Man, Steanso hasn't had much time to blink or think today, let alone blog. I've been trying to take care of court cases, wrap up my current caseload, and begin to get ready to begin my new job in the County Attorney's Office. In addition, Steanso is still feeling kind of allergy-ish in this post ACL week. Maybe it's got nothing to do with all of that dust, or maybe it does, but either way, Steanso is a little stuffy, runny, and scratchy.
And how about this?
Penguins in the Falkland Islands are making use of areas infested with landmines, remnants of the 1982 Falkland Island War between British and Argentinian forces. Apparently the penguins are not heavy enough to set off the landmines (there's some motivation for staying trim), and humans have been avoiding the dangerous zones for decades because of the lethal devices.
Pretty cool. Penguins take advantage of human stupidity to reclaim their breeding grounds. You go, penguins!
Apparently some Japanese researchers have finally managed to film some living giant squids on film. This may not mean a lot to most of Steanso's readers, but Steanso is kind of a sucker for wildlife documentaries, and he's been watching and reading about scientitsts trying to film these things for years. The giant squids really are pretty giant (apparently growing up to 60 feet in length), and up until now, no one has ever seen one alive. Instead, every couple of years they would drag one or two of these giant monsters out of fishing nets, but they were always dead by the time anyone got a chance to inspect them. It was almost like the Loch Ness Monster, because you knew these giant animals were out there, but you never saw one in the wild. The these Japanese dudes drop a camera a few thousand feet down with some bait and and... yar!!! Giant squid!!! So cool.
Can't wait to see the video. Or photos. Or whatever they got.
And of course, this
Michael Brown, former director of FEMA, appeared before a House panel and placed much of the blame for the problems with the Hurricane Katrina disaster response at the feet of Louisiana's elected officials. Specifically, he blamed Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin as being ineffectual in dealing with the crisis.
I may be wrong, but here's the way I see it. As director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brown's entire career was supposed to be about anticipating disasters and efficiently implementing plans to deal with those disasters when they occurred. The jobs of the mayor and the governor, on the other hand, were primarily to oversee the day to day operations of their respective consitutuencies. sure, the mayor and the governor need to be able to respond, make decisions, and lend leadership in a time of crisis, but this is one, relatively small component of their larger mission in their designated roles. Dealing with disaster was Michael Brown's only role. The governor and the mayor, although powerful people in their own right, were in effect victims of the hurricane along with their constituents. They tried to lend moral support and leadership, but their entire support system was devastated. Cops, firefighters, and health care officials in their state were all themselves victims of Katrina. Help was needed from the outside, and it didn't come.
Brown also charges that the state responses in Mississippi and Alabama (both states with Republican leadership as opposed the Democrat leadership in Louisiana, incidentally) were far superior to the response in Louisiana. My initial response is that Mississippi and Alabama, while ravaged by Katrina, had faced the worst of their disasters by the time that the hurricane passed through their borders. After the destruction of the storm, there was nothing to do but pick up and rebuild. The horrors in New Orleans, however, just kept on going as the floodwaters rose and desperation in the city grew.
Some might counter by saying that New Orleans was a fluke and that Brown couldn't have anticipated the flooding that followed the hurricane. Anyone who has looked at the studies, read the newspaper reports, and even seen the documentaries knows, however, that the predictions of the New Orleans disaster were plentiful and loud- that people had been warning of the flooding dangers to New Orleans for years without getting much of a response.
Even more disconcerting, Brown was the director of the agency responsible for responding to disasters in the case of terrorist attacks. If chemical or biological agents were ever released in a major metropolitan area, we need FEMA to be capable of more than coming in to clean up the mess after the disaster occurs. We need an agency which can be there to help people as the potential tradgedy is unfolding.
Anyway, Brown's excuses were lame, but he was a Bush appointee who held a position he probably didn't belong in, in an agency which is probably chock full of people who received plum government jobs as rewards for political favors, but who don't actually have that much skill or experience in dealing with large scale catastrophe. In the end, once again, I mostly blame the White House for turning FEMA into such a bloated, ridiculous organization. This administration promises us safety and security, but they deliver incompetence and defensive excuses? What's new?