Archive for Hurricane Katrina

Danziger Bridge Is Falling Down And Taking New Orleans With It

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Danziger bridge

What is the Danziger Bridge trial? It's a momentous case of police misconduct right after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

NEW ORLEANS TIMES-PICAYUNE:

Seventeen-year-old James Brissette was killed, and four others -- Jose Holmes, 19; his aunt, Susan Bartholomew, his uncle, Leonard Bartholomew III, and a teenage cousin, Lesha Bartholomew - were wounded. Two brothers, Lance and Ronald Madison, were walking on the bridge, and when they heard the gunfire began to run. The officers chased the brothers down, and injured Ronald, who was later fatally shot in the back as he tried to run away. Lance Madison was arrested and accused of firing at police.

The accusations against Lance Madison were later deemed to be part of a police cover up and dropped.

Seven officers were first indicted in state court in 2008, but federal authorities took the case over after a state judge dropped those initial charges.

In 2010, some of the officers took plea deals, and revealed details of a widespread cover-up that included fabricated witnesses, a planted gun and falsified reports.

So NOPD, with a long history of police corruption, admitted to their misdeeds. Even in the Crescent City, sometimes justice prevails.

Screech. Halt. Stop right there.

Justice may not have prevailed after all, despite sworn confessions of wrong-doing.

Despite witnesses and substantial evidence, plus the police confessions, THE BEAST reports Wednesday:

In a 129-page order, Judge Kurt Engelhardt granted a new trial for the former officers due to what he called “grotesque” misconduct by prosecutors. Englehardt charged prosecutors had created a “prejudicial, poisonous atmosphere” in the trial by posting anonymous comments on nola.com.

Prosecutorial misconduct now jeopardizes the efforts of the survivors of the families inflicted with their losses to get on with their lives. Justice needs to be served, and fairness must always be afforded the innocent, until proven guilty. But of all the states -- Louisiana which uses French law as it's basis -- among other legal anomalies means you're guilty unless proven innocent.

THE SLATE:

The legal system in Louisiana—unlike that of any other state—derives from the Civil Code established by the French emperor Napoleon in 1804.

From THE UPTOWN MESSENGER (a Louisiana regional magazine)

 ...in State v. Wischer, 2004-0325 (La. App. 4 Cir. 9/22/04), 885 So.2d 602, another panel of the Fourth Circuit found the opposite, holding that the burden of proof was on the defendant to prove self-defense by a preponderance of the evidence.

The Wischer standard means that any criminal defendant claiming self-defense is effectively guilty until proven innocent, and that the determining issue is decided according to the narrowest of standards – the jury can only feel that the defendant’s guilt has been proven to 51% certainty, and it is still supposed to render a guilty verdict.

So, once again the court will hear a case that on the surface seemed to have been deemed adjudicated and closed.  How much nicer it would have been if new evidence was the cause of this retrial, and not poor judgement on the prosecution's side. It'll be interesting to see if the outcome of the second trial is any different from the first.

Here's some video from the Time Picayune which summarizes the most recent turn of events. Does this sound like reason to grant a new trial, or a reason to strictly try the prosecutors for misconduct? Does make you wonder, especially if you were one of the victims or their family.

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VIDEO: "If you value your life, please seek shelter from Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry leaves trail of death, Rubio sucks"

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marco rubio sucks

Adam Mordecai  posted some brilliant video snarkitude at Upworthy that caught my eye:

There are members of Congress who don't understand or accept basic science concepts. This hilarious video is dedicated to them.

Dedicated to the ignorant, stubborn, backward, self-serving Republicans who lack foresight and continue to cater to Big Oil, Mother Earth and her inhabitants be damned.

This one is a must-watch:

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Doonesbury, Melissa Harris-Perry skewer GW Bush: Library Decision Points "Option 2- Continue reading the goat book."

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bush library fema trailer

doonesbury bush library 3

Garry Trudeau continues his wickedly satirical story arc about the George W. Bush “lie-bury." Previously, he skewered W and his House O' Coloring Books and Propaganda in these posts: Doonesbury, Rachel Maddow and the Bush Lie-Bury: “You’re a top decisioner!” “Way to go, wusses!” and Doonesbury– Bush Lie-Bury “Decision Points” Option 2: “Fly over flooded city and look out window with concern.”

Melissa Harris-Perry didn’t hold back either, both in this terrific Maddow Show video, and now in a segment from her own show:

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Melissa nailed it:

Dear President George W. Bush,

It’s me, Melissa.

Congratulations on the opening of your library. Now maybe you’ll go inside one. [...]

[A]s a resident of post-Katrina New Orleans, the one decision point that really has me fired up is how your library represents the choices you faced in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. [...]

Looting was the big problem?

As much as 80% of the city was flooded. Nearly a thousand Louisiana residents died, many in their own homes, drowned by storm surges that breached inadequate federal levees. Many thousands more were trapped in the Superdome and Convention Center for days without food, medicine, water, electricity, or working bathrooms.

And you were trying to figure out whether or not to quell an insurrection? These people were Americans, Mr. President. [...]

I am glad that you are slowing down, catching your breath and finding a way to live life to the fullest. In the meantime, tens of thousands of New Orleanians are still trying to find a way home, still displaced by the policies of your administration, still reeling from the failures of your decisions.

But hey, “Heckuva job, Dubya.”

Sincerely,

Melissa

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Doonesbury-- Bush Lie-Bury “Decision Points" Option 2: "Fly over flooded city and look out window with concern."

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bush lie burydoonesbury bush library 2

If you missed Doonesbury, Rachel Maddow and the Bush Lie-Bury: “You’re a top decisioner!” “Way to go, wusses!" then please link over, because Rachel Maddow was nearly as snarky as Trudeau was in his strip.

As the inimitable Garry Trudeau continues his wickedly satirical story arc about the George W. Bush "lie-bury", Melissa Harris-Perry didn't hold back either. She hosted The Rachel Maddow Show last night, and full-on skewered W in this segment:

bush library katrina interactive

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Melissa:

What is the Decision Point that the Bush library asks you to confront when it comes to Hurricane Katrina? A disaster in which nearly 2,000 Americans died, many in their own homes. What's the Decision Point that's laid before you at the Bush library?

"Officials in New Orleans are overwhelmed. The president can send in troops, but those troops would serve in supporting roles and state efforts and would not have law enforcement powers unless the president invokes what's called the Insurrection Act. President Bush had to make a choice: One, rely on the National Guard and local police. Two, send in federal troops in a supporting role with no law enforcement authority.
Three, invoke the Insurrection Act and send in troops to restore order."

Excuse me, restoring order was the problem when it it came to Hurricane Katrina, seriously? The main dilemma faced by President Bush when it came to the government's response to Hurricane Katrina was quelling disorder?

The Bush library takes you through this whole scenario about how to deal with the problem of looters and how to restore law and order in New Orleans. That is the Decision Point. No mention at all of, you know, search and rescue.

Eight years later, the people of New Orleans, who were basically left to starve and dehydrate and die in our city, mostly elderly people and children, eight years later, these people are memorialized at the Bush library as public enemies, not as citizens who were in need of relief....

So it should be noted that the level of urgency that's on display inside Decision Point Theater was not so much on display when it came to the decider himself.

This was President Bush, the morning that Katrina made landfall, sharing a cake with John McCain in Arizona! This was after his administration had already been informed that levees in New Orleans had been breached. This was President Bush on Day Two of the disaster, yukking it up with the country music star in Southern California.

That night as the situation was growing worse and worse in New Orleans, George W. Bush decided to return to his ranch in Crawford, Texas to finish up his vacation.

When he finally headed back to D.C. the next day, President Bush got an aerial view of the damage in Louisiana and Mississippi.

But by Friday, five days into that disaster, his aides at the White House were putting together DVDs of news coverage to convince President Bush how bad things were in New Orleans. During those five days,

President Bush was not "on the edge of his seat" as the Bush library would like you to believe. He was basically checked out. That's the real history.

The truth is, the American people have already decided how they felt about President Bush's leadership during Katrina, and while his approval ratings before Katrina weren't that impressive, they never recovered afterwards.

15 months after the failed response, Democrats took control of the House. They took control of the Senate. and they took a majority of gubernatorial seats across the country. The public has already decided.

But, hey, if you're in Dallas this weekend, you've got some time, go see how President Bush "saved" a city from disaster, and "restored a sense of calm" in all of the disorder.

bush blew it katrina headline

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