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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Conditions in New Orleans Still Dire - Pumping May Take Months - New York Times

Conditions in New Orleans Still Dire - Pumping May Take Months - New York TimesSeptember 3, 2005
Conditions in New Orleans Still Dire - Pumping May Take Months
By JAMES DAO and N. R. KLEINFIELD

NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 2 - Military vehicles bearing food and supplies sloshed into the drenched heart of this humbled and stricken city on Friday, while commercial airplanes and cargo planes arrived to lift beleaguered hurricane survivors from the depths of a ghastly horror.

Five days after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, the chaotic scene at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport evoked the mix of hope and despair that has gripped this city. Disorder prevailed, as thousands of survivors with glazed looks and nothing more than garbage bags of possessions waited in interminable lines for a chance to get out.

Patrolmen yelled out the number of available seats on each flight, and passengers boarded planes not knowing where they would land, and not caring. An increasing number of cities and states across the country were offering to take them in.

The airport was a stark landscape of triage, with rows of people on stretchers and others bound to wheelchairs, including someone already dead, in a wing that had been converted into the world's largest emergency room. A morgue had been set up in one concourse.

The fresh wave of relief efforts came on a day when President Bush toured the ravaged region by helicopter and walked through the residue of Biloxi, Miss., before ending up in New Orleans, where he told survivors, "I'm going to fly out of here in a minute, but I want you to know that I'm not going to forget what I've seen."

Scores of amphibious vehicles and Humvees carrying thousands of newly dispatched armed National Guardsmen pushed through New Orleans in a daylong parade, hoping to replenish the dire needs of the stranded and to try to restore order to a city that had devolved into wantonness. In one sign of the boundless despair, police officials acknowledged that some New Orleans officers had turned in their badges, refusing to risk their lives to try to right the city.

Another new ingredient was a spate of fires that broke out and were left to burn, because hydrants were not working and firefighters had no way to get to the blazes in the water-soaked city.

Dan Craig, director of recovery for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, estimated that it could take six months to drain the city and another three months to dry it. State officials said that it would take more than a month, and that pumping would begin on Monday.

In a city too bruised to know what to feel, many of the famished survivors applauded the arrival of the relief trucks, though others, enraged at how long their wait had been, showered them with profanities.

A critical juncture was reached when the overwhelmed Superdome, the site of unimaginably squalid conditions, was mostly emptied by day's end. Thousands of other survivors, though, remained stranded in the putrid convention center. Others were said to remain perched on roofs, even this long after the storm.

No one could convincingly say when the last of the living would be removed from the city, though state officials said they hoped to complete the process by Sunday. Dead bodies continued to present themselves at every turn. Medical authorities said 8 to 10 people an hour were dying at the city's hospitals.

The supply convoy showed up just hours after Mayor C. Ray Nagin exploded in a radio interview on Thursday night, castigating the federal government, particularly FEMA, for what he felt was a lame and puny response to his city's needs.

By Friday, about 19,500 National Guard troops had arrived in Louisiana and Mississippi, and 6,500 in New Orleans itself, mostly military police officers, though Mr. Nagin maintained that was still not enough.

Senior Pentagon and military officials said the Guard presence in the hurricane zone would grow to 30,000 in coming days, mostly in Louisiana and Mississippi, with the rest going to Alabama and Florida.

The guardsmen were posted at major intersections, and Army vehicles patrolled the streets, seeking to quell the looting and unrestrained crime that has shocked the nation. Some 300 members of the Arkansas National Guard, just back from Iraq, were among those deployed from foreign assignments specifically to bring order.

"I have one message for these hoodlums," said Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana. "These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so if necessary."

In the radio interview, Mayor Nagin blamed much of the widespread crime on crazed drug addicts cut off from their fixes.

Lt. Gov. Steven Blum said in Baton Rouge, the capital, "I am confident that within the next 24 hours we will see a dramatic improvement."

Buses continued to wheel out of the city loaded with refugees from the Superdome and from around the convention center, the two principal shelters for those left behind, moving them to new, makeshift lives in the Houston Astrodome and other far-flung evacuation quarters like Reunion Arena in Dallas and a warehouse at KellyUSA, a city-owned complex in San Antonio.

One evacuation bus carrying 50 people to Texas overturned on Interstate 49, near Opelousas, the police said, killing one person and injuring 17 others.

Admissions to the Astrodome were halted after about 11,000 people had been accepted, fewer than half of what was planned, because officials felt it had become crowded enough.

The Superdome, where upward of 25,000 people had sweltered in conditions described as unfit for animals, was mostly emptied, though 1,500 were still there late Friday. They had renamed the place, rife with overflowing toilets and reports of murder and rape, the Sewerdome.

Edgar John Thead, 68, who sat with his 65-year-old wife, said he had been in line for the buses at 4 a.m., but had to withdraw because his diabetic wife could not stand the heat. "I'll be the last one in line," he said.

Throughout New Orleans, thousands of people, many of them among the city's poorest and most marginalized residents, were still unsure when and how they would get out.

An estimated 20,000 were said to be at the four-story convention center, which at some points apparently attracted as many refugees as the Superdome but was ignored much longer by rescue operations. Conditions there were even worse than at the Superdome, with armed thugs seizing control and, the authorities said, repulsing squads of police officers sent to retake it.

On Friday morning, people huddled in small groups inside the center or sat on orange folding chairs outside, a gruesome mockery of an actual convention. Amid overflowing toilets, an elderly women and a teenage boy were having seizures in the arms of relatives.

Evacuees said that seven dead bodies littered the third floor. They said a 14-year-old girl had been raped.

There was a pervasive feeling of abandonment. "The trucks kept passing us up; they just kept going further east," said Louis Martin Sr., a truck driver who had been at the center since Tuesday.

In the afternoon, P. Edwin Compass III, the superintendent of police, drove by on the running board of a van and shouted that food and buses were on the way. Some people responded with soft applause, while others jeered. A woman ran alongside the van, shrieking: "We don't need food! Get us out of here!"

Throughout the city, where it was dry enough, people wandered in dazes. Along St. Charles Avenue, clumps of people trudged with plastic bags of belongings. Some had fled the violence of the convention center. Others searched for vans.

Outside the Hyatt hotel next to the Superdome, scores of tour buses in ankle-deep water waited to evacuate people who had been living in and around the stadium. "It's been hell," said Donnieka Rhinehart, 26, a nursing assistant who said she had lived in the stadium with her two small children since Monday. She said she saw a rape and heard that a girl's throat had been cut.

The quickest way out of the city on Friday seemed to be the airport, after government officials arranged for more than a dozen airlines and cargo operators to volunteer planes to fly people to safety. But the lines never seemed to diminish. As soon as one flight took off, seven or eight helicopters would land on the tarmac with additional batches of survivors.

Airport authorities did not know where the helicopters came from. "Helicopters just appear," said Carolyn Lowe, a deputy director of the airport.

Other cities and states continued to extend interim refuge and other forms of aid for the affected areas. Philadelphia announced that it was willing to take in a thousand families from New Orleans, and Detroit offered refuge as well. New York, Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, Georgia, California, Utah, Virginia and Washington were among other states offering to provide general support or take refugees. Some states promised to allow children of evacuees to enroll in their schools.

During his tour of the area, President Bush kissed two weeping women who said they had lost everything in Biloxi, and he then walked down the street with his arms around them.

Speaking about the rescue and relief efforts before leaving Washington, Mr. Bush acknowledged that "the results are not acceptable" and pledged to do more, saying the $10.5 billion in aid authorized by Congress was but a "down payment" on the disaster relief.

In Washington, members of the Congressional Black Caucus called the federal response shameful, and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle promised hearings on what had gone wrong.

That there was much peril remaining in New Orleans was without question. Before daybreak, an explosion tore through a warehouse along the Mississippi River, a dozen blocks or so from the French Quarter. And a fire at an oil storage facility across the river sent a plume of smoke across the city.

The situation was terrifying at some of the city's hospitals for much of the day. Doctors, nurses and patients at Charity Hospital had to plead for help for more than 100 patients, who were later evacuated after violence had earlier prevented rescuers from getting in.

Six patients had died during the wait for evacuation. Staff members were still inside, and some were reportedly keeping others alive with intravenous fluids. All were evacuated by the end of the day.

Those who call New Orleans home and cherish its idiosyncratic stamp on the American landscape could only guess at what their city would look like and how broken it would be when the day came that the waters went away.

The Army Corps of Engineers kept at the repair work on the broken levees that had allowed Lake Pontchartrain to thunder into the bowl-like city after it seemed that damage from the hurricane had ceased. And after three days of delays, the Corps and a swelling army of private contractors slowly began to set the stage for draining the hundreds of billions of gallons of floodwaters from the city.

The plan was to close the holes that the storm tides had opened and break open new holes in places where the levees were holding water in the city rather than letting it out.

A train of dump trucks and a yellow bulldozer began laying a narrow, temporary road of black rubble and gravel from dry ground to the north end of the 300-foot breach in a wall of the 17th Street Canal, through which most of the floodwaters passed. At the same time, heavy-lift helicopters lowered hundreds of huge sandbags into the south end of the gap.

The height of the water in the streets and the adjoining lake had leveled off, so water was no longer rising. The authorities were hopeful that the breach could be slowly, if temporarily, blocked. At the same time, Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, commander of the Corps, said he was concerned about storms forming in the Atlantic.

"We want to make sure that we don't catch ourselves with levees open and have another storm front move in on us," General Strock said.

Efforts to set life right again persisted throughout the Gulf Coast, as hundreds of thousands went on without electricity, and in many cases, homes. Relatives still sought feverishly to find loved ones. The number of deaths remained unknown, with estimates continuing to run into the thousands.

Researchers who flew over 180 miles of coast between Pensacola, Fla., and Grand Isle, La., said that along the shore, for blocks inland, nothing remained but concrete slabs and chunks of asphalt. Often, they said, it was impossible to tell what had been there before the storm.

There were more and more scattered signs of the crippling economic impact. A preliminary assessment from the oyster industry, one of Louisiana's flourishing seafood businesses, found that while the western side of the state fared well, everything east of Bayou Lafourche to the Mississippi line was ruined. The area accounts for two-thirds of the state's oyster harvesting, or $181 million a year. With federal aid, officials said, it could take two to three years for the crop to return.

The frenzied pursuit of gasoline by motorists in the region did not slacken, and disruptions of routines continued. In Georgia, schools in Hancock County were closed on Thursday because of a gasoline shortage.

Gov. Sonny Perdue of Georgia signed an executive order temporarily halting state collection of all motor fuel taxes, effective after midnight Friday. This should reduce gas prices by about 15 cents a gallon. Mr. Perdue said he hoped to keep the moratorium in effect through September, but needed the approval of the legislature, which will convene a special session starting Tuesday.

"I believe it's wrong for the state to reap a tax windfall in this time of urgency and tragedy," Mr. Perdue said.

Other states were contemplating actions of their own. California announced that it was beginning an investigation into gasoline price gouging in the state.

Meanwhile, in scattered camps in increasingly far-flung locations, countless thousands of refugees were fumbling to understand the next steps in their lives.

Barry Mason, 54, of New Orleans traded a spot in the Superdome for a seat by the 40-yard-line in the Houston Astrodome. The Superdome was "filled with all kinds of unbelievable filth, a screaming mess," he said, but spending the night in a chair was not much better.

"This is what they brought us to?" Mr. Mason said.

James Dao reported from New Orleans for this article, and N. R. Kleinfield from New York. Reporting was also contributed by Felicity Barringer and Joseph B. Treaster in New Orleans and Jeremy Alford in Baton Rouge, La.

Friday, September 02, 2005

People's Daily Online -- China, US to discuss Taiwan issue: FM spokesman

People's Daily Online -- China, US to discuss Taiwan issue: FM spokesmanChina, US to discuss Taiwan issue: FM spokesman
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Chinese President Hu Jintao will discuss the Taiwan issue with U.S. President George W. Bush during Hu's upcoming visit to the United States, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing Thursday.

"President Hu's meeting with president Bush will cover a wide range of topics, including the Taiwan issue, the most sensitive and important problem in China-US relations," Qin told a regular press gathering.

He noted that China hopes the US will honor their promise to stick to the One-China policy, follow the three joint commnuniques and oppose Taiwan independence.

President Hu will pay a state visit to the United States Sept. 5-8. He will exchange ideas with Bush on how to develop constructive cooperation and international and regional issues of mutual concern, Qin added.

Hu will also visit Seattle and Washington DC and deliver a speech at Yale University. He is also scheduled to meet US congress members, officials, businessmen, academics and the general public, according to Qin.

Qin said the main purpose of the meeting is to promote understanding and cooperation so as to let the American public understand that China is seeking peaceful development.

Source: Xinhua

Local Officials Criticize Federal Government Over Response - New York Times

Local Officials Criticize Federal Government Over Response - New York TimesSeptember 2, 2005
Local Officials Criticize Federal Government Over Response
By JOSEPH B. TREASTER
and DEBORAH SONTAG

NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 1 - Despair, privation and violent lawlessness grew so extreme in New Orleans on Thursday that the flooded city's mayor issued a "desperate S O S" and other local officials, describing the security situation as horrific, lambasted the federal government as responding too slowly to the disaster.

Thousands of refugees from Hurricane Katrina boarded buses for Houston, but others quickly took their places at the filthy, teeming Superdome, which has been serving as the primary shelter. At the increasingly unsanitary convention center, crowds swelled to about 25,000 and desperate refugees clamored for food, water and attention while dead bodies, slumped in wheelchairs or wrapped in sheets, lay in their midst.

"Some people there have not eaten or drunk water for three or four days, which is inexcusable," acknowledged Joseph W. Matthews, the director of the city's Office of Emergency Preparedness.

"We need additional troops, food, water," Mr. Matthews begged, "and we need personnel, law enforcement. This has turned into a situation where the city is being run by thugs."

Three days after the hurricane hit, bringing widespread destruction to the Gulf Coast and ruinous floods to low-lying New Orleans, the White House said President Bush would tour the region on Friday. Citing the magnitude of the disaster, federal officials defended their response so far and pledged that more help was coming. The Army Corps of Engineers continued work to close a levee breach that allowed water from Lake Pontchartrain to pour into New Orleans.

The effects of the disaster spilled out over the country. In Houston, the city began to grapple with the logistics of taking tens of thousands of refugees into the Astrodome. American Red Cross officials said late Thursday night that the Astrodome was full after accepting more than 11,000 refugees and that evacuees were being sent to other shelters in the Houston area.

Elsewhere, San Antonio and Dallas each braced for the arrival of 25,000 more, and Baton Rouge overnight replaced New Orleans as the most populous city in Louisiana and was bursting at the seams.

The devastation in the Gulf Coast also continued to roil oil markets, sending gasoline prices soaring in many areas of the country. In North Carolina, Gov. Michael F. Easley called on citizens to conserve fuel while two big pipelines that supply most of the state's gasoline were brought back on line.

Throughout the stricken region, scores of frantic people, without telephone service, asked for help contacting friends or relatives whose fates they did not know. Some ended up finding them dead. Others had emotional reunions. Newspapers offered toll-free numbers or Web message boards for the searches.

Meanwhile, the situation in New Orleans continued to deteriorate. Angry crowds chanted cries for help, and some among them rushed chaotically at helicopters bringing in food. Although Mayor C. Ray Nagin speculated that thousands might have died, officials said they still did not have a clear idea of the precise toll.

"We're just a bunch of rats," said Earle Young, 31, a cook who stood waiting in a throng of perhaps 10,000 outside the Superdome, waiting in the blazing sun for buses to take them away from the city. "That's how they've been treating us."

Chaos and gunfire hampered efforts to evacuate the Superdome, and, Superintendent P. Edward Compass III of the New Orleans Police Department said, armed thugs have taken control of the secondary makeshift shelter at the convention center. Superintendent Compass said that the thugs repelled eight squads of 11 officers each he had sent to secure the place and that rapes and assaults were occurring unimpeded in the neighboring streets as criminals "preyed upon" passers-by, including stranded tourists.

Mr. Compass said the federal government had taken too long to send in the thousands of troops - as well as the supplies, fuel, vehicles, water and food - needed to stabilize his now "very, very tenuous" city.

Col. Terry Ebbert, director of homeland security for New Orleans, concurred and he was particularly pungent in his criticism. Asserting that the whole recovery operation had been "carried on the backs of the little guys for four goddamn days," he said "the rest of the goddamn nation can't get us any resources for security."

"We are like little birds with our mouths open and you don't have to be very smart to know where to drop the worm," Colonel Ebbert said. "It's criminal within the confines of the United States that within one hour of the hurricane they weren't force-feeding us. It's like FEMA has never been to a hurricane." FEMA is the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Federal officials took pains to defend their efforts, maintaining that supplies were pouring into the area even before the hurricane struck, that thousands of National Guard members had arrived to help secure the city and that thousands more would join them in coming days.

Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana said some 300 National Guard members from Arkansas were flying into New Orleans with the express task of reclaiming the city. "They have M-16's and they are locked and loaded," she said.

Speaking at a news conference in Washington, Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security, said that the Superdome had "crowd control issues" but that it was secure. He referred to what he called "isolated incidents of criminality" in the city.

Mr. Chertoff said Hurricane Katrina had presented a "double challenge" because it was really two disasters in one: the storm and then the flooding.

"For those who wonder why it is that it is difficult to get these supplies and these medical teams into place, the answer is they are battling an ongoing dynamic problem with the water," he said.

On Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers was battling the water problem by finishing a metal wall across the mouth of the 17th Street Canal, the source of most of the flooding. Once finished, the wall was expected to staunch the flow from Lake Pontchartrain into the canal, which would allow engineers to repair a breach in the levee and to start pumping water from the city.

The federal government's other priority was to evacuate New Orleans, Mr. Chertoff said. To that end, some 200 buses had left the Superdome for the Astrodome in Houston by midday, he said, adding that another 200 buses were expected to start loading passengers later Thursday and that Louisiana was providing an additional 500 school buses.

On the receiving end in Houston, though, the Astrodome looked at times like a squatters' camp in a war-torn country. The refugees from Louisiana, many dirty and hungry, wandered about aimlessly, checking bulletin boards for information about their relatives, queuing up for supplies and pay phones, mobbing Red Cross volunteers to obtain free T-shirts. Many found some conditions similar to those that they left behind at the Superdome, like clogged toilets and foul restrooms.

But in Houston, there were hot showers, crates of Bibles and stacks of pizzas, while in New Orleans, many refugees scrounged for diapers, water and basic survival.

The Senate convened a special session at 10 p.m. Thursday to pass the an emergency supplemental spending bill providing $10.5 billion for relief efforts.

Senator Thad Cochran, the Mississippi Republican who is chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said he had just returned from his home state. "The whole coastal area of the state has been destroyed, virtually destroyed," he said. "It was quiet. It was eerie. It was horrible to behold."

House leaders intended to hold a special session Friday to approve the measure.

Even as administration officials pledged vast resources to the region, however, Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Republican of Illinois, told a local newspaper, The Daily Herald, that he was skeptical about using billions in federal money to rebuild New Orleans, given its vulnerability. "It doesn't make sense to me," Mr. Hastert said. "And it's a question that certainly we should ask."

He later sought to clarify his comments, saying in a statement: "I am not advocating that the city be abandoned or relocated. My comments about rebuilding the city were intended to reflect my sincere concern with how the city is rebuilt to ensure the future protection of its citizens."

Shea Penland, director of the Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of New Orleans, had stayed in his Garden District home through the storm and its immediate aftermath. But on Thursday his generator was running out of fuel, and he was tiring.

"People have only so much staying power with no infrastructure," Dr. Penland said. "I am boarding up my house today and will hopefully be in Baton Rouge or the north shore tonight."

Joseph B. Treaster reported from New Orleans, and Deborah Sontag from New York. Jeremy Alford contributed reporting from Baton Rouge, La.; Felicity Barringer from Metairie, La.; Christine Hauser from New York; and Simon Romero from Houston.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

CNN.com - U.S. declares health emergency - Aug 31, 2005

CNN.com - U.S. declares health emergency - Aug 31, 2005U.S. declares health emergency
New Orleans mayor: Thousands may be dead

(CNN) -- The Bush administration declared a public health emergency for the entire Gulf Coast on Wednesday in an effort to stop the spread of disease in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

"We are gravely concerned about the potential for cholera, typhoid and dehydrating diseases that could come as a result of the stagnant water and the conditions," Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said Wednesday after announcing the emergency.

"We are also erecting a network of up to 40 medical shelters," Leavitt said. "They will have the capacity, collectively, of 10,000 beds, and will be staffed by some 4,000 qualified medical personnel." (See the video report of what health assaults the city might face -- 2:18)

Leavitt said the declaration would simplify and speed the relief effort.

Meanwhile, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin reportedly said Wednesday that the storm probably killed thousands of people in his city.

"We know there is a significant number of dead bodies in the water," and others dead in attics, The Associated Press quoted Nagin as saying. When asked how many, he reportedly said: "Minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands."

Nagin and other Louisiana officials had refused to give a casualty count in the past, saying emergency workers were focusing on the rescue effort.

Earlier, an emergency official in Mississippi said the death toll was as high as 110 in that state.

In New Orleans, authorities prepared Wednesday to evacuate about 25,000 displaced residents who've been stranded since Katrina struck and transport them to the Houston Astrodome. Texas officials offered to open the giant stadium as a shelter for people displaced by the storm. (See the video of the governor's plan to help the stranded -- 3:09)

Most have been staying at the Louisiana Superdome, which was designated as a refuge for people who could not evacuate the city before the storm roared ashore on Monday.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco told CNN Wednesday morning that conditions were deteriorating rapidly at the Superdome, as evacuees sweltered without power for air conditioning and toilets overflowed.

Electricity was out for more than 2.3 million people in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida.

Meanwhile, Katrina's effect on oil supplies and gas prices spread nationwide. Katrina forced operators to close more than a tenth of the country's refining capacity and a quarter of its oil production, which sent gasoline prices surging and prompted the White House to tap the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve. (Watch the video of the energy secretary's comments on capping gas prices -- 4:16)

But some analysts say that gas prices are still likely to climb to more than $4 a gallon. (Full story)

Blanco said that officials were facing enormous challenges as they tried to stabilize the situation in New Orleans. (See the video of water surging into the saturated city -- 1:53)

"We've got an engineering nightmare trying to fill the breach of the levee where the waters are pouring into the city," she said.

The floodwaters also overwhelmed pumping stations that would normally keep the city dry. About 80 percent of the city was flooded with water up to 20 feet deep after the two levees collapsed. (Map)

The Army Corps of Engineers is bringing in heavy, twin-rotored Chinook helicopters to drop 3,000-pound sandbags into the gap, officials said.

Across Lake Pontchartrain, in Slidell, Louisiana, Mayor Ben Morris is among thousands of homeless residents who have been unable to communicate with anyone outside Slidell.

"I really don't know where my wife is or children are," he told CNN's Miles O'Brien. "They left town which, thank God, they did, but there's no way -- our telephones don't work, our cell phones don't work -- so there's no way to talk to the outside world." (Watch video of Slidell's mayor touring his town -- 2:06)
Troops 'cutting their way to the coast'

In Mississippi, where fallen trees blocked many highways, about 3,000 members of the National Guard were "using chainsaws to cut their way in to the coast," said Brad Mayo, a public information officer for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).

Eighteen urban search-and-rescue crews made up of FEMA teams and crews from other states are heading to the coastal region, Mayo said, along with 39 medical disaster teams, four veterinary disaster teams and two mental health teams.

Some areas were still inaccessible by road, Mayo said, and crews were using boats to get around.

Wednesday, state officials reopened U.S. Highway 49 from Jackson to Seminary, Mississippi, just north of Hattiesburg. That should help the 1,700 trucks bringing in ice, food, water, fuel and medical supplies to the affected areas. "We're shipping ice in from Memphis," Mayo said.

An emergency official in Jackson told CNN on Wednesday the death toll there is as many as 110.

The official said the confirmed death toll -- deaths certified by a coroner -- stands at 13, but in Harrison County alone officials said they had at least 100 bodies.

In the hardest hit areas in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties, emergency officials are setting up M*A*S*H-style hospitals in tents and portable structures to try to help those injured or rescued.

Mayo said the state is asking for doctors, nurses and emergency medical technicians from neighboring states for their help. Those who want to assist should contact their state's licensing board, which should then get in touch with Mississippi's board for accreditation.
Other developments

* New Orleans' Louis Armstrong International Airport is open and operational for relief flights, but operations will "be very, very restricted air service for the weeks to come," aviation director Roy Williams said. "I would hope that by the November time frame that some level of the traditional hospitality, tourism and business activities that we're known for can be under way."

* One of two pipeline companies supplying gasoline to the eastern seaboard of the United States said Wednesday it hopes to be back in partial operation soon. The other pipeline is still waiting for an indication on when electricity to pumps can be restored.

* The U.S. Navy was dispatching ships to the area, including the USNS Comfort, a floating hospital based in Baltimore, and an amphibious ready group led by the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima.

Bus Convoy to Move Thousands From Superdome to Astrodome - New York Times

Bus Convoy to Move Thousands From Superdome to Astrodome - New York TimesAugust 31, 2005
Bus Convoy to Move Thousands From Superdome to Astrodome
By JOSEPH B. TREASTER
and MARIA NEWMAN

NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 31 -Thousands of refugees from Hurricane Katrina who sought shelter in the Superdome here will be taken by bus to Houston's Astrodome under a plan worked out by state, federal and other rescue agency officials, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas announced today.

In Washington, the Department of Homeland Security assumed control of the federal response to the disaster, with Secretary Michael Chertoff declaring the overwhelming devastation an "incident of national significance."

The Superdome refugees will make the 350-mile trip from New Orleans to Houston on 475 buses to be provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Governor Perry said. The Astrodome, which can provide living space for about 25,000 people, will be available to house them - and presumably other refugees - at least until December, and longer, if necessary. There are at least 10,000 people in the Superdome.

The governor also said that he would open the doors to Texas' public schools to children from out of state whose families were left homeless by the storms.

"By the grace of God, we could be the ones who have this extraordinary need," Mr. Perry said. "We're going to get through this together as one American family."

President Bush, who cut short his Texas vacation by a couple of days because of the devastation, will probably visit storm-ravaged areas on Saturday or Sunday, the chief White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, told reporters today. Mr. Bush got a glimpse of the destruction earlier today when Air Force One flew low over the Gulf Coast on its way back to Washington from Texas.

As officials continue to work on ways to recover from the disaster, President Bush planned to meet in Washington with a task force he established to coordinate the efforts of 14 federal agencies. He plans to ask Congress for more money to aid those affected by the storm, and he put the federal response to the disaster in the hands of the Homeland Security Department, led by Mr. Chertoff.

That designation will set in motion, for the first time, a national emergency plan devised after the 2001 terror attacks to coordinate the work of several agencies aiding recovery efforts. "We will work tirelessly to ensure that our fellow citizens have the sustained support and the necessary aid to recover and reclaim their homes, their lives, and their communities," Mr. Chertoff said in a televised briefing.

On the ground, search-and-rescue teams in helicopters and boats continued to search for survivors in the flooded and battered city of New Orleans, with hundreds already plucked from rooftops of flooded houses. Officials said that it could be months before residents would be allowed to return to their homes.

Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana flew over the devastated area today, and later, with tears in her eyes, recounted to reporters seeing people stranded on rooftops, water taking over homes. The death toll, she said, will probably continue to rise.

"This is heartbreaking," she said. "I think people will have to draw on their inner strength."

The mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, told reporters that "we know there is a significant number of dead bodies in the water" and that there were others in the attics of flood houses, leading him to believe, The Associated Press reported, that the ultimate death toll could be "minimum, hundreds, most likely, thousands."

Senator Mary Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, who accompanied the governor on her survey, said that it was difficult to view her devastated hometown from the air. "What I saw today is equivalent to what I saw flying over the tsunami area," she said. "There are places that are no longer there."

In Mississippi, officials raised the official count of the dead to at least 100. "It looks like Hiroshima, is what it looks like," Gov. Haley Barbour said in describing parts of Harrison County, Miss.

Governor Blanco said relief efforts had to first focus on getting people out of afflicted areas, and to bring enough food and water to help survivors and refugees. She also said a top priority for Louisiana was repairing the two breaches that developed on Tuesday in levees that were holding back the waters of Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans.

Workers for the Army Corps of Engineers today continued to drop 3,000-pound containers to try to close one 500-foot gap in the levee. But agency officials that they were having trouble getting needed equipment to the work sites because many bridges and roads were destroyed during the storm.

Despite the obstacles, Louisiana officials said that they 250 slings were on their way, and that there were 100 additional 3,000-pound containers filled and ready to be dropped into the hole later today or tonight. About 250 concrete barriers have been delivered on site already.

"The challenge is an engineering nightmare," Ms. Blanco said on ABC's "Good Morning America."

As rising water and widespread devastation hobbled rescue and recovery efforts, the authorities could only guess at the death toll along the Gulf Coast. Across the region, rescue workers were not even trying to gather up and count the dead, officials said, but pushed them aside for the time being as they tried to find the living.

In New Orleans, it was not the water from the sky but the water that broke through the city's protective barriers that changed everything for the worse. With a population of nearly 500,000, New Orleans is protected from the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain by levees.

When the levees gave way in some critical spots, streets that were essentially dry in the hours immediately after the hurricane passed were several feet deep in water on Tuesday morning. Even downtown areas that lie on higher ground were flooded. Mayor Nagin said both city airports were under water.

The Superdome's roof suffered damage during the storm, and rising waters around the arena have meant that refugees were huddled in increasingly grim conditions as water and food dwindled, toilets overflowed and flood waters threatened emergency generators. One woman with an 18-month-old baby said her last bottle of baby formula was nearly empty.

Swaths of the roof had been peeled away by the powerful winds of Hurricane Katrina, and it was stifling inside without air-conditioning.

During the day, additional survivors were deposited at the Superdome by rescuers, but the absence of food and power, not to mention the water lapping at the doors, made their continued stay perilous, leading to the Houston Astrodome plan. Mayor Nagin estimated that it would be one to two weeks before the water could be pumped out of the New Orleans arena. Another city official said it would be two months before the schools could reopen.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to need temporary homes for indefinite durations. The authorities were looking at renting apartments, putting people up in trailers and establishing floating dormitories.

Looting broke out as opportunistic thieves cleaned out abandoned stores for a second night. In one incident, officials said, a police officer was shot and critically wounded.

"These are not individuals looting," Col. Terry Ebbert, the city's director of homeland security, said. "These are large groups of armed individuals."

Hundreds of critically-ill patients had to be evacuated from Charity Hospital and Tulane University Hospital because of the flooding.

At Tulane, they were removed by helicopter from the roof of a parking garage. The staff of the city's major daily, The Times-Picayune, which was able to publish only an online version of Tuesday editions, was forced to flee the paper's offices.

Getting food and clean water into the city was an urgent priority. Officials said that there was only one way for emergency vehicles to get into parts of the city to bring in supplies.

"We're racing the clock in terms of possible injury," Mr. Chertoff, the national homeland security secretary, said. "We're racing the clock in terms of illness, and we're racing the clock to get them food and water."

Preliminary damage estimates from insurance experts on Monday ranged from $9 billion to $16 billion, but they were pushed up past $25 billion on Tuesday, which could make Hurricane Katrina the costliest in history, surpassing Hurricane Andrew in 1992, with $21 billion in insured losses.

As the scope of the damage to oil and gas facilities in the Gulf of Mexico became more apparent, energy prices rocketed to record highs. Experts predicted that further increases were likely.

Today, the Energy Department said it would release oil from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve to keep refineries supplied.

From the air, New Orleans was a shocking sight of utter demolition. Seen from the vantage point of a Jefferson Parish sheriff's helicopter transporting FEMA officials, vast stretches of the city resembled a community of houseboats. Twenty-block neighborhoods were under water as high as the roofs of three-story houses. One large building, the Galleria, had most, if not all, of its 600 windows blown out.

Sections of Interstate 10, the principal artery through the city, had pieces missing or misaligned, as if the highway were an unfinished jigsaw puzzle. Parts of the 24-mile-long Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, the world's longest overwater highway bridge, were missing as well. Fires had broken out in sundry buildings, and hundreds of thousands of people were without power.

One woman swam from her home on Monday and then walked through the night to take shelter in a 24-hour bar in the French Quarter. Another left her flooding house but could not persuade her elderly roommate to come with her. Her roommate insisted, "God will take care of me."

People waded through waist-high water, looking to determine the fate of their homes. Rescue workers, who were plucking people off roofs in rescue cages, reported seeing bodies floating through the water. Mayor Nagin said that as he flew over the city he saw bubbles in the water, which he said seemed to signify natural gas leaks.

Parishes east of the city were also battered. The president of Plaquemines Parish, on the southeastern tip of Louisiana, announced that the lower half of the parish had been reclaimed by the river. St. Bernard Parish, adjacent to New Orleans, was largely rooftops and water.

In South Diamondhead, Miss., on St. Louis Bay, all that remained of the entire community of 200 homes was pilings. Boats were stuck in trees.

"Yeah, we caught it," said Randy Keel, 46. "We basically got what we're wearing."

Everyone was "walking around like zombies," Mr. Keel said.

Some Mississippi casinos, which had been floating on barges, were swept half a mile inland. An oil platform in the gulf was transported within a hundred yards of Dauphin Island, the barrier island at the south end of Mobile County, Ala., and much of that island was underwater.

Peter Teahen, the national spokesman for the American Red Cross, said: "We are looking now at a disaster above any magnitude that we've seen in the United States. We've been saying that the response is going to be the largest Red Cross response in the history of the organization."

Meanwhile, the evacuated survivors tried to accept the images they saw on television. Vonda Simmons, 39, fled New Orleans with relatives on Saturday afternoon to stay with friends in Baton Rouge. When she saw footage of the hard-hit Lower Ninth Ward, where she lived, she assumed she had lost everything but she accepted fate's hand.

"We have the most prized possession," Ms. Simmons said. "We have each other."

Joseph B. Treaster reported from New Orleans for this article, and Maria Newman from New York. Reporting was also contributed by Abby Goodnough, Kate Zernike and Shaila Dewan from Biloxi, Miss; Felicity Barringer from Houma, La.; Ralph Blumenthal from New Orleans; N. R. Kleinfield and Michael Luo from New York; Jeremy Alford from Baton Rouge, La.; and Diane Allen from South Diamondhead, Miss.

Bus Convoy to Move Thousands From Superdome to Astrodome - New York Times

Bus Convoy to Move Thousands From Superdome to Astrodome - New York TimesAugust 31, 2005
Bus Convoy to Move Thousands From Superdome to Astrodome
By JOSEPH B. TREASTER
and MARIA NEWMAN

NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 31 -Thousands of refugees from Hurricane Katrina who sought shelter in the Superdome here will be taken by bus to Houston's Astrodome under a plan worked out by state, federal and other rescue agency officials, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas announced today.

In Washington, the Department of Homeland Security assumed control of the federal response to the disaster, with Secretary Michael Chertoff declaring the overwhelming devastation an "incident of national significance."

The Superdome refugees will make the 350-mile trip from New Orleans to Houston on 475 buses to be provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Governor Perry said. The Astrodome, which can provide living space for about 25,000 people, will be available to house them - and presumably other refugees - at least until December, and longer, if necessary. There are at least 10,000 people in the Superdome.

The governor also said that he would open the doors to Texas' public schools to children from out of state whose families were left homeless by the storms.

"By the grace of God, we could be the ones who have this extraordinary need," Mr. Perry said. "We're going to get through this together as one American family."

President Bush, who cut short his Texas vacation by a couple of days because of the devastation, will probably visit storm-ravaged areas on Saturday or Sunday, the chief White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, told reporters today. Mr. Bush got a glimpse of the destruction earlier today when Air Force One flew low over the Gulf Coast on its way back to Washington from Texas.

As officials continue to work on ways to recover from the disaster, President Bush planned to meet in Washington with a task force he established to coordinate the efforts of 14 federal agencies. He plans to ask Congress for more money to aid those affected by the storm, and he put the federal response to the disaster in the hands of the Homeland Security Department, led by Mr. Chertoff.

That designation will set in motion, for the first time, a national emergency plan devised after the 2001 terror attacks to coordinate the work of several agencies aiding recovery efforts. "We will work tirelessly to ensure that our fellow citizens have the sustained support and the necessary aid to recover and reclaim their homes, their lives, and their communities," Mr. Chertoff said in a televised briefing.

On the ground, search-and-rescue teams in helicopters and boats continued to search for survivors in the flooded and battered city of New Orleans, with hundreds already plucked from rooftops of flooded houses. Officials said that it could be months before residents would be allowed to return to their homes.

Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana flew over the devastated area today, and later, with tears in her eyes, recounted to reporters seeing people stranded on rooftops, water taking over homes. The death toll, she said, will probably continue to rise.

"This is heartbreaking," she said. "I think people will have to draw on their inner strength."

The mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, told reporters that "we know there is a significant number of dead bodies in the water" and that there were others in the attics of flood houses, leading him to believe, The Associated Press reported, that the ultimate death toll could be "minimum, hundreds, most likely, thousands."

Senator Mary Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, who accompanied the governor on her survey, said that it was difficult to view her devastated hometown from the air. "What I saw today is equivalent to what I saw flying over the tsunami area," she said. "There are places that are no longer there."

In Mississippi, officials raised the official count of the dead to at least 100. "It looks like Hiroshima, is what it looks like," Gov. Haley Barbour said in describing parts of Harrison County, Miss.

Governor Blanco said relief efforts had to first focus on getting people out of afflicted areas, and to bring enough food and water to help survivors and refugees. She also said a top priority for Louisiana was repairing the two breaches that developed on Tuesday in levees that were holding back the waters of Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans.

Workers for the Army Corps of Engineers today continued to drop 3,000-pound containers to try to close one 500-foot gap in the levee. But agency officials that they were having trouble getting needed equipment to the work sites because many bridges and roads were destroyed during the storm.

Despite the obstacles, Louisiana officials said that they 250 slings were on their way, and that there were 100 additional 3,000-pound containers filled and ready to be dropped into the hole later today or tonight. About 250 concrete barriers have been delivered on site already.

"The challenge is an engineering nightmare," Ms. Blanco said on ABC's "Good Morning America."

As rising water and widespread devastation hobbled rescue and recovery efforts, the authorities could only guess at the death toll along the Gulf Coast. Across the region, rescue workers were not even trying to gather up and count the dead, officials said, but pushed them aside for the time being as they tried to find the living.

In New Orleans, it was not the water from the sky but the water that broke through the city's protective barriers that changed everything for the worse. With a population of nearly 500,000, New Orleans is protected from the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain by levees.

When the levees gave way in some critical spots, streets that were essentially dry in the hours immediately after the hurricane passed were several feet deep in water on Tuesday morning. Even downtown areas that lie on higher ground were flooded. Mayor Nagin said both city airports were under water.

The Superdome's roof suffered damage during the storm, and rising waters around the arena have meant that refugees were huddled in increasingly grim conditions as water and food dwindled, toilets overflowed and flood waters threatened emergency generators. One woman with an 18-month-old baby said her last bottle of baby formula was nearly empty.

Swaths of the roof had been peeled away by the powerful winds of Hurricane Katrina, and it was stifling inside without air-conditioning.

During the day, additional survivors were deposited at the Superdome by rescuers, but the absence of food and power, not to mention the water lapping at the doors, made their continued stay perilous, leading to the Houston Astrodome plan. Mayor Nagin estimated that it would be one to two weeks before the water could be pumped out of the New Orleans arena. Another city official said it would be two months before the schools could reopen.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to need temporary homes for indefinite durations. The authorities were looking at renting apartments, putting people up in trailers and establishing floating dormitories.

Looting broke out as opportunistic thieves cleaned out abandoned stores for a second night. In one incident, officials said, a police officer was shot and critically wounded.

"These are not individuals looting," Col. Terry Ebbert, the city's director of homeland security, said. "These are large groups of armed individuals."

Hundreds of critically-ill patients had to be evacuated from Charity Hospital and Tulane University Hospital because of the flooding.

At Tulane, they were removed by helicopter from the roof of a parking garage. The staff of the city's major daily, The Times-Picayune, which was able to publish only an online version of Tuesday editions, was forced to flee the paper's offices.

Getting food and clean water into the city was an urgent priority. Officials said that there was only one way for emergency vehicles to get into parts of the city to bring in supplies.

"We're racing the clock in terms of possible injury," Mr. Chertoff, the national homeland security secretary, said. "We're racing the clock in terms of illness, and we're racing the clock to get them food and water."

Preliminary damage estimates from insurance experts on Monday ranged from $9 billion to $16 billion, but they were pushed up past $25 billion on Tuesday, which could make Hurricane Katrina the costliest in history, surpassing Hurricane Andrew in 1992, with $21 billion in insured losses.

As the scope of the damage to oil and gas facilities in the Gulf of Mexico became more apparent, energy prices rocketed to record highs. Experts predicted that further increases were likely.

Today, the Energy Department said it would release oil from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve to keep refineries supplied.

From the air, New Orleans was a shocking sight of utter demolition. Seen from the vantage point of a Jefferson Parish sheriff's helicopter transporting FEMA officials, vast stretches of the city resembled a community of houseboats. Twenty-block neighborhoods were under water as high as the roofs of three-story houses. One large building, the Galleria, had most, if not all, of its 600 windows blown out.

Sections of Interstate 10, the principal artery through the city, had pieces missing or misaligned, as if the highway were an unfinished jigsaw puzzle. Parts of the 24-mile-long Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, the world's longest overwater highway bridge, were missing as well. Fires had broken out in sundry buildings, and hundreds of thousands of people were without power.

One woman swam from her home on Monday and then walked through the night to take shelter in a 24-hour bar in the French Quarter. Another left her flooding house but could not persuade her elderly roommate to come with her. Her roommate insisted, "God will take care of me."

People waded through waist-high water, looking to determine the fate of their homes. Rescue workers, who were plucking people off roofs in rescue cages, reported seeing bodies floating through the water. Mayor Nagin said that as he flew over the city he saw bubbles in the water, which he said seemed to signify natural gas leaks.

Parishes east of the city were also battered. The president of Plaquemines Parish, on the southeastern tip of Louisiana, announced that the lower half of the parish had been reclaimed by the river. St. Bernard Parish, adjacent to New Orleans, was largely rooftops and water.

In South Diamondhead, Miss., on St. Louis Bay, all that remained of the entire community of 200 homes was pilings. Boats were stuck in trees.

"Yeah, we caught it," said Randy Keel, 46. "We basically got what we're wearing."

Everyone was "walking around like zombies," Mr. Keel said.

Some Mississippi casinos, which had been floating on barges, were swept half a mile inland. An oil platform in the gulf was transported within a hundred yards of Dauphin Island, the barrier island at the south end of Mobile County, Ala., and much of that island was underwater.

Peter Teahen, the national spokesman for the American Red Cross, said: "We are looking now at a disaster above any magnitude that we've seen in the United States. We've been saying that the response is going to be the largest Red Cross response in the history of the organization."

Meanwhile, the evacuated survivors tried to accept the images they saw on television. Vonda Simmons, 39, fled New Orleans with relatives on Saturday afternoon to stay with friends in Baton Rouge. When she saw footage of the hard-hit Lower Ninth Ward, where she lived, she assumed she had lost everything but she accepted fate's hand.

"We have the most prized possession," Ms. Simmons said. "We have each other."

Joseph B. Treaster reported from New Orleans for this article, and Maria Newman from New York. Reporting was also contributed by Abby Goodnough, Kate Zernike and Shaila Dewan from Biloxi, Miss; Felicity Barringer from Houma, La.; Ralph Blumenthal from New Orleans; N. R. Kleinfield and Michael Luo from New York; Jeremy Alford from Baton Rouge, La.; and Diane Allen from South Diamondhead, Miss.

Much of Gulf Coast Is Crippled; Death Toll Rises After Hurricane - New York Times


Much of Gulf Coast Is Crippled; Death Toll Rises After Hurricane - New York TimesAugust 31, 2005
Much of Gulf Coast Is Crippled; Death Toll Rises After Hurricane
By JOSEPH B. TREASTER and N. R. KLEINFIELD

NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 30 - A day after New Orleans thought it had narrowly escaped the worst of Hurricane Katrina's wrath, water broke through two levees on Tuesday and virtually submerged and isolated the city, causing incalculable destruction and rendering it uninhabitable for weeks to come.

With bridges washed out, highways converted into canals, and power and communications lines inoperable, government officials ordered everyone still remaining out of the city. Officials began planning for the evacuation of the Superdome, where about 10,000 refugees huddled in increasingly grim conditions as water and food were running out and rising water threatened the generators.

The situation was so dire that late in the day the Pentagon ordered five Navy ships and eight Navy maritime rescue teams to the Gulf Coast to bolster relief operations. It also planned to fly in Swift boat rescue teams from California.

As rising water and widespread devastation hobbled rescue and recovery efforts, the authorities could only guess at the death toll in New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast. In Mississippi alone, officials raised the official count of the dead to at least 100.

"It looks like Hiroshima is what it looks like," Gov. Haley Barbour said, describing parts of Harrison County, Miss.

Across the region, rescue workers were not even trying to gather up and count the dead, officials said, but pushed them aside for the time being as they tried to find the living.

As the sweep of the devastation became clear, President Bush cut short his monthlong summer vacation on Tuesday and returned to Washington, where he will meet on Wednesday with a task force established to coordinate the efforts of 14 federal agencies that will be involved in responding to the disaster.

The scope of the catastrophe caught New Orleans by surprise. A certain sense of relief that was felt on Monday afternoon, after the eye of the storm swept east of the city, proved cruelly illusory, as the authorities and residents woke up Tuesday to a more horrifying result than had been anticipated. Mayor Ray Nagin lamented that while the city had dodged the worst-case scenario on Monday. Tuesday was "the second-worst-case scenario."

It was not the water from the sky but the water that broke through the city's protective barriers that changed everything for the worse. New Orleans, with a population of nearly 500,000, is protected from the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain by levees. North of downtown, breaches in the levees sent the muddy waters of the lake pouring into the city.

Streets that were essentially dry in the hours immediately after the hurricane passed were several feet deep in water on Tuesday morning. Even downtown areas that lie on higher ground were flooded. The mayor said both city airports were underwater.

Mayor Nagin said that one of the levee breaches was two to three blocks long, and that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had been dropping 3,000-pound sandbags into the opening from helicopters, as well as sea-land containers with sand, to try to seal the break. Late Tuesday night, there were reports that the rising waters had caused a nearby station that pumps water out of the city to fail.

New Orleans is below sea level, and the mayor estimated that 80 percent of the city was submerged, with the waters running as deep as 20 feet in some places. The city government regrouped in Baton Rouge, 80 miles to the northwest.

Col. Terry Ebbert, the city's director of homeland security, said the rushing waters had widened one of the breaches, making the repair work more difficult.

While the bulk of New Orleans's population evacuated before the storm, tens of thousands of people chose to remain in the city, and efforts to evacuate them were continuing. The authorities estimated that thousands of residents had been plucked off rooftops, just feet from the rising water.

"The magnitude of the situation is untenable," said Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana. "It's just heartbreaking."

Looting broke out as opportunistic thieves cleaned out abandoned stores for a second night. In one incident, officials said, a police officer was shot and critically wounded.

"These are not individuals looting," Colonel Ebbert said. "These are large groups of armed individuals."

Officials at the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security confirmed that officials in Plaquemines and Jefferson Parishes had tried to call for martial law, which is not authorized by the State Constitution.

Offering up howling winds of as much as 145 miles an hour, the hurricane hit land in eastern Louisiana just after 6 a.m. Monday as a Category 4 storm, the second-highest rating, qualifying it as one of the strongest to strike the United States.

Preliminary damage estimates from insurance experts on Monday ranged from $9 billion to $16 billion, but they were pushed up past $25 billion on Tuesday, which could make Hurricane Katrina the costliest in history, surpassing Hurricane Andrew in 1992, with $21 billion in insured losses.

As the scope of the damage to oil and gas facilities in the Gulf of Mexico became more apparent, energy prices rocketed to record highs. Experts predicted that further increases were likely.

Floodwaters were still rising as much as three inches an hour in parts of New Orleans late Tuesday. In other areas, they were beginning to subside.

"I don't want to alarm anyone that New Orleans is filling up like a bowl," Michael Brown, FEMA's director, said. "That isn't happening."

More than 10,000 people remained stranded in the Louisiana Superdome, which was without power and surrounded by three to four feet of water. Swaths of the roof had been peeled away by the powerful winds, and it was stifling inside without air conditioning. Toilets were reported to be overflowing. A woman with an 18-month-old baby said her last bottle of baby formula was nearly empty.

During the day, additional survivors were deposited at the Superdome by rescuers, but the absence of food and power, not to mention the water lapping at the doors, made their continued stay perilous. Hundreds of critically-ill patients had to be evacuated out of Charity Hospital and Tulane University Hospital because of the flooding.

At Tulane, they were removed by helicopter from the roof of a parking garage. The staff of the Times-Picayune, which was able to publish only an online version of its edition on Tuesday, was forced to flee the paper's offices.

The Coast Guard estimated that about 1,200 people had been rescued Monday and thousands more on Tuesday. Efforts were hindered by phone and cellphone service being out in much of the city.

Getting food and water into the city was an urgent priority. Officials said that there was only one way for emergency vehicles to get into parts of the city to bring in supplies.

"We're racing the clock in terms of possible injury," said Michael Chertoff, the national homeland security secretary. "We're racing the clock in terms of illness, and we're racing the clock to get them food and water."

The hurricane, downgraded to a tropical depression by late Tuesday morning, continued to putter along into adjoining states, though its teeth were gone. It had left its mark on numerous Gulf Coast communities. In Mississippi, for example, Gulfport was virtually gone, and Biloxi was severely damaged.

From the air, New Orleans was a shocking sight of utter demolition. Seen from the vantage point of a Jefferson Parish sheriff's helicopter transporting FEMA officials, vast stretches of the city resembled a community of houseboats. Twenty-block neighborhoods were under water as high as the roofs of three-story houses. One large building, the Galleria, had most, if not all, of its 600 windows blown out.

Sections of Interstate 10, the principal artery through the city, had pieces missing or misaligned, as if the highway were an unfinished jigsaw puzzle. Parts of the 24-mile-long Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, the world's longest overwater highway bridge, were missing as well. Fires had broken out in sundry buildings, and hundreds of thousands of people were without power.

One woman swam from her home on Monday and then walked through the night to take shelter in a 24-hour bar in the French Quarter. Another left her flooding house but could not persuade her elderly roommate to come with her. Her roommate insisted, "God will take care of me."

People waded through waist-high water, looking to determine the fate of their homes. Rescue workers, who were plucking people off roofs in rescue cages, reported seeing bodies floating through the water. Mayor Nagin said that as he flew over the city he saw bubbles in the water, which he said seemed to signify natural gas leaks.

The mayor estimated it would be one to two weeks before the water could be pumped out, and two to four weeks before evacuees could be permitted back into the city. Another city official said it would be two months before the schools reopened.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to need temporary homes for uncertain durations. The authorities were looking at renting apartments, putting people up in trailers and establishing floating dormitories.

Parishes east of the city were also battered. The president of Plaquemines Parish, on the southeastern tip of Louisiana, announced that the lower half of the parish had been reclaimed by the river. St. Bernard Parish, adjacent to New Orleans, was largely rooftops and water.

In South Diamondhead, Miss., on St. Louis Bay, all that remained of the entire community of 200 homes was pilings. Boats were stuck in trees.

"Yeah, we caught it," said Randy Keel, 46. "We basically got what we're wearing."

Everyone was "walking around like zombies," Mr. Keel said.

Some Mississippi casinos, which had been floating on barges, were swept half a mile inland. An oil platform in the gulf was transported within a hundred yards of Dauphin Island, the barrier island at the south end of Mobile County, Ala., and much of that island was underwater.

Peter Teahen, the national spokesman for the American Red Cross, said: "We are looking now at a disaster above any magnitude that we've seen in the United States. We've been saying that the response is going to be the largest Red Cross response in the history of the organization."

Meanwhile, the evacuated survivors tried to accept the images they saw on television. Vonda Simmons, 39, fled New Orleans with relatives on Saturday afternoon to stay with friends in Baton Rouge. When she saw footage of the hard-hit Lower Ninth Ward, where she lived, she assumed she had lost everything but she accepted fate's hand.

"We have the most prized possession," Ms. Simmons said. "We have each other."

Joseph B. Treaster reported from New Orleans for this article, and N. R. Kleinfeld from New York. Reportingwas also contributed by Abby Goodnough, Kate Zernike and Shaila Dewan from Biloxi, Miss; Felicity Barringer from Houma, La.; Ralph Blumenthal from New Orleans; Michael Luo from New York; Jeremy Alford from Baton Rouge, La.; and Diane Allen from South Diamondhead, Miss.

Japan Today - News - U.S. poverty rate up for fourth straight year - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - U.S. poverty rate up for fourth straight year - Japan's Leading International News NetworkU.S. poverty rate up for fourth straight year

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005 at 07:46 JST
WASHINGTON — The official U.S. poverty rate increased in 2004 for the fourth straight year as more than one million people joined the ranks of the poor, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday.

The Census Bureau said the number of people living below the poverty line rose last year to 37.0 million people from 35.9 million in 2003, and the poverty rate increased to 12.7% from 12.5 percent.

Navy ships head to Gulf Coast to aid relief effort - Hurricane Katrina - MSNBC.com

Navy ships head to Gulf Coast to aid relief effort - Hurricane Katrina - MSNBC.comNavy ships head to Gulf Coast to aid relief effort
Medical disaster teams from across U.S. converge on storm-ravaged region
The Associated Press
Updated: 4:12 a.m. ET Aug. 31, 2005

WASHINGTON - The Navy is sending four ships carrying water and other supplies to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina, while medical disaster teams and Red Cross workers from across the country converged on the devastated Gulf Coast region.

The Red Cross, which sent in 185 emergency vehicles to provide meals, reported it had about 40,000 people in 200 shelters across the area. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said medical specialists from Washington state were joining similar teams called in from Massachusetts, New Mexico, Ohio, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Florida to assist people in damaged areas.

Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott urged President Bush to visit the damaged region.

“Mr. President, the people of Mississippi are flat on their backs. They’re going to need your help,” Lott said in a call to Bush. “I urge you to come to Mississippi.”

President expected to visit soon
Bush was cutting short his Texas vacation and returning to Washington on Wednesday. He was expected to tour the storm-damaged areas later in the week.

Katrina came ashore Monday between New Orleans and Biloxi, Miss., inundating large areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

FEMA said it has 500 trucks of ice, 500 trucks of water and 350 trucks of military meals ready to eat scheduled for distribution in the next 10 days.

Four Navy amphibious ships were to leave Norfolk, Va., over the next few days for deployment on the Gulf Coast. The Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida will be a base for the relief effort.

The Coast Guard received hundreds of calls for help and has assisted in the rescue of more than 1,200 people, spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Carter said Tuesday.

He said the Coast Guard had received reports that seven mobile offshore oil drilling rigs were adrift, and was working with companies on recovery and salvage plans.

The Coast Guard was conducting search-and-rescue missions and damage assessments by air and water, and was flying supplies to affected areas, Carter said.

In addition, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff — whose agency oversees the Coast Guard — has authorized the call-up of 550 Coast Guard reservists to help in recovery operations, Carter said.

In other developments:
# The Air Force said flooding and high winds damaged bases in Florida and Mississippi. Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi suffered extensive damage to base housing, training facilities and industrial areas and flooding and downed trees also battered buildings at Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. At Camp Shelby in Mississippi, power had been knocked out, and fallen trees and flooding had done some damage.
# NASA reported that the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans were closed during recovery efforts.
# The Health and Human Services Department reported it had sent 27 pallets of medical supplies to Louisiana. These include basic first aid material such as bandages, pads and ice packs as well as blankets and patient clothing, suture kits, sterile gloves, stethoscopes, blood pressure measuring kits and portable oxygen tanks.
# The storm shut down oil and natural gas operations in the Gulf of Mexico, representing about 8 percent of U.S. refining capacity or about 1 million barrels, further driving up gasoline prices. The president is considering tapping the emergency petroleum stockpile to provide refineries a temporary supply of crude oil to replace interrupted shipments from tankers or offshore oil platforms affected by the storm.

Monday, August 29, 2005

CNN.com - Katrina pounds Louisiana, Gulf Coast - Aug 29, 2005

CNN.com - Katrina pounds Louisiana, Gulf Coast - Aug 29, 2005Katrina pounds Louisiana, Gulf Coast
New Orleans pumps fail; Mississippi coast like 'hell on earth'

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- Hurricane Katrina weakened slightly as it pummeled the Gulf Coast Monday, but the powerful storm still had plenty of punch as it swept through Mississippi with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph.

The weather service reported that "extensive and life-threatening storm surge flooding" was occurring along the Louisiana and Mississippi coast.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour told reporters that Katrina "came in on Mississippi like a ton of bricks."

When asked what was his greatest fear, Barbour replied grimly "that there are a lot of dead people down there."

The storm passed just east of New Orleans, straining the system of levees and pumping stations that protect the low-lying city. About 70 percent of the city sits below sea level. (Full story)

The National Weather Service reported that water had overtopped levees in Orleans and St. Bernard parishes.

The Lower 9th Ward, on the east side of New Orleans was under five to six feet of rising water after three pumps failed, according to WGNO reporter Susan Roesgen, who is with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. She said New Orleans police had received more than 100 reports of people trapped on their roofs.

The Associated Press reported that entire neighborhoods along the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain were flooded, and residents had scrambled onto the roofs of their shotgun-style houses.

"I'm not doing too good right now," Chris Robinson told the AP via cell phone from his home east of the city's downtown. "The water's rising pretty fast. I got a hammer and an ax and a crowbar, but I'm holding off on breaking through the roof until the last minute. Tell someone to come get me please. I want to live."

CNN's John Zarrella reported wind howling through the streets and water "like waves on the ocean. (See video of near whiteout conditions and debris-filled winds)

"Up through the manhole covers, water is pouring through the manhole covers," he said. "It can't take it."

Police and emergency workers should be able to enter the area and evaluate the situation by 2 p.m. (3 p.m. ET), according to Col. Terry Ebbert, director of homeland security for New Orleans.

"We'll have several hours of daylight to ... make an assessment and get out into those areas we're capable of getting into before the hours of darkness to take care of those people who are able to survive," Ebbert said.

Authorities in Gulfport, Mississippi, told CNN's Gary Tuchman that 10 feet of water covered downtown streets.

"Because the water is so deep, boats are floating up the street," Tuchman said. "There is extensive damage here. This is essentially right now like hell on earth."

"There is intense damage," he said. "We are watching the dismantling of a beautiful town."

CNN's Rob Marciano reported extensive damage in Biloxi, east of Pascagoula. "Just a few minutes ago, the wind, surely over 100 mph, peeled roofs off, hurling 6-by-8 sheets of plywood into our parking lot, blowing out the windows of SUVs," he said. (Watch video report from Biloxi, Mississippi)

Farther east, Mobile Bay spilled into downtown Mobile, Alabama, as the outer bands of the storm lashed the city.

A 20-foot storm surge is forecast as Katrina pushes inland.

At 1 p.m. ET, Katrina was centered about 40 miles south-southwest of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the National Hurricane Center said. (Watch video report on Katrina's path)

The NHC said the storm had degraded to Category 2 status on the Safir-Simpson scale with maximum sustained winds near 105 mph. Hurricane force winds extended for 125 miles. Katrina came ashore Monday morning in southeastern Louisiana with winds topping 140 mph.
Report: "Total structural failure"

The National Weather Service said it had received many reports of "total structural failure" in the New Orleans metro area. It did not elaborate, but video from the city showed crumbled walls in one neighborhood.

About 10,000 people, who were unable to evacuate the city, took shelter in the Louisiana Superdome -- the cavernous football stadium that is usually home to the New Orleans Saints.

Reporter Ed Reams from affiliate WDSU told CNN that Katrina ripped away a large section of the building's roof. (See video of conditions within the darkened Superdome)

"I can see daylight straight up from inside the Superdome," Reams reported. National Guard troops moved people to the other side of the dome. Others were moving beneath the concrete-reinforced terrace level.

Outside, CNN's Jeanne Meserve said that Teflon membrane that covers the top of the dome "has been shredded." "It's hanging off the top of the Superdome," she said. (Full story)
Other developments

* President Bush on Monday thanked the governors of states affected by Hurricane Katrina for mobilizing assets in advance of the storm's arrival and called on people who fled their homes not to return until the authorities say it's time. "I urge the citizens in the region to continue to listen to the local authorities. Don't abandon your shelters until you're given permission by the authorities," he said.

* Alabama Gov. Bob Riley has dispatched some 160 National Guard troops to Mobile and Baldwin counties to assist local, county and state emergency agencies battle Hurricane Katrina. They are now helping with sandbagging and other disaster response operations, officials said.

* The Federal Emergency Management Agency went into disaster mode Monday as it prepared for Katrina's aftermath. FEMA has emergency responders in place around New Orleans ready to move in once the storm passes. (Full story)

* Crude oil futures topped $70 early Monday as Katrina forced oil workers to evacuate rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and threatened a major U.S. tanker port. The price of a barrel of crude soared in electronic trading in New York and on Asian markets, rising nearly $4 over Friday afternoon's close as the storm churned toward New Orleans, a main hub that accounts for a quarter of U.S. oil and gas production. (Full story)

* The U.S. Coast Guard said it has received reports that Katrina has set adrift one, and possibly two, unmanned off-shore oil drilling units in the Gulf of Mexico.

* Three residents of a New Orleans nursing home died Sunday while being evacuated to Baton Rouge, said Don Moreau, chief of operations for the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner's Office. The 23 residents were supposed to stay at a church, where one of the bodies was found. The other body was found on a school bus and a third person died at a hospital, Moreau said. The others suffered from various forms of dehydration and exhaustion, he said.

* The latest damage estimates by insurance industry analysts project that total insured damage from Hurricane Katrina could be between $10 billion and $25 billion dollars. The upper end of that range would make Katrina the costliest U.S. hurricane on record.

* A hurricane warning is in effect for the north-central gulf coast from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Alabama/Florida border. Tropical storm warning is in effect from east of the Alabama/Florida border to Indian Pass, Florida, and West from Morgan City to Cameron, Louisiana.

CNN's John Zarrella contributed to this report.

CNN.com - New Orleans braces for monster storm - Aug 29, 2005

CNN.com - New Orleans braces for monster storm - Aug 29, 2005

New Orleans braces for monster storm
Crescent City under evacuation; hurricane may overwhelm levees
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- New Orleans braced for a catastrophic blow from Hurricane Katrina overnight, as forecasters predicted the strong Category 4 storm could drive a wall of water over the city's levees.

The huge storm, packing 150 mph winds, is expected to hit the northern Gulf Coast in the next three hours and make landfall as a Category 4 hurricane Monday morning near Grand Isle, Louisiana.

Hurricane-force winds were already being felt early Monday in some parts of the state, the National Hurricane Center said. A gust of 101 mph was recorded at Southwest Pass, Louisiana, and one of 71 mph was measured in New Orleans early Monday.

At 5 a.m. ET, Katrina was centered about 90 south-southeast of New Orleans. The storm was moving to the north at about 15 mph.

The hurricane center reported that conditions had begun deteriorating along the central and northeastern coast late Sunday night. (Watch video to see the worst case scenario)

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin declared a state of emergency Sunday and ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city. (Watch video of mayor's announcement)

"This is a threat that we've never faced before," Nagin said. "If we galvanize and gather around each other, I'm sure we will get through this."

He exempted essential federal, state, and local personnel; emergency and utility workers; transit workers; media; hotel workers; and patrons from the evacuation order.

About 1.3 million people live in New Orleans and its suburbs, and many began evacuating before sunrise. (Watch video to see who's staying and who's leaving)

Nagin estimated that nearly 1 million people had fled the city and its surrounding parishes by Sunday night. (Watch time lapse video of the evacuation)

Between 20,000 and 25,000 others who remained in the city lined up to take shelter in the Louisiana Superdome, lining up for what authorities warned would be an unpleasant day and a half at minimum.

City officials told stranded tourists to stay on third-floor levels or higher and away from windows.(See video from New Orleans, a city below sea level)

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said that New Orleans could expect a complete loss of electricity and water services as well as intense flooding.

"We know we're going to have property damage," she told CNN's "Larry King Live." "We know we're going to have high wind damage. We're hoping we're not going to lose a lot of lives."

About 70 percent of New Orleans is below sea level, and is protected from the Mississippi River by a series of levees. (Full story)

Forecasters predicted the storm surge could reach 28 feet; the highest levees around New Orleans are 18 feet high.

Hurricane-force winds extend 105 miles from the center of the mammoth storm and tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 230 miles. It is the most powerful storm to menace the central Gulf Coast in decades.

Hurricane warnings are posted from Morgan City, Louisiana, eastward to the Alabama-Florida state line, including New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain. This means winds of at least 74 mph are expected in the warning area within the next 24 hours.

A tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch are in effect from the Alabama-Florida state line eastward to Destin, Florida, and from west of Morgan City to Intracoastal City, Louisiana. A tropical storm warning is also in effect from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, west to Cameron, Louisiana, and from Destin, Florida, eastward to Indian Pass, Florida.

A tropical storm warning means tropical storm conditions, including winds of at least 39 mph, are expected within 24 hours. A hurricane watch means hurricane conditions are possible, usually within 36 hours.

Isolated tornadoes are also possible Sunday across southern portions of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, forecasters said.

Federal Emergency Management Agency teams and other emergency teams were in place to move in as soon as the storm was over, FEMA Undersecretary Michael Brown said.

National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield said: "There's certainly a chance it can weaken a bit before it gets to the coast, but unfortunately this is so large and so powerful that it's a little bit like the difference between being run over by an 18-wheeler or a freight train. Neither prospect is good." (Watch Mayfield's assessment of Katrina)
Three deaths in New Orleans

Three residents of a New Orleans nursing home died Sunday while being evacuated to Baton Rouge, said Don Moreau, chief of operations for the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner's Office.

The 23 residents were supposed to stay at a church, where one of the bodies was found. The other body was found on a school bus and a third person died at a hospital, Moreau said.

The others were found to be suffering from various forms of dehydration and exhaustion, he said.

Moreau did not know whether authorities would term the deaths storm-related. "These people are very fragile," he said. "When they're loaded up on a school bus and transported out of New Orleans ..."

One person died in similar circumstances during evacuations from Hurricane Ivan, he said.

Katrina is blamed for at least seven deaths in Florida, where it made landfall Thursday as a Category 1 hurricane. As much as 18 inches of rain fell in some areas, flooding streets and homes. (See video of the damage floodwaters left in one family's new house)

Category 5 is the most intense on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Only three Category 5 hurricanes have made landfall in the United States since records were kept. Those were the Labor Day hurricane of 1935, 1969's Hurricane Camille and Hurricane Andrew, which devastated the Miami area in 1992. Andrew remains the costliest U.S. hurricane on record, with $26.5 billion in losses.

Camille came ashore in Mississippi and killed 256 people.

CNN's John Zarrella contributed to this report.

CBS 46 Atlanta - Officials brace for first election under controversial ID law

CBS 46 Atlanta - Officials brace for first election under controversial ID lawOfficials brace for first election under controversial ID law
Aug 28, 2005, 5:45 PM

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) -- The last-minute approval of Georgia's voter identification law means last-ditch efforts to prepare for the new requirements in Gwinnett County, the site of the state's first election since the contentious measure was approved.

The new law, which requires voters to show government-issued ID cards at the polls, will be enforced Tuesday, when voters are set to fill the unexpired term of state Representative Phyllis Miller.

Previously, voters cold show one of 17 forms, including bank statements or utility bills, to receive a ballot. County election officials were caught off guard by the regulations, which were approved by the Department of Justice late Friday.

Elections manager Lynn Ledford said her office had NOT anticipated the change taking effect until sometime in September. Yesterday, Gwinnett officials hurried to comply with the law, sending out press releases to inform voters of the new requirements and changes to absentee balloting.

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Sharon son charged in finance row

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Sharon son charged in finance row Sharon son charged in finance row
The son of Israel's prime minister has been formally indicted on corruption charges, the justice ministry has said.

The indictment of Omri Sharon, announced last month, follows an investigation into corruption in the funding of his father's party.

The charges relate to Ariel Sharon's 1999 bid to lead the Likud Party and to be its candidate for prime minister.

Attention will be focused on how the charges affect the prime minister, who has consistently denied involvement.

If found guilty, Omri Sharon faces up to five years in prison over charges of violating campaign finance laws.

Immunity waived

Omri Sharon, who ran his father's election campaign, has told the Jerusalem Post newspaper that the strict limits on funding in place were unreasonable.

He says he is the first person to be tried for breaking the Political Parties law and has already waived his parliamentary immunity to face the charges.

Ariel Sharon had always denied knowledge of the financing of his campaign, saying it was run exclusively by his son.

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz announced his decision to press the charges in July but he had to wait until a bill limiting MP's immunity against prosecution was passed.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Japan Today - News - Blast on ferry injures at least 30 in Philippines - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Blast on ferry injures at least 30 in Philippines - Japan's Leading International News NetworkBlast on ferry injures at least 30 in Philippines

Sunday, August 28, 2005 at 16:53 JST
MANILA — An explosion on a ferry in the southern Philippines on Sunday morning injured at least 30 people, the Associated Press reported.

The AP quoted a military spokesman in Manila as saying a homemade bomb placed in a trash can exploded as the M.V. Dona Ramona was loading passengers at the wharf at Lamitan on the island of Basilan.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

CBS 46 Atlanta - Cast performs readings of banned KKK play

CBS 46 Atlanta - Cast performs readings of banned KKK playDecatur
Cast performs readings of banned KKK play
Aug 27, 2005, 10:22 PM

DECATUR, Ga. (AP) -- Despite being banned by a Stone Mountain theater, the show went on for the play "Shermantown -- Baseball, Apple Pie and the Klan," when cast members today performed readings at a Decatur church.

Art Station Theater owners in July decided to drop the play because of racial slurs used by a Klan imperial wizard in the play. The play is about the co-existence of the town's black community with the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940s But DeKalb History Center officials and playwright Calvin A- Ramsey thought the production was important enough to hold readings of the play at the church's Renaissance Project Theatre.

Ramsey says he plans to release the play in the fall, possibly in Atlanta and hopes eventually it will be performed in Stone Mountain. History center officials plan to release a D-V-D containing oral histories of Shermantown residents to county schools and libraries.

In years past, every Labor Day in Shermantown -- a town named by blacks freed by Union Army Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman after he took Atlanta in 1864 -- hundreds of Klansmen gathered for an annual meeting. Gloria Brown, a life-long resident of Shermantown, says the play was NOT offensive. About a dozen of the nearly 100 people in the audience during this afternoon's reading of the play were Shermantown natives.

BBC NEWS | Africa | US probes Nigeria vice-president

BBC NEWS | Africa | US probes Nigeria vice-president US probes Nigeria vice-president
The US government says federal agents have raided the Maryland home of Nigerian Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.

The search took place on 3 August, but officials refused to confirm reports that it was linked to raids on homes belonging to a Lousianian congressman.

William Jefferson is being investigated over the financing of a high-tech company and his properties were searched on the same day.

There has been no comment on the case from Mr Abubakar.

Mr Jefferson, a Democrat who has served eight terms in the House of Representatives, has come under scrutiny as the FBI looks into an international telecommunications deal.

Investigators are interested in Mr Jefferson's links with Mr Abubakar and vice-president of Ghana, Aliu Mahama, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

According to the newspaper, Mr Jefferson visited Ghana in mid-July.

Mr Abubakar reportedly only uses his home in Potomac, Maryland for a couple of months each year.

His wife, Jennifer, is a doctoral student in international relations at American University in Washington.
Story from BBC NEWS:

All Headline News - Bin Laden Plans Major Attacks In Europe - August 28, 2005

All Headline News - Bin Laden Plans Major Attacks In Europe - August 28, 2005Bin Laden Plans Major Attacks In Europe

August 27, 2005 11:05 p.m. EST

Douglas Maher - All Headline News Staff Reporter

Baghdad, Iraq (AHN) - Reports are surfacing Saturday morning that intelligence in Iraq had uncovered plans that include major attacks across Europe.

"Osama Bin Laden has asked the head of Al Qaida in Iraq, Al Zarqawi, to organize an attack in Europe, more devastating than that of Sept. 11, 2001," Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Hamid Al Bayati tells Italian daily Il Messaggero.

Al-Qaeda ring leader, Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi, has reportedly moved operatives to Europe for a series of attacks against NATO states, the report says.

Sources say the strikes are meant to pressure members of the U.S.-led coalition to leave Iraq.

Al Bayati told the Italian newspaper that Al Zarqawi has established a network throughout Europe for imminent strikes. Bayati says Italy is a leading target of the Al Qaida network.

BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | Warning of 'Iraq extremism link'

BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | Warning of 'Iraq extremism link' Warning of 'Iraq extremism link'
The government was warned over a year ago by its most senior Foreign Office official that the Iraq war was fuelling UK Muslim extremism, it has emerged.

Foreign Office Permanent Secretary Michael Jay issued the warning in a May 2004 letter, leaked to the Observer.

The letter to Cabinet Secretary Sir Andrew Turnbull said British foreign policy was a "key driver" behind recruitment by extremist Muslim groups.

The Foreign Office said it did not comment on leaked documents.

'Complex reasons'

The letter said a "recurring theme" among the underlying causes of extremism in the Muslim community was "the issue of British foreign policy, especially in the context of the middle east peace process and Iraq".

It added: "British foreign policy and the perception of its negative effect on Muslims globally plays a significant role in creating a feeling of anger and impotence among especially the younger generation of British Muslims."

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Menzies Campbell said: "It may well be that there wasn't very much the government could do.

"But I think it's an indication of the fact that the reasons for the terrible events of 7 July, and the apparent attempt to recreate these events on the 21 July, are very complex indeed and it's not simply a question of competing ideologies as the prime minister would argue."
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