Kerry Sanders of NBC downplays ACE culpability

Harry Shearer discusses a piece from Kerry Sanders that appeared on tonight's NBC Nightly News, claiming that he ignored the reports from NOLA and other sources blaming the Army Corps of Engineers for their bad floodwall design:

...Sanders' piece merely let a black man returning to his destroyed Ninth Ward home vent his blame on the Corps . It just sounded like a poor man looking for a scapegoat, and Sanders made things worse by following up that sound bite with these voice-over words..."True or not...." Really, Kerry?

New Orleans flooding caused by Army Corps of Engineers' bad design?

"Team Louisiana", the state-sponsored "forensic levee investigation team" with "six LSU professors and three independent engineers" says the floodwall on the 17th street canal was bound to fail due to improper design that didn't take into account weak soils below the levee.
And, they say that bad design should have been obvious to those responsible: the Army Corps of Engineers, Eustis Engineering (a local company) and Modjeski and Masters (national company).

That miscalculation was so obvious and fundamental, investigators said, they "could not fathom" how the design team of engineers from the corps, could have missed what is being termed the costliest engineering mistake in American history.
..."It's simply beyond me," said Billy Prochaska, a consulting engineer in the forensic group known as . "This wasn't a complicated problem. This is something the corps, Eustis, and Modjeski and Masters do all the time. Yet everyone missed it -- everyone from the local offices all the way up to Washington."

Reaction here and here.
Previously: "Floodwalls in Swampy New Orleans 'Like Putting Bricks on Jell-O'"

Free Wireless WiFi in New Orleans

New Orleans' central business district and the French Quarter now feature free, city-sponsored wireless WiFi access. Coverage will rollout to other areas within a year.
Of course, those companies that might have hoped to make money by selling WiFi to city residents have just been shafted, but such is the price of big splashy public attempts to bring business back.

Newsweek on modern-day "slavery" in New Orleans

Here's a short article called "A New Spice in the Gumbo", subtitle: "Will Latino day laborers locating in New Orleans change its complexion?"
It contains a couple of interesting quotes:

"I'm working for $6 an hour!" yelled one African-American man at Mayor Ray Nagin's first town-hall meeting last month. "They're bringing in Mexicans and expecting us to work for the same money. Is slavery over, or what?"

Followed by this:

Milton Martins, an undocumented Brazilian working for a demolition company, complains of backbreaking work and abysmal living conditions-triple bunks packed into a stench-filled salon in a downtown hotel. "It's a trash dump," he says. "This is human slavery in America." Even worse, he says, the contractor hasn't paid some of his co-workers in full.

Welcome to George Bush's America. And, welcome to the America supported by many "liberals" as well.

WSJ, Shearer, TP on the Orleans Levee Board's failings

The WSJ has a long article on the Orleans Levee Board. To the right you see one of their trademarked line drawings, this time of that board's former head.
To save time, I'll let Harry Shearer summarize the WSJ piece:

concentrates on the fractured responsibility of the levee boards, sewerage and water board, and Port, as well as the Army Corps, for inspection and maintenance of the system. It also points out, appropriately, the failure of the Louisiana Legislature to unify those responsibilities in the recent special session...
What the Journal misses, however, is what the local paper, The Times Picayune, uncovers in Friday's edition, unaccountably not available online (late Thanksgiving?). The highlights: scheduled inspections of the system, conducted by levee board members and officials from the Army Corps of Engineers, were "cursory affairs" that "skipped the by Katrina as the system's Achilles' heel." Beyond these scheduled visits, the agencies relied on grasscutting crews who "know what a good levee looks like".
Says Jerry Colletti, the Army Corps' operations manager for completed works of the admittedly under-thorough inspections his agency helped conduct, "I think it's a good lesson learned." Maybe Mike Brown's new firm has its first hire...
The TP sources its report in both documents and interviews. The WSJ quotes "engineers and others", mainly a National Science Foundation report on divided levee responsibility.
Unfortunately, a lot more people will see the Journal piece than will have access to the TP article.

The TP article he references is now online here.

WSJ thankful for wrecked New Orleans Public School system

If you read thinkprogress (nofollowpolicy), you'd think that. Except, they only provide part of the quote from the WSJ:

Catholic schools in New Orleans. That damaged city's public schools remain closed, but at least eight of its 35 private Catholic schools are already back teaching, less than three months after Katrina. Here's a modest proposal to help that city's poorest kids: Don't reopen any of the old public schools, 102 of 117 of which were performing below the state average in any case.

TP omits the final sentence of that paragraph:

Make the entire city a charter and voucher testing ground, and watch the creative spirit of teachers, entrepreneurs and students start to flow.

If you're going to take a quote out of context, let me suggest only doing it with hard-to-find source articles, not those that are not just online but are linked from your post.
OTOH, maybe these two fine sources could create an alternative universe and just duke it out amongst themselves and do everyone else a favor.

Slate on Katrina Cough

Their link-rich rundown from 11/15 is here.

Andy Kopplin on Tim Kusky

On Sunday, 60 Minutes broadcast the dire warnings of Prof. Tim Kusky. As described in that post, the Executive Director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, Andy Kopplin, wrote a letter to CBS encouraging balance in their reporting. A copy of that letter is here.

HuffPost eats it own: Harry Shearer attacked for looking in bright side

Eric Schmeltzer (who?) calls Harry Shearer on to the carpet for his Ned Flanders-style goody-two-shoes coverage of New Orleans:

...Last night was the kicker. 60 Minutes dared to air a story quoting a scientist that says New Orleans might be so far below water in 90-to-100 year that it might need levees of 100 feet to keep it safe, and questions whether that is worth it. The scientist bases his opinion on coastal erosion rates that are expected to increase because of the effects of global warming. Harry? He repeats attacks on the scientist's credibility.
Nevermind that the findings of the scientist quoted by 60 Minutes are widely accepted. Al Gore has warned that New Orleans would be submerged if global warming was allowed to continue. CNN reported on it back in 1997. The Washington Post has an excellent piece on the history of New Orleans sinking. Science Daily has reported on it. So has NPR...

Some bright person leaves a comment pointing out the fallacies in ES's argument.

Little damage in Jackson, lots of damage payouts

From Storm Hit Little, but Aid Flowed to Inland City:

When the federal government and the nation's largest disaster relief group reached out a helping hand after Hurricane Katrina blew through here, tens of thousands of people grabbed it.
But in giving out $62 million in aid, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross overlooked a critical fact: the storm was hardly catastrophic here, 160 miles from the coast. The only damage sustained by most of the nearly 30,000 households receiving aid was spoiled food in the freezer...


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