Morning News: European Perspective and an Update on the Plaquemines Parish Ecological Disaster

(all under the fold)
Plaquemines Parish is being flooded by its own levees and is facing a major oil spill.
The state Department of Environmental Quality is investigating the spill near Venice.  DEQ officials believe up to 2 million gallons of oil escaped from the storage facility, said DEQ spokesman Darrin Mann on Friday.

From our deutsches corresponsdent Joerg, a Reuters report from BERLIN:

The head of the West's energy watchdog said in an interview on Saturday that Hurricane Katrina could spark a worldwide energy crisis if damage to U.S. refineries led to a big increase in U.S. purchases of European petrol.  

"If the crisis affects oil products then it's a worldwide crisis. No one should think this will be limited to the United States," Claude Mandil, head of the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) told German daily Die Welt.

"They are already buying gasoline in Europe. If the refineries are damaged, that will only increase. Then this will become a worldwide crisis very quickly."

Mandil told the paper that high oil prices represented a risk for global economic growth and urged consumers to alter their behaviour to save more energy and limit the fallout.

Poor countries were bound to suffer most from a recent surge in energy prices, which has been aggravated by Katrina and the shortages it has caused, he said.

On Friday, the IEA launched a rescue plan to ease those shortages, saying its 26 members would release two million barrels per day of oil over a 30-day period.

U.S. gasoline prices have spiked by nearly a fifth over the past week, pushing up fuel prices around the world.

Original interview here (from Die Welt, a conservative newspaper and publisher):

Another from Joerg who pointed us to an interview yesterday with the Tagesschau (the main (evening) news in Germany) reporter Christine Adelhardt talking about Bush in Biloxi. (Realplayer feed:,1315,OID4700936,00.html).  Joerg says:

It is quite revealing was the comment by the reporter that before Bush came, there was an influx of rescue workers into a largely destroyed and deserted area who did some clean-up work, then the President came, and afterwards everybody left. The reporter was pretty upset about it: "Das Ausmass der Naturkatastrophe hat mich geschockt. Aber das Ausmass der Inszenierung hier heute schockt mich mindestens genauso"= "The scale of this natural disaster has shocked me. But the scale of the staging here today has shocked me as much." Seems like the classical photo-op.

There also was a more explicit audio by the same reporter on the Tagesschau site yesterday evening in which she also said that vacant buildings were searched for corpses before the president came but others where there were really corpses where left unsearched though they knew about it. Maybe they pulled that of the server because it displayed a to damaging image of a foreign statesman.

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Laura Rozen

Dutch viewer Frank Tiggelaar writes:

    There was a striking dicrepancy between the CNN International report on the Bush visit to the New Orleans disaster zone, yesterday, and reports of the same event by German TV.

    ZDF News reported that the president's visit was a completely staged event. Their crew witnessed how the open air food distribution point Bush visited in front of the cameras was torn down immediately after the president and the herd of 'news people' had left and that others which were allegedly being set up were abandoned at the same time.

    The people in the area were once again left to fend for themselves, said ZDF.

What this nation needs is a way to convert PR into energy.

Sad to say, the PR photo ops yesterday really do look just like that. You can bet that political handlers, not to mention the Secret Service, are going to make sure that only those appropriately deferential to the president are going to be allowed near him for such events.

Whether or not they abandoned the people immediately afterwards... I have a hard time believing that but given the disaster the response effort was from the start, its hard to entirely discount such a callous and opportunistic event as a possibility.

I would say that this is un-fricken believable.  But, that would be a lie.  Watching CNN this morning, reporters on the ground had the same mantra, HELP HAS ARRIVED!  YIPEE!  There was even a scene where while the reporter talked, a crew with a body on a stretcher walked by and several other aid workers (in blue uniforms) were strolling by as well (all in different directions, all casually strolling, and no one seemed to have a sense of purposeful action about them. _ I thought for a minute that it was being filmed at a hollywood production facility.

Then they interviewed Elaine Chow (Labor Secretary) who said that they set up a call-in number for people who need unemployment benefits.  And if people couldn't get to a phone, why they can go to the Labor Dept web site and apply for help there...

The reporter didn't ask one question about this bit of absurdity, "Like, Um Mrs. Chow, with all due respect, are you really able to hand calls from 100,000's of applicants?"  Or, "Mrs. Chow, with your thumb so deep up your ass right now, how can you sit in that chair so comfortably?"

In general, it is clear from the coverage this morning that there still is not chain of command and no effective and COORDINATED disaster management underway.  Leadership crisis continues.

At some point we are going to have to ask ourselves, "Do we now live in a failed state?"

After reading other commentary and witness reports, it seems like a memo was circulated through BushCo that read something like this: In order to maximize cost efficiencies in relocating, feeding and housing disaster victims, it is important for as many people as possible to die as a result of the disaster and for those deaths to be blamed on the disaster, not on the leadership or planning of those responsible for responding.

Bush and his crew like to harrumph, puff out their chests and trumpet they are pro-life. Their behavior would seem to confirm they are pro-death instead.

I watched that German video several times, because my German is mostly limited to choral (musical) work. I don't get but more than a little bit of it, but the little bit of transcribed text helps, and, God, it makes a person want to retch.
I wish I understood German so I could read the link for myself. I passed this story on to several media outlets in the hope that one of them will pick up the story. Any president would have himself photographed at NOLA to pick up morale -- that's normal politics. But to actually fabricate a rescue effort that did not exist while suppressing casualty news is off the scale. Standard photo ops mislead the viewer or misuse the participants, but do not actually lie. Apparently this one did.