“The Last Trip From Jacksonville to San Juan,” by Alpha Unit

A US Navy salvage unit is headed to the debris fields near the last known location of the SS El Faro, a US-flagged cargo ship that sank last week during Hurricane Joaquin. What they want to recover immediately is the voyage data recorder, which captured the ship’s course and speed as well as onboard audio from the bridge. Once submerged, the recorder would have begun pinging. It has a battery life of 30 days.

The El Faro is a “roll-on/roll-off” cargo vessel designed to carry vehicles that are driven on and off the ship. It left Jacksonville, Florida, last Tuesday on its weekly run from Jacksonville to San Juan, Puerto Rico. It held 294 cars, trucks, and trailers below deck and 391 containers topside carrying groceries and other retail products.

There were 33 crew members, including Captain Michael Davidson, a veteran mariner of over 25 years’ experience. Twenty-eight of the crew members were from the United States and five were from Poland.

TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico operated the El Faro and says the 40-year-old vessel was sound and well-maintained and that it had passed its annual Coast Guard inspection in March. The question that has been floating around for the past week is “Why did the captain set sail in the face of a hurricane?”

Experienced mariners say that it isn’t at all unusual for a captain to head out under those conditions. One Merchant Marine captain, Laurence Wade, told the Portland Press Herald that sailing in bad weather, even in hurricanes, is part of the way of life for mariners.

You do the best you can. You ride it out. If the [El Faro] hadn’t lost power it would have been in San Juan by Friday and back in Jacksonville today.

Others remind us that the decision to sail rests with the captain, not with the company, and that no captain would take a ship and its crew into harm’s way. Wade says that he never likes to see people questioning a captain’s decision, particularly those with no experience at sea.

A former merchant mariner and current maritime lawyer named Rod Sullivan told the South Florida Business Journal that the El Faro probably sailed due to routine.

People get wedded to their schedule. There are vendors, stevedores, truckers who are all expecting the ship to arrive. There’s pressure to keep on schedule.

That’s putting it charitably. Other mariners say that pressure from the shipping office is intense. On all kinds of forums where people are discussing this disaster, you’ll find sea veterans making comments like this:

To answer your question, the most likely reason that the El Faro sailed when and where she did was because she had a schedule to keep at San Juan’s container port, and that was paramount over the concern of risking the ship and the lives of those serving on her…

Some flunky at a desk in an office building somewhere scheduled a particular vessel to be at a certain place within a specified time window, and that’s pretty much it…details like war or weather or other such things are treated as just another thing that the crew is expected to “deal with.”

Executives at the parent company of TOTE Maritime acknowledged on Monday that the company could have vetoed the captain’s decision to set sail but say that Captain Davidson had a sound plan that would have enabled him to pass clearly ahead of the storm. Had the El Faro not lost propulsion, Davidson would most likely have succeeded.

Why the ship lost propulsion is still unknown. The ship left Jacksonville on Tuesday, September 29. At 7:15 AM on Thursday, October 1, the Coast Guard received distress alerts from the El Faro. Just before the alerts went out, Captain Davidson had notified TOTE Maritime that the ship had lost propulsion and was listing 15 degrees in the midst of Hurricane Joaquin. The captain also noted that the ship had taken on some flooding but that the crew had the situation under control. This was the last contact anyone had with the ship.

According to Rick Spilman of The Old Salt Blog, these vehicle carriers have an inherent weakness that might have doomed the El Faro.

Ro/ros have wide vehicle decks. They are essentially parking lots at sea. The wide and open decks are necessary for efficiently driving vehicles on and off ships. The problem is that even moderate flooding of the vehicle deck can dramatically destabilize a ro/ro. The sloshing of water on the vehicle deck, referred to as the “free surface effect,” can cause the ship to capsize rapidly and without warning.

In addition to the sloshing water in the vehicle deck, vehicles can become unsecured in heavy seas and slide to one side, causing a ship to list even more. That is what happened when the Korean ferry Sewol capsized in 2014.

The El Faro‘s emergency beacon sent out a signal briefly and then stopped. The beacon is designed to float away from the ship and continue sending a signal. If the El Faro capsized, the beacon could have been trapped underneath the ship, says Spilman.

In the estimation of Captain Joseph Murphy of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, two essential things to the survival of the ship were its ability to maintain propulsion and its power. He explains:

Propulsion so they can maneuver it and power so they can maintain communication. The other one is watertight integrity so that the ship is able to float. By all reports, she had a 15-degree list, which would have made it difficult for them to launch lifeboats. And she had lost power and communication so my suspicion is that they did not have either propulsion or power.

My personal belief – and I don’t have anything to go on other than experience, years of going to sea – is that the ship actually did capsize and sank very, very quickly.

Most people don’t think that much about mariners or the vessels they work on until tragedies like these occur. The fact is, almost everything we use and consume every day arrives to us by ship. The goods flow day and night, but transporting them is a risky enterprise. In addition to the grueling work schedules and battles over pay, there is the fact that mariners work in a wilderness as deadly as any other on Earth.

“Mother Nature is merciless and more powerful than we give her credit,” says a former maritime instructor to those who wonder why this happened. In a discussion at the Service Academy Forums, he says there is an evolution you go through.

Stage 1 is, I’m a little scared, but I trust you guys. Stage 2 is, I’m strong, I’m invincible, I can handle anything, BRING IT. A lot of people stop there. A lot of people LIVE under the illusion that because they can turn up a thermostat, turn on a faucet, flip a switch and cook a meal, that they have bested nature. Technology only takes you so far.

Forty-foot seas, 140-knot winds, no port to enter, no way off the ship, no one to negotiate with, no alternatives. Human beings can adapt to and overcome a lot of things, but sometimes there is a confluence of nature that makes it NOT POSSIBLE. And those people get to Stage 3: I am strong, I am trained, I am clever, and I have my wits – but I am a speck of dust on a capricious planet, and I am at its mercy.

"The Last Trip From Jacksonville to San Juan," by Alpha Unit

A US Navy salvage unit is headed to the debris fields near the last known location of the SS El Faro, a US-flagged cargo ship that sank last week during Hurricane Joaquin. What they want to recover immediately is the voyage data recorder, which captured the ship’s course and speed as well as onboard audio from the bridge. Once submerged, the recorder would have begun pinging. It has a battery life of 30 days.
The El Faro is a “roll-on/roll-off” cargo vessel designed to carry vehicles that are driven on and off the ship. It left Jacksonville, Florida, last Tuesday on its weekly run from Jacksonville to San Juan, Puerto Rico. It held 294 cars, trucks, and trailers below deck and 391 containers topside carrying groceries and other retail products.
There were 33 crew members, including Captain Michael Davidson, a veteran mariner of over 25 years’ experience. Twenty-eight of the crew members were from the United States and five were from Poland.
TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico operated the El Faro and says the 40-year-old vessel was sound and well-maintained and that it had passed its annual Coast Guard inspection in March. The question that has been floating around for the past week is “Why did the captain set sail in the face of a hurricane?”
Experienced mariners say that it isn’t at all unusual for a captain to head out under those conditions. One Merchant Marine captain, Laurence Wade, told the Portland Press Herald that sailing in bad weather, even in hurricanes, is part of the way of life for mariners.

You do the best you can. You ride it out. If the [El Faro] hadn’t lost power it would have been in San Juan by Friday and back in Jacksonville today.

Others remind us that the decision to sail rests with the captain, not with the company, and that no captain would take a ship and its crew into harm’s way. Wade says that he never likes to see people questioning a captain’s decision, particularly those with no experience at sea.
A former merchant mariner and current maritime lawyer named Rod Sullivan told the South Florida Business Journal that the El Faro probably sailed due to routine.

People get wedded to their schedule. There are vendors, stevedores, truckers who are all expecting the ship to arrive. There’s pressure to keep on schedule.

That’s putting it charitably. Other mariners say that pressure from the shipping office is intense. On all kinds of forums where people are discussing this disaster, you’ll find sea veterans making comments like this:

To answer your question, the most likely reason that the El Faro sailed when and where she did was because she had a schedule to keep at San Juan’s container port, and that was paramount over the concern of risking the ship and the lives of those serving on her…
Some flunky at a desk in an office building somewhere scheduled a particular vessel to be at a certain place within a specified time window, and that’s pretty much it…details like war or weather or other such things are treated as just another thing that the crew is expected to “deal with.”

Executives at the parent company of TOTE Maritime acknowledged on Monday that the company could have vetoed the captain’s decision to set sail but say that Captain Davidson had a sound plan that would have enabled him to pass clearly ahead of the storm. Had the El Faro not lost propulsion, Davidson would most likely have succeeded.
Why the ship lost propulsion is still unknown. The ship left Jacksonville on Tuesday, September 29. At 7:15 AM on Thursday, October 1, the Coast Guard received distress alerts from the El Faro. Just before the alerts went out, Captain Davidson had notified TOTE Maritime that the ship had lost propulsion and was listing 15 degrees in the midst of Hurricane Joaquin. The captain also noted that the ship had taken on some flooding but that the crew had the situation under control. This was the last contact anyone had with the ship.
According to Rick Spilman of The Old Salt Blog, these vehicle carriers have an inherent weakness that might have doomed the El Faro.

Ro/ros have wide vehicle decks. They are essentially parking lots at sea. The wide and open decks are necessary for efficiently driving vehicles on and off ships. The problem is that even moderate flooding of the vehicle deck can dramatically destabilize a ro/ro. The sloshing of water on the vehicle deck, referred to as the “free surface effect,” can cause the ship to capsize rapidly and without warning.

In addition to the sloshing water in the vehicle deck, vehicles can become unsecured in heavy seas and slide to one side, causing a ship to list even more. That is what happened when the Korean ferry Sewol capsized in 2014.
The El Faro‘s emergency beacon sent out a signal briefly and then stopped. The beacon is designed to float away from the ship and continue sending a signal. If the El Faro capsized, the beacon could have been trapped underneath the ship, says Spilman.
In the estimation of Captain Joseph Murphy of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, two essential things to the survival of the ship were its ability to maintain propulsion and its power. He explains:

Propulsion so they can maneuver it and power so they can maintain communication. The other one is watertight integrity so that the ship is able to float. By all reports, she had a 15-degree list, which would have made it difficult for them to launch lifeboats. And she had lost power and communication so my suspicion is that they did not have either propulsion or power.
My personal belief – and I don’t have anything to go on other than experience, years of going to sea – is that the ship actually did capsize and sank very, very quickly.

Most people don’t think that much about mariners or the vessels they work on until tragedies like these occur. The fact is, almost everything we use and consume every day arrives to us by ship. The goods flow day and night, but transporting them is a risky enterprise. In addition to the grueling work schedules and battles over pay, there is the fact that mariners work in a wilderness as deadly as any other on Earth.
“Mother Nature is merciless and more powerful than we give her credit,” says a former maritime instructor to those who wonder why this happened. In a discussion at the Service Academy Forums, he says there is an evolution you go through.

Stage 1 is, I’m a little scared, but I trust you guys. Stage 2 is, I’m strong, I’m invincible, I can handle anything, BRING IT. A lot of people stop there. A lot of people LIVE under the illusion that because they can turn up a thermostat, turn on a faucet, flip a switch and cook a meal, that they have bested nature. Technology only takes you so far.
Forty-foot seas, 140-knot winds, no port to enter, no way off the ship, no one to negotiate with, no alternatives. Human beings can adapt to and overcome a lot of things, but sometimes there is a confluence of nature that makes it NOT POSSIBLE. And those people get to Stage 3: I am strong, I am trained, I am clever, and I have my wits – but I am a speck of dust on a capricious planet, and I am at its mercy.

Tulio on Black Crime and Feminism and What to Do About Them

Tulio, a Black man in his 30’s, is a regular commenter on the site. It was nice to see him move out defensive mode on the subject and write a deep and heartfelt post about these matters which are so painfully dear to his heart. He said that he thinks about this stuff constantly, as he is a young Black man. That’s sad, but if you care, it’s understandable.
Tulio notes that the problem is now so entrenched that it seems to be intractable. He also notes the corrosive effect of a lot of the new Black music.
Even White prison gang members have remarked on how detrimental they feel this music has been to White youth in recent years. They say young White man come to prison after listening to hip hop for years and think they are tough badass gangsters going to live it up in paradise in a maximum security prison. And boy do they have another thing coming!
I would like to thank Tulio for this post. Even if these problems seem intractable, we should at least be discussing them, as the human and societal damage is of epic proportions.

Black Crime

As for Black crime, it’s a confluence of a lot of different things and not an easy problem to solve.
Single motherhood. You have a lot of fatherless homes and single mothers. While not all single mothers raise bad sons (I personally know great guys raised by single moms), most guys in prison never had a strong father in their life. Women’s role is nurture; men’s role is discipline. Boys aren’t afraid of their moms. They’re afraid of their dads. Boys need fathers first and foremost.
I don’t know what the high cause of single motherhood is in the Black underclass. I truly have no idea, and I think about this stuff all the time since I’m a Black man. It wasn’t always like this. There was a time that Blacks were known for having strong families. The explosion seems to have happened in the 60s.
I don’t think there’s anything genetic about it. This doesn’t seem to be the case in Africa, especially traditional African society. It seems to be something unique to Black Americans. I don’t know what it looks like amongst Black Latins or Caribbeans. But family in Africa seems pretty strong, so I know it’s not genetic.
Dead zones. Secondly you have a large cultural vacuum in certain parts of the country.
Do you ever read about how there are dead zones in the ocean? Certain areas where there is not enough oxygen and that part of the ocean is devoid of life?
The inner cities of America are dead zones. They are islands of misery, hopelessness, broken schools, high unemployment, drugs, urban decay. There’s very little there to give people inspiration and hope. The church is often the only thing. The people living there have just enough so as not to revolt, yet not enough for them to be functional players in the economy.
The origin of such ghettos can be traced back to segregation. Some of these communities thrived at a time and were fairly self-sufficient. The Black middle class fled these places. And all that was left behind were the poor and a crumbling society. The middle class Blacks might have served as role models to those less fortunate. The Whites didn’t care about them either. Everyone that could afford to get out, got out.
So what can be done about it? I don’t know. The problem seems almost intractable. So I guess the only real solution here would be some sort of gentrification. Concentrated poverty is a very dangerous thing. As I’ve shown before, it can turn White people violent as well like it did in NYC tenements or as it currently does in Glasgow.
Spreading the poor out a bit should help. And it should also make their behavior better through cultural osmosis.
I can imagine no worse situation than being a Black kid raised by a poor single mother where the only male role models are thuggish rappers and drug dealers. They need to see other things and get out of that box. They need something positive to aspire to.
High unemployment. When unemployment is high, it makes working in the dark side of the economy more seductive. I’m sure many of these kids coming up would like to be able to make a decent living and not have to worry about ending up in jail or getting gunned down. But the fewer jobs there are, the more it makes the risk of selling drugs seem worth it. Even fairly decent people will start acting shady if that’s the only way they have to survive.
Well one major problem is that many blue collar jobs that Blacks used to do for a living wage either went to China or went to illegal aliens. It wasn’t uncommon to see Black carpenters, drywallers, construction workers, meatpackers, etc.
Now these jobs are almost all entirely done by Mexicans illegally in the country. This was a huge issue in the rebuilding of New Orleans after Katrina. There were a lot of Blacks out of work that wanted those construction jobs, and they were livid that they were going to Mexicans who aren’t even citizens and don’t even have any roots in the city. How can anyone not feel their pain?
The gutting of solid blue collar work has had a huge effect on Rust Belt White America but it has been an utter disaster for Black America. I see no easy solution here either.
Music. I also thing the music is a problem. Now maybe it’s an issue of art imitating life, or it’s the other way around, I don’t know. But I do think it has something of a feedback loop effect. A lot or rap music, even if not explicitly advocating violence, tends to reinforce a lot of selfish attitudes, hyper-materialism, fast money, fast women, party hard, a lot of Machiavellianism. It’s pervasive, even in the more lukewarm hiphop music.
Sometimes it’s just the attitude. The anger. One rarely sees rappers smiling or seeming happy unless surrounded by money, bling and sexy women. This stuff has to stop, and if I had a kid, I’d be very careful about what they listen to.
That said, not all rap music is like that, a lot of it is positive and life affirming. Some of it is great to dance too or just enjoy in the background if you have the smarts to not get caught up in the Machiavellian stuff.
It should also be noted that not all “Black music” is like this. The majority of Black music is not rap and does not contain violent lyrics. Unfortunately though, most of the music young Black males of the inner city listen to will be rap and often with terrible messages. What can anyone do about this? Not much, as long as there’s a first amendment, rappers can pretty much talk about whatever they want sell their music to whomever they want, most of which is bought by Whites anyway.
Sorry I don’t have any easy solutions, but these are just a few things that contribute to the issue.

Feminism

As for feminism, and I assume we’re talking about feminism of the more militant variety, the Pandora’s Box is open on that one. I wish things had stayed with equity feminism, and we could’ve left it there. But it then evolved into an assault on gender roles and gender as some sort of social construct rather than biological reality. That’s what happens when people with PhD’s take over the movement.
I know it’s not realistic for every American man to find a foreign woman, but for those that can, I think that’s the best solution. Foreign women are much more enjoyable to be around.

Best Explanation Yet For the Holodomor

Repost from the old site.
First of all, we really ought to note that there was no “Holodomor” as the Ukrainian nationalists and Ukrainian Nazis have it. According to them, there was a man-made famine in the Ukraine in 1932 and 1933 that led to 6 million Ukrainians dying.
The harvest was excellent, but the evil Stalinists confiscated all of the grain to starve the people due to their resistance to collectivization. This is the view that Americans have been fed their entire lives by the controlled US propaganda media (There is no free press of any consequence in the USA).
Most historians now completely reject the notion that the USSR intentionally starved anyone to death in order to punish them for resisting the state’s directives. There was a famine in 1933, and it continued for a few years afterward, but it extended over most of the USSR and was not confined to the Ukraine. The government was not happy about the famine and took severe measures to curtail it.
Most died of disease after being weakened by famine, not of starvation itself. Poor decisions were made by the state, but historically, this is often the case during famines. One can argue that the famine was caused by state policies, in particular an effort to jump-start collectivization and do it very rapidly.
A similar effort in China in 1959-1962 also caused a famine and led to 15 million deaths, again, mostly from disease. There seems to be a pattern of too-rapid collectivization of agriculture causing disastrous famines in Communist countries (something similar happened during Pol Pot’s reign).
There was also an armed struggle going on, with bands of kulaks taking up arms against party officials, collective farms and farmers, etc. In the course of this armed struggle, the state killed 390,000 people, mostly Ukrainians. If you want to call this mass murder or genocide or whatever, you’re entitled to do that, but that’s not what the Holodomor crowd is arguing.
Also, there was widespread sabotage in the USSR around this time, mostly in the Ukraine again, whereby those resisting cultivation destroyed 50% of the livestock in the USSR and a good part of the grain crop too.
The reasons for the famine and the story of the famine itself are quite complex and go beyond the scope of this post. For now, this review by Mark Tauger of a recent book by Davies and Wheatcroft perhaps sums up the famine in the USSR during this period to the best of our knowledge. Instead of summarizing this complicated review, I will just link to it and let you go read it yourself.
On a related note, it appears that the Ukrainian Nazis (Holodomor crowd) have taken over an article called “Holodomor Denial” and pretty much ruined it. Most of the people accused of being Holodomor Deniers do acknowledge that there was a famine in the USSR during this period that killed at least 1 million people.
Walter Duranty, the famous New York Times columnist, acknowledged at least 3 million deaths from famine. Douglas Tottle, Mario Sousa and Jeff Conlon, all supposedly Holodomor Deniers according to this outrageously biased article, all agreed that from 1-2 million died of a famine in the USSR during this period.
The reason the Ukrainian Nazis have even come up with the phrase Holodomor Denial is to parrot the Jews’ Holocaust Denial. The Holodomor was given that name in the late 1980’s by Ukrainian nationalists in Canada, most of whom supported the Nazis and often fought beside them in WW2. Anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denial are rampant amongst these fascist supporters.
Just to show you how wicked Wikipedia is, take a look at the talk page for the article. The talk page was taken over by Ukrainian Nazis, I mean Holodomorists. Check out this entry.
The person who wrote that, Jeff Peters, was subsequently permanently banned from working on Wikipedia merely for opposing the Ukrainian Nazis’ Holodomor lies. Here is his talk page with all the dirty details. Looks like he was also a supporter of Hezbollah and the Palestinians and ran afoul of the Wikipedia Jews.
This is par for the course on Wikipedia. Most articles on Communism are seriously ruined by the Wikipedia Cabal. The Cabal, which takes orders from Jimmy Wales himself, is heavily loaded with libertarians who are quite hostile to any kind of socialism or social justice.
Jimmy Wales himself is a wild and extreme libertarian who argued that the federal government should not have lifted one finger to help the Hurricane Katrina victims in any way.
It’s amazing that not one single article in the “US free press” about Wikipedia or its corrupt founder has ever mentioned the extreme corruption and intellectual dishonesty at Wikipedia, the propaganda cabals that are allowed to run amok, or even Wales’ own extreme political views themselves. A free press in the US? It would be a great idea!
Was there famine? Yes. Was there a Holodomor? No.
The most responsible estimate of deaths due to the famine range from 1.5-6 million over a few years across much of the USSR.
It is interesting that in private correspondence, Robert Conquest, who for decades insisted that the famine was intentional (his view is now the received wisdom on the subject in the West) admitted in private correspondence with Davies and Wheatcroft that the famine was not intentional.
It’s truly sad that what is now regarded as settled fact among responsible historians is still regarded as wild, unheard-of propaganda in much of the West. But then we get back to that wonderful American “free press” again, right?

References

Coplon, Jeff. January 12, 1988. In Search of a Soviet Holocaust. The Village Voice. Douglas Furr’s website.
Coplon, Jeff. March 1988. Rewriting History – How Ukrainian Nationalists Imposed Their Doctored History on High School Students CAPITAL Region. Douglas Furr’s website.
Davies, R. W. and Wheatcroft, Steven G. 2004. The Years of Hunger: Soviet Agriculture, 1931-1933. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Souza, Mario. Lies Concerning the History of the Soviet Union. North Star Compass website.
Tauger, Mark B. 1991. The 1932 Harvest and the Famine of 1933. Slavic Review 50:1, pp. 70-89.
Tottle, Douglas. 1987. Fraud, Famine, and Fascism: the Ukrainian Genocide Myth from Hitler to Harvard. Toronto: Progress Books.

Wikipedia on Mao

Repost from the old site.
Granted, he’s a controversial fellow all right, but this hit piece is just an outrageous travesty of anti-Communist propaganda. The discussion page shows the details of the travesty, including the banning of anyone promoting an opposite point of view (a typical smarmy Wikipedia “Neutral Point of View” practice).
My 1990 World Book article on China< and my Time-Life book, China, from 1962 (height of the Cold War) are vastly more fair than this. World Book is hardly pro-Communist and Time-Life was always fanatically anti-Communist.
Fact is, Wikipedia is run by a bunch of little libertarian shits. Jimmy Wales is a wild-eyed, fanatical libertarian crazy person, and he’s using his evil website to try to poison the mind of a planet in favor of his libertarian nightmare.
That’s his right, but the US “free press” (there is no free press in the US) really ought to call him on it. I’ve seen all sorts of MSM bullshit about Jimmy and his jerk-off webcyclopedia, and every single one of them has been a fawning valentine (as we call such pieces in the journalism field).
Never once has even one article hinted that Wikipedia is grossly unfair, or that it is run by various cabals that are all tied in with the super-cabal of ultra-right libertarian Hindutva-Zionists around Wales. It might be nice to let the world know exactly what the politics of him and his creepy followers really are.
Let them know that Wales was furious that the federal government had done anything whatsoever to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina before, during and after the storm in any way whatsoever. Can you imagine?
In Wales World, there is no role for a government to play in a world-class hurricane. Need to be rescued? Call your friend who obviously has a helicopter, or pay $1000’s for some Israeli-cum-Halliburton mercenaries to come rescue your ass.
No government help to put up victims afterwards, to clean up the mess, or even to collect the fucking bodies. Let the epidemics come. No government help to rebuild the city afterwards. Let it stay underwater oozing gators, toxic waste, mold, decaying flesh and ruined structures. All of this is the proper domain of the private sector! Can you imagine how many people would have died?
I mean, this is what we got anyway under Libertarian Lite George Bush, but in Jimmy World, things would have been incalculably worse.
Look. If that’s Jimmy’s worldview, no problem. Hell, there are still dedicated Pol Potists out there. But the world really ought to know what Jimmy Wales’ fanatical ultra political views are so they can decide whether or not they agree. They should also be told how he uses his fake unbiased Webcyclopedia like Rupert Murdoch uses his media empire, to push reactionary politics in the name of “fair and balanced” bullshit.
That the “liberal media” MSM refuses to do this is worrying. It makes me wonder how reactionary they really are. Is the MSM as ultra-right as Wales, or are they just scared to talk about it? What’s up?

Notes

1. Here is some text from my World Book article on China. Note how the very rightwing World Book encyclopedia is able to acknowledge that Mao did many great things:
The Communist government has achieved an impressive record of economic growth. The Communists have provided widespread job opportunities, job security and a more even income distribution to the workers…China’s farm output has expanded greatly under the Communists…Production of chickens and livestock has improved significantly since 1950…
Under the Communists, industrial production has grown at an average rate of 12% per year…Since 1950, China has made great progress in educating its children. The number of children in both elementary and secondary school has increased sharply…Communist have conducted mass literacy campaigns so that now 75% of the population is literate…
All of the Communists’ health programs have resulted in a population that is much healthier than before. The Communists have almost wiped out cholera, typhoid and many other horrible diseases that used to kill millions of Chinese every year.

“Facing the Next Fifty Years: Global Warming,” by Abiezer Coppe

Climate change is killing 150,000 people a year now. That is the estimate of the World Health Organization for the year 2000, and now it is ten years out of date. So let us double that:

The once in a thousand year 2010 Moscow Heatwave caused an estimated 15,000 deaths.

For the “we have nothing to do with it” global warming deniers, here is a little primer on the current state of the science.

The science is already in.

There are metacommentaries on Russia’s heatwave here and here.

Climate records are being broken all over the world this year.

This is the actuality. It does matter. We can, all of us as individuals, do something.

Stopping global warming is actually a dream from which some of us still have to awake: it is more realistic to prepare ourselves and our society for the shocks that will inevitably come by practicing bioresilience. Our extraordinary adaptability as a species will be tested to the utmost in the next one hundred years. We have never had a challenge like it in the history of mankind.

Slowing the rate of growth of human carbon emissions (the global economic recession did so last year, although I see no real evidence at the level of political leaderships to cut carbon emissions) is one goal for the political elites, with eventual cuts at some unspecified date in the future, but a reduction of carbon emissions by 90% is actually what we must aim at as a society, which involves almost inconceivable transformations in the way we live, work, eat, travel and generate energy. A worldwide citizens’ movement is our tool.

We shall still move to a hotter world, but one that we shall survive, with far more modest and local lifestyles. We/I will also make the spiritual shift in our/my consciousness, and create new ways for ourselves/myself and our/my children to connect with and appreciate the beauties of nature in our over-informatized and mediatized world. Spiritual shift has now become a categorical imperative. Be the change you want to see. May I be the change I want to see…in me and in my world.

We have the luxury, in the privileged West, of having a little bit of potential space in our lives to accomplish this. If you are starving, drowning (as in Bangladesh and Pakistan), living at the edge of subsistence (Mali, Niger and Southern Sudan) and walking 12 miles a day simply to fetch water, there is much less space.

And the very poor are not producing the carbon emissions. It is us, in the developed world. I am not asking for guilt or a hair shirt: I am asking for awareness. And action. From myself, and from you!

Too much information, especially about such an explosive topic, actually creates anxiety and depression: have you noticed? I did in 2006, when I studied global warming nonstop for months. Too much (usually poor quality) information is actually the curse of our world: paying it too much attention creates a state of no peace.

Therefore we/I need to learn new ways to care for ourselves/myself, as we/I reconnect with the warp and weft of our ineffably beautiful and breathtaking living planet.

In time, perhaps, too, biodiversity will start to return to a planet currently in the sixth great extinction crisis of its long geological history. We need not be a plague on the planet. It is not our purpose here.

Once we come from a place of deeper peace and connection in ourselves, we rule out fear and chase it from our bodily abode: we then inspire others to seek that as well. Our activism has a more transformational quality on all around us. I have much to learn, much to heal, and much to change in myself.

Most campaigners, and part of the scientific community (James Hansen in particular), think that emissions cuts should begin at the latest by 2015. With the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition in power until then, we certainly have our work cut out.

“Business as usual” = civilizational collapse, sooner or later. And unimaginable human suffering. The suffering of Pakistan at the moment, but multiplied a million fold…

If you do not care, do not have children. They may not forgive you. Consciousness is rising about the scale of the challenge we face.

If you wish to be up to date on the subject of global warming, read the scientists! I suggest here and the NOAA, plus the climate progress website mentioned above.

I read them, and I am not a scientist.

The human race currently emits 29 billion tons (29 gigatons – more here) of carbon a year. And we do not do it by breathing or farting alone!

We have multiplied our biological carbon emissions as a species many fold through the development of technology, which required the burning of fossil fuels, the ancient sunlight of antiquity. Thus we become our own Nemesis.

It is difficult to point to any aspect of our current material lives that is not dependent on fossil fuels in some way, from plastic bags to cheap food.

We are changing the climate, and without global carbon emission reductions there is a point of no return, where positive feedbacks kick in and carbon emissions from natural processes such as the melting of the subarctic tundra, the loss of arctic sea ice in summer, and the burning of the world’s forests, start to render annual human emissions almost insignificant, kicking global warming into high gear.

We have – perhaps – a little window of opportunity now. It is human to hope. Nobody knows how long we have. It seems, from my many years of reading on the subject of global warming, that the window will certainly close by 2030.

And that date is based on the most optimistic of all projections.

When the climate “tipping points” are passed (the scientific consensus – but no one really knows – is that this starts to happen at 1.5 to 2 degrees centigrade above preindustrial global temperatures: we are currently 0.8 degrees Centigrade above), we are in for a very rough ride indeed.

That article is from yesterday’s UK newspaper, The Independent.

Given the current levels of urgency regarding this issue on the part of the global elites, runaway global warming is currently more likely than not.

Anthropogenic global warming has the potential to be the new global genocide. A genocide of the poor by the richest countries, with the highest per capita output of carbon emissions. Ask a Pakistani farmer in Sindh province how he is doing at the moment, and what his prospects are for 2011.

With runaway climate change, civilization will collapse, and there will – at some point after 2050 – be a catastrophic collapse in the global human population in the “business as usual” scenario (I do not like James Lovelock’s politics at all, but in that sense he is hard to contradict). For more on this, see Anatoly Karlin’s review of Six Degrees, by Mark Lynas.

It is a very graphic and a very detailed description, degree by degree of global warming above pre-industrial levels, of how human-induced global warming is changing the world we live in. And the précis saves you reading the book.

By 2020, at the current 0.2 degrees Centigrade of global warming per decade, we shall have passed the threshold of 1 degree of global warming globally since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

Here is Anatoly Karlin’s summary of one degree of global warming.

One Degree

Though the Great Plains are one of the world’s great agricultural breadbaskets, a desert slumbers underneath. Increased dessication and pummeling storms will erode away the thin topsoil, recreating the Dust Bowl on a giant scale and re-awakening the sand dunes. More irrigation will only postpone the inevitable. There will be large-scale migration to the wetter Mid-West and Great Lakes regions. AK: actually called the Great American Desert during the 19th century!, and is now dependent on depleting Oglalla Aquifer.

Higher rainfall, glacial melt and strengthening Siberian rivers may interrupt the Gulf Stream (part of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation system), drying western Europe and cooling it by as much as 2 C – recreating the conditions of the Little Ice Age during the worst winters. However, most models predict this will be a slow death. AK: If not, expect increased European dependency on Russian gas during the 2010′s and 2020′s.

In Africa, Kilimanjaro will lose its remaining ice by 2020 – causing wildfires, fish stock declines and problems with hydroelectricity production. Based on paleoclimate, in the long term, there will be a greening of the Sahara (into a savanna) and an enlarged Lake Chad…however, models say that there will only be a short interlude of heavier rains in the Sahel and on the West African coast, followed by even fiercer drought.

Coral reefs around the world will be increasingly bleached and taken over by seaweed; polar bears are pushed off the top of the world and creatures like pikas are shoved off the planet, accelerating the Anthropocene Mass Extinction event. Hurricanes will become stronger and more ubiquitous, spreading to the South Atlantic. More rockfalls in the Alps. Increased incidence of drought in the Amazon, pushing it to the brink. Atolls become doomed worlds, fated to submerge amidst the rising waves.

It will have taken around 250 years for a one degree rise in the mean global temperature to occur. However, climate dynamics are like a slumbering beast. There is a great deal of inertia locked into the system. First, there is very good evidence that the level of greenhouse gases being added to the atmosphere is itself rising. Secondly, the rate of global warming has been speeding up. Therefore we can, optimistically, expect the second degree of global warming after 2050, even with a concerted scaleback in emissions. That is within my children’s lifetime.

Now read Karlin’s summary of two degrees. Many of us will live to see this. At 0.3 degrees centigrade of increase in the global mean temperature per decade, two degrees arrives in 2053. A “climatic flip” is also possible: a sudden, dramatic acceleration, leading to climate collapse, from our perspective. The British Meteorological Office considers four degrees of global warming a possibility by 2060:

Now read Karlin on four degrees of global change. Are we not living through a planetary emergency?

Please read Anatoly Karlin’s review of Lynas if you read nothing else I reference. It is a glimpse into the uncertain future toward which we are headed, with no stars to steer by.

Global capitalism requires 3% compound growth to continue in existence, as David Harvey explains here in 3 parts. Capitalism must expand, or die. Both natural and institutional limits to the self-reproduction of Capital are a mortal threat to its very being. 3% compound growth, and our additional numbers, explain why the human species has moved from using 62% of planetary biocapacity in 1961 to 144% of planetary biocapacity in 2006. Is your country living within the mercy of its ecological means? Check the ecological footprint network atlas.

Not sustainable, and not a good outlook for the species. “No future, no future, no future for me,” as the Sex Pistols once sang.

I suspect, therefore, that the answer to human survival in this century and the next, and a civilizational level higher than that described in the visionary and beautiful written novel of our potential future in a much warmer world, Far North by Marcel Theroux, lies in a re-visioning and implementation of communism.

Read it and see what you think; then comment.

Despite the 20th century deviation of Communism from its original envisioning by Marx and Engels and the ecological disasters of the Eastern Bloc, Mao’s China and the Soviet Union, Marx’s vision of post-scarcity communism was profoundly ecological.

Cuba is the only country in the world today that lives within its ecological limits (page 14).

I find it very heartening that there remains one country in the world that has, largely by default, found a sustainable way to live, and that it is, with all its human rights and politico-economic flaws, a non-capitalist country.

Cuba is a glimmer of hope in a world ruled by the mantras of greed and growth. But not the only one by any means. People are waking up all over the world. Morales’ Bolivia, one of poorest countries in the world, and heavily dependent on extractive mining, has produced one of the most visionary ecological statements of the last year (to find it go to the Climate and Capitalism website).

Hope was the last thing left in the Greek myth of Pandora’s box, which we have, in the course of industrial civilization, unknowingly thrown open wide.

May we not let hope fly away altogether: this is my prayer for my children and yours, their children and your grandchildren.

Worries About Starving Pets In New Orleans May be Exaggerated

Repost from the old site. This is a famous post. It got tons of hits on the old site, but it’s an old post.



As you can see from these pics here, the widespread worries about all the lost pets, especially dogs and cats, starving to death in NOLA after Hurricane Katrina are somewhat overdrawn. Clearly, some pets, such as the enterprising hungry stray dog above, are finding plenty of food on their own, although it’s not exactly Alpo.

Some folks asked me why the MSM (mainstream media) doesn’t show these pics, and I said I did not know.

Clearly, the MSM have been carrying water for Bush for much of this disaster, though at the start, segments of the media demonstrated some rarely-seen backbone and stood up to Bush for once, as demonstrated in my previous post, New Orleans Is Gone.

Does the media not like to show disgusting pics like this, out of ethics (sic) or worry over being criticized for pandering (as if they don’t pander enough as it is)?

Not sure what the answer is. Feel free to weigh in.

Pics from Postman Patel, a fine British blog.

One more thing: alligators. Initial posts noted that rumors of alligators in NOLA after Katrina were unfounded. However, we now have verification, via Juan Cole’s blog, that alligators have in fact been lunching on folks in NOLA. Sorry folks, no pics yet. But I’m working on it.

What about other hungry critters? Anderson Cooper on CNN noted here that he observed rats eating corpses in NOLA. Sorry, no photos of that either.

I have received numerous complaints and comments about this post:

  1. The dog (there is only one dog in both pics) is not eating people but is instead a cadaver dog – dogs that work with police to locate corpses.
  2. Those are not corpses, but “dummies“.
  3. These photos and “sensationalistic captions” are a reflection of the “poor journalistic standards” of National Geographic and put it on a par with National Inquirer.
  4. They can’t be stray dogs because strays always operate in packs.
  5. This post is amateur, yellow-journalistic tripe, and its credibility is further weakened by appearing on a “random blog”.
  6. The dog is only interested in hands and feet and therefore must be a cadaver dog and cannot be a stray dog.
  7. I am not honest, and the MSM is objectively more honest than I am. (Now that’s insulting!)

In order to try to resolve these questions, I somehow tracked down the freelance photographer who took the second photo (I still can’t figure out who took the first photo).

Allen Frederickson is a freelance photographer from Milwaukee who was in NOLA after the flood to cover it as a photojournalist. I communicated with Fredrickson via email and phone to try to resolve some of the questions posed above about his photo. Here is his abridged email correspondence:

Robert, you present some interesting questions. I work for Reuters as a contact photographer, and have since August 1990. Faking or manipulating photos is not a smart practice, and something I do not engage in. Corbis [where one of the photos was found on the web] does some of the secondary sales for Reuters .

The photo in question was taken in New Orleans on at 3:39 PM (according to digital info on my camera) on September 5, not September 6, as National Geographic states on their website.

The photo was taken as I flew as an embedded photographer in a U.S. Army Chinook helicopter piloted by National Guard aviators. The Guard was engaged in repair of a levee wall very close to the south side of Lake Pontchartrain.

The dog in the photo appeared to be a stray, and the corpse was about 50 yards from the spot where 16,000 pound bags of sand (actually crushed limestone) were being dropped. On two separate runs, about 15 minutes apart, the dog appeared to be eating this poor man’s leg.

I cannot imagine the dog was simply licking his master, but that’s an outside possibility. The pilot of the Chinook told me he’d seen two dogs, a black one and this brown [or yellow] one, near the cadaver for the past three days, (September 3-5), as he helped drop bags. There were no live persons on the ground in the area, and no indications that either of the two dogs near this man would be cadaver dogs.

In his phone conversation with me, Allen basically reiterated these points. He said that cadaver dogs operate with police close by, and there were no police or any live humans period anywhere near this site for days on end. Furthermore, the dogs in question had been running wild and hanging around the corpses for three days prior, once again under no human supervision.

I think we can put this matter to rest and assume that this yellow dog was actually eating a human corpse in NOLA at 3:39 PM on September 5, 2005 on the south side of Lake Pontchartrain. Further, we can suspect that the same dog may have eaten another corpse around the same time frame (note the first pic from an unknown source).

We can also assume that the yellow dog and a black dog had possibly been eating at least the body in the second pic above for the prior three days.

Let us deal with the questions above. The dog in the pics is a stray dog, not a cadaver dog. The bodies were real bodies, not dummies. The fact that the what may be the same dog is eating two bodies is not relevant and does not prove he is a cadaver dog.

Dogs who eat people eat extremities, not just central areas, and cadaver dogs are not the only dogs who investigate extremities of corpses. Stray dogs do not always operate in packs, maybe especially after major disasters like this one.

Based on Fredrickson’s statements, National Geographic is not exercising poor, National Enquirer-style judgment in its photos or captions, nor am I dishonest.

The notion that blogs are an inherently dishonest medium is a common prejudice against us poor unpaid bloggers, and it seems to be without substance. Some bloggers are principled and fact-check (ahem), well while others are pretty atrocious and don’t check sources.

In contrast, the MSM has been demonstrably dishonest for a long time, as Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent and other works make clear.

The second photo above (Fredrickson’s photo) has appeared in a number of other places on the Net. The original National Geographic site where the photo appeared is here. It also appeared on the Corbis site, where some posters nabbed it.

The first photo mysteriously appeared only on this strange site here. The site is accessible only through it’s uploads folder; the main page is blank. In the past, this odd page has been used to upload controversial photos to the web. Fredrickson says he did not take that shot, and he knows nothing about it. The page with the photo may be affiliated with the Indymedia Pittsburgh site here, based on its partial web address.

Final Katrina Death Toll at 4,081

Repost from the old blog. I received a lot of criticism for this, but this is still probably the best death toll for direct and indirect deaths for Hurricane Katrina out there.
I used my own total of 1,723 direct deaths combined with testimony about a study done after the hurricane that showed a huge increase in excess deaths in the period after the hurricane was over. The resulting total of 4,081 is probably the most accurate total out there for direct and indirect deaths from the storm so far, unless someone has added in some more indirect deaths. This figure came under some criticism, but it is based on the solid epidemiological theory of excess mortality.
My official death toll of 1,723, representing deaths due to immediate and direct effects of the storm, has not changed since August 22, 2006. However, we now have a fascinating document that comes from testimony delivered to Congress, which has caused me to raise the total deaths from Katrina due to direct and immediate plus delayed effects to 4,081.
For those who are interested, a list of 1,195 people who were killed in the hurricane is available here.
The testimony was part of a hearing titled Post Katrina Health Care: Continuing Concerns and Immediate Needs in the New Orleans Region given before the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on March 13, 2007.
The list of speakers is here. Of particular interest in terms of the Katrina death toll was the testimony given by a physician, Dr. Kevin Stephens, Sr., Director pf the New Orleans Health Department.
In his testimony (pdf), Stephens points out that New Orleans already had serious public health problems before the hurricane, including large numbers of poor and uninsured people. The number of doctors has been reduced by 70% and the number of hospital beds in Orleans Parish has been reduced by 75%.
In some areas such as the Lower Ninth Ward and New Orleans East in Orleans Parish and Chalmette and other places in St. Bernard Parish, residents have no access to health care whatsoever. Mental health is another serious problem: even last year, 20% of residents reported suffering from severe stress and depression.
Yet the number of mental health inpatient beds has been reduced by 83% and the number of psychiatrists has dropped by 90%. Residents reported observing a larger than usual number of death notices in the newspaper, even long after Katrina and into 2006. At the same time, even months after the storm, residents reported going to more funerals than they ever had.
These anecdotal reports caused Stephens and a team to undertake a study to count the number of death notices in the New Orleans Times-Picayune and compare it to a reference year which would serve as a baseline. 2003 was chosen as a reference year. The data can be seen on page nine of the testimony linked above.
In the first six months of 2003, 5,544 deaths were counted. In the first six months of 2006, 7,902 were counted, an increase of 2,358 deaths over baseline in the post-Katrina period. Based on this, we will assign 2,358 deaths as caused by the accelerated death rates that occurred in New Orleans even long after the storm.
Although the population of New Orleans is only 1/2 what it was prior to the storm, the obituaries covered not only New Orleans but also included many of the refugees tossed about to various parts of the country.
Based on this new information, we can add the previous toll of 1,723 to the new post-Katrina figure of 2,358 to posit a new unofficial death toll of 4,081. Possible causes of the excess deaths in 2006 include stress, suicide, pollution, contamination, impoverishment and the devastation of the heath sector after Katrina. For instance, the suicide rate tripled in the first 10 months after Katrina.
Thanks to Ezra Boyd of Louisiana State University for sending me this information.

Louisiana 20061: Tue., Mar. 13, 2007: 2,358
Louisiana:       Mon., Aug. 2, 2006:  1,464
Mississippi:     Tue., Jan. 24, 2006:   238
Florida:         Mon., Jan. 9, 2006:     14
Georgia:         Mon., Jan. 9, 2006:      2
Alabama:         Mon., Jan. 9, 2006:      2
Ohio2:           Wed., Aug. 31, 2005:     2
Kentucky3:       Wed., Aug. 31, 2005:     1
Total:                                4,081

Footnoted totals are controversial. Explanations for controversial totals follows:
1The explanation for the 2,358 excess deaths in the first six months of 2006 as compared to the baseline of the first six months of 2003, presumably due to various effects of Hurricane Katrina, is above. This total reflects deaths due to delayed effects, whereas the other figures all represent more immediate and direct effects of the storm.
2The two Ohio victims are Cassondra Ground, 19, of Monroeville, Ohio, and Thelma Niedzinski, 84, of Norwalk, Ohio. Both were killed in a car accident near Monroeville, Ohio on August 30, 2005. The Ohio State Highway Patrol felt that a wet road caused by Hurricane Katrina caused the car accident. See Ohioans Focus on Helping Katrina Victims, Jay Cohen, Associated Press, August 31, 2005.
3The Kentucky victim was Deanna Petsch, 10, of Hopkinsville, Kentucky. On August 29, 2005, she fell into a Hurricane Katrina-swollen ditch in Hopkinsville and drowned. See Storm Surge: State Gets Soaked, City Avoids Major Flooding, Homes, Life Lost in Hopkinsville, Sheldon S. Shafer and James Malone, The Louisville (Kentucky) Courier-Journal, August 31, 2005.
Update: This post has been linked on the always-excellent blog Majikthise and criticized in the comments there. The comments question how the 2,368 excess deaths after Katrina can possibly be attributed to Hurricane Katrina. Answer: They cannot.
But using that number is perfectly in accord with the Theory of Excess Mortality. That theory is widely used by epidemiologists, and was used by Les Roberts’ team to come up with the figure of 655,000 excess deaths in Iraq since the US invasion.
Dr. Gideon Polya has done a lot of work in the area of excess mortality and avoidable mortality, some of which has been published in peer-reviewed journals. Examples of his work are here, here and here.
Can we prove that anything in particular is causing excess mortality in any particular place, absent disaster or war? Nope. But something is killing people in various places at various times at an excessive rate. Anecdotal evidence indicated that many more people than normal were dying in New Orleans in the three to nine months post-Hurricane Katrina. Something was killing them.
They just didn’t up and decide that 2006 was a nice year for dying. Barring other reasonable factors, we may assume that Hurricane Katrina had something to do with the excess deaths in New Orleans. The theory and methodology used in my Katrina excess deaths post in no less rigorous than that used by Roberts, Polya and epidemiologists everywhere.
This comment in the same thread on Majikthise backs up my comments quite well.
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Final Katrina Direct Death Toll At 1,723

Repost from the old blog. This is my tally of the final death toll from Hurricane Katrina from a number of sources. I am not sure if it differs a bit from the official toll, but if it does, I am confident that my total if the better one. It was quoted as the official toll on Wikipedia for a long time.
Update: The indirect Katrina death toll has risen from 1,723 to 4,098 as of March 13, 2007. See my post, Final Katrina Death Toll at 4,081 for details. A list of 1,195 people who were killed in Hurricane Katrina is available on this website here.
For what it’s worth, Seth Abramson, an attorney/poet blogger, has been hammering away at the discrepancies in Mississippi’s death toll for some time now, making various allegations that Haley Barbour is hiding the real death toll in Mississippi.
It is true that the suicide rate in New Orleans went up after Hurricane Katrina for a number of months, but the only figures available are per 1000,000 population figures, and until we can determine the population of New Orleans month by month post-Katrina, there is no way to figure out what that number is.
It is helpful to look at a couple of overviews of what Hurricane Katrina actually was. First, a timeline, and then a fact sheet (both the timeline and the fact sheet are from the producers of Surviving Katrina, a promising documentary directed by Phil Craig and produced by the Discovery Channel. This film will be showing on August 27 at 9 PM across the US:

Timeline

Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Hurricane Katrina starts forming over the Bahamas and is identified by the National Hurricane Centre at 5 PM as Tropical Depression 12.
Wednesday, August 24
Tropical Depression 12 strengthens into a tropical storm and is named Katrina.
Thursday, August 25
Katrina strikes Florida as a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 80 MPH.
Long-range forecasting predicts Katrina will make landfall in the Florida Panhandle, well to the East of New Orleans. It is expected that Katrina will move immediately in a northward direction.
Friday, August 26
At 5 PM, Hurricane Katrina moves into the Gulf of Mexico and quickly grows into a category 2 hurricane with 100 MPH winds. As Hurricane Katrina enters the Gulf of Mexico conditions are perfect for a hurricane to rapidly intensify:
1) Warm ocean temperatures
2) Moist atmospheric conditions
3) A lack of wind sheer (winds that disrupt the motion of a storm)
High pressures over the Gulf drive Katrina further west. Katrina is moving in a westerly direction and the National Hurricane Center forecast track shifts towards New Orleans. The Florida Panhandle is no longer in Katrina’s sights and landfall is now expected somewhere in Mississippi or Louisiana.
Saturday, August 27
At 4 AM, Katrina is now a Category 3 storm and continues to move in a westerly direction. Katrina also continues to rapidly intensify due to the sustained conditions for hurricane growth in the Gulf of Mexico.
The hurricane forecast track has Katrina moving northwest over the next 24 hours towards New Orleans at a speed of 7 MPH. Katrina is roughly 435 miles south of the Mississippi River.
A Category 5 hurricane is a very rare occurrence; typically we only see one every two years in the Atlantic. Conditions in recent years, however, have been ideal for the fueling of massive Category 5 hurricanes.
Sunday, August 28
At 1 AM, Katrina is upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 145 MPH. Six hours later, Katrina is upgraded to a Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 160 MPH.
The National Weather Service issues this Advisory at 7 AM:

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the north central gulf coast from Morgan City, Louisiana eastward to the Alabama/Florida border – including the City of New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain – preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.

At 4 PM, the National Weather Service continues to update on the potential threat to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast from storm surge:

Coastal storm surge flooding of 18 to 22 feet above normal tide levels – locally as high as 28 feet – along with large and dangerous battering waves – can be expected near and to the east of where the center makes landfall. Some levees in New Orleans area could be overtopped. Significant storm surge will occur elsewhere along the central and northeastern Gulf of Mexico Coast.

Monday, August 29
In the early hours of Monday morning, Katrina begins to weaken and by 2 AM is already classed by the National Weather Service as a Category 4 storm.
At 5 AM, one hour before Katrina’s first landfall, Katrina’s associated storm surge begins to cross Lake Borgne from the Gulf of Mexico and starts to batter the eastern flood defenses of Greater New Orleans. The storm surge is also carried towards the city’s Industrial Canal and Lake Pontchartrain along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
Storm surge heights at landfall peaked at around 25 feet as they came ashore – the largest recorded in U.S. history – breaking the previous record set by Hurricane Camille in 1969. Storm surges can be the most devastating part of a hurricane and in Katrina’s case, the storm surges proved much more destructive than the hurricane winds.
Hurricane Katrina makes landfall over the Mississippi Delta as a near Category 4 storm and then makes another landfall on the Mississippi-Louisiana border as a Category 3 hurricane. Hurricane Katrina’s core winds hit the Mississippi Coast and New Orleans experiences the weaker winds on the western side of Katrina.
These winds, moving from the North to the South, create a second storm surge on Lake Pontchartrain – about 11 feet high – which races towards the northern flood defenses of the city, ultimately leading to the breaches in the 17th Street and London Avenue drainage canals that flood Metropolitan New Orleans.
By 2 PM Katrina has weakened to a Category 2 storm as it continues to move inland. By Tuesday, Katrina weakens to a tropical depression.

Hurricane Katrina Fact Sheet

Hurricane Katrina was one of the deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States, killing over 1,700 people.

  • The confirmed death toll (total of direct and indirect deaths) stood at 1,723, mainly from Louisiana (1,464) and Mississippi (238). However, 135 people remain categorized as missing in Louisiana, so this number is not final. Many of the deaths are indirect. It is almost impossible to determine the exact cause of some of the fatalities.
  • Katrina was the largest hurricane of its strength to approach the United States in recorded history; its sheer size caused devastation over 100 miles (160 km) from the center. The storm surge caused major or catastrophic damage along the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, including the cities of Mobile, Alabama, Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi, and Slidell, Louisiana.
  • Katrina was the eleventh named storm, the fifth hurricane, the third major hurricane, and the second category 5 hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. It was also the sixth strongest hurricane ever recorded, and the third strongest landfalling U.S. hurricane ever recorded.
  • New Orleans’ levee failures were found to be primarily the result of system design flaws, combined with the lack of adequate maintenance. According to an investigation by the National Science Foundation, those responsible for the conception, design, construction, and maintenance of the region’s flood-control system apparently failed to pay sufficient attention to public safety.
  • Hurricane Katrina was the costliest hurricane in U.S. history, with estimated damages resulting in $75 billion (in 2005 US dollars).
  • > As of April 2006, the Bush Administration has sought $105 billion for repairs and reconstruction in the region. This does not account for damage to the economy caused by potential interruption of the oil supply and exports of commodities such as grain.
  • More than seventy countries pledged monetary donations or other assistance. Kuwait made the largest single pledge, $500 million; other large donations were made by Qatar ($100 million), India, China (both $5 million), Pakistan ($1.5 million), and Bangladesh ($1 million).
  • The total shut-in oil production from the Gulf of Mexico in the six-month period following the hurricane was approximately 24% of the annual production and the shut-in gas production for the same period was about 18%.
  • The forestry industry in Mississippi was also affected, as 1.3 million acres of forest lands were destroyed. The total loss to the forestry industry due to Katrina is calculated to rise to about $5 billion.
  • Hundreds of thousands of local residents were left unemployed, which will have a trickle-down effect as lower taxes are paid to local governments. Before the hurricane, the region supported approximately one million non-farm jobs, with 600,000 of them in New Orleans. It is estimated that the total economic impact in Louisiana and Mississippi may exceed $150 billion.
  • The American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, Common Ground Collective, Emergency Communities, and many other charitable organizations provided housing, food, and water to victims of the storm. These organizations also provided an infrastructure for shelters throughout Louisiana and other states that held thousands of refugees.
Louisiana:   Mon., Aug. 2, 2006:   1,464
Mississippi: Tue., Jan. 24, 2006:  238
Florida:     Mon., Jan. 9, 2006:   14
Georgia:     Mon., Jan. 9, 2006:   2
Alabama:     Mon., Jan. 9, 2006:   2
Ohio1:       Wed., Aug. 31, 2005:  2
Kentucky2:   Wed., Aug. 31, 2005:  1
Total:                             1,723

Footnoted totals are controversial. Explanations for controversial totals follows:
1The two Ohio victims are Cassondra Ground, 19, of Monroeville, Ohio, and Thelma Niedzinski, 84, of Norwalk, Ohio. Both were killed in a car accident near Monroeville, Ohio on August 30, 2005. The Ohio State Highway Patrol felt that a wet road caused by Hurricane Katrina caused the car accident. See Ohioans Focus on Helping Katrina Victims, Jay Cohen, Associated Press, August 31, 2005.
2The Kentucky victim was Deanna Petsch, 10, of Hopkinsville, Kentucky. On August 29, 2005, she fell into a Hurricane Katrina-swollen ditch in Hopkinsville and drowned. See Storm Surge: State Gets Soaked, City Avoids Major Flooding, Homes, Life Lost in Hopkinsville, Sheldon S. Shafer and James Malone, The Louisville (Kentucky) Courier-Journal, August 31, 2005.
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List of Hurricane Katrina Victims

Repost from the old blog. This is to the best of my knowledge, the best and most up to date list of the victims of Hurricane Katrina that available. It was very hard to find, hidden in an obscure corner of the Net, and soon after I grabbed it, the professor who put it up there took it down. To my knowledge, he has not reposted it. If there is a better one out there, let me know.
Finally, at long last, we have an accessible list of victims of Hurricane Katrina. It’s not complete at all, as it only lists 1,195 victims, but it’s a start anyway. The Louisiana Health Department has released a list of 828 victims, but I don’t know where to find that list, and it’s incomplete anyway.
Listing of victims has been quite haphazard. Mississippi listed those directly killed by the storm, while Louisiana chose to list indirect deaths. John Mutter, a professor of geophysics at Colombia University’s Earth Institute, was frustrated by the seeming lack of an accurate death toll, so he decided to try to tally up his own.
Mutter wants a complete list of everyone killed by the storm, directly and indirectly. His list is now pretty much hidden and very hard to find, but in March 2007 I did manage to track it down to an obscure website on Mutter’s homepage. However, he has now removed the list and is not responding to emails about it. I have placed the file here.
The file is an Excel spreadsheet and you need to have a program capable of reading Excel spreadsheets in order to read the document.
I also have a large and detailed report in pdf that breaks the deaths down into all sorts of categories. It is available here.
The list has 1,195 victims listed on it, with a few facts about each victim included in their entry. Mutter’s list is dated October 26, 2006 and there does not seem to be a more updated list. Mutter’s list contains names that are not on the official state tallies. Here is the website for Mutter’s project at Colombia. You can also send him data on any hurricane deaths that may not appear on the list from a form on the site.
As this article makes clear, it seems there are storm victims who have not made it onto either list. Some are well-known, such as Sgt. Paul Accardo of the New Orleans Police Department, who committed suicide a mere six days after the storm.
Others include Jerome “Slim Rome” Spears and his fiance Rachel Harris. Spears shot Harris to death and then killed himself in a rental home in Atlanta, where they had moved as unemployed refugees after the storm.
Some are elderly, such as Dorothy and Sam Cerniglia and Yvonne Aubry. All three saw their health begin a rapid slide to death after the storm hit, dying of conditions that previously had been well-managed.
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