September 4, 2005
ARTHUR CHRENKOFF posts a comparison of the situations in Louisiana and Mississippi. Various lessons are offered.
ARTHUR CHRENKOFF posts a comparison of the situations in Louisiana and Mississippi. Various lessons are offered.
INTERESTING NEWS FROM THE RED CROSS:
Hurricane Katrina: Why is the Red Cross not in New Orleans?
Acess to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders.
The state Homeland Security Department had requested–and continues to request–that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.
So as I understand it, the Louisiana authorities don’t want the Red Cross to provide services in New Orleans because that will discourage people from leaving? (Via Julian Sanchez).
THAT’S GOT TO BE GOOD NEWS: “An enormous portable toilet caravan.”
“THE BAD GUYS WERE KILLED:” Good. But what kind of idiot shoots at the Army Corps of Engineers while it’s trying to fix things?
The dead kind, I guess.
I NOTICE that some people have seemed pretty unperturbed by the attacks on Bush.
Perhaps they had advance news of polls like this:
Americans are broadly critical of government preparedness in the Hurricane Katrina disaster — but far fewer take George W. Bush personally to task for the problems, and public anger about the response is less widespread than some critics would suggest.
Considering the media hostility, these poll numbers are pretty good.
UNSCAM UPDATE: ROGER SIMON hasn’t forgotten the oil-for-food scandal, where developments just keep coming.
ARTS AND CRAFTS in pre-calculus. And in law school!
What do they teach them in schools these days? How to make collages, I guess . . . .
KATRINA REFUGEES IN KNOXVILLE: If you’re in the area, you might want to help.
BRENDAN LOY is extremely unhappy with FEMA Director Michael Brown.
UPDATE: On the other hand, a reader sends these comments:
Buried at the end of the WaPo’s critical article on FEMA’s decline is this crucial paragraph:
Other federal and state officials pointed to Louisiana’s failure to measure up to national disaster response standards, noting that the federal plan advises state and local emergency managers not to expect federal aid for 72 to 96 hours, and base their own preparedness efforts on the need to be self-sufficient for at least that period. “Fundamentally the first breakdown occurred at the local level,” said one state official who works with FEMA. ‘Did the city have the situational awareness of what was going on within its borders? The answer was no.”
Measuring from the passage of the storm from the target area — say 1500 hours on Monday, THE PLAN would therefore expect federal aid at the earliest at midday Thursday.
Does this excuse any bureaucratic errors that we will find to have been made? No. But it should put the federal response in perspective.
Oh, and all the blithe comments on how quickly we were able to get troops to Iraq and the Navy to Sumatra shows a short-term memory loss. The buildup for Iraq took place over a period of months, and the Navy’s trip from Asian bases to the Indian Ocean, unimpeded by crumbled infrastructure, took a number of days.
As I’ve noted before, it’s not like calling Domino’s. I think that all the efforts at political point-scoring now are misplaced. There’s plenty of blame to go around, and plenty of opportunities to figure out how to do better in the future. Those are likely to get lost in the fog of name-calling.
ANOTHER UPDATE: This story from the Washington Post suggests problems with coordination between state and federal authorities:
Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday, three state and federal officials said. As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said. . . .
Blanco made two moves Saturday that protected her independence from the federal government: She created a philanthropic fund for the state’s victims and hired James Lee Witt, Federal Emergency Management Agency director in the Clinton administration, to advise her on the relief effort.
I’m all for federalism, but this doesn’t seem like the time for that sort of thing. I’m not clear on what legal authority the President has to simply take charge over a governor’s objections; I’m not aware of that problem coming up before. Presumably Congress could — subject to some fairly limited Constitutional constraints — address this via legislation if necessary, though it’s probably too late for that to do much good now.
Meanwhile, Eric Muller thinks it was a mistake to name prosecutor Mike Chertoff as head of Homeland Security, even though he knows and likes Chertoff: “You can’t cross-examine a hurricane.”
We lawyers have many virtues, but management skills aren’t high on the list. For that you want an MBA, usually. I’ve long been deeply unimpressed with the whole Homeland Security approach, but again, it’s too early to say just how much difference it’s made here.
MORE: A reader emails:
If I remember, wasn’t there a non-lawyer, Bernie Somebody, who was actually first choice? Didn’t all of “Official Washington” breathe a sigh of relief when he withdrew his name?
Indeed. I believe he actually had some relevant experience.
MORE STILL: Several readers note that the Post story seems to be wrong — at least here is a proclamation of a state of emergency by Gov. Blanco from August 26. I suspect, however, that what the Post article refers to is a declaration that would place the National Guard under federal control. Here’s a piece from the L.A. Times on that:
Although active-duty U.S. troops are being used in the relief effort, constitutional limits prevent them from performing law enforcement duties.
Pentagon officials stressed that only National Guard troops, which are under the control of governors when operating within the United States, may be given law enforcement duties.
Only a presidential decree would allow active-duty federal military troops to be brought into a law enforcement mission, and officials said they did not envision that would be necessary in this case.
Or am I missing something here? Meanwhile, Mark Levin emails:
In the end, the question is why weren’t more people evacuated from New Orleans before the storm hit. There’s simply no debate that this is the responsibility of local and state officials. And we keep hearing that everyone knew that this could be a massive disaster. You’d think local and state officials would know this best, as they live there. As for federalism, no this is not the time to make the case. But I have to wonder – if the federal government is to be the first-responder, then the local and state governments will have to surrender considerable control and resources to the federal government, including the military. And in the end, I wonder how much difference it would actually make, given all the finger-pointing at federal competence.
If there’s any upside to this disaster, it’s that local authorities are likely to be quicker to order evacuations in the future, and people are likely to be quicker to listen. Meanwhile, reader Ralph Tacoma emails regarding my federalism point:
I’d suggest that you take a deep breath and think that through. There are VERY serious reasons why for the long term good of nation the federal government cannot just preempt state and local governments whenever it feels like it. IF we start down the slippery slope of allowing such federal preemption, we’ll soon wind up with no limits to the power of the federal government. There are strong constitutional reasons why that should not happen. IF we once give the federal government the right to merely assume powers, we’ve shattered the very basis of our government.
Good point — I just meant that I thought it odd to see Gov. Blanco working so hard to “protect her independence from the federal government” at a time when, in fact, Louisiana is extremely dependent on outside aid. I wouldn’t support legislation that would turn the National Guard into a force that’s always under the control of the President.
STILL MORE: This sounds right, though I haven’t researched it independently:
Here’s the quick legal skinny: There’s a difference between money and boots on the ground; the governor (surprise!) immediately asked for the former.
Under the Posse Comitatus Act (18 U.S.C. § 1385), the president can’t use armed forces (including national guard in federal service) for law enforcement absent congressional directive. (Some courts, however, have held that this does not apply to the Navy (U.S. v. Yunis, 924 F.2d 1086 (C.A.D.C. 1991)) and the Coast Guard (U.S. v. Chaparro-Almeida, 679 F.2d 423 (5th Cir. 1982)), both of which seem to be more useful here, since it looks like that nobody without boats can provide any serious logistical or enforcement functions in NO.)
But upon request of the governor, or perhaps on his own initiative, the president can use the federal military by invoking the Insurrection Act (10 U.S.C. §§ 331-34). What’s happening in NO might be called “insurrection” or “rebellion,” but that’s a politically-dangerous stretch.
Much more here. Though I’ve taught National Security Law in the past, I’ve focused on espionage, surveillance and law enforcement issues, not so much on this sort of thing, suggesting that my syllabus has the same blind spot. . . .
YET MORE: Mickey Kaus has further thoughts on this, though I should note that federalism hasn’t caused problems like this in the past, as far as I know.
CORRECTION UPDATE: The Post has now posted a correction referring to the Aug. 26 declaration of emergency, so I guess they were just wrong. As for the rest of the story, about “independence” — no correction, so make of that what you will.
And James Lee Witt was apparently involved in Louisiana’s disaster planning already, for over a year, for whatever that’s worth.
And Michelle Malkin wants Brown fired, too.
And here’s more on the problem with the National Guard:
At this point, questions about why the troops weren’t there quicker seem to be an exercise in bureaucratic finger-pointing. Pentagon officials last week said questions should be directed to the state. But on the ground, local officials like New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin called on Washington for more troops.
The reason, Young said: State governors outside the hurricane zone wouldn’t mobilize Guard troops in advance because they weren’t sure they would be reimbursed by Washington.
Sheesh. The same article, which looks like a pretty good overview, notes the breakdown in communications systems, and also observes that planning was inadequate:
A FEMA spokesman said at the time that the exercise tested response to a Category 3 hurricane – rather than a higher-level Category 4 storm like Katrina – because they didn’t want planners to face a hopeless scenario. He predicted that even the lower-level storm would cause lots of casualties. And a top Louisiana emergency official told The Associated Press that part of the plan was for people to be “on their own for several days in a situation like this.”
Well, it worked out that way. And here’s a Defense Department briefing on what happened on the law-enforcement side:
GEN. BLUM: It was not foreseen. When they put the original EMAC together it was really for disaster response. Law enforcement was not envisioned. So it has to be handled as a separate process. The governors may get together and modify their EMAC in the future so that it is all-inclusive, but this fills that gap and it makes the activity of the National Guard in this regard totally legally sufficient and supportable.
Q: Does that explain why it took several days to get to this point?
GEN. BLUM: No, there was no delay. The fortunate thing is with modern technology they faxed the agreement back and forth, the two governors signed it. It was a matter of moments. That was not the delay.
The delay was in, if you want to call it a delay. I really don’t call it a delay, I’ll be honest about that. When we first went in there law enforcement was not the highest priority, saving lives was. You have to remember how this thing started. Before the hurricane hit there were 5,000 National Guardsmen in Mississippi and 5,000 National Guardsmen — excuse me. Let me correct the record. There were 2,500 National Guardsmen in Mississippi and almost 4,000 National Guardsmen in Louisiana that were sheltered and taken out of the affected area so as soon as the storm passed they could immediately go into the area and start their search and lifesaving work, and stand up their command and control apparatus, and start standing up the vital functions that would be required such as providing food, water, shelter and security for the people of the town. So it was phased in. There was no delay.
The real issue, particularly in New Orleans, is that no one anticipated the disintegration or the erosion of the civilian police force in New Orleans. Once that assessment was made, that the normal 1500 man police force in New Orleans was substantially degraded, which contributed obviously to less police presence and less police capability, then the requirement became obvious and that’s when we started flowing military police into the theater.
Two days ago we flowed 1400 military policemen in. Yesterday, 1400 more. Today 1400 more. Today there are 7,000 citizen soldiers — Army National Guard, badge-carrying military policemen and other soldiers trained in support to civil law enforcement — that are on the streets, available to the mayor, provided by the governor to the mayor to assist the New Orleans police department. . . .
Q: General, you mentioned a disintegration of the New Orleans Police Department. Do you know how many officers are still on duty?
GEN. BLUM: I would rather not say. I think you’d be better to refer that question to the mayor of New Orleans. I have my own estimate. I would say they are significantly degraded and they have less than one-third of their original capability.
Q: So is it fair to say it is the National Guard that’s keeping law and order in New Orleans?
GEN. BLUM: No. As long as there’s one uniformed police officer in the city of New Orleans, we will send as many National Guard soldiers to augment, support and work in support of that lone law enforcement officer as necessary. So if hypothetically there’s only one left, who’s in charge? It’s still that lone police officer supported by the National Guard in their role as military support to law enforcement.
We are not in the lead. We have no need nor intention of imposing martial law or having the military police the United States of America.
Q: What happened to the other police, general?
GEN. BLUM: Again, that can be best addressed, but what was told to me by the Mayor day before yesterday is many of them lost their homes, many of them lost ability to get to the precinct, many of them who did show up found what they were dealing with so overwhelming and dangerous or threatening to them as an individual that they made the personal decision to not risk their life until the situation made more sense to them. That was an individual decision, it was not the police chief’s decision or the mayor’s decision. I think that the mayor and police chief are working right now to reconstitute the New Orleans Police Department, but that question would much better be addressed to them for detail.
So nobody anticipated the meltdown of the NOPD (brought about in part, I think, by the collapse of the NOPD’s radio system, which wasn’t designed to be survivable, and in part by the fact that the NOPD has never been a topflight force). And read the whole DoD briefing, which has a lot of other interesting and useful information.
YET MORE: Here’s more on the late evacuation order in New Orleans:
President Bush declared a state of emergency in Louisiana, authorizing federal emergency management officials to release federal aid and coordinate disaster relief efforts.
By mid-afternoon, officials in Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, Lafourche, Terrebonne and Jefferson parishes had called for voluntary or mandatory evacuations.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin followed at 5 p.m., issuing a voluntary evacuation.
Nagin said late Saturday that he’s having his legal staff look into whether he can order a mandatory evacuation of the city, a step he’s been hesitant to do because of potential liability on the part of the city for closing hotels and other businesses.
Ack. I don’t know whether there was an issue there — but surely nobody had to wait until Saturday night before the hurricane hit to figure it out.
LATER: Now it’s Nagin against Blanco!
And there’s a fire Brown now blog.
FREEDOM VS. LIBERTY: Jonathan Rauch says the Republican Party is splitting. “Rick Santorum has served notice. The bold new challenge to the Goldwater-Reagan tradition in American politics comes not from the Left, but from the Right.”
PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH: France has two last chances.
RAND SIMBERG: Three Cheers for “Price Gougers.”
AT THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE, Greyhawk thinks I’m being much too easy on the New Orleans authorities. Well, as the news coverage indicates, everybody’s an expert on what should have been done after the fact, but only a few people were even talking before the fact.
I’m going to try to put together a “lessons learned” post later, but it’s still too early for that.
MORE WAYS TO HELP hurricane victims.
READER ELIZABETH KING EMAILS:
I haven’t had much chance to watch TV or read the papers, because even here in central Mississippi, there is just too doggone much to do, trying to cope with refugees and track down missing family on the Coast and wait in line for gasoline, etc., etc. But the little I have seen, especially on national TV, is weird and bizarre, with all the fingerpointing and self-righteous pontificating going on from the talking heads.
These guys and gals need to get a clue. Today’s story is not: “What went wrong and who can we blame?” — that story can wait for tomorrow. Today the story is: “What are the obstacles preventing help from arriving and what can we do to solve them?” Some of these people are reporting like they’ve never been through a natural disaster, like they have no idea of the logistical nightmares that occur when power, water, communications systems and transportation systems literally disappear overnight. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to who are disgusted with much of the national TV coverage. For God’s sake, please tell them to save the finger-pointing and blame game for when the immediate disaster is over.
UPDATE: Quite a lot of readers think that The Weather Channel is doing a much better job than the cable news folks, which isn’t surprising. Meanwhile Mickey Kaus has the commentators’ angle figured out:
I’m not saying Bush and the Feds don’t clearly deserve major grief for not getting today’s National Guard aid convoy into downtown New Orleans a couple of days earlier. Some people are probably dead as a result. But the commentators on Washington Week in Review seemed a little too happy when proclaiming this a “debacle” that will damage Bush politically for a long, long time. And I don’t think they were happy just because Bush has suffered a blow. I think it’s because the hurricane and its New Orleans aftermath at least seemed to solve a big problem for anti-Bush commentators and politicians. Previously, they couldn’t grouse about the Iraq War without seeming defeatist (and anti-liberationist and maybe even selfishly isolationist). Even the Clintons never figured a way out of that trap. But nature has succeded where they failed; it has opened up a way out, at least temporarily. Now Bush opponents can argue, in some cases quite accurately, that without the Iraq deployment aid would have gotten to New Orleans faster. And ‘if we can [tk] in Iraq, why can’t we [tk] in our own South?’ They aren’t being selfish. They are just asserting priorities! In short, Katrina gives them a way to talk about Iraq without talking about Iraq. No wonder Gwen Ifill smiles the “inner smile.”
Yes, I think he’s got that exactly right.
I’M ONE OF THREE GUEST-BLOGGERS on Michael Silence’s Knoxville News-Sentinel blog.
TULANE UNIVERSITY HAS CANCELLED CLASSES for the fall semester, but will grant credit to students who take classes at accredited institutions elsewhere.
HURRICANEHOUSING.ORG is a very worthy project of MoveOn.org putting together people who need housing with people offering it.
ENVIRONMENTAL REPUBLICAN thinks that the Big Media beat the blogosphere this week.
SNOPES HAS THE BACKGROUND on the “looting” vs. “finding” photo caption business, which seemed rather peripheral to me but which had some people exercised.
LINDA SEEBACH ON ALTERNATIVE FUELS:
Remember the Carter-era Synfuels Corp. debacle? It was a response to the ’70s energy shortages, closed down in 1985 after accomplishing essentially nothing at great expense, which is pretty much a description of what usually happens when the government tries to take over something that the private sector can do better. Private actors are, after all, spending their own money.
Since 1981, Shell researchers at the company’s division of “unconventional resources” have been spending their own money trying to figure out how to get usable energy out of oil shale. Judging by the presentation the Rocky Mountain News heard this week, they think they’ve got it.
Let’s hope they’re right. It’s supposed to be economical at $30 per barrel.
A KATE HALE MOMENT.
MICKEY KAUS quotes a reader email:
the authors of the  times-picayune series, the designers of the government desktop exercise, and all the other authors of studies on the danger facing N.O. are now as a group getting a big thumbs up for prescience from the CW. But hey, which one of them saw what was developing for 72 hours over Miami and the Gulf and sent up a timely flare last week, warning, “Hey, the levee is going to fail and N.O. will be over 50% inundated!” If somebody said it, I did not hear it. That would have been prescient.
Well, none of them may have, but hurricane-blogger Brendan Loy wrote this on August 26: “Residents of New Orleans and the surrounding areas need to realize now just how serious the threat from Hurricane Katrina really is. . . . That’s not to say a Florida landfall isn’t still possible — it certainly is — but people need to be making preparations RIGHT NOW all along the northern Gulf coast, especially New Orleans.” (And I didn’t say that, but I did link to it.)
The next day — long before the mandatory evacuation — Loy had this to say: “I can’t emphasize enough what a bad decision I think it is for New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin to delay the mandatory evacuation order until tomorrow morning.” (My comment: “If I lived in New Orleans I’d be gone by now.”)
Loy had this called way before most people, and was warning about New Orleans when most media were still predicting a second Florida strike. And looking at his archives now makes me wish more people had been paying attention then.
UPDATE: More prescience here. Advantage: Blogosphere! (Thanks to reader Amy Lopez for the link).
ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader notes that Brendan Loy actually sounded the warning Thursday night. Meanwhile meteorologist reader Robert Fovell emails that the Kaus reader’s 72 hour expectation is unrealistic:
Hurricane track forecast skill has improved markedly in recent years, but it simply isn’t that good yet, and the forecasters will be the first to admit it.
But 48 hours out, the NHC forecast was spot on. And it took some amount of faith to put stock in it, for they were calling for a northward turn in the track that had not yet materialized. At that time, Katrina was still moving west (indeed, slightly south of west). The problem is [that] many — too many — people in New Orleans ignored the hurricane warnings when they came because they dismissed them as “hype” and recalled previous forecasts that were didn’t pan out. Was 48 hours notice enough to evacuate a large area? No amount of time is enough if warnings are not heeded when they come.
But the warnings won’t be heeded if they are made too rashly, and if the uncertainties they come packaged with are excised in the media hype.
(Emphasis added). Yes, I’ve suggested before that the news media — and particularly the cable channels’ — hyping of hurricanes has had a “cry wolf” effect that makes real warnings get less attention.
MORE: Sadly, this post seems to have been prescient, too:
I have to say, though, that from what I’ve seen New Orleans hasn’t been on the ball. The evacuation was too late, there don’t seem to have been many efforts to get people out of the city or to shelter, and whenever I see city officials on TV I get an unpleasant vibe, like in the first half-hour of a disaster flick.
I wish it had been wrong. More prescience here: I’m surprised this hasn’t gotten more attention.
MORE: A reader writes:
Beyond the ‘cry wolf effect’ encouraging people to stay– what do you think of CNN broadcasting Anderson Cooper standing bravely through hurricane after hurricane?
The night Katrina hit, we watched Anderson bravely commenting on the swinging of a crane near a bridge. In previous hurricanes, we’ve watched him report more of the same. Once the skies clear, we are treated to an episode of 360 ‘best of’ moments, where we see how he almost got hit by a palm frond! Had to squint in the rain! Chained himself to a planter!
And it isn’t just him. Reporters braving the wind and rain fills our news channels during every single hurricane.
I think people may watch reporters standing outside and surviving hurricanes and think, “If Anderson Cooper can stand in a parking lot, how bad can it really be? I’ll be ok in my house.”
Good point. Another reader writes:
With their choppers, boats, vehicles, etc. how many people have the news media rescued in New Orleans? How much food & water have they brought to the people. They always seem to be able to get to them to interview and film them but how much have they helped them? Are they not interested in the well-being of their fellow Americans? Are they racist? Why hasn’t the mayor of New Orleans and the Gov. of Louisiana commandeered the media’s various modes of transportation for the relief/rescue effort?
I think if I ran a media organization, I’d make everyone who went in carry some relief supplies on the way in, and some people on the way out. Realistically, it would be a drop in the bucket, but it would help to offset charges of vulturism.
STILL MORE: E.U. Rota notes that The New York Times was less prescient than the blogosphere, though you’d never know it from reading its editorials today.
JUDGING FROM THIS PHOTOGRAPH, the New Orleans authorities had plenty of unused buses had they chosen to take people out of the city rather than coop them up in the Superdome or the Convention Center. Now, of course, they’re flooded and useless for the purpose. I don’t know why they didn’t make use of them on Saturday and Sunday. Not enough drivers?
UPDATE: Brendan Loy — who was calling for mandatory evacuation on Saturday — thinks this was a tragic missed opportunity.
ANOTHER UPDATE: And it’s not just school buses: “Before Katrina hit, the New Orleans Regional Transportation Authority operated at least 364 buses, probably more. . . . Why weren’t NORTA’s 364 buses used to ferry poor people out of New Orleans before Katrina hit?”
We’ll no doubt hear more about this in the coming days, but I think that constructive action should be the priority now.
KATRINA RELIEF UPDATE: Michael Barone emails:
A source at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce tells me (5:15pm) that they’re in touch with corporations who have pledged $100 million in aid to hurricane victims and communities. Wal-Mart and General
Electric have each pledged $15 million.
I’m also forwarding to you an email from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. It includes several offers of specific kinds of help relayed via CBC members and has absolutely none of the political blame-game stuff we have seen too much of. I think the CBCF deserves
credit for this kind of constructive response.
Indeed. Here’s the release — click “read more” to read it.
A source at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce tells me (5…’ »
THERE ARE CERTAIN SECTIONS OF NEW ORLEANS, la’Hom, that I would not advise you to invade: “Meanwhile, it is reported that Klingons have seized control of the French Quarter.”
UPDATE: “la’Hom” is not evidence of my execrable French (though my French is execrable) — it’s the Klingon rank equivalent of Major, since I was echoing Humphrey Bogart’s line from Casablanca: “Well there are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn’t advise you to try to invade.”
Yes, I am a geek. But you knew that.
A convoy of military vehicles plowed through the flooded streets of New Orleans on Friday bringing food, water and medicine to the thousands of people trapped at a downtown convention center.
The relief effort came as President Bush toured the Gulf Coast to survey damage from Hurricane Katrina and shortly after the mayor of New Orleans said the city was “holding on by a thread.”
More aid is arriving elsewhere, though this email explains some of the problems:
I run a trade association of tank truck carriers trying to assist in the relief efforts by transporting food and potable water. I’m in regular contact with many of the companies, and here are some “on the ground” facts:
1) Large trucks (80,000 lbs. gross weight) almost always have to use the Interstates. For trucks attempting to come in from outside the area, most of those roads (approaching the disaster area) are either closed or have bridges out. The so-called secondary roads may be somewhat passable, but their bridges (over rivers and streams) are not built to sustain such loads. Simply stated, you can’t get there from here.
2) Trucks domicled in those areas (because that’s where the companies traditionally serve customers) are still underwater, thus the equipment is not accessible;
3) Nobody in their right mind is going to take loads of gasoline and fuel oil into a city controlled by unfriendly folks carrying automatic weapons. A tank truck loaded with 8,000 gallons of gasoline can produce a very impressive fire;
4) Those local trucking companies can’t contact their drivers. There’s no power, thus (even) cellular is unavailable, and many of the drivers homes (in places like Kenner, Slidel, Metarie, etc) have been destroyed and families dispersed. I have one member with about 120 drivers and mechanics in that immediate area. To date, management has been able to contact 12. Those in the National Guard have been mobilized and are not available to drive.
5) Pumps — needed to load the vehicles — don’t work because there’s no power.
I suspect that things will improve throughout the weekend.
UPDATE: Reader Ian Jay emails:
I wanted to thank you for cross-posting the email from the National Review, from the trade association representative. It raised a lot of very valid explanations for the problems that have been experienced so far with getting aid to those in New Orleans. Reports of those sorts of infrastructure and safety issues go a long way in alleviating my concerns about the actual response to the disaster, and I think most people are doing as much as they can.
But, I think it’s important to bear this in mind, as well: I’ve been reading, watching, and listening to the news for about 12 hours a day since the beginning of the week. Yet if I hadn’t read your updates this afternoon, I wouldn’t have known about those problems. Obviously, they’re logical problems to have in the wake of such a disaster, and it certainly makes sense when I think about it. But if I didn’t know about it, then we can all be damned sure that the people holed up in the Superdome, the Convention Center, and on rooftops across New Orleans had absolutely no idea that logistical problems were to blame.
I haven’t been watching that much TV, but it does seem that there’s far more reporting on the problems from the disaster sites than on the process of responding.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Okay, the coverage isn’t quite this bad. But then, bear in mind that I haven’t been watching that much of it . . . .
MORE: Reader C.J. Burch, who’s been watching more TV, emails:
Oh yeah, it is just that bad. If anything Jeff understates the case. One begins to wonder if the founding fathers got that freedom of the press thing right, after all.
Okay, it’s not that bad, but it has been pretty shameful. When all is said and done the press will be stunned to discover that the only people they have impressed are themselves.
Well, that’s usually how it works out. I thought they were doing a pretty good job earlier in the week, actually, but I haven’t watched much TV since Wednesday.
MORE: Roger Simon is watching CNN from Japan and is unimpressed:
We hear a litany of criticism of the administration and everybody else involved in the rescue program, but barely one single concrete suggestion about how things could be done better. It’s like attending a Conclave of the Fatuous.
I watched a bit of Headline news earlier, and Soledad O’Brien did seem a bit overwrought.
SOME GOOD NEWS:
More than 4,000 people have been rescued from rooftops, flooded neighborhoods and hospitals throughout the Gulf Coast region since rescue operations began Monday, and joint-agency rescue operations are continuing day and night.
The Coast Guard is placing a priority of evacuating patients from hospitals and is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deliver food and water to stranded survivors. More than 23,000 pounds of water have been delivered thus far.
The bad news is that so many people have needed rescuing.
HURRICAID.COM is a blog dedicated to hurricane relief.
TECHCENTRALSTATION has produced a special Katrina coverage page.
HUGH HEWITT HAS THOUGHTS on what needs to be done as part of disaster recovery planning.
RAY KURZWEIL: The InstaPundit Interview
I’ve written before about Ray Kurzweil’s new book, The Singularity Is Near : When Humans Transcend Biology, and I thought it might be interesting to get him to expand on his thoughts for InstaPundit readers. Following is an email interview I did with him this past weekend.
GHR: Your book is called “The Singularity is Near” and — as an amusing photo makes clear — you’re spoofing those “The End is Near” characters from the New Yorker cartoons.
For the benefit of those who aren’t familiar with the topic, or who may have heard other definitions, what is your definition of “The Singularity?” And is it the end? Or a beginning?
RK: In chapter 1 of the book, I define the Singularity this way: “a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed. Although neither utopian nor dystopian, this epoch will transform the concepts that we rely on to give meaning to our lives, from our business models to the cycle of human life, including death itself. Understanding the singularity will alter our perspective on the significance of our past and the ramifications for our future. To truly understand it inherently changes one’s view of life in general and one’s own particular life. I regard someone who understands the Singularity and who has reflected on its implications for his or her own life as a ‘singularitarian.’”
The Singularity is a transition, but to appreciate its importance, one needs to understand the nature of exponential growth. On the one hand, exponential growth is smooth with no discontinuities, and values remains finite. On the other hand, it is explosive once we reach the “knee of the curve.” The difference between what I refer to as the “intuitive linear” view and the historically correct exponential view is crucial, and I discuss my “law of accelerating returns” in detail in the first two chapters. It is remarkable to me how many otherwise thoughtful observers fail to understand that progress is exponential, not linear. This failure underlies the common “criticism from incredulity” that I discuss at the beginning of the “Response to Critics” chapter.
To describe these changes further, within a quarter century, nonbiological intelligence will match the range and subtlety of human intelligence. It will then soar past it because of the continuing acceleration of information-based technologies, as well as the ability of machines to instantly share their knowledge. Intelligent nanorobots will be deeply integrated in our bodies, our brains, and our environment, overcoming pollution and poverty, providing vastly extended longevity, full-immersion virtual reality incorporating all of the senses, “experience beaming,” and vastly enhanced human intelligence. The result will be an intimate merger between the technology-creating species and the technological evolutionary process it spawned. But all of this is just the precursor to the Singularity. Nonbiological intelligence will have access to its own design and will be able to improve itself in an increasingly rapid redesign cycle. We’ll get to a point where technical progress will be so fast that unenhanced human intelligence will be unable to follow it. That will mark the Singularity.
GHR: Over what timeframe do you see these things happening? And what signposts might we look for that would indicate we’re approaching the Singularity?
RK: I’ve consistently set 2029 as the date that we will create Turing test-capable machines. We can break this projection down into hardware and software requirements. In the book, I show how we need about 10 quadrillion (1016) calculations per second (cps) to provide a functional equivalent to all the regions of the brain. Some estimates are lower than this by a factor of 100. Supercomputers are already at 100 trillion (1014) cps, and will hit 1016 cps around the end of this decade. Two Japanese efforts targeting 10 quadrillion cps around the end of the decade are already on the drawing board. By 2020, 10 quadrillion cps will be available for around $1,000. Achieving the hardware requirement was controversial when my last book on this topic, The Age of Spiritual Machines, came out in 1999, but is now pretty much of a mainstream view among informed observers. Now the controversy is focused on the algorithms.
To understand the principles of human intelligence, that is to achieve the software designs, we need to reverse-engineer the human brain. Here, progress is far greater than most people realize. The spatial and temporal (time) resolution of brain scanning is also progressing at an exponential rate, roughly doubling each year, like most everything else having to do with information. Just recently, scanning tools can see individual interneuronal connections, and watch them fire in real time. Already, we have mathematical models and simulations of a couple dozen regions of the brain, including the cerebellum, which comprises more than half the neurons in the brain. IBM is now creating a simulation of about 10,000 cortical neurons, including tens of millions of connections. The first version will simulate the electrical activity, and a future version will also simulate the relevant chemical activity. By the mid 2020s, it’s conservative to conclude that we will have effective models for all of the brain.
So at this point, we’ll have a full understanding of the methods of the human brain, which will expand the toolkit of techniques we can apply to create artificial intelligence. We will then be able to create nonbiological systems that match human intelligence in the ways that humans are now superior, for example, our pattern- recognition abilities. These superintelligent computers will also be able to do things we are not able to do, such as share knowledge and skills at electronic speeds.
By 2030, a thousand dollars of computation will be about a thousand times more powerful than a human brain. Keep in mind also that computers will not be organized as discrete objects as they are today. There will be a web of computing deeply integrated into the environment, our bodies and brains.
Achieving Turing test-capable nonbiological intelligence will be an important milestone, but this is not the Singularity. This is just creating more human-level intelligence. We already have billions of examples of human-level intelligence. Of course, there will be enormous benefits of machine intelligence with human level capabilities in that machines will be able to combine the now complimentary strengths of human and machine intelligence. Our biological thinking takes place at chemical gradient speeds of a few hundred feet per second, millions of times slower than electronics. And our communication speeds are at the speed of human language, again millions of times slower than what machines are capable of. Of course, our language ability has been very important – other animal species don’t have species-wide knowledge bases at all, let alone exponentially expanding ones, and the ability to share them.
In terms of signposts, credible reports of computer passing the full Turing test will be a very important one, and that signpost will be preceded by non-credible reports of successful Turing tests.
A key insight here is that the nonbiological portion of our intelligence will expand exponentially whereas our biological thinking is effectively fixed. When we get the mid 2040s, according to my models the nonbiological portion of our civilization’s thinking ability will be billions of times greater than the biological portion. Now that represents a profound change.
The term “Singularity” in my book and by the Singularity aware community is comparable to the use of this term by the physics community. Just as we find it hard to see beyond the event horizon of a black hole, we also find it difficult to see beyond the event horizon of the historical Singularity. How can we, with our limited biological brains, imagine what our future civilization, with its intelligence multiplied billions and ultimately trillions of trillions fold, be capable of thinking and doing? Nevertheless, just as we can draw conclusions about the nature of black holes through our conceptual thinking, despite never having actually been inside one, our thinking today is powerful enough to have meaningful insights into the implications of the Singularity. That’s what I’ve tried to do in this book.
GHR: You look at three main areas of technology, what’s usually called GNR for Genetics, Nanotechnology, and Robotics. But it’s my impression that you regard Artificial Intelligence — strong AI — as the most important aspect. I’ve often wondered about that. I’m reminded of James Branch Cabell’s Jurgen, who worked his way up the theological food chain past God to Koschei The Deathless, the real ruler of the Universe, only to discover that Koschei wasn’t very bright, really. Jurgen, who prided himself on being a “monstrous clever fellow,” learned that “Cleverness was not on top, and never had been.” Cleverness isn’t power in the world we live in now — it helps to be clever, but many clever people aren’t powerful, and you don’t have to look far to see that many powerful people aren’t clever. Why should artificial intelligence change that? In the calculus of tools-to-power, is it clear that a ten-times-smarter-than-human AI is worth more than a ten megaton warhead?
RK: This is a clever – and important – question, which has different aspects to it. One aspect is what is the relationship between intelligence and power? Does power result from intelligence? It would seem that there are many counterexamples.
But to piece this apart, we first need to distinguish between cleverness and true intelligence. Some people are clever or skillful in certain ways but have judgement lapses that undermine their own effectiveness. So their overall intelligence is muted.
We also need to clarify the concept of power as there are different ways to be powerful. The poet laureate may not have much impact on interest rates (although conceivably a suitably pointed poem might affect public opinion), but s/he does have influence in the world of poetry. The kids who hung out on Bronx street corners some decades back also had limited impact on geopolitical issues, but they did play an influential role in the creation of the hip hop cultural movement with their invention of break dancing. Can you name the German patent clerk who wrote down his day dreams (mental experiments) on the nature of time and space? How powerful did he turn out to be in the world of ideas, as well as on the world of geopolitics? On the other hand, can you name the wealthiest person at that time? Or the U.S. Secretary of State in 1905? Or even the President of the U.S.?
Another important point is that it is possible to put power in the bank, so to speak. Of course, we can literally put money in the bank, and money is power. It generally takes intelligence to create power in the first place – again keeping in mind that there are different types of power. So one can use one’s intelligence to make money and then put it in the bank. Or one can use one’s intelligence to become a famous poet or a famous rap artist, and then people will listen to your next creation based on your past laurels.
Such stored power can be maintained by organizations as well as individuals – the power of a company or a nation, for example. It takes intelligence to create the power – any kind of power – in the first place, but it can then be stored. But a lack of intelligence will cause that power to dissipate, not instantly, but over time it will act like a slow leak. An organization may have as its nominal leader someone who may not be especially intelligent, but there may nonetheless be intelligence around that person. But if the organization truly lacks intelligence, and acts foolishly, it will lose its store of power over time.
A study of history will show that the technologically more sophisticated (and we can certainly consider technology to be a manifestation of intelligence) civilization prevails. The rise of India and China in recent history is certainly a manifestation of the intelligence and education of their citizens (more on that later). Israel has little land and no significant natural resources, yet its gross national product is now several times that of Saudi Arabia due to the education and technological sophistication of its citizens.
In short, it is my view that ultimately intelligence prevails, even though the ability to save and store it acts as a “low pass filter,” to use an engineering term.
The other interesting aspect of your question has to do with the whole promise versus peril question. The promise side of the equation is the opportunity for these accelerating technologies to advance complexity, where complexity is meaningful knowledge including all of the arts and sciences, as well as human skills. To take an extreme example of what you refer to as power without intelligence, gray goo certainly represents power – destructive power – and if such an existential threat were to prevail, it would represent a catastrophic loss of complexity. It would be a triumph of raw power over intelligence. A ten megaton warhead is similar. Note that in such scenarios, the power that might succeed over intelligence is invariably a destructive power.
Now I have been accused of being an optimist on these questions, and I think that accusation has merit. On the other hand, I was also the person that alerted Bill Joy to the dangers of technology, which started with our discussion in a Lake Tahoe bar room in September of 1998. And it would not at all be accurate to say that I am sanguine or dismissive about these dangers. I address them in some detail in chapter 8 of Singularity is Near as you know.
We have an existential threat now in the form of the possibility of a bioengineered malevolent biological virus. With all the talk of bioterrorism, the possibility of a bioengineered bioterrorism agent gets little and inadequate attention. The tools and knowledge to create a bioengineered pathogen are more widespread than the tools and knowledge to create an atomic weapon, yet it could be far more destructive. I’m on the Army Science Advisory Group (a board of five people who advise the Army on science and technology), and the Army is the institution responsible for the nation’s bioterrorism protection. Without revealing anything confidential, I can say that there is acute awareness of these dangers, but there is neither the funding nor national priority to address them in an adequate way.
The answer is not relinquishment of these advanced technologies as I argue in the chapter because in addition to depriving humankind of the profound benefits (such as effective treatments for cancer, heart disease and other diseases), it would actually make the dangers worse by driving these technologies underground where responsible practitioners would not have easy access to the tools to develop the defenses. The real answer is to put more stones on the defensive side of the scale. Along these lines, I’ve testified to Congress (http://www.kurzweilai.net/meme/frame.html?main=/articles/art0556.html) on my proposal for a “Manhattan” style project to quickly develop a quick response system for new biological viruses, whether human-made or natural. For example, we could put in place a system which would quickly sequence a new virus, create an RNAi (RNA interference) medication for it (RNAi has shown to be effective to combat a specific biological virus because almost all biological viruses use messenger RNA which RNAi blocks), and then rapidly build up production. In this testimony I also address similar issues for nanotechnology, which are still a couple of decades away.
The response of some other observers, such as Richard Smalley, is to just deny that such dangers as self-replicating nanotechnology are feasible. As I point out in the book, he has made this motivation explicit. And although the existential nanotechnology danger is not yet at hand, denial is not the appropriate strategy.
So, yes, it is possible for the destructive (complexity destroying) powers represented by one of the existential threats I discuss in chapter 8 to prevail. I’m optimistic that they won’t, but less optimistic that we can avoid all painful events. Technology accelerated smoothly through the twentieth (and all prior) centuries, but we certainly didn’t avoid painful episodes.
GHR: It seems to me that one of the characteristics of the Singularity is the development of what might be seen as weakly godlike powers on the part of individuals. Will society be able to handle that sort of thing? The Greek gods had superhuman powers (pretty piddling ones, in many ways, compared to what we’re talking about) but an at-least-human degree of egocentrism, greed, jealousy, etc. Will post-Singularity humanity do better?
RK: Arguably we already have powers comparable to the Greek gods, albeit, as you point out, piddling ones compared to what is to come. For example, you are able to write ideas in your blog and instantly communicate them to just those people who are interested. We have many ways of communicating our thoughts to precisely those persons around the world with whom we wish to share ideas. If you want to acquire an antique plate with a certain inscription, you have a good chance of quickly finding the person who has it. We have increasingly rapid access to our exponentially growing human knowledge base.
Human egocentrism, greed, jealousy, and other emotions that emerged from our evolution in much smaller clans has nonetheless not prevented the smooth, exponential growth of knowledge and technology through the centuries. So I don’t see these emotional limitations halting the ongoing progression of technology.
Adaptation to new technologies does not occur by old technologies suddenly disappearing. The old paradigms persist while new ones take root quickly. A great deal of economic commerce, for example, now transcends national boundaries, but the boundaries are still there, even if now less significant.
But there is reason for believing we will be in a position to do better than in times past. One important upcoming development will be the reverse-engineering of the human brain. In addition to giving us the principles of operation of human intelligence that will expand our AI tool kit, it will also give us unprecedented insight into ourselves. As we merge with our technology, and as the nonbiological portion of our intelligence begins to predominate in the 2030s, we will have the opportunity to apply our intelligence to improving on – redesigning – these primitive aspects of it.
GHR: The term “Singularity” — as applied to technological/social change — was coined by Vernor Vinge, who is both a professor of computer science and a science fiction writer. Since then, the idea has appeared in all sorts of science fiction by Vinge and others. I recently read Charles Stross’s Accelerando, where it’s predicted that once the entire mass of the Solar System has been devoted to computation, it will be taken over by automated sentient legal documents and the equivalent of 419 scams and spambots. I suspect that Stross was trying a bit hard to be clever, but what science-fictional treatments do you find compelling, if any? What do they get right and wrong?
RK: If the computational substrate that manifests our intelligence later in this century becomes taken over by scans and spambots, that would represent an existential failure, comparable to the triumph of a bioengineered biological virus or gray goo. We already have a complex ecology in the substrate represented today by our computers and the Internet. But we don’t see self-replicating software entities dominating and crowding out useful complexity.
With regard to science fiction, it should be pointed out that the science fiction/futurism movies of the most recent decade often represent the written science fiction of a couple of decades earlier. Most science futurism movies make the mistake of taking one future change and applying that to today’s world as if nothing else will change. For example, the movie AI depicts near human-level cyborgs, but everything else from the coffee maker to the cars are essentially unchanged. The Matrix movies, although dystopian as is common among science futurism films, do provide a somewhat more comprehensive view of the future nature of virtual reality.
It is difficult for the science fiction genre to deal effectively with the many diverse changes that a realistic depiction of the future would entail. It would require explaining a panoply of changes. It is easier for a writer to concentrate on the literary challenges of one type of change while being able to lean on an otherwise familiar landscape to create the needed human drama.
One science fiction writer who has made effective attempts at depicting the many profound changes that lie ahead is Cory Doctorow. His novel usr/bin/god (which I discuss on pages 271-272) depicts a genetic algorithm that evolves a Turing test-capable AI. The evaluation function is to send each AI program out to interact in chat rooms and determine how long each system can last without being challenged by one of the human participants with a statement like, “what are you, a bot, or something?” This is an interesting idea and may be a good way of finishing the strong AI project once we get close.
GHR: If an ordinary person were trying to prepare for the Singularity now, what should he or she do? Is there any way to prepare? And, for that matter, how should societies prepare, and can they?
RK: In essence, The Singularity will be an explosion of human knowledge made possible by the amplification of our intelligence through its merger with its exponentially growing variant. Creating knowledge requires passion, so one piece of advice would be to follow your passion.
That having been said, we need to keep in mind that the cutting edge of the GNR revolutions is science and technology. So individuals need to be science and computer literate. And societies need to emphasize science and engineering education and training. Along these lines, there is reason for concern in the U.S. I’ve attached seven charts I’ve put together (that you’re welcome to use) that show some disturbing trends. Bachelor degrees in engineering in the U.S. were 70,000 per year in 1985, but have dwindled to around 53,000 in 2000. In China, the numbers were comparable in 1985 but have soared to 220,000 in 2000, and have continued to rise since then. We see the same trend comparison in all other technological fields including computer science and the natural sciences. We see the same trends in other Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, and India (India is not shown in these graphs). We also see the same trends on the doctoral level as well.
One counterpoint one could make is that the U.S. leads in the application of technology. Our musicians and artists, for example, are very sophisticated in the use of computers. If you go to the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) convention, it looks and reads like a computer conference. I spoke recently to the American Library Association, and the presentations were all about data bases and search tools. Essentially every conference I speak at, although diverse in topic, look and read like computer conferences.
But there is an urgent need in our country to attract more young people to science and engineering. We need to make these topics cool and compelling.
READER ELIZABETH KING EMAILS:
I’m in the Jackson area in central Mississippi and got my power restored on Wednesday afternoon — about 48 hours after it went out. I’m one of the lucky ones, because a big part of central Mississippi is still as dark as the coast,but of course not anywhere close to as devastated. Some folks here had damage to their houses from wind and falling trees, but no loss of life this far north that I know about. We are 150 miles north of the coast, and I sure never expected to get a hurricane up here, but I think it was only a Category 1 by the time we got it.
Anyway, I wanted to ask you if you would send out a thank you from Mississippi to all the out-of-state power company workers who have been working around the clock in 90+ heat to help us get power back up. Our own folks have been magnificent as well, but I just wanted to let the out-of-staters know that their kindness and generosity will not be forgotten. They literally poured into the state to pitch in, before the storm was even over. Most of us can’t even offer them a glass of iced tea, but they have been on the front line in helping us begin to get back to normal. Many, many, many (did I say MANY) power lines are down, even in this part of the state, and the Coast just looks like it’s been bombed. Lots of live power lines and leaking gas lines down there, and these folks are literally risking their own safety to help us. There are a LOT of heroes in this story, but I just wanted to make sure that the linemen and other power workers are not forgotten. Like a lot of the first responders, we don’t pay them nearly what they are worth, but they are brave and wonderful and inspiring. Please tell them thanks.
I’ve always admired power workers, and their sense of mission after disasters.
UPDATE: Reader Lee Lowrey emails:
Just to reinforce the post from Elizabeth King in Central Mississippi: As I drove back to Northeast Georgia from Richmond, Virginia this past Tuesday afternoon, August 30th, I was absolutely amazed by the almost-non-stop line of power company convoys heading south on I-85. Not just the shear numbers (I must have passed over 100 trucks), but their origins – I saw power companies from Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. It was truly an awesome, emotional sight…
We’ll start to see rapid progress by next week, I imagine, though it’ll be months before things are set right, given the scale of the devastation.
STEPPING UP: I mentioned earlier that Amazon has a donation link on its page, and Yahoo. So does Google, and reader Michael Pierce emails: “Apple iTunes store is accepting donations for the American Red Cross – and not taking any cut from the transaction.”
HUGH HEWITT is trying something new for disaster relief.
The United States has an oil reserve at least three times that of Saudi Arabia locked in oil-shale deposits beneath federal land in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, according to a study released yesterday. . . .
For years, the industry and the government considered oil shale — a rock that produces petroleum when heated — too expensive to be a feasible source of oil.
However, oil prices, which spiked above $70 a barrel this week, combined with advances in technology could soon make it possible to tap the estimated 500 billion to 1.1 trillion recoverable barrels, the report found.
I think this means that we’ll have plenty of oil, if somewhat more expensively, to last until we switch to something better. That’s why, as I’ve said before, the “Peak Oil” analysis is, at most, “Peak Cheap Oil.” And it may well be that, once started, the cost of extracting this stuff will fall significantly. (Via NewsAlert).
READER ROGER ARANGO says that we shouldn’t be criticizing the efforts of New Orleans or the federal authorities:
Katrina tells us that nature is more powerful than any of us mere mortals can comprehend. But still, mere mortals do the best they can—as an emergency management type in a small rural Washington state county, I don’t see any thing else that could have been done. In short, the local officials did a brilliant job in evacuating a major city within 30 hours. They established a location people could go to so they wouldn’t die in flood waters. And the response thus far has been magnificent—is there looting: yes; are there other infirmaties of human nature? Of course—but let no one doubt, the response to this major natural disaster has been superb. And small nitpicking critics will cavil and snipe—but consider what might have been.
Well, it could have been worse, certainly. I do think that a firmer hand with looters early on, in line with “broken windows” theory, might have forestalled the more egregious lawlessness we’re seeing now. But this is a natural disaster without parallel in American history — like the Chicago Fire if it had spread across three states — and disaster relief isn’t like calling Domino’s. Nor does the fact that we’re Americans somehow offer supernatural protection from the consequences of a calamity like this.
Bridges are out, roads are blocked, boats are sunk, and all sorts of other infrastructure is down. Aid can’t get through in quantity until that’s fixed, at least somewhat. In a situation like this, the first week you get a trickle, the second week you get enough, and the third week you get pretty much all you want. We’re still in week one. That, as I’ve noted elsewhere, is why the standard disaster-preparation advice is to have enough food and water to get you through a week on your own.
Meanwhile, it’s interesting to see Bill Clinton slamming CNN for second-guessing and nitpicking.
My own take: Some of the nitpicking and complaining may well be justified, even beyond the inevitable dropped balls in something like this. But there will be plenty of time for that later. Right now, people should be focusing on constructive action, not point-scoring.
UPDATE: On the other hand, Free Will Blog, which was defending Nagin the other day, has turned critic, noting that the breakdown in law and order is a major holdup for rescue efforts.
INTERESTING that they’re releasing this information on the Friday before Labor Day:
Pentagon officials said Thursday they have found three more people who recall an intelligence chart that identified Sept. 11 mastermind Mohamed Atta as a terrorist one year before the attacks on New York and Washington.
ARTHUR CHRENKOFF has a collection of hurricane exploitation quotes.
FLOOD AID UPDATE: Here are some places you can donate to hurricane Katrina relief: (Bumped to top — scroll down for the latest posts, which continue to be added below this one.) [LATER: First blogburst installment is up -- scroll down to see the links.] [LATER STILL: There's lots more, now.]
LATER: Don’t forget to log your contribution over at N.Z. Bear’s. Sorry — I missed that earlier or I would have noted it sooner.
By the way, people want to know where I gave. I donated $500 to the Salvation Army, whose work I’ve respected. I’m also going to donate some money to help some folks who have wound up here, as soon as I figure out where to send the money. Oh, and the Mercy Corps ad is a freebie, via something Henry Copeland is doing.
Catholic Charities is involved, and probably has lots of resources to draw on in the heavily Catholic New Orleans area.
Austin Bay is recommending Episcopal Relief and Development.
Liz at Rightalk suggests that animal lovers donate to the Humane Society.
Here’s a link to Mennonite Disaster Services. The Sanity Inspector says they’re highly efficient.
Reader Peter Viditto recommends The Mercy Corps
Here’s the link for Methodist Relief.
Lisa Larkin recommends Operation Blessing.
Hugh Hewitt recommends Samaritan’s Purse
Scott Ott recommends Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.
Numerous readers recommend United Jewish Charities.
Here’s a link to LDS Humanitarian Services.
Soldiers’ Angels has a special relief fund to benefit returning servicepeople in the disaster area.
Blog-based charity Strengthen The Good is setting up a donation matching program.
I’ll keep updating this as I get new suggestions.
Jay Allen has a further suggestion:
I would suggest people donate through their companies whenever possible. Most major corporations offer matching funds to the dollar for charitable donations. Find who’s collecting money for relief efforts, then file for a match through your employer instead of sending to the agency directly.
Not bad — if your employer is supporting this.
Chuck Simmins is tracking corporate donations.
Here’s the link for N.Z. Bear’s Katrina relief aggregator page.
Here’s FEMA’s list of recommended charities.
More charitable links at Little Green Footballs.
Basically – you can go into any store in the country, log onto any
walmart website – or even call a hotline 800 number and either post a
message to loved ones, or search for messages *from* loved ones.
Employees and customers, everyone can use it.
(This is available in any Wal-Mart Store, SAM’S CLUB, Neighborhood
Market, or Distribution Center via the hiring center kiosks,
connection center kiosks, gift registry, and all Wal-Mart websites.)
Lefty blogger Skippy has donated, and is issuing a challenge to bloggers left and right. “this is not about red states v. blue states…this is not about left v. right…this is not about liberal v. conservative… the people in louisiana, mississippi and alabama are americans. this is about america. and americans have historically always rolled up their sleeves and pitched in to help out their fellow countrymen in need.”
Amen. Even the capitals-impaired ones!
Craigslist New Orleans has offers of housing for Katrina refugees.
UPDATE: The plan for tomorrow’s flood-aid blogburst: I’d like each blogger participating to put up a post recommending a charity, or other action to help, and linking back to this post where I’ll keep a comprehensive list of both bloggers and charities. Basically, a Carnival of Hurricane Relief. That way readers of any blog will have ready access to recommendations on all the blogs. If anyone has a better idea, let me know.
Be sure to send me a link to your post, so that I can link it here. Put “Katrina Flood Aid” in the subject line.
LATER: Please don’t send any more links! I woke up this morning (Thursday) and my mailbox is jammed. I don’t know how I’ll post all of these, but I’ll figure something out, I guess.
LATER STILL: Bring ‘em on! My morning and afternoon appointments are cancelled, yesterday’s migraine is pretty much gone, and John Tabin has volunteered to help, so send your links.
Okay it’s not tomorrow yet — except in China, as GZExpat reminded me — but this stuff is pouring in and I think I’d better get a head start so that I’ll have time to teach my classes and such on Thursday. Here’s the first batch of links, with more to follow:
Domenico Bettinelli has multiple suggestions.
Mark DeForrest has multiple recommendations.
The New Editor has multiple suggestions.
The Ringleader has multiple suggestions.
Tim Russo recommends multiple charities.
Ruthie in the Sky says give to any approved charity.
Soapbox Politics suggests multiple charities.
Mark Steyn is endorsing the Mercy Corps — and pledging revenues from book sales via his site, too. “Don’t worry, it’s not one of these dodgy deals involving an unstated ‘portion of profits.’ You get the book, Mercy Corps get the full US$19.95.”
SECOND INSTALLMENT: Okay, I’m totally overwhelmed with “Katrina Flood Aid” emails — there are hundreds and hundreds. I’m going to keep posting as the day goes on, but no fancy alphabetical order or clever comments. And I’m not repeatedly linking to the same charities; I’ll just mention ‘em. There are just too many!
Kathy Kinsley has taken up Skppy’s challenge and donated to the Salvation Army.
Bloggledygook has a wide range of charities, some not listed above.
Baseball Musings is giving to the Salvation Army, the Mennonite Disaster Relief folks, and the Humane Society.
Betsy Newmark is endorsing the Red Cross and Feed the Children.
SgtStryker.Com recommends Lutheran World Relief and the Salvation Army.
Michele Catalano has a lot of links, and emails: “Side note: I’m also trying to find anyone with contacts in the shipping industry who can help me get a truck/transport donated – I’m going to start a local drive for school supplies to be sent to both the Astrodome and Baton Rouge for displaced kids who will be transferring to schools near their shelters.” Let her know if you can help.
Dodgeblog is supporting the American Red Cross.
William Teach is supporting the American Red Cross.
Ed Morrissey is supporting Catholic Charities and has some other thoughts.
PowerPundit recommends the Salvation Army.
Brendan Loy is going with the Salvation Army.
Annika recommends Catholic Charities.
HiWired’s corporate blog has joined the fund and recommends several charities.
Five Cent Nickel lists numerous charities.
Ed Cone is endorsing the Red Cross.
Blonde Sagacity recommends the Red Cross. She’s got pictures, too.
Juan Paxety supports the Salvation Army, and challenges musicians and music lovers. ” Just as New York and Chicago were great melting pots for America, so was New Orleans. It melted together the musical traditions of France, England, Africa, and Spain and created a uniquely American music – the first world music.”
Scrappleface is recommending Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.
Rachel at TinkertyTonk recommends the Salvation Army.
WorldViews has numerous links, for now and for the aftermath.
The Fat Guy is supporting the Salvation Army, and is offering free RV hookups at his park in Texas.
More via John Tabin — thanks, John!
Posse Incitatus recommends Catholic Charities and notes that “a few Hail Marys can’t hurt, either.”
Aliens in This World endorse Catholic Charities.
Brian Warbiany will match up to $100 for a reputable charity to be chosen by the first reader to respond.
Jack Garber, Director of Member Services for Christian Service Charities, emails to note the relief efforts of several CSC member charitiess.
Elephant in Exile has several recommendations.
Michelle Malkin likes Mercy Corps.
Jeremy Dibbell has a couple of recommendations.
Area417 has multiple recommendations.
The American Princess has many suggestions.
Pajamasphere suggests contacting your alumni association or other membership group, as personal assistance to an old friend can often go beyond what a charity does.
Ipsissima Verba recommends Catholic Charities.
Still more, via John Tabin’s fiance, Sara DelVillano. Thanks Sara!
Sundries recommends several charities.
The Musings of Kev supports several charities.
Ella M. links to many charities.
Hyscience; supports many worthy charities.
FullosseousFlap; recommends Catholic Charities.
USS Neverdock supports The Red Cross.
Brent Colbert links to the Canadian Red Cross.
Eric McErlain supports the American Red Cross.
Mystery Pollster supports the Red Cross.
Lent & Beyond links to many charities.
Getting Nothing But Static… suggests the Red Cross and others.
Ang recommends the Red Cross.
The Raving Athiest is offering refrigerator magnets and a personalized limerick to anyone who contributes $10 or more to Catholic Charities.
TigerSmack will be liveblogging from Baton Rouge.
The Counterterrorism Blog has multiple links.
Virginia Postrel recommends the North Texas Food Bank and comments: “What refugees are going to need is help getting settled in new places to live: first and last month’s rent, furniture, etc. (Right now, I wish someone would find a fund to pay for hotel rooms. I’d donate.)”
Bloggers’ Blog recommends the Red Cross.
SportsBizBlog recommends United Jewish Charities.
The Razor has multiple recommendations.
Joanne Norton doesn’t have a blog, but sends this page of places to help.
Holy Fool supports Catholic Charities.
Queer Conservative has multiple links and notes a Morgan Freeman fundraising effort.
Kim’s Notebook has multiple links.
CalTechGirl recommends UMCOR.
Joe Gandelman has multiple recommendations.
ToneCluster is supporting the American Red Cross via CDBaby.
Still more, again via John Tabin. Thanks again, John!
Jay at Solo Dialogue has two suggestions.
The Other Club likes the Red Cross.
Vik Rubenfeld has several suggestions.
Everyman recommends Mercy Corps.
Keith of In Which Our Hero likes Habitat for Humanity.
Justin Hein has several suggestions.
Blogging for Bryant recommends Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.
Ho John Lee is a Red Cross fan.
Kevin Ecker is another Red Cross fan.
Captoe recommends Catholic Charities.
McGee’s Musings recommends the Red Cross.
Six Meat Buffet is pushing the Salvation Army.
“Tattoo Couture” site Needled.com is raising money to help a New Orleans tattooist who’s been left destitute.
Buzz Brockway recommends Samaritan’s Purse.
Leigh Black, better known as the Jager Bitch, is supporting the Red Cross.
Kowabunga recommends multiple charities.
Allison Ashwell has lots of links and information.
My Name is Kate is pushing the Red Cross and warns people to beware of email Phishing scams.
Eduwonk says mail the money and save the credit card fees, and publishes the American Red Cross’s address.
The Right Place endorses Catholic Charities.
BareKnucklePolitics endorses the Red Cross.
Nicholas Schweitzer recommends the Red Cross, too.
Combs Spouts Off endorses the Salvation Army.
Common Folk Using Common Sense recommends the Salvation Army.
NanoDot says give to any qualified charity.
David M recommends the Red Cross and United Jewish Communities.
Business of Life recommends the Red Cross.
Stingray recommends the Southern Baptist Relief Fund and Catholic Charities.
Blogging Tories recommends the American or Canadian Red Cross.
So does Stephen Taylor.
Wheat and Weeds recommends Catholic Charities.
King Banaian recommends the ELCA International and Domestic Disaster Response.
Diario Hoy recommends the United Way.
The Troglodyte has multiple recommendations.
Brendan Loy recommends the Salvation Army.
Dizzy Girl recommends the American Red Cross.
Oddybobo recommends the Salvation Army.
Lady Jane recommends Catholic Charities.
I’m copying FEMA’s disclaimer here, too, even though I think it’s overkill. I can’t vouch for these organizations personally, of course, and it’s up to you to be sure that you’re donating to the right place:
Please check with your tax advisor or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for more information regarding the tax deductibility of your donation.
The listing of or omission of an institution or organization on this Web site does not refer to programmatic capability nor does it confer any official status, approval, or endorsement of the institution or organization itself. This listing does not purport to be a listing of all organizations that are providing relief in the affected area. Additionally, there may be organizations providing relief in the affected area that are not accepting donations at this time. It is not the purpose of this Web site to make, or enable to be made, any representation to the public concerning the organizations listed. This listing is for informational purposes only. Any contributions you choose to make from links on this Web site are at your sole discretion.
READER DUNCAN FRISSELL sends this Verizon EVDO coverage map for Knoxville. Looks like coverage is quite broad.
CONTRARY TO LILEKS, below, the French are wanting to help:
French humanitarian aid officials met on Thursday to examine ways of providing support for victims of Hurricane Katrina in the United States, a French Foreign Ministry spokesman said. France is considering ways of mobilizing relief teams from the French Antilles in the Caribbean, ministry spokesman Denis Simonneau said at a news conference.
Don’t call ‘em stingy yet!
AN IDEA THAT’S SO SIMPLE, LIKE THE JITTERBUG, THAT IT’S PLUMB EVADED US: Donald Sensing wonders why we’re not dropping leaflets with instructions to people in the disaster zone:
Within short order, hundreds of millions of leaflets could be printed to be dropped over afflicted areas. The leaflets could explain what aid is on the way, where aid can be found, how to move out of dangerous areas, how to signal critical needs to overflying aircraft, how to sterilize water, basic trauma first aid, where medical help can be attained – the list is endless.
One of the best things leafleting would do is psychologically reconnect the cut off victims to their governments and restore their morale and will.
Read the whole thing. Sounds sensible to me.
HERE’S AN EMAIL from a physician who’s setting up a temporary hospital at the Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans.
AUSTIN BAY WRITES on an American refugee crisis:
We’ve a million people dispossessed and they are suffering. Critics grouse that the response to Katrina’s devestation has been abysmally slow. Compared to what? Slow compared to our expectations is the correct answer. Compared to every other nation on the planet, we’re moving at warp speed to address a natural disaster of extraordinary magnitude.
Watch what happens over the next week, as American aid organizations, religious groups, and willing individuals act. America’s great wealth is matched by its generosity. America is responding decisively to Katrina’s tragedy.
But it will still be rough. I have some related thoughts over at GlennReynolds.com.
MY DEAN INFORMS ME that the University of Tennessee Law College will be accepting 50 refugee law students from Tulane and Loyola. More info here.
THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS is accepting students from damaged areas for the duration.
EUGENE VOLOKH to the ACLU-haters: Bring it on!
TED FRANK on shooting looters:
I fully acknowledge that shooting looters is an inappropriately disproportionate response if one views looting as mere larceny. But one doesn’t shoot looters to protect property, one does so to protect order. Somebody is going to suffer unjustly when society breaks down. I don’t understand why Muller thinks it preferable for the law-abiding citizens to be the cost-bearers. History has shown repeatedly that the way to stop an anarchic riot is an early display of substantial force.
Normally, you don’t shoot people for stealing because we value life over property. But when people are, as Frank notes, looting hospitals for drugs at gunpoint and the like, things are out of hand and life-threatening violence looms.
When I was on Grand Cayman last month, several people told me that looting became a problem after Hurricane Ivan, but quickly stopped when the police shot several looters. That’s because looters usually value life over property too.
As I’ve said before, I don’t think that people helping themselves to emergency supplies are to be blamed, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. Those who don’t get this are either sadly uninformed or deliberately obtuse.
A BLEAK REPORT FROM NEW ORLEANS: A colleague sends this email. (Click “read more” to read it).
JAMES LILEKS: “Last time I checked the French weren’t helping much, either – odd. The one place in the country where their guys could read the signs, and they don’t bother to pitch in.”
HELICOPTER VIDEO of Gulf Coast damage, from WLBT. Three different segments on their website.
NICE STORY ON MICHAEL YON in the Boston Herald.
NEW YORK TIMES: Owners Take Up Arms as Looters Press Their Advantage.
If you’ve got a week’s supplies, and a gun, you’ll usually do okay after a disaster. If you don’t, you’re in much bigger trouble, because it generally takes that long for some sort of order to be restored. We saw that after Andrew, and we’re seeing it again.
REGISTERING TO VOTE: New American citizen Jigsha Desai videoblogs the whole thing.
READER GREG BROOKS EMAILS:
You don’t know me – just another faithful pjmedia.com/instapundit reader here. But I trust your judgment so I thought I’d ask: Beyond donations, is there good to be achieved by driving down to New Orleans (I live in Kansas City) with a car stuffed full of bottled water, vitamins, antibiotics and stuff? I’m not trained in anything useful (just a public relations guy here), but it seems like a healthy person armed with a car could get some good done. Armed with a car and hip waders? Maybe even more good.
Your thoughts? Many thanks in advance for your perspective.
I’m no expert. My guess is that the authorities don’t want people coming on their own like that — but that if you show up, they’ll find something for you to do. If you go, though, be sure to be self-sufficient for at least a week, so you’re not a drain on rescue resources.
And be sure you’ve had your shots.
UPDATE: FEMA says do not self-dispatch.
A BAD REVIEW for New Orleans’ Mayor Nagin:
During the last interview with the Mayor – I did not hear one word of ANY plan for the people who can not drive to get out of New Orleans. I assume there are some on the ground plans, but they certainly are not being adequately communicated to the press,
And just now a WDSU reporter is reporting seeing kids, as young as six and seven year old – on their own – with all their belongings in a plastic bag – begging drivers to take them out of the city. And when his news team left on the one bridge still open, there saw a line of the very old and the very young – people in wheel chairs – even more incredible – people being pushed on hospital gurneys – fleeing for their lives over the last bridge out of New Orleans.
The same reporter also gave an account of the gangs roaming and terrorizing the city.
We should all be asking – after all this time – why have buses and trucks not been commandeered to get the poor out of the city?
Why are the residents of New Orleans not being told HOW to get out of the city instead of just being told that they must get out of the city?
I’ve been wondering about this myself. The City’s response has seemed too-late and too-weak from the beginning.
UPDATE: FreeWillBlog: “I’m not ready to jump on Nagin just yet.”
UPDATE: Here’s a report that bogus rumors led to gas lines in Columbus, Georgia.
ANOTHER UPDATE: This, on the other hand, is not a rumor:
The price of regular-grade gasoline soared as much as 50 cents a gallon overnight as Hurricane Katrina forced suppliers to ration the fuel sent to filling stations and convenience stores. . . . “I would hope that all consumers recognize the really catastrophic event that occurred with Hurricane Katrina,” said Dan Gilligan, president of the Petroleum Marketers Association of America, in an interview yesterday. The Arlington, Virginia-based group represents about 8,000 marketers across the U.S.
“If consumers want to help, they need to find a way to conserve if they can,” he said. “Find a way to carpool for the next couple of weeks. If everyone would just decide to conserve a little bit, I think the industry can cope. If people are going way for Labor Day, maybe try to cut back the travel by 100 miles.”
Dartblog notes that high prices will encourage that. And reader Gerald Dearing reports from Atlanta:
Just returned from a short drive around the neighborhood (Norcross). EVERY gas station has lines out into the street, even the stations on the back roads. Except the Chevron (Peachtree Industrial & Medlock Bridge), which has shut it’s pumps down. Out, most likely. But I didn’t ask. Wasn’t anything like this at lunchtime when I stopped in for a fishwrapper.
WSB-am is devoting it’s programming to the crisis, mostly rumor control. Trying to calm the panic.
Governor Sunny has declared a “Gas Emergency”, whatever the hell that is. Radio said “State of Emergency”, radio reporters aren’t good at subtle distinctions.
Me? I think the panic is silly. But then I don’t need gas today. Or even diesel. I’m in for time off, and doing as little driving as possible.
Who knows what set off the rumors? But they spread quickly. Oh, well.
Things should settle down by next week, but gas will be expensive for a while. Glad I didn’t buy that SUV!
TERRY TEACHOUT HAS LOADS OF NEW KATRINA LINKS: Just keep scrolling.
JAMES JOYNER is publishing at his backup site because of the same sort of problems that InstaPundit has been having.
FROM SUPERDOME TO ASTRODOME? I guess that’s an improvement, but only a temporary one. People need to be spread out to real housing, not concentrated in temporary quarters.
But mainstream Web sites that had jumped to pull in money for the tsunami victims showed no evidence of repeating it here in the U.S. for Katrina’s. Amazon.com, which raised more than $14 million for the American Red Cross in January via a donation link on its home page, didn’t have one as of mid-day Monday. Nor did Google, Yahoo, MSN, or eBay, all of which hustled earlier in the year to put up donation links on their portals. (Google slapped up an “Information about Hurricane Katrina” link on its Spartan home page, but that led to news sources and stories.)
An Amazon spokesperson said that the online retailer had no plans to post a donation link on its site. “Each case is different,” she said. “The Red Cross has essentially given over its entire site to donations. The tsunami came out of the blue, so it was an ‘all hands on deck’ situation, but the Red Cross has been getting ready for this and getting its message out there for several days.”
Maybe they’ll change their minds.
UPDATE: Yahoo now has an aid link on its page.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Some readers are emailing them. That’s fine, but be polite. This is a bad decision that they can make right easily. Encourage them to do so, but also give them the chance to do the right thing. Name-calling, in my experience, seldom encourages people to do the right thing.
MORE: From Hugh Hewitt: “At 2:45 Pacific, we heard from Amazon that the company has changed its mind. Some one must have gotten around to asking Jeff Bezos.”
JAMES GLASSMAN looks at people who are exploiting Katrina for political purposes.
They’re also scientific illiterates. More here.
UPDATE: Steven St. Onge isn’t so sure that Glassman has the numbers right, though (see the link above) experts do seem to share Glassman’s view. Mark Kleiman also sends a link to this letter in Nature, though it seems to be a bit speculative, and conflicts with the New York Times article quoted earlier. On the other hand, it’s not like a NYT article is the last word.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Nick Gillespie is siding with Glassman and offers more links in support.
USING THE MILITARY in cases of civil disturbance and looting. Donald Sensing has an interesting post.
UPDATE: As in New Orleans, it doesn’t take long for the vultures to appear! Is this “link-looting?” Heh.
BEYOND CHARITY: Wizbang has some suggestions for bloggers.
THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE has a massive roundup on the military response to Katrina, which is quite extensive.
THE DEMOCRATIC SURGE continues.
RON BAILEY ON BIOTECHNOLOGY: “How Europe starves the world’s poor.”
GAS RATIONING AT THE WHOLESALE LEVEL, due to Katrina-related shortages.
LEGAL AFFAIRS has a number of interesting items on national security law.
DISASTER KITS: Reader Brian Cook emails: “Prof. Reynolds, you mentioned that everyone should have a battery-operated radio in his emergency kit. I submit that one of these is an even better idea.”
Actually, I have one. So does reader Andrew Centofani, who writes: “For emergencies I like the Grundig FR200. I just bought one a couple of months ago and thankfully haven’t had to use it for anything emergency wise, but it works great — about an hour with two minutes of cranking — and has an emergency light built in. If I could add anything to it I would have some sort of DC out plug as so I could power/charge other small electronics and add Weather / Emergency frequencies.” I agree.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Brian King emails:
have that same Grundig dynamo-powered radio, and I love it.
My wife has this one in her car: it’s got a “mobile phone charger” outlet. Her phone cord doesn’t fit the jack, but it is a DC out.
The Grundig FR-300 has a similar mobile phone charging jack.
LEGAL PROBLEMS WITH SPACE ELEVATORS: My TechCentralStation column is up.
UPDATE: In the comments to that piece, reader J.T. Wenting observes:
Message: Space elevators most likely will be built from space down towards earth rather than from the surface up.
Would they still be an extension of the country they’re anchored to or would they be space structures reaching the surface?
I’d say the latter, similar to a ship mooring in a harbour not being real estate of the country that harbour is located in, as technically the space elevator would be moored to the ground rather than being built on it.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Rand Simberg has more thoughts:
The problems associated with anchoring such a beast in an unstable and/or corrupt equatorial country has caused many of those planning such things to put them instead on floating ocean platforms, in international waters. This raises some new issues, because now, instead of (as Glenn notes) the structure simply being a very high tower, it would now be a tall ship that would put to shame all of the previous false claimants to that designation, with their puny little sticks for masts.
FEDERAL RELIEF EFFORTS, including a Naval flotilla and 125,000 National Guardsmen, are on the way to afflicted areas, reports CNN.
UPDATE: A reader emails:
What most of these poor folks need right now is information on where they can go to seek shelter. I’m in Tuscaloosa right now and you wouldn’t believe the overflow of people seeking hotel rooms. Maybe the blogosphere can help get the word out to the relief agencies they need to get the word out to the victims. The University recreation center is offering shelter for now, but what happens when that overflows? How are these people going to continue to pay for hotel rooms weeks after this disaster?
I don’t know how to handle this problem, but I hope that somebody does. Ideas?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Kathy Childre emails:
I was thinking that there should be a way to set up a fund just for that. An hotel fund. I know in Baton Rouge some apartment managers are offering month to month leases for displaced persons and trying to find free furnture for them. Donating used furniture for the apartments would be nice to. If there were some way to set up a fund to pay for those leases as well it would be great. I’m just not sure of the logistics of it.
It’s a thought.
KAYE TRAMMELL has an open comment thread for people looking for news and information about survivors.
Also, here’s the Hurricane Katrina help Wiki.
Craigslist is running a lost and found list for friends and relatives. It also includes posts from people who want to help.
I’m not sure why, exactly, but more than anything else, reading the entries brought tears to my eyes.
Read this, too.
UPDATE: Here’s another Katrina missing persons board.
THE SLIDELL HURRICANE BLOG is gathering information about conditions in and around Slidell.
MICHAEL SILENCE HAS A ROUNDUP on misconduct by the ATF.
VARIOUS PEOPLE ARE CLAIMING THAT GLOBAL WARMING CAUSED KATRINA: EU Rota looks at the historical record and finds this argument wanting.
Here’s more from The New York Times:
Because hurricanes form over warm ocean water, it is easy to assume that the recent rise in their number and ferocity is because of global warming.
But that is not the case, scientists say. Instead, the severity of hurricane seasons changes with cycles of temperatures of several decades in the Atlantic Ocean. The recent onslaught “is very much natural,” said William M. Gray, a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University who issues forecasts for the hurricane season.
From 1970 to 1994, the Atlantic was relatively quiet, with no more than three major hurricanes in any year and none at all in three of those years. Cooler water in the North Atlantic strengthened wind shear, which tends to tear storms apart before they turn into hurricanes.
In 1995, hurricane patterns reverted to the active mode of the 1950′s and 60′s.
It’s sad to see such lame political opportunism at a time like this.
UPDATE: Another response to lame, opportunistic, politically motivated claims.
THINGS SEEM TO BE GETTING WORSE IN NEW ORLEANS:
New Orleans resembled a war zone more than a modern American metropolis on Tuesday, as Gulf Coast communities struggled to deal with the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Deteriorating conditions in New Orleans will force authorities to evacuate the tens of thousands of people at city shelters, including the Superdome, where a policeman told CNN unrest was escalating.
The officer expressed concern that the situation could worsen overnight after three shootings, looting and a number of attempted carjackings during the afternoon.
They need to get these people out of the city as soon as possible.
NEW REPORTS FROM COASTAL ALABAMA look bad, too.
IAN SCHWARTZ has video from Biloxi, and it doesn’t look good.
SLATE WRITES ON DELL’S PROBLEMS, and Jeff Jarvis is mentioned.
My experiences with Dell, I note, have been good.
HERE’S A COAST GUARD BLOGGER, Tidewater Musings, who’s reporting on the Coast Guard’s rescue and recovery efforts.
READER DAVID BROADUS WRITES:
This is from the Baton Rouge Advocate about a good thing done in Houston for the refugees from AL, LA, and MS. I am going to contact other area restaurants and suggest they follow suit:
“Yesterday, we went to the IKEA in Houston. There were signs all over telling Louisiana residents that they could eat for free in the restaurant because of the hurricane. We enjoyed dessert and coffee, but we could have had a full meal for all of us if we’d chosen to. This morning, the local paper has a list of things to do in the city for people from LA, MS, and AL. Everything is free. All museums and the zoo are letting residents of those states in for free, and many of them will do so until the end of October. I guess that’s because they know that people may be stuck here for quite some time.
IN PRAISE OF OLD MEDIA: I’ve watched the TV coverage today, and I think they’ve done a very good job; a story like this tends to bring out their best.
And you’ve got to admire the grit and determination of the Times Picayune, which isn’t letting the destruction of its city stop it from publishing:
The Times-Picayune was forced to evacuate our Howard Avenue newsroom Tuesday. We are setting up bureaus in Houma and in Baton Rouge to continue to provide coverage of this disaster. We will continue to publish the newspaper each day without interruption. We will make it available in PDF form on nola.com each morning around midnight.
Their web publication has also been excellent, and I suspect that quite a few newspapers will find themselves publishing this way, even without a hurricane, in the not-too-distant future. Likewise WWL TV which is still reporting (blog here, and streaming live video.
UPDATE: Reader Andrew Lee emails:
You should mention the radio broadcasters in the area too – I know the staff at WWL-AM (and their sister stations) have been trapped inside their building next to the Superdome for since Sunday night, and truly heroic measures were taken to get them back on the air after Katrina took them out. Imagine working on a 50,000 watt tower in chest deep water – dangerous! Right now they’re the only source of information for a lot of people in the area without power, television, or internet, and they really are performing like heroes.
What’s going to be interesting in the coming days is the cooperation between rivals in the radio business, as they combine their resources and available technologies to provide information – I predict they’ll be simulcasting on a lot of frequencies, owned by different companies soon.
Radio often gets overlooked, but it’s as vital and pervasive today as it has ever been… and there are still aspects of it that the satellite radio providers will never be able to compete with, despite all the hype.
Yes, and everyone should have a battery-powered radio in their disaster kit.
AUSTIN BAY on disaster relief, recovery, and development.
COUNTERPROGRAMMING: Michele Catalano has decided to focus on good news out of the hurricane area, letting everyone else report the bad. Good choice.
CHRIS NOLAN on Nick Lemann.
HOW BAD ARE THINGS IN JEFFERSON PARISH? THIS BAD:
If you live there you can go home next Monday, but only with photo identification, and only for a short time to collect clothes and other essentials. After that, you’ve got to leave again.
For a month.
There’s no way to spin this. That’s just horrible, horrible news. It’s so bad there, Parish officials have asked the public to donate boats to help with the rescue and clean-up efforts.
More reasons to think about hardening systems against disaster, though in truth I don’t know how much you could do about this. I hope, though, that people will be thinking about it.