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Author Topic: Hurricane Katrina...
LeftyMcKay
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quote:
i think people here are bordering on the level of hysterics with conspiracy theories and cheap shots.
Ganklin, these are the typical response from the usual suspects of this board who take advantage of any misfortune to assign full blame in the predetermined direction, picking and choosing the facts they post that reinforce their position, conveniently omitting relevant items. Ironically these are by and large the same members who seem to have forgotten that this board frowns on political commentaries.

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Jennifer Hachigian Jerrard
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Cripes...

Mayor: 10,000 deaths "wouldn't be unreasonable"

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Ganklin
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lefty, i hear ya.

jennifer, you're missing the point that it is ILLEGAL for american troops under federal order to move on its own citizens. that's called a dictatorship in which we do not live under, and would incite a nationwide riot the likes of which you've never seen. bush did his job: he told people to evacuate, and they did not.

if you want someone to blame, since we like to blame people around here, you can take a look at Mayor Ryan Nagin who seems incapable of putting a coherent sentence together. when asked, "what do you need?", he replies, "i need everything." i don't know about you, but he might as well as just said, "i don't know what i need."

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Jennifer Hachigian Jerrard
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quote:
jennifer, you're missing the point that it is ILLEGAL for american troops under federal order to move on its own citizens. that's called a dictatorship in which we do not live under, and would incite a nationwide riot the likes of which you've never seen. bush did his job: he told people to evacuate, and they did not.
Ah, my bad. I pictured a situation where the feds offered buses and ambulances for those without any money or means to leave New Orleans, along with 24/7 broadcast warnings of an upcoming breach of the levees. I did not imagine a city evacuated at gunpoint.

Knowing that my home would be drowned under twenty feet of water would be more than enough to force me onto a waiting bus.

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Mexico vs. New Orleans in terms of disaster preparedness:

quote:
From America's Nero

"Time will undoubtedly demonstrate that the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana have a lot for which to answer. Precautions and preparation were clearly inadequate. Mexico, for example, keeps ten days of food, water, and coffee available at its convention centers and sports stadiums in the event that those public facilities have to be turned into safe havens in the event of earthquakes or hurricanes."



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EustaceScrubb
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Ganklin wrote:

quote:
i think people are forgetting the fact that it is the local officals who are in charge of evacuation in the event of a catastophe. i have heard of an evacuation plan in place that estimated a certain percent of the population would elect NOT to evac either for 1)they did not percieve the hurricane would actually cause damage, 2)would not leave their land/property behind, or 3)were simply unable to leave due to lack of transportation.

the number estimated to be left behind in the event of a catastrophic event was numbered at 100,000. an unacceptable figure.

now, it was the LOCAL government that chose to send those buses of people to the super dome and the convention center. sounds like a really great plan since if the levees were indeed in such dire conidition in the first place. maybe they should've just drove those buses out into the gulf for all the good it did.

now, everyone KNEW this was bad news several days prior to the storm. can you image the absolute s-storm it would have conjured if the federal government stepped in with troops and told people to leave their homes prior to the hurricane hitting? this is america, not gaza.

it fell to the local authorities to protect its citizens. it failed. and in the face of nature, man is gonna loose everytime. thats a fact. however, there were preventative measures that could have been taken to get people out which were not taken. the local authorities screwed up, did not communicate their needs effectively, and thus delayed aid.

You're correct.

While I think there's plenty of "blame" to go around for the slow response to the flooding by both the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana , and (last) the Federal Government , it has become clear that despite the years of warnings and various commissions coming up with response plans that the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana were totally unprepared with an adequate first-response to a true worst case scenario involving a Category 4 - 5 hurricane. (this is a separate issue from funding for levee repair and improvement for which the federals carry the majority of responsibility )

an example:
After the storm Mayor Nagins suggesting that the federal government needed to commandeer every Greyhound bus in the country and get them down to New Orleans pronto to bus people out of the Superdome . But this is the same guy who had a fleet of city School buses under his jurisdiction that he didn't have the foresight to move to higher ground out of town before the storm hit . Ray could have moved out a lot of refugees with those hundreds of school buses in the first days after the storm passed.

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Both the Mayor and the Governor looked like deer in the headlights and on the verge of a nervous breakdown in the first days after the Hurricane hit . (understandable I suppose, but one hopes that one's Leaders will have a bit more backbone in a crisis : think Mayor Giuliani on 9/11 )

quote:
"Get off your asses and let's do something," the mayor told WWL-AM Thursday night in a rambling interview in which he cursed, yelled and ultimately burst into tears. At one point he said: "Excuse my French — everybody in America — but I am pissed."
In response to that a friend of mine from the Bay area wrote:

"This sounds more like someone who was totally unprepared. If SF mayor Gavin Newsome said something like this after a major quake, I’d be saying, “Well, Mr Mayor, what did you do to prepare for something like this? We are near the San Andreas Fault after all and it seems to me that the mayor of a major city near said fault is responsible for having some kind of worst-case scenario plan in place.”

And if you’re the mayor of a city below sea level in an area with the potential for a Category 5 hurricane, you’ve got a fundamental responsibility to have a plan for a worst-case scenario storm. The Mayor of NO clearly didn’t." [neither , apparently , did the Governor ]

New Orleans Evacuation plan didn't address many contingencies

quote:
What's so eerie about Hurricane Katrina is that for years, engineers and climatologists have warned that a major storm could wreck havoc on the city.

A 2002 series in the Times-Picayune called "Washed Away" accurately predicted that if a major storm hit the city, getting out of town could be close to impossible for thousands of residents.

"100,000 people without transportation will be especially threatened," the paper wrote. "A large population of low-income residents do not own cars and would have to depend on an untested emergency public transportation system to evacuate them."

According to the state's evacuation plan for southeast Louisiana, the primary means of evacuation was to be personal vehicles. But 27 percent of the city's households don't own a car -- a problem that doesn't appear to have been addressed in advance planning models.

The "untested" emergency response system was supposed to be a system of public buses that would transport people out of the city in the event of a disaster.

Instead, buses took people to the Superdome, which was supposed to be a staging point from which to transport people out of the state.

But nearly a week after the hurricane had hit ground, thousands of people were still waiting for buses to take them out of the city. By then, the Superdome had become uninhabitable as the air conditioning cut off, running water stopped and toilets backed up.

Of course , for those who live in the simple world of "Every bad thing that happens is George Bush's fault" I guess none of this other stuff matters. I don't think the Federals are totally without blame in this fiasco , but I think Ganklin's point stands: First responsibility is on the Local government , then the State, then lastly the Federal government.
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Rupert Piston
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I appreciate getting both sides of this because it really settles my brain somewhat. All I kept thinking about this week was three babies who died of heat exhaustion at the dome, then I'd look at my 9 month old son and get a little weepy.

I think I get edgy about ole George W. because of his slack attitude about the whole thing, but you've correctly pointed out that local authority is the first line of action--how could the feds (like 'em or not) have a plan for every location? What's unfortunate about much of this is both parties will use it against the other and lose sight of the major lessons. George does make an easy target, but that don't make it right.

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Rupert Piston
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I've got a dollar here that says this thread get shut down pretty soon anyway due to the increasingly political nature of it.
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StephG
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One of the things I've learned in all this, is that people in the government don't watch TV, and the information that they act on is neither as current or complete as that which the average person gets from watching CNN, Fox News or MSNBC.

This is true of Bush, and the people who run the DHS and FEMA. It was also true of our police chief in LA during the riots.

You would think that there's someone with a cell phone that can say to these guys "Have you seen what's on the news channels?" But they probably just assume that anything that's in the media is a bald faced lie or at least an exaggeration.

But however you stack it, the guy in charge of FEMA was unaware that there were 50,000 people in the Superdome and Convention Center, and was unaware that those people were unreachable by the Red Cross. He said all that on Thursday.

Failures on the part of subordinates is always the responsibility of the person who hired them. It certainly is in our business. Often enough, in our business, failures on the part of the boss is still not an excuse from poor performance by subordinates. That's why Bush is receiving, and deserves blame.

FEMA had stockpiled emergency supplies for this emergency prior to the hurricane. But word never reached the people who could have brought food and water days earlier, to bring that aid to hard hit areas. The Mayor said he made the requests, but somehow those requests didn't make it to the people who could do something about it for days. Or they thought the situation was being exaggerated, because they don't watch the news on TV. The Governer said she made requests. Somehow, someone wasn't making decisions to act immediately, and the loss of life that occurred because of the delay falls on the people who run the bureaucracies where the delays occurred.

The Mayor failed in not providing transportation during the evacuation to the poor and sick. For not having a PLAN, and a means to act on it, and emergency communications equipment that didn't require power from the electric grid or telephone lines. Maybe he assumed that cell phones would work, but they failed almost immediately when the hurricane hit, and people found out they had no way to charge their phones. Bad preperation before when the risks were known, incapacitated after the hurricane hit. First link in the chain of disaster.

The Governor failed in being able to activate sufficient numbers of the National Guard to order to NO immediately. Even though they had reduced capacity due to the Iraq war, they still had several thousand troops available. After the hurricane hit, they too were incapacitated. Second link in the chain of disaster.

And the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which used to be a cabinet level administration with it's own, full, chain of command, reporting directly to the president, had been submerged in the Department of Homeland Security, and had been severely reduced by 33%. This was a decision made directly, and by no one else, by President Bush. Any deficiency in the functionality of this organization therefore falls under his responsibility.

In spite of this fact, FEMA had pre-positioned emergency supplies. Including air transportation. While people were in mortal need, FEMA failed to allocate and order transportation of these supplies to New Orleans for three days after the desperate need for them was demonstrated on television before a whole country. People died of dehydration in large numbers directly because of this failure to issue orders.

Included in those supplies that were pre-positioned, was medical supplies for common chronic diseases like diabetes. Dozens of diabetics died for lack of food or insulin, which must be refridgerated.

This is the third link in the chain of disaster. People out of immediate danger from the weather, died for lack of supplies that were readily available. The person in charge of that agency, had no emergency management experience. He used to manage the Arabian Horse Association. He was directly appointed by President Bush.

So, to those who say Bush doesn't deserve the criticism he's receiving, I say open your eyes. I'll say it again. The man in charge is responsible for the failures of his subordinates whom he hired. At the very least, at the earliest opportunity, Bush should relieve him of his job, not stand by him and compliment him of the great job he's been doing, as Bush has done in full view of the TV cameras.

The only competent person I've seen from the government so far (local, state or federal), is Lt. General Honore. That man would be hard to beat in an election with his combination of intelligence, decisiveness and compassion.

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More:

LA Gov. Blanco Asked Bush for Assistance on 8/28

VIDEO interview with military guy who followed Katrina in a big military ship full of rescue supplies, but a FEMA request never came, so he could not act

The loveable Barbara Bush says about some of the refugees: "What I’m hearing is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality.
"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this -- this [she chuckles slightly] is working very well for them."


Refugees from New Orleans behind barbed wire in Utah

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Charles
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In response to Rupert Piston's comment above, I don't think it possible to discuss the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina without underscoring the failure of all levels of government in the face of this catastrophe. As long as personal insults aren't exchanged and our members keep their cool, I see no reason to close the thread.

There's no question that there was a tremendous failure. The entire political spectrum, from conservatives to liberals the past few days have been oustpoken in their criticism of the initial response to the disaster or lack thereof.

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StephG
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It's occurred to me that in Los Angeles, the mayor can't just order the MTA to line up buses to evacuate people, since it's an independent agency not under his control. Nor can he order up school buses, since that's under the control of the LA Unified School District. The people who run both agencies guard their turf scrupulously.

Nor can he order the LAPD to do anything, since that's governed by an independent commission.

I'm pretty sure a similar bureaucratic architecture exists in every other big city.

This means that nearly any emergency in every city would have tragic consequences, starting with strike one on the local level every time.

Seems like Katrina was a wakeup call for every city to establish an emergency communications system totally independent of the grid or land line communication (like satellite phones), 24/7 access to decision makers in the various agencies which might be called into action, and emergency power for them to make crucial decisions without consulting boards or other governing bodies, and an emergency dispatching system to get people onto the job and to where they're needed.

Oh, and all of the mayors should have the personal cell phone number of the FEMA/DHS person who is in charge of the resources for their region. That person should be required to have a feed for CNN/FNC/MSNBC on his desk that can never be turned off, on at all times so he can't use the excuse that he just heard about something for the first time three days after everyone else in America knew about it. Just in case communications do break down.

The regional FEMA/DHS guy should have the home phone and personal cell number of the HMFWIC of the agency, and that one call would get him a thumbs up or thumbs down on aid and allocation of resources immediately. If it's a thumbs down, he would be required to note it so that there's a chain of responsibility that's easily identified if it's a wrong or tragic decision.

Another thing is that it should be a standard emergency procedure to get too little resources if that's all that's available, to the area immediately, while logistics are being worked out for the overall needed aid. It might save lives of the people that are most vulnerable.

It should also be standard procedure that in a gross emergency, agencies qualified to lend aid should have a single person to send a request to participate to, and that person's first inclination should always be to say "yes". There were several branches of military available to lend aid in NO, in the area, who were specifically told to take no action to lend assistance until word came from above.

The same goes for volunteer doctors organized and trained to lend aid in emergencies, particularly those with a mobile hospital in the area. There was one such group stuck in Baton Rouge until at least Saturday, turned back from NO by armed troops. They could have been directed to the airport, which could have used their help.

There should also be a federal law to prosecute law enforcement officers who abandon their post during an emergency. While NO authorities believe that some of their officers might have lost their lives, there is a belief that over 1/4 of their officers went AWOL, and left the city to the fate we all saw. How many women were murdered in bathrooms in the Convention Center and Superdome because there was no one to insure their safety?

We can't really attribute all of the problems from this disaster to the federal agencies. They were just the last in the chain to fail. But in all of our cities, the same failures would occur unless our local authorities have the power and communication and coordination to prevent those same failures. Right now, I don't think they do.

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StephG
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Oh yeah. Every mayor should be required by law to learn about the worst case scenarios of infrastructure failures in their cities, and to be versed in evacuation plans for areas affected by those potential failures. In Los Angeles City proper, there are big dams in the Silverlake and Hollywood districts, one in Beverly Hills, Encino, Chatsworth, the north Valley area and one near the Westside, for example. There are gasoline lines running throughout the city. There are probably refineries and fuel storage areas in the Harbor area.

In a region like SoCal, it might not be a bad idea to have an elected leader for the whole region for this purpose, since coordinating and negotiating with 88 mayors of incorporated cities during an emergency would seem impossible.

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Vincent
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I was talking to a friend today, that was surprized at the slow movement of FEMA in this crisis. During the aftermath of the Northridge quake FEMA was there to help her right away. Not being someone who follows politcs she wondered what might of changed, she was thinking that maybe the difference really was that these were poor blacks in need instead whites.
Anyone who follows politics knows what changed. George W. Bush rolled FEMA in to the homeland Securtiy Dept., put a know nothing friend in charge of FEMA, and gutted it's budget. The same way he gutted all the budgets proposed to fix the weakening levees over the last few years.
This problem sits in Bush's lap.

Cut and paste the link below for a bit of strong truth.

http://www.michaelmoore.com/_images/splash/aaron_broussard2.mov

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Ganklin
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vincent, that cold hard truth you think you found is nothing new and has even less to do with the levees...unless of course GW was president 50 or so years ago when those levees were found to be in need. that clip is but one terrible story in what is a catastrophic natural tradegy. i will not bother to re-itterate my previous posts on this thread, but please go back and re-read them. im not a huge fan of GW, but i see the events for what they are.
do yourself a favor and stop listening to michael moore.

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Pencil-Pusher
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Michael Moore has always been willing to speak truth to power. He is a brave man, and I wish there were more like him.

I think racism has always been an issue in our society, and this incident has made it even more apparent. It is easy to deny, but it explains some of the initial lack of attention to this disaster. It would be nice if we could, as a country, look at ourselves in the mirror and admit our mistakes. Otherwise we will inevitably repeat them.

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StephG
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True or not:

George Bush cut the budget to fix levees?
George Bush cut the budget for FEMA?
George Bush changed FEMA, an agency specifically designed to help in times of natural disaster, from a cabinet level agency of its own, to an agency that has to report to another bureaucracy before it can make decisions?
George Bush appointed someone with no emergency management experience in charge of an agency designed to be the first federal respondent to an emergency?
George Bush changed the priority of the agency from responding to natural disaster, to changing the focus to responding to acts of terrorism?

These decisions came with a risk. The risk was, that none of this would have made a difference if no disaster hit a major, populated area during his term. It was a fair risk. Storms like Katrina only hit the mark every 30 years or more. Nothing like it has ever hit New Orleans in 300 years.

Bush was gambling. If he changed nothing, he wouldn't be on the hook. But he made the decision to alter all of these things. The Army Corp of Engineers budget, the FEMA budget and hierarchy within his administration, appointment of a manager of a race horse association to the head of an agency people's lives depended on.

Even these things wouldn't have been a problem if he'd responded immediately when the disaster hit, and immediately focused his entire attention on the disaster. Instead he continued his vacation and photo opportunities, some a gross embarrassment that is evidence he was absent from his post at a time of great need.

Worse, the heads of these agencies were unaware of facts that every American with a working television was aware of. For three days. Their surprise, on camera, about what was going on again shows that these weren't the right men for the job.

And of course the biggest piece of damning evidence, was the claim by both him and his emergency management appointees, was that no one could have predicted the nature of this emergency. In fact, it was predicted with spooky accuracy over a year ago, and FEMA has a CD with the information to prove it, in a dry run through called "Hurricane Pam".

Think of this as evidence being presented to the court of public opinion. I know people who won't accept any of this, because they feel the responsibility to get out fell to the individuals, that the real culprit was "the welfare state", that responsibility fell entirely to the mayor and governor. Those people feel that expecting help from the federal government is wrong, and some think the federal government shouldn't help at all. There are also a lot of people who believe that George Bush can do no wrong, no matter what, and will make every excuse to vindicate him. Especially those who lean to Libertarian economic Darwinism.

I'm on a forum so filled with those guys, that I'm alone in my opinion that Bush holds some responsibility for the delay in help. What seems obvious to a lot of us, doesn't even make it to those guy's radar. And they're smart and educated, not a bunch of ignorant rednecks.

So presenting the evidence to the court of public opinion isn't a slam dunk. Right now, polls are reflecting that.

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Vincent
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Well Ganklin, I hope you'll pardon that I am dealing with the here and now not fifty years ago. George Bush cut the levee budgets, and he is in charge now.
George Bush gutted FEMA and he is in charge now.
As to Michael Moore, I haven't read him. A video link is just that a link. I watch Foxx, I watch CNN,I watch MSNBC, it didn't take radical left thinker to figure out those people in New Orleans needed help and needed it as soon as possible. If a film crew can drive a van to the super dome,and Conviention Center, so can relief trucks be driven to those locations.

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More:

Bush launches inquiry and puts himself in charge of it
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House abruptly cancels hearings on Katrina response

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Ganklin
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michael moore likes selling DVDs. period.

as for the levees...FDR said they were in need of repair, so that puts everyone else as suspect. let's blame it on nixon? or how about clinton? nahh let's just stick with GW. thats easy.

oh, and i broke my collar bone this labor day...i'm gonna blame that on GW too.

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StephG
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The state of the levees can largely be laid on local and state officials, who used their agencies and money for just about anything but improving the levees. The stories that will come out about politicians using the levee bureaus for rewarding political contributors and proposing tourist attractions will go down in history as...well just another sign of how Louisiana has upheld its reputation for corruption. Along with some opposition to the levees by environmentalists (who have some good points but now have to realize that people's lives are at stake).

That, however, does not dismiss very warranted criticisms being leveled at the Bush administration. The more you learn about how the emergency was handled by FEMA, and how the head of FEMA had to politely ask for permission from DHS to dispatch people (followed by giving them two days to arrive, and that permission took hours to be granted) the more you learn that more alert, intelligent and observant appointees might have saved many lives and a lot of televised misery after the levee failure.

The fact is, we expect increasing quality in politicians and their appointees as you move up the chain. You expect the governor to be better than the mayor, and the president to be better than the governor.

And the fact that Bush stayed on vacation for two more days after the hurricane made landfall, and stopped for a final day and night in Crawford on Wednesday, will damn him forever. He stayed on vacation during the nation's worst natural disaster in its history, while his subordinates were effing the whole situation up. Given that the level of the emergency was televised 24/7 and every American knew about it, he should not be forgiven for not dropping everything he had planned on Monday and heading at least back to Washington, if not to the disaster area itself as his father and Clinton had done before him no later than the day after the hurricane hit.

Those who say he only would have interefered with rescue efforts would have to be corrected. There were no rescue efforts, and that's what he would have found out.

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Corn Fed
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Ganklin-

Sorry to hear about your collarbone. Yes, you should blame Bush for that. [Wink]

But come on. Seriously, from your comments, I come away feeling that you think this is the way it should have gone down. That how Bush reacted is the way he should have. That we have no reason to expect any better in a time of tremendous national catastrophe.

I guess, as usual, this really has nothing to do with Katrina at all, but is rather just another basic ideological skirmish. Conservatives just ideologically don't think the federal government has much business or priority mobilizing massive rescue operations in these types of situations. Throw in a measure of Bush worship, and you have your position, it seems.

Suffice to say, I imagine that what we saw in the way of "prompt" federal reaction in New Orleans is pretty much what we can expect should a terrorist ever explode a nuclear device in a major American city. Just pray you're nowhere near.

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Ganklin
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corn fed thanks for words of support... i still have use of my hands so i can still work [Smile]

again, im no bush worshipper by any means. i think there's always something more that can be done in any situation to make something better. however, to blame one man for a natural disaster and the consequencs that follow such as this is absurd.

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Vincent
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Michael Moore is a non-agrument. The film clip is of the president of Jefferson Parish being interviewed by Tim Russert, it has nothing to do with MM other than he has made a link to it available.
People aren't buying into the shell game any more.

The Governor asked for federal help on the twenty sixth, on the twenty seventh GW sent a letter acknowledging that he recieved the letter, and then he sat on his Presidential hands for five days.

Yes, George W. Bush is responsible, not Nixon, not FDR, and Nope, not Clinton. They can't shift the blame this time
FEMA was a high functioning agency when Bill Clinton was in office. Hmmm.. I wonder if it was FDR, or maybe Nixon that hamstrung FEMA by slashing it's budget and putting his enept cronies in charge? Oh no that's right it was George W Bush that did that.
I really doubt GW caused your collar bone misshap.

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StephG
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A lot of people are asking why police couldn't stop looters and restore order.

Here's an LA Times article that might yield some explanation:

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-benelli7sep07,0,5507739.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Sorry you have to register.

Summary: the police are homeless, their headquarters and precincts gone, their cruisers submerged, they had to steal cars from car thieves, they have to loot their own food and water, they have no command and control (possibly other than hand carried walkie talkies) and no dispatch, and of course they had no TV (cable is obviously out, and the broadcast stations have been off the air since the hurricane hit) to see what the rest of us saw unless the reporters showed it to them from their broadcast equipment.

Not to mention 200 officers quitting the force and 500 AWOL or dead.

Some of this could have been mitigated by better local planning, like an emergency communications and dispatch center with independent generators and long term emergency fuel supplies, designated high ground housing and command centers, emergency food and water for the police force, etc. The transportation issue is always going to be a wild card: either it will be disabled because the vehicles are lost, or because the infrastructure is too damaged.

In any case, it's another sign that local help is just as affected by emergencies as the rest of the area, and can't exactly be depended on.

But you do have to admire those cops who remained on the job for sticking to it, and improvising as best they can. I'm betting that it'll be some time before they see a pay check.

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SNAKEBITE
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How the Free Market Killed New Orleans
By Michael Parenti
ZNet

Saturday 03 September 2005

The free market played a crucial role in the destruction of New Orleans and the death of thousands of its residents. Forewarned that a momentous (force 5) hurricane was going to hit that city and surrounding areas, what did officials do? They played the free market.

They announced that everyone should evacuate. Everyone was expected to devise their own way out of the disaster area by private means, just like people do when disaster hits free-market Third World countries.

It is a beautiful thing this free market in which every individual pursues his or her own personal interests and thereby effects an optimal outcome for the entire society. Thus does the invisible hand work its wonders in mysterious ways.

In New Orleans there would be none of the collectivistic regimented evacuation as occurred in Cuba. When an especially powerful hurricane hit that island in 2004, the Castro government, abetted by neighborhood citizen committees and local Communist party cadres, evacuated 1.5 million people, more than 10 percent of the country’s population. The Cubans lost 20,000 homes to that hurricane - but not a single life was lost, a heartening feat that went largely unmentioned in the US press.

On Day One of the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina, it was already clear that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Americans had perished in New Orleans. Many people had "refused” to evacuate, media reporters explained, because they were just plain "stubborn.”

It was not until Day Three that the relatively affluent telecasters began to realize that tens of thousands of people had failed to flee because they had nowhere to go and no means of getting there. With hardly any cash at hand or no motor vehicle to call their own, they had to sit tight and hope for the best. In the end, the free market did not work so well for them.

Many of these people were low-income African Americans, along with fewer numbers of poor whites. It should be remembered that most of them had jobs before Katrina’s lethal visit. That’s what most poor people do in this country: they work, usually quite hard at dismally paying jobs, sometimes more than one job at a time. They are poor not because they’re lazy but because they have a hard time surviving on poverty wages while burdened by high prices, high rents, and regressive taxes.

The free market played a role in other ways. Bush’s agenda is to cut government services to the bone and make people rely on the private sector for the things they might need. So he sliced $71.2 million from the budget of the New Orleans Corps of Engineers, a 44 percent reduction. Plans to fortify New Orleans levees and upgrade the system of pumping out water had to be shelved.

Army Corps of Engineer personnel had started work to build new levees several years ago but many of them were taken off such projects and sent to Iraq. In addition, the president cut $30 million in flood control appropriations.

Bush took to the airways ("Good Morning America” 1 September 2005) and said "I don’t think anyone anticipated that breach of the levees.” Just another untruth tumbling from his lips. The catastrophic flooding of New Orleans had been foreseen by storm experts, engineers, Louisiana journalists and state officials, and even some federal agencies. All sorts of people had been predicting disaster for years, pointing to the danger of rising water levels and the need to strengthen the levees and pumps, and fortify the entire coastland.

In their campaign to starve out the public sector, the Bushite reactionaries also allowed developers to drain vast areas of wetlands. Again, that old invisible hand of the free market would take care of things. The developers, pursuing their own private profit, would devise outcomes that would benefit us all.

But wetlands served as a natural absorbent and barrier between New Orleans and the storms riding in from across the sea. And for some years now, the wetlands have been disappearing at a frightening pace on the Gulf‘ coast. All this was of no concern to the reactionaries in the White House.

As for the rescue operation, the free-marketeers like to say that relief to the more unfortunate among us should be left to private charity. It was a favorite preachment of President Ronald Reagan that "private charity can do the job.” And for the first few days that indeed seemed to be the policy with the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina.

The federal government was nowhere in sight but the Red Cross went into action. Its message: "Don’t send food or blankets; send money.” The Salvation Army also began to muster up its aging troops. Meanwhile Pat Robertson and the Christian Broadcasting Network - taking a moment off from God’s work of pushing John Roberts nomination to the Supreme Court - called for donations and announced "Operation Blessing” which consisted of a highly-publicized but totally inadequate shipment of canned goods and bibles.

By Day Three even the myopic media began to realize the immense failure of the rescue operation. People were dying because relief had not arrived. The authorities seemed more concerned with the looting than with rescuing people, more concerned with "crowd control,” which consisted of corralling thousands into barren open lots devoid of decent shelter, and not allowing them to leave.

Questions arose that the free market seem incapable of answering: Who was in charge of the rescue operation? Why so few helicopters and just a scattering of Coast Guard rescuers? Why did it take helicopters five hours to lift six people out of one hospital? When would the rescue operation gather some steam? Where were the feds? The state troopers? The National Guard? Where were the buses and trucks? the shelters and portable toilets? The medical supplies and water?

And where was Homeland Security? What has Homeland Security done with the $33.8 billions allocated to it in fiscal 2005? By Day Four, almost all the major media were reporting that the federal government’s response was "a national disgrace.” Meanwhile George Bush finally made his photo-op appearance in a few well-chosen disaster areas - before romping off to play golf.

In a moment of delicious (and perhaps mischievous) irony, offers of foreign aid were tendered by France, Germany, Venezuela, and several other nations. Russia offered to send two plane loads of food and other materials for the victims. Cuba - which has a record of sending doctors to dozens of countries, including a thankful Sri Lanka during the tsunami disaster - offered 1,100 doctors. Predictably, all these proposals were sharply declined by the US State Department.

America the Beautiful and Powerful, America the Supreme Rescuer and World Leader, America the Purveyor of Global Prosperity could not accept foreign aid from others. That would be a most deflating and insulting role reversal. Were the French looking for another punch in the nose? Were the Cubans up to their old subversive tricks?

Besides, to have accepted foreign aid would have been to admit the truth - that the Bushite reactionaries had neither the desire nor the decency to provide for ordinary citizens, not even those in the most extreme straits.

I recently heard someone complain, "Bush is trying to save the world when he can’t even take care of his own people here at home.” Not quite true. He certainly does take very good care of his own people, that tiny fraction of one percent, the superrich. It’s just that the working people of New Orleans do not number among them.

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Ganklin
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stephG, i appreciate your comments and your insights. my question in return would how would the federal government have taken control of the situation without trampling on our ever increasing fragile personal rights? remember, our mility cannot act as a policing force on our own soil until a state of emergency is issued. this did not come into effect until during/after the storm when the damage was already dealt.

just something to think about: i work in NYC. when london saw its rash of bombings this july, NYPD began to randomly search people's bags in the subways as a precaution. you should have heard the shouting over that. it seems your damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

snakebite, that article from you seems strange. you of all people who rebels against the machine, who wants to make your own fortunes and do things your own way brings an article into light that damns free enterprise and encourages more centralized, federal control. it seems to go against your character. i always read your posts and respect your views, but this one seems off the mark.

vincent, this one's for you:
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=sarcasm

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SNAKEBITE
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Ganklin, apples and oranges my friend.

Free market should have a moral system in place and the government shoud REALLY protect the people.

are we supposed to forget about our community to have freedom to pursue our dreams?

we could/should have both. the freedom to pursue our interest and the right to have protection and assitance in time of need from our government. why do i have to choose freedom for good will? like Dubya said we are capable of doing both, its whether or not we choose to do both is the real issue.

I like this article or two cents worth because it basically says that the system inplace pretty much says in order to have a free market we have to give up our rights to federal assistance in time of great need. the line is blurred, we should have both. it also outlines how our resources have been taken over by a few to benefit their needs, their wars.

this article is indeed strange and its not from me, I just posted it cuz I find it interesting. our goverment consistantly shows us that they are not about the people but about the corporations that support their campaigns while the people are led to believe that they are free...so free in fact the govenrment claims no responsiblitly for them.

how disgusting it was that our government took several days to act. am I supposed to believe that its the peoples fault because they want freedom? How quickly we acted on 9/11..I guess its because we can't put a face on the weather, I guess its because that weather didn't come from a country of people we fear..or made to fear. but make no mistake this is the greatest struggle our land has ever seen...and our president "cut his vacation short"?...its too bad he can only run for two terms, I'd vote for him this time...(blink blink, stare)

the government could take control of the situation without stomping on our civil rights
easily....and its not like our rights haven't been trampled on for less. again, apples and oranges. this was a catagory 5 storm, this is where parental guidance is needed. its not about civil rights, its about survival. not political agenda but just plane survival.

and lets say , ok, we didn't know untill after the storm...I could easily argue that but lets just say thats how it went down... look at how our most powerful nation in the world is reacting to this. sllllooooowwww. the people are the ones taken control, not the government. Dubya wants to take energy into investigation..who fukin cares about investigations!? take care of the problem. help the people. stop screwin around in other countries for political/corporate agenda and help the people here and now.

people shout when they are being searched because the reason we're being bombed is because we push our values, our personal perceptions on how a society should be run on people who don't care for such assistance
or guidance...I mean,if the reason why the government didn't step up to the plate was because of problems being yelled at over searched bags then why don't they stop searching bags?
I would take that over not making sure fail safe systems where in place in case of a tragedy like this happens again.

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Thomas
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Ok, Snake you win. Lets give Communism/Socialism another chance. It's only killed 100 million people in 85 years. Last I checked we still have hundreds (thousands?) of people, every year, trying to get out of Cuba. We should throw out the system that is the basis of this nation and has made the United States as great as it has become. It has come to light in recent days that it is not the free market which is to blame for not getting a great many people our of the cities, rather it has been the ineptitude of the local and state governments which have failed its people  - It is also really hard to blame the slow speed of rescuers from trying to get in and help out. Since the most of the infrastructure that would allow them to get in was pretty much destroyed. Including a 2-mile section of bridge, which was a major artery into the region. Not to mention the waterlogged & debris filled roads, which hampered vehicles of all types from getting in and helping out.
Something to remember, it is not government that is the greatness of America, it our citizens who end up pulling themselves up by their bootstraps whenever there is a major disaster, such as Katrina. Remember Loma Prieta, Northridge, or 9-11-01? You had views after view, on TV showing ordinary citizens going around and helping out their fellow neighbors. Whatever happened to a bit of American self-reliance? Why do we have to be nannied by the government? It's a repulsive view to me. We do all right and we take care of our own. As evident of the countless number of dollars pouring in by our citizens to help ourselves out in crisis such as these.

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SNAKEBITE
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wow, thats what I get when I win? Communism and Socialism! wow...but wait, I didn't want that...oh well, you're in charge of handing out prizes so I have to take what you give. (blink blink stare) [Wink]

dude, way to miss what I was sayin Thomas.
show me where I said that, please.

in great tragedy, people always help each other. its too bad that our government can't follow our lead....they're too busy helping the people of Iraq I guess.

you think that assisting these people is considered being nannied? damn, you can support a worldy nannied position but when it comes to our people "we do all right taking care of our own"...I think these people goin through this sht would disagree. they need help and theres nothing wrong with asking the government, that takes so much from us, for that help.

your stance is very confusing. why wouldn't you want these people to get proper help they need and deserve? are you too tough?gotta do it yourself? wait, but its not you watching your neighbor float by face down.

How does this represent what made our country great?..wait, you said "as great as it has become" and Im asking it to be greater than it has become...I guess our definition of "great" differs.

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Edward Webb
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You know, I keep seeing that picture used as damning evidence of local government's failure to respond. But no one yet has answered the question: who was going to drive those buses? Everyone left. It was every man for themselves.

If a guy who can drive a bus also has a wife, two kids and a house, what are you going to do to convince him to let his wife and kids take care of themselves so he can drive a bus? Look how many of the police died or went AWOL. What percentage of bus drivers do you think died? How about how many made it out with their families?

It's a tragedy that the buses weren't used, yes. Is it an indicator of failure on someone's part? No. Wanna know a better indicator of failure? Every vehicle that left New Orleans with a seat with possessions in it instead of a person.

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monkeydad
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"Dozens of diabetics died for lack of food or insulin, which must be refridgerated."

I know this is a fine point, but insulin only needs to be refrigerated until it's in use; at the point where doses are being taken out of the vial, it's no longer refrigerated. Insulin not in use would spoil if not refrigerated, but only after about 20 days.

It's part of having an insulin-dependant son; you end up knowing details like this. Anyway, there's enough blame to go around, this is kind of a red herring. Any insulin-dependant diabetic knows to take their insulin with them wherever they go (since their life depends on it).

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StephG
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quote:
remember, our mility cannot act as a policing force on our own soil until a state of emergency is issued. this did not come into effect until during/after the storm when the damage was already dealt.
Incorrect. President Bush ordered a State of Emergency for Louisiana on Saturday, August 27, more than a day before the storm actually hit, to enable the state to receive aid immediately in the storm's aftermath.

From this page:
http://rightwingnuthouse.com/archives/2005/09/04/katrina-response-timeline

It appears that the information that Brown might have been receiving was both incorrect and overly optimistic, as we can see from the timeline that the official statements varied greatly from what we learned by just watching TV.

If anyone should learn anything from this, it's that emergency officials should consider news network reporting a crucial part of their information gathering, as a reality check.

And also, that security must be guaranteed in a very short period of time. A means has to be established, where a decision can be made immediately, and thousands of troops can be assembled and equipped anywhere in the country within a day of a disaster. Because, the lack of security is what held up every aspect of relief. Who is in charge of them should be established during the period of mobilization, so the ball is already rolling, and if paperwork needs to be signed, it should be hand delivered from Washington within the same 24 hour period.

The fact that the governor had the National Guard on hand, but couldn't use them, until she signed the proper form, and didn't even receive that from the federal government tells you that something was very very broken. And she couldn't get the Guard from other states until that paper was signed and received back in Washington. How stupid is that procedure?

As I said to my wife, I don't know why we should expect better. This event is proof that everyone, at every level of the government, becomes incompetent when things need to be done in real time. I don't think the level of competence is any better in corporate America.

But it also tells us, that for anything that requires real time decision and management skills, appointments for that management should not be lightly handed over to those who are anything less than the best and most knowledgeable in their field. There is no one on the face of the earth who could look at FEMA director Brown's qualifications and say that he was the most qualified person in the country to run that organization, and keep a straight face.

And as bad as he was at his job, which was at least unprecedented in its scope in this emergency, he had to ask permission for everything from someone else, who also had no grasp of the situation.

Brown should be fired, if not the least, for thinking that the local government was exaggerating the dire situation they faced, as everyone who he had sent to gather information should be fired for not getting in a friggin' helicoptor and touring the area themselves (as evidently, they also thought local officials were exaggerating).

And Congress should pass a law that puts FEMA back on its own cabinet level position, so the boss of FEMA is never again in a situation where he has to talk his boss into approving actions where it's only the days of delays that translate into more dead civilians.

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Vincent
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Ganklin you're showing wonderous tunnel vision.
The Governor declared a state of emergency and requested federal help on the 26th, 5 full days before any substaintial help arrived.
Thanks for the link, I'd of never guessed you were being sarcastic. [Big Grin]

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StephG
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quote:
Any insulin-dependant diabetic knows to take their insulin with them wherever they go (since their life depends on it).
Except when people are saving their lives and don't know to take it for them, or they're running for their lives and their home is immersed in putrid water.

I don't know how they got separated from their insulin: only that I saw diabetics on the news pleading for it for themselves, their children or strangers on Tuesday and Wednesday night, and on one report, someone was carrying a diabetic teenager looking for help on Tuesday or Wednesday, who died in the guy's arms while the camera was rolling.

As for the refridgeration issue, we only have a diabetic cat, and were told to always keep the insulin refridgerated, without being told how long it would be before spoiling.

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Thomas
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Your right, those weren't your words, but you posted them here as an avocation of how it would be so much better with a system like what they still currently use under Castro or Red China. Which is fine, since that is what you feel. But the views in that article, tend to be ones that history has proven don’t work, every time they've been tried. & A good many people on this board seem to agree with them. Which I will admit, irritates me to a degree. Granted the system we currently have in this country, isn’t perfect (far be it in this case), but it is one of the best in the world at this time.

My stance is that we should not want the government to take care of us but instead rely on ourselves more. I believe in the free market & I believe it works. I believe that the larger the government the less freedom we have. This is not to say that it isn't ok to give out aid, in the case of disaster as big as what happened in La. But it seems that too many people are expecting the government to take care of everything in cases such as this. It just isn't going to happen; it's too big an event. Hence the reason I applaud the go-get'em attitude of average citizens going in and helping themselves and others out of jams. I feel it is the private sector that can & will take care of a situation 10x better a red tape laden government. Heck, it’s already happening in the case of the electric and the oil companies.

Please don't mark my words that I don't think government has any purpose, it does. Public works such as roads, defense, exploration, etc. are good things. There are more, but this is not the place to go into such things, and I've gone too political already. Sorry Charles.

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Vincent
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In this case to be a go get'em pull up your own bootstraps citizen, would have meant rushing the check points of armed guards, in order to escape the New Orleans area. Once they were at the Convention Center or the Superdome they were locked down and were not allowed to leave. Locked down with no food, water or even a place urinate. Locked down waiting until the President's buddy decides to turn on a TV and discover your plight.
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StephG
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Vincent has a point. How many people here knew that there were armed guards on every road out of New Orleans who turned back people at gunpoint who were trying to walk out on foot? Those people were prisoners. Who authorized that? (I'm betting the governor, under pressure from neighboring towns along the road).
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StephG
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quote:
I feel it is the private sector that can & will take care of a situation 10x better a red tape laden government.
A small company...maybe. But it's obvious you've never worked for a large corporation. In a large corporation, you have to appeal to numerous little fiefdoms for cooperative efforts, and the people who can make decisions won't, because they fear making the wrong decision. Even the smallest decisions require a lengthy meeting, and usually a decision will be deferred until a later meeting. And corporations often have their forms that have to be filled out in triplicate.

While small companies are efficient for what they do, they generally can't handle the really big jobs. And if a job turns out to be a money losing proposition for them, they'll abandon the job.

My experience is that, whether you're talking about big government or big corporations, the problem is always the same: management that isn't qualified to do its job. And you never find that out until they utterly, and spectacularly fail. It doesn't matter if they're Michael Brown, or Tom Schumacher or Michael Eisner or Kenneth Lay.

The difference is that when someone in the corporate world fails to do their job, the company just loses money. When someone in an important government position fails to do their job, people sometimes die.

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Ganklin
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maybe the problem is too many laws. think about it. someone spills coffee on themselves at a mcdonalds,and sues the company for burns that was their own fault. everything has to be lawyer proof striaght on up to FEMA.

and its not tunnel vision...its an astigmatism [Smile]

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Edward Webb
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Yay! The coffee lawsuit rears its ugly head again.

Here, read this:

http://www.atla.org/pressroom/FACTS/frivolous/McdonaldsCoffeecase.aspx

and don't post that rubbish anymore. Gracias.

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