(Before the Deluge.)
How much has been learned in the seven years since Hurricane Katrina? Even the $10 billion invested in its hurricane risk reduction system hasn't fixed the attitudes of some:
Jefferson Parish officials issued a stern warning to anyone who dares tread outside during Tropical Storm Isaac. "If you create damage, you are going to jail,'' Sheriff Newell Normand said during a news conference that just wrapped up.
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A New Orleans jury has convicted five former police officers of charges related to their unjustified shooting of six unarmed people and attempt to create a cover-up in two incidents on the Danziger Bridge in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Two of the shooting victims died, including a 17 year old and a 40 year old man who was severely mentally disabled. One woman lost her arm.
Four of the shooting victims were from one family. None were armed and they were crossing the bridge looking for food when police opened fire. Not long after, police shot at two unarmed brothers who were also walking on the bridge looking for food. The 40 year old disabled brother was shot seven times in the back.
At trial, lawyers for the cops claimed they were fired on first and feared for their lives. Not so. One of the cops, Retired Sgt. Arthur Kaufman, who was assigned to investigate the shootings, staged the cover-up for the other cops, using his own gun. He was also convicted today. [More...]
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The Obama Adminisration may be serious about ramping up the civil rights division.
Six New Orleans police officers have been charged in the post-Kaatrina deaths of unarmed civilians on the Danziger Bridge on September 4, 2005.
The 27 count Indictment alleges some ugly facts. Five other former police officers have pleaded guilty and admitted that they participated in a conspiracy to obstruct justice and cover up what happened that date.
The four officers charged with killing civilians face maximum penalties of life in prison or the death penalty. The officers face additional penalties for the remaining counts, which include charges related to a conspiracy to cover up what had happened on the bridge, and conspiracies to file charges against two of the victims, Lance Madison and Jose Holmes, on the basis of false evidence.
The other two face 70 and 120 years.
The New York Times reports eight other incidents of alleged police misconduct are still under investigation.
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In the days and weeks following Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans, it’s understandable that FEMA would give a higher priority to helping the needy than to assuring that they really were needy. It’s more difficult to excuse wasteful payment of fraudulent claims that came months after the hurricane dissipated.
A GAO audit shows that FEMA has an ineffective oversight process and therefore continues to pay fraudulent claims. FEMA has wasted or been cheated out of at least $1 billion. At the same time, it hasn’t always put the money where it’s really needed, resulting in a recent court order “to resume housing payments for thousands of people displaced by Katrina.”
Not all of the loss resulted from fraudulent claims. FEMA can’t seem to keep track of the equipment that its employees purchased:
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