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September 6, 2005

Louisiana Greens Express Outrage at Katrina "Planning"

-- by Thomas Leavitt

Also see: Greens Send Aid to Stricken Areas, Urge FEMA Chief's Dismissal

09.05.2005 WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Green Party members intensified their efforts to help in the relief effort for victims of hurricane Katrina, and also called for the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to be fired.

***

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (not yet on the web)
Monday, September 5, 2005

Contact:
Leenie Halbert, Coordinating Committee, Green
Party of Louisiana, 504-343-1273, leenie@leenie.com
Malik Rahim, 504-368-6897, maliknogreenparty@yahoo.com

Louisiana Greens Express Outrage at Katrina
"Planning":
War, Racism, Coastal Mismanagement Exacerbate
Devastation

As the devastation in New Orleans from hurricane
Katrina grows more and more deadly, disgraceful,
and surreal—we find ourselves in a state of
'shock and awe' at the appalling carelessness to
the rescue effort, the racist neglect of New
Orleans' most vulnerable people, and the
devastating mismanagement of our regional
ecosystem which hastened and exacerbated the
devastation.

Greens are committed to rebuilding Louisiana
sustainably and equitably!

THE REAL COSTS OF WAR

Fully one-third of the Louisiana National Guard,
whose mission is to assist in rescue and relief
operations during peacetime, have instead been
sent to Iraq to fight for George Bush's war,
based on lies and deception. This includes many
troops who were trained specifically for
high-water rescue operations. Yet four days
after the hurricane hit, there's no National
Guard in sight. Tens of thousands of New
Orleanians—most poor and African-American—have
been without food, water and medicines for almost
a week while the president cobbles together a
hodgepodge of disaster relief teams from
under-staffed and under-funded local authorities.

Here's what stranded New Orleanians are saying
about the rescue efforts:

"It's unbelievable but its for real. That man
[Bush] can spend all that money and send all
those troops to Iraq but he can't do nothing for
us right here!"

"You mean to tell me they couldn't just drop some
water and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from
all those helicopters?" (responding to the
reasoning that no relief could be delivered
because of the high waters)

Damage estimates for New Orleans and the Gulf
South are already reaching the tens of billions.
The Republican-Democrat consensus on
appropriating hundreds of billions of dollars to
fight the illegal and immoral war in Iraq have
taken funds which could have been rightly used to
address domestic needs such as health care,
education, and local projects such as improving
levee and drainage systems in New Orleans and
other American cities.

As Greens living in a city whose destruction has
been exacerbated by the outrageous negligence and
outright madness of the Bush Administration and
it's pliant Democratic "opposition," we reiterate
our demand that all US troops are brought home
now, that the costly war budget be transformed
into a prosperous peacetime budget, and that the
Bush Administration apologize in full for its
role in intensifying this absolute catastrophe.

INEQUITIES IN RACE AND CLASS

One of the most striking images from the ongoing
hurricane disaster is the ubiquitous poverty of
the mostly-black victims, which underscore the
existing race and class inequalities in our
city—a microcosm of the national inequalities
that confront people of color and the working
poor.

Disaster planning officials know that 112,000
people in New Orleans have no access to a car—the
only way to get out of the city. And a
staggering 61% of single-mom families in New
Orleans are living in poverty.

The working-class Plaquemines and St. Bernard
parishes—home to factory workers, commercial
fishermen and shrimpers—were also hit very hard,
particularly St. Bernard. The awesome reality of
the hurricane is that it starkly sharpened the
existing class and race inequalities.

Greens have been working to address these
disparities in New Orleans, and we reiterate our
calls for social justice: raise the poverty-level
'minimum' wage to a living wage; restore all
funding to the Charity Hospital system; investing
in education—not incarceration—for our young
people.

As New Orleanians committed to systematic change
in our economic and political systems for social
justice and environmental sustainability, we are
both angered by the culmination of a century of
irresponsible planning, yet heartened by the
resilience and determination of our brothers and
sisters who are battling through the challenges
of this disaster with the same dignity and
resolve that they have battled the ongoing
challenges of the daily lives under a system
which has been designed to disregard them.

COASTAL DESTRUCTION AND GLOBAL WARMING

If you had asked anyone in Louisiana just two
weeks ago what was the biggest environmental
crisis—nearly every person would have said
"costal erosion." Losing our coastal areas—at a
rate of a football fields every 20 minutes—has
destroyed not only a rich source of wildlife but
also crippled our natural defenses against storms
and flooding. In fact, until the canals and
levees were built, the coastline was actually
growing—strengthening our regions defenses
against storms and hurricane.

The truth is that the environmental planning in
our region has systematically wiped out our
precious and protective coastal wetlands which,
if not weakened to their current state, could
have provided defense against the deadly storm
surges which broke the levees and caused the most
damage. Shortsighted and politically-connected
oil and gas companies wrecked coastal areas with
impunity with an elaborate and destructive system
of canals to facilitate the extraction of
'resources.'

Our system of irresponsibly-built canals and
levees—as well as the laissez-faire complicity in
allowing oil and gas industry to build
destructive canals through the wetlands— act as
giant straws, sucking saltwater from the Gulf
inland and destroying the freshwater wetland
habitats.

In addition to the mismanaged regional ecosystem,
global environmental issues such as rising ocean
levels from global warming are adding fuel to the
fire. In fact, since FEMA was founded in 1979,
New Orleans has been consistently at the top of
the list of most disaster-prone areas in the
country. And in 1995, the International Panel on
Climate Change of the United Nations identified
New Orleans as the most vulnerable North American
city to global climate change, because sea-level
rise and elevating temperatures of the Gulf of
Mexico intensify the frequency and power of
hurricanes.

As Greens committed to environmental
sustainability and proper management of our
regional ecosystems for the benefit of
recreation, human habitat, and natural disaster
protection, we reiterate our call to reduce
emissions which are causing global warming, as
well as for a sustainable system of drainage and
storm prevention in Southeast Louisiana.

For information about the Green Party of
Louisiana, visit http://www.LaGreens.org

Green Party of the United States
http://www.gp.org

RELIEF EFFORTS:

Green Party web page with information on aid for
victims of the hurricane
http://www.gp.org/katrina2005/

Web page with information on relief efforts, set
up by New Orleans Greens Andrea Garland and
Jeffrey Holmes http://www.getyouracton.com/

Discussion list set up by Green Party member Bart
Everson from New Orleans, for exchange of
information (advice, requests for help and offers
of direct material, other assistance)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/katrina-refugees/

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Posted by Thomas Leavitt at September 6, 2005 11:39 AM

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