Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Carnival Cruises to a Sweet FEMA Deal

Remember those Carnival Cruise ships which the company donated for use by evacuees from Katrina's devastation? Well it turns out they weren't donated at all. In fact FEMA has cut a $236,000,000 deal with Carnival over the next six months. The problem is that, even if the ships were full to capacity, this is twice as expensive as a real cruise. And the ships are currently only half full.

To critics, the price is exorbitant. If the ships were at capacity, with 7,116 evacuees, for six months, the price per evacuee would total $1,275 a week, according to calculations by aides to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). A seven-day western Caribbean cruise out of Galveston can be had for $599 a person - and that would include entertainment and the cost of actually making the ship move.

via Wonkette

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Sixth Circuit Court: No Belligerent Speech

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that there is no First Amendment right to loud and belligerent speech, particularly if it delays a TSA agent during a personal search.

via BoingBoing

Sharon Olds: No Thanks Mrs. Bush

Poet Sharon Olds has declined an invitation by Laura Bush to attend the National Book Festival in Washington, beginning this weekend. Here is an excerpt from her letter to the First Lady.

So many Americans who had felt pride in our country now feel anguish and shame, for the current regime of blood, wounds and fire. I thought of the clean linens at your table, the shining knives and the flames of the candles, and I could not stomach it.

via HuffPo

UK Cops Bust Backpack Wearer

BoingBoing is relaying the story of David Mery, who was apparently arrested on a London tube station for wearing a "bulky" backpack and coat on a cold day. Mr. Mery's personal and biometric information (fingerprints, DNA) was collected, and he was held overnight before being released, without his computer and phones.

These are the kind of stories which are difficult to believe, but which are becoming common. If this one is true, and I have no reason to think it isn't, this incident was indeed a mugging, as Cory suggests. An innocent man has had his property confiscated and held. Pretty simple, at least on its face. I will be interested in how it is resolved.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Sheehan Silenced by N.Y. Police

New York police prevented Cindy Sheehan from finishing a speech Monday in Manhattan's Union Square, and arrested an organizer, saying he hadn't obtained a permit for use of a loudspeaker. It's a good example of how public communication involving electronics requires government permission.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Rams Football Exec: "I'm a Throat Slasher"

St. Louis Rams director of football administration Samir Suleiman reportedly left an amazingly offensive and threatening voice message in response to this article by Bernie Miklasz.

"Tell your source that I'm not a back-stabber, I'm a (expletive) throat slasher, and he'll know the difference before it's all said and done."
Rams president John Shaw says Suleiman will be "reprimanded". Reprimanded!?!? The guy should be looking for a new job, after he's released from custody.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Army Threatens Reporter Over Reporting

A member of the Army 82nd Airborne Division threatened to take a journalist's press credentials and "kick them out of the state" if the reporter took photographs or reported about the body removal process in the Bywater District of New Orleans. This only one day after the Bush administration said it would not prevent journalists from reporting on the recovery efforts.

via Romenesko

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Not Liberal Media

Time Warner just hired Tim Berry as a "top lobbyist" in Washington DC. Before working for the largest media company in the world, Mr. Berry had been chief of staff for Congressional Majority Leader Tom Delay. One wonders how well the news organization will cover Mr. Delay's ongoing problems now.

Baker: God "cleaned up public housing"

From the WSJ, via HuffPo:

Rep. Baker of Baton Rouge is overheard telling lobbyists: "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."

Baker explains later he didn't intend flippancy but has long wanted to improve low-income housing.
Yea, sure.

Limbaugh's Deceit

Media Matters has posted numerous false claims recently made by the drug addict. Of course, Rush's separation from reality is hardly news.

Bye Bye Brownie

Mike Brown has resigned as Director of FEMA.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Sunday's Freedom March: "extraordinary measures to control participation"

Fences, pre-registration, threats of arrest if you misbehave. This is the Bush Administration's idea of freedom. Now, everybody march!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Tom Delay Thinks It's Fun?!?!?

From about halfway down this Houston Chronicle story:
...DeLay stopped to chat with three young boys resting on cots.

The congressman likened their stay to being at camp and asked, "Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?"

They nodded yes, but looked perplexed.
via HuffPo

More FEMA Support, for Pat Robertson

More word today about the support the U.S. Government is providing for regligious extremist Pat Robertson.

via BoingBoing

CNN: Making the Case for FEMA

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi accused CNN's Myra Phillips of "making the case for the White House" after the news reporter repeatedly interrupted the congresswoman and made assertions such as "I think it's unfair that FEMA is just singled out"

Padilla Can Be Held

From Reuters:

A federal appeals court ruled on Friday that U.S. President George W. Bush has the power to detain Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen who has been held for more than three years as a suspected enemy combatant without any charges being brought against him.

Everything I've read indicates Padilla is a bad guy who should be locked up for a long, long time. But I can't help but get a queasy feeling when a U.S. citizen can be held indefinitely without trial or indeed, without charges being filed. Why must he be held this way, and doesn't it raise serious questions that need to be addressed immediately by Congress?

How is it not most disturbing that a government can hold its citizens without charge? It's not beyond the realm of possibility that the perceived threat in the future may not be so obvious and genuine as a bomb, but instead might be some rhetoric or organizing technologies.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Yahoo! Helps China Convict Journalist

Reporters Without Borders is saying Yahoo! Holdings Ltd. in Hong Kong "provided China’s state security authorities with details that helped to identify and convict" journalist Shi Tao, who has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
"Information supplied by Yahoo ! led to the conviction of a good journalist who has paid dearly for trying to get the news out. It is one thing to turn a blind eye to the Chinese government’s abuses and it is quite another thing to collaborate."

via BoingBoing and Media Nation

Astrodome blocking emergency radio?

Why aren't they allowed to set up an FCC-approved low powered radio station?

From Jacob Appelbaum's blog:

Houston Independent media organizers, who have been working in concert with local community organizations, relief groups, the Federal Communications Commission, a major electronics manufacturer, and the City of Houston, have been denied permission to build a 30-watt radio station inside the Astrodome by R.W. Royall Jr., Incident Commander of the JIC (Joint Information Committee) at the Astrodome.

via BoingBoing

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Trying to Use Tech to Help

Along with everything else, there's a large effort to set up a low power radio station, and limited computer networking, within the Astrodome in Houston. Xeni's live blog with Jacob Appelbaum, one of the guys setting up the tech, is a bit horrific and tells of continuing problems regarding the treatment of the people there.

It's Not a Game

So the new White House phrase is blame game. Today's less-than-friendly press conference had Mr. McClellan repeatedly using the word blame as if it were somehow inappropriate. So I checked Webster and found this:

1 : to find fault with
2a : to hold responsible
2b : to place responsibility for

Is that a bad thing? Shouldn't we find out what went wrong and who might be responsible? Who will ask Mr. McClellan why the White House thinks it's a game?

If the Administration is willing to tell us what a great job they've done. Then people are justified in pointing out the failures. Avoiding responsibility, or blame, or whatever you want to call it, cannot be tolerated. Especially if they insist on telling us how brilliant they were.

FEMA: No Reporters Please

FEMA is refusing requests from journalists who want to accompany rescue boats searching for storm victims, though they assure the press that "the recovery of the victims is being treated with dignity and the utmost respect." Additionally, they requesting that no photographs be taken of dead people.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Summer of Discontent

If you haven't seen Kayne West's spontaneous plea, you should watch it, because it's not anything like the blustering bash that's being presented in the media. Instead there is a young man who is obviously scared, expressing what he believes.

At their first chance, NBC distanced themselves from this "one person's opinion."

The thing about freedom is it needs to be exercised. We can't talk about only in the abstract and expect it to really exist. Waving a flag while punishing legitimate political expressing is not supporting our country. Instead, it does us harm.

Tonight Keith Olberman issued a much more powerful indictment of the government. I'll be interested in what his employers have to say about this one.

via BoingBoing

Friday, September 02, 2005

Hastert Hearts NOLA

Earlier this week House Speaker Dennis Hastert was asked about rebuilding New Orleans. He reportedly replied "I don't know. That doesn't make sense to me."

Then, when the vote came on the 10.5 billion dollar Katrina Aid Package, Hastert was absent, instead attending a political fundraiser in Indiana. His staff says he later attended a charity auction where he donated a spare Lincoln Continental.

Today he's answering a lot of questions and promising he really, really, really loves New Orleans and wishes it a long healthy life.

Prez: Trent Lott's House Will Be Fantastic!

From remarks given by President Bush during a press briefing today in Mobile, Alabama:

"The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch."

FEMA: "Things are going relatively well"

CNN has a page full of what they are labeling as "conflicting statements" made by government officials regarding the aftermath of Katrina. The conflict is between what some government officials are saying and what reporters and others are actually seeing. It seems FEMA Chief Michael Brown is particularly adept at denying the severity of things.

Violence and civil unrest

# Brown: I've had no reports of unrest, if the connotation of the word unrest means that people are beginning to riot, or you know, they're banging on walls and screaming and hollering or burning tires or whatever. I've had no reports of that.

# CNN's Chris Lawrence: From here and from talking to the police officers, they're losing control of the city. We're now standing on the roof of one of the police stations. The police officers came by and told us in very, very strong terms it wasn't safe to be out on the street.

FEMA Points Aid $$$ to Robertson Charity

The FEMA web site is directing Katrina donations to Pat Robertson's Operation Blessing, suggesting the charity for those who wish to "donate cash". This is the same guy who last month called for the assassination of the Venezuelan President.

From BoingBoing