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<nettime> new orleans [3x]
nettime's broken pumps on Mon, 5 Sep 2005 11:32:40 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> new orleans [3x]

Table of Contents:

   has anyone heard word of my NOLA sweetheart?                                    
     Bill Spornitz <spornitz {AT} mts.net>                                                

   the heart of a geek still beats in Old Orleans                                  
     Bill Spornitz <spornitz {AT} mts.net>                                                

   New Orleans Crisis and US Govt Negligence                                       
     Ronda Hauben <ronda {AT} umcc.ais.org>                                               


Date: Tue, 30 Aug 2005 19:24:24 -0500
From: Bill Spornitz <spornitz {AT} mts.net>
Subject: has anyone heard word of my NOLA sweetheart?

... a little bar; the Alpine Club, attached to La Boheme restaurant. 
in the quartier..

the bartenders were volunteers, and carried pistols...

John Coltrane on the jukebox...

if you sat in the corner of the bar by the window you could feel the 
whole fucking planet spin around you....

I fear that the Alpine Club is lost!

Any word of my friend on Chartres Street???

- -b


Date: Thu, 1 Sep 2005 7:09:40 -0500
From: Bill Spornitz <spornitz {AT} mts.net>
Subject: the heart of a geek still beats in Old Orleans


A net admin lives with his servers keeping his websites online during the
crisis... his latest post:

2:15 am 	
Getting Some Rest

It's been a very long day. I'm going to crash for a bit and try to get 5 hours or
so of sleep. I apologize again that I cannot respond to each IM. I am trying.
We've got that IRC channel going and I'll try to get in there for a while later in
the day.

I am going to debrief the police officer completely in the morning. He was utterly
fatigued, thirsty, and wanted to find out what the hell was really going on.

Security has become a major concern now, because the NOPD is ineffective and the
looters terrorists are roaming the streets. Word is now that they're lighting
buildings on fire, but I can't confirm that. Anyway, we have to run guard shifts
and patrol and it limits our downtime.

It is a zoo out there though, make no mistake. It's the wild kingdom. It's Lord of
the Flies. That doesn't mean there's murder on every street corner. But what it
does mean is that the rule of law has collapsed, that there is no order, and that
property rights cannot and are not being enforced. Anyone who is on the streets is
in immediate danger of being robbed and killed. It's that bad.

I will be back on around 0700 or so I think.

Team SOTI signing off. Will leave the cam on. 


Date: Fri, 2 Sep 2005 11:40:45 -0400 (EDT)
From: Ronda Hauben <ronda {AT} umcc.ais.org>
Subject: New Orleans Crisis and US Govt Negligence

Here's an article I wrote that appears in Telepolis. Ronda


              "Tantamount to Negligence" Is the Catastrophe in New
Orleans a Catastrophe of Nature or Policy?
                                    By Ronda Hauben

"It is possible to protect New Orleans from a Category 5 hurricane.
But we've got to start. To do nothing is tantamount to negligence."
 			Al Naomi, senior project manager for the
 			Army Corps of Engineers, quoted in the
 			Philadelphia Inquirer, October 8, 2004

The disaster that was predicted to engulf the city of New Orleans in
flood waters has happened. A catastrophe of enormous proportions is
continuing in the New Orleans region of the US. Reports from the scene
describe the condition of the people who remain in the area as turning
from 'frustration' to 'desperation'.  U.S. public officials, from the
President of the US, to the Governor of Louisiana, to the Mayor of New
Orleans, admit that it is a problem of tremendous proportions,
something unlike anything that has been experienced previously.  By
Thursday, September 1, 2005. three days after the initial hurricane
had hit on Monday morning, there was still no knowledge of how many
people in the flood ravaged areas were still alive, or how many had

The crisis of the continuing flooding of the city, of the inability to
repair the levees that had been breached which are responsible for the
flooding, of the need to be able to feed and provide for the people
who sought shelter in the Superdome or other places around the city,
continues to grow more serious. Plans to evacuate people from the
Superdome were complicated by many additional people arriving at the
Superdome and hoping to be part of the evacuation, as well as by
reports of shots being fired at some who were part of rescue

The news from the disaster area site is intermittent and often
involves hearing public officials giving their view of the situation.
A few of the public officials blame the people who didn.t leave for
the enormity of the public disaster that is continuing. The provisions
for evacuation before Hurricane Katrina, however, were advisory with
little provision by public authorities for assistance for those who
didn.t have the means to leave, or a place to go. Instead, people with
difficulty leaving were told to go to the Superdome. The conditions at
the Superdome, however, soon deteriorated with grossly inadequate
means of providing for the people who were there.

The catastrophe of New Orleans, is a catastrophe of a major urban city
that is flooded. Much of the city itself was built below sea level.
Part of the mechanism to deal with the potential for flooding were
levees and pumping stations. The erosion of the levees and the
possible malfunctioning of the pumping stations were potential
problems that had been recognized. A five part series of articles
titled, "Washing Away". in the Times-Picayune, in 2003, and articles
such as "New Orleans Growing Danger" published in the Philadelphia
Inquirer, in October, 2004, document that there was an understanding
not only of the problem, but also of the efforts it would take to
prevent a disaster from taking place. The great need for serious
attention to the problem was identified. FEMA (Federal Emergency
Management Agency), the U.S. government agency that had been charged
with the obligation to identify such problems, understood that a
catastrophe in New Orleans "was among.the three likeliest disasters
facing" the US. Instead of being provided with the resources to deal
with the problem, however, FEMA, previously a cabinet level agency
reporting directly to the President, was absorbed into the newly
created Department of Homeland Security. (1)  Walter Maestri, director
of the Jefferson Parish's Office of Emergency Management who had
worked with FEMA for eight years, explained the difference the change
represented for those in New Orleans. Under the previous system "you
had access to individuals who were the decision-makers. The FEMA
administrator had Cabinet status,' he explained. 'Now,' he noted, 'you
have another layer of bureaucracy. FEMA is headed by an assistant
secretary who now has to compete with other assistant secretaries of
Homeland Security for available funds. And elevating houses is not as
sexy as providing gases masks'. (2) A recent article in the LA Times
explains that under the organizational chart of the Office of Homeland
Security, a different office has been assigned FEMA.s preparation and
planning functions.

Similarly, the US Army Corps of Engineers, which had recognized the
problems at least as early as 1995, and was exploring how to handle
them in the long and short term, found its funding cut by the Bush
administration. It was forced to institute a hiring freeze and to
cutback its activities. Protesting these cutbacks, Mary Landrieu,
Senator from New Orleans, complained that "the Bush administration is
not making Corps of Engineers funding a priority". (3)

Contrary to media reports, that the devastation in New Orleans was
unexpected ("New Orleans is Inundated", New York Times, August 31,
2005, p. 1), or impossible to avoid ("Katrina's Awful Wake," WSJ,
September 1, p. A10) articles like "New Orleans Growing Danger,"
published in the Philadelphia Inquirer less than a year ago, show that
there was not only knowledge of the problem, but even more
importantly, of the dire consequences of ignoring the problem.  Terry
C. Tullier, city director of emergency preparedness in New Orleans,
described a small part of the magnitude of the disaster that ignoring
the problem would bring : "The thing that keeps me awake at night is
the 100,000 people who couldn't leave". (4)

In the same article, Ivor van Heerden, Director of Louisiana State
University.s Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of
Hurricanes, estimated that 300,000 people out of the 1.2 million
people in the New Orleans. area, would not evacuate initially from the
city. The need to evacuate these people from the flooded city would
pose a logistical and humanitarian crisis of serious proportions, he

Initially, after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans on Monday morning,
city officials and others felt they had been spared the worst feared
scenario. By Tuesday, however, the problem that had been predicted,
hit the city. Two of the levees that kept the city from flooding, were
breached. Also several of the pumps malfunctioned.

The situation of a major metropolitan area being under water with no
clear idea of how to stop the flooding or how to drain the water, is
the situation currently facing officials in New Orleans. There are
many people still stranded all around the city. There are bodies of
the people who have died scattered around the city. There are the
physical and emotional losses suffered by the survivors.  These are
only a few of the elements of the tragedy that add up to a crisis of
immense proportions. This was a catastrophe just waiting to happen, a
situation recognized as a problem, but deprived of the resources
needed to address it. The gutting of the authority and funding of
agencies like FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers in the name of
'homeland security' demonstrates the harm that the priorities of
creating this agency have already caused.  Four days after the
hurricane, victims of the hurricane are condemning the US government
for failing to provide them with food, water, or other basic forms of
help. Other areas of the Gulf region ravaged by Hurricane Katrina,
report similar frustration with the slowness of support from the
federal government.

The disaster of diverting the funding and institutional support needed
to prevent the flooding of New Orleans, is compounded as the federal
government now fails to provide the critical immediate emergency aid
to those in the disaster area.

- ----------- Notes

l. Fema Scrambles to the Rescue, by Nicole Gaouett

2. "Commentary: Disaster in the Making", Gambit Weekly, October 5,

3 "New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers faces"  by
Dean Roberts

4. Paul Nussbaum, New Orleans Growing Danger, Philadelphia Inquirer,
Oct 8, 2004

See also "Washing Away" 5 part series in the Times-Picayune, started
September 17, 2003.

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