Sunday, September 04, 2005

When Food Arrives, Violence Subsides (rocket science?)

If I hear one more ditto-head blame those stranded in New Orleans for their own deaths or demise (as Rush Limbaugh and many others have), when they were TOO POOR or sick or elderly to escape...

... if I hear one more person blaming the small group of violent people for not being able to get aid to thousands of peaceful stranded people...

I myself will start to feel that urge to violence.

The past two days, there were reports of violence breaking out at the Convention Center in New Orleans. Now, people had been sent by authorities to the Convention Center as a designated shelter after the Superdome doors were shut. That's where they were TOLD to go. But once they go there, they were IGNORED. No food or water for FOUR DAYS. When relief trucks filled with food rolled past the Convention Center refugees tried to wave them down (peacefully!) for help, they had guns pointed at them, and the trucks KEPT GOING. The director of FEMA even got into an argument with an NPR reporter who asked why people at the Convention Center weren't being fed, saying he was completely UNAWARE there were even people there.

So things got desperate, and, yes, violent.

Yesterday, help finally arrived. Although the evacuation came to a mysterious standstill earlier today, the food and water is pouring into the Convention Center, and... guess what? The violence has STOPPED there.

It really does NOT take a rocket scientist to figure out the causal relationship between starvation and desperate actions.

You try going four days without food and water, and see how you react.

There's been NO explanation as to the lack of food and water drops over the city of New Orleans in the first four days after Katrina. We do it all the time for third world countries; why couldn't we do it for our own? Or leaflets telling people where designated places to find food and water were, at least? It would have saved lives, and prevented a lot of violent outbreaks, many of which, I have no doubt, were acts of sheer desperation from those who felt they were facing imminent death.

I'm not making excuses for the most extreme violent elements, but a lot of violence, a lot of death, a lot of EVERYTHING could have been prevented. The poor people of New Orleans didn't deserve to be left to die just because they didn't have the means to get out in the first place, because the federal government, tied up with politics and bureaucratic incompetence, and who knows what else (*cough* golf games *cough* Broadway shows *cough*), couldn't figure out how to send in effective rescue teams and drop food or water for four days. Using isolated outbreaks of violence as an excuse to not even TRY is completely inexcusable.

Rant over.


I got a new stapler. It rocks.

I also got my credit card company to drop my interest rate after noticing they'd nearly doubled it (again, though this is my other credit card) the past few months. I just threatened to take my debt elsewhere, and they immediately slashed the interest and told me my montly financing charges would also be slashed by 200 bucks a month for the next nine months. Maybe now I can finally make a dent in this debt. Credit card debt is pure evil.

While I was on the phone with them, I asked what they were doing for hurricane victims in terms of excusing debt for a few months, and the rep I was talking to said he didn't know what the plan was but he hadn't actually taken such a call for help yet (it's not like New Orleans residents can even *get* their bills in the mail yet, let alone open them and figure out how the hell to pay them).

But that's gonna be a big issue too. The new bankruptcy bill, making it nearly impossible for people in exactly the situation as newly homeless, jobless, New Orleans residents are in to declare bankruptcy and get help with their creditors, is about to take effect. A Democratic congresswoman (Sheila Jackson Lee) had, prior to the hurricane, introduced an amendment to the bill to make it possible for victims of natural disasters to still get bankruptcy relief. It was voted down by (Republicans) party lines, of course.

John Conyers has reintroduced the bill, and hopefully this time Republicans will do the right thing.


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