Monday, August 20, 2007

As the Dutch Do

(Photo below is Katrina damage)

A few days ago, The New York Times had a front-page story that began:

Six inches.

After two years and more than a billion dollars spent by the Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild New Orleans's hurricane protection system, that is how much the water level is likely to be reduced if a big 1-in-100 flood hits Leah Pratcher's Gentilly neighborhood.

Looking over the maps that showed other possible water levels around the city, Ms. Pratcher grew increasingly furious. Her house got four feet of water after Hurricane Katrina, and still stands to get almost as much from a 1-in-100 flood.

By comparison, the wealthier neighborhood to the west, Lakeview, had its flooding risk reduced by nearly five and a half feet....

New Orleans was swamped by Hurricane Katrina; now it is awash in data, studied obsessively in homes all over town. And the simple message conveyed by that data is that while parts of the city are substantially safer, others have changed little. New Orleans remains a very risky place to live.

The entire flood system still provides much less protection than New Orleans needs, and the pre-Katrina patchwork of levees, floodwalls and gates that a Corps of Engineers investigation called "a system in name only" is still just that....

"We have spent a lot of money and gotten some very good patches, but we're putting them on this decayed old quilt," said Robert G. Bea, a professor of engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, who is an author of an independent report on the levee failures. "We're still with this damned patchwork quilt."

As a result, the city still lacks a system that can stand up to that 1-in-100 storm, let alone one like Hurricane Katrina, which the corps calls a 1-in-396 storm. The work that could build the more robust system--originally estimated at $7 billion, and now at least twice that--will not be completed until 2011 at the earliest, and experts agree that even that level of protection will be less than the city needs.

I've been driving about Holland this past week, and if you go anywhere near its border with the ocean, you cannot escape an obvious conclusion: the Dutch are damn serious about flood control, and the United States (in the case of New Orleans) is not. Remember the photos of the dikes that failed in New Orleans. That handiwork of the Army Corps of Engineers looked like a mess of a plywood and rusty steel plates stitched together by amateurs: not very effective and certainly not very aesthetic.

In the Netherlands, here's what flood protection looks like:

It's a substantial sea wall that is 15 to 20 feet high that runs for scores of miles--and it's easy on the eyes. No doubt, this costs much money, and the Dutch dikes have had some problems (and they're probably not strong or tall enough to deal with rising sea levels caused by global warming). But most of Holland has an interest in keeping dry and in preparing for a 1-in-1000 flood. So it's worth it.

Sheep and rainbows are extra.

Posted by David Corn at August 20, 2007 05:24 PM


Hajji said...


Until the poor rise up en masse, until "We, the People" DEMAND to be heard above the din of corporate greed, until we PRESECUTE and PUNISH the serial rapists in Government preying on the masses, we cannot EVER move forward.





Hajji said...

uhm, erhm.."PROSECUTE", than is...

Gerald said...

The Dutch have learned what not to do through Nazi America's rotten existence.

Have you noticed that Nazi America is stepping backward and not forward? The United States of Evil is the land for selfishness and hypocrisy.

If you will look closely, you will see the dry rot starting to overflow upon the entire evil empire.

David B. Benson said...

hajji --- If we presecute them, then they aren't alive to pass bad laws...


capt said...

The state has, in order to control us, introduced division into our thinking, so that we come to distrust others and look to the state for protection! But the roots of our individualism remind us that what we are is inseparable from the source from which all others derive; that coercive practices that threaten our neighbor also threaten us.: -Butler Shaffer

I am done with great things and big things, great institutions and big success, and I am for those tiny invisible molecular moral forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, yet which if you give them time, will rend the hardest monuments of man's pride: William James

"My father was a slave and my people died to build this country, and I'm going to stay right here and have a part of it, just like you. And no fascist-minded people like you will drive me from it. Is that clear?" : Paul Robeson (1898-1976) - from testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee, June 12, 1956


Thanks ICH Newsletter!

capt said...

Pledge for Peace

capt said...

The Iraq war as we see it

BAGHDAD: Viewed from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is surreal.

Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched.

As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the "battle space" remains the same, with changes only at the margins.

It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at U.S. taxpayers' expense.

A few nights ago, for example, we witnessed the death of one American soldier and the critical wounding of two others when a lethal armor-piercing explosive was detonated between an Iraqi Army checkpoint and a police one. Local Iraqis readily testified to American investigators that Iraqi police and army officers escorted the triggermen and helped plant the bomb. These civilians highlighted their own predicament: Had they informed the Americans of the bomb before the incident, the Iraqi Army, the police or the local Shiite militia would have killed their families.

As many grunts will tell you, this is a near-routine event. Reports that a majority of Iraqi army commanders are now reliable partners can be considered only misleading rhetoric. The truth is that battalion commanders, even if well meaning, have little to no influence over the thousands of obstinate men under them, in an incoherent chain of command, who are really loyal only to their militias.


capt said...

GOP Powergrab Scheme in California Could Swing 2008 Election If It's Not Stopped

Just when you thought it was safe to start thinking about having a Democrat in the White House, along comes a cynical power grab by Republican operatives. And unfortunately, it's happening right here in my own state of California.

If you haven't heard already, Republican strategists recently announced plans to begin raising money for a dangerous initiative that would radically change the way California apportions our electoral votes in presidential elections.

Rather than awarding all of California's electoral votes to the candidate that wins the popular vote -- the way it works in every single state except the small states of Maine and Nebraska -- their scheme would divvy up California's electoral votes based on the number of congressional districts each candidate wins.

What does this mean? Well, if the last few elections are any guide, rather than the Democratic nominee winning all 55 of California's electoral votes in 2008, this new partisan scheme could hand 20 of California's electoral votes to the Republican candidate and only 35 to the Democrat.

Don't get me wrong: After the 2000 and 2004 election debacles, I'm a strong advocate for election reform. But it's absolutely wrong for California to go it alone. It's just patently unfair for a large "blue" state like California to change our system for awarding electoral votes while other large states which trend "red" like Texas and Florida don't change their system at the same time.

This isn't reform -- this is a partisan power grab by Republican operatives in the Karl Rove tradition.

The initiative's sponsors claim that their plan will make the presidential candidates spend more time campaigning in California. That's nonsense. Their scheme won't make candidates come to California during a general election any more than they do now -- which is rarely, and only to raise money.

Just look at the 2006 election. In 2006, only 2 of California's 53 Congressional districts were truly in play. In the remaining 51 districts, the margin of victory for the winning Republican or Democratic House candidate was always more than 6% -- and in most cases, the difference was 20 or 30 percentage points or more.

The number of competitive districts in the 2008 election will not be much different than what we saw in 2006 -- so apportioning our electoral votes based on the winner of each Congressional district would clearly do nothing to bring the presidential candidates to California more often.

If America wants real election reform -- and I know I do -- we need to elect our President directly by the national popular vote, plain and simple. Then the candidate who receives the most votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia would be elected President. That's the fair thing to do.

If you're interested in joining the fight against this power grab by Republican operatives, I hope you'll check out You don't have to live in California to get involved, because by skewing the results of the 2008 presidential election, this initiative clearly will affect all Americans.

Please join me in fighting for real, fair election reform -- and rejecting this cynical partisan power grab.


capt said...

Honour troops by bringing them home: Clinton

US SENATOR Hillary Clinton has told an audience of war veterans that while some elements of the US strategy in Iraq appeared to be achieving success, a military solution is unattainable and the best way to honour the service of American troops is to "bring them home".

"We've begun to change tactics in Iraq, and in some areas, particularly in al-Anbar province, it's working," Senator Clinton said.

"We're just years too late changing our tactics. We can't ever let that happen again. We can't be fighting the last war, we have to be preparing to fight the new war."

The remarks were notable because Senator Clinton — the leading Democrat candidate for presidential nomination — has been a consistent critic of the Bush Administration's troop escalation in Iraq. Republican presidential candidates have been seizing on signs of progress in al-Anbar province to argue against a troop withdrawal.


*****end of clip*****

it's working

That is no accidental gaffe.


capt said...

Is the real Hillary Clinton a warmonger?

WHAT in the world was Sen. Hillary Clinton thinking when she attacked Sen. Barack Obama for ruling out the use of nuclear weapons in going after Osama bin Laden? And why aren't her supporters more concerned about yet another egregious example of Clinton's consistent backing for the mindless militarism that is dragging this nation to ruin? So what that she is pro-choice and a woman if the price of proving her capacity to be commander in chief is that we end up with an American version of Margaret Thatcher?

In response to the 9/11 hijackers, armed with weapons no more sophisticated than $3 box cutters, American military spending, with Senate Armed Services Committee member Clinton's enthusiastic support, has catapulted beyond Cold War levels. Clinton has treated the military budget as primarily a pork-barrel target of opportunity for jobs and profit in New York state, supports increased money for missile defense and every other racket the military-industrial complex comes up with and still feels no obligation to repudiate her vote for the disastrous Iraq war.

Given her sorry record of cheerleading the irrational post-Cold War military buildup, do we not have a right, indeed an obligation, to question whether Clinton is committed to creating a more peaceful world? Don't say that we weren't warned if a President Hillary Clinton further imperils our world, as she has clearly positioned herself as the leading hawk in the Democratic field.

What other reason was there for first blasting Obama for daring to state that he would meet with foreign leaders whom Bush has branded as sworn enemies, and then for the attack on Obama's very sensible statement that it would be "a profound mistake" to use nuclear weapons in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the attempt to eliminate bin Laden?


*****end of clip*****

HRC is speaking with all of the clarity of soft mud. Here is a quote from her appearance:

Clinton said she wanted to restore America's image abroad. "People have to root for America," the New York senator said. "They have to want to be on our side."

In Iraq, she said, the government must take responsibility for itself and its people.

"I do not think the Iraqis are ready to do what they have to do for themselves yet," she said. "I think it is unacceptable for our troops to be caught in the crossfire of a sectarian civil war while the Iraqi government is on vacation."


capt said...

U.S. media curtail Iraq war coverage: study

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. media reporting of the war in Iraq fell sharply in the second quarter of 2007, largely due to a drop in coverage of the Washington-based policy debate, a study released Monday said.

Taken together, the war's three major story lines -- the U.S. policy debate, events in Iraq and their impact on the U.S. homefront -- slipped roughly a third, to 15 percent of an index of total news coverage, down from 22 percent in the first three months of the year.

The study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism examined 18,010 stories that appeared between April 1 and June 29. Its "News Coverage Index" encompasses 48 outlets, including newspapers, radio, online, cable and network television.


capt said...

NASA's space shuttle Endeavour landed safely at Florida's Kennedy Space Center at 12:32 p.m. ET today—a day short of the planned two-week mission.


Thanks goodness!

capt said...

Federal judge orders White House to produce global warming report

The administration had claimed that it had discretion over how and when it produced the reports — an argument the judge rejected Tuesday.

"The defendants are wrong," Armstrong wrote in the 38-page ruling. "Congress has conferred no discretion upon the defendants as to when they will issue revised Research Plans and National Assessments."

The plaintiffs — the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace — said the ruling was a rebuke to an administration that has systematically denied and suppressed information on global warming.

"It's a huge victory holding the administration accountable for its attempts to suppress science," said Kassie Siegel, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the plaintiffs that filed suit in Oakland federal court in November.

Bush administration officials were still reviewing the ruling Tuesday and could not comment on it directly, said Kristin Scuderi, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy, which was named in the lawsuit.

But the administration is complying with the law, Scuderi said. The U.S. Climate Change Science Program is working on 21 separate reports on global warming's projected effects on the U.S and has started to prepare a new research plan, she said.


*****end of clip*****

I am sure the WH will release truthful reports and in good time, eh?


David B. Benson said...

Pidgeon poop pops bridge.

On Live Science.

capt said...

Unless you become more watchful in your States and check this spirit of monopoly and thirst for exclusive privileges, you will in the end find that the most important powers of Government have been given or bartered away, and the control of your dearest interests have been passed into the hands of these corporations: Andrew Jackson, farewell address, 04 March 1837

"What is the great Amercican sin? Extravagance? Vice? Graft? No; it is a kind of half-humorous, good-natured indifference, a lack of "concentrated indignation" as my English friend calls it, which allows extravagance and vice to flourish. Trace most of our ills to their source, and it is found that they exist by virtue of an easy-going, fatalistic indifference which dislikes to have its comfort disturbed....The most shameless greed, the most sickening industrial atrocities, the most appalling public scandals are exposed, but a half-cynical and wholly indifferent public passes them by with hardly a shrug of the shoulders; and they are lost in the medley of events. This is the great American sin.": Joseph Fort Newman, Atlantic Monthly, October 1922

For in reason, all government without the consent of the governed is slavery: Jonathan Swift : Irish author, 1667-1745


Thanks ICH Newsletter!

capt said...

New Thread