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"Mythbuster doctor chases down Katrina rumors"

Quell your fears, citizen!

NEW ORLEANS, Sept 17 (Reuters) - The most outrageous rumor was the report about two dogs poisoned by the toxic floodwaters that filled many New Orleans neighborhoods.
At the start of the flooding, as the waters of already less-than-pristine Lake Pontchartrain poured through collapsed levees into low-lying areas, health experts and environmentalists feared the flood would break open chemical tanks, barrels of oil, and solvents.
They worried that sitting floodwaters could dissolve the contents of buried hazardous waste sites or leach foul compounds from landfills.
And as residents and rescuers waded through foul brown waters, the reports of dire consequences began.
"Everybody 'knew' that two dogs went in the water and dropped dead instantly," said Dr. Tom Clark, an infectious disease specialist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
Clark spends much of his day chasing down and either proving or disproving similar reports...

"Reckless and irresponsible" for EPA to say safe to move back to NO

Here's the latest word on the toxic soup:
1/10th of the weight of some sediment samples is from diesel and fuel oils...
There are "dangerous amounts of sewage-related bacteria"...
There's E. Coli...
There's increased lead and arsenic...
The petroleum products might take years to go away...
So, how dangerous is this?

William Farland, the EPA's acting science adviser, said he sees nothing in the sediment to suggest a big public health risk "as long as people are careful to remove the sediment, keep it from getting on their bare skin and clean it off if they do."

But:
Hugh Kaufman, a senior EPA policy analyst and a longtime whistle-blower within the agency, called it "reckless and irresponsible" for the EPA to imply that people moving back into New Orleans will be safe.

Houma riot reports overblown, police say

From "Rumors of riots, crime unfounded, officials say":

During the information vacuum following Hurricane Katrina, locals made scores of frantic calls to area newspapers and police to report the unimaginable: Evacuees from New Orleans were being stripped of loaded guns at a Houma shelter. Roving gangs from the inner city were patrolling local neighborhoods. A woman was carjacked at the mall.
From the shocking to the unbelievable, none of the anonymous rumors called in to police and other agencies over the past two weeks were true...
...crime dropped 40 percent after the hurricane...
The Courier received reports over the past two weeks alleging, inaccurately, that riots broke out in a Lafourche civic center, that an armed gunman held up a convenience-store clerk, that New Orleans residents were looting local homes and that a white woman was raped by a black man in a parking lot in broad daylight...
...In the case of Hurricane Katrina, the rumors appear to be coming from residents who are unable to grasp the experiences shared by the mostly poor, black storm victims evacuated from New Orleans, said pop-culture expert Elayne Rapping, professor of American studies at the University of Buffalo...
..."White people are starting these rumors to blame the victim," said Rapping. "They don't understand that the citizens from New Orleans are scared to death and powerless. What's happening is racism, the major problem of our country. These kinds of rumors are deadly..."
...Something else that could be fueling the rumors, said Stefan Schulenberg, an assistant professor of clinical psychology at the University of Mississippi, is misinformation and mistrust. Residents who cannot relate to what many New Orleans storm survivors have endured -- from losing a home to struggling for survival to being without food and water for days -- assume the worst...

Some sociologists question amount of looting that really took place

Emphasis on the "some" part. The Boston Globe interviewed up to six sociologists and other social boffins and they say that after most natural disasters there's relatively little looting. They question whether there was as much looting after Katrina as the networks and the rest of the MSM have claimed.
From "Up for Grabs":

...[Clark McPhail, emeritus prof. at UIUC] says, that crowd you thought was ransacking Wal-Mart for consumer goods no doubt included people who indeed were ransacking Wal-Mart for consumer goods. But there were also mothers getting diapers, thrill seekers checking out the action, people trying to persuade their friends not to loot, and others just milling about...

Tell it to the judge! Oh, just kidding.
The article also contains this:

True, not all disasters have nonviolent aftermaths. After Hurricane Hugo swept through St. Croix in 1989, leveling the place, residents cleaned out local stores and malls, even going so far as to remove the lighting fixtures. What made St. Croix different from Kobe, Japan following the 1995 earthquake or San Francisco after the quake of 1989? [Enrico Quarantelli, an emeritus professor of sociology and the founding director of the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware] argues that it was the radical inequality of a society where yacht-owners live beside subsistence-level workers, the sheer desperation of the situation (citizens were stranded with no food and no expectation of rescue), and a corrupt police force.
Of course, these conditions were all present to some degree in New Orleans. Yet Quarantelli, Tierney, and other scholars give the benefit of the doubt to the Louisianans, discounting, until they have proof, much of the reporting of a social breakdown...

Until I have proof, I'm going to assume that those scholars have so much invested in "liberalism" that they're now seeing what they want to see.

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