latest feel-good news

  • Black people "loot", white people "find"?

  • Economics of disaster:

    "The poorest 20% of the city was left behind to drown. This was the plan. Forget the sanctimonious bullshit about the bullheaded people who wouldn't leave. The evacuation plan was strictly laissez-faire. It depended on privately owned vehicles, and on having ready cash to fund an evacuation. The planners knew full well that the poor, who in new orleans are overwhelmingly black, wouldn't be able to get out. The resources -- meaning, the political will -- weren't there to get them out."
  • Nero:

    "Was this a moment unfairly captured? No. Experts had forecast an imminent possible disaster days ago. And from the start, other elected officials -- Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, for example -- began urgently working to save American lives. Bush chose instead to continue making public speeches before hand-picked audiences pushing his political agenda for Medicare and trying to spin his unpopular war in Iraq."
  • Chris Randall asks:

    "The first thing I don't understand is why there isn't a line of Chinooks and Sea Kings bringing food to that god-damned dome, and taking people away. The sky should be black with them. There should be a line of helicopters from Atlanta to New Orleans. [...] Why are the national guards of, say, North Dakota and Utah still sitting in their houses watching CNN? [...] The second that hurricane passed by, the Atlantic Fleet should have been parked offshore with water making ships and hospital ships and helicopters and amphibious vehicles. This whole operation has gone to hell in a handbasket. Actually, it didn't go anywhere. It started there."
  • Children's Hospital under seige:

    "Bottcher said the director of the hospital fears for the safety of the staff and the 100 kids inside the hospital. The director said the hospital is locked, but that the looters were trying to break in and had gathered outside the facility. The director has sought help from the police, but, due to rising flood waters, police have not been able to respond. The National Guard has also been unable to respond."

    Update: Times-Picayune now says this story was bullshit.
  • Extensive, but difficult-to-navigate, gallery of recent images on (also home of the feed from Times-Picayune-in-exile).

Tags: , ,

60 Responses:

  1. strspn says:

    The use of the term "loot" for subsistence salvage in a disaster zone from flooded stores, crosses the line from neutral to pejorative journalism. Valuing property rights above human life is authoritarian oligarchical absurdity. White male Republican senators would no doubt claim that those of us who object to the term "looting" to describe people trying to find food to live are merely radical wealth redistributionists engaging in class warfare.

    • OTOH, the NOLA website (which, btw, seems to use the euphemistic "removing items" in its picture captions, or maybe that's just AP) shows a number of people "removing" the sorts of things from the sorts of stores that hardly seem like subsistence salvage. A garbage bag full of "items" from a shoestore, for instance, and a bicycle (of all things) from the Walmart. Both pics are in the "Katrina's devastation 11 (AP)" collection.

      • gfish says:

        Overall I agree -- a lot of what is going on it looting, plain and simple. But a bicycle seems like one of the best modes of transportation for the dry parts of the city right now. It doesn't take gas and it can get around just about anything and can be carried over everything else. An excellent choice for post-apocalyptic urban survival. (Of course, given recent developments, it's sounding like a kayak would be even better.)

        • I suppose there are dry parts of the city. I didn't see many of them in the pictures, though. I was just struck by the bizarre visual of someone trying to ride one through waist deep water to *get* to the dry bits.

          • I have ridden a road bike through 4 inches or so of powder snow when I was late for class and the snowed in path was a quicker route than any roads. You gotta do what you gotta do.

      • jabber says:

        Hey, I can subsist for a few days on a couple of cases of beer.

      • sethg_prime says:

        "Dear Wal-Mart: if you can read the attached check after the city dries out, you are welcome to cash it."

      • dasht_brk says:

        The underclass understands better than you that cash is the most useful tool in this circumstance and those items are not only fungible but, in all likelihood, otherwise abandoned.

    • blackavar says:

      I'll be thinking of that when the bunch outside Tulane Medical Center are "subsistence salvaging" their new mink coats.
      Nice troll, though, no-entry, one-friend journal.

      • sixty4k says:

        I doubt that it was a troll. And I don't doubt that there are people looting, I'm not going to defend that. There is no defense for it. However, taking food and supplies neccessary to survive a disaster seems reasonable.

        When a picture of a black man with some food is labeled 'looting,' and a picture of some white folks with some food is labeled 'finding food' that's pretty blatant racism. Which is fucked.

        • kehoea says:

          According to the good people at Metafilter one photo agency called what some people were doing "looting", another photo agency called what other people were doing "finding" and Yahoo aggregated the two without editing captions. I think both verbs are equally appropriate for both pictures, and without further evidence of bias on the part of the AP caption-writer, I'm hesitant to ascribe the difference to racism.

          • sixty4k says:

            this is a more clear response than I have time for at the moment:

            • kehoea says:

              American racism is not my problem. I'm not a citizen of the US, nor have I any intention of ever living there.

              From that relatively disinterested viewpoint, that is not a clear response. The demographics I've seen of the poorest people in New Orleans, the people that stayed, are such that a majority are black; note that of the two people "leaving" the convenience store, one of them is by American standards black.

              But hey, any time I say online that "race" issues in the US seem to be more "socioeconomic class" issues than "colour of skin" issues, I can have days of argument if I want it. And this, while not exactly that question, is close enough that using our host's livejournal to thrash it out would be inconsiderate.

              • seaya says:


                A British journalist whose South Asian wife died in Hong Kong due to institutional racism talks about the global hierarchy of race.

                U.S. racism may have some unique characteristics, but the global hierarchy of race is real. Although class and race are often overlapping and interconnected, and although people do often forget about class, and although people can have more than one factor going on in their lives, race is it's own force and is present systemically and present in this case.

        • blackavar says:

          The clear answer is to not apply any racial standard. If you have food, and only an amount for yourself, and only if you cannot get to a food distribution area, only then are you allowed to live when caught looting.
          In real life, however, the "OMGTHEPOOR!!11" are also victims of the worst looters, as they'll simply steal the food that the poor have. Those that will empty a store of non-food items are the same people that will be robbing, raping, and murdering in a few days when things get a little tighter.

      • king_mob says:

        I suspect most hospital looting will be done by heroin addicts seeking opiates. How many people are going to steal mink coats in New Orleans in August? Shit, how many places in New Orleans even sell mink coats?

        • blackavar says:

          Actually, I was referring to a specific incident - where an employee of the Tulane Med Center was describing the group in freshly-looted mink coats from a store nearby that were looting the cars of the people from the hospital.
          You'd obviously be amazed by the number of places in NO that sell (or rather sold) fur. That's the south.
          Also, you're kindly invited to attempt to make good on the threat from the latest post in your journal, as I dearly hope I'm the next person to let you know that. I left NO some years back, and I live in Ballard, north of Seattle. Drop me a line via email or IM when you get here.

      • strspn says:

        My other lj account is used for work. This tinfoil hat account is for posting opinions which might otherwise piss off my boss or his customers. Anyway, check this out:

        The Neglected Levees of New Orleans: A Victim of Iraq War Spending

        "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us."
        -- Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 8, 2004....

        Will Bunch is a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News. The article states: "Did New Orleans Catastrophe Have to Happen? 'Times-Picayune' Had Repeatedly Raised Federal Spending Issues" for Editor & Publisher. He wrote: "After 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA [Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project] dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars." Bunch is continuing to write on his blog:

        -- Institute for Public Accuracy

        • blackavar says:

          And this has bearing on monsters (of all races, so don't even try - the reason there are more blacks in the pictures is due to the racial makeup of Orleans Parish.) utilizing this opportunity to rob, rape, and murder their fellow humans how?
          Do you have some thought that I'm some sort of Bush supporter? Me, who thinks he should be tried for treason?
          Did you think I'm a Repub? Me, who offered weapons training to LGBTs to help protect them from the more-likely bashing after Shrub's "election"?
          Did you think I support the idiocy going on in Iraq? Me, who roundly criticized the entire idea long before?

    • jtyne says:

      Using the word "loot" in this case is not pejorative journalism. The word loot means "to illicitly obtain goods". Whether or not looting in this case was wrong is your judgement call, but it's still looting

  2. gutbloom says:

    I'm with Chris Randall. Last night at 10:00 they said that the situation in the Superdome was dire because there was no electricity, not enough water, and only 200 national guardsmen to keep order for 10,000 people. So why don't we send a FLEET of trucks with water, food, port-o-poties and MPs to the superdome?

    The whole response seems utterly crazy. We have fulling fuctioning cities within a couple of hours drive from the affected areas. How can it be that there isn't enough bottled water? Let's airdrop some water into the middle of New Orleans and let everybody "loot" that.

    • wilecoyote says:

      Because that would be *socialism*, dude. Don't you get it? You live in America, Home of the Brave, Land of the Free, and real men don't degrade themselves to accept emergency food or water from the nanny state.

      • pavel_lishin says:

        I only watched the news once during this whole thing, and I happened to catch someone talking about whether it's fair for all of America to pay to rescue some people who choose to live in a disaster area.

        I coudln't believe that some people would actually say, "Well, those FELLOW AMERICAN CITIZENS who got fucked up by an ACT OF GOD don't deserve our help because THEY SHOULDN'T HAVE BEEN THERE." Fuck, people are shitheads.

        • wilecoyote says:

          OTOH, one could argue that the people damaged by the flood were in their majority Bush voters, i.e., supporters of less taxes and less state services. So you blue staters out there have a golden opportunity to exert your vengeance: "didn't you guys voted for Bush? Now don't come asking for *our* taxes to pay for your disaster. Come on, where's your self-reliance?"

          • mark242 says:

            See, the thing is, as Gore/Kerry voters, we're better than that.

          • rsheridan6 says:

            In almost all of the pictures I've seen, the people stuck in New Orleans are black. Black people aren't noted for their strong affiliation with the Republican Party. Republican New Orleansians(?) are probably mostly safe and sound, waiting for their insurance check. There is no justice.

        • treptoplax says:

          If Denver were flooded under 15' of water, that would be an ACT OF GOD. A city built below sea-level on a hurricane-ridden coast being flooded in inevitability in action.

          Rescue is fine, I object to paying for their houses being rebuilt.

          • Well, next time vote for the Explicitly Heartless Bastard Party.

          • pavel_lishin says:

            Actually, my friend said he didn't mind rebuilding a place for them to live, but he was pissed at having to rescue all the douchebags who stayed put in their houses despite multiple warnings to GET OUT OF THE WAY OF THE FUCKING HURRICANE.

            • jwz says:

              It's not clear, but as the first paragraph I quoted in this post said, the "douchebag factor" may be a strawman.

              It's unclear what the ratio of "idiots who chose to stay" is versus "people who don't own cars and didn't have a choice". (The ones posting to LJ from their laptops in their flooding attics were probably the ones with cars. You'll be hearing about them disproportionately, I suspect.)

              Regardless, your friend's an asshole.

    • simmonmt says:

      Why don't they send a fleet of trucks? Perhaps because trucks can't swim? Can we at least assume that the mayor and other elected officials would like to help those stuck in the Superdome? Maybe resupply or whatever hasn't happened yet because it's not actually easy?

      You're a planner. You have n helicopters (more are on the way, but for now you have n of them). You get to divide them between stadium resupply, stadium evacuation, other-refuge-evacuation, plucking people off roofs and out of trees so they don't drown or die from various things.

      Oh, and by the way, the people in the Superdome have a roof. And they're well above the rising water. And they're all in one place so you can resupply them relatively easily. As for the conditions inside, well, I imagine that any one of the people having to hack the way through their own roof would gladly trade places with them, even if it meant being in a place that smelled bad.

      Just as that area learned from Ivan, presumably they'll learn from this, and will do better the next time.

    • otterley says:

      So why don't we send a FLEET of trucks with water, food, port-o-poties and MPs to the superdome?

      It looks like that's in the works.

      • ewindisch says:

        Not sure, why they can't send trucks.. but it might have something to do with the bridges and the water?

        Granted, I'm sure that not every bridge is destroyed, and not every street is flooded.. but I'm sure it could be a logistical trying to get a fleet of trucks downtown.

        • ewindisch says:

          er.. logistical nightmare

          • sherbooke says:

            That's what the Armed Forces are for, ain't it? It's only just now it seems that the US Navy is begining to tool up for emergency ops. A bit late, no?
            It reminds me of the Japanese response to the Kobe earthquake a few years ago: slow, uncoordinated and lacking any sense of urgency. (see It's only lucky that the death toll will be considerably less. Oh, hang on:

            I like the idea of Bush hovering above the disaster area in Airforce One. Fuck, that could be any chimp up there. The man's lost all sense of photo-opportunity.

            • gutbloom says:

              Yea, man. Roads and bridges? Who needs roads and bridges? How does a couple of feet of water stop all logistics? Come on, man, our military is supposed to be able to rain trucks from the sky! Aren't the Marines in Iraq in trouble because they drove their AMPHIBIOUS vehicles too far inland? I thought our combat engineers could build a landing strip on top of lava in 24 hours and then launch satellites that blocks ICBMs. If not, WHAT THE HELL ARE WE SPENDING ALL THE DEFENSE MONEY ON???

              This reminds me of the war in Afghanistan when "cloud cover" and snow stopped us from making war.

    • luxobscura says:

      Perhaps Starbucks will graciously sell, at full retail price, bottled water, a la 9/11.

  3. lars_larsen says:

    CNN's headline banner this morning was "Waterfront casinos loose $500,000 a day".

    That says it all. Dead people? Who cares? Homeless people? Who cares? Stranded starving people with no water? Who cares?

    • rasp_utin says:

      I was working for a casino company when the World Trade Center attacks occurred. The day after, you could hear everyone in their offices calling the gaming properties to check up on their hotel reservation figures.

      • I was in Las Vegas December 2001, and talkng to people it sounded like the casinos had actually made more money than normal in the couple of days after September 11, mostly from trapped high-rollers. Of course, they then used said attacks as an excuse to fire loads of the people that I was talking to.

    • blackavar says:

      Yes, if CNN can't properly spell "lose", things are pretty bad.

  4. hmmz says:

    It probably should, but it doesn't. Sadly, I knew that there are "more important" things to deal with in the (rather small) mind of our country's leader.

  5. babynutcase says:

    Conserving Conservative?

    President Bush is considering an address to the nation asking citizens to conserve energy, a top White House source says.

    Mouthpiece for the unspeakable?

    Gov. Bush Urges Floridians To Conserve Gasoline

    • luxobscura says:

      Conserve gasoline? Drive down oil company profits? WTF? Isn't that a violation of the Alien and Sedition Act of 1798?


  6. dasht_brk says:

    Aside from the immediate human tragedies in the region struck by
    Katrina evidence is accumulating that a nation-wide economic crisis
    may be close on its heals which may amplify that human tragedy wildly.

    I'll give you a taste for what I've been reading and then suggest some
    useful political actions. [...]

    Full text at:

  7. but rupert murdoch may have seen this coming...
    well not him directly, but how many people remember FX doing one of their "mockumentaries" a couple of months ago about this very situation?
    I believe it was called Oil Storm and dealt with what would happen if New Orleans and its surrounding areas took a direct hit by a hurricane.
    Now hopefully their other recent mockumentary SMALLPOX doesn't come true or we'll really be fucked...

  8. volkris says:

    The planners knew full well that the poor, who in new orleans are overwhelmingly black, wouldn't be able to get out. The resources -- meaning, the political will -- weren't there to get them out

    The great irony of the situation is that the planners were put in place by this very group of people. The poor in New Orleans elected the governor and many of the significant officials despite them being crooked and generally not as qualified for the job as the other candidates.

    Let's just say their choice screwed over the state, and now it's really hitting home in a direct way.

    • king_mob says:

      Yeah, everyone knows political power is always concentrated in the hands of the poor. What the fuck rock did you crawl out from under?

  9. whittles says:
    Craigslist page showing people opening their homes across the country for Katrina victims

  10. pt says:

    Because of the uproar over the "white people find, black people loot" captions, the NYT have written an article about it here