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I like having visitors to my house. I hope you are entertained. I fight for your right to free speech, and am thrilled when you exercise said rights here. Comments and e-mails are welcome, but all such communication is to be assumed to be 1)the original work of any who initiate said communication and 2)the property of the Mudville Gazette, with free use granted thereto for publication in electronic or written form. If you do NOT wish to have your message posted, write "CONFIDENTIAL" in the subject line of your email.
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The strain of combat ops begins to wear on those involved:
?This is making a lot of us think about not reenlisting.? Ferguson said. ?You have to think about whether it is worth risking your neck for someone who will turn around and shoot at you. We didn?t come here to fight a war. We came here to help.?It's every reporter's dream quote from a soldier in Baghdad. But he's not in Iraq - he's in New Orleans. How did we get there?
Was that in your local paper? On your evening news?
Certainly the looting has been mentioned - but usually with the explanation of the obvious - that it's understandable as long as people are looking for food. But was this in your local paper?
Disgusted and furious with the lawlessness of looters who have put fear into citizens, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin declared Martial Law in the city and directed the city's 1,500 person police force to do "whatever it takes" to regain control of the city.He's not responding to people stealing bread and diapers there. He's putting seriously dangerous people on notice - in no uncertain terms. That was on August 30th - but the response by at least a few of New Orlean's finest was to join in the looting - while others simply walked away.
Nagin said that Martial Law means that officers don't have to worry about civil rights and Miranda rights in stopping the looters.
By the way - "Martial Law" means that control has been turned over to the military, and Mayor Nagin was incorrect in his statement, as the Governor's office clarified.
But days later the Governor made her own threats:
A fed-up Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco warned the lawbreakers that extra troops have already arrived in the city, and others are on the way -- and "they're locked and loaded."Perhaps they would - but who would want that to happen? The Governor's remarks echo similar sentiments expressed less specifically by the President of the United States regarding terrorists in Iraq: "Bring it on."
She said Thursday night that 300 soldiers from the Arkansas National Guard had arrived -- "fresh back from Iraq."
"These are some of the 40,000 extra troops that I have demanded," Blanco said. "They have M-16s, and they're locked and loaded ... I have one message for these hoodlums: These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so if necessary, and I expect they will."
Curiously, both the Mayor's and the Governor's comments were not widely reported.
Kanye West: "We already realize a lot of the people that could help are at war now fighting another way and they?ve given them permission to go down and shoot us. George Bush doesn?t care about black people."
But in spite of the mounting tensions, when the troops arrived they were met with smiling, flag waving crowds:
"The crowd erupted," said Tishia Walters, a woman in the convention center crowd told CNN by telephone.And the commander of those troops acted quickly to defuse the explosive situation:
"Flags went flying, people shouting and waving. There's like 7,000 people out here in dying conditions," she added.
Walters said she was outside of the center when she saw the National Guard and police arrive.
"It's amazing. They've come in full force," she said.
He ordered all he encountered to point their weapons down, said CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr, who was with the general. Honore repeatedly went up to military vehicles, National Guardsmen standing sentry and even to New Orleans police officers, telling them to please point their weapons down and reminding them that they were not in Iraq.But not all Louisiana's native sons were met with such glee - as the Army Times reported - and that brings us back to where we began this story:
Honore commands the 1st Army, based at Fort Gillem in Forest Park, Georgia, outside Atlanta.
Honore's daughter and other relatives live in New Orleans, but he has not seen them since he arrived in town.
"The priority is on this mission, getting these people out of here," he said.
NEW ORLEANS ? Combat operations are underway on the streets ?to take this city back? in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.Maybe he hadn't gotten the word from his governor:
?This place is going to look like Little Somalia,? Brig. Gen. Gary Jones, commander of the Louisiana National Guard?s Joint Task Force told Army Times Friday as hundreds of armed troops under his charge prepared to launch a massive citywide security mission from a staging area outside the Louisiana Superdome. ?We?re going to go out and take this city back. This will be a combat operation to get this city under control.?
Numerous soldiers also told Army Times that they have been shot at by armed civilians in New Orleans. Spokesmen for the Joint Task Force Headquarters at the Superdome were unaware of any servicemen being wounded in the streets, although one soldier is recovering from a gunshot wound sustained during a struggle with a civilian in the dome Wednesday night.
?I never thought that at a National Guardsman I would be shot at by other Americans,? said Spc. Philip Baccus of the 527th Engineer Battalion. ?And I never thought I?d have to carry a rifle when on a hurricane relief mission. This is a disgrace.?
Spc. Cliff Ferguson of the 527th Engineer Battalion pointed out that he knows there are plenty of decent people in New Orleans, but he said it is hard to stay motivated considering the circumstances.
?This is making a lot of us think about not reenlisting.? Ferguson said. ?You have to think about whether it is worth risking your neck for someone who will turn around and shoot at you. We didn?t come here to fight a war. We came here to help.?
"They have M-16s, and they're locked and loaded ... I have one message for these hoodlums: These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so if necessary, and I expect they will."Another interesting quote from the Army Times explains the different receptions given the two groups:
While some fight the insurgency in the city, other carry on with rescue and evacuation operations.The insurgency.
One thing about the weather that's certain - the "fog of war" has set in upon the Crescent City.
President George W. Bush, who flew to Alabama, Mississippi and New Orleans, earlier admitted the response to Katrina was "not acceptable". He said before leaving Washington: "We'll get on top of this situation and we're going to help the people that need help."Mayor Nagin responds to the arrival of the troops:
Mr Bush defended the federal government's response. "There's a lot of aid surging toward those who've been affected. Millions of gallons of water. Millions of tons of food," he said. "If it's not going right, we've got to make it go right."
"I feel much better. I feel like we've gotten everyone's attention and hopefully they'll continue to do what they're doing," Nagin said Friday night in the damaged downtown Hyatt hotel, where his temporary lodgings and command post have been set up since Hurricane Katrina made life in the Big Easy insufferable.
"I'm cautiously optimistic. I want to see it happen (Saturday). I want to see it happen next week. Then, when I see consistency of delivery, I'll feel like there's a light at the end of the tunnel."
"I do think the pleas for help basically got the nation's attention, and the nation's attention got everybody to stop and re-evaluate what was going on, including the president. ... He basically said, 'Look, our response was not what it should have been and we're going to fix it right now.'"
This week showed a major weakness in the blogosphere. While good things are being done all over for the victims, blogs were pummeled by the MSM as a whole and TV news in particular.He's talking about the major news theme of the week - how President Bush failed the people of New Orleans (or perhaps just the black people of New Orleans, as Kanye West claims). What's less reported is the failure of the local and state governments to evacuate their citizens or, failing that, provide some minimum form of security, food and water, and sanitation facilities that could be used for at least a couple of days before outside help could arrive.
Has the network TV coverage of the N.O. Superdome fiasco a) made the situation seem to be worse than it really was (because TV always focuses on the negative things--the crime, the snafus, the corpses and complaints, etc.) or b) made the situation seem better than it really was (because network TV didn't want to make it look as if a heavily African-American crowd of refugees couldn't behave itself)?He cites two articles; one from England...
"We rode that storm out and then decided to go to New Orleans. We didn't realise the storm was heading that way."...and one from Australia:
He said of his eventual Superdome refuge: "There was a lot of heat from the people in there, people shouting racial abuse about us being white.
"The army warned us to keep our bags close to us and to grip them tight."
He said he saw crack cocaine being used in the filthy toilets, youngsters breaking into soft drink machines and men brawling. Urine and excrement spilled into corridors where they were sleeping.
TWO Melbourne women were trapped in the chaos at New Orleans' Convention Centre last night.Of course, these might simply be misunderstandings due to the language and cultural barriers.
Karen Marks, 25, of Meadow Heights, and her aunt Pamela Whyte, 59, of Broadmeadows, are stuck with thousands of hungry, frantic people tired of waiting for buses to take them out.
Ms Marks said Karen and Pamela were concerned for their safety amid rising violence.
"There's a mob-like tendency in there. People are running around with legs broken off chairs, threatening people," she said.
Up to 50 Australians are believed to be stranded across the Gulf Coast.
About 10 escaped the New Orleans Superdome yesterday after it erupted in violence.
They were holed up in the foyer of the Hilton Hotel last night.
Brisbane's John McNeil, 22, told his family he'd witnessed murders, rapes and stabbings, and feared he would be killed.
Mr McNeil's father, Peter, said his son was with about 60 other foreign tourists who had fled the Superdome.
"They couldn't stay another night, the situation was so bad," he said.
"People were just staring at them and making suggestions that they were going to kill them."
John's sister Susie said he saw shocking acts of violence amid fierce racial tension in the Superdome.
"It's turned into a black against white thing," she said. "My brother has witnessed murders, stabbings, rapes . . . it's like a Third World country."
The mother of Sydney woman Vanessa Cullington, thought to be in the Superdome before it was evacuated yesterday, flew to the US in a desperate bid to find her daughter.
Sharon Cullington said she had not heard from Vanessa since Tuesday.
NEW ORLEANS ? After spending six months assigned to almost daily medical flight evacuations from Balad, Iraq, to Landstuhl, Germany, Air Force Staff Sgt. Sybyl Tibodeaux is finally accustomed to the sight of critically wounded troops.
But Tibodeaux, who was up all night Friday preparing to make her maiden rescue flight to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport to evacuate civilians devastated by Hurricane Katrina, had no idea what she would encounter.
?We were told to expect a lot of DTs,? or detoxing patients, Tibodeaux said. ?They got a lot of drugs down there [in New Orleans].?
In addition to all of the other horrors befalling New Orleanians during the flood was the creepy discovery that red ants form themselves into floating clusters to avoid drowning. As Dante Ramos and I paddled along Carrollton Avenue on Wednesday, I saw two glittering, golf ball-sized masses of ants floating beside our canoe.Must be some sort of primitive group survival instinct.
The hurricane isn't the only news of the week. Here's an under-reported story from the real Baghdad
And, yet, on Wednesday, the Serene Imam, the Tamer of Anger, was unable to save his people from the worst. Before the sun had set, at least 1,000 people ? mostly women and children ? were dead, trampled under foot in a stampede or drowned in the Tigris River into which they had jumped from a bridge jam packed with pilgrims.Humanity triumphs, and I apologize to the citizens of Baghdad for the title of this post.
Then something unexpected happened: Sunnis watching from the neighboring Azamiyah district of Baghdad jumped into the river to save the screaming Shiites from drowning.
"Our Sunni neighbors saved hundreds of lives," Muhammad Jawad, a teacher in Sadr City (the Shiite slum on the river's eastbank), who was present on the scene, told Arab TV channels. "Many Sunni brothers also drove their cars to the river to take the wounded to hospital."
And in news from the world of science, a story lost in the noise of Hurricane Katrina:
Scientists said yesterday that they have determined the precise order of the 3 billion bits of genetic code that carry the instructions for making a chimpanzee, humankind's closest cousin.
By placing the two codes alongside each other, scientists identified all 40 million molecular changes that today separate the two species and pinpointed the mere 250,000 that seem most responsible for the difference between chimpness and humanness.
"We're not going to stand up and say that these 14 things make us human," said Eric S. Lander of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Mass., which along with Washington University in St. Louis led the chimpanzee genome sequencing effort. "But it's not trivial to be able to say, 'Here is an inventory of the most important differences, and now go at it and figure out which of these differences contain the signatures of what is distinctively human.' "
As predicted by preliminary studies, the human and chimpanzee genetic codes are essentially 99 percent identical...
Because of that 1 percent difference, experts noted, humans now dominate every ecosystem on Earth while chimpanzees and other great apes -- a group that also includes bonobos, gorillas and orangutans -- are at risk of becoming extinct within the next few decades, largely because of human activities.
For though just one percent separates us from the animals, as humans in Baghdad and ants in New Orleans demonstrate, all forms of life can survive even the most devastating catastrophies.
Cooperation is the key...
Update: A blogger volunteers at the Astrodome:
As you might imagine I wanted to hear what it was like being in the Superdome. One teenage girl told me that it was terrifying when the shooting started. "It was the gangs," she said. Her mother said, "The people found the guy who was shooting and beat his ass and his ass needed beating." I found over and over again that people were as disgusted with the behavior of the thugs as the rest of us. I asked them if they were angry at the government. Not one I spoke to said they were. They were angry at the people who behaved badly. They were angry at the thugs with guns. They were angry with the people who threw trash everywhere and went to bathroom in public places.A MilBlogger says farewell:
I've been called to Active Duty to support the Hurricane Relief efforts. I promise to be safe and careful while there, but there may or may not be opportunity or time to post here.
I will catch back up when I return. The people of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama will appreciate your prayers and well-wishes as will I.