Katrina: "Shock and Awe"
By Paul Caruso
-- -- Even the saddest "blues" on Basin Street had
yet to see the likes of the "Shock and Awe" of a
Category 5 hurricane - at least not until this past week when New
Orleans was turned into a large bowl of toxic gumbo.
This unexpected history altering catastrophe was
certainly on the carnage level of the ruthless siege of Fallujah
by US marines and firepower, less the exploding body parts.
To be sure however, this particular disaster was planned and
funded by almighty God, rather than a gaggle of neo-conservatives
usurping the US tax payers.
In retrospect, The Louisiana Advocate recently reprinted quite a
portentous article in their Science section written by Mike Dunne
back in April of 2002, that discussed the eventuality of a
hurricane of the magnitude that could cause the levies in New
Orleans to fail, and the catastrophic consequences that would
There remains no question that FEMA, the Army Corp of Engineers,
local officials, businesspeople and developers alike were all
forewarned, not only about the levies, but of the growing
intensity of the weather patterns; shrinkage of coastal wetlands;
and of course the infamous global warming. It is
rather curious how the federal government could neglect the real
threat of the natural elements; reject the Kyoto Accords, while
summarily throwing hundreds of billions of dollars into bogus wars
- claiming to protect Americans from a series of
interchangeable, ubiquitous, and ever-illusive bogeymen such as
Hussain, Asawi and Bin Laden.
In his article, Dunne discusses the possibility of hundreds of
thousands of people staying in New Orleans after such a disaster -
almost certain to be faced with diseases such as dysentery,
cholera, typhoid, dengue fever and encephalitis. True to
this prediction, the country who, without compunction, scattered
depleted uranium all over Iraq, Afghanistan and Serbia, as well as
blanketed agent orange over much of South Vietnam, is now faced
with massive contamination in its very own backyard, to include
deadly chemicals; bacterial, and parasitic epidemics.
Aside from the billions in devastation of property from winds and
flooding, damage to the already mercury-laden oil rigs and
platforms; islands of contamination as they are referred,
numbering more than 4,000 in the gulf, has yet to be assessed.
Although 95 percent of all oil production in the gulf is
reportedly shut down, my inclinations, thus far, is that the
damage will be ultimately understated as are most other pending
economic disasters facing America. But if the recent footage
of the few shredded and twisted oil rigs that NBC recently
released gives any indication, there is certain to be considerable
damage to many other oil platforms, as well as to the refining
facilities, that laid in the path of the unbridled Katrina at her
Most noticeable from our living rooms has been the rapid
deterioration of the water that New Orleans survivors continue to
wade and navigate. New Orleans has evidently returned to its
historical swamp marsh, which now appears progressively murky,
a dark root-beer color - evidently reflecting a melange of rain
water, brine, mud, sewerage, gasoline, oil, PCPs, and of course.
Lake Pontchartrain. The sheen of a sickening oil slick is
now omnipresent in every newscast.
But it will take just a couple more days of almost 100 degree
weather to really bring this New Orleans stew to an
incomprehensible completion with the bloated corpses of pets,
animals and yes, people. As morbid as it is, it soon will be all
too easy to find the unfortunate missing.
And the rooster crows ever louder since it is now harvest time in
America's Breadbasket, with its promising bounty of corn, wheat,
soybean, cotton and sugarcane, almost ready to be shipped.
Unfortunately, New Orleans, one of the largest and most critical
ports in the nation for imports and exports, is completely out of
commission. Regardless of the lack of infrastructure and
utilities, the mighty Mississippi River may need some considerable
dredging after such incredibly powerful water-surges from both the
Gulf and the river currents. It could not be worse timing
for a country with a 600 billion dollar trade deficit; still
borrowing billions daily from even its perceived enemies.
But speaking of trade deficits and the national debt - one
must certainly ask: "where will all the money come from to
repair this mess?" Some estimates of the Katrina damage
exceed 25 billions dollars - in contrast however to the dubious
war on terror, which has cost the taxpayers as much as 340 billion
dollars. Iraq alone has required 200 billion tax-dollars,
while the national debt approaches 8.5 trillion - a hike in debt
ceiling recently approved by congress.
It is hard to imagine that these insurance companies can come up
with this kind of cash, or should I say "more debt." But
like the rest of the Federal Reserve, therein lies the mystery of
the creation of wealth from literally nothing. The
spokesperson from Harrahs casinos has reported a total loss of
facilities and jobs on the Mississippi coast, but confidently
assured the stock holders that they are fully insured for business
interruption and property damage. And while the common
man looses everything, other people make money hand over fist from
disasters such as these. Bernie Pincus at Home Depot
and the people at Leows Home Supplies are certainly ecstatic, but
even as the oil sector suffers, the value of their stocks
increases. And the party continues with more borrowing, and
the hedging, and options, and the futures, and the intricate
mechanisms of a fiat currency that is backed by still nothing more
than the illusion of military strength, and the ostensible control
of world oil supplies. Like a game of musical chairs, the game
must end at some point.
The five year 3.7 million dollar study to reinforce the levies, of
which Dunne refers, was approved by the state of Louisiana back in
2002, and was still in progress when Katrina hit. I would
imagine the cost would have amounted to a fraction of the
disastrous and counterproductive blunder of the Iraq War; while
providing a productive public works project for the people of
But therein lies the logic of what was once a highly respected
nation, admired by most of the Arab world it now vilifies - a once
great country whose foreign policies has come to dumbfound and
disillusion most of its own citizenry.
Those who support the blatant imperial thievery of other country's
resources, now thumb their noses at the desperate minorities
of New Orleans. And as a demoralized people discard their dignity,
proceed to pillage and loot with brazen impunity, we receive news
that over a million people in the US have joined the ranks of the
poverty stricken this past year. This statistic in fact has
increased for the fourth years in a row, while cardboard
politicians boast that the nation has created hundreds of
thousands of part-time fast food and shelf stocking jobs, with no
benefits, were added to the economy.
As for Mississippi, the poorest state in the nation, the influx of
disaster funds and insurance money may ultimately trickle down to
the less-than-affluent. But the wealthy will see their
stocks rise further and get the big reconstruction contracts as
they obstinately continue to rebuild their seaside mansions and
summer-homes on precarious but exclusive real estate. They will
therefore continue to inevitably absorb FEMA funds into the
future, while increasing the insurance rates for everyone else.
It will take a little more time for people to fully understand the
implication of this Katrina disaster. It certainly will
present an huge economic drain, but most immediately is
accelerating the gas crisis. It may indeed prove to be quite
a heavy straw for the camel's back, particularly if the Chinese
take the opportunity to leverage their holdings in US securities.
With their almost one trillion dollars in US securities, they
could even find this misfortune a very good time to make another
bid for a large American oil company, or perhaps they will boldly
take this opportunity to buy, let's say. Walmart. As much as 70%
of the "martigras-like" free-for-all, we see leaving
gratis from partially submerged K-Marts are indeed made in
Whatever the situation, I for one am certain that Bush's advisors
are in much more of a desperate situation than ever before.
Katrina is a disaster not of their predetermined making, nor does
it appear to be a lemon they can so readily turn into lemonade -
not even with the help of their media cohorts. I fear that
rather than expose a weak economy that has long needed immediate
attention, the Bush cabal may opt for another desperate diversion.
But could the country stand another?
Based on my own observations, I find more people outside the
United States, to have a far better understanding of American
foreign policy and national politics than Americans themselves. It
is clear that the adversaries are even a few steps ahead of the
game. Just last week, Pat Robertson called for Hugo
Chavez to be assassinated, with the ridiculous logic that
Venezuela, which is almost entirely Catholic, will become a
communist and Muslim terrorist base of operations.
Subsequently in brilliant diplomatic trump, and coincidently just
days before Katrina struck, President Chavez took the high-ground
and announced to the world that Venezuela would provide cut-rate
oil for the poor and elderly of the United States.
Well, how's that for a third world country treating the US like a
third world country? And one certainly does get the third
world impression these days from all of that news footage of
Louisiana flood victims shown on MSNBC and CNN International.
It remains to be seen how long America can hold on to the illusion
of perpetual prosperity and security, and for that matter the
authenticity of democracy, truth, justice, and the American way.
The country has always accepted New Orleans as an acceptable den
of inequities of sort. It has indeed always been a place of
lesser morals, with its gambling, prostitution, drugs, deviant
behavior, and other intrigues. It played an important
logistical role in the Kennedy assassination. Therefore,
this city being the focal point of a calamity of such a
grand scale and significance may indeed offer the spiritual some
sort of prophetic message, that could counteract the errant
evangelic fanaticism now exploited by neocon warmongers.
Otherwise, the late jazz great, Louis Prima, sang it best:
"down in New Orleans, in the land of dreams, you never know
how nice it seems. if that what its supposed to really mean."
Mike Dunne, The Louisiana Advocate http://hurricane.lsu.edu/_in_the_news/april21_advocate.htm
The Mobile Register, Damage to the Oil Rigs
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