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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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!
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.via HuffPo
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.
More FEMA Support, for Pat Robertson
More word today about the support the U.S. Government is providing for regligious extremist Pat Robertson
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.