Remembering Katrina

As I regularly monitor the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico for tropical trouble, thanks to the National Hurricane Center, I came across a few interesting and heartbreaking pieces on Hurricane Katrina and the long shadow it still casts on all of America five years later.

The big what-if: The San Antonio Current republished a New Orleans Gambit interview with Spike Lee about “If God Is Willing And Da Creek Don’t Rise,” his HBO documentary sequel to “When The Levees Broke.” Both multi-part films explore the history of New Orleans and the natural and political devastation its inhabitants endured in the days, months and years after Hurricane Katrina. “If God Is Willing” premiered this week on HBO.

‘We Knew the Story Was Not Done’: Newsweek also interviews Lee about the documentary. At one point, the filmmaker is asked if he thinks New Orleans residents will ever feel comfortable in their city again. Lee responds, “Still today, people are dealing with posttraumatic stress, especially kids, and this was five years ago. First of all, you can never feel 100 percent secure, because New Orleans is under sea level, and it’s in the direct path of storms during hurricane season. So it’s just a risk living there.”

Uneven Katrina recovery efforts often offered the most help to the most affluent: From the Washington Post: “In New Orleans, the massive government effort to repair the damage from Hurricane Katrina is fostering a stark divide as the state governments in Louisiana and Mississippi structured the rebuilding programs in ways that often offered the most help to the most affluent residents. The result, advocates say, has been an uneven recovery, with whites and middle-class people more likely than blacks and low-income people to have rebuilt their lives in the five years since the horrific storm.”

New Orleans’ Lower Ninth: Katrina’s Forgotten Victim? From Time: “Only a fifth of the Lower Ninth’s 20,000 residents have returned to live since 2005, in no small part because of inadequate reconstruction funding compared to aid that homeowners in other New Orleans neighborhoods have received, and because of the slow pace of long-promised infrastructure and other community development projects.”

From the New York Times: Maligned FEMA Chief Visits New Orleans and Rumor to Fact in Tales of Post-Katrina Violence

And finally: Check out “Law and Disorder,” the latest Frontline TV documentary, which was produced in a partnership with ProPublica.org and the Times-Picayune, which each have their own excellent investigation packages devoted to the post-Katrina chaos. And then take a look at “The Storm,” Frontline’s first riveting look at Katrina and New Orleans.

(Photo from the Associated Press and the NOAA.)

Computer attacks and giving the mind a break

Some science items that recently caught my eye …

Military Computer Attack Confirmed: The New York Times reports, “A top Pentagon official has confirmed a previously classified incident that he describes as ‘the most significant breach of U.S. military computers ever,’ a 2008 episode in which a foreign intelligence agent used a flash drive to infect computers, including those used by the Central Command in overseeing combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Defending a New Domain: In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III claims that “the Pentagon has built layered and robust defenses around military networks and inaugurated the new U.S. Cyber Command to integrate cyberdefense operations across the military.”

Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime: The New York Times reports, “Even though people feel entertained, even relaxed, when they multitask while exercising, or pass a moment at the bus stop by catching a quick video clip, they might be taxing their brains, scientists say.”

Rescue, stimulus and the C.I.A.

Some news items that caught my eye …

Trapped Chilean miners face long shifts to keep their refuge clear of debris: The Guardian reports Thursday that the “33 miners trapped 700 metres underground in a collapsed mine are expected to work in 12-hour shifts to help dig themselves out because they will be faced with a constant hail of falling rocks that is expected to last for months.”

This rescue operation fascinates me. Here’s a sidebar story about the Chilean government asking NASA for advice on how to keep the men healthy and sane in their confined space. Earlier on Thursday, the Guardian reported that the the miners were told that their rescue could take months.

How the Stimulus Is Changing America: Time’s Michael Grunwald concludes, “Obama has spent most of his first term trying to clean up messes — in the Gulf of Mexico, Iraq and Afghanistan, on Wall Street and Main Street — but the details in the stimulus plan are his real down payment on change. The question is which changes will last.”

Key Karzai Aide in Corruption Inquiry Is Linked to C.I.A.: What?!? I’m am utterly shocked. Dexter Filkins and Mark Mazzetti write, “It is unclear exactly what (Mohammed Zia Salehi, the chief of administration for the National Security Council,) does in exchange for his money, whether providing information to the spy agency, advancing American views inside the presidential palace, or both.” Oh, I’m sure he does a lot more than that.

Two interesting Gallup polls: Iraqis More Approving of Own Leadership Than of U.S. and Americans Oppose Renewing U.S. Combat Operations in Iraq

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