Homeland Stupidity http://www.homelandstupidity.us Government is stupid. Discover a better way to organize society. Tue, 15 Apr 2014 02:34:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 FEMA still handing out Katrina cash inappropriately http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2006/12/08/fema-still-handing-out-katrina-cash-inappropriately/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2006/12/08/fema-still-handing-out-katrina-cash-inappropriately/#comments Fri, 08 Dec 2006 15:15:21 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/?p=647 ]]> A Congressional investigation found that the Federal Emergency Management Agency paid out an estimated $1 billion inappropriately after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but to date have recovered less than one percent of the amount.

Government Accountability Office investigators testified at a hearing Wednesday that in addition, FEMA is still sending out tens of millions of dollars in in appropriate — payments through its Individuals and Households Program, which provides rental assistance to people displaced due to natural disasters.

“These payments include $17 million in rental assistance paid to individuals to whom FEMA had already provided free housing through trailers or apartments,” GAO managing director Greg Kutz testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. In addition, “FEMA made nearly $20 million in duplicate payments to thousands of individuals who claimed damages to the same property from both hurricanes Katrina and Rita. FEMA also made millions in potentially improper and/or fraudulent payments to nonqualified aliens who were not eligible for IHP.”

Cash Advance pay day loans overnight

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Chertoff: “We need to re-engineer FEMA’ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2005/10/20/chertoff-we-need-to-re-engineer-fema/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2005/10/20/chertoff-we-need-to-re-engineer-fema/#comments Thu, 20 Oct 2005 20:25:00 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2005/10/20/chertoff-we-need-to-re-engineer-fema/ ]]> Department of Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff told a House committee Wednesday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response to Hurricane Katrina was “not without flaws” and that he was prepared to “re-engineer FEMA’ to respond better to future disasters.

You can read Chertoff’s prepared remarks, as well as Associated Press and New York Times coverage, but I do want to draw your attention to a few high points:

At one point, Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney, D-Ga., asked why Chertoff shouldn’t be charged with negligent homicide for his department’s response to the storm. Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-Texas, quickly criticized her comment as “over the top” and “not constructive.” McKinney apparently has a history of that sort of thing.

“In Katrina, FEMA faced challenges in having full situational awareness of where the needs were greatest, getting supplies into affected areas, and tracking shipments of supplies to ensure that they reached the people who need them,” he said. As I’ve said numerous times, the challenge was compounded by FEMA’s need for control, as it turned away and misdirected rescue workers and supplies at many points.

“FEMA’s system for moving supplies into a disaster area is not adequate for catastrophic events. Many parts of it are antiquated and inefficient. We must more effectively partner with the public and private sectors and tap into their expertise to overhaul our logistics system within FEMA,” he said. I also covered this in some depth as well.

“We also need to ensure that FEMA has mature, solid contracting and procurement systems in place before a disaster — and that those systems include a special focus on procurement integrity,” he said. Because those no-bid contracts just aren’t going to cut it.

Finally, “Currently, FEMA has a very capable and well respected Acting Director in David Paulison. But FEMA must work to replenish its ranks at the senior level with experienced staff. In the coming weeks we will be working to draw talented and qualified individuals to these important positions.” As long as they have actual emergency management experience, then this will be an improvement. But if you populate the ranks with more Bush cronies, who can’t even run a horse show, then we’re going to have more disastrous disaster response.

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New Orleans police steal cars, attack reporters http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2005/10/10/new-orleans-police-steal-cars-attack-reporters/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2005/10/10/new-orleans-police-steal-cars-attack-reporters/#comments Mon, 10 Oct 2005 13:17:00 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2005/10/10/new-orleans-police-steal-cars-attack-reporters/ ]]> Just when you thought it was safe to go back into New Orleans, a new danger to human life and property has emerged: the New Orleans Police Department.

New Orleans police allegedly stole some 200 cars from a dealership well before Katrina even made landfall.

Doug Stead, president and general manager of the dealership, said the cars may have been taken before the hurricane even roared into town Aug. 29.

He said the cars included 88 new Cadillacs and Chevrolets, 40 used cars, 52 customers’ cars and a restored 1970 El Camino and 1966 Impala.

“We put the loss on new cars at $3.7 million,” he said. “The used cars ran another $900,000.”

When reports first surfaced last month that officers may have taken the cars, New Orleans Police Superintendent Warren Riley said it was not considered looting because the officers used the cars to patrol the city.

“There were some officers who did use Cadillacs,” he said. “Those cars were not stolen.”

Friday, police spokesman Capt. Marlon Defillo said it was cooperating with the attorney general’s investigation.

Police are also investigating 12 officers for allegedly looting or failing to stop looting, and about 250 officers – roughly 15 percent of the force — could face discipline for leaving their posts without permission during Katrina and its aftermath. — Associated Press

And in more recent days, police beat a 64-year-old man and attacked a television cameraman on Sunday.

Two New Orleans police officers repeatedly punched a 64-year-old man accused of public intoxication, and another city officer assaulted an Associated Press Television News producer as a cameraman taped the confrontations.

There will be a criminal investigation, and the three officers were to be suspended, arrested and charged with simple battery Sunday, Capt. Marlon Defillo said.

“We have great concern with what we saw this morning,” Defillo said after he and about a dozen other high-ranking police department officials watched the APTN footage Sunday. “It’s a troubling tape, no doubt about it. … This department will take immediate action.”

The assaults come as the department, long plagued by allegations of brutality and corruption, struggles with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the resignation last month of Police Superintendent Eddie Compass.

The APTN tape shows an officer hitting the man at least four times in the head Saturday night as he stood outside a bar near Bourbon Street. The suspect, Robert Davis, appeared to resist, twisting and flailing as he was dragged to the ground by four officers. One of the four then kneed Davis and punched him twice. Davis was face-down on the sidewalk with blood streaming down his arm and into the gutter.

Meanwhile, a fifth officer ordered APTN producer Rich Matthews and the cameraman to stop recording. When Matthews held up his credentials and explained he was working, the officer grabbed the producer, leaned him backward over a car, jabbed him in the stomach and unleashed a profanity-laced tirade.

“I’ve been here for six weeks trying to keep … alive. … Go home!” shouted the officer, who later identified himself as S.M. Smith. — Associated Press

Three officers in this case have been suspended and are now facing battery charges. They have entered not guilty pleas and will stand trial January 11.

Video is available from the Associated Press.

Update: The battery victim, Robert Davis, said Monday that he was not drunk at the time of the incident, and is “baffled” by the police action. “I haven’t had a drink in 25 years,” Davis told the Associated Press.

There are so many reports of police running amok in New Orleans, I hardly know what to do with them anymore.

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New Orleans reopening suspended http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2005/09/20/new-orleans-reopening-suspended/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2005/09/20/new-orleans-reopening-suspended/#comments Tue, 20 Sep 2005 15:19:00 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2005/09/20/new-orleans-reopening-suspended/ ]]> New Orleans mayor C. Ray Nagin has suspended the reopening of New Orleans to residents due to concerns over Hurricane Rita.

“The conditions have changed. We have another hurricane approaching us,” Nagin said.

Rita, now a Category 1 hurricane, is predicted to enter the Gulf of Mexico and continue gathering strength. At this time it is forecast to strengthen to Category 3 or higher and hit Texas, though the possibility exists that it could also impact Louisiana and other areas still recovering from Hurricane Katrina.

Earlier, Coast Guard Vice-Admiral Thad Allen, head of the recovery effort, warned that the threat of more storms complicated plans to re-open the city.

“Whatever population goes into New Orleans right now, there has to be an evacuation plan on how to get them out in the event of another hurricane,” he said, speaking on US television station CBS.

Speaking after a meeting with his Homeland Security Council, President George W Bush said his administration was “cautious about encouraging people to return at this moment of history.”

He stressed that the city needed to re-emerge, but it was “a matter of timing.”

“The mayor has got this dream about having his city up and running,” said Mr Bush. “We share that dream, but we also want to be realistic about some of the hurdles and obstacles.” — BBC News

The latest death toll from Hurricane Katrina stands at 973, from which 736 were from Louisiana, 218 in Mississippi, and 19 from other states.

I will track the progress of Hurricane Rita as the storm progresses. At this time it is over the Florida Keys, undoubtedly wreaking havoc.

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Bush disaster image from the UK http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2005/09/10/bush-disaster-image-from-the-uk/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2005/09/10/bush-disaster-image-from-the-uk/#comments Sat, 10 Sep 2005 14:54:00 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2005/09/10/bush-disaster-image-from-the-uk/ The Register on Friday published this entirely hilarious image from Sky News. Read the caption.

Bush: One Of The Worst Disasters To Hit The U.S.

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First water, then fire for New Orleans http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2005/09/03/first-water-then-fire-for-new-orleans/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2005/09/03/first-water-then-fire-for-new-orleans/#comments Sat, 03 Sep 2005 15:09:00 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2005/09/03/first-water-then-fire-for-new-orleans/ ]]> Fires broke out all over New Orleans Friday as 7,000 troops finally arrived to bring much needed food, water and order to a besieged city.

George W. Bush showed up, too.

Firefighters were largely unable to do anything but watch structures burn as there is no water pressure in the city available to fight fires. In some cases, fireboats were able to attack fires which broke out near the water.

In one case, looters cleaned out, then set fire to a shopping mall and then shot at firefighters who responded. They were forced to watch the mall burn to the ground.

People from virtually every government agency were finally seen in the streets of New Orleans Friday attempting to restore order. Even DEA agents were helping to patrol and secure the city.

“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.’ — Army Times

People are being evacuated from the Superdome, and then from the Convention Center and elsewhere in the city. Evacuees are being taken to places as far away as San Antonio, Texas, and Indianapolis, Ind.

However, as of this morning, buses had stopped arriving, and nobody seems to know quite why. Up to 5,000 people remain in the Superdome, with an unknown number remaining at the Convention Center.

New Orleans mayor Ray Gavin said earlier this week he was “pissed’ at the government’s slow response to the disaster. Now two key Senators are launching an investigation.

Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who heads the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, the panel’s top Democrat, said they plan to begin an oversight investigation next week when the full Senate returns from a summer recess.

“We intend to demand answers as to how this immense failure occurred, but our immediate focus must and will be on what Congress can do to help the rescue and emergency operations that are ongoing,’ the senators said in a joint statement.

“It is also our responsibility to investigate the lack of preparedness and inadequate response to this terrible storm,’ they said, adding that it was “increasingly clear that serious shortcomings in preparedness and response have hampered relief efforts at a critical time.’ — Reuters

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been criticized for not responding to the disaster quickly enough.

“There was a time when FEMA understood that the correct approach to a crisis was to deploy to the affected area as many resources as possible as fast as possible,’ Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said. “Unfortunately that no longer seems to be their approach.’

And the disaster had been foreseen. In fact, it had been foreseen years ago.

Watching the TV images of the storm approaching the Mississippi Delta on Sunday, I was sick to my stomach. Not only because I knew the hell it could unleash (I wrote an article for Scientific American in 2001 that described the very situation that was unfolding) but because I knew that a large-scale engineering plan called Coast 2050 – developed in 1998 by scientists, Army engineers, metropolitan planners and Louisiana officials – might have helped save the city, but had gone unrealized.

The debate over New Orleans’s vulnerability to hurricanes has raged for a century. By the late 1990’s, scientists at Louisiana State University and the University of New Orleans had perfected computer models showing exactly how a sea surge would overwhelm the levee system, and had recommended a set of solutions. The Army Corps of Engineers, which built the levees, had proposed different projects.

Yet some scientists reflexively disregarded practical considerations pointed out by the Army engineers; more often, the engineers scoffed at scientific studies indicating that the basic facts of geology and hydrology meant that significant design changes were needed. Meanwhile, local politicians lobbied Congress for financing for myriad special interest groups, from oil companies to oyster farmers. Congress did not hear a unified voice, making it easier to turn a deaf ear.

Fed up with the splintered efforts, Len Bahr, then the head of the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities, somehow dragged all the parties to one table in 1998 and got them to agree on a coordinated solution: Coast 2050. Completing every recommended project over a decade or more would have cost an estimated $14 billion, so Louisiana turned to the federal government. While this may seem an astronomical sum, it isn’t in terms of large public works; in 2000 Congress began a $7 billion engineering program to refresh the dying Florida Everglades. But Congress had other priorities, Louisiana politicians had other priorities, and the magic moment of consensus was lost. — Mark Fischetti (Via Irregular Times)

From almost the day George W. Bush took office in 2001, he has been slowly dismantling FEMA and cutting back its ability to respond to emergencies. It then started cutting off New Orleans from disaster preparedness money, which was diverted elsewhere, as FEMA was downgraded and became part of the Department of Homeland Security.

The plan apparently was to move FEMA’s former disaster planning and response functions to the private sector. Normally something I’d support, but in this case it was done improperly: they should not have stopped providing those functions until the private sector was fully prepared to take them over.

Preparing for natural disasters came in a distant second to preparing for terrorism, even though natural disasters are far more frequent, and as we’ve seen, far more devastating than anything terrorists have ever been able to do here.

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Governor: Do not return to New Orleans http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2005/08/29/governor-do-not-return-to-new-orleans/ http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2005/08/29/governor-do-not-return-to-new-orleans/#comments Mon, 29 Aug 2005 15:40:00 +0000 http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2005/08/29/governor-do-not-return-to-new-orleans/ ]]> Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco this morning urged people who evacuated to remain outside the region until officials have determined it is safe to return.

While reports are sketchy at best at this time, parts of New Orleans have been confirmed to be underwater, the Superdome has developed a hole in its roof and is leaking water inside, and power and telephone service have been lost in much of the city.

To the east, downtown Mobile, Ala., is completely underwater.

Officials have evacuated 911 call centers across the region and most areas are without 911 emergency service, even if telephones are working.

Reports are widespread across the region of people who did not evacuate being forced to their attic or even to their roof as a result of floodwaters. There are unconfirmed reports of historic buildings collapsing. Officials have not yet been able to go outside to survey the damage.

Even so, damage in New Orleans is likely to be less than the worst case scenarios previously predicted, as the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed to the east of the city and the hurricane gained northward speed.

Reporters from the New Orleans Times-Picayune are posting updates and damage reports throughout the day for the city and the entire area on their Web site.

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