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Friday, April 09, 2010

Amnesty International: U.S. Guilty Of Katrina-Related Human Rights Violations

How soon they forget!!!!!!!
Republican Leadership Conference 2010: No Mention Of Hurricane Katrina As GOP Meets In New Orleans
Five years after President Bush's failed response to a natural disaster in New Orleans deeply damaged his party's credibility and helped sweep them from power,...
Amnesty International: Hurricane Katrina Victims Had Human Rights Violated
NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. government and Gulf Coast states have consistently violated the human rights of hurricane victims since Hurricane Katrina killed about 1,800 people and caused widespread devastation after striking in August 2005, Amnesty International said Friday.
The report, entitled "Un-Natural Disaster," said the treatment of hurricane victims and government actions in housing, health care and policing have prevented poor minority communities from rebuilding and returning to their homes on the Gulf Coast.
In sum, government actions have amounted to human rights violations and "as a result, the demographics of the region are being permanently altered," the report said.
Amnesty took particular aim at New Orleans, where public housing was bulldozed, hospitals have been slow to reopen and the criminal justice system has been plagued by police brutality, lengthy pretrial detentions and an underfunded indigent defense system.
"You have the demolition of most of the public housing units in New Orleans without a one-for-one replacement as well as a lack of rebuilding affordable rental housing," said Justin Mazzola, an Amnesty researcher. "Orleans Parish Prison is now the largest mental health psych facility in the city of New Orleans."
Moira Mack, a White House spokeswoman, said the Obama administration had cut through the red tape that delayed assistance and improved coordination among agencies that often failed to collaborate in the years after the storms. She said the administration's actions freed $2.4 billion in rebuilding money that had stalled for years.
Christina Stephens, a spokeswoman for Gov. Bobby Jindal's Louisiana Recovery Authority, said Louisiana had worked "diligently since the hurricanes to rebuild housing, restore critical infrastructure – including schools and health care facilities – and protect our citizens from future harm."
New Orleans' former public housing was being replaced with new mixed-income communities, she said. She said $1.2 billion has been set aside for rental housing.
Staff for New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin did not return a message seeking comment. LinkHere
Attn. Republicans in New Orleans: Do You Know Where You Are?
John McQuaid
An all-star lineup of GOP pols has gathered in New Orleans for the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. But do they have any idea where they are?
Here's what J.C. Watts told the conference-goers:
"Some might think that George W. Bush had his shortcomings," said Watts, "but let me tell you something -- history's going to be kind to George W. Bush."Just up the street from the GOP's venue at the Hilton Riverside is the New Orleans Convention Center, where tens of thousands of people gathered in the days after Hurricane Katrina and waited in stifling heat without food or water for rescuers who didn't know they were there (even though the flood victims were on TV). That was probably the low point in a catastrophic breakdown of government capacities at all levels -- local, state, and federal. But the biggest single failure was at the top: George W. Bush was the one man who would have cut through it all. But he was oddly disengaged for the balance of that terrible week. Some of it wasn't his fault. The New Orleans hurricane levee system had never been a national priority, so it's hard to lay their flawed designs on the Bush White House. But the Bush administration made an organizational hash of FEMA and Homeland Security, and, populating offices throughout the federal government with Mike Brown and other political hacks, degraded its capacity to act.
So no, I doubt that history is going to vindicate Bush on this particular point. No amount of retrospective scrubbing can erase the image of that week or the remaining empty stretches of cityscape. It would be helpful -- to them and to the nation -- if the Republican Party acknowledged the reality around them in New Orleans, a city that is coming alive five years after Katrina but still in great peril from hurricanes. The combination of bottom-up civic activity (in the face of fumbling bureaucracies) is something both parties can learn from and put to use. And the challenge of protecting the city -- a partnership between government at all levels and private industry -- is ongoing, and a good template for future challenges in a time of unpleasant environmental surprises. LinkHere
View photographs comparing scenes during and immediately after Hurricane Katrina with recent photographs of the same locations.

The Dallas Morning News
Capturing catastrophe
MSNBC.com presents the Dallas Morning News’ Pulitzer Prize-winning photography of Hurricane Katrina, along with audio of the photographers’ descriptions of the images.
Aug. 29: NBC's Carl Quintanilla reports on the money raised, spent and even wasted in relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina.


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