Hurricane Katrina News StoriesExcerpts of Key Hurricane Katrina News Stories in Major Media
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Exxon Mobil, the nation's largest energy company, today reported a 27 percent surge in profits for the fourth quarter as elevated fuel prices gave rise to the most lucrative year ever for an American company. Exxon's profits are expected to generate new scrutiny of the company's operations in Washington, where legislators have recently expressed concern over Big Oil's good fortune as soaring oil and natural gas prices pressure consumers. Exxon said its profits climbed more than 40 percent last year, while its tax bill rose only 14 percent. Exxon's revenue last year allowed it to surpass Wal-Mart as the largest company in the United States. [The company's] revenue of $371 billion surpassed the gross domestic product of $245 billion for Indonesia, an OPEC member and the world's fourth most populous country with 242 million people.
Note: This article fails to mention the huge profits reaped by oil companies as a result of gas price gouging immediately after Katrina.
Hundreds of federal search-and-rescue workers and large numbers of boats, aircraft and bulldozers were offered to FEMA in the hours immediately after Hurricane Katrina hit, but the aid proposals were either ignored or not effectively used, newly released documents show. The Interior Department, which made the offers, also proposed dispatching as many as 400 of its law enforcement officers to provide security in Gulf Coast cities ravaged by flooding and looting. But nearly a month would pass before FEMA put the officers to work. Acting in the "immediate aftermath" of the hurricane, Interior officials provided FEMA with a comprehensive list of assets that were "immediately available for humanitarian and emergency assistance," according to the memo, dated Nov. 7, 2005. Those assets included more than 300 boats, 11 aircraft, 119 pieces of heavy equipment, 300 dump trucks and other vehicles. Also offered were rescue crews from the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service--teams that were trained for urban search-and-rescue missions using flat-bottom boats...but they were "never formally tasked" for that assignment by FEMA. The Interior Department wasn't the only government agency to offer assistance to FEMA that was not used effectively. Amtrak reportedly offered, before the storm, to carry residents out, but its train left nearly empty. New Mexico offered National Guard troops, but for days officials waited for formal approval to use them.
The White House is crippling a Senate inquiry into the government's sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina by barring administration officials from answering questions and failing to hand over documents, senators leading the investigation said Tuesday. In some cases, staff at the White House and other federal agencies have refused to be interviewed by congressional investigators, said the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. In addition, agency officials won't answer seemingly innocuous questions about times and dates of meetings and telephone calls with the White House, the senators said. A White House spokesman said the administration is committed to working with separate Senate and House investigations of the Katrina response but wants to protect the confidentiality of presidential advisers. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the committee's Republican chair, said "We are entitled to know if someone from the Department of Homeland Security calls someone at the White House during this whole crisis period." She added, "It is completely inappropriate" for the White House to bar agency officials from talking to the Senate committee.
The boom of thunder and crackle of lightning generally mean one thing: a storm is coming. Curiously, though, the biggest storms of all, hurricanes, are notoriously lacking in lightning. Hurricanes blow, they rain, they flood, but seldom do they crackle. During the record-setting hurricane season of 2005, three of the most powerful storms--Rita, Katrina, and Emily--did have lightning, lots of it. And researchers would like to know why. Richard Blakeslee of the Global Hydrology and Climate Center (GHCC) in Huntsville, Alabama, was one of a team of scientists who explored Hurricane Emily. "Hurricanes are most likely to produce lightning when they're making landfall," says Blakeslee. But there were no mountains beneath the "electric hurricanes" of 2005 -- only flat water. It's tempting to think that, because Emily, Rita and Katrina were all exceptionally powerful, their sheer violence somehow explains their lightning. But Blakeslee says that this explanation is too simple. "Other storms have been equally intense and did not produce much lightning," he says. "There must be something else at work."
Note: A number of researchers suspect there may have been clandestine involvement in Katrina and other recent hurricanes, possibly using HAARP technologies, which have been well documented. For an excellent summary of this, click here. For more on HAARP, click here.
Forty-nine people have been indicted in a scam to pocket Red Cross hurricane relief funds and more indictments are expected. Authorities said 22 people working for a Red Cross contractor at a call center in Bakersfield, California, filed false claims, and by involving family members and friends, brought the number of people under indictment to 49. Officials said they planned to widen the investigation. "Our investigation is going to be expanded to include other parts of California and other states, and there are thousands of claims made in other states," FBI Special Agent Javier Colon said. The Red Cross had safeguards in place after Katrina, but "they were not fully adequate," spokesman Steve Cooper said.
Despite a month-old pledge, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has yet to reopen four of its biggest no-bid contracts for Hurricane Katrina work and won’t do so until the contracts are virtually complete. A promise to hire more minority-owned firms also is largely unfulfilled. The no-bid contracts for temporary housing, worth up to $100 million each, were given to Shaw Group Inc., Bechtel Corp., CH2M Hill Inc. and Fluor Corp. right after Katrina struck. Bechtel CEO Riley Bechtel served on Bush’s Export Council from 2003-2004, and the Shaw Group’s lobbyist, Joe Allbaugh, is a former FEMA director and friend of Bush. Charges of favoritism helped prompt last month’s pledge by FEMA acting director R. David Paulison, but now officials with the Homeland Security Department, which oversees FEMA, say the contracts won’t be awarded again until February. FEMA promised to boost the number of contracts given to minority-owned businesses but in the last month the percentage has increased only slightly, from 1.5 percent to 1.8 percent. That’s still well below the 5 percent of federal contracts normally set aside for minority-owned firms.
Exxon Mobil Corp. had a quarter for the record books. The world's largest publicly traded oil company said Thursday high oil and natural-gas prices helped its third-quarter profit surge almost 75 percent to $9.92 billion, the largest quarterly profit for a U.S. company ever, and it was the first to ring up more than $100 billion in quarterly sales. The hurricanes slashed Exxon Mobil's U.S. production volumes by 50,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, down nearly 5 percent year-over-year, costing the company $45 million before taxes. The company said total daily production slipped to 2.45 million barrels of oil equivalent from 2.51 million barrels.
Note: Isn't it amazing that though oil production fell, and though we all are paying much higher gas prices, Exxon Mobil earned the largest profits ever in the same quarter as Hurricane Katrina? Wouldn't it be nice if during a national catastrophe the oil companies were willing to drop their prices and suffer a little with the rest of us?
For 16 critical hours, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials, including former director Michael D. Brown, dismissed urgent eyewitness accounts by FEMA's only staffer in New Orleans that Hurricane Katrina had broken the city's levee system the morning of Aug. 29 and was causing catastrophic flooding. Marty Bahamonde, sent to New Orleans by Brown, said he alerted Brown's assistant shortly after 11 a.m. that Monday with the "worst possible news" for the city: The Category 4 hurricane had carved a 20-foot breach in the 17th Avenue Canal levee. Bahamonde said he called Brown personally after 7 p.m. to warn that 80 percent of New Orleans was underwater and that he had photographed a 200-foot-wide breach. Testifying to a bipartisan Senate panel investigating the response to the hurricane, Bahamonde said his accounts were discarded by officials in Baton Rouge and Washington. President Bush, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Richard B. Myers, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have all said they were told that the city's flood walls did not fail until Aug. 30. Bahamonde said he found it "amazing" that New Orleans officials continued to let thousands gather at the Superdome, even though they knew that the area around it was going to flood. Ten people later died at the Superdome.
In the early days of September, as military helicopters plucked desperate New Orleanians from rooftops and Red Cross shelters swelled with the displaced, nearly 400,000 packaged meals landed on a tarmac at Little Rock Air Force Base and were whisked by tractor-trailer to Louisiana. But most of the $5.3 million worth of food never reached the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Instead, because of fears about mad cow disease and a long-standing ban on British beef, the rations routinely consumed by British soldiers have sat stacked in an Arkansas warehouse. Now, with some of the food set to expire in early 2006 and U.S. taxpayers spending $16,000 a month to store the meals, the State Department is quietly looking for a needy country to take them. No fewer than six federal agencies or departments had a role in accepting, distributing and rejecting the food.
The federal government has moved hundreds of thousands of evacuees from Hurricane Katrina into hotel rooms at a cost of about $11 million a night, a strategy local officials and some members of Congress criticize as incoherent and wasteful. The number of people in hotels has grown by 60 percent in the past two weeks as some shelters closed, reaching nearly 600,000 as of Tuesday. The reliance on hotels has been necessary, housing advocates say, because [FEMA] has had problems installing mobile homes and travel trailers for evacuees and has been slow to place victims in apartments that real estate executives say are available throughout the southeast. Critics point out that hotel rooms, at an average cost of $59 a night, are significantly more expensive than apartments and are not suitable for months-long stays. Even conservative housing experts have criticized the Bush administration's handling of the temporary housing response. "I am baffled," said Ronald D. Utt, a former...Reagan administration aide who is now a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation. "This is not incompetence. This is willful."
Note: Do you ever wonder if the current administration might be trying to bankrupt our country? For more excellent information on the hurricanes: http://www.WantToKnow.info/050927hurricanecoverupcorruption
The most toxic debris in New Orleans isn't the sinister gray sludge that coats the streets..., but all the unanswered questions that have accumulated in the wake of so much official betrayal and hypocrisy. Where outsiders see simple "incompetence" or "failure of leadership," locals are more inclined to discern deliberate design and planned neglect -- the murder, not the accidental death, of a great city. Here are 25 of the urgent questions that deeply trouble the local people we spoke with on a trip to New Orleans and South Louisiana. Until a grand jury or congressional committee begins to uncover the answers, the moral (as opposed to simply physical) reconstruction of the New Orleans region will remain impossible. 20. Who is responsible for the suspicious fires that have swept the city? Why have so many fires occurred in blue-collar areas that have long been targets of proposed gentrification? 23. Why isn't FEMA scrambling to create a central registry of everyone evacuated from the greater New Orleans region? Will evacuees receive absentee ballots and be allowed to vote in the crucial February municipal elections that will partly decide the fate of the city?
Across the hurricane ravaged Gulf Coast, thousands upon thousands of blue tarps are being nailed to wind-damaged roofs, a visible sign of government assistance. The blue sheeting...isn't coming cheap. Knight Ridder has found that a lack of oversight, generous contracting deals and poor planning mean that government agencies are shelling out as much as 10 times what the temporary fix would normally cost. The government is paying contractors an average of $2,480 for less than two hours of work to cover each damaged roof - even though it's also giving them endless supplies of blue sheeting for free. Steve Manser, the president of Simon Roofing and Sheet Metal of Youngstown, Ohio, which was awarded an initial $10 million contract to begin "Operation Blue Roof" in New Orleans, acknowledged that the price his company is charging to install blue tarps could pay for shingling an entire roof.
Note: Google news shows that though many small papers reported this story, no major media did.
Topping the federal government's list of costs related to Hurricane Katrina is the $568 million in contracts for debris removal landed by a Florida company with ties to Mississippi's Republican governor. More than 80 percent of the $1.5 billion in contracts signed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency alone were awarded without bidding or with limited competition, government records show, provoking concerns among auditors and government officials about the potential for favoritism or abuse. Already, questions have been raised about the political connections of two major contractors - the Shaw Group and Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton - that have been represented by the lobbyist Joe M. Allbaugh, President Bush's former campaign manager and a former leader of FEMA. Bills have come in for deals that apparently were clinched with a handshake, with no documentation. Kellogg, Brown & Root, which was given $60 million in contracts, was rebuked by federal auditors for unsubstantiated billing from the Iraq reconstruction and criticized for bills like $100-per-bag laundry service.
The men from Blackwater USA arrived in New Orleans right after Katrina hit. The company known for its private security work guarding senior U.S. diplomats in Iraq beat the federal government and most aid organizations to the scene. About 150 heavily armed Blackwater troops dressed in full battle gear spread out into the chaos of New Orleans. When asked what authority they were operating under, one guy said, "We're on contract with the Department of Homeland Security." Then, pointing to one of his comrades, he said, "He was even deputized by the governor of the state of Louisiana. We can make arrests and use lethal force if we deem it necessary." Says Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, "These private security forces have behaved brutally, with impunity, in Iraq. To have them now on the streets of New Orleans is frightening and possibly illegal." Blackwater is operating under a federal contract...[that] was announced just days after Homeland Security Department spokesperson Russ Knocke told the Washington Post he knew of no federal plans to hire Blackwater. With President Bush using the Katrina disaster to try to repeal Posse Comitatus (the ban on using U.S. troops in domestic law enforcement)...the war is coming home in yet another ominous way. As one Blackwater mercenary said, "This is a trend. You're going to see a lot more guys like us in these situations."
Louisiana's top hurricane experts have rejected the official explanations for the floodwall collapses that inundated much of New Orleans, concluding that Hurricane Katrina's storm surges were much smaller than authorities have suggested and that the city's flood-protection system should have kept most of the city dry. With the help of complex computer models and stark visual evidence, scientists and engineers at Louisiana State University's Hurricane Center have concluded that Katrina's surges did not come close to overtopping those barriers. That would make faulty design, inadequate construction or some combination of the two the likely cause of the breaching of the floodwalls. Ivor van Heerden, the Hurricane Center's deputy director, said the real scandal of Katrina is the "catastrophic structural failure" of barriers that should have handled the hurricane with relative ease. "We are absolutely convinced that those floodwalls were never overtopped," said van Heerden. On a tour Tuesday, researchers...showed a "debris line" that indicates the top height of Katrina's waves was at least four feet below the crest of Lake Pontchartrain's levees. They contended that the pattern of destruction behind the breaches was consistent with a localized "pressure burst," rather than widespread overtopping. Former representative Bob Livingston, (R-La.)...noted that the earthen levees along Lake Pontchartrain had all held, while concrete floodwalls had failed. He was especially concerned about the 17th Street barrier, saying it "shouldn't have broken." If Katrina did not exceed the design capacity of the New Orleans levees, the federal government may bear ultimate responsibility for this disaster.
An Idaho weatherman says Japan's Yakuza mafia used a Russian-made electromagnetic generator to cause Hurricane Katrina in a bid to avenge itself for the Hiroshima atom bomb attack. Meteorologist Scott Stevens, a nine-year veteran of KPVI-TV in Pocatello, said he was struggling to forecast weather patterns starting in 1998 when he discovered the theory on the Internet. It's now detailed on Stevens' website, www.weatherwars.info. Stevens...says a little-known oversight in physical laws makes it possible to create and control storms -- especially if you're armed with the Cold War-era weapon said to have been made by the Russians in 1976. Stevens' bosses at KPVI-TV say their employee can think and say what he wants as long as he keeps the station out of the debate and acknowledges that his views are his own opinion. Bill Fouch, KPVI's general manager, said. "He's very knowledgeable about weather, and he's very popular."
Note: Former U.S. Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen in a 1997 news briefing stated: "Others are engaging even in an eco-type of terrorism whereby they can alter the climate, set off earthquakes, volcanoes remotely through the use of electromagnetic waves." To verify this quote on the U.S. Department of Defense website, click here. If terrorist organizations have the capability to set off earthquakes and other major natural disasters, do you think huge military research laboratories might have some of the same capabilities? For more, click here and here.
In another gesture symbolizing the continued confusion of the federal response, the man President Bush immediately named to succeed “Brownie,” proves to have been the same FEMA official who, two-and-a-half years ago, suggested that Americans stock up on duct tape to protect against a biological or chemical terrorist attack. David Paulison, then the government's Fire Administrator, joined with the then-head of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, on February 10th, 2003, to say that duct tape and plastic sheeting should be part of any home's "survival kit" in preparation for a terrorist attack. That set off a run on duct tape at stores, and widespread criticism of the administration. It might have been the first time after 9/11 that a large number of Americans wondered if the government really knew what it was talking about when it came to disaster preparedness. And the man behind that politically explosive proposal, has just been named to succeed the man who had been the face of the politically explosive response to Hurricane Katrina.
When U.S. officials asked the news media not to take pictures of those killed by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, they were censoring a key part of the disaster story, free-speech watchdogs said yesterday. The move by the Federal Emergency Management Agency is in line with the Bush administration's ban on images of flag-draped U.S. military coffins returning from the Iraq war, media monitors charged in separate telephone interviews. On Tuesday, FEMA refused to take reporters and photographers along on boats seeking victims in flooded areas, saying they would take up valuable space needed in the recovery effort and asked them not to take pictures of the dead. A FEMA spokeswoman wrote: "The recovery of victims is being treated with dignity and the utmost respect and we have requested that no photographs of the deceased be made by the media." FEMA's policy of excluding media from recovery expeditions in New Orleans is "an invitation to chaos," said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a part of Columbia University's journalism school.
Note: Death tolls were reported prominently on a daily basis after the Asian tsunami, so why are the media and government so reluctant to give figures on the number dead in this catastrophe?
E-mailers sent me copies of two news photos that revealed an apparent double standard regarding black and white flood victims in New Orleans. One of the images, shot by photographer Dave Martin for The Associated Press, shows a young black man wading through chest-deep waters after "looting" a grocery store, according to the caption. In the other, taken by photographer Chris Graythen for AFP/Getty Images, a white man and a similarly light-skinned woman also waded through chest-deep water after "finding" goods that included bread and soda in a local grocery store, according to the caption. Apparently, quipped a cynical blogger at Daily Kos, "It's not looting if you're white."
Note: For both photos and more on this disturbing story, click here.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.