Disgustingly, we still have NO coverage on Katrina.
Yes, I know that this technically ought to be my job, but I don't have the time or net access to research and post to a satisfactory level. Until such time as Withiel's coverage is posted, I am providing a brief response to the situation. The response is an adaptation from my part of a family e-mail debate on the subject. Enjoy.
Whilst I appreciate that no journalist, nor even all media sources in combination, is ever able to provide the "full story", I find it hard to believe that anyone is able to support the federal government and Federal Emergency "Management" Agency's farcical response to this disaster.
1) Quoth King George II after the levee broke, "I don't think anyone expected the levee to break." Nobody, that is, except every major national news network, several national newspapers, the New Orleans local paper, and New Orleans levee engineers. There is a news clip of a levee engineer the Saturday before the storm hit stating, quite unequivocally, that if the levee was hit by a Force 4, or even a slow-moving Force 3, it would break. Of course, this would not have been a problem if a) King George had not cut the levee repair budget to almost a tenth of its previous level, in spite of pleas and warnings from engineers, and b) that little money which New Orleans did receive wasn't siphoned off by profiteering councillors, middle-men, and subcontractors.
2) This was a storm, not a random act of terrorism. Weather patterns are PREDICTABLE. The response time to the Twin Towers attack was instantaneous. Why, exactly, did it take DAYS to mobilise national guardsmen and emergency relief services to respond to an event that the government KNEW ABOUT IN ADVANCE? Perhaps the fact that New Orleans is populated largely by working class African-Americans (or "blacks" as those of us who don't have an obscene complex of racial bigotry that is required to be hidden behind a wall of PC like to say (sorry - rant against PC over - back to the subject in hand)) played some part; however, I am unconvinced that it was a deciding factor. I think it was merely incompetence. No, I HOPE that it was merely incompetence.
3) Whilst I understand and support the reasons for Louisiana being placed under temporary martial law, I see NO reason for the Constitution to be suspended.
4) The media are not helping. Two different shots, one of whites wading through New Orleans with stolen supplies to keep them alive, one of blacks doing the same, reported on by the same news agency, provide a particularly salient example. The black scavengers are "looting" food from a convenience store. The white scavengers are "finding" food from a convenience store. Oh, and whichever Republican senator it was that called Katrina "our Tsunami" needs to be lectured on public relations by someone who will use the words "insensitive", "disproportionate", and "arrogant".
All right. There are a thousand other tales of mismanagement and corruption, but those are the points that irritated me the most. That, and the fact the people are still complaining about gasoline prices. Wait - hang on:
5) Gas! Gas stations DO NOT NEED to raise prices. That is price-gouging, and unnecessary at that, because the "shortage" really ain't that grotesque just at the moment. Furthermore, anyone who has the nerve to piss and moan about Katrina affecting the price of their fuel is an insensitive oaf for obvious reasons. Particularly here in Utah, where everybody seems to drive gas-guzzling, two-seater, pickup-truck/SUV fume-machines for NO PARTICULAR REASON. Are you a FARMER? "No..." Are you a CARPENTER? "No..." I thought not, because your truck is sparkling clean, and ALWAYS EMPTY. WHY do you need a pickup? "Der... um... look at da pretty truck! Hur hur..."
RIGHT. Done now. I would like to thank Uncle Mark for providing a constructive and useful list of ways to help. There is a school of thought which states that "there will be time for finger-pointing later". This is hopelessly optimistic. It is the duty of all mentally capable citizens, for their own good and the good of fellow humanity, to watch their government's every move, and allow no mistake to pass without consequence. Yes, everybody makes mistakes, but all mistakes have repercussions. There is no reason why you can't help in the short-term by donating or volunteering, whilst at the same time helping in the long-term by doing your best to expose your governance's errors, deliberate and accidental, and forcing accountability. It is at times like this, when Good People are distracted by chaos and desperately trying to rectify it, that Bad People can get away with things because nobody has the presence of mind to keep an eye on them.
Of course, volunteering is infinitely more useful than any amount of money. A girl I used to work with in the Marketing Department here at USF was released from her contract last week so that she could return to her home in Louisiana and rebuild.
One last thing: please avoid donating to the American Red Cross or similar large charities. Your money will be better and more immediately spent by smaller aid groups with fewer administration and marketing costs. I apologise for not having researched a list of such organisations; I hope that you can find the time to do so yourselves, and I will try to do the same.