Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"Two years after Katrina and thousands are still w/o homes"

Provided By: bravenewfilms
Petition: I... Petition: It's been two years since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region, and still there are tens of thousands of families without homes. 30,000 families are scattered across the country in FEMA apartments, 13,000 are in trailers, and hardly any of
the 77,000 rental units destroyed in New Orleans have been rebuilt. Support
the Gulf Coast Recovery Bill of 2007 by signing the petition at

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Personal Stories of the Gulf Coast Katrina "Recovery"


Two years after Katrina, the Gulf Coast is still recovering, and thousands of personal stories remain unheard. Experience them here. Tell us yours.

Wrap up of Katrina related stories by Ana Maria

The Best of A.M. in the Morning! August 19-24

by Ana Maria

Blog entries
Hancock Bank Can Teach Bush A Thing or Two 8.24.07
Optimism and Anger in Post-Katrina Living 8.23.07
George Dale Should Thank Dickie Scruggs 8.22.07
Bush’s FEMA Again Lifting Wrong Finger for Katrina’s Families 8.21.07
“Run for Cover!” Republican Gov. Evacuation Plan for Gulf Coast Residents 8.20.07

This Week's Featured New Items

Study shows more Hurricane Katrina survivors contemplate suicide

Congress: A New Direction For The Gulf Coast

Whistleblower: Judge victimizing Katrina victims?

Clarion-Ledger Poll On Big Insurance Revictimizing Katrina Survivors

Homeowner Feels Revictimized By Insurers

Insurers being sued over Katrina

Hurricane George: How the White House Drowned New Orleans

Katrina propels insurance factor

Gulf Coast clergy, residents decry Barbour's grant process

Consumer Advocates Help Defeat Allstate's Efforts to Hide its Post-Katrina Pay-Out Procedures

FEMA takes back $4.5M Mspi wanted for mental health facilities

Portrait of a troubled teen: Depression after Katrina led to book about recovery

Return to A.M. in the Morning! Home

8/29/07 "A Citizen's Katrina 2nd Anniversary Rally

A Citizens’ Katrina 2nd Anniversary Event: Press Conference and RallyAlan Gutierrez

  • Where: Washington Artillery Park (River Side of Decatur at Jackson Square, next to Cafe du Monde).
  • When: Wednesday, August 29th, 10:00 AM – 12:00 pm.

This is the outdoor performance area with steps for seating. It us to say thanks for helping us recover. Jimmy Delery organized this meeting and includes a number of recovery mavens, I’m especially interested in Melanie Ehrlich of CHAT and Connie Uddo of Beacons of Hope.

  • Jimmy Delery (NOLA Recovery Activist)
  • Irma Thomas (local legend)
  • John Magil (Historic N.O. Collection)
  • Bert Toelier (N.O. WWII Vet)
  • Beacons of Hope (Connie Uddo)
  • CHAT (Melanie Ehrlich)
  • Music by Don Marshall (Jazz and Heritage Foundation)
  • Mr. Mardi Gras (Blaine Kern)
  • Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation (Carlton Dufrechou)
  • Senators, TBA

This event does not appear to conflict with any other scheduled events.

Citizen's Road Home Action Team (CHAT on CNBC tonight)

CHAT on CNBC This SundayAugust 24th, 2007Alan Gutierrez

The Citizen’s Road Home Action Team, or CHAT as you may know it, will be featured on three television programs in the coming anniversary week.

Block out an hour to watch Against the Tide: The Battle for New Orleans on CNBC August 25th, 2007 at 9:00 pm. There are additional showings which you can find at TV Guide.

CNBC is business news, so it will look at how businesses have effected the recovery of New Orleans. In addition to the Road Home Program, the documentary will look at Shell Oil, the Army Corps of Engineers and The New Orleans Saints.

Coverage includes KC King, Ray Broussard, Frank Silvestri, and Melanie Ehrlich, all members of the CHAT Board of Directors.

Monday, August 20, 2007

DoubleCrossed by the RedCross Action Day 8/20

Day Of Action Against The Red Crossfrom News & Views from the Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund by

779101-975951-thumbnail.jpg WHY WE MARCH AGAINST RED CROSS

Red Cross has solicited and received billions of dollars to aid Katrina survivors. A large portion of that money (possibly $80 million) was directed toward the Means to Recovery program. Red Cross officials don't agree on the actual amount and have tried their best to hide the program and make it difficult for desperate survivors to receive these funds.

The Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund and other groups across the nation are protesting on Monday, August 20 at Red Cross offices to demand that Red Cross do right by the people these funds were intended.

We are calling for:

  1. Immediate disbursal of all funds received for Katrina-Rita Survivors with a target date set for completion.
  2. Elimination of the Case Manager process and implementation of a swift, simple process for getting funds into the hands of needy survivors.
  3. Total Accountability for all funds received and disbursed. A 'dollars-to-demographics' accounting of funds received for survivors.
  4. Immediate identification and release of any funds that were directed to other agencies for Katrina-Rita relief.
  5. Congressional and local investigations into the use of Katrina-related funds by all government and non-profit agencies.

We DO NOT represent nor are associated with the Red Cross. We found out about the “Means to Recovery” program which the Red Cross has attempted to hide from survivors (click here to read more). The application below is NOT ours, it is a copy of the RED CROSS application obtained by PHRF. We encourage you to:

  1. Call the National Red Cross at 1-866-GET-INFO and demand release of funds to the victims on the Gulf Coast. Be persistent because they do not want you to know about the "Means to Recovery" program.

PDF_icon.gifClick here to download the Red Cross application for the Means to Recovery program

(a) Click here to download the shorter version of the application

(b) Click here to download the Means to Recovery checklist

(c) Click here to download the Red Cross vendor letter

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Easy Way to Help With the Gulf Coast Recovery

Last week on the UnreportedNews Radio show on KPHX, Phoenix, Sarge received a call from a listener willing to donate his time and expertise to the GulfCoastRecovery projects of the JacksonCountyCommunityServicesCoalition
Richard just needs some help from those of us that can't go to Mississippi but want to help. It's not that much for a Greyhound ticket so every little bit will add up quick. Please give what you can using PayPal and note that it's for "Richard D". Thank you!!!
Please drop whatever you can in the PayPal at the bottom of this post or-if you have your own PayPal account, search for "Herb from Mississippi"

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Memorial video for aide to Katrina victims h/t Firedoglake

Killing Them Softly… from Firedoglake by Christy Hardin Smith

Memorial video for aide to Katrina victims. This is wonderfully done, and haunting…

Scout Prime has gone down to NOLA for the second annual Rising Tide conference of NOLA and Katrina bloggers, community and political activitists. As Scout says, there are going to be some fantastic speakers on a host of important issues, including the ever-present questions on the engineering (or lack thereof) of the current levee system around New Orleans.

And with Katrina aide incentives going to build luxury football condos in Alabama, rather than for housing projects or other relief for the 45,000 potentially carcinogenic FEMA trailers in the NOLA area alone (yes, you read that correctly — heckuva job, Chertoff!) and the rest of them all along the Gulf Coast, one has to wonder what the Bush Administration’s priorities really are? Or maybe that’s already abundantly clear:

Concerns about formaldehyde contamination have existed for more than a year, but FEMA was slow to react, and when it did, downplayed the health risk. But lawsuits, environmental groups and warnings by independent experts and doctors have pushed FEMA to seriously re-evaluate the risks….

At such high levels, he said people, especially children younger than 6, are likely be affected. (emphasis mine)

The fact that FEMA has been re-selling these trailers isn’t exactly going to make things easier, now is it? I’d say some Congressional oversight is in order, but with Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins at the helm of the Senate’s homeland security committee, I’m not exactly counting on any materializing there, now am I?

I listened to a poignant story the other morning on NPR — an interview with a Katrina survivor who has an incredible amount of grit and determination, something that I have seen and heard from others in this situation as well. (Some of whom are our readers who have shared their stories with all of us over the past two years.) My heart just aches for her, and for everyone still battling to get back on their feet, only to be knocked down again and again by the morass of red tape (something which the luxury condo builders were able to buy their way past with lawyers and PR personnel, no doubt).

If you watched Spike Lee’s “When The Levees Broke,” you heard the mournful yet strong music in the background from composer Terence Blanchard. He has taken that score and expanded it into a jazz requiem which is amazing. (You can listen to excerpts at this Amazon link.) The music will pierce your heart with its fierceness and sorrow, and haunt you well after the fact.

There will be a reckoning in this country some day for the shameful way we have treated our fellow Americans in the Gulf Coast. For their neglect and the willful disregard of conscience and lack of hard work, and instead going for the expedient PR maneuver and lack of substance that is the hallmark of the Bush Administration.

Shame on us all but, truly, shame on a leadership that has failed to actually lead when our nation needed them most.

We need real leadership and real compassion, not some trumped up play-acting and klieg lights. The Bush Administration has learned no lessons from their failures here. God help us all of there is another disaster like Katrina.

It took them more than a year to act on highly toxic and carcinogenic FEMA trailers — more than a year! (Thank you Rep. Waxman for actually having hearings on this issue.) And then they tried to hide the dangers and their own incomptence until they were forced to own up to it by the courts. The levees are likely flawed, and people who have filed lawful claims are still dealing with the appallingly Kafka-esque paperwork nightmare that has been set up to prevent them from getting paid claims, from federal and private insurers alike.

Our own government, killing these people softly after all they have already had to endure with the losses in Katrina. Before you rush off to the rest of your day remember: this could be you

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Query: Do you trust any of the current United States Presidential candidates to end the war?

via One Million Blogs for Peace Blog by Storey Clayton on Aug 14, 2007

"Do you trust any of the current United States Presidential candidates to end the war?

Where do you think the standing of the war will be by January 20, 2009?"

Radine! says: I trust only Dennis Kucinich to get us out of Iraq. Bring on the Peacemonger! What about you? If you agree that only Dennis will do this, what are you doing to support his campaign?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Unreported News Radio

8:30pm Podcast of 8/12/07 Unreported News Radio show on Nova M Radio's KPHX, Phoenix

8:00am UnreportedNews Radio with Sarge and guests AJ, Liza and Kate on NovaM Radio is on the air
listen link

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

NPR Probes FEMA Parks re: Mental Health and Suicides

Stuck and Suicidal in a Post-Katrina Trailer Park by

Listen to this story...

Stuck at Scenic Trails, many residents have no way out.

Trailers and cars at Scenic Trails trailer park.
EnlargeCheryl Gerber for NPR

The Scenic Trails trailer park in Perkinston, Miss., is home to more than 100 families displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

Joey Noles and his dog by the big doghouse in front of his trailer.
EnlargeCheryl Gerber for NPR

Joey Noles built a big dog house outside of his FEMA trailer at Scenic Trails, where he has lived since Hurricane Katrina hit nearly two years ago.

All Things Considered, August 8, 2007 · The first morning of my visit to Scenic Trails, I was walking the path between some trailers when I bumped into a man named Tim Szepek. He was young, tall, and solidly good-looking. I asked if I could speak to him for a moment and he agreed. We found a spot of shade beneath a tree, and I started with what I considered a casual warm-up.

"What's it like to live around here?" I asked.

"Well," he replied, "I'll be honest."

"Ain't a day goes by when I don't think about killing myself."

And so began my time in Scenic Trails, a FEMA trailer park deep in the Mississippi woods where 100 families have lived in near isolation for close to two years.

Though Szepek was the first resident to tell me he wanted to commit suicide, he certainly wasn't the last. The day I spoke with him, three other residents confided the same.

The second person was Stephanie Sigur, a 28-year-old mother of two. She was sitting in front of her trailer at a picnic table, her daughter on her lap, when she explained that if it weren't a sin, she would have blown her brains out months ago.

"I know it's a bad thing to say because I'm a parent," she told me as her toddler played with her hair, "but I can't live like this no more."

Stephanie Sigur and Tim Szepek aren't alone. According to a recent study of 92 different Katrina FEMA parks published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, suicide attempts in Louisiana and Mississippi's parks are 79 times higher than the national average. Major depression is seven times the national rate.

When I first read those numbers, I found them hard to believe. But after three days at Scenic Trails, they made a lot more sense.

The residents there, in essence, are trapped. It is no longer possible for them to live outside the trailer parks. Prior to Katrina, most of the people who now live in the parks were renters.

Along the Mississippi coast, a family of four could rent a two- or three-bedroom apartment or small home for around $500 a month. But when the storm wiped the Mississippi coast clean, it took out all the housing infrastructure that supported these people. Most of them are minimum-wage workers who live paycheck to paycheck. Today, a two- or three-bedroom apartment in Hancock County, where Scenic Trails is located, costs $800, $900, even $1,000 a month. This is an impossible amount of money for the people who live in the parks, and there is no immediate end in sight. FEMA says it would like to close the parks, but state and federal government plans to rebuild low-income housing for Mississippi coast residents have yet to break ground. Housing experts says it will probably take years to produce enough low-cost housing to move people out of the parks.

And so they are stuck. And the place they are stuck is not the kind of place you would want to spend an extended amount of time. For two years, many have lived in travel trailers intended for weekend use. Families of four housed in a space the size of most people's living rooms.

Worse, as time wears on, the communities around them seem to be falling into a kind of madness. At Scenic Trails, almost everyone at the camp has been burglarized at least once. Meth and cocaine addiction is rampant, and residents seem to be turning against one another.

Recently, the park has seen a rash of animal mutilations. One resident told me that her cat had come home bleeding — a long, thin razor cut along its leg. Another resident said his dog's throat had been cut, and several people reported that someone in the camp had been feeding anti-freeze to dogs.

No one seemed to have a particular suspect in mind. There was no specific theory of why. That was just the way things went at the camp nowadays. With no way to leave, people were angry and frustrated, and so they act out.

On the animals. On each other. On themselves.

Related NPR Stories

July 19, 2006 Drugs and Crime Plague FEMA Trailer Park Residents

NPR probes FEMA parks
Posted on Wed, Aug. 08, 2007 By JOSHUA NORMAN

-- The National Public Radio show "All Things Considered" will air a special report today on the mental health crisis among residents in the Coast's FEMA trailer parks.

The show, which includes an interview with Hancock County reporter J.R. Welsh, airs on Mississippi Public Broadcasting (90.3 FM on most Coast radios) at 4 p.m. and again at 6:30 p.m.
listen live to over 300 stations

The report's author, Alix Spiegel, said she got the idea for the story after reading an alarming study by the International Medical Corps published in March in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

The study said suicide attempts in FEMA trailer parks were 79 percent higher than typical rates, and depression seven times that of national numbers.

"When I first read that I was like, 'Wow, that just doesn't sound right to me,'

" Spiegel said. "But when I got out of there I was like, damn, they really low-balled it. I was shocked by what I found there. There was one morning where four or five people told me they wanted to commit suicide."

For the "All Things Considered" report, Spiegel interviewed people in Hancock County and focused on the residents of Scenic Trails trailer park, many of whom told her it is overwhelmed by crime, including a recent rash of animal killings. Nearly every trailer has been burglarized at least once, and drug abuse is common.

"It's really a pretty serious situation," Spiegel said.

Mississippi Insurance Commission loses Primary

Dale says Scruggs, Katrina cost him re-election

By SHELIA BYRD Associated Press Writer

All may have contributed to his loss to former state fiscal officer Gary Anderson for the Democratic nomination for insurance commissioner.

"I think voters wanted change," Anderson said.

Dale, with 32 years in office, is the nation's longest serving insurance commissioner. Incomplete and unofficial returns showed Anderson with 51 percent of the vote. Dale had 49 percent.

Anderson faces Republican state Sen. Mike Chaney in the Nov. 6 general election.

Dale said he knows what cost him his bid for a ninth term.

"Two things that were major factors ... were Katrina and Dickie Scruggs. That's pretty much what it was," Dale said.

Dale said he had tried to remind voters of his record in office while his opponent "ran nothing but attack George Dale ads."

Many of the advertisements attacking Dale were paid for by the political action committee, Mississippians for Fair Elections, which was created to target his campaign. The PAC's major donor was Richard "Dickie" Scruggs, who described Dale as a "voice for big insurance."

Scruggs, whose law firm represents hundreds of Gulf Coast homeowners in lawsuits against insurers, contributed $250,000 to the PAC, saying the amount was small in comparison to the millions of dollars insurance companies have refused to pay Gulf Coast residents who lost their homes and businesses when Katrina devastated the region in August 2005.

Dale, through a mediation program, has helped hundreds of other property owners resolve their disputes with insurers without litigation. Scruggs, however, said the mediation program "has no teeth in it."

Scruggs' law firm also ran its own newspaper and television ad campaign against Dale. One newspaper cartoon depicted Dale as pig whose lipstick was being applied by insurance executives.

Anderson and Scruggs also criticized Dale for accepting campaign cash from the insurance industry, which he was elected to regulate within the state.

"It's interesting to me that the press basically has for years attempted to make an issue about $100 contributions I would get from some insurance agent in Grenada, Miss., but yet they've allowed one person, by his own admission, to absolutely attempt to buy an office and there's been limited publicity about it," Dale said.

Criticism of Dale began soon after Hurricane Katrina, when property owners tried to recoup their losses from insurance policies and many of them learned that their coverage didn't include the flooding caused by the storm.

After Katrina, many of the state's insurance providers raised their policy premiums. At least one, State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., the state's largest homeowner insurer, suspended writing new homeowner and commercial policies statewide.

Dale was accused by some of favoring the insurance companies in payoff disputes with storm victims and by others of failing to force insurers to hold down their rates.

Earlier this year, Dale was embroiled in another controversy over his re-election bid. The state Democratic Executive Committee sought to remove him from the party ballot.

Committee members argued that Dale shouldn't run under the party label because he publicly supported President Bush for re-election in 2004. In May, a Calhoun County judge reversed the decision and put Dale back on Tuesday's ballot.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Liberation of Realism: Let's face it guys; Civilization is in dire need of the Goddess

Thanks so much to the author Christopher Ephler!

The historically destructive social structures of institutional religion and traditional politics were chiefly invented by MEN.

Said, differently, the Middle East is a sewer of conflict among the world's three most patriarchal religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Sure, lots of small exceptions in each of these religions, but these are the exceptions which prove the rule. All those councils, for example, in the history of Catholicism were basically tumultuous aggregations of old men.

Mythologically speaking, what the Earth needs now is the Goddess, e.g., less violence and more communication.

But isn't that precisely what's happening now on the Internet? The Internet is less a "male thing" than the Goddess in action. Sure these are images, but as Joseph Campbell used to virtually stand on street corners to remind us, mythology is saying things which can be said NO OTHER WAY.

Consider the following possibilities:

(1.) The human species must transcend the have and have not inhumanity in the very near future. Pig, pig rich people simply HAVE TO GO. However, the point here is less moral than biological, i.e., the going ballistic social tensions generated by Greek God like elites are rapidly killing our species and much of the biosphere and evolution will simply not let that happen. One way or another, the elites are going to be selected out.

(2.) If the human species doesn't radically factor the feminine take on things into our social structures, our "male thing" civilizations are going to careen into oblivion. Human civilization is dying of "imbalance". To borrow some oriental symbols, too much yang and virtually no yin leads to disease and death.

History has survived these twin insanities for lots of reasons. At least they weren't species threatening as they are now. Perhaps that's due to quantum jumps in murderous technologies and the exponential growth of human kind.

In any event, it's probably game over in the very near future unless yin/female/Goddess energy starts profoundly infusing our social structures. So I guess this is a cry for help. Ladies, please help us out here. We need your wisdom and sanity. Perhaps only you can defuse the religious fanatics and pour oil on the troubled waters of limitless masculine greed.

It's not that masculine energies are always toxic. That's not the point. The point is that human civilization lacks Yang/Yin BALANCE. To much salt spoils the stew and too much "man" in mankind is a form of species suicide.

The Liberation of Realism: Let's face it guys; Civilization is in dire need of the Goddess