly $8 billion that FEMA distributed after the storms, and according to congressional testimony, at least a portion of the overpayments were due to FEMA employees’ own mistakes such as clerical errors and failing to interview applicants.
Despite the fact that the improper payments weren’t the recipients fault, FEMA says it is required by law to make an effort to recover the money. Last week Congress approved legislation that would allow the agency to waive most of the debts and FEMA spokeswoman Rachel Racusen says they are reviewing the law’s provisions and developing a plan to implement them. As of now, it’s unclear how many recipients will benefit from the new law, and so far about 30% of the notice recipients have appealed their debt notices. Victims may also ask for a waiver due to economic hardship or set up a payment plan.
“It is important for any individual who has received a recoupment notice to know that these letters are the start of a conversation with FEMA, not the end,”Racusen says. But with so many people still coming to terms with the devastation of losing everything they owned, not to mention the people they loved, you would think FEMA would have forgiven the debts auotmatically.
What do you think about what FEMA did? Are they right to try to recover the funds they inappropriately distributed?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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(AP) — In New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward, the grasses grow taller than people and street after street is scarred by empty decaying houses, the lives that once played out inside their walls hardly imaginable now. St. Claude Avenue, the once moderately busy commercial thoroughfare, looks like the main street of a railroad town bypassed long ago by the interstate. Most buildings are shuttered, “For Sale” signs stuck on their sides. There aren’t many buyers. And the businesses that are open are mostly corner stores where folks buy pricey cigarettes, liquor and packaged food. Six years after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, the New Orleans neighborhood that was hardest hit still looks like a ghost town. Redevelopment has been slow in coming, and the neighborhood has just 5,500 residents — one-third its pre-Katrina population.
(Los Angeles Times) — Five current and former New Orleans police officers were convicted Friday on federal charges stemming from the Danziger Bridge case, perhaps the most notorious of several instances of violent police misconduct in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when the city was plunged into chaos and fear. On Sept. 4, 2005, six days after the city flooded, a group of police, responding to a call that fellow officers had come under fire, rode to the bridge in a Budget rental truck and shot at the people walking on it, killing two and injuring four. Federal prosecutors alleged that the civilians were unarmed — and that the officers later took part in an elaborate coverup.
(AP) — A former police detective testified Monday that he participated in a plot to fabricate witnesses, falsify reports and plant a gun to make it seem police were justified in shooting unarmed residents on a New Orleans bridge after Hurricane Katrina. Jeffrey Lehrmann, a government witness in the federal trial of five current or former officers, said he saw Sgt. Arthur “Archie” Kaufman retrieve a gun from his home several weeks after the deadly shootings on the Danziger Bridge. Kaufman later turned the gun in as evidence, claiming he found it under the bridge a day after the 2005 shootings that left two people dead and four others wounded. Lehrmann said Kaufman instructed him to fill out paperwork that claimed the gun belonged to Lance Madison, whose mentally disabled brother, Ronald, was shot and killed on the bridge. Lance Madison was arrested on attempted murder charges and held for more than three weeks before a judge freed him.
(Houston Chronicle) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said on Wednesday that it would hand out $62 million to 1,460 Louisiana homeowners to settle a lawsuit that alleged a Hurricane Katrina rebuilding program was unfair to blacks and left many people unable to rebuild in neighborhoods like the Lower 9th Ward after the 2005 storm. The agreement ends a lawsuit filed in 2008 in federal court in Washington, D.C., by five homeowners and housing advocates over the way grants were handed out by the Road Home program. The suit alleged Road Home discriminated against blacks because it calculated the worth of a home on housing values prior to Katrina’s assault on the Gulf Coast. Many blacks lived in neighborhoods, such as the Lower 9th Ward, where housing values were depressed before Katrina and therefore did not get enough money to rebuild after the storm, when the price of materials and labor skyrocketed.
(Washington Post) — Jury selection is scheduled to begin Wednesday in a trial of five current or former New Orleans police officers charged in deadly shootings of unarmed residents on a bridge in Hurricane Katrina’s chaotic aftermath. Five former officers already have pleaded guilty to participating in a cover-up to make it appear that police were justified in fatally shooting two people and wounding four others on the Danziger Bridge less than a week after the 2005 storm’s landfall.
FEMA is again in the running for least liked government agency, and they look to be unbeatable this year. The good folks over at the Federal Emergency Management Agency are reviving their tumultuous relationship with Hurricane Katrina victims, demanding that some of them return aid money given to them after the storm. Many New Orleans residents have yet to forgive the department for the slow response as their city and livelihoods were being ravaged. Now, they want that money back.
“As a new hurricane season begins Wednesday, FEMA is working to determine how much money it overpaid or mistakenly awarded to victims of the destructive 2005 hurricane season,” The Huffington Post reports. “The agency is reviewing more than $600 million given to roughly 154,000 victims of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma and is poised to demand that some return money.”
FEMA is valid for reviewing the books and trying to identify previous errors, but given the history of the agency’s relationship with this particular disaster and their timing – six years later – it adds insult to a group that has been badly injured by the residual effects of Hurricane Katrina. People don’t normally save funds given to them to recoup from the damages and immediate costs of severe weather damage, making FEMA’s request to see that money again all the more ludicrous. According to the Post, some of the victims who will be asked to repay the money could need help again if an intense storm hits, and government forecasters are expecting an above average Atlantic storm season this year.
Critics of the new initiative expect legal challenges to extend the already arduous process or even halt it in a way that mirrors previous attempts to collect overpayments. Prior efforts to recover funds were barely successful – hundreds were convicted of hurricane-related fraud but residents who lost homes filed a class-action lawsuit in 2007 challenging the denial of their housing aid and the recoupment process. According to the Post, the lawsuit argued that FEMA’s debt collection efforts were full of errors, based on vague standards and without hearings that would ensure fair treatment. A judge ordered them to suspend debt collection in 2007.
The agency has already taken a major L because of Hurricane Katrina, and would do well to cut their loses and move forward from the tragedy. When will they realize it?