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Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
The New York Times
February 4, 2006 Saturday
Late Edition - Final
SECTION: Section B; Column 1; Metropolitan Desk; Pg. 3
LENGTH: 738 words
HEADLINE: Storm Evacuees Seek Money For Vacating Queens Hotel
BYLINE: By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE
Representatives of Hurricane Katrina evacuees who are resisting their removal from a Radisson hotel in Jamaica, Queens, have asked the hotel's management to contribute $2,500 to each family in return for leaving, according to people on both sides of the discussion.
The proposal was made this week in a meeting between the hotel's manager, Tony Pinto, and three local leaders who helped organize a protest at the hotel, the Radisson J.F.K. Airport, in January. The leaders were the Rev. James Pullings Jr. and the Rev. Donald Hudson, pastors at two Queens churches that have worked with the evacuees, and Charlie King, a lawyer and a Democratic candidate for New York State attorney general.
''Radisson had said that they would be willing to help the evacuees were they to transfer out of the Radisson to another place in New York, or to buy bus tickets or even plane fare to another part of the country if they wanted to relocate,'' Mr. King said. ''We thought that a better idea would be to provide, to some small degree, some financial security for the Katrina families at the Radisson.''
The hotel's owners will meet with the families' representatives on Tuesday, although they said that they did not think they were under any obligation to pay the evacuees to leave.
''What the hotel is wondering is why private citizens are coming forward and asking the hotel for things that are FEMA's responsibility,'' said Marc Leffman, the chief executive of French Quarter Hospitality, a company in Atlanta that owns the hotel.
About 30 families remain at the 12-story Radisson, the last of about 120 Gulf Coast-area families who arrived there after the hurricane last fall. Their rooms are paid for by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is charged with finding housing for the evacuees. Agency officials have said they cannot compel hotels to provide rooms for extended periods.
Mr. Leffman said the hotel was charging the federal agency less than the usual rate for the rooms and had also provided the evacuees with free use of its conference rooms and storage space for donated items and food.
''As a private business, I think we've met the needs,'' Mr. Leffman said. ''And no one has ever asked us for any money before this.''
Typically, the hotel's other guests are airline employees, with an average stay of about one day. Some evacuees at the Radisson have been living there for as long as five months. In January, the hotel's managers told the remaining evacuees that because of a scheduled $7 million renovation of the hotel they would need to find new housing by the end of January. That notice led to the protest organized by the local leaders and the Rev. Al Sharpton, among others, during which Mr. Sharpton threatened to boycott the hotel should it force the evacuees to leave.
Since the protest about 12 families have left the hotel and, like the other families who left, have relocated to a mix of city-managed housing, other permanent housing or other hotels in the metropolitan region.
Officials from the city's Department of Homeless Services have been working with evacuees at the Radisson and with those living at six other hotels in the city to help them find more permanent housing. The city has held three housing fairs to help the evacuees apply for rent-stabilized housing in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Homeless services officials said they had been involved in discussions between the Radisson families' representatives and the hotel management, but would not discuss specifics.
''For many months, the city and its nonprofit partners have been fully focused on helping the evacuees access benefits and secure permanent housing,'' Monica Parikh, an assistant commissioner at the department, said in a statement. ''These conversations were no different.''
Mr. King said that housing had been found for the families remaining at the hotel and that he expected that FEMA would pay for it. But contributions from the hotel, he said, would help provide the families with an incentive to move after months of uncertainty, as well as cover transition costs for families seeking permanent housing.
''We are under the impression that when people ultimately move into federal housing, the one thing that no authority is taking care of is either security or first month's rent,'' he said. ''So the idea was that this could also provide that money if that's what a family decided to do.''
GRAPHIC: Photo: The Rev. Al Sharpton, at microphones, protested with Hurricane Katrina evacuees on Jan. 21 at the Radisson J.F.K. Airport in Queens. (Photo by Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times)
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SHOW: AMERICAN MORNING 7:00 AM EST
January 30, 2006 Monday
SECTION: NEWS; International
LENGTH: 2520 words
HEADLINE: What Went Wrong?; 'What's in It for Me?'
BYLINE: Soledad O'Brien, Miles O'Brien, Jeanne Meserve, Kelly Wallace, Ed Lavandera, Daryn Kagan, Sibila Vargas
There's more newly released documents that show FEMA turned down an offer of rescue personnel and equipment from another federal agency. Tomorrow President Bush delivers the second State of the Union Address of his second term. So what do Americans want to hear?
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Just when you thought you heard it all about FEMA's mishandling of Hurricane Katrina, there's more newly released documents that show FEMA turned down an offer of rescue personnel and equipment from another federal agency.
CNN's Jeanne Meserve live in Washington with the latest in the FEMA follies. Good morning, Jeanne.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Miles.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee starting a week of hearings today. Search and rescue, the subject today. One of the questions, did the federal government use all the resources available?
MESERVE (voice over): In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, there was an urgent need for shallow-bottom boats and experienced personnel to do water rescues, for helicopters, heavy equipment and rooms. The Department of Interior had all of that and more and offered it to the Federal Emergency Management Agency immediately after the storm. But FEMA never took Interior up on the offer, according to documents obtained by CNN.
"Although we attempted to provide these assets, we were unable to efficiently integrate and deploy these resources," an Interior official wrote.
The Senate committee investigating the Katrina response...
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: It makes no sense to me. You might be able to understand it if it came from outside government, but this is another federal agency, and the agency that was offering trained personnel and exactly the assets that the federal government needed.
MESERVE: One example, e-mails document FEMA's decision to ground its search and rescue teams three days after Katrina because of security concerns. But the Interior Department had already offered FEMA hundreds of law enforcement officers trained in search and rescue, emergency medical services and evacuation. "The Department of the Interior was not called upon to assist until late September," the Interior official writes.
COLLINS: It is indeed possible that there was additional suffering and maybe even the loss of life that might not have occurred if these assets had been deployed.
MESERVE: A FEMA document also provided to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee indicates many of Interior's resources, which included transportation, communications and engineering, were never integrated into FEMA's planning for a catastrophic hurricane, planning which was still incomplete when Katrina roared ashore.
MESERVE: A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, which includes FEMA, says the administration is currently examining how to better utilize the resources in the federal government and elsewhere in the next catastrophe. But, he says, were there federal assets that were not used in Katrina? Of course.
Miles, back to you.
M. O'BRIEN: All right, I sure hope they learned a few lessons.
Jeanne Meserve in Washington, thank you -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Tomorrow President Bush delivers the second State of the Union Address of his second term. So what do Americans want to hear?
AMERICAN MORNING's Kelly Wallace has more on that, revisiting a successful series.
KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, because last year we had this series, "What's In It For Me?" And we brought together five fascinating people, people from all different walks of life. We Sat down with them before and after the president's State of the Union Address to hear what they think. So we decided to bring them together again, a very feisty bunch as you will see. And we learned, especially when it comes to Iraq, their concerns this year are a whole lot different than they were one year ago.
WALLACE (voice-over): Our panelists with the biggest change of heart, John Pollinger, a retired police chief who said he supported President Bush last year, but not any more.
JOHN POLLINGER, BUSH CRITIC: Too much bravado. I said it last year. I was hoping he'd get away from it.
WALLACE: He's also disappointed in the president's handling of Iraq. You're not going to win a war over there. It will be going on forever, and so many more people will die. You can still walk out of there honorably.
WALLACE: Bob Agnes, a Bush supporter, disagrees. BOB AGNES, BUSH SUPPORTER: He has said the Iraqis need to be able to have a government established that functions and protects basic rights and provides basic services in Iraq. So I don't think he can be any clearer about that.
POLLINGER: Robert, it's two years, and he...
AGNES: Well, it may take five years.
POLLINGER: People still don't have electricity and water.
WALLACE: Last year, when we talked to Dawn Jimenez, a mother of three small children, her Army Reservist husband was just about to return from Iraq.
(on camera): Do you feel better where we are at a country when it comes to Iraq?
DAWN JIMENEZ, HUSBAND SERVED IN IRAQ: I know there's progress there. I know a lot of what's portrayed in the media doesn't look good. We're only seeing bits and pieces of it.
Right now, we have to stay there. We can't pull out like a lot of people are saying.
JIMENEZ: Just jump ship, you can't do that.
WALLACE: I mean, if all of you think we shouldn't pull the troops out, then are we all in agreement about what we're doing in Iraq.
ILANA REICH, BUSH CRITIC: I think we need a better operational definition of what the setting up of a government over there is.
WALLACE (voice-over): Roseann Salanitri, a Bush supporter, says she feel as little bit better about the war than last year, but thinks the president could be doing more at the bully pulpit.
ROSEANN SALANITRI, BUSH SUPPORTER: I think there's room for improvement there.
WALLACE (on camera): What do you mean by that?
SALANITRI: He really should be -- have more soundbytes. We need to see him more. We need to hear what he has to say. We need to hear him reporting on the progress.
AGNES: I would also agree with you, Roseann, that he did not, the president did not, for a period of months, perhaps as much as eight months, say much about Iraq at all, and that allowed a lot of negative comments to come out unchallenged. And I think that he made a mistake there. And I think he's acknowledged that. (END VIDEOTAPE)
WALLACE: And our panel had lots more to say on the handling of Hurricane Katrina, domestic wiretaps, Supreme Court nominations and the Congress. Are they optimistic or pessimistic, Soledad, anything will get done this year? The answer coming up tomorrow.
S. O'BRIEN: It will be interesting to see, because of course, we've heard from Suzanne Malveaux at the White House that the president is planning to be upbeat and very optimistic. We'll see if the electorate is going to match that same feeling.
WALLACE: I don't think our viewers will be surprised to hear that people are a little pessimistic. They think it's an election year. People are thinking about '06 and '08, so they don't have the biggest expectations about the year.
S. O'BRIEN: Yes, David Gergen said matching the tone, optimism that matches the electorate is going to be really important in this speech for the president.
Kelly, thanks. Appreciate it.
We'll see you back here tomorrow for that -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Mexican police believe they've caught a serial killer who's been strangling elderly women. In a totally bizarre twist for two years, they've been looking for a man dressed as a woman. But when officers chased the suspect down, they discovered the suspect was actually really a woman.
S. O'BRIEN: People had described the suspect as a man who they thought was like...
M. O'BRIEN: But it was a woman.
S. O'BRIEN: Yes, that kind of looked like a man. It' a weird story.
M. O'BRIEN: Hence you have what we call a tease in television. "PAULA ZAHN NOW" is the program . Ed Lavandera will have a SPECIAL REPORT on this.
And he joins us live from Mexico City with a preview.
What a story, Ed.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You bring me in to help straighten this out for you.
M. O'BRIEN: Yes, please do. Please do.
LAVANDERA: Give you a little bit after sense of what's been going on. It's actually -- it's been a very disturbing last three years when these murders of elderly women started. We're talking 70-year-old, 80-year-old women, home alone, up to as many as many as 30 cases police have been trying to nail down. And they've been very timid. It was only a few months ago where they finally admitted that they had a serial killer on their hands.
Last Wednesday, they were ale by chance to catch a woman who had, they say, just finished killing an 81-year-old woman, and they say they now have evidence to link her to 11 of those murders. It is a bizarre strange road that we spent the last several days trying to track down as much information as we can.
In fact, one of the last victims daughter lives in New Jersey. Her name is Analilia Musada. We spoke with her over the weekend. And she describes what a gruesome and horrifying ordeal the last couple of days has been for her family.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANALILIA MUSADA, VICTIM'S DAUGHTER: I wanted to throw up practically. I wanted to throw up. I was able to see my mother before she was put in the casket, and she didn't deserve to die the way she did absolutely, because she never did any harm to anybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: You know, Miles, Mexico is a country that has seen its fair share of violence, but they take a lot of solace from the fact that a lot of that violence is isolated with drug crimes, organized crime and that sort of thing. Serial killers is not something the people of this country are used to.
M. O'BRIEN: All right, So, Ed, why were they so convinced it was a man and not a woman.
LAVANDERA: Well, let me show you a little bit what we've come across. A few months ago police released a video, or a mannequin, and they said this is what the person we're looking for looks like. But at the time they were saying, this is what we believe the man is dressing up as. So you can see a little bit of the confusion.
And when this woman was arrested, who police say is guilty of killing at least 11 of these elderly women, they say she is strong and robust, and coming up tonight on "PAULA ZAHN," we'll kind of give you an idea of why that is. There's an interesting background to this woman's history that will help explain all of that -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: All right. Another reason to tune in tonight. Watch for Ed's full report, "PAULA ZAHN NOW," 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, right here on CNN.
M. O'BRIEN: "CNN LIVE TODAY" is coming up next. Daryn, what you working on this morning? DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: As always, a lot to start off this Monday. Hello, Miles.
In our next hour, you're going to meet several women of the storm. More than 100 of them are in Washington today. They're asking government leaders to visit New Orleans and see firsthand the devastation left behind by Hurricane Katrina.
Also, it is a tough time of the year financially for a lot of families. Holiday bills are due, tax season is here and college costs are going up. But help is on the way in the morning's "Top Five Tips." And we'll get to that in just a bit.
S. O'BRIEN: All right, Daryn.
M. O'BRIEN: We'll be listening. Thank you, Daryn.
S. O'BRIEN: Thank you.
M. O'BRIEN: Appreciate that.
S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, seemed like everybody thought "Brokeback Mountain" was a lock for the Oscars, but after last night's snub at the SAG Awards, there might be a new favorite in Tinseltown. "A.M. Pop" is up next on AMERICAN MORNING.
We're back in a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
S. EPATHA MERKERSON, "LACKAWANNA BLUES": There's nothing in my bra. There's nothing in my head. It's all in my heart. To Roger Haber (ph), Bernadette Jacobs (ph), Barry Kaplan (ph) at Artist Financial (ph). And I have to say a public thank you to my divorce lawyer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
S. O'BRIEN: That was funny. That was S. Epatha Merkerson, who won the SAG Award for best actress in a TV movie or miniseries. She also walked away with a Golden Globe in that category earlier this month for "Lackawanna Blues."
On a night for actors honoring their own, one Hollywood film crashed the SAG Awards party. CNN's Sibila Vargas has this morning's "A.M. Pop."
MORGAN FREEMAN, ACTOR: "Crash."
SIBILA VARGAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The ensemble cast of "Crash" was the big winner of the night for best performances in a motion picture. DON CHEADLE, ACTOR: We believe that it really celebrates the definition of what an ensemble is all about. I mean, there's 74 of us.
VARGAS: "Crash," a film about racial tension, pulled off a surprise upset over the much-hyped film "Brokeback Mountain."
HEATH LEDGER, ACTOR: It ain't gonna be that way.
VARGAS: Individual actors honored for their film roles included the recent Golden Globe winners Philip Seymour Hoffman for "Capote"...
PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, ACTOR: In cold blood.
VARGAS: And Reese Witherspoon for her portrayal of June Carter Cash in "Walk the Line."
REESE WITHERSPOON, ACTRESS (singing): Let's go. Time's a- wastin'.
(speaking): I wanted to be a country western singer when I was little, and I went to a camp -- I sang there and they told me no matter what I did, please don't ever sing, ever again.
VARGAS: In supporting film roles, Rachel Weiss won top honors once again for her performance in "The Constant Gardener." And Paul Giamatti thanked his fellow actors for honoring his work in "Cinderella Man."
PAUL GIAMATTI, ACTOR: There are weird, interesting people in our business, and I'm proud to be numbered among them.
VARGAS: Television ensembles receiving awards included ABC's "Lost" in a dramatic series and "Desperate Housewives" for best TV comedy cast. "Housewives" star Felicity Huffman was also honored for her individual work on the show.
FELICITY HUFFMAN, ACTRESS: I'm such an old broad. I've had so many times where I haven't worked for a long time.
VARGAS: Sean Hayes, star of the sitcom "Will and Grace," received his third SAG Award for best performance in a TV comedy.
SEAN HAYES, ACTOR: I know everyone in Hollywood, you know, knows that it's such a risk to play a gay character.
VARGAS: Keither Sutherland picked up the best dramatic award for "24." Golden globe winner Sandra Oh picked up another prize for acting in in "Grey's Anatomy."
And the Emmy and Golden Globe winner S. Epatha Merkerson picked up her third award for the TV movie "Lackawanna Blues."
MERKERSON: I'm not 37, and I'm not a size two. You know what I'm saying? And a lot of women are like me.
VARGAS: Shirley Temple Black received a standing ovation when she was honored with her lifetime achievement award.
SHIRLEY TEMPLE BLACK, ACTRESS: For those of you who want to receive the lifetime achievement award, start early.
VARGAS: Sibila Vargas, CNN, Los Angeles.
S. O'BRIEN: "Brokeback Mountain," which has been get so much Oscar buzz, was shut out at the SAG Awards.
And by the way, Academy Award nominations will be announced tomorrow morning. Quick break. We'll be right back in just a moment.
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LOAD-DATE: January 31, 2006
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All Rights Reserved
January 1, 2006 Sunday
SECTION: B; Pg. 01
LENGTH: 1956 words
HEADLINE: Top 10 stories of 2005
Top 10 stories of 2005
The Advocate asked its readers to rank the 10 biggest local stories of
2005. The top story is still making news, and will for a long time - Hurricane
Katrina. In fact, that storm along with Hurricane Rita and how the
state is handling the aftermath of the twin disasters finished in the three
Other stories selected by readers include the hiring of the city's first
black police chief, the deaths of two public figures and the sudden death of
a local teenager killed by a shark.
The war in Iraq and Louisiana's contribution to it is on the list again this
year. Several voters asked that Louisiana's soldiers returning from war be
the No. 1 story.
"Nothing should top the story of our sons and daughters returning home! I
know the hurricanes are important, but our sons/daughters were away
fighting for the freedom everyone enjoys," a voter writes. "Please make
this the top story of the year. They have taken the back seat to everything
else involving the hurricane!"
The return from war of members of Louisiana's National Guard finished
ninth among the readers.
Readers voted on The Advocate's Web site, and 169 people cast ballots.
Here's what they chose:
Katrina slams state
1.Hurricane Katrina tore
Louisiana in late August,
unleashing 145-mph winds,
submerging the New Orleans
area, inflicting record damage
and leaving more than 1,300
Rescue efforts at all levels of government
thousands at the Louisiana Superdome,
the Ernest L. Morial Convention
Center and on Interstate 10 at
the Causeway Boulevard exit without
food, water, medical care or security.
Katrina flooded 80 percent of
New Orleans. Residents of the hardest-
hit areas face uncertain futures
with answers to their most-pressing
questions increasingly hard to find.
Will the broken levees on the Industrial,
17th Street and London Avenue
canals be repaired in time for
next hurricane season? How many
people will return to battered
neighborhoods in the Lower 9th
Ward, New Orleans East, Lakeview,
Gentilly and Mid City?
Somewhere between 200,000 and
300,000 New Orleanians remain displaced.
Many people left homeless
by the storm are in the state but are
living in hotels or trailers.
The New Orleans Saints moved
their training camp to San Antonio
after Katrina hit, then played one
"home" game in New Jersey, three
in San Antonio and four in Tiger
Hurricane Rita brings more misery to Louisiana
2.Hurricane Rita pummeled
east Texas and the
Louisiana coast in September,
with floods and
The coastal areas of southwest
Louisiana were among the hardest
hit. A powerful surge swamped
communities and vast stretches of
farmland from the Texas line to the
mouth of the Mississippi River.
Hurricane rains inundated small
towns, sugar-cane fields and marshes.
Southwest Louisiana cattle
farmers still feel Rita's effects. The
tidal surge pushed salt water into
freshwater marshes, wiping out
grasses planted to graze cattle. The
storm also pushed in large wads of
uprooted plants, smothering the
ground and preventing new growth.
Cattle was Louisiana's secondlargest
agriculture business in
2004, with about $365 million in
Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach
recently said the area is recovering,
but that businesses are short of
workers. Such essential services as
utilities, police and health care are
working. But many stores and businesses
are closed or have curtailed
their regular hours.
Legislature grapples with storms' aftermath
3.During a 17-day special
session called by Gov.
Kathleen Blanco to deal
with the hurricanes, lawmakers
chipped away at
a $1 billion deficit, mandated a
statewide building code, cut taxes
for business and gave consumers a
three-day sales tax holiday during
The Legislature also approved
$600 million in spending cuts, took
control of many sub-par public
schools in New Orleans and decided
that elected and some appointed officials
and their relatives must report
However, legislators did not resolve
the $3.7 billion bill from the
federal government for the
state's share of hurricane recovery
The Federal Emergency Management
Agency has made clear it
wants the state to pay part of the
projected $42 billion FEMA will
spend in Louisiana for recovery.
Blanco labeled the amount "absurd."
But other officials have detailed
what will happen if the state
doesn't pay up - fines and the loss
of other federal funds.
That means legislators likely will
return to the Capitol in January for
a second post-hurricane session.
LeDuff named city's first black police chief
4.In February, Mayor-President Kip Holden
picked 22-year police veteran Jeff LeDuff as
his choice to be the 27th police chief.
LeDuff is the first black officer to take over
the post. He beat out a field of 40 applicants.
LeDuff, who turns 49 on Jan. 21, faced some difficult
times during his first year on the job.
In August, a suspected drug dealer shot and killed
one officer and wounded two others. The suspect also
died in the shootout.
In September, state police from New Mexico and
Michigan refused to work post-Hurricane Katrina patrols
with Baton Rouge officers, citing misconduct.
That same month, the police union sent a memo to officers
urging them to apply for American Red Cross
benefits "whether you sustained a loss, or not."
All three matters remain under investigation.
LeDuff is a former motorcycle officer. He was promoted
to sergeant in 2001 and transferred to the training
academy, where he was second in command and the
head of instruction.
Former Lady Tigers coach Sue Gunter dies
5.Sue Gunter, whose hall of fame career in
women's basketball spanned virtually the entire
history of the game, died in August at
her Baton Rouge home. Gunter, who stepped
down as LSU's coach in early 2004 because
of complications from emphysema, was 66.
Gunter coached women's college
basketball for 40 seasons, the last 22
at LSU where she had a 442-221
record. She was 708-308 for her career,
which also included stops at
Middle Tennessee State and
Stephen F. Austin in Texas.
Gunter's best seasons came at the
end of her career. The 2002-03 Lady
Tigers went 30-4, won the SEC tournament
and earned the first No. 1
NCAA regional seed in the program's history. LSU
reached the final eight.
The Lady Tigers went 27-8 in 2003-04 and finally gave
Gunter her first Final Four appearance before losing to
In September, Gunter was inducted into the Basketball
Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. She became the
third LSU entrant, joining former All-Americans Bob
Pettit and Pete Maravich.
Secretary of State Fox McKeithen dies
6.Walter Fox McKeithen, longtime secretary
of state and son of former Gov. John McKeithen,
died in July in Baton Rouge. The 58-
year-old McKeithen succumbed to complications
from an infection
after a paralyzing fall in February.
McKeithen ordered a breathing
aid turned off after saying goodbye
to his family.
Born Sept. 8, 1946, McKeithen had
been paralyzed from the neck down
since falling in the carport of his
home, damaging his spinal column.
After the accident, he spent nearly
two months in rehabilitation in
Atlanta. He returned to Baton Rouge in April hoping to
return to office, but that never happened. He was hospitalized
A sort of icon in Louisiana politics, McKeithen was a
popular figure in the state's political scene. He capped
his 22-year political career with five consecutive terms
as Louisiana's secretary of state.
McKeithen also battled alcoholism and once escaped
from a rehabilitation center in Texas, then had to be
fooled into another rehab center in Baton Rouge.
Gonzales girl killed in Florida shark attack
7.Jamie Marie Daigle, a 14-year-old girl from
Gonzales, died in June after a shark attack
while she and a friend were swimming in the
Gulf of Mexico near the Florida panhandle.
Jamie and 14-year-old Felicia Venable of
Gonzales had waded with small surf boards to a sandbar
about 200 yards from shore off Miramar Beach
near Destin when the 6-foot bull shark bit Jamie eight
times while feeding on a school of baitfish.
She was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The attack happened near the Camping on the Gulf
Holiday Travel Park, about 45 miles east of Pensacola.
Jaime had just graduated with honors from the eighth
grade at St. Theresa of Avila Catholic School, where
she was the head cheerleader. She was planning to attend
St. Joseph's Academy in Baton Rouge.
"Jaime lived at 100 miles an hour," the Rev. Gary Belsome
of St. Theresa Church said at a memorial Mass in
June. "This young lady was the best and brightest we
had to offer."
Les Miles named LSU's football coach
8.LSU introduced Les
Miles on Jan. 3 as the
school's 32nd football
coach, replacing Nick Saban,
who took over as
head coach of the Miami Dolphins.
Miles, 52, signed a seven-year,
$1.25 million per year deal to become
LSU's head coach. He inherited
a program a season removed
from a national title, with a second
massive stadium expansion under
way and a state-of-the-art football
operations center being built. An
academic center and the eastside
expansion were recently completed.
Miles led the Tigers to an 11-2
record, including a 40-3 victory
against Miami in the Chick-fil-A
Peach Bowl in Atlanta. It was a
school-record sixth consecutive
bowl appearance for LSU.
Under Miles, the Tigers became
the third LSU team to win at least
11 games. The 1958 national champions
were 11-0 and the 2003 BCS
national champions were 13-1.
Miles first-edition of the Tigers
became the fourth team in LSU history
to win 10 regular-season games.
The Tigers of 2005 did what no
other LSU team had: defeat Auburn,
Alabama and Florida in the same
They joined the 2001 and 2003
teams as the only ones in LSU history
to play in a Southeastern Conference
Last of Louisiana National Guard's 256th returns home
9.The remaining 3,000 soldiers
from Louisiana's 256th
Brigade Combat Team returned
from Iraq in October.
About 800 soldiers who returned
to Louisiana live in areas directly
affected by hurricanes Katrina and
Rita. Upon their return, many members
of the National Guard volunteered to
help with the state's recovery.
While in Iraq, 22 members of the
256th from Louisiana died in combat; at
least 57 Louisianians have been killed in
Iraq and Afghanistan.
The worst casualty incident for the
256th occurred in Iraq in January. Six
Louisiana soldiers and one from New
York from one company were killed after
a bomb exploded and flipped their
Bradley armored vehicle.
The Louisiana National Guard's 256th
Tiger Brigade Combat Team arrived in
Kuwait in September 2004 for training,
and went to Iraq the next month.
The brigade has units in Abbeville,
Alexandria, Breaux Bridge, New
Iberia, Jeanerette, St. Martinville, Fort
Polk, Houma, Jonesboro, Lafayette,
Lake Charles, Napoleonville, Natchitoches,
New Orleans, New Roads,
Opelousas, Plaquemine, Shreveport and
Undercover officer killed
10.Baton Rouge narcotics
gunned down in
August in a
shootout between a suspected
drug dealer and police trying to
search his home.
The 31-year-old Melancon,
known for his religious faith and
commitment to law enforcement,
became the 16th Baton Rouge Police
officer killed in the line of
Fellow officers Dennis Smith
and Neal Noel were wounded in
Melancon, who had been with
the Baton Rouge Police Department
for four years, was pronounced
dead at the duplex, 3634
Capital Heights Ave.
The suspect, Gergely Garry Devai,
25, died at Baton Rouge General
Medical Center-Mid City.
Investigators said the second
floor of Devai's duplex had been
converted into a greenhouse to
grow marijuana. They found 72
marijuana plants, 60 plastic bags
filled with marijuana ready for sale,
scales and other drug paraphernalia,
$1,386 in cash and two guns.
Police Department officials
have said the no-knock entry used
that day was done by the book, but
results of an internal investigation
have yet to be made public.
GRAPHIC: Color photos of A Hurricane Katrina evacuee carrying her babies through standing water to a waiting bus outside the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Orleans; Police Chief Jeff LeDuff hugging Mayor-President Kip Holden after Holden announced in February that LeDuff was his choice for chief (By Richard Alan Hannon); Highway 82 just past Cameron revealing the damage wrought by Hurricane Rita in September (By Mark Saltz); B.W. mugs of Sue Gunter; Walter Fox McKeithen; B.W. photos of LSU coach Les Miles firing up his players before taking the field at Tiger Stadium in September (By Bill Feig); Eric Daigle kissing his wife, Violet, during a homecoming ceremony for returning members of the National Guard's 256th Brigade Combat Team (By Bryan Tuck); Ronnie Daigle hugging a member of the clergy after the funeral Mass for his 14-year-old daughter, Jamie, at St. Theresa of Avila Catholic Church in Gonzales (By Paul Rutherford); Members of the Baton Rouge Police Department saluting as officials remove the body of slain narcotics officer Terry Melancon, who was shot in August by a suspected drug dealer during a search (By Mark Saltz)
LOAD-DATE: February 8, 2006
40 of 184 DOCUMENTS
Copyright 2005 Ventura County Star
All Rights Reserved
Ventura County Star (California)
December 30, 2005 Friday
SECTION: LOCAL NEWS AND OPINION; Pg. 10
LENGTH: 657 words
HEADLINE: After five grim years, new hope for democracy in 2006
BYLINE: Peter Schrag
Goodbye to 2005 and hallelujah. After the battering the Constitution has taken through five grim years, it's showing some signs of life.
The most conservative court in the country tells the administration to stop trying to manipulate the judiciary in its handling of terrorist suspects.
The most egregious snooping allowed by the Patriot Act may not survive congressional scrutiny next year; the dismantling of Social Security is dead. The phony "deficit-cutting" budget bill squeaks through the Senate on the vice president's tie-breaking vote: There's not a vote to spare.
One congressional crook, California's own Randy Cunningham, has resigned. The Hammer is twisting in the wind. His friend and patron Jack Abramoff is negotiating to rat out his former friends. Two other Californians, Richard Pombo and John Doolittle, are trying to avoid the stench of the Abramoff swamp.
Congress bans torture, despite heavy-handed pressure from America's No. 1 chicken hawk, whose own No. 1 aide has been indicted for lying in the outing of Valerie Plame.
And with the president's poll numbers down, the media, red-faced over their own dereliction of duty in the run-up to Iraq, seem to have found a little courage to challenge and question the administration's strategic leaks. A trial judge in Pennsylvania says intelligent design isn't science; it's thinly veiled religion.
OK, better to put all this in the category of not-bad news rather than good news. Most of it is things not getting worse, not necessarily getting better.
Congress, which seems as hard to shame as the White House, is still preparing to approve more tax cuts for the rich, which will wipe out whatever "deficit-reduction" it imposed on the backs of Medicaid recipients, needy college students and the elderly.
The president is still waving the bloody shirt. We're at war, he says. It won't cost you anything but your privacy. If you don't support domestic snooping, you're aiding the enemy. If you think Americans and Iraqis are dying every day and Iran's mullahs are growing stronger because of the ideological hubris of Rumsfeld, Cheney, Libby, et al., you're not a good American..
Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has been blocked, but the administration still refuses to push for any real efforts to reduce oil consumption that would conserve many times whatever gas ANWR would produce and cut revenues to the Arab sheiks who now finance the terrorists. In the meantime, Congress continues to treat homeland security as pork.
Katrina taught us how well-prepared the country is for disasters, even those about which we get advance warning. To this day, the help that was promised months ago is caught in a limbo of bureaucracy, neglect and incompetence.
What we haven't fully appreciated is the extent to which this administration has politicized practically everything -- the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Justice Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Council.
The politicizing isn't new. But not since Watergate, where the Nixon administration enlisted the IRS, the FBI and the plumbers to go after the targets on its enemies list, has it been so systematic. Not for decades has there been so widespread an effort to distort information or to suppress it.
Still, as the year ends, there's a promise of change in atmosphere. The president, who firmly declared he wouldn't bow to political pressure or set a timetable for withdrawal in Iraq is recognizing the real timetable, which is next year's congressional election calendar.
Another terrorist act in this country, no matter how much it may be due to administration negligence, could change the political weather again. Meanwhile, we may have a chance at some restoration of the nation's historic checks and balances.
One-party rule always has its limits. Happy New Year.
-- Peter Schrag writes for the Sacramento Bee.
LOAD-DATE: January 17, 2006
57 of 184 DOCUMENTS
Copyright 2005 Cable News Network
All Rights Reserved
December 14, 2005 Wednesday 1:51 AM EST
LENGTH: 4057 words
HEADLINE: Wednesday, December 14
Polls open for Iraq's parliamentary elections
BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Under heightened security and the hope for a new beginning in the midst of a bloody insurgency, millions of Iraqis headed to the polls Wednesday to vote for a new parliament in a historic election.
Shortly after the polls opened at 7 a.m. (11 p.m. ET Tuesday) explosions echoed through sections of Baghdad. While there were no reports of major violence, some scattered incidents were reported.
Three mortar rounds landed in Baghdad, one near a polling station, police said.
Two people were wounded. Turnout in some areas of Baghdad was slow, as some residents were awakened Tuesday night by police and security forces warning them of a rumor that the water had been poisoned. Later, the health minister went on television and declared the report false. Because of that, some Baghdad voters were sleeping in, election workers said. In other areas, however, turnout was reportedly brisk.
In Ramadi, where CNN's Nic Robertson is embedded with U.S. Marines, a roadside bomb detonated as a tank passed, while he was reporting live on the network. He ducked for cover. A
head of the ballot, electoral officials on Wednesday said they are on the lookout for big and small election violations, such as illegal campaign practices, the distribution of fake ballots and voter intimidation. And, they warn, some areas might not have elections because of insurgent violence and military activity. Security has been beefed up along closed borders and a nighttime curfew is in force. (Updated 1:50 a.m.)
Israel launches second day of airstrikes in Gaza
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israel launched a second day of airstrikes Thursday against suspected Palestinian militants in Gaza, and one attack destroyed the home of a member of the Popular Resistance Committee, Palestinian sources said. No casualties were reported.
A short time later, an Israeli missile was fired at a building in Rafa, in southern Gaza, that housed the offices of a charity run by Islamic Jihad. The structure was heavily damaged, Palestinian sources said.
The Israel Defense Forces said the building targeted in the first attack was being used by the PRC for storing weapons, and the airstrike in Rafa was aimed at a building used for terrorist activities.
On Wednesday, an Islamic Jihad leader escaped an assassination attempt by an Israeli missile strike on a car east of Gaza City, but four Palestinian militants were killed by Israeli attacks in the same area earlier in the day, Palestinian security sources said. (Posted 10:08 p.m.)
Pentagon database may have improperly kept data on U.S. groups
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A classified Pentagon database containing information about possible threats to national security and the U.S. military may have improperly included data on American citizens and groups that posed no threat, Pentagon officials said Wednesday.
The Pentagon is examining whether regulations guiding the little-noticed program may have been violated and is also informing Congress about problems with database, the officials said.
For over two years, the Pentagon has collected counterintelligence and law enforcement information about possible domestic threats in the Threat and Local Observation Notice database, known as TALON.
However, regulations governing the program require that if the information gathered does not show any threat to national security or U.S. military personnel or bases, it must be deleted from the database.
Pentagon officials said some of the reports in the database that should have been deleted may not have been.
However, the officials said the TALON program, which gathers information collected by others, does not constitute illegal spying on U.S. citizens by the military. The Pentagon, in a statement, said the Defense Department obtains "properly collected" information, and its use is subject to "strict limitations." (Posted 10:06 p.m.)
Missouri governor 'astounded' by flooding from reservoir rupture
(CNN) -- Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt said Wednesday evening he was "astounded" by the damage done when a breach in the upper reservoir of a hydroelectric plant sent a huge wall of muddy water gushing down the Black River in southeast Missouri earlier in the day. At least nine people were injured, including three children hospitalized in critical condition after their home was swept away by the water.
The flood flattened everything in a quarter-mile swath on each side and inundated Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park, witnesses said. "It looked like the tsunami," said paramedic Robert Kiefer of the Air Evac Lifeteam.
The deluge from the dam break was contained by the lower reservoir of the Taum Sauk Hydroelectric Plant. Blunt said engineers are confident the lower reservoir will hold. The plant is owned by AmerenUE, a St. Louis-based electric utility.
What caused the dam to fail remains a mystery. Rainfall before the disaster was slight, and AmerenUE said there was no evidence of foul play. Blunt also said "there's no reason to believe that seismic activity caused the breach," even though the area is within the New Madrid seismic zone and does experience small earthquakes.
AmerenUE is a subsidiary of Ameren Corporation, which serves 2.3 million electricity customers in Missouri and Illinois. (Posted 10:03 p.m.)
Romney won't seek second term in Massachusetts
(CNN) -- Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney announced Wednesday evening that he will not seek re-election to a second term next year, but he demurred on whether he will instead seek the GOP presidential nomination in 2008. "We'll let the future take care of itself," Romney said at a news conference in Boston.
However, the governor also said, "I'm not going to close any options at this point."
Romney, 58, was elected to the governor's post in 2002, after garnering acclaim for his stewardship of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. He faced a potentially tough re-election battle next year in heavily Democratic Massachusetts.
The governor said he decided not to seek re-election because he had managed to accomplish most of what he set out to do in his first term, including balancing the state's budget and improving education. He said he would support Lt. Gov. Kerry Healy as his successor, if she decides to run for the post.
In 1999, Romney was brought in to head the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee, which was mired in scandal over charges that International Olympic Committee members were bribed during the city's successful bid process.
Romney is a member of the Mormon Church, based in Salt Lake City, and is a graduate of Brigham Young University in nearby Provo, which is operated by the church. He also holds both an MBA and a law degree from Harvard. (Posted 6:52 p.m.)
Judge won't disqualify Fulton DA from trying Nichols
ATLANTA (CNN) -- A judge Wednesday denied a motion from attorneys for Atlanta courthouse shooting suspect Brian Nichols to disqualify the entire Fulton County District Attorney's Office from prosecuting the case.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Hilton Fuller said the defense had failed to show that District Attorney Paul Howard and his staff were "victims" under Georgia law, and therefore had a conflict of interest and could not prosecute the case fairly.
"That some experienced psychological impact upon hearing of the events, or experienced genuine grief after the events of March 11, does not make them 'victims' to the extent that disqualification of the district attorney and his office is required," Fuller wrote.
Nichols is charged with killing a Superior Court judge, his court reporter and a sheriff's deputy as he escaped from the county courthouse in Atlanta, and later killing a federal agent. He escaped March 11 after allegedly overpowering a deputy as she was escorting him into the courtroom, where he faced a second trial on rape charges.
Nichols has pleaded not guilty to 54 counts of murder, kidnapping, robbery and escape. The prosecution has said it will seek the death penalty.
Also Wednesday, defense attorneys withdrew a motion to move their their client to a jail outside Fulton County, and withdrew a motion for a gag order. They did not explain their decisions. (Posted 6:45 p.m.)
Bloomberg reveals transit-strike contingency plan
NEW YORK (CNN) -- If New York City bus and subway workers strike when their contract expires at 12:01 a.m. Friday, there will be "no winners," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Wednesday as he described the contingency plan to deal with a possible mass transit shutdown.
"Let me be clear about the impact of the strike, it would do far worse than inconvenience the 8.1 million city residents and nearly 1 million suburban commuters. Emergency vehicles may get stuck in traffic, and people will have difficulty getting to hospitals," Bloomberg said.
Members of Transport Workers' Union Local 11 and the Metropolitan Transit Authority have been deadlocked in negotiations for several days. The TWU has threatened to strike when their contract expires at midnight Thursday if their demands are not met.
In an effort to reduce danger and inconvenience in case of a strike, the city will order higher vehicle occupancy, some street closures, and the creation of carpool staging areas, additional Staten Island ferry service and capped cab fares. (Posted 6:40 p.m.)
Mortgage fraud on the rise, federal officials say
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Despite recent signs that the booming residential real estate market may be cooling in some of the nation's priciest housing areas, the problem of fraud in the mortgage industry is sizzling, top government officials said Wednesday.
Officials of several federal agencies attempting to combat mortgage fraud said documented losses during the last fiscal year topped $1 billion, and known losses from cases prosecuted during the past four months alone exceeded $600 million.
Inflated appraisals, straw purchases, fake identities, phony loan applications and rampant property-flipping litter the real estate landscape, the officials said "It's a pervasive problem, and it's on the rise," said FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker. (Posted 5:09 p.m.)
Sources: Massachusetts governor confirms he won't seek re-election
(CNN) -- Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has confirmed that he won't seek re-election in 2006, sources close to the Republican said Wednesday.
House approves Patriot Act renewal
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- By a 251-174 vote, the House of Representatives Wednesday voted to renew 16 provisions of the anti-terror Patriot Act that were set to expire at the end of the year. Now, the bill goes to the Senate, which is expected to take up the measure later this week and where its fate is less certain.
Among the provisions set to expire unless Congress reauthorizes the bill are ones allowing the FBI, with a court order, to obtain business, library, medical and other records and to get a wiretap on every phone a suspect uses, a so-called "roving wiretap." The proposal Congress is considering would extend these two tools for four years.
This bill also includes some changes to other controversial provisions that do not expire but have drawn the ire of civil liberties advocates. One, for example, requires a person who is the subject of a search warrant but has not been told of the warrant because it could jeopardize an ongoing investigation to be notified within 30 days. (Posted 4:45 p.m.)
Islamic Jihad leader escapes assassination attempt; 4 militants killed in Israeli airstrike
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- An Islamic Jihad leader on Wednesday was the object of a failed assassination attempt, Palestinian security sources told CNN. The sources said an Israeli helicopter strike just east of Gaza City targeted an Islamic Jihad leader. The strike produced an explosion.
The sources said Islamic Jihad identified the militant as Sheikh Khader Habib, who had been riding in a car when the strike occurred and then escaped.
Israel Defense Forces had no initial comment. (Posted 2:15 p.m.)
Murtha: Bush confuses war on terrorism with Iraq insurgency
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Rep. John Murtha, the powerful Pennsylvania Democrat who once served in Vietnam as a Marine, rebuked what he said is the Bush administration's penchant to confuse the war in Iraq with the war on terror.
"You've got to separate terrorism from the insurgency," said Murtha -- a conservative Democrat based in the hardscrabble city of Johnstown in blue-collar Western Pennsylvania.
He responded to President Bush's speech before the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. Murtha, long supportive of the U.S. military, recently advocated a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq "at the earliest practicable date" and lashed out against Bush's performance as president. He took issue with one key theme in his speech.
"He continues to mischaracterize, linking terrorism with the insurgency. There's no connection between the U.S.(S.) Cole incident and Iraq. There's no connection between 9/11 and terrorism and Iraq. And there's no connection between the embassy attacks (and) Iraq." (Posted 2:11 p.m.)
20 injured in LA collision
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- At least 20 people were injured, two critically, when a transit bus collided with a catering truck in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday morning.
According to a Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman, the accident occurred shortly after 9 a.m. PT when the truck ran a red light, slamming into the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) bus. (Posted 1:40 p.m.)
CIA flights: German government still seeks answers
BERLIN (CNN) -- Germany's foreign minister told parliament Wednesday the government had no prior knowledge of the CIA detention of a Lebanese German and was still awaiting answers from Washington on the matter. And he voiced concern the CIA flights of terror suspects via Europe could damage transatlantic relations.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier also said he was "nauseated" by reports the German government tipped off the Americans about the man, Khaled al-Masri, who is suing the CIA for wrongful imprisonment and torture.
Al-Masri said he was on vacation in Macedonia in December 2003 when CIA agents captured him and flew him to Afghanistan, where he says he was held and interrogated for five months before being dropped off in Albania.
Steinmeier told the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, that Germany had asked the United States, Macedonia and Albania for information on the al-Masri case but was still awaiting answers. (Posted 1:39 p.m.)
Bush says he's responsible for decision to go to war on faulty intelligence
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush said Wednesday he's responsible for the decision to go to war with Iraq, even though the information he based his decision on was false.
"It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong," he said in the last of four speeches outlining his strategy in Iraq.
"As president, I am responsible for the decision to go into Iraq. And I'm also responsible for fixing what went wrong by reforming our intelligence capabilities. And we are doing just that," he told an audience at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.
In his speech Monday at the World Affairs Council in Philadelphia, Bush said that even knowing what he did now, he would make the same decision to remove Hussein from power. (Posted 12:37 p.m.)
Louisiana governor: Congress must act to help rebuild after Katrina
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. government has an "obligation" to help rebuild Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina smashed the Gulf Coast in late August, the state's governor said Wednesday, citing the "extraordinary catastrophe" never before inflicted on a U.S. state.
Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco told a House committee investigating the preparations for and response to Katrina that "the economic security of our country is at stake" if Congress fails to help businesses and residents rebuild.
"I know we must devise a better response to large-scale disasters at the federal, state and local levels," she said. "Looking back is a necessary exercise, and we will improve our response.
"But none of this negates the obligation of this Congress to help American citizens from the Gulf Coast who literally and figuratively are feeling they have been left out in the cold." (Posted 11:59 a.m.)
Iraqis prepare for parliamentary elections
BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Security forces and electoral officials in Iraq hustled to prepare the country for Thursday's historic parliamentary election, with officials expecting speed bumps and big challenges in the country's third democratic exercise this year.
Electoral officials on Wednesday said they are on the lookout for big and small election violations, such as illegal campaign practices, the distribution of fake ballots and voter intimidation. And, they warn, some areas might not have elections because of insurgent violence and military activity.
Security has been beefed up along closed borders and a nighttime curfew is in force.
More than 19 political coalitions and 307 political entities -- either parties or people -- are registered to run in the elections for the 275-seat parliament called the Council of Representatives. (Posted 10:48 a.m.)
Iranian president calls Holocaust 'a myth'
TEHRAN (CNN) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a Wednesday speech called the Holocaust "a myth" and suggested that Israel be moved to Europe, Canada or Alaska.
In response, the Israeli government said Ahmadinejad's regime had "a distorted sense of reality."
"They have invented a myth that Jews were massacred and place this above God, religions and the prophets," Ahmadinejad said in a speech in the Iranian city of Zahedan, according to a report from Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).
"If somebody in their country questions God, nobody says anything, but if somebody denies the myth of the massacre of Jews, the Zionist loudspeakers and the governments in the pay of Zionism will start to scream," he said. (Posted 10:46 a.m.)
Pilot program puts Federal Air Marshals in train, subway, bus stations
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A small number of Federal Air Marshals will focus their efforts on rail and bus stations at five cities this week as part of a pilot program to test the government's ability to deploy security forces on other modes of transportation.
Federal officials stress the pilot program is part of the Transportation Security Administration's efforts to improve security and is not in response to any specific intelligence. Five teams are being deployed, one to each of five cities -- Washington, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Atlanta.
Each team consists of one or two federal air marshals, a TSA canine handler with a bomb-sniffing dog, one or two TSA inspectors and a member of local law enforcement.
The teams will include both uniformed and plain-clothed members, an official said, and are known as "Viper" teams, for "Visible Intermodal Protection and Response" teams. (Posted 10:44 a.m.)
Mob attacks Allawi office in southern Iraq
BAGHAD (CNN) -- A mob on Wednesday attacked the Nasiriya office the former Iraqi interim prime minister's political group, according to Aziz Kadhim Alwan, the governor of Thiqar province south of Baghdad.
Attackers broke windows of the building and set on fire Ayad Allawi's Iraqi National Accord office, the governor said. No one from the party was hurt, and soldiers and police eventually took control of the situation, police said.
Allawi is heading a coalition that is running in Thursday's parliamentary election. (Posted 10:41 a.m.)
Israeli airstrike kills 4
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- An Israeli airstrike struck a car Wednesday carrying Palestinian militants just east of Gaza City, Israeli and Palestinian officials said. Palestinian security officials said four militants were killed.
The Israeli army said the vehicle was carrying members of the Palestinian Popular Resistance Committee en route to carry out an attack against Israeli targets. The airstrike produced an extremely loud explosion, the army said, because the car was carrying explosives. (Posted 10:39 a.m.)
Iraqi police: Truck stopped near Iran border with fake ballots for Iraqi election
From CNN Producer Arwa Damon
BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Police told CNN an Iraqi border unit detained a truck carrying what are believed to be thousands of fake ballots for Thursday's election. The vehicle was stopped close to the Iranian border in Wasit province southeast of Baghdad.
The U.S. military said it was aware of the reports and is investigating. Additionally, Iraqi police said the driver of the truck that was stopped is an Iranian national and that the plates on the truck were also from Iran.
Lt. Gen. Ahmed al-Khafaji, a deputy interior minister in charge of border patrol, said the reports are false. Authorities are also investigating reports of other vehicles with possible fake ballots trying to cross the border into Iraq.
Separately, at least 100 people in Ramadi protested after hearing reports of fake ballots. The crowd demanded that the U.S. military offer more protection and security along the border and asked the Independent Election Commission of Iraq to investigate. (Posted 5:46 a.m.)
Police detain two allegedly planning to blow up election centers
BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Iraqi police detained two members of a terrorism network who they allege were planning to blow up three elections centers on Wednesday, a Hilla police spokesman told CNN.
The two were detained in Jurf al-Sakhar town, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Baghdad, about 10 a.m. Wednesday, the spokesman said.
Acting on intelligence, police raided a farm in the town, detaining the two and confiscating 72 bombs, the official said.
One of the detainees told police they were planning to blow up election centers in Jurf al-Sakhar, al-Latifiya and al-Iskandariya, and they were preparing to move the bombs to another location, police said. (posted 5:10 a.m.)
Mourners gather in Beirut to bid farewell to Tueni
BEIRUT (CNN) -- Thousands lined the streets of central Beirut Wednesday for the funeral of Gebran Tueni, an anti-Syrian member of parliament and head of a prominent newspaper who was killed Monday in a car bombing.
Monday's attack was the fourth in a series of political bombings targeting people viewed as supporting the opposition and rejecting Syrian influence in the country. On Feb. 14, former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed in Beirut when a car bomb exploded by his convoy. Since then, two other prominent opposition journalists and columnists in addition to Tueni have been killed in similar attacks, but despite investigations authorities have made no arrests.
Immediate suspicion that Syria was involved in the Hariri assassination led to outrage in Lebanon and renewed international pressure on Syria to withdraw troops and intelligence assets from Lebanon, which it had dominated since the end of the 1975-1990 Lebanese civil war. Syria completed its military withdrawal from Lebanon in late April -- a turn of events called the Cedar Revolution. (Posted 4:59 a.m.)
Two fires still burning at British fuel depot
HEMEL HEMPSTEAD, England (CNN) -- As firefighters battled blazes at an oil depot north of London for a fourth day, the Hertfordshire Fire Brigade responded to criticism that it was not adequately prepared for Sunday's explosions and subsequent fires at the Bunceford Oil Depot.
Two fires were burning Wednesday, according to the fire brigade's press office: One at a tank where some of the fuel penetrated the concrete walls surrounding it, and the second where petroleum leaked out of a destroyed valve.
The first blaze was being tackled with fire suppressant foam, the fire brigade said, while the second was left to burn itself out, as that was deemed safer than fighting it. (posted 4 a.m.)
Ex-President Ford leaves hospital after tests
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Former President Gerald R. Ford was released from the hospital Tuesday night, a hospital representative said, after undergoing what his chief of staff called routine medical tests.
Ford, 92, was admitted Tuesday to Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., for tests that had been scheduled for some time, Ford spokeswoman Penny Circle told CNN.
She said Ford has been suffering from a cold recently, but that is not why he went to the hospital. She added that Ford is in as good health as any 92-year-old. (posted 11 p.m.)
LOAD-DATE: December 16, 2005
60 of 184 DOCUMENTS
Copyright 2005 The Ithaca Journal (Ithaca, NY)
All Rights Reserved
The Ithaca Journal (New York)
December 12, 2005 Monday 1 Edition
SECTION: OPINION; Pg. 9A
LENGTH: 573 words
HEADLINE: National security needs leaner SUVs
BYLINE: Sherwood Boehlert
When hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged the Gulf Coast earlier this year, they left behind a devastated coastline and abandoned cities. They also exposed our nation's vulnerability to high gas prices and oil supply disruptions.
In the wake of the hurricanes, thousands of oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico sat idle, a significant number of our nation's oil refineries were shut down, and New Yorkers paid a whopping $3 for a gallon of gasoline.
But as we recover from the economic devastation wrought by the hurricanes, we also need to address the serious economic - and national security - threat posed by our reliance on foreign oil.
Today, we import nearly 60 percent of the oil that fuels our economy. This enormous transfer of wealth - approaching a billion dollars a day - increases the trade deficit, reduces the strength of the dollar and costs our nation jobs.
What's more, much of this oil is imported from unstable or even openly hostile nations. So we are, in effect, enriching those who wish us harm. This is a national security liability of the highest order.
To address this dangerous threat to our economy and security, I have introduced legislation that would reduce U.S. oil demand by raising fuel economy (CAFE) standards for the cars, minivans, SUVs and pickup trucks sold in America. Specifically, my bill would raise CAFE standards from the current average of 25 miles per gallon (mpg) to 33 mpg by 2016. This would reduce oil consumption by 2.6 million barrels a day by 2025, and would save motorists thousands of dollars in fuel costs over the lives of their vehicles.
The fuel economy targets established in my bill are fully reachable using existing technologies identified in a recent report by the esteemed National Academy of Sciences. Indeed, the Academy said that, using such technologies, large SUVs and pickups could get nearly 50 percent better gas mileage.
Under the bill, the average SUV owner would save more than $2,000 over the life of the vehicle, even after accounting for the additional cost of the fuel-saving technologies. The average minivan owner would save about $1,000. And these savings were computed assuming gasoline costs $2 per gallon. At today's prices, New Yorkers would save even more.
Opponents of my bill like to argue that raising CAFE standards would compromise safety and force people to drive subcompact cars. That's complete nonsense. Automakers could, and would, continue manufacturing the vehicles people want to buy. The SUVs, minivans and pickups on the road today would still be on the road if CAFE standards were raised. They would just sport new technologies under the hood that would drastically improve their fuel efficiency.
Even a representative of the auto industry, in testimony before my Committee at a February hearing, admitted that safety need not be sacrificed to increase fuel economy.
The skeptics are beginning to see the light. Many of my colleagues who previously opposed raising CAFE standards are now giving the issue a second look. Some are even vocal proponents now. I firmly believe that, given a vote before the House, this bill would pass.
It's hard to ignore the economic and national security threat that Katrina and Rita so clearly revealed.
. . .
U.S. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, a Republican from New Hartford, is chairman of the House Committee on Science. His district includes a portion of Tompkins County.
LOAD-DATE: December 16, 2005
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Copyright 2005 Boston Herald Inc.
The Boston Herald
December 8, 2005 Thursday
SECTION: EDITORIAL; Pg. 042
LENGTH: 727 words
HEADLINE: Letters to the editor
No order in court
Regarding Saddam Hussein's frequent courtroom outbursts, is there no such thing as contempt of court in that country?
Toss him back in the can, try him in absentia, find an ``Iraqi Sparky'' to electrocute him and be done with it (Dec. 7).
- Brian Sullivan, Falmouth
Business and BBAC
The recommendations of the Back Bay Architectural Commission have, in many ways, enhanced Back Bay and protected its historic charm (``Merchants: Get off our backs!'' Dec. 6). Yet it is increasingly clear that some of the decisions made by the BBAC have made it more difficult to create a successful business environment, especially for businesses on Newbury Street.
It has been the predominant view of the BBAC that the character that was prevalent when Newbury Street was residential should be maintained, including green space (front yards), residential windows and minimal signage. These attributes are counterintuitive for a successful business environment.
A block by block study of Newbury Street demonstrates that the first three blocks (between Arlington and Dartmouth streets) are the most successful for retailing. The first-floor spaces have large windows and great sightlines. Sidewalks are expansive. The signage, while modest, enables pedestrians and drive-by traffic to view where retailers are located.
Further down Newbury Street, big planters are placed in front of many addresses (some with weeds), the entrances to buildings are more circuitous and most of the windows are smaller. The signs approved by the BBAC do not suffice, so sandwich boards line the street.
Signs are also too small, difficult to see, and not permitted on upper floors. Businesses should also be permitted, and encouraged, to expand into the alleys, if there is adequate space.
- Gary Saunders, Chairman
Saunders Hotel Group and Back Bay Association,
Meg Mainzer-Cohen, President
Back Bay Association
Vote for border answers
Thank you, Ann McFeatters, for the column on immigration (``Borders no match for this divide,'' Dec. 5). It is imperative that our country has an honest, open debate. Partisan rhetoric will not solve what will be one of the largest issues facing us in the 21st century. If a candidate for federal office does not have a clear, workable solution to the questions that immigration presents our country (even a solution with which I disagree), I simply will not vote for that candidate.
- Matthew Poirier, Quincy
Way off target
Where is the wisdom in forcing the burden of gun registration, a questionable approach at best, on honest law-abiding citizens? This approach does not address the problem: criminals and their behavior (``We're under the gun so let's register it,'' Dec. 5).
Is it naive to think any criminal will register his gun? An honest examination of James Fox's logic exposes his bias and true aim. He does not trust Americans when it comes to the Second Amendment. Worse, he knows better than we, and shall set us straight. Registration is a precursor to confiscation and an end to the freedom only America provides.
- Joe Callanan, Cambridge
No state for storm $$
As Massachusetts provided housing and security for the Katrina victims housed on Cape Cod, I don't understand why $174,454 had to go to a food service company in Connecticut and $46,168 to Michigan for furniture (``Katrina's leftover$,'' Dec. 5). The money could have been spent in local businesses that will end up funding the program with their tax dollars. Leftover funds should be divided among our towns and cities.
- Wesley Burge, Waltham
Mind the details
Blaming police details for the rising murder rate and number of guns on the street is ludicrious. Maybe the Herald should look at the real culprit: judges who give violent repeat offenders slaps on the wrist (``Going overboard on police overtime,'' Dec. 5).
To say that police officers are in no shape to be ``primed for chasing down armed suspects on their regular shifts,'' underestimates what many people who work multiple jobs do daily to make ends meet. Firemen and doctors routinely work 24-hour shifts and no one is suggesting that they are not ready to respond. If details were taken away, many officers would have to get other jobs to support their families.
Why not replace details with more attractive salaries with this tax savings? I don't know many officers who like to work on their days off.
- Derek Homes, Reading
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November 3, 2005 Thursday
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HEADLINE: Dashcle's Northwestern U. speech focuses on fixing foreign policy
BYLINE: By Amanda Palleschi, Daily Northwestern; SOURCE: Northwestern U.
DATELINE: EVANSTON, Ill.
Former Senate majority and minority leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) told an overflowing Northwestern University audience that American foreign policy is "broken but not irreparable" and that the world holds America in the lowest esteem now than it has at any time in history during Wednesday's 16th Annual Richard W. Leopold Lecture.
Daschle told approximately 400 Northwestern students, administrators and local residents that events like Hurricane Katrina, prison scandals and the rising death toll in Iraq have shocked the world with a new, more vulnerable view of America.
"[The world was] shocked to see images of an America they had no idea existed -- impoverished, divided, left behind," he said. "They were shocked to see a government that seemed too callous and incompetent. ... The world looks to us for leadership and looks to us for inspiration. It is important to our foreign policy to build an America at home and abroad that is worthy of the world's aspirations."
Daschle opened his 90-minute speech with anecdotes about his son, Nathan, a 1995 NU graduate. Daschle told his son, who lost a bid for Associated Student Government president by 10 votes, "Life is all about close elections."
Daschle lost re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2004 after representing South Dakota for 18 years. He became the second-youngest person to serve as a Senate party-leader.
Daschle also responded to comments made Tuesday by Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.). Frist said Daschle would not have called a closed session as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) did Tuesday to discuss prewar intelligence on Iraq.
"He did exactly what I would have done in his shoes," Daschle said.
Daschle admonished the Bush administration's failure to find Osama bin Laden and its handling of Iraq.
"[Bush] misused intelligence to start a war in Iraq, failing to plan for its aftermath and refusing to level with the country or our troops about what it will take to correct failures."
He said he does not regret voting for the invasion of Iraq in 2002. He called for the withdrawal of 80,000 of 150,000 troops in Iraq by January, following Iraq's December elections.
"It is not a question of if we made the right call before, but if we make the right calls now," Daschle said.
He said the number of troops withdrawn from Iraq must include all National Guard and Reserve forces and withdrawn troops should be directed toward finding Osama bin Laden.
"We learned the hard way with Katrina that we do our homeland security a disservice if we keep the National Guard tied down in Iraq," he said.
Daschle concluded his talk, which included his concerns about terrorism and the global AIDS epidemic, by recommending increased international cooperation.
"We must [create foreign policy] in a way that recognizes the power of example, that uses our military in a wise and trustworthy way, and respects the importance of alliances," he said.
His speech elicited bursts of applause in 107 Harris Hall. The Leopold lecture is held near a room dedicated to the former history professor.
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HEADLINE: SEN. CLINTON SPEAKS AT CLEANTECH VENTURE FORUM VIII
BYLINE: US Fed News
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., gave the following speech:
Remarks of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to the Cleantech Venture Forum VIII
I want to thank Keith Raab and Nicholas Parker for their outstanding work in establishing the Cleantech Venture Network. Keith and Nicholas introduced the "cleantech" concept back in 2002, and as yesterday's Wall Street Journal reports, they have helped develop it as a viable investment category. So I want to thank them for spurring private sector support for clean technologies and for sustainable economic development.
I also want to thank all of the sponsors for today's forum. Your support is vital to the development and promotion of clean technologies.
And I want especially to recognize Chuck McDermott of RockPort Capital Partners for encouraging me to participate in this important event.
I'm here to talk about what we need to do to get America on track for a smarter, more secure and cleaner energy future. There are a lot of specific policy proposals out there to discuss, but I believe any solution has two broad parts - and the Cleantech Venture Network has them both. First, get out of the can't-do, status quo mentality that has put us in energy gridlock. Second, change behavior - and put our investment dollars where our best prospects for change are. And that is where Cleantech is leading the way.
The Cleantech Venture Network reports that investment in clean technology has been rising for five straight quarters and now ranks seventh among investment areas in North America. And by the way, one in every ten dollars that Cleantech tracks is invested by a company that participates in Cleantech programs. Outside this room, there is no question that our failure to make better energy choices is sapping our pocketbooks, limiting our competitiveness, threatening our environment and even our national security. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita made that brutally clear.
We have a short-term problem - helping people pay their bills and keeping the economy moving in the face of dramatically higher energy costs.
And we have a long-term problem. Massive economic development in China, India, and elsewhere means that the competition for oil and other natural resources is exploding and driving prices higher. The Department of Energy predicts that China's oil consumption will nearly double and its net imports quadruple in the next twenty years. Loosening environmental standards or opening up a new oil field or two is not going to offset this seismic shift in energy demand.
Our dependence on foreign oil threatens our economy and hamstrings our national security. Imported oil accounts for about one-third of our trade deficit, with much of that money going to regimes we would never choose to subsidize. To help secure the flow of oil from the Middle East, we spend $50 billion each year to deploy U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf and to supply military assistance to countries in the region. And that doesn't include the lives and dollars we are spending in Iraq.
And, if all that weren't enough, our dependence on oil is hastening the threat posed by global climate change. Energy production and use in transportation and electricity generation account for more than three quarters of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
So, I think it's clear - we have to do what America has always done when faced with a big challenge - roll up our sleeves and dedicate this country to finding a solution. The country that put a man on the moon can be the country to find new lower cost and cleaner forms of energy. Our nation needs it. Our planet needs it.
And, as FDR said, we have four words for it: We can do it.
We are a nation of innovation. And we can achieve the goal of less dependence on foreign oil.
The results will not just fuel our cars, they will fuel our economy and stimulate potentially millions of new jobs. The energy revolution can be as big and important as the industrial revolution and the explosion of the information age. And I believe that with the right investments and incentives, America can lead that revolution.
The smartest American businesses - like those represented here today - are already taking the lead on energy technology and efficiency - and turning a profit. In my state, corporations like Corning and IBM are world leaders in saving energy and saving money - and it shows in their bottom lines. In just one year, 2003, IBM cut its energy consumption 7 percent - and saved $38 million. If the demand for efficiency and alternative energy is strong, it will be met. General Electric Chairman Jeffrey Immelt says he expects clean energy technology to be a major profit center for his company in the years ahead. And Ford recently announced that they would increase their hybrid production capacity to 250,000 by 2010. Finally, New York is a hub for the fuel cell industry, thanks to the work of companies like Plug Power, General Motors, Delphi and Kodak.
The American people want out from under the burden of foreign oil dependence. More than 90 percent of Americans want cleaner, higher mileage cars to drive - and they want the government to help make that happen. More than 85 percent want more investment in solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy. They want America to lead the way, not lag behind.
I see leadership in what you are doing through Cleantech. I see leadership in New York State and other states, where entrepreneurs representing the whole spectrum of renewables are developing cutting edge technologies to fuel our energy future. And New York State's formidable Renewable Portfolio Standard will help support their efforts - which studies have shown could create as many as 43,000 jobs.
In New York, I also worked with a variety of private sector leaders along with Roger Altman to create New Jobs for New York. This initiative has brought together investors and dozens of innovative renewable energy companies from New York to meet and highlight the strength and potential of this emerging industry.
Just one concrete example: Last April, I joined executives from General Motors Corp. to showcase the first fuel cell-powered truck to the U.S. Army at the GM research facility outside of Rochester, NY, where the vehicle's two fuel cell power modules were made - as a result of the military, Congress and private manufacturers working together.
Quite a few of us in Congress have worked to bridge the gap and put forward proposals for a better energy future. We passed, albeit not as much as we would have wanted, a 10 percent renewable energy standard in the Senate, but the White House rejected it. We've expanded research on hydrogen fuel cells, one of the positive things to come out of the last energy bill. I pushed to provide access to funding to retrofit old diesel equipment with filters that reduce harmful emissions - filters whose guts are made at a state-of-the-art Corning plant in upstate New York.
Senate Democrats have put forward a comprehensive plan to build real energy security for America and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Senate Democrats have a plan to protect consumers from price gouging, to provide them relief, and to make us more energy independent. We know America can do better.
But our Senate Democratic plans to implement a federal renewable portfolio standard, or to set a national oil savings target, have consistently been thwarted by the White House and Republicans in Congress.
After 9-11, the Administration squandered an opportunity to put forward a truly comprehensive, forward-looking energy policy to start us down the road to greater energy independence.
Instead, the Administration pushed a policy that got a few things right, but largely ignored the tough issues while handing out favors to oil companies and other established energy players.
Now Katrina and Rita have exposed the Administration's policy for what it is--using an umbrella to fend off a hurricane.
From our strained refinery capacity to the months-long waiting lists for new hybrid cars, and solar panels, the core problem is clear: Our nation has suffered from a failure of investment and imagination- in both the public and private sectors - for a strategic energy future.
The energy market we have is broken. At the heart of the crude oil market is a cartel run by a handful of countries, and a global supply chain run by a handful of companies. The market is certainly working well for the oil companies. In 2004, the world's 10 largest oil companies had combined profits of $100 billion. In 2005, those profits are headed even higher.
The truth is the current policies in Washington are clearly inadequate for the long-term crisis we face. And the marketplace, as currently structured, is unlikely to produce the investments in new technologies that we and the rest of the world need.
So, we need to be bigger and bolder to change things. I want a plan to ensure that we re-invest the tremendous drain that higher energy prices are exacting on middle class families and the economy in a better energy future. I don't believe that consumers should pay for that with taxes for energy or that we can just let the current marketplace go at its own pace.
The strategy I propose would ask the oil companies that have experienced these amazing profits to either reinvest them in our energy future to reduce our dependence on oil or to contribute to a Strategic Energy Fund that provide incentives for companies and consumers who want to be part of our energy solution.
I believe that we need to assess the oil companies an alternative energy development fee to be put into the new Strategic Energy Fund. We should design the fee so it is taken solely out of unanticipated profits from the sky high oil prices and ensure that it is not passed on to consumers. It could generate as much as $20 billion a year to help retool our economy and deploy new energy strategies.
We used to make polluters pay for their clean-up through Superfund.
And now we need for the oil companies to share the burden of lifting America up and out of the looming energy crisis.
How would this work? We need to devise a bipartisan mechanism to make sure that energy companies are contributing their share to America's energy future. I suggest the following fundamental principles:
Reform our energy taxes so that large oil companies who reap huge benefits over the next two years will pay a portion of their profits to fund new tax incentives for those consumers and companies who do want to invest in America's energy future. Companies that choose to invest these profits in refining capacity, efficiency and alternative energy would not be required to pay into the fund.
It's not about new energy taxes on consumers - it's about redirecting the hidden "tax" that middle class Americans are already paying to OPEC and the oil companies in the form of higher prices and harnessing it to secure our energy future. Such a measure should be temporary, lasting just long enough to kick-start the alternative energy market that we all know is out there.
Now is the perfect time for oil companies, flush with cash, to transform themselves into energy companies, investing in technologies that will produce profits and increase America's energy independence. British Petroleum and Shell are already taking encouraging steps in this direction. But our country, and our country's companies, as the world's largest energy consumer and emitter of greenhouse gases, should lead the way.
This is how we can turn the current dismal situation into a "can do" for America. The Strategic Energy Fund would help consumers cope with spiraling energy costs; promote adoption of existing clean energy and conservation technologies; and stimulate research and investment by the private sector to ground the next generation of energy technologies.
In the short term, however, millions of consumers are going to need help paying their energy bills this winter. The wellhead price of natural gas has tripled in twelve months. Families in the Northeast and Midwest who depend on oil to heat their homes can expect to spend 30-40 percent more on heating this winter. Families in the West and South who depend on electricity for heat can expect to pay 28-49 percent more.
We're asking Americans to believe the can-do voices telling us that there is a better energy future ahead. Americans also need to believe that help is there for them when they need it, right now and through this winter - including a rebate or tax help, generated by the Fund, to help middle-class families with the high costs of heating.
In addition, we need immediate action to help the most vulnerable. Congressional Republicans have not cooperated thus far to fund the Low Income Heating Assistance Program at the level President Bush authorized in his energy bill-$5.1 billion. The needs this winter are desperate and funding for this critical program has simply not kept pace with demand. Between 1981 and 2002, the number of LIHEAP-eligible households increased by 66%, LIHEAP funds increased 44%, and the percentage of eligible households served by LIHEAP declined from 36% to 13%. Without this assistance, millions of seniors and low-income families will face impossible choices between putting food on the table, buying needed medicine or paying their heating bills. America can do better, and I will continue to push for funding for this lifeline program.
But the underlying problem is that our homes and businesses just aren't as energy efficient as they could and should be. President Bush says he wants Americans to conserve energy. Conservation--simply using less energy--is important. But being more energy efficient--getting more using less energy--is far more important. We have an opportunity to make a historic push for energy efficiency in the coming years, and we ought to do it.
Unbelievably, at a time when we should be doing everything we can to promote and conserve energy efficiency, the Administration is trying to shut down the DOE offices that implement our efficiency programs. We need to do the exact opposite. Our DOE efficiency programs can't do it all, but they can do a lot more than we have asked them to.
One example is a very successful but little-known program that subsidizes energy efficiency improvements in the homes of low-income families. This program has provided weatherization services to more than 5.3 million low-income families, and has reduced heating bills by 31% on average. That's the good news. The bad news is that there are nearly 25 million other homes that remain eligible for this program.
We need a concerted push to make our homes and businesses more energy efficient. I'm calling on the Administration to put its money where its mouth is, and provide $500 million for the weatherization program and $90 million for a national campaign to promote energy efficiency.
Americans need help figuring out how they can use energy more efficiently, and the President ought to push to fund that program and engage the private sector. Just to give one simple example, why don't we ask the oil companies to post signs at their gas stations encouraging people to keep their tires inflated properly? Most drivers don't take this simple step, which can increase fuel economy by more than 3% on average. Government, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations could mount an effective campaign to promote greater energy efficiency, and we ought to approach this task with urgency.
Americans also deserve to know that the prices they pay for gas and oil are fair - and that the money they spend on energy is going back into investments in the future of energy. We need to make sure that the FTC investigation into price gouging is tough and comprehensive. The Administration was reluctant to start it, and I think we're going to need to keep the pressure on them to make sure it's done well. But even if the FTC found evidence of price gouging, there's nothing the Justice Department could do about it, because it's not a federal crime. It should be.
It is time to take the mystery out of gas pricing. I've co-sponsored legislation seeking more transparency in the oil and gas markets to make it harder for the oil companies to rip consumers off. Let's understand what the mark-up on gasoline is and who is getting it. By adding more information to the marketplace, we can make it more competitive.
Taking care of our people right now is important. But the central challenge we face - and the key reason we need a Strategic Energy Fund - is to put research and development of alternative energy sources into high gear. Let me start with three priorities - putting more efficient cars on the road, getting existing alternative technologies we already know are accepted and affordable in the market, and jump-starting our technology research to regain our world leadership.
First we have to address transportation, which accounts for 70 percent of our oil consumption and 79 percent of the growth in consumption in the U.S. between 1985 and 2003.
Going further on a tank of gas and putting something other than gasoline in the tank are the keys to reducing U.S. oil dependence.
And while this fact may be clear for all to see, we have been at a political impasse for 20 years about how to solve the problem, and the results are lose-lose. The fuel efficiency of the American car and light truck fleet is at its lowest level in 20 years. We all want to keep our automakers and good-paying auto industry jobs. We all want hybrids, clean diesels and the next generation of fuel-efficient cars to be built here in the U.S. And we know that our domestic manufacturers are saddled with enormous legacy health care and pension costs that make it difficult for them to invest in retooling their plants.
It's time for the Bush Administration to show some leadership. The Clinton Administration pulled the auto makers together in the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles to work out a coordinated strategy for both near term and long term increases in fuel economy. We made some progress, but much of that work remains undone. That's why I have called on the President to invite auto industry manufacturers, suppliers and unions to a summit at the White House. He ought to find out what they need to make real progress on energy-efficient vehicles and pledge to provide it. The ideas are out there, such as offering automakers relief on legacy health care and pension costs in exchange for a commitment to produce more efficient cars, boosting research, and providing training for workers.
The stalemate politics of the CAF? debate aren't working for anyone.
While we search for ways to create better incentives for our domestic manufacturers to produce more efficient cars, there is one obvious step we can take on the consumer side of the equation: Double the current tax credits for advanced technology vehicles, such as hybrid and clean diesel cars and trucks.
This won't just help consumers--it will let manufacturers know that the market is going to be there, so they can invest with confidence.
Washington can also show leadership through its own purchasing. Let's set the goal that, by 2010, the government is out of the business of buying old-fashioned vehicles? and is replacing its fleet from the Army to the GSA with fuel efficient cars and trucks.
Getting more miles to the gallon is the most important thing we can do to reduce our oil dependence. But we can also replace gasoline and diesel fuel with ethanol and biodiesel. Once just the province of the Midwest, this industry is expanding and branching out in new directions. Ethanol and biodiesel are already beginning to transform our rural economy. A serious commitment to these alternative fuels could help drive our energy independence and lead to a renaissance in rural America.
Near Fulton, NY, entrepreneurs are planning to convert an idle brewery into an integrated biofuels facility that will produce both ethanol and biodiesel. When it comes on line, it will be the biggest ethanol plant in the NE, producing 100 million gallons a year of ethanol, and 5 million gallons a year of biodiesel. The plant will begin by making ethanol from corn, but plans to switch to make cellulosic ethanol from nearby sources of fast-growing hardwood trees. This is exactly the kind of project that we need to support, and the President should provide funding for biofuels programs in the energy bill he signed into law.
As we expand our biofuel production capacity, we also need more "flexible fuel" vehicles that can burn 85% ethanol blends. We have about 5 million of these cars on the road now, but we could easily have more. The cost of the technology per vehicle is low-$100 or less. The potential benefits are enormous, particularly when combined with hybrid technology. A 50 mile-per-gallon hybrid that burns E85 is effectively getting more than 300 miles for every gallon of petroleum-derived gasoline in the tank. So I'm challenging the auto industry to accelerate deployment of flexible fuel technology in new cars so that within 5 years all new cars are "flexible fuel vehicles."
Before I leave transportation, I want to mention one other clean transportation issue-the importance of implementing the ultra-low sulfur diesel rule. Cummins and other engine manufacturers have invested billions in research and development of the next generation of clean diesel engines. I was very proud to say that some of these new engines will be produced by New Yorkers in Cummins' plant in Jamestown, NY. I had the pleasure of visiting the Jamestown plant this summer to celebrate the 750,000th engine rolled off the line. But the clean engines that Cummins has prepared to produce can't work without the low sulfur fuel that the refineries are supposed to require next year fall. EPA has already delayed implementation once, under pressure from refineries and their oil company owners. It's not fair, and they shouldn't do it again. If big oil companies won't step up to the plate, they need to get out of the way and let innovative companies thrive.
We also have a natural gas crisis on our hands. The quickest way to deal with this crisis is to reduce demand for natural gas through increased efficiency. It also means that we should strive to have new electricity generation come from other sources, such as clean coal and renewables. We should shift to more energy efficient power generation equipment, household appliances, industrial motors, and air conditioning systems in new and existing buildings. If every American home replaced its incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones, which use one third the electricity and last ten times as long, the electricity we use for lighting would be cut in half. Even with the higher cost of the efficient light bulbs, consumers would save 25-40% per year.
We should also maximize other sources of heat and power, such as recapturing landfill methane, and using geothermal. The City of Auburn, NY converted their city hall - a historic building - to geothermal. The cost savings enabled them to install air conditioning and still lower their heating and cooling bills.
We can do much more to use wind and solar energy. In New York, we're building the biggest wind farm in the northeast, a 300 megawatt project. Germany generates 12,000 megawatts of electricity with wind, about twice the US total. Denmark already gets 18% of its electricity from wind. Because of engineering advances, some recent long term wind contracts were signed at 3 cents per kilowatt hour, cheaper than nuclear, coal, and even natural gas at today's high prices. If we doubled our capacity for wind each year for 7 years, wind would produce 650,000 megawatts of power making it the dominant leading source of electricity. The investment required would be roughly $90 billion dollars a year, less than half what Americans spend a year on gasoline. We can do this; keep in mind wind generating capacity is already growing 30% a year.
Solar cells installed in buildings also have tremendous potential for growth. Today we generate 32 megawatts of electricity with solar installations, less than half of Japan's total. My husband's library installed over 300 solar cells, cutting its utility requirements by one third. Today there is a 2-3 months back log on orders for solar cells in the US. Currently, solar power is more costly than wind or coal but the price drops 20% each time capacity is doubled. Sales are already growing at 30% per year. We could easily double that, making solar as cheap as wind in no time. Moreover, once a home or business pays off its investment in the cells, the power is essentially free for the remaining life of the structures. And in sunny areas where solar cells can produce more power than the homes or businesses require in certain months, most local utilities will take the access and credit it against the consumer's utility bills.
Clearly, we need more incentives to quickly increase the use of wind and solar power; they will cut costs, increase our energy independence and our national security and reduce the consequences of global warming.
There is truly great potential to be harnessed. And we may just be able to maximize these technologies in ways we never thought possible. For example, in the wake of the devastating destruction of Hurricane Katrina, we may be able to use these technologies to truly make New Orleans, and other cities along the Gulf, America's first green cities.
But to do any of this, we need more certainty for investors. The year-by-year extensions of the production tax credit don't create the incentives that we need. Instead we need a renewable portfolio standard to require that 20 percent of the nation's production comes from renewable resources by the year 2020.
Beyond tax incentives that spur use of existing technology, the US needs to take back our leadership in cutting-edge energy technology - by funding serious public-sector research. We know investment in public-sector research works - it's what brought us the Manhattan and Apollo Projects and the Information Age, from the Internet to Google and beyond.
The National Academy of Sciences has recommended that Congress establish within the U.S. Department of Energy an organization called the Advanced Research Project Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) that reports to the undersecretary for science and sponsors "out-of-the-box" energy research to meet the nation's long-term energy challenges. The Academy has outlined a sensible plan to create this agency, ramp up its funding up over five years, and then evaluate its effectiveness. Congress ought to take this idea and implement it immediately.
But obviously government can't do it alone. The private sector needs to pick up where government research leaves off. That's exactly what the venture capital firms here today are all about. But I think we need an even bigger push from our largest securities and banking firms to place the highest priority on accelerating these technologies. This is the moment to raise tens of billions of dollars in new funds dedicated to doing so. Investor interest in energy could not be higher, and special tax incentives or government guarantees are not needed. We need Wall Street's leadership to seize this opportunity. I know many of those leaders and believe they are ready to do this.
This is a nation of innovation when we set our minds to it. We have been the leaders in the development of virtually every major technology from the telephone and electric light bulb to the PC and new miracle drugs. We can be the leaders in the energy revolution.
We can do this. Americans don't duck challenge. What if, when President Roosevelt realized how much equipment and supplies it was going to take to win World War II in Europe and the Pacific, he had said, let's try to get by with the absolute minimum, let's send less equipment and invite the American people to conserve?
Of course, that alone would never have won the war. But Roosevelt convinced Americans that we were all in it together. And the industrial buildup he began not only won the war, but lifted the Great Depression and laid the foundations for a generation of prosperity that followed.
We have the chance, today, to change our energy future. We can become the world's major supplier of new energy technologies, not just the world's major consumer of oil. And that will create thousands of new, high-tech jobs - the kind of jobs that make America's economy the envy of the world. You know this - you are already doing it. We have the know-how, we have the resources, all we need is the will, to create an energy future that is better for business, better for the planet, and has "made in America" written all over it.
To watch the video of Senator Clinton's speech, see: http://www.clinton.senate.gov/media/clinton102505.rm
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October 19, 2005 Wednesday 2:05 AM EST
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HEADLINE: SEN. BAUCUS FIGHTS FOR KATRINA HEALTH PACKAGE
BYLINE: US Fed News
The ranking Democratic member of the Senate Finance Committee issued the following press release:
Today, Sen. Max Baucus, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, once again asked for unanimous consent urging passage of S. 1716, the Emergency Health Care Relief Act. The health package would provide immediate health care coverage to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Baucus drafted the legislation with Chairman Grassley of the Senate Finance Committee.
Senator Baucus' comments on the Senate floor follow:
Statement of U.S. Senator Max Baucus
Katrina Health Relief
October 19, 2005
Mr. President, it has been more than seven weeks since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. Nearly 1.5 million Americans have been displaced. And tens of thousands of these survivors have no health coverage and no money to pay for care. So today, I rise again to call for passage of the Grassley-Baucus Emergency Health Care Relief Act, S. 1716.
On Monday, the LA Times ran a story on a 52 year old school bus driver from New Orleans, Emanuel Wilson. Mr. Wilson survived Katrina, but his life is still at risk because he has intestinal cancer and no health insurance.
Mr. Wilson was getting monthly chemotherapy injections before the storm, but now he can't get health care. He lost his job and health coverage because of Katrina, and is ineligible for Medicaid.
According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, more than half of all the hurricane evacuees still in Louisiana who have sought Medicaid coverage since Katrina have been turned away.
These are poor people. And they can't get coverage because they don't meet the rigid eligibility guidelines under federal Medicaid law. We need to relax those guidelines on a temporary, emergency basis to help these survivors in need.
This morning, my staff met with Secretary Cerise of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. Dr. Cerise reports that Louisiana's Medicaid program has enrolled 60,000 new individuals because of Katrina, which would cost the state about $83 million if they were to pay for their care.
Louisiana has just lost about one-seventh of their total expected state revenue this year - they cannot bear these additional costs.
And they are likely to need to make dramatic cuts to their Medicaid program if they don't get help soon. Dr. Cerise reports that Louisiana will have to cut all of its optional services and beneficiaries if they don't get help.
That means ending their hospice programs, pharmacy benefits, institutional care for the mentally retarded, hemodialysis and other needed benefits. And cutting off care for their medically needy and breast and cervical cancer patients, as well as thousands of low-income children.
The Administration says their Medicaid waivers will take care of the job. But the waivers don't allow states to cover even the poorest childless adult survivors.
And states that expand Medicaid eligibility may be left on the hook to pay the bill for some of their new Medicaid costs. The Administration has promised they would make states whole - reimburse them for new costs arising from Katrina.
But Secretary Leavitt himself acknowledged in a letter to Senator Grassley and me that the Administration needs legislation to do this.
Mr. President, we can do better.
The Administration says it would like to "work with Congress to assist states with the added Medicaid burdens they face as a result of Hurricane Katrina." But it is now more than seven weeks since Katrina made landfall, and we have no legislative proposal from the Administration.
If the Administration wants to "work with Congress," its work is long overdue.
Senator Grassley and I did not delay. Our bill would ensure full federal funding and access to health care for poor Katrina survivors. We have been calling on the Senate to pass this bill since the day it was introduced and continue to appeal to those blocking the bill today.
One concern has been that the bill could lead to an expansion of Medicaid and that those survivors added to Medicaid would stay on the rolls. Let me reassure my colleagues that there would be no ongoing right to Medicaid under this bill.
The bill creates a temporary, time-limited, emergency benefit of up to 5 months of coverage.
That's it. Once the period of coverage ends, there would be no mandated ongoing right to coverage.
Another concern is that the bill costs too much. But a pared-down version of the Katrina bill costs just over $6 billion. That's about a tenth of what Congress appropriated for FEMA within about 7 days of the disaster.
Now 7 weeks after the Katrina, Congress has failed to act to meet the health needs of Katrina victims. And the FEMA money had no strings attached and has been given out for nobid contracts.
By contrast, the funds in our bill would be carefully tracked and spent in a well-regulated program that already exists - Medicaid.
Mr. President, our bill is straightforward. If states have survivors who meet the income guidelines, they can enroll them in Medicaid, pure and simple. States can help to survivors without the uncertainty that they will bear the costs of treating Katrina evacuees.
Having this security is especially important for the handful of states who are hosting the greatest numbers of evacuees - states like Texas with 165,000 evacuees, Florida with 32,000 evacuees, Tennessee with 16,000 evacuees, and Arkansas with 11,500 evacuees.
Even states with smaller numbers of evacuees will be helped. South Carolina has 3,500 evacuees, nearly half of which have already enrolled in Medicaid. Oklahoma has 3,700 evacuees, nearly 80 percent have enrolled in Medicaid.
Nevada has only about 1,400 evacuees, but two-thirds have already enrolled in Medicaid. Should these states have to foot the bill for these new costs? Louisiana can't afford to pay for care being given out of state. We must act to help everyone deal with this crisis.
We have spent too long talking about this bill and asking for unanimous consent to get this bill passed. My colleagues Senator Grassley, Senator Landrieu, Senator Lincoln, and Senator Reid have all spoken passionately in support of moving this forward with due speed.
I hope we can get this bill passed and enacted into law without delay. We owe this much to our fellow Americans hurt by Katrina and its aftermath.
Contact: Pat Bousliman and Wendy Carey, 202/224-4515.
LOAD-DATE: October 21, 2005
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Copyright 2005 El Paso Times (El Paso, TX)
All Rights Reserved
El Paso Times (Texas)
October 16, 2005 Sunday
SECTION: OPINION; Pg. 7B
LENGTH: 626 words
HEADLINE: Flawed storm preparedness demands adequate solutions
BYLINE: By Jim Revels
An ancient proverb warns: "Hindsight explains the injury that foresight would have prevented."
Back-to-back hurricanes have a way of spawning flaws in emergency plans and community preparedness, as well as an abundance of hindsight that clearly reveals planning failures at all levels of government in the Gulf Coast region.
Now, we all realize it's too late to plan for a disaster while recovering from a previous disaster. First-response plans for a terrorist attack must now be revisited, because the nation is not ready for another major terrorist attack.
One of the major benefits of a college education is problem-solving skills. The first step in problem solving is identification of the problem. Preparing for a weather-related disaster presents special problems to be identified and solved, unlike a terrorist attack.
Allowing population growth in areas prone to flooding represents the core problem facing Gulf Coast emergency planners. When it becomes clear that populations cannot be protected from flooding, then the solution demands restrictions on building in flood plains.
While common sense offers solutions to many problems, politics and other considerations often complicate disaster planning and problem solving.
Economics is another core issue in preparing for weather-related disasters. Sometimes the best solution is economically impossible. Economic considerations will limit solutions to many of the problems facing Gulf Coast rebuilders. Any solution that is unaffordable is not a viable solution.
One of the most obvious lessons learned from Katrina and Rita is the need for greater use of our armed forces in disaster planning and relief efforts. While I applaud Dubya's recognition of this potential improvement in future disaster responses, some major legal restrictions on using military in domestic problem- solving must be resolved.
The end of the Cold War has allowed military planners to devise creative missions for our armed forces. Future disasters, natural and man-made, will probably require greater military involvement.
Posting an armor division at Fort Bliss in the coming years will offer some special opportunities for future military and civilian emergency planners. An armor division can quickly secure our southern border, in response to any future terrorist threat.
Just as recent weather-related disasters exposed flaws in Gulf Coast emergency planning, the continuing struggle to prepare for the next major terrorist attack demands careful advance planning and problem solving.
"When you're thirsty, it's too late to think about digging a well," says a Japanese proverb. It will be too late to secure our southern border after terrorists exploit the current lack of security.
Katrina and Rita made sure we all understand the consequences of flawed preparedness. What they didn't do was explain our failure to identify obvious border-security problems, where common sense offers reasonable solutions.
Katrina and Rita also exposed the foolishness of the Bush administration's ideology, less government is preferred. Less government often means a weak government.
There is nothing more dangerous to our national security than a weak government. Providing tax breaks for the wealthy, while allowing the security of this country to crumble under the power of hurricanes, is the legacy of failed preparedness and ineffective political leadership.
The most basic function of any national government is providing security and protection for its citizens.
Katrina and Rita proves this government cannot protect its largest port, secure its international borders and wage a senseless war in Iraq. Preparedness problems are easily identified. Solutions are more difficult.
LOAD-DATE: October 18, 2005
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Copyright 2005 The Times-Picayune Publishing Company
Times-Picayune (New Orleans)
October 15, 2005 Sunday
SECTION: METRO - EDITORIAL; Jarvis DeBerry; Pg. 7
LENGTH: 598 words
HEADLINE: Buyout offer could be best deal for many
BYLINE: Jarvis DeBerry
Sentimental attachment aside, a piece of property is worth no more than the amount somebody's willing to pay for it.
When you see a sign screaming "New Reduced Price!!!" staked on a lawn, you can comfortably assume that the price was lowered not because the family was feeling generous, but because nobody offered them anything close to the original asking price.
What happens, though, if the highest offer made is less than the amount the homeowner has already put into the house? The water that burst through our levees during Hurricane Katrina did enough damage to make that fear a reasonable one. What if I have $100,000 equity in my house, but no one will offer me more than a third of that?
Or, what if I just repaired my roof, replaced all my Sheetrock, put down new floors and painted the whole house, but multiple buyers take a look at my blighted neighborhood and offer me less money than I spent on materials?
Missing from the debate over whether every homeowner has the "right to return" and rebuild on the exact same lot is an important question: Is doing so in that homeowner's financial interests?
In some instances the answer might be yes. In others, it might be no. But to hear some members of the New Orleans City Council tell it, any and every policy that discourages homeowners from going back to where they were before the storm is an abomination.
I wouldn't want a local representative who would urge me to turn down an amount equal to the equity I've put in my home and instead stake my future to a piece of land that might be worthless. I'd suspect that that representative was more concerned with keeping voters in her district than with my financial well-being.
I'll take the no-risk, modest-reward option, thank you very much. The high-risk, what-reward? option doesn't interest me.
Clearly, there is a difference between a house and home. One can own a house and not even live in it, or live in it and value it chiefly for its potential to appreciate. Home, on the other hand, is where one feels comfortable and secure, a place where one can be in charge or be taken care of. Home is what so many of us longed for when we were away in Baton Rouge and Houston and Atlanta. Home is what so many of us long for still.
There might be some people who would choose to maintain ownership of and move back to an otherwise undesirable piece of property if they thought doing so would restore to them the happiness and security they had before Katrina. There might, in fact, be many people willing to do that.
However, is it unreasonable to assume that many more people would rather have the money and an opportunity to locate to a less vulnerable spot? I know New Orleanians are fiercely devoted to the neighborhoods of their birth, but I can't fathom a devotion so strong it would encourage a majority of people to forsake all the equity they've accumulated. Even sentimentality has its limits.
Why won't the people stirring up protest against the Bring New Orleans Back commission acknowledge these things? Instead of equating the proposed buyout plans with thievery, why don't they admit that property values in certain parts of town may never rebound and that the only compassionate thing to do is to provide homeowners a way to avoid losing all they've invested?
Why won't they be honest with the people they purport to care about and tell them what their properties are really worth? The offer of equity is likely to be the best deal many folks will get.
. . . . . . .
Jarvis DeBerry is an editorial writer. He can be reached at (504) 826-3355 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LOAD-DATE: January 18, 2006
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Copyright 2005 Tribune Publishing Co.
Lewiston Morning Tribune (Idaho)
October 7, 2005 Friday
SECTION: Pg. 1A
LENGTH: 711 words
HEADLINE: Eyewitness to destruction; Former Lewiston resident documents disaster and triumph in New Orleans
BYLINE: Megan Patrick
NEW ORLEANS -- It was the harrowing images of this drowned city that hit viewers across the nation hardest, bringing Hurricane Katrina's story of destruction and despair to life.
One of Lewiston's own is helping tell that story.
As a photojournalist and public affairs specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Hank Heusinkveld chronicled the destruction of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, often squeezing into places from which most of the media was barred.
Heusinkveld, 44, is a graduate of Lewiston High School, a former intern at KLEW-TV and his parents, D.W. and Mary Heusinkveld, and grandmother Pauline Jacobs live in Lewiston.
Going on his third week in New Orleans, Heusinkveld says the heart of the city is beating strong.
"The booze is flowing down here in the French Quarter," he said. "This is the city that refused to die. The attitude is almost like, 'OK, the city was almost destroyed but it wasn't, so let's have a drink.' "
But evidence of destruction is everywhere, and it's Heusinkveld's job to document the corps' efforts to get the city back on its feet, he said.
The main goal was getting water from Katrina pumped out of the city and securing the levee systems, which took a fraction of the time first expected.
But not a week later when Rita crashed by, water poured over the levees back into the city.
And Heusinkveld just happened to be there when it overtopped.
"That day was just thankless," he said. "The flooding was getting worse by the minute, it was like a river. There were 35- to 40-knot winds, it was pouring rain."
CNN picked up his footage.
Until this week, Heusinkveld and his six-person team lived at the corps' New Orleans District headquarters, Heusinkveld sleeping on a mattress left by a BBC reporter.
They recently moved into a hotel in the French Quarter. Nearby is a sight many in Lewiston might be glad to see.
A twin of the old Frost Top Drive-In that used to be at 18th and Idaho streets is sitting unscathed down the street from Heusinkveld's hotel -- complete with a frosty mug of root beer on top.
But some structures were not so lucky.
The level of water that filled many houses can be seen on their outsides, and inside, mold, "ooze and funk" are ubiquitous, Heusinkveld said.
"Going inside is like entering a crime scene," he said. "The keys to the houses don't work because the doors are saturated with water. The stench is overwhelming. The houses have sat, windows shut tight, pooling with water in 95-degree heat for a month."
And life force or not, Heusinkveld said New Orleans has been reduced to a movie set of its former self.
"It's eerie," he said. "There are just a few lights on in the city, and the most surreal experience I've had was driving down Bourbon Street with two Army captains, looking around and realizing ours was the only vehicle in the street."
The corps is on track to have the city's levee system to pre-Katrina-level security by June 1, said Mitch Frazier, public affairs officer for the corps in New Orleans.
The date is ambitious but doable, he said.
As for the criticism the government received over response efforts, Frazier said it's important to remember the strength of Mother Nature.
"Mother Nature doesn't discriminate and neither do we," he said.
Her force is stunning, Heusinkveld said.
"People are just specks on the planet. I just saw a house sitting on top of a levee," he said. "Mother Nature wins every time. She is the CEO."
But Heusinkveld said he hasn't been affected personally by the horrors he's seen.
"It's not that I can't get attached to the story, I just haven't," he said. "I guess it's a product of looking at the world through a viewfinder."
Heusinkveld works at the Wilmington, N.C., District for the Corps of Engineers. He flies home Sunday.
While the hurricanes have been devastating, Heusinkveld said his work is fascinating and in a way, a dream come true.
Some of his footage will be used for a National Geographic TV documentary, he said.
"Every time it clouds over, everyone's praying, 'Don't rain, don't rain,' " Heusinkveld said.
But if the rains come, he'll be there with a camera, he said.
Patrick may be contacted at email@example.com.
GRAPHIC: No Caption; Moldy clothing, rotting wood and other debris from an Orleans Parish home damaged by flooding during Hurricane Katrina gets picked up for removal. LEFT: Jaap van Wissen (left) and U.S. Marine Corps reservists assemble pipe flown over with a portable water pump from the Netherlands that was used to get water out of a nearby town in Plaquemines Parish, about an hour southeast of New Orleans. The Dutch government sent van Wissen and a four-man team of technicians to Louisiana as a gesture of friendship and concern from a country that has mastered how to make parts of the Netherlands below sea level livable. TOP: Former Lewiston resident blank blak documents the spectacle.
LOAD-DATE: October 7, 2005
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Copyright 2005 States News Service
States News Service
October 4, 2005 Tuesday
LENGTH: 276 words
HEADLINE: REID: MR. PRESIDENT, WE CAN DO BETTER
BYLINE: States News Service
The following information was released by the office of Nevada Senator Harry Reid: Democratic Leader Harry Reid issued the following statement today: The American people are looking at Washington today and demanding leadership and accountability from their leaders. Unfortunately, instead of joining Democrats in moving in a new direction and taking real action on gas prices, national security and Katrina relief, the president today signaled he's content with business as usual. The American people deserve better. Once again, when given an opportunity to lay out for the American people what his strategy for success in Iraq is, with a detailed account of the military and political progress that must be met in order for our troops to come home, the president instead resorted to questionable claims of progress. Simply stating that we have a job to do is not enough to get the job done. The American people and our troops in Iraq deserve better. We also must provide the people of the Gulf Coast with more than empty rhetoric. For more than a month, the White House and the Republican leadership have failed to approve badly-needed legislation to address survivors' needs for health care, housing and financial relief. Instead, the president is pursuing even deeper cuts to the very same programs that will help lift these Americans up and rebuild their lives. Democrats know that we can do better than the wrongheaded pursuits and failed leadership that continues to fall far short of the mark. That's why we'll continue to ask the tough questions about the war in Iraq and demand that Congress act on the American people's priorities.
LOAD-DATE: October 9, 2005
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Copyright 2005 Timothy Benn Publishing Limited
October 1, 2005
LENGTH: 2166 words
HEADLINE: BADEN-BADEN PREVIEW; WHY THIS YEAR'S MEETING IS GOING TO BE HARD WORK.
Hurricane Katrina has brought the renewal season into sharp relief, shifting a lot of weight onto the Baden-Baden October meeting, as conference veteran Eric Alexander explains...
Until late August, this year's renewal season was shaping up to be rather dull and predictable. In fact, it looked set to be largely a wrangle about price, with direct insurers faced with declining insurance rates trying to pass some of that decline on to the reinsurance market.
This was particularly so since over the past year, there has been a growing disparity between reductions in the insurance market and those in the reinsurance market where the reinsurance market's discipline has been proving rather more robust.
However, the arrival of hurricane Katrina resolved that particular tension in a matter of hours, although its aftermath and counting the cost will take a great deal longer. It is not clear just how much will be known by the time of this month's reinsurance meeting in Baden-Baden, but undoubtedly the impact of this loss will be crucial to the renewal process.
As usual, around 2 000 insurers, reinsurers and brokers will descend on the town for a series of individual meetings in the next round of discussions to determine the shape, conditions and price of next year's reinsurance coverage.
Top of the list for discussion will inevitably be the latest estimates of this catastrophe and just how much it is likely to impact individual reinsurance programmes. Initial estimates put out in the week after Katrina were quickly proved to be too optimistic.
Speaking just before the Monte Carlo Rendez-Vous, Charlie Cantlay, deputy chairman of Aon Re UK and chairman of Aon's Production and Marketing Board, said, "Given the time that has elapsed since the loss, it is clear that the early estimates of the modelling agencies may fall well short of final-loss estimates, perhaps not surprisingly given that they are essentially wind-based models, and that the estimates did not include flood output and certainly didn't include BI (business interruption) and CBI (contingent business interruption) estimates." (See p14 for the latest estimates.)
With 91% of daily Gulf of Mexico oil production and 83% of gas production shut down immediately following the hurricane, this event clearly brings major potential for large business-interruption losses. Mr Cantlay said that Aon's current best estimate of where the energy loss may end up is about twice the size of Hurricane Ivan, which would certainly make it the largest marine energy loss ever at around $5bn: "The potential business interruption coming out of this is really very substantial. When you consider that this hurricane has hit 200 miles of coastline and gone inland 200 miles, it really bears no comparison with previous hurricanes, even those that took a somewhat similar track.
"Our feeling is that the overall global loss is going to be a minimum of $40bn, and that will then make it the biggest insured loss ever. So if that magnitude is anywhere near correct, we are looking at an industry-changing event that will have a dramatic effect on the marketplace."
The effects outlined
Mr Cantlay suggested that there would be two major effects. Firstly, whereas previously many people were looking to renew their programmes early, he thought the process would now be delayed instead, with a lot of last-minute activity around the year-end. Secondly, if the higher insured-loss estimates should prove at all correct, then this loss will change the industry and the rating across all lines of business, including those not involved in the loss.
"Partly that is because risk carriers are going to need to replace their capital, and partly because even an uncorrelated line of business unaffected by the loss will still be competing for capital at rates that, unless they do something about them, will be unattractive against that capital being deployed in other areas where the rates are going to go up substantially," Mr Cantlay explained.
At this stage it is rather difficult to work out what the precise rating effect may be, other than that substantial rises are likely to be called for. There may also be some changes in conditions. But in the meantime, people will be urgently taking a long and hard look at their technical rating models and return curves.
Without it being too much like stating the obvious there have been more than one 'one-in-50-year losses' in the last 12 months. Therefore, the technical rating assumptions in a number of models on frequency of loss of this magnitude have been completely undermined. So it could be very interesting to see how the modelling agencies are reacting to the new situation.
Another major impact will centre on questions of security. Mr. Cantlay commented "the health of the reinsurance industry at the time of Katrina is fundamentally different to the conditions that applied at the time of 9/11, given three years of sustained profit. However, while robust and without stating the obvious, a loss of this magnitude will engender considerable stresses and strains.
If the higher end of the current loss estimates prove to be true, it is difficult to believe that security downgrades for some reinsurers will not follow, and as a worst-case scenario, possibly some insolvencies.
Clearly the issue of security for this renewal season will become a paramount concern for our clients."
Uppermost in buyers' minds was the question of reinsurance security first, with price a secondary issue. However, Mr Cantlay said, "In the last renewal season and leading up to this renewal season, had Katrina not happened, we would have seen the focus of our clients change to the cost of their cover. Although quality of security is and always will be crtically important to the buyer, all our pre-Katrina meetings with clients focused on their need for a reduction in reinsurance cost, given a growing disparity between reinsurers' pricing discipline and the reductions being granted in the direct market.
"Our view now is that post-Katrina, the issue of security will again become paramount, just as after 9/11, Clients accepting that they will be faced with significant price and structural changes. The challenge will be three-fold: firstly, price and structure that can rebuild the reinsurance market capitalisation and profit; secondly, still delivers real value to the buyer; thirdly, on all lines of business, a product that capital feels able to support a return on equity, commensurate to the risk assumed."
"That is not to say that clients are not going to look very carefully at what they get charged, but I think that with a loss of this magnitude, making certain you buy from top-class security is going to re-focus the mind. If you find you cannot buy what you want with good enough security, you either have to start thinking about a bigger retention, or weigh up the credit risk against the economics of buying whatever is presented to you by a lesser-value carrier."
Whatever happens, Baden-Baden will reinforce its reputation for being pivotal to the renewal process. Although the talks are unlikely to be as conclusive as in some other years, it will herald the mid-point in what looks like being a long, hard renewal season.
ORIGINS OF THE BADEN-BADEN REINSURANCE MEETING
To those who do not know its origins, the Baden-Baden reinsurance week can be a bit confusing. Some people mistakenly call it a conference, but there are no conference sessions, no programme and no central organisation as such. Indeed, that is the very essence of Baden-Baden. It is essentially a self-organised series of individual meetings to discuss reinsurance business relationships with an accent on renewal for the coming year.
The origins of the reinsurance meeting in Baden-Baden help to explain some of those idiosyncrasies that still exist today, stemming from the days when reinsurers first started to gather on the fringes of the annual conference of the German Marine Insurance Association, Deutsche Transport Versicherungs (DTV).
The last full week in October was traditionally the chosen date for the DTV to hold its conference at the Kongres Haus in Baden-Baden. There was a full programme of meetings lasting four days, with a number of presentations of interest to marine insurers in the German market, the most important of which was the presentation of market statistics. The discerning German marine insurers, like European royalty before them, recognised the attractions of Baden-Baden not only as a pleasant spa town but also one with suitable facilities to host a conference, especially when they could enjoy the colours of autumn.
The German marine insurers were originally flattered when reinsurers identified their conference as a suitable meeting to infiltrate and talk about reinsurance matters. Besides, the presence of the reinsurers also added to the social activities during lunch times and evenings. In the early days it was a fairly select band of reinsurers who attended, mainly from the German, French, London and Scandinavian markets. As an 'outsider' it was possible to have your name included on the DTV conference list by going to the Kongres Haus on the Monday morning and presenting a business card.
Over time, the number of reinsurers increased to such an extent that the DTV expressed concern about them overwhelming its conference, eventually leading to calls for the reinsurers to stay away. However, this plea was ignored by reinsurers, and ultimately the DTV, recognising that its October timing was the strategic magnet, decided to move its conference to June.
The last DTV October conference was held in 1979.
Reinsurers were determined to continue meeting in Baden-Baden in October, and realised that in fact they had no need for any central organisation.
Those present in 1979 agreed they would perpetuate the reinsurance meeting and encourage others to come too. To help things along, the German insurer Colonia volunteered to produce a list of those attending, and Hinrich Gaede of Hamburger Phonix said his company would continue to host its cocktail party on the Wednesday evening.
Rather importantly, the list produced by Colonia registered only those attendees from insurance and reinsurance companies, reflecting the system of the old DTV list. As more brokers, consultants and others started attending, another list recording their names was started in an industry publication.
Eventually the two lists were consolidated into one and that is now published with sponsorship from industry sources.
Over the years, there have been some changes reflecting the evolution of the industry, and doubtless there will be more to come. The fact that the Baden-Baden reinsurance meeting continues with such strength of numbers is a sure indication that it fulfils a worthwhile function in the business calendar.
ERIC'S GUIDE TO THE HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS IN AND AROUND BADEN-BADEN
If you are thinking of going to Baden-Baden and do not have a hotel reservation yet, you had better forget it or else think about doing a day trip with Ryanair from Stansted! Most participants book rooms in the main hotels as they leave the previous year and keep returning to the same room every year.
The hotels to choose if you want to be in the heart of the action are those where traditionally most of the meetings take place. However, the public areas are very crowded, especially on Tuesday and Wednesday, the most popular days. These are: Brenner's Park, Europaischer Hof, Badischer Hof and Atlantic.
With increasing numbers attending, many other hotels are now being used, including some in the villages in the hills surrounding Baden-Baden. Within the town, other popular hotels are: zum Hirsch, Dorint Maison Messmer, Der Kleine Prinz, Quisisiana, Queens, Holland, Quellenhof and Belle Epoque; hotels outside Baden-Baden include: Fairway am Golfplatz, Bocksbeutel at Umweg, Rebenhof at Neuweier, Heiligenstein at Neuweier, Buhlerhohe at Buhl, Plattig at Buhl
There are any number of restaurants and cafes in and around Baden-Baden.
Here is a small selection of my favourites: for a light lunch in town, all within a few minutes of the main hotels: Cafe Konig, Cafe Hoffman, le Bistro, Wallstreet im Hamilton; or, if you have time, in the surrounding hills, with panoramic views over the Rhine valley: Roderswald or Rebenhof; for dinner: Palais Gagarin, Wallstreet im Hamilton, Brasserie Hirsch, or any of the main hotels; or in the surrounding hills: Rebenhof, Heiligenstein or Bocksbeutel.
You cannot leave Baden-Baden without visiting Leo's bar at least once, which has become the 'in' place in recent years. Whether you go during the day, evening or late at night after having dinner somewhere else, you will always find someone you know here and probably be encouraged to stay drinking far beyond your intended bed time.
LOAD-DATE: September 29, 2005