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September 02, 2005
Read 'Em And....

Still more Hurricane Katrina coverage, yes. Like the news that help is coming from around the world. And it's coming, not to the Bush Administration, but to the citizens of Louisiana and Mississippi. I really do believe that.

Don't miss this one (via Cursor):

After the Army Corps of Engineers spent three days lamenting "the difficulty of gaining access," reports the Washington Post, a local contractor "drove to the mouth" of the 17th Street Canal and "began driving steel slabs into the breach."

Look at this report of a huge oil spill on the Mississippi River.

I find it painful to read this but I don't donate to the Salvation Army or any other religious organization that practices bigotry. It's not that I think they'd refuse someone aid because he or she was homosexual, but I send my money to more liberal organizations. If you're particular about the charities you use, you can always check the Charity Navigator. For instance, John McKay warns you to be wary of who you give your hurricane relief funds to. If you pick your charity from the government list...your dough could wind up in Pat Robertsons' pocket.

A Shoot To Kill order in New Orleans is not the way to handle this situation. Yes, the guys pictured stole a mail truck. Is there anyone in charge who has any concept whatsoever of what these people are going through?

Editor & Publisher has a great editorial round-up. A particularly nice juxtaposition of Bush talking about...wait for it...oil! As the leaders of the hard-hit areas beg for food, water, and police protection. Looks like Bush's "legacy" has been determined.

Worst. President. In. History. Bar none.

I failed three times to construct a post pointing out that the post-hurricane fiasco down south is the direct result of the Right's flawed model of government, and then I read Kevin Drum and remembered all over again why I keep Political Animal near the top of my blog reading list.

And, in another case of someone else saying what I couldn't articulate, let me applaud E. J. Dionne for explaining why a time of disaster is exactly the time to bring up politics.

Molly Ivins makes the same point.

Normon Solomon is even angrier.

From Republic of T, FEMA, Katrina, and Bush

Short, and to the point. Or, on the same theme, this one.

Or read Steve Clemons on where the money that should have repaired New Orleans' levees went.

Make no mistake, folks. Nature made the hurricane. The Bush Administration made the disaster.

Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

Let's DO Something

I've been talking with people about Hurricane Katrina and the desperate situations in Louisiana and Mississippi and I've been struck by a common thread in the discussions.

Americans have the reputation of being generous to those in need and certainly the outpouring of assistance to the tsunami victims last year was impressive. As if to put the Bush Administration's initial paltry offering to the blush, individuals and corporations in the United States pledged (and delivered) millions and millions of dollars worth of products and assistance.

I'm seeing the same groundswell of support for the hurricane victims in our own South today, but with two notable differences.

#1 - More than sending a check, people want to do something. To volunteer at the Red Cross or one of the other organizations packing supplies to send south. Or answer phones or take donations, or fill their own trucks and drive south to help. Most of them see and comprehend the desperate need and they want to reach out a personal helping hand.

#2 - Underneath the support, there is a vast anger at what's perceived to be the government's intolerably slow response to this emergency. As one person pointed out to me, we bomb the hell out of some Iraqi village and ten minutes later, troops roll in with trucks loaded with water and food for the survivors, but in our own country, we can't even manage to airlift a few gallons of clean water and some field rations to people stuck on isolated rooftops?

I know this isn't news to anyone...a quick scan shows me this same topic (#2) is all over the world o'blog, but some of us have been waiting years for the country to wake up and smell the callous incompetence, so it's worth mentioning.

Read AmericaBlog especially, not only for running commentary on the problems but on the matters that Congress decided were important enough to bring to the floor for a vote while people are dying in Mississippi. Like...tax relief for dead rich people.

As for #1...I have no suggestions. Our local Red Cross is so overwhelmed with offers of support that they can't even field them, much less accept any of the offers being made. So, everyone write a check or donate some blood if it's at all possible.

Give. It's what we can do.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:26 PM | Comments (0)
Cross Your Legs

US FDA Official Quits Over Contraceptive Delay

A senior women's health official at the Food and Drug Administration resigned on Wednesday to protest the agency's failure to approve over-the-counter sales of a "morning-after" contraceptive despite favorable recommendations from staff scientists.

The FDA said Friday it was indefinitely postponing a decision on Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s bid to sell the Plan B contraceptive without a prescription.

A decision that "continues to limit women's access to a product that would reduce unintended pregnancies and reduce abortions is contrary to my core commitment to improving and advancing women's health," said Susan Wood, the FDA's assistant commissioner for women's health and director of its office of women's health.

"I can no longer serve as staff when scientific and clinical evidence, fully evaluated and recommended for approval by the professional staff here, has been overuled. I therefore have submitted my resignation effective today," Wood said in an e-mail to colleagues.

Wood was a career scientist who worked at the FDA for nearly five years. She holds a doctorate in biology and has worked on women's health issues for about 15 years.

The FDA praised Wood's work at the agency, saying in a statement that her leadership led to "significant strides" in women's health that "undoubtedly helped thousands of consumers."

"Her decision to leave is unfortunate as we work toward solving the complex policy and regulatory issues related to Plan B," the statement said.

Plan B is a set of pills that may prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse. The product is available now with a doctor's prescription.

Supporters say easier access is needed to make sure women get the pills in time. Opponents, including some conservative lawmakers and groups, say wider availability could increase promiscuity and sexually transmitted diseases

Forget the "regulatory" problems. Restricting access to products for underage people isn't exactly a new concept in this country. The real "nub" is the "policy issues" referred to.

Bottom line: More ways to protect from unwanted pregnancy will only encourage those uppity wimmin to act like they're entitled to control over their own bodies.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:23 AM | Comments (0)
September 01, 2005

China and the USofA don't seem to be any closer to reaching an agreement on that battle over textile imports.

The government in Yemen is threatening journalists.

Gasoline prices are skyrocketing at the pumps. I forgot to gas up earlier this week and it's going to cost me 40 cents a gallon more than it would have cost me last week. If I can find any.

The economy does not look good.

I guess the politicians are worried about business donors. Why else would the mayor order the police to stop rescuing people and protect corporate inventory, instead? I swore I'd stop blogging the aftermath of the hurricane, after those last two posts, but let me point out that 'stealing' food and water when you haven't had any of either for days isn't really a felony and shouldn't be treated as such. The people stealing big-screen televisions are another matter...but this matter of looting just isn't as clear-cut as it appears.

Browsing the NYTimes Op-Eds, I found Life in the Bottom 80 Percent, a column that points out that median household income has been stagnant since Rove&Co inflicted Bush on us five years ago.

And, in one of those, Hey, look who's been eating their Wheaties! moments, the next article in the Op-Ed line-up was Banished Whistle-Blowers about the Bush Administration's policy of punishing or firing people who try to expose the government trifling with the facts.

(In a similar, but different, event, is it really appropriate to fire a teacher for discussing current events?)

Our help against the spread of AIDS in Uganda is not helping. Big surprise.

When I first started poking around news sites online, this story was one of the first that fascinated me. Dow-Carbide.

And, speaking of toxic waste, don't be fooled by reports of only minor chemical spills in New Orleans. The sheer volume of waste from cleaning products in homes alone can create a dangerous toxic sludge. And it's going to be all over the land and draining into the fertile Gulf.

Iran is still pursing nuclear weapons, and experiencing some success.

Bush has finally admitted that our invasion of Iraq was about oil. (Can we please get that poseur off the decks of our ships? I can't decide if it's the cheesiness or the bland hypocrisy that annoys me more, but it makes me queasy every time I read about one of those codpiece photo ops.)

953. That's the number of Iraqi deaths so far in that Shi'ite bridge panic, and make no mistake, these are deaths directly attributable to our invasion of the country and should be counted as such.

Interesting story about the drafting of interim Constitution. And an editorial on the Constitution under development. And Iraq's civil war.

Matthew Rothschild take a smack at Bush's Iraq disaster, too.

And what's Al-Qaeda bribery scandal thing all about? Granted, no one person can follow all of the news these days, but I thought I was keeping a reasonably close eye on that type of thing.

Ohio. Voting. Ballot counting. Fraud. Let's not forget that story.

I can't read this any other way but to understand that Bolton wants the U.N. (and the USofA) to be free to use force...but not obligated to use it to protect people. I'd comment...but we knew he was an unmitigated disaster when Bush shoved him down the planet's throat, so what's left to say?

Looks like some states have decided to back scientific 'theory' after all. They're suing to protect their forests from logging.

And, to finish, read the Achenblog

Posted by AnneZook at 10:31 AM | Comments (0)
Waiting for a Leader

An interesting 'take' on the Hurricane Katrina story.

There's no one 'best' story, so just read CounterPunch on why people 'chose' not to evacuate before the hurricane struck. Maybe, in a case of a small silver lining to a large, grim cloud, this will finally bring some attention to the desperate, heart-wrenching, endless cycle of poverty in that part of our country.

(And maybe someone will start listening to the ecologists who have been trying to warn us that destruction of the fragile, bayou wetlands could have devastating consequences.)

You should also consider this story about the inadequacy of the relief effort so far. The people have my sympathy, but I have a vague idea of what it takes to mount a relief effort of this magnitude and any Hollywood-inspired fantasy that it can be produced in 48 hours is just wrong.

Yes, it's obvious that the presence of Louisiana's and Mississippi's deployed National Guard units would have been invaluable, but even aside from that, it takes time and money to buy, transport, and distribute supplies. You can't buy four thousand vials of insulin, on the off-chance, it doesn't keep. You can't lay in a store of ten tons of ice just in case a huge hurricane actually makes landfall, and even if you could, you can't store it on-site because you might lose it, so you have to transport it later.

Through industry-related gossip, I know of one hospital that lost not only power, but their back-up generators. A percentage of the available National Guard's time and efforts were distracted to transport emergency generators to them. In the meantime, hospital personnel were standing over their critical patients, ventilating them by hand, hour after hour, after hour, in a desperate attempt to keep them alive.

I know it's of no help to the people suffering today, but I'm much more concerned that our national ADD will result in us not following though with the years of work and financing it's going to take to rebuild that area than I am about our immediate response. We're always generous in a crisis. It's the sustained, long-term effort that we're not good at.

Anyhow. It should surprise no one, that I was surprised by, but applauding, this NYTimes editorial.

George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast. He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end.

We are, indeed, waiting for a leader, and anyone who still expects failed business owner and self-proclaimed "CEO" George Bush to suddenly emerge as a leader is delusional.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:59 AM | Comments (0)
Hello, Again

Took a little unannounced vacation, there, didn't I? Sorry about that. After three years of fairly incessant blogging, I was a little burned out.

Like most of us, I've spent a lot of time this past week watching the story of Hurricane Katrina and I'm watching the story of the disintegration of social behavior in the aftermath with at least as much interest.

I've visited New Orleans a couple of times (on business) and have to say I don't share the love most people seem to have for the city (I was sick, okay? Temperature of 100+ and a raging sinus infection aren't ideal conditions under which to try and complete a five-day business trip) but I vividly remember the heart-breaking poverty of most of the city. These were people who had almost nothing...and now they don't have that.

Please give generously...your local Red Cross chapter may be in need of volunteers to help pack food or medical supplies for shipment to the area, or to answer phones. And dig into your wallets, of course. We watched the specials on TV last night. Anyone not touched by the sight of people who had lost everything reaching out to try and offer aid to their fellow sufferers....

I notice that few of the major USofA radio and television news outlets I've tuned into have been mentioning the offers of aid from around the world. A casual mention on one of last night's television specials highlighted the previous omission.

They say it may cost $25B to rebuild the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina. I don't know where we're going to get the money. I mean, that's six months of killing people in Iraq.

I don't know how we can mobilize enough trained and useful people to help rescue the survivors and help them start putting their lives back together either. The Louisiana National Guard, the trained personnel familiar with the territory and the people, are mostly in Iraq, aren't they? Along with the trucks and heavy equipment that might have been handy in moving people and materials in the aftermath of a hurricane.

I'm just saying.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:05 AM | Comments (1)
August 29, 2005
Swaziland, Again

I guess King Can't-Get-Enuf is looking for wife number 876 or something. (Okay, 13, but still.)

“I want to live a nice life, have money, be rich, have a BMW and cellphone,” said one dancer, 16-year-old Zodwa Mamba, who wore a traditional brightly colored tasseled scarf.

When you consider the odds of her getting little but AIDS (or starving to death) if she doesn't catch the king's eye, who can blame her?

Monday’s ceremony was the culmination of a week of preparations, which included the lifting of a royal ban on sex with virgins, decreed in 2001 to help rein in HIV.

Days after reviving the ancient ban, Mswati in 2001, married a virgin and fined himself one cow. Last week he lifted the five-year ban a year early, ordering thousands of maidens to throw off chastity scarves worn to ward of preying men.

What? He ran out of cows?

Posted by AnneZook at 12:37 PM | Comments (0)