Archive for July, 2008

>Lower Ninth Ward, Part 4, Levees

July 31, 2008

>To read the previous installment in the series, Lower Ninth Ward, Part 3, Industrial Canal, click here.

There is nothing natural about “natural disasters.” In most cases. A tornado attracts little attention after the fact if it does not damage structures made by humans or cause human injuries or death. The recent California earthquake was only reported as it related to the effects on humans and our structures.

A hurricane churning across the Gulf of Mexico is affecting ocean life and the ecology of the sea, but do we really hear about it? One exception, we did learn of the affect that hurricane Katrina had on hummingbirds and other birds. In fact, here is a map showing the important bird areas (IBA) affected by the storm, from Birder’s World Magazine.


1) Lake Pontchartrain Causeway2) Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge3) Bienville National Forest4) Breton National Wildlife Refuge5) Gulf Islands National Seashore6) Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge7) Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge8) De Soto National Forest9) Gulf Coast Least Tern colony 10) Lower Pascagoula River preserves11) Dauphin Island 12) Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge13) Dry Tortugas National Park14) Everglades National Park

But I digress.

My point is, the effect on nature by a hurricane like Katrina is enormous, but the effects on man are more reportable.

Furthermore, the flooding of New Orleans, the suffering endured by hundreds of thousands, was not an act of God, as some would say, but an act of man, if for no other reason that man built the city and the levees, and did not build them in such a way as to withstand the force of nature.

I mean, a lot of water produces a lot of pressure, due to the natural law of gravity, and this pressure exerted a force greater than the resistance of the wall or levee that man created.

As explained by Heidi Cullen on Forecast Earth (The Weather Channel) the other day, a levee failure can occur in one of two ways. One is overtopping, where the waters rise higher than the levee and it overflows. This did not happen in New Orleans. The other is saturation where the soil that makes up the levee absorbs so much water that it becomes weakened, too weak to withstand the pressure of the water and a path is forced through or under the levee and water can begin to “boil” up from the ground on the other side. The levee can actually rupture and collapse, allowing a flood of water to destroy what lies in its path.

In 2006 the Army Corp of Engineers, the group responsible for the levees, declared that the levees were restored to pre-Katrina levels. OK, but does that make anyone feel good?

The Corp has admitted to fundamental engineering mistakes, explained here.

Now we are supposed to feel comfortable about placing the safety of New Orleans in the hands of the Army Corp of Engineers?

Books have been written, The Storm, by Ivor van Heerden, is one that lays out why the levees failed, what was known beforehand, and how the levees could be restored and wetlands protected in ways that would provide for Category 5 hurricane protection. Van Heerden is the co-founder and deputy director of the LSU Hurricane Center and director of the Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes.

Levees.org is demanding a third party investigation of the failure of the levees in New Orleans which they call the 8/29 Investigation, for this reason (from their web site).

  • The official levee investigation, the Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force (IPET) was managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the same agency responsible for the flood protection’s performance – a clear conflict of interest.
  • Two significant non-governmental levee analysis teams, the Independent Levee Investigation Team and Team- Louisiana have yielded results that conflict with the IPET in five (5) of seven (7) of the major levee failure mechanisms including the Industrial Canal breach.
  • An ethics panel led by retired Congressman Sherwood Boehlert R-NY is underway to examine allegations that the American Society of Civil Engineers covered up engineering mistakes, downplayed the need to alter building standards, and used investigations including the one after Katrina to protect engineers and government agencies from lawsuits. As reported in the Associated Press, the panel was expected to issue a report by April, but has delayed the report until September 5, 2008.

    Here a Lower Ninth Ward resident shows her replacement home, the devestated area around and expresses her hope for the 8/29 investigation.

Bessemer Opinions says support this effort. It is not just about the future of New Orleans, there are levees throughout the country that need to be evaluated and/or strengthened.

In my next segment, I will venture out of the Lower Ninth Ward and into the swamp. Read part 5 here.

>Troy King’s Response

July 31, 2008

>First, this. And it leads to Troy King.

My response to a comment yesterday about the death penalty ended with:

The whole system seeds to be revamped.

Today we see why.

Without a doubt the stay of execution by the Alabama Supreme Court of Thomas D. Arthur is a welcome step toward determining if the man on death row is really guilty of the crime he was about to be put to death for.

Troy King assistant Clay Crenshaw said yesterday that the state can’t find the rape kit that contains the evidence (DNA) necessary for the tests. “Astounding,” Arthur’s attorney said.

The Muscle Shoals Police Department says they don’t have it. The Colbert county district attorney office says they don’t have it. The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences says they don’t have it.

Is that not evidence that the system is flawed?

Call me a cynic, but knowing Troy King’s love of putting people to death it would not surprise me to learn that his office (or one of his overpaid staff members) had seen to it that the evidence was destroyed.

This is a picture of the “indispensable” and over paid King assistant J. W. Godwin with the Attorney General, a picture that suddenly disappeared from Godwin’s facebook page this week.

Dale Jackson of WVNN interviewed Troy King live this morning and asked him about the “rumors” about him and J. W. Troy King refused to comment on the issue. Dale says the possible sex scandal is a news story. He says the no comment is a “very damaging” statement. “I don’t discuss rumors,” King said. A long pause, a very long long pause, before ” I have lots of things to do, but one of them is not discussing rumors.” Never mind the syntax of the answer (is not doing something really something to do?)

Here is audio of parts of the interview, provided by Loretta.

Dale admits he does not believe the accusations, but that answers are necessary to defuse the rumor. Not answering, not denying, makes King look guilty. Callers agreed.

Again, the story is not King’s sexual orientation, it is his hypocrisy and the perks that is the story.

Because of this interview, which I am sure was listened to by many members of the main steam media, the issue is on the table for the Birmingham News, the Montgomery Advertiser or any other MSM agency sitting on the story to go with it. It’s time.

Troy King’s Response

July 31, 2008

First, this. And it leads to Troy King.

My response to a comment yesterday about the death penalty ended with:

The whole system seeds to be revamped.

Today we see why.

Without a doubt the stay of execution by the Alabama Supreme Court of Thomas D. Arthur is a welcome step toward determining if the man on death row is really guilty of the crime he was about to be put to death for.

Troy King assistant Clay Crenshaw said yesterday that the state can’t find the rape kit that contains the evidence (DNA) necessary for the tests. “Astounding,” Arthur’s attorney said.

The Muscle Shoals Police Department says they don’t have it. The Colbert county district attorney office says they don’t have it. The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences says they don’t have it.

Is that not evidence that the system is flawed?

Call me a cynic, but knowing Troy King’s love of putting people to death it would not surprise me to learn that his office (or one of his overpaid staff members) had seen to it that the evidence was destroyed.

This is a picture of the “indispensable” and over paid King assistant J. W. Godwin with the Attorney General, a picture that suddenly disappeared from Godwin’s facebook page this week.

Dale Jackson of WVNN interviewed Troy King live this morning and asked him about the “rumors” about him and J. W. Troy King refused to comment on the issue. Dale says the possible sex scandal is a news story. He says the no comment is a “very damaging” statement. “I don’t discuss rumors,” King said. A long pause, a very long long pause, before ” I have lots of things to do, but one of them is not discussing rumors.” Never mind the syntax of the answer (is not doing something really something to do?)

Here is audio of parts of the interview, provided by Loretta.

Dale admits he does not believe the accusations, but that answers are necessary to defuse the rumor. Not answering, not denying, makes King look guilty. Callers agreed.

Again, the story is not King’s sexual orientation, it is his hypocrisy and the perks that is the story.

Because of this interview, which I am sure was listened to by many members of the main steam media, the issue is on the table for the Birmingham News, the Montgomery Advertiser or any other MSM agency sitting on the story to go with it. It’s time.

>Jewish TV Network and Ari Gold

July 30, 2008

>Who knew?
(In my best Jewish voice).

Who knew there was Jewish TV Network?

I mean, I was watching New Jewish Cuisine last night because they offer good recipes, and to get them I was directed to the web site for the show. But it took me to the Jewish TV Network site.

There are all kinds of videos (of TV shows, I guess) about food, healthy sex, gay pride in Jerusalem, news from Israel, Young @ Heart, interfaith marriage, Mark Knopfler and more. Search and find.

They don’t provide a way for me to embed their video, but here is the one titled Pride and Prejudice about gay pride in Jerusalem. Seeing two drag queens singing Abba’s “Waterloo” is worth it.

And they have at least one video by Ari Gold…no, not the HBO “Entourage” guy from Queens, but the hot one, from the Bronx.

This video, Love Will Take Over, is featured on the site.

How far into that video before he sets off your gaydar?

From the Ari Gold website:

As an artist and activist Ari has remained at the forefront of the fight for human rights. His song “Home” can be heard on the Human Rights Campaign’s benefit album Love Rocks along with music by Melissa Etheridge, Christina Aguilera, Dolly Parton, and Carole King. He contributed “Bashert (Meant To Be)” to the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) benefit CD Marry Me, released in an effort to secure the rights of same sex couples. Ari has also worked with charitable organizations to help LGBT youth, and for AIDS research and awareness.

Ari we appreciate your work for human rights. And we appreciate this earlier video for Wave Of You.

<

Jewish TV Network and Ari Gold

July 30, 2008

Who knew?
(In my best Jewish voice).

Who knew there was Jewish TV Network?

I mean, I was watching New Jewish Cuisine last night because they offer good recipes, and to get them I was directed to the web site for the show. But it took me to the Jewish TV Network site.

There are all kinds of videos (of TV shows, I guess) about food, healthy sex, gay pride in Jerusalem, news from Israel, Young @ Heart, interfaith marriage, Mark Knopfler and more. Search and find.

They don’t provide a way for me to embed their video, but here is the one titled Pride and Prejudice about gay pride in Jerusalem. Seeing two drag queens singing Abba’s “Waterloo” is worth it.

And they have at least one video by Ari Gold…no, not the HBO “Entourage” guy from Queens, but the hot one, from the Bronx.

This video, Love Will Take Over, is featured on the site.

How far into that video before he sets off your gaydar?

From the Ari Gold website:

As an artist and activist Ari has remained at the forefront of the fight for human rights. His song “Home” can be heard on the Human Rights Campaign’s benefit album Love Rocks along with music by Melissa Etheridge, Christina Aguilera, Dolly Parton, and Carole King. He contributed “Bashert (Meant To Be)” to the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) benefit CD Marry Me, released in an effort to secure the rights of same sex couples. Ari has also worked with charitable organizations to help LGBT youth, and for AIDS research and awareness.

Ari we appreciate your work for human rights. And we appreciate this earlier video for Wave Of You.

<

>Reversals

July 30, 2008

>The IOC has reversed itself and said that Iraq athletes could participate in the 2008 Olympics.

IOC: ‘We look forward to seeing the Iraqi flag in Beijing’

IOC Reversal As it should be.

***************************

Massachusetts will reverse itself and allow gays from out of state to marry. Estimates are that it will boost the economy by $111 million, create 330 jobs and generate $5 million in taxes and fees over three years. 21,000 couple from New York State alone are expected to marry in Mass. Governor Deval Patrick says he will sign the measure, allowing the unions.

Mass. Marriage As it should be.

****************************

And one reversal that should be.

Bobby Ray Gilbert has confessed to the murder that Thomas Arthur is scheduled to be executed for on Thursday. Arthur has claimed innocence all along, and the wife of the victim didn’t change her story to implicate Arthur until it gave her a chance to be released from prison early (she was first convicted of the crime).

Gilbert is a convicted murderer serving life without parole, so there is the credibility problem. But still, with the doubt created, and the fact that there is DNA evidence from a rape kit that could be used to prove guilt or innocence of either man is reason enough to delay this execution.

Inmate Story

Birmingham News Opinion

As it should be. But will someone step up and do the right thing? Troy King? Bob Riley?

Reversals

July 30, 2008

The IOC has reversed itself and said that Iraq athletes could participate in the 2008 Olympics.

IOC: ‘We look forward to seeing the Iraqi flag in Beijing’

IOC Reversal As it should be.

***************************

Massachusetts will reverse itself and allow gays from out of state to marry. Estimates are that it will boost the economy by $111 million, create 330 jobs and generate $5 million in taxes and fees over three years. 21,000 couple from New York State alone are expected to marry in Mass. Governor Deval Patrick says he will sign the measure, allowing the unions.

Mass. Marriage As it should be.

****************************

And one reversal that should be.

Bobby Ray Gilbert has confessed to the murder that Thomas Arthur is scheduled to be executed for on Thursday. Arthur has claimed innocence all along, and the wife of the victim didn’t change her story to implicate Arthur until it gave her a chance to be released from prison early (she was first convicted of the crime).

Gilbert is a convicted murderer serving life without parole, so there is the credibility problem. But still, with the doubt created, and the fact that there is DNA evidence from a rape kit that could be used to prove guilt or innocence of either man is reason enough to delay this execution.

Inmate Story

Birmingham News Opinion

As it should be. But will someone step up and do the right thing? Troy King? Bob Riley?

>Lower Ninth Ward, Part 3, Industrial Canal Area

July 28, 2008

>To read the previous installment in the series , Lower Ninth Ward, Part 2, Holy Cross, click here.

I don’t know the Lower Ninth and the boundaries of all the neighborhoods that well, so I am just calling the area north of St. Claude the canal area, because it is getting closer to the breach.

In this area, musicians Harry Connick Jr and Branford Marsalis concieved a village that would house musicians, (but realized that they couldn’t rightly exclude others). Habitat for Humanity took on the project and together they have completed or started on at least 72 homes. Learn more about Musicians Village.

The area will also include duplexes for elders. Here is an early artists drawing of the development, from the web site.

Here are some of the homes that have been built.

The people of the area seem really pleased that Habitat is contributing to rebuilding their community. They speak very highly of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter’s involvement and support. Carter’s Gulf coast Project is helping to rebuild all along the hurricane damaged coast. Thank you President Carter.

Nearby is Fats Domino’s house.


If you remember, there was concern about Fats, and he was later rescued out of his house.

The sign out front is for Tipitina’s Foundation, helping to rebuild the neighborhood. The real mission for the foundation is to preserve and support the music industry in Louisiana.

Out of the Lower Ninth, though, is Tipitinas Uptown which, if you have never been to, well, you have missed out on some good music.

If you are living in one of these homes near the canal, this is what protects you. A wall of dirt with a concrete fence on it. Well, there’s more to it than that.

From the canal side, imagine this filled with water, and the force with which the water would hit your home in the case of a breach. When it happened, it carried the wall of dirt that makes up the levee with it.

The homes being built look substantial, and the ones being restored have weathered many years and several hurricanes, including Betsy in 1965. The levees along the Industrial Canal failed, homes in the Lower Ninth Ward were flooded up to their eaves, residents drowned in their attics. Sound familiar? Here is Betsy’s track:

And here is Katrina’s track in 2005.

And here is a picture of the flooding in the Lower Ninth Ward in 1965 after Betsy.


So, lessons were not learned after Betsy.

Here is a memorial to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, located near the areas pictured.

The warnings were out there. Now, are the levees being restored as they should be? My next installment in this series will examine the rebuilding of the levees. Read Part 4, Levees, here.

Lower Ninth Ward, Part 3, Industrial Canal Area

July 28, 2008

To read the previous installment in the series , Lower Ninth Ward, Part 2, Holy Cross, click here.

I don’t know the Lower Ninth and the boundaries of all the neighborhoods that well, so I am just calling the area north of St. Claude the canal area, because it is getting closer to the breach.

In this area, musicians Harry Connick Jr and Branford Marsalis concieved a village that would house musicians, (but realized that they couldn’t rightly exclude others). Habitat for Humanity took on the project and together they have completed or started on at least 72 homes. Learn more about Musicians Village.

The area will also include duplexes for elders. Here is an early artists drawing of the development, from the web site.

Here are some of the homes that have been built.

The people of the area seem really pleased that Habitat is contributing to rebuilding their community. They speak very highly of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter’s involvement and support. Carter’s Gulf coast Project is helping to rebuild all along the hurricane damaged coast. Thank you President Carter.

Nearby is Fats Domino’s house.


If you remember, there was concern about Fats, and he was later rescued out of his house.

The sign out front is for Tipitina’s Foundation, helping to rebuild the neighborhood. The real mission for the foundation is to preserve and support the music industry in Louisiana.

Out of the Lower Ninth, though, is Tipitinas Uptown which, if you have never been to, well, you have missed out on some good music.

If you are living in one of these homes near the canal, this is what protects you. A wall of dirt with a concrete fence on it. Well, there’s more to it than that.

From the canal side, imagine this filled with water, and the force with which the water would hit your home in the case of a breach. When it happened, it carried the wall of dirt that makes up the levee with it.

The homes being built look substantial, and the ones being restored have weathered many years and several hurricanes, including Betsy in 1965. The levees along the Industrial Canal failed, homes in the Lower Ninth Ward were flooded up to their eaves, residents drowned in their attics. Sound familiar? Here is Betsy’s track:

And here is Katrina’s track in 2005.

And here is a picture of the flooding in the Lower Ninth Ward in 1965 after Betsy.


So, lessons were not learned after Betsy.

Here is a memorial to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, located near the areas pictured.

The warnings were out there. Now, are the levees being restored as they should be? My next installment in this series will examine the rebuilding of the levees.

>Lower Ninth Ward, Part 2, Holy Cross

July 28, 2008

>To read the previous segment, Lower Ninth Ward Part 1, click here.

Holy Cross

The Holy Cross neighborhood is named after a Catholic Boys School which was heavily damaged by Katrina and is being relocated.

Fortunately others stepped in when it appeared that adequate help was not forthcoming from the government. Some with lots of resources gave money, some without money gave labor, and some unable to labor gave support and prayers. Recover is ongoing throughout the city, but most attention by the media is given to the Lower Ninth Ward because of the disparities that were made apparent after the storms.

Brad Pitt has partnered with Global Green to bring sustainable recovery to the area, and the first Holy Cross Project house has been completed.

From the web site: The Holy Cross neighborhood project, based on a winning design by Matthew Berman and Andrew Kotchen of Workshop/APD, was selected from among 125 concepts submitted through the “Sustainable Design for New Orleans” competition. The home, whose solar panels will generate enough electricity to power the home, will be LEED Platinum certified. It is being built with all green products and energy efficient systems that will save residents money, reduce exposure to toxic chemicals and lower climate pollution.

The Holy Cross Project seeks to create “a green model or showcase for development and rebuilding for New Orleans and green affordable housing in the US”. Home Depot is a major sponsor of the project.

The project includes five single-family homes, an 18 multi-unit apartment complex and a community center/Sustainable Design and Climate Action Institute.

“It’s very exciting to see our vision of a healthier, greener New Orleans coming to fruition,” said Matt Petersen, president of Global Green USA. “This project was never about just one home or one project. This model sustainable village is about showing what is possible here in New Orleans and throughout the country to protect all of our coastal cities threatened by global warming—by working together to build a better, more energy-efficient and healthier world.”

Other homes in the Holy Cross District are being restored as well, as these pictures of shotgun homes reveal.

Check out the detail in the trim on the house.


This house is being painted in traditional creole colors.

However, in front, as is the case with many homes, debris from the storm or from restoration is still piled up.
Oh, the house is level, the photographer was not.

These homeowners apparently love wine, and in true New Orleans style, have found a way to recycle their bottles.

I have been to New Orleans many times. Many, many. Yet I had never seen or heard of the Steamboat houses which are also in the Holy Cross District. They were damaged, of course, but sitting near the banks of the Mississippi afforded them some degree of protection. Odd as it sounds, the land near the Mississippi is higher than other areas, so flooding was not as bad. All of the flooding came from the canal, not the Mississippi.

These two homes were built in the early 1900’s by a riverboat captain, thus their name.

When you go to New Orleans, take the time to see these charming homes on Egania Street in the Lower Ninth. You will not be disappointed.

The Holy Cross District is just as historical and interesting architecturally as any part of the city. In part 3 of the series, I will move closer to the Industrial Canal and look at restoration in that area.

To read the next installment, Lower Ninth Ward, Part 3, Industrial Canal, click here.

.