RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.
I used to write sentences that began with the phrase: “Not since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society spending binge. . .” I can’t write that any more. Johnson — the guns and butter president of liberalism’s high-water mark — was actually more fiscally conservative than the current inhabitant of the White House. LBJ boosted domestic discretionary spending in inflationadjusted dollars by a mere 33.4%.
In five years, Bush has increased it 35.1%. And that’s before the costs for Katrina and Rita and the Medicare benefit kick in. Worse, this comes at a time when everyone concedes that we were facing a fiscal crunch before Bush started handing out dollar bills like a drunk at a strip club. With the looming retirement of America’s baby-boomers, the US needed to start saving, not spending; cutting, not expanding its spending habits...
Here’s Peggy Noonan, about as loyal a Republican as you’ll find, in a Wall Street Journal column last week: “George W Bush is a big spender. He has never vetoed a spending bill. When Congress serves up a big slab of fat, crackling pork, Mr Bush responds with one big question: Got any barbecue sauce?”
All I can say is this, cons: you broke it, you own it. No use whining now. Welcome to the world you've been making the rest of us live in the past five years. Happy now? No? Poor things.
For two full days, George W. Bush was bashed. He was taken to task on his handling of stem cell research, population control, the Iraq war and, especially, Hurricane Katrina. The critics were no left-wing bloggers. They were rich, mainly Republican and presumably Bush voters in the last two presidential elections.
The Bush-bashing occurred last weekend at the annual Aspen conference sponsored by the New York investment firm Forstmann Little & Co. Over 200 invited guests, mostly prestigious, arrived Thursday night (many by private aircraft) and stayed until Sunday morning for more than golf, hikes and gourmet meals. They faithfully attended the discussions presided over by PBS's Charlie Rose on such serious subjects as "global poverty and human rights" and "the 'new' world economy." The connecting link was hostility to President Bush.
“Chang is a mystical warrior. Chang is somebody who believes in conservative principles, believes in entrepreneurial capitalism, believes in moral values that underpin a free society.
“I rely on Chang with great regularity in my public life. He has been by my side and sometimes I let him down. But Chang, this mystical warrior, has never let me down.”
In remarks that appeared on Ansar-e Hezbollah website on Sunday, a top official of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said the devastating hurricane had exposed America's vulnerabilities.
"The mismanagement and the mishandling of the acute psychological problems brought about by Hurricane Katrina clearly showed that others can, at any given time, create a devastated war-zone in any part of the U.S.", Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri, the official spokesman of the IRGC, said.
"If the U.S. attacks Iran, each of America’s states will face a crisis the size of Katrina", he said, referring to the massive hurricane which hit the southern coast of the United States. "The smallest mistake by America in this regard will result in every single state in that country turning into a disaster zone".
"How could the White House, which is impotent in the face of a storm and a natural disaster, enter a military conflict with the powerful Islamic Republic of Iran, particularly with the precious experience that we gained in the eight-year war with Iraq?" he said.
Jazayeri said the hurricane havoc showed that "contrary to public perception, the strength of America's leadership is like a balloon, which can easily burst".
"Are we capable of dealing with a severe attack? That's a very important question and it's in the national interest that we find out what went on so we can better respond."I've got a better idea. Let's find a way of ejecting your ass from the White House so that someone who knows what the hell he's doing can do the job and stop wasting our time and sanity.
"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government, and to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do it's job right, I take responsibility."Hedged a little and full of qualifiers, but it is the first time any of us have seen him admit to being wrong, so it's a start.
Does Cheney tell him anything? Actually, it appears his aides are terrified of giving him bad news. Even that he has to cut short his vacation because of, well, a fucking hurricane destroying the Gulf states.CNN is now airing footage of an interview today with President Bush. Asked to comment on Brown's resignation, the president said he hadn't spoken with Chertoff yet and therefore didn't have anything to say. "Maybe you know something I don't," he said.
On the September 11 edition of NBC's syndicated The Chris Matthews Show, New York Times columnist David Brooks revealed that he has learned from private conversations with Bush officials who "represent" what "Bush believes" that from its earliest days, the Bush administration adopted a policy of shielding itself from political damage by never publicly admitting any mistake -- even if it meant lying to the media and the American public. The fact that Bush doesn't admit mistakes has been reported by the media for years. For instance, in the September 11 edition of The New York Times, David Sanger reported, "Mr. Bush, his aides acknowledge, is loath to fire members of his administration or to take public actions that are tantamount to an admission of a major mistake." Brooks himself has previously noted the Bush administration's unwillingness to admit to mistakes. But what Brooks's September 11 account adds is that Bush is being intentionally dishonest -- in Brooks's words, "totally tactical and totally insincere" -- in resisting such public admissions and in blaming others when failures are too obvious to deny.
Moreover, on the Matthews Show, Brooks disclosed that "from Day One," the Bush White House "decided our public relations is not going to be honest," and that "privately they admit mistakes all the time." Brooks's revelation would appear to be of major significance, particularly in light of recent attempts by Bush administration officials to shift culpability in the Hurricane Katrina disaster away from the White House. But while he claimed on the Matthews show to have debated this strategy with administration officials "since Day One" -- indicating that he has known about it from the beginning -- a review of his columns and television appearances since Katrina struck reveals that Brooks has refrained from telling viewers and readers that the administration's campaign to rehabilitate its public image over the poor handling of the Katrina crisis by blaming others was apparently another manifestation of this dishonest strategy.
Historians ought not to be in the prophecy business but I'll venture this one: Katrina will be seen as a watershed in the public and political life of the US, because it has put back into play the profound question of American government. Ever since Ronald Reagan proclaimed that government was not the answer but the problem, conservatism has stigmatised public service as parasitically unpatriotic, an anomaly in the robust self-sufficiency of American life. For the most part, Democrats have been too supine, too embarrassed and too inarticulate to fight back with a coherent defence of the legitimacy of democratic government. Now, if ever, is their moment; not to revive the New Deal or the Great Society (though unapologetically preserving social security might be a start) but to stake a claim to being the party that delivers competent, humane, responsive government, the party of public trust.
For the most shocking difference between 9/11 and Katrina was in what might have been expected in the aftermath of disaster. For all the intelligence soundings, it was impossible to predict the ferocity, much less the timing, of the 9/11 attacks. But Katrina was the most anticipated catastrophe in modern American history. Perhaps the lowest point in Bush's abject performance last week was when he claimed that no one could have predicted the breach in the New Orleans levees, when report after report commissioned by him, not to mention a simulation just last year, had done precisely that. But he had cut the budget appropriation for maintaining flood defences by nearly 50%, so that for the first time in 37 years Louisiana was unable to supply the protection it knew it would need in the event of catastrophe. Likewise Fema, which under Bill Clinton had been a cabinet level agency reporting directly to the president, had under his successor been turned into a hiring opportunity for political hacks and cronies and disappeared into the lumbering behemoth of Homeland Security. It was Fema that failed the Gulf; Fema which failed to secure the delivery of food, water, ice and medical supplies desperately asked for by the Mayor of New Orleans; and it was the president and his government-averse administration that had made Fema a bad joke.
In the last election campaign George W Bush asked Americans to vote for him as the man who would best fulfil the most essential obligation of government: the impartial and vigilant protection of its citizens. Now the fraudulence of the claim has come back to haunt him, not in Baghdad but in the drowned counties of Louisiana. In the recoil, disgust and fury felt by millions of Americans at this abdication of responsibility, the president - notwithstanding his comically self-serving promise to lead an inquiry into the fiasco - will assuredly reap the whirlwind.
They put up the walls with no more to say
Nobody stopped to ask why it was done
The stream was too far and the rain was too high
So into the city the river did run
Because of the architect the building fell down
Smothered or drowned all the seeds which were sown
I wish I were somewhere, but not in this town
Maybe the ocean next time around
Sandy Denny, "Next Time Around"
The document, written by the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs staff but not yet finally approved by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, would update rules and procedures governing use of nuclear weapons to reflect a preemption strategy first announced by the Bush White House in December 2002.
The Pentagon has drafted a revised doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons that envisions commanders requesting presidential approval to use them to preempt an attack by a nation or a terrorist group using weapons of mass destruction. The draft also includes the option of using nuclear arms to destroy known enemy stockpiles of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.
A lawyer with the Texas secretary of state was fired after she spoke to a reporter about presidential adviser Karl Rove's eligibility to vote in the state.
Elizabeth Reyes, 30, said she was dismissed last week for violating the agency's media policy after she was quoted in a Sept. 3 story by The Washington Post about tax deductions on Rove's homes in Washington and Texas.
Scott Haywood, a spokesman for Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams, confirmed Reyes' firing but wouldn't discuss specifics. He had earlier told the Post that Reyes "was not authorized to speak on behalf of the agency."
Reyes told the Post on Friday a superior told her that her bosses were upset about the article. Williams has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Republicans, including President Bush, who relies heavily on Rove for political strategy.
While Reyes said she didn't know she was talking to a reporter, she said the press policy doesn't bar her from speaking with the media.
"The policy allows us to talk to members of the media," she told the Post. "The policy says if it's a controversial issue or a special issue, it needs to be forwarded on to someone else. Just talking to the media doesn't violate it, as I read it. ... Karl Rove didn't come up. It wasn't something you could classify as controversial."
She said she sent a certified letter to Williams's office asking that her dismissal be reconsidered.
The Post earlier reported that Rove inadvertently received a homestead tax deduction on his home in Washington, even though he had not been eligible for the benefit for more than three years. Rove was eligible for the deduction when he bought the home in 2001, but a change in the tax law in 2002 made the deduction available only to property owners who do not vote elsewhere. Rove is registered to vote in Texas.
The tax office admitted the mistake, saying it failed to rescind the deduction, and Rove agreed to reimburse the city an estimated $3,400 in back taxes, the Post reported.
Rove is registered to vote in Kerr County, Texas, where he and his wife own two rental homes that he claims as his residence. But two local residents told the Post they had never seen Rove there.
The Post reported Saturday that when its reporter called the Texas secretary of state's office for her story, she was told the press officer was on vacation and she was transferred to Reyes.
The attorney told the reporter that it was potential vote fraud in Texas to register in a place where you don't actually live, and she was quoted as saying Rove's cottages don't "sound like a residence to me, because it's not a fixed place of habitation."
Population shifts caused by the exodus of hurricane victims from the Gulf Coast could have ripple effects for years to come in Louisiana political races and perhaps beyond.
How big depends on how many people stay away, which ones stay away and where they end up putting down roots.
The early thinking is that the evacuees least likely to return to their homes in Louisiana may be the poorest -- and thus, Democrats for the most part. That would hurt the party in a state where Republicans already were making inroads.
If the lion's share of those leaving settle in Texas, that could work to the advantage of Democrats in President Bush's home state.
"I'm believing that the greatest displacement occurs among those who are traditionally Democratic voters," said Elliott Stonecipher, an independent political consultant from Shreveport, La.
"Based on sheer demographics, those who are Republican voters have the wherewithal and, we believe, the will to go home and rebuild," he said.
Today, James S. Robbins pulled a Mailer on NRO, using not automobile accidents but a household item found in every medicine cabinet as his point of comparison.
"Of course, the parallels between 9/11 and Katrina are at best inexact. Hurricanes are more frequent than terrorist attacks. They are more predictable. And they are often more devastating. Katrina is a case in point — the number of deaths may go well beyond those incurred on 9/11. But that will not in itself make the hurricane a more significant event. One cannot gauge the magnitude of events simply from body counts. Aspirin abuse accounted for about twice the number of American deaths in 2001 than the September 11 attacks, but who noticed?"
Robbins did. You can't put anything past this guy.
A more vulgar effort to shrink Katrina's impact as a national tragedy was made by Jack Burkman, a member in good standing of the vile order of Republican strategists, who said on MSNBC, "I understand there are 10,000 people dead. It's terrible. It's tragic. But in a democracy of 300 million people, over years and years and years, these things happen."When political whores take the long view, you know they're running scared.
While on the tour of a shelter with top administration officials from Washington, including U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao and U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, DeLay stopped to chat with three young boys resting on cots.
The congressman likened their stay to being at camp and asked, ``Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?''
They nodded yes, but looked perplexed.
Behind the president's public embrace of Mr. Brown was the realization within the administration that the director's ignorance about the evacuees had further inflamed the rage of the storm's poor, black victims and created an impression of a White House that did not care about their lives.One prominent African-American supporter of Mr. Bush who is close to Karl Rove, the White House political chief, said the president did not go into the heart of New Orleans and meet with black victims on his first trip there, last Friday, because he knew that White House officials were "scared to death" of the reaction.
"If I'm Karl, do I want the visual of black people hollering at the president as if we're living in Rwanda?" said the supporter, who spoke only anonymously because he did not want to antagonize Mr. Rove.
The Gulf Coast looked, said Bush, like it had been hit with "the worst kind of weapon." The President is right, responded Representative Dennis Kucinich. "Indifference is a weapon of mass destruction." While most of the affluent of New Orleans left by car or plane, the poor had no way out. They were told to go to the Superdome and convention center, where--unbelievably--there were inadequate supplies of food and water, no electricity, befouled sanitation facilities and no police protection. When it came time to rescue and relocate the displaced, the Bush Administration placed the onus on state and local officials and called on citizens to give to charities. But faith-based disaster relief is no substitute for an effective, organized, rapid government response.
Since New Orleans is a major center of oil imports and refining, Katrina roiled already tight energy markets. Gas companies, wallowing in record profits, took the occasion to gouge Americans at the pump. The companies' rapacity and the country's vulnerability are direct results of Bush's Big Oil energy policy, his failure to lead a drive for energy independence by investing in conservation and in renewable and diverse energy sources. Instead of calling for an excess-profits tax on oil companies to help pay for the rebuilding, Bush immediately asserted that no tax increase was necessary.
Friday, September 2nd, 2005
Dear Mr. Bush:
Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag.
Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with?
Last Thursday I was in south Florida and sat outside while the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over my head. It was only a Category 1 then but it was pretty nasty. Eleven people died and, as of today, there were still homes without power. That night the weatherman said this storm was on its way to New Orleans. That was Thursday! Did anybody tell you? I know you didn't want to interrupt your vacation and I know how you don't like to get bad news. Plus, you had fundraisers to go to and mothers of dead soldiers to ignore and smear. You sure showed her!
I especially like how, the day after the hurricane, instead of flying to Louisiana, you flew to San Diego to party with your business peeps. Don't let people criticize you for this -- after all, the hurricane was over and what the heck could you do, put your finger in the dike?
And don't listen to those who, in the coming days, will reveal how you specifically reduced the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for New Orleans this summer for the third year in a row. You just tell them that even if you hadn't cut the money to fix those levees, there weren't going to be any Army engineers to fix them anyway because you had a much more important construction job for them -- BUILDING DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ!
On Day 3, when you finally left your vacation home, I have to say I was moved by how you had your Air Force One pilot descend from the clouds as you flew over New Orleans so you could catch a quick look of the disaster. Hey, I know you couldn't stop and grab a bullhorn and stand on some rubble and act like a commander in chief. Been there done that.
There will be those who will try to politicize this tragedy and try to use it against you. Just have your people keep pointing that out. Respond to nothing. Even those pesky scientists who predicted this would happen because the water in the Gulf of Mexico is getting hotter and hotter making a storm like this inevitable. Ignore them and all their global warming Chicken Littles. There is nothing unusual about a hurricane that was so wide it would be like having one F-4 tornado that stretched from New York to Cleveland.
No, Mr. Bush, you just stay the course. It's not your fault that 30 percent of New Orleans lives in poverty or that tens of thousands had no transportation to get out of town. C'mon, they're black! I mean, it's not like this happened to Kennebunkport. Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh! Race has nothing -- NOTHING -- to do with this!
You hang in there, Mr. Bush. Just try to find a few of our Army helicopters and send them there. Pretend the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are near Tikrit.
P.S. That annoying mother, Cindy Sheehan, is no longer at your ranch. She and dozens of other relatives of the Iraqi War dead are now driving across the country, stopping in many cities along the way. Maybe you can catch up with them before they get to DC on September 21st.
Before joining FEMA, his only previous stint in emergency management, according to his bio posted on FEMA's website, was "serving as an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight." The White House press release from 2001 stated that Brown worked for the city of Edmond, Okla., from 1975 to 1978 "overseeing the emergency services division." In fact, according to Claudia Deakins, head of public relations for the city of Edmond, Brown was an "assistant to the city manager" from 1977 to 1980, not a manager himself, and had no authority over other employees. "The assistant is more like an intern," she told TIME. "Department heads did not report to him." Brown did do a good job at his humble position, however, according to his boss. "Yes. Mike Brown worked for me. He was my administrative assistant. He was a student at Central State University," recalls former city manager Bill Dashner. "Mike used to handle a lot of details. Every now and again I'd ask him to write me a speech. He was very loyal. He was always on time. He always had on a suit and a starched white shirt."
In response, Nicol Andrews, deputy strategic director in FEMA's office of public affairs, insists that while Brown began as an intern, he became an "assistant city manager" with a distinguished record of service. "According to Mike Brown," she says, "a large portion [of the points raised by TIME] is very inaccurate."
Brown's lack of experience in emergency management isn't the only apparent bit of padding on his resume, which raises questions about how rigorously the White House vetted him before putting him in charge of FEMA. Under the "honors and awards" section of his profile at FindLaw.com — which is information on the legal website provided by lawyers or their offices—he lists "Outstanding Political Science Professor, Central State University". However, Brown "wasn't a professor here, he was only a student here," says Charles Johnson, News Bureau Director in the University Relations office at the University of Central Oklahoma (formerly named Central State University). "He may have been an adjunct instructor," says Johnson, but that title is very different from that of "professor." Carl Reherman, a former political science professor at the University through the '70s and '80s, says that Brown "was not on the faculty." As for the honor of "Outstanding Political Science Professor," Johnson says, "I spoke with the department chair yesterday and he's not aware of it." Johnson could not confirm that Brown made the Dean's list or was an "Outstanding Political Science Senior," as is stated on his online profile.
Female survivors of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans were urged by government rescuers to flash their breasts in order to receive help in the immediate aftermath of the storm.
That according to English tourists who are now just returning to the United Kingdom, relating their horror stories to British media.
Ged Scott, 36, of Liverpool, was on his annual vacation at New Orleans' Ramada Hotel with his wife Sandra, 37, and their 7-year-old son, Ronan.
"I could not describe how bad the authorities were, taking photographs of us as we are standing on the roof waving for help, for their own personal photo albums, little snapshot photographs," Scott told BBC News.
Scott said there was a group of girls standing on the lobby's roof, calling out to passing rescuers for help.
"[The authorities] said to them, 'Well, show us what you've got' – doing signs for them to lift their T-shirts up. The girls said no, and [the rescuers] said 'well fine,' and motored off down the road in their motorboat. That's the sort of help we had from the authorities," he said.
New Orleans is noted for women flashing their breasts in public, especially during the annual Mardi Gras festival.
Scott called the relief operation "horrendous," noting police officers had taken "souvenir" photographs of stranded people begging for help.
"The only information we got from anybody in authority was if a policeman came past and we shouted to them out of the windows. The only information we ever got off them was negative, 'Do not go here. Do not go there'. There was no, 'Are you OK? Are you safe? Have you got water?' Most of the time they would ignore us."
Scott recounted that at night, police completely vanished, leaving stranded hotel guests and staff to defend themselves.
"You would hear shots ringing out during the night and that was one of the most worrying things, because we had no security," Scott said. "We patrolled the halls and checked the doors throughout the night in the hotel – but if someone had wanted to come in, there was not much we could have done about it."
The disastrous aftermath is neither entirely the fault of local and state officials nor entirely the fault of the feds. If someone is a worthless sack of bones, I'll say so. And I don't care if he has "Bush appointee" stamped on his forehead or a GOP elephant tattooed to his backside. Brown's clueless public comments after landfall are reason enough to give him the boot...and he should have never been there in the first place.Get the clue, George. You're even losing your devoted cultists. Or did you only care about them when they agreed with you? Were you just using them too?
If I could ask God for only one favor right now, I would wish what happened to the people in that convention center upon the entire motherfucking Republican party.
Bodies found piled in freezer at Convention Center
By Brian Thevenot
Arkansas National Guardsman Mikel Brooks stepped through the food service entrance of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Monday, flipped on the light at the end of his machine gun, and started pointing out bodies.
"Don't step in that blood - it's contaminated," he said. "That one with his arm sticking up in the air, he's an old man."
Then he shined the light on the smaller human figure under the white sheet next to the elderly man.
"That's a kid," he said. "There's another one in the freezer, a 7-year-old with her throat cut."
He moved on, walking quickly through the darkness, pulling his camouflage shirt to his face to screen out the overwhelming odor.
"There's an old woman," he said, pointing to a wheelchair covered by a sheet. "I escorted her in myself. And that old man got bludgeoned to death," he said of the body lying on the floor next to the wheelchair.
Brooks and several other Guardsmen said they had seen between 30 and 40 more bodies in the Convention Center's freezer. "It's not on, but at least you can shut the door," said fellow Guardsman Phillip Thompson.
The scene of rotting bodies inside the Convention Center reflected those in thousands of businesses, schools, homes and shelters across the metropolitan area. The official death count from Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana was 71 as of Monday evening, but that included only those bodies that had been brought to a make-shift morgue in St. Gabriel.
Nearly a full week after Hurricane Katrina, a rescue force the size of an invading army had not yet begun the task of retrieving the bodies Sunday. What's more, officials appeared to have no plan.
Daniel Martinez, a spokesman for FEMA working on Interstate 10 in eastern New Orleans, said plans for body recovery "are not being released yet."
Dozens of rescue workers questioned Monday said they knew of no protocol or collection points for bodies; none said they had retrieved even one of the many corpses seen floating in neighborhoods around the city as they searched for survivors.
Scores of rescue workers this week repeated the same mantra, over and over: We can't worry about the dead; we're still trying to save the living.
But as rescue teams across the city said they had checked nearly every house for survivors, the enormity of the death that lay in Hurricane Katrina's wake came into sharp focus even as the plans for taking care of the dead remained murky.
Mayor Ray Nagin, addressing the potential body count for the storm for the first time, said the storm may have claimed more than 10,000 lives.
In a news conference Monday morning, Deputy Chief Warren Riley said his department was "not responsible for recovery."
"We don't have a body count, but I can tell you it's growing. It's growing," he said.
As the rescue missions covered more and more ground but yielded fewer survivors, New Orleans Police Deputy Chief Steve Nicholas said that the time has come to start dealing with the dead.
"I know we're still rescuing people, but I think it's time we start pulling out the bodies," he said.
The highest concentration of casualties from Hurricane Katrina likely will come in the Lower 9th Ward, St. Bernard Parish, areas first inundated on Aug. 29 with floodwaters that engulfed second story homes in minutes. New Orleans also will likely see mass casualties, New Orleans Police Capt. Timothy Bayard said.
"We're going see a lot more bodies out of New Orleans East than we anticipated," he said.
In just one subdivision, Sherwood Forest, survivors who showed up to the Convention Center on Monday said police told them roughly 90 people in the subdivision had died.
In St. Bernard, 22 bodies were found lashed together. Officials surmised the drowning victims had tried to stay together to keep themselves from being washed away in the storm.
Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu said "more than a thousand" people had died in St. Bernard. "When the death toll comes out, it's going to be a jolt for everybody," he said. "I'll be surprised if the casualties in St. Bernard are less than a thousand."
Even Uptown near the river, one of the few spots of dry land, a body lay in front of a white wooden shotgun double at 4732 Laurel St. The body of an older woman lay under a gray blanket, pinned down at the corners by brick and slate, adorned with a plastic-wrapped flower bouquet. Above her, a yellow cardboard sign quoting John 3:16 had been taped to the window.
Rest in Peace
In the loving arms of Jesus
Given the length of time many had been dead, and in the water, some of the bodies already might be unrecognizable, and some may never be recovered.
Many trapped by flood waters in shelters found their own ways of dealing with those who died in their midst.
Near an elementary school at Poland and St. Claude avenues, Dwight and Wilber Rhodes, two brothers, said they had tried to save a middle-aged man and woman at the Convention Center who appeared to have drowned.
"We performed CPR on them, but they were already dead," Dwight Rhodes said. "So we took the food out of the freezer and put the bodies in."
Of the four bodies that lay just inside the food service entrance of the Convention Center, the woman in the wheelchair rattled Brooks the most. When he found her two days before among the sea of suffering in front of the Convention Center where one of the last refugee camps evacuated, her husband sat next to her. He had only one concern when Brooks and some of his comrades carted her away.
"Bring me back my wheelchair," he recalled the man telling him.
One of the bodies, they said, was a girl they estimated to be 5 years old. Though they could not confirm it, they had heard she was gang-raped.
"There was an old lady that said the little girl had been raped by two or three guys, and that she had told another unit. But they said they couldn't do anything about it with all the people there," Brooks said. "I would have put him in cuffs, stuck him in the freezer and left him there."
Brooks and his unit came to New Orleans not long after serving a year of combat duty in Iraq, taking on gunfire and bombs, while losing comrades with regularity. Still, the scene at the Convention Center, where they conducted an evacuation this week, left him shell-shocked.
"I ain't got the stomach for it, even after what I saw in Iraq," said Brooks, referring to the freezer where the bulk of the bodies sat decomposing. "In Iraq, it's one-on-one. It's war. It's fair. Here, it's just crazy. It's anarchy. When you get down to killing and raping people in the streets for food and water … And this is America. This is just 300 miles south of where I live."
"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is (chuckles) working very well for them."
Barbara Bush, Houston Astrodome, September 5, 2005
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