Saturday, September 03, 2005

How the US situation is being reported downunder.

Compassion ?

This is from the Sydney Morning Herald this morning. This is pretty difficult to comprehend, disasters on a whole seem to be pretty well managed down here as we seem to have had a lot of practise mainly with bushfires. Although something the scale of Hurricane Katrina we have missed out on.... so who knows?
I suppose you could also factor in that every second Aussie doesn't own a gun. In any case there is a sense of bewilderment from most people down here as they try to understand how the bastion of the free world fails to cope with this.

American bewilderment has turned to fury as the richest nation on earth fails to
rescue its own people from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, which has left
scenes of anarchy and Third World desperation.

Much of the anger is directed at President George Bush as the nation tries to comprehend television images of floating corpses, of lawless mobs, and of Americans pleading for food, water and medical help.

Troops have been given shoot-to-kill orders in a bid to stop looting and restore law and order.

As authorities only guess at a death toll - it could be in the thousands - there are reports of women and a young boy and girl being raped in the New Orleans Superdome, while other refugees there are terrorised by rioters.

"This is a national disgrace," says Terry Ebbert, the head of emergency operations in New Orleans. "[The Federal Emergency Management Agency] has been here three days, yet there is no command and control. We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims but we can't bail out the city of New Orleans."

The agency's officials said some operations had to be suspended in areas where gunfire had broken out but they insisted they were working overtime to feed people and restore order.

Garry Jones, one of four Australians driven to safety by a Channel Seven crew after being stranded on the flooded streets of New Orleans, said: "We're looters, like everybody else. You've got to go into the markets. You've got to take water. You've got to take food."

Joining relatives of other trapped Australians in criticising the Australian response to the disaster, Mr Jones told Seven: "We've rung the Australian consul 4000 times. They say they can't get in here. We understand their position but, geez, Johnny Howard, where are you?"

In the New Orleans convention centre, refugees are living next to the dead, with no one in charge of increasingly angry crowds. CNN showed footage of an old woman who had died in a wheelchair at the centre. She was covered by a blanket. Another body, wrapped in a sheet, lay next to her.

"I don't treat my dog like that," said 47-year-old Daniel Edwards, pointing at the woman in the wheelchair. "You can do everything for other countries but you can't do nothing for your own people. You can go overseas with the military but you can't get them down here."

When Mr Bush visits New Orleans, he may have to answer increasing
criticism that his Administration took money from a program to reinforce the
levee banks to fund the war on Iraq.

The former head of the US Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that handles the infrastructure of the nation's waterways, said the damage in New Orleans probably would have been much less extensive had flood-control efforts been fully funded.

"Levees would have been higher, levees would have been bigger, there would have been other pumps put in," said Mike Parker, a former congressman.

Mr Bush, aware of mounting criticism of his handling of storm relief, told ABC television: "Well, I fully understand people wanting things to have happened yesterday. I understand the anxiety of people on the ground. I just can't imagine what it's like to be waving a sign saying, 'Come and get me now.' So there is frustration, but I want people to know there's a lot of help coming."

Congress met to vote for a $US10.5 billion ($13.7 billion) relief package, but Joshua Bolton, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, called this a "stopgap".
The emergency agency is spending $500 million a day. Mr Bush said two former
presidents, George Bush senior and Bill Clinton, would head a private
fundraising effort.

The Governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco, said that troops were "battle-tested".

"They have M-16s and are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill and I expect they will."

Police Chief Eddie Compass said there was such a crush around a squad of
88 officers that they retreated when they went in to check out reports of
assaults. "We have individuals who are getting raped, we have individuals who
are getting beaten," he said.

In Houston, the Astrodome was declared full after accepting more than 11,000 hurricane refugees, less than half the estimated 23,000 expected on buses from New Orleans. Buses were sent on to other shelters. The New Orleans Mayor, Ray Nagin, said: "This is a desperate SOS.
Right now we are out of resources at the convention centre and don't anticipate
enough buses


  • Thanks for posting this. It is sobering and horribly embarassing as an American to know that our own President and his administration have miserably failed our brothers and sisters, and that the rest of the world is out there looking in on us. Please never make the mistake of judging all of us by the sickening clown we have as President. Most of us really are decent, law-abiding citizens like you.

    By Anonymous Winston, at 11:48 am  

  • If nothing that Bush has done so far had earned him the right to be impeached...his response to Katrina certainly should

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:02 pm  

  • This is a given Winston, most Americans I have met have been rather nice people (the exceptions were an ex-timeshare salesman I once met and a couple of Mormon missionaries), it's just the guys elected who seem to have no idea.

    Much of the Sydney Morning Herald article was lifted from the BBC report.

    By Blogger Johnno, at 5:36 pm  

  • I can't count how many timeshare seminars we've attended.

    By Blogger I Like 2 Read Blogs, at 1:45 am  

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