Senate approves additional $29 billion bill for relief, rebuilding

WASHINGTON (AP) - Overwhelming Senate passage of a bill bearing $29 billion to help rebuild after Hurricane Katrina has put the massive aid package a step away from being sent to President Bush for his signature.
Nearly four months after the maelstrom devastated New Orleans and much of the nearby Gulf Coast, the House was expected to vote Thursday on a final defense bill containing the storm assistance. The aid is mostly for reconstructing damaged buildings and aiding battered businesses and homeowners.
The Senate approved the measure 93-0 Wednesday night after the aid became entangled with - and then finally disengaged from - a fight over an unrelated effort to open oil drilling in an Alaska wildlife refuge.
Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., reminded lawmakers of victims living in tents and trailers after losing nearly all possessions in the Aug. 29 storm...

"Hurricane Katrina Hit As Category 3, Not 4"

I'll let those with meteorological experience indicate whether this report is completely accurate or not:

Katrina hit the Gulf Coast as a Category 3 hurricane, not a Category 4 as first thought, and New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain likely were spared the storm's strongest winds, the National Hurricane Center said Tuesday. New Orleans' storm levees were generally believed to be able to protect the city from the flooding of a fast-moving Category 3 storm. But Katrina was generally a slow-moving storm, said Jim Taylor, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers...
Katrina made landfall Aug. 29 with top sustained wind of about 125 mph, not the 140 mph that was calculated at the time, the hurricane center said in its final report on the hurricane.
New Orleans was on the storm's west side, which normally has weaker wind. Although an accurate reading of the highest wind in the New Orleans area was made difficult by the failure of measuring stations, a NASA facility in eastern New Orleans measured sustained wind of about 95 mph, the report said...

AP: Katrina was "Top Story of 2005"

Each year the Associated Press asks U.S. editors and news directors for their choices for the top stories. This year, about 85% out of 288 ballots selected the hurricane as the #1 story.


"Latino 'EcoSlaves' Clean Up After Katrina"

From Nov. 15 came this Newsmax summary of a Der Spiegel article on illegal aliens doing rebuilding in New Orleans:

Remaindered ABC interview with Kathleen Blanco

I believe an unaired Kathleen Blanco interview is available at this link. If that link doesn't work, go here and search for "Trailer Crunch". Presumably it's about the housing situation, but since it didn't make it on to ABC's news that probably means either that there's nothing in there, or there is something but they're trying to hide it or don't realize it. Someone please watch it and report.

"In Mississippi, Canvas Cities Rise Amid Hurricane's Rubble"

The NYT reports on canvas and plywood tent cities being constructed in Mississippi. Frankly, they don't sound that overly bad:

The tents, built by the Navy Seabees at a cost of $1 million, can be heated and cooled, and have plywood floors and walls that create an 18-by-32-foot wooden box inside the exterior fabric. They are set up in long, straight rows and distinguished only by alphanumeric addresses painted on their exteriors.
Free meals, financed by the federal government, are served in a giant white tent. And in Pass Christian, there is a community center with carpeting, comfortable couches, a couple of televisions, and a collection of donated books and toys. The toilets are portable, without running water, and are lined up near a tractor-trailer that serves as a shower house.

And, in case the NYT ever says something along the lines of there being jobs that Americans won't do:

At the Long Beach tent city, five miles east of Pass Christian, the entire inventory of Robert Stover's possessions consists of a mattress on the floor, a Bible, a few donated books and a plastic bucket that he turns upside down and tops with a small pillow to create a chair.
Desperate for work, Mr. Stover, 45, a former plumber at an area hospital, found a job at a cigarette distribution warehouse. But it is in Gulfport, miles away, and he has no car, so he spends three hours each day walking to work. When it rains, his protective gear is two trash bags: one covering his body, the other wrapped around his head.

NYT on illegal aliens doing rebuilding jobs

From November 4 came the NYT's "In Louisiana, Worker Influx Causes Ill Will". While not as overtly biased as other article reporting on illegal aliens taking jobs from American hurricane victims, it does give unanswered voice to those who support that un-American practice:

...The focus on Hispanic immigrants worries people like Representative Nydia M. Velázquez of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Small Business Committee.
"I am afraid the anger and frustration of hurricane victims is going to be turned against undocumented workers, who are being taken advantage of," Ms. Velázquez said.

They also provide more on the Belle Chasse scandal:

...It was the promise of housing, as much as anything, that prompted Mr. Cheatham, the union electrician, to take a job wiring a tent city for a subcontractor at the Naval Air Station at Belle Chasse, south of New Orleans, he said. He had lost his house near Lake Pontchartrain to flooding, along with his car; his family was scattered.
Life on the base was tough, he said, but he was particularly troubled by the presence of a large number of people he believed to be illegal immigrants, some of whom were working at the base, others of whom arrived each night on buses for meals. (The Navy said it allowed its contractors to house workers on the base.) "I called immigration several times to complain," Mr. Cheatham said.
Then, abruptly in their view, the subcontractor, BE&K, fired Mr. Cheatham and his fellow union electricians. The electricians, who make about $22 an hour plus benefits, said they believed that their jobs were taken by lower-paid, illegal workers.
Their boss, Albert Knight of Knight Enterprises in Lacombe, La., complained to Senate Democrats, who demanded an investigation. And, in fact, federal officials have since found more than two dozen illegal workers at the base, although only two worked for BE&K, which says it did not replace the electricians with lower-paid workers...

NBC discovers racism in New Orleans. Again!

What with all the talk about more per capita deaths of whites than blacks, NBC seems to have struck back. On tonight's NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams announced - somewhat triumphantly - that racism had been discovered in the housing situation for evacuees. I only caught the last part of the report, and it doesn't appear to be online, but it seemed to only concentrate on one large apartment company. If there was any racism involved it was probably at the local level and very likely does not reflect their overall corporate policy.
Then, Martin Savidge offered a separate report, discussing how an older lady was worried about the local government trying to force her off her property to build casinos. Then, in a disjointed jump, Savidge discussed the building of "New Urbanism" communities, pointing out that they were for those who were rich... and white!

Others say New Urbanism is designed for a limited kind of resident, primarily wealthy and white. Most homes in Seaside sell for more than $1 million.

Yes, Martin, I'm sure those developments have covenants prohibiting non-whites.

Which is exactly what Elaine Parker is afraid of - that plans for the future will make her and her neighborhood a part of the past.

You'd only know it from the video, but Parker is white.
Truly a pathetic pair of reports from NBC.

Paul at Wizbang Blog deleted my comment; can you trust what you read there?

If the ever-excitable Paul at Wizbang Blog is in the habit of deleting comments, can you trust his posts? Since contrary information is frequently mentioned in comments, has he deleted any other comments with which he disagreed?
Begging your pardon in advance for the inside blogospheric nature of this issue, here's what happened in chronological order.
First, the partisan hack known as Insty posted this:

BOY, the Big Media coverage of Katrina -- which so many media folks were congratulating themselves on at the time -- isn't looking very good now that we know what actually happened. More here: "The New York Times and Los Angeles Times both put forth front-page stories this weekend that dramatically contradict much of their own coverage of the disaster."...

Since I'm familiar with how this works from watching the hack-o-sphere's reaction to al Qaqaa and Rathergate, I decided to go to the "orinsf" site and offer the following contrary information (I adjusted the links because "orinsf" doesn't allow HTML comments):

Well... given the large number of supposed tall tales (three separate examples), I'd be a bit surprised to find out that most of them were false. In fact, downplaying all those accounts would seem to be in (almost) everyone's best interest, no? Of course, it's best to keep an open mind and investigate each alleged incident rather than fit preliminary information to one's agenda.
Note also that the St. Gabriel impromptu morgue has a few issues. A mortician there was quoted in a newspaper as being surprised by the Katrina deaths, but he refused to give me more information or a body count of those murdered. And, look who's handling the body count.

When our buddy Paul offered his own version of the 'quell your fears citizen' theme, I posted a comment suggesting that his readers check out the comment I'd left at that orinsf site. Unfortunately, I didn't save off that comment like I usually do. But I did save off the one I left after I noticed that the first comment I left had been deleted:

I'd swear I left a comment here yesterday (under my "TLB" pseudonym). Maybe I was just dreaming I left a comment or something.
Anyhoo, check out all the links I provided in the post that Insty linked to:
I wouldn't jump to conclusions based on preliminary data.

Now, that comment has been replaced with this:

I'd swear I left a comment here yesterday (under my "TLB" pseudonym). Maybe I was just dreaming I left a comment or something.
Paul Replies You did leave a comment. I deleted it. There are enough kooky conspiracy theories running around without my posts being used to propagate them.
You are welcome to post whatever you want on your blog. You are even welcome to come shill for your blog if you have a reasonable post.
But leave the conspiracy theories at the door.
I wouldn't jump to conclusions based on preliminary data.
Paul Replies Again My point EXACTLY.

I'd suggest taking what you read there with a big grain of salt.

USA Today: CBD, "sliver by the river", "island" of normalcy

USAToday offers "Amid ruins, 'island' of normalcy in the Big Easy":

..."If you stay on the island, you can almost pretend it didn't happen," says Margaret Jones, co-owner of a stationery shop on Magazine Street that stayed dry during the storm.
Just a block beyond the "sliver on the river," another new nickname, the 75% of the city that was under water for weeks now lies in darkness and ruins. At least 100,000 homes are destroyed or uninhabitable. Buses don't run, lights don't work, gas stations are closed and schools are empty.
Just 10% of the city's businesses are open, says Don Hutchinson, Director of the Mayor's Office of Economic Development. Almost all of them are on the island - which runs from the Bywater neighborhood through the French Quarter, the Garden District, Uptown and Tulane and Loyola universities. On the west bank of the river, the Algiers neighborhood is also on high ground and did not flood...
...Christmas trees sell out in a matter of hours. Restaurants have limited menus and shorter hours because of a severe labor shortage and difficulty finding ingredients. And while more than 700 restaurants have reopened, some 2,300 remain closed. In any given block, several stores remain shuttered with "For Lease" signs hanging in the windows.
Three out of four private-practice doctors have not returned, says Patrick Breaux, president of the Orleans Parish Medical Society. Just two of the nine pre-Katrina hospitals are open.
Babysitters are hard to come by. Most of the private schools are holding classes, but only one regular public school has opened. Sixteen of the city's 28 parochial schools are back in session.
There is a collective malaise hanging over the city, affecting even those who lost nothing.
"Everybody's in slow motion," says Maria Impastato, whose family has owned the Napoleon House in the French Quarter for four generations. "I don't feel like myself. Everyone - our suppliers, the guy that drives the beer truck - we all walk around in a fog..."


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