Jeb Bush involved in Carnival Cruise Lines issue

President Bush's brother Jeb was involved in helping Carnival Cruise Lines get their massive contract to provide ship-side housing for evacuees. Most of that housing went unused but was still paid for by FEMA.
Rep. Henry Waxman has written a letter to Jeb:

I am writing to request information about your role in the award of a $236 million federal contract to Carnival Cruise Lines in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. This boondoggle contract, which comes to an end this week, has cost federal taxpayers an enormous amount to provide temporary six-month housing aboard Carnival's ships...
Emails recently provided to Congress by Michael Brown, the former FEMA Director, indicate that you intervened at a key moment to support the efforts of Carnival to win this lucrative federal contract. These emails reveal that you forwarded to Mr. Brown on August 31 an email from Ric Cooper about the Carnival proposal. Mr. Cooper is an advertising executive who represents Carnival. He is also a major political donor to the Florida and national Republican parties. According to the Florida Division of Elections, Mr. Cooper donated $65,000 to the Republican Party of Florida in advance of the 2002 gubernatorial election in which you were running for reelection.[2] In addition, Mr. Cooper contributed $50,000 to the Republican National Committee in advance of the 2004 presidential elections in which your brother was running for reelection.[3]
Apparently, Mr. Cooper sent you an email proposing that Carnival ships be used to provide housing to hurricane evacuees. At 6:18 p.m. on August 31, two days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Gulf Coast, you responded: "thank you Ric. I will pass on to Mike Brown. I can't believe they haven't asked as of yet but Mike will respond quickly. Jeb." You copied Mr. Brown on this email...

Previously:
Henry Waxman: are we overpaying Carnival Cruise Lines?
Carnival Cruise Lines defends FEMA contract
The 10 biggest FEMA contracts, and the contractors' connections

Mardi Gras rebounds; Nagin wears camo

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The crowds were small and the costumes wickedly satirical as Mardi Gras reached its boozy climax Tuesday in this hurricane-buckled city that could use a few laughs.
The culmination of the eight-day pre-Lenten bash fell nearly six months to the day after the Aug. 29 storm that smashed thousands of homes and killed more than 1,300 people, the vast majority of them in New Orleans...
Mayor Ray Nagin, wearing a black beret and camouflage uniform, portrayed cigar-chomping Gen. Russell Honore, the military man who led the first big relief convoy into the city...
Along an Uptown parade route, a family who lost their Lakeview home to flooding poked fun at former FEMA director Michael Brown. Jenny Louis, her husband, Ross, and their three children strolled around in all-brown costumes, similar to the uniforms worn by UPS drivers. Printed on their backs: "What Did Brown Do For You Today?"

Bush realized Katrina response faulty when saw people "screaming for help"

I find this more than a bit unbelievable. However, it is not a SNL skit nor is it the Onion. It's from an actual ABC News interview with Our Leader:

[ELIZABETH VARGAS]: When you look back on those days immediately following when Katrina struck, what moment do you think was the moment that you realized that the government was failing, especially the people of New Orleans?
[GEORGE W BUSH]: When I saw TV reporters interviewing people who were screaming for help. It looked - the scenes looked chaotic and desperate. And I realized that our government was - could have done a better job of comforting people...

Bush is, quite simply, a disgrace to this country.

Poll: Only 16% are angry about Gulf Coast reconstruction

According to a new poll, only 5% are pleased with the way the rebuilding is going. 26% are "satisfied, but not pleased". 43% are "dissatisfied, but not angry".
And, in the smartie category, 16% are angry.
Their opinion of Bush's handling of the crisis has fallen from 44% in September to just 32%.
Only 15% think Bush has a clear plan to find homes and jobs for the victims.
Much more in the PDF file.
UPDATE: Did CBS heavily skew the poll respondents towards Democrats and independents in order to get a desired result?

"White House Cites Katrina Response Failures"

From this:

Flawed government planning for major disasters led to rampant confusion during the slow federal response to Hurricane Katrina, the White House concluded Thursday in a report focusing more on fixing shortfalls before the next storm season than on assigning blame.
The review described poor communications systems, delays in delivering supplies and overall tumult within the Bush administration, but revealed little new about the plodding federal effort in the days just before and after the storm socked the Gulf Coast last Aug. 29.
The 228-page document, including 125 recommendations for improvement, adopted a far softer tone than a scathing House report issued last week and offered scant criticism of
That House review, written by a Republican-led committee, blamed all levels of government for the lackluster response that it said contributed to the deaths and suffering of thousands of the region's residents.
...The report's recommendations span from dramatic reforms - including potentially giving the
Pentagon control over the federal response in worst-case disasters - to smaller changes. It calls for a public awareness campaign on individual preparedness similar to the successful "Stop, Drop and Roll" slogan for fire safety information.
It says the government should improve its evacuation preparations, its plans for swifter medical aid and its overall blueprint for coordinating federal response efforts, calling it confusing. It also calls for state tax breaks to encourage citizens to purchase disaster gear and requirements that students take courses in first aid, starting next year.
The review singles out the Homeland Security Department for most of the breakdowns. They included failure to understand the scope of Katrina's damage, delays in passing information to the White House and emergency workers, and a system for delivering water, food and other supplies that was ensnared in red tape.
In one example of the department's failures, the report noted that Homeland Security's operations center was still dithering about whether New Orleans levees had been breached nearly six hours after a National Weather Service reported a break in at least one floodwall.
The report also cited several examples in which the Federal Emergency Management Agency rejected help from other federal agencies - including boats, aircraft, maintenance crews and housing for evacuees - because of miscommunications and misunderstandings. It said Brown, who was heading the federal response at the scene, was still organizing his chain of command nearly 60 hours after the storm struck...

Popular Mechanics "debunks" Katrina myths

I don't necessarily believe any of the 9/11 conspiracy theories, but at the same time they need to be given a fair hearing. Last year, Popular Mechanics offered a 9/11 debunking article that received a lot of attention. Unfortunately, it was written by Ben Chertoff. And, he might just be the cousin of one Michael Chertoff. So, I'm already predisposed to doubt PM offering a debunking of Katrina myths.
Especially since I've already read several articles that are very similar, and all of which have a vague tinge of propaganda.

ACE screwed on blue tarp contracts

Way back in September, we offered "Is FEMA overpaying for roofing?".
Now, months later, NOLA has looked into this, specifically the ACE angle. A snippet:

Though Army Corps of Engineers officials say they did not overpay for the tens of thousands of blue roofs [temporary tarps] across the Gulf Coast, a review of their documents shows that a company required to compete for its contract did the work for half of what others charged...
...Although [Archie Ringgenberg, a contracting official in the Army Corps of Engineers St. Louis office] said it may be a long time before the paperwork on the blue roof program is complete, the spending on it already has been so vast it appears many federal officials are unable to keep track of it. In an interview earlier this month in Baton Rouge, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's top coordinating officer in Louisiana and a corps contracting official both said they were certain Shaw was paid around $1 a yard and $100 a square -- an estimate off by 75 percent.

Nola.com did not look into how many of those hired to install the roofs were illegal aliens rather than, oh, just as an example, American hurricane victims.

"Katrina Records Contain A Gap"

WASHINGTON -- The Department of Homeland Security has not been able to find any recording of a crucial conference call five hours after Hurricane Katrina made landfall - though it has transcripts of other key discussions recorded in the days before and after the storm struck.
Senate investigators want to know who conferred and what they said on a 40-minute call that began at noon Aug. 29, as levees were being breached in New Orleans and government relief efforts were overwhelmed by the enormity of the storm.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee wants the transcript for its investigation of why the response was bungled. The public phase of that probe is scheduled to end today with the appearance of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who in recent days has become the critics' favorite target.
Chertoff, whose testimony Tuesday was postponed because of Senate votes, will spend only two hours on the witness stand, citing previous commitments.
...But missing will be any detailed information about the Aug. 29 Homeland Security briefing.
"We have not found recordings of the VTCs [video teleconferences] for August 29 or September 3, 2005," Homeland Security General Counsel Philip J. Perry wrote to the committee.
Department spokesman Russ Knocke said his agency has nothing to hide, and has provided the committee with more than 300,000 pages of documents and made dozens of witnesses available. "We've been forthcoming throughout this process," Knocke said.
Video teleconferences normally are recorded and then transcripts are made. Senate and House investigators sought recordings or transcripts, and the department made available transcripts of calls from Aug. 28 through Sept. 2.
But Aug. 29 was not included. "It could have been as inadvertent as someone not pressing `record,'" Knocke explained. He could not say who was on the call.
"There is no record of it having been recorded," he said...

"Katrina Death Toll May Never Be Known"

As has been discussed here a few times already:

Nearly six months after Hurricane Katrina, more than 1,300 bodies have been found, but the real death toll is clearly higher. How much higher, no one can say with any certainty.
Hundreds of people are still unaccounted for, and some of them - again, no one is sure how many - were probably washed into the Gulf of Mexico, drowned when their fishing boats sank, swept into Lake Pontchartrain or alligator-infested swamps, or buried under crushed homes, said Dr. Louis Cataldie, Louisiana medical examiner...
New Orleans Coroner Frank Minyard said a final sweep of homes in the devastated Ninth Ward will be done this month with help from federal officials. After that, he said, any more bodies found will probably be discovered in out-of-the-way places by hunters or fishermen.
But neither he nor Cataldie would venture a guess as to how many how many undiscovered victims are out there...

CHP officers shot alligator(s), will be fired

Two California Highway Patrol officers from NoCal are going to be fired for shooting one or more alligators while "helping out" in Louisiana. There's no word on whether they're going to claim they fired in self-defense. In any case, the major issue seems to be that they shot their service weapons without reporting it.

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