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“New” Orleans Turns on City-Wide Wi-fi November 29, 2005

Posted by Leita in Government, Hurricane, Internet, Politics, Southern Living.

Who deserves free wi-fi more than New Orleans residents? Me, but that’s okay… after watching a city drown while residents suffer and die partly due to communication breakdown I’m all for anything that directly addresses the problem.

Remember, it could happen to your city, too. There are few places in the U.S. safe from Mother Nature’s wrath. Plus, every time a community goes wireless it pisses off the privately owned utility companies and that alone simply Makes My Day. I just paid my cable bill and to be frank, it sucks, but I’ll hold that rant for another post.

Want to ensure it happens in your area, too? Write your state and local potentates. Do it soon because they’re currently eying legislative bills that’ll stymie any chances of making it a reality.

Already running in the French Quarter and the business district, the article claims the whole city will be hooked up in a year.
Here’s how it works:

The system uses hardware mounted on street lights. Most of the $1 million in equipment was donated by three companies: Intel Corp., Tropos Networks Inc. and Pronto Networks. The companies also plan to donate equipment for the citywide expansion. Tropos is connecting the system to the Internet at no charge.

The network uses “mesh” technology to pass the wireless signal from pole to pole rather than each Wi-Fi transmitter being plugged directly into a physical network cable. That way, laptop users will be able to connect even in areas where the wireline phone network will take time to restore.

The system will provide download speeds of 512 kilobits per second as long as the city remains under a state of emergency. But the bandwidth will be slowed to 128 kbps in accordance with a limit set by Louisiana’s law once the city’s state of emergency is lifted at an unknown future date.

The service will remain free for residents and businesses after the state of emergency ends.

From: Big Easy Launches Free Wireless System (via Yahoo).

Some balk at the idea of reconstructing an entire city built on oatmeal and wallpaper paste for a levy but what would it cost to build a city from scratch? Plus, it would be a butt-ugly BlandTown.. reason enough to support the efforts to bring back a city deserving whole volumes of the country’s history.

With phone service still hit-and-miss in New Orleans; I wager Skype and Vonage will see a little peak in new customers, eh? That has to hurt the phone companies, even if it’s just a smidge.

Now, how about Mississippi? Let’s see some wi-fi in Biloxi! Since the big-boy utility companies cannot justify the cost/profit on their bloated spreadsheets, there’s plenty of room for tender young companies to squeeze in and provide wi-fi for smaller communities.

I’d pay a local tax just for the chuckles knowing how many people would dump their utility company’s broadband service.

Heh. I’m chuckling now just at the thought…

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Washington Responds to Bad Intelligence Reports: “Na Na Na Na Na Naaa!” November 11, 2005

Posted by Leita in Flotsam/Jetsam, Government, News, Politics.
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In The News:
“Federal investigations revealed lying sources, fragmented information and unwarranted analysis led to the most damaging intelligence failures in U.S. history.”

The responses:

Democrats: “Stupid Republicans; look what you did!”

Republicans: “I know you are but what am I?”

Democrats: “Y’all suck.”

Republicans: “Y’all suck more, donkeybutts.”

The U.S. Public: “Who’d y’all get to screw up and why aren’t they gettin’ fried?”

Republicans and Democrats: “Y’all stay out of it. None of your business.”

Senator Kennedy: “Leave the public alone. They should know it was pure, unadulterated fear-mongering, based on a devious strategy to convince the American people that Saddam’s ability to provide nuclear weapons to al Qaeda justified immediate war.”

The U.S. Public: “Oh. Okay.”

Republicans: “Don’t listen to him! He’s lying! He wasn’t even there!”

Cindy Sheehan: “Can I play, too?”

Republicans: “Aw, hell. Who invited HER?”

World Leaders: “$44 billion for lies and blunders? Stupid Americans. We’re upping the rent on your secret clubhouses.”

Republicans and Democrats: “Who asked you? Y’all suck.”

The Media: “Yep. Bullshit ain’t cheap. Try crying and hollering at the cameras, instead. Works for us.”

Republicans: “Y’all suck, too.”

Pat Robertson: “Don’t come praying for my help when y’all get in trouble. I told God you all suck and he believed me.”

All: “Shut UP, Pat.”

Reeling in Jeb – Florida Nixes Plans for Offshore Oil Drilling November 11, 2005

Posted by Leita in Florida, Flotsam/Jetsam, Government, Hurricane, News, Politics, Southern Living.
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Panhandle (aka The Emerald Coast) Floridians guard their beaches to the point dogs are only allowed with permit and even then only for a couple hours in the morning and evenings. Street and home lighting cannot be turned directly onto the beach to allow hatchling turtles a better chance of getting to the water and not in traffic. In Grayton Beach, vehicles are allowed to drive on the beach, but only property owners and only with a permit sticker.

A year ago, a pro-oil drilling politician could not be found in Florida. But increased pressure from Governor Jeb Bush and a group of conservatives led by California Republican Richard Pombo had some lawmakers rethinking the “let’s keep the beaches white and the tourists happy” mentality. It seemed inevitable as pump prices and hurricanes pushed them toward allowing oil and gas drilling off the East Florida pristine coast.

A year ago it wasn’t a republican/democrat issue in Florida. Today, it still is not and, at least for now, the beaches are still sugar white and the water still emerald green and clear.

But it’s not just Florida’s beaches:

The measure would replace the current patchwork of bans on energy exploration that cover the eastern Gulf and much of the Atlantic and Pacific seaboards. Instead, drilling would be allowed along the entire Outer Continental Shelf, but states could vote to block drilling within about 125 miles of their shores. (Source: The Orlando Sentinel)

Not because some GOPs didn’t try, though. The defeated plan was a compromise to keep drilling 125 miles off the coast.

The proposal that was killed Wednesday night would have allowed Florida’s Legislature and governor to oppose drilling within 125 miles off Florida’s coasts, but open up drilling beyond the 125-mile mark, including millions of acres that have been long-sought by the oil and gas industry. (Source: The Miami Herald)

But some stood their ground. Crossing over the Republican/Democrat line, politicians such as Rep. Connie Mack, a Republican from Ft. Myers, drew a line in the snow white sand in Florida yesterday and despite pressure from officials who (erroneously) claim Gulf drilling would decrease the country’s reliance on foreign oil, voted no. Another, Rep. Katherine Harris, a republican from Long Boat Key is actively lobbied to remove the offshore drilling measure before it reached the House floor.

Both Florida senators, Mel Martinez (R) and Bill Nelson (D) oppose drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

So who was pushing the measure so hard it seemed inevitable?

Governor Jeb Bush, who was opposed to any Florida offshore drilling at all when reelected in 2002 and Rep. Tom Feeney, Oviedo. Also voting for the drill was representative Adam Putnam of Bartow, Ander Crenshaw of Jacksonville, and Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami, Jeff Miller of Pensacola, all Republican. In all, eight republicans out of the 25-member congressional delegation voted for the compromise.

Jeb’s reaction to the bipartisan vote: “It’s a temporary victory politically, but it’s not an ultimate solution.”

Feeney, who in a nationwide released video created by “a business group,” extolled the virtues of offshore drilling, stated the measure would “…protect our beaches and also allow Americans to have a steady supply of affordable gasoline.” Feeney didn’t explain how coastlines would be protected because no one has a plan yet.

It’ll be okay, I’m sure pro-drillers will come up with something later. Maybe following an accident or after a hurricane sends Valdez-quantities of crude into the Gulf.

Fuel shortages, if they do exist, stem mainly from refineries damaged during this year’s hurricanes and to a larger extent, worldwide demand. Drilling more oil and gas from the Gulf would not alleviate the pump prices and heating oil bills and who says it should be solely the responsibility of the United States if it is indeed a worldwide crisis?

Although not sworn in, oil company moguls at a Senate hearing Wednesday did explain why the price of fuel was going up at the same time their coffers stretched to hold the $25 billion in profits earned last quarter. Actually, they didn’t, but they unblinkingly admitted it was not their fault.

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Post Election Day Scorecard November 9, 2005

Posted by Leita in Government, News, Politics.

November Post Election Scorecard - Democrats vs. Republicans


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The Senate Majority Tide is Turning October 10, 2005

Posted by Leita in Flotsam/Jetsam, Government, News, Politics.

This one put a smug grin on my face. From the Washington Post:

For GOP, Election Anxiety Mounts

With an unpopular war in Iraq, ethical controversies shadowing top Republicans in the House and Senate, and President Bush suffering the lowest approval ratings of his presidency, the waters look less inviting to politicians deciding whether to plunge into an election bid.

They should be afraid. After all the death and neglect and stupidity and cronyism, throwing Republican campaign money toward an election would not be a wise decision. Better save it for those tasty real estate deals soon to be had in New Orleans.


DOD’s Secret Katrina Inquiry October 4, 2005

Posted by Leita in Government, Hurricane, Internet, News, Politics.

From: The Independent Online Edition.

A confidential inquiry commissioned by the Department of Defense details why the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina failed so miserably.

Relief efforts to combat Hurricane Katrina suffered near catastrophic failures due to endemic corruption, divisions within the military and troop shortages caused by the Iraq war, an official American inquiry into the disaster has revealed.

The confidential report, which has been seen by The Independent, details how funds for flood control were diverted to other projects, desperately needed National Guards were stuck in Iraq and how military personnel had to “sneak off post” to help with relief efforts because their commander had refused permission.

Worth a read, the analysis also blames former local government officials who redirected funds earmarked for flood management and used it on voter-popular projects. Military generals from several states were also held responsible for denying requests to go to the affected states and volunteer.

The purpose of keeping this “independent and critical review” confidential is….?

From Right to Left: Changing My Political Views September 4, 2005

Posted by Leita in Flotsam/Jetsam, Government, Hurricane, News, Politics.
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As the last several thousand Gulf Coast souls–dead and alive–are pulled from the water and putrid muck, my attention turns just long enough toward Washington to point a finger and place blame. It is their fault. I’ll never believe otherwise. As the fourth anniversary of 911 draws closer, the similarities and differences grow, a long list that leaves me hoping, praying the whole public, not just a few notables and oddballs, but everyone will speak out about the atrocities we’ve witnessed. This week’s forgotten citizens represent us all. New Orleans may not seem like a typical American city but it is. The suffering and dead faces we witnessed are our own. This week we were forgotten, neglected and ignored in favor of.. hell, I don’t know why. We don’t have a terrorist to blame this time so we blame our government. I’m good with that. Homeland security is a failure. If it were a television program it would’ve been pulled and trashed a long time ago. Born and raised on the Gulf Coast I know first-hand what happens after a hurricane. The National Guard is often called in to keep the lawless few from causing more damage. Riding out a storm is no fun but usually the aftermath is worse. After a storm we are emotionally battered. We’re angry. We’re hot–oh damn, we’re so blasted hot. If we evacuated, we want to see our homes and families. Often we’re kept out and until this past week, it’s always been to protect us and protect our property. But kept in? Never. We have the right to be pulled out of our homes even when we’re too stubborn or too poor to leave. We know we will be miserable for weeks but we have the right to clean water, food and shelter. We have the right to fuss at our mayors when they make post-storm decisions we don’t like. We have the right to try and sneak past the National Guard whenever we can so we can see if we still have a home or to check on a neighbor. We have the right to guard our homes and businesses against looters, and to become looters to feed and clothe ourselves and our families when there is no help. At least, we did until a few days ago. My father lives in Gautier, a few miles east of Biloxi. It was damaged pretty badly but not as bad as other places. Even with roads open into town, there was no water or food or help sent to Gautier until Thursday. Until yesterday, I didn’t know whether Daddy was alive or dead because no organization or agency bothered to set up a system for tracking individuals after a disaster. No matter, citizens set up their own forums and resources before the storm surge had sulked back into the Gulf. Storm rules were changed and I don’t understand why. Even people who do not live on the coast understood Katrina was going to be a bad one. They worked before and the low death tolls from most of the previous hurricanes prove the fact. The 1900 Galveston hurricane killed over 4000 people. No one knows what the final count will be this time, but it’ll surely be a close second at least. I don’t want to consider a record-breaker; it’s too heartbreaking to think about. I think I’ll continue watching, reading, crying, pointing a finger toward Washington and with great conviction, say “Never again.? Shame on you, Mr. President. The people you chose to take care of us are a direct reflection on your lack of human compassion and your inability to properly run this country. How stupid are you to put into place a system that thought it not wise to drop water and food down to the people while they waited for rescue? Did you really think we’d watch your people preen on television while whole cities were suffering and dying and believe all was well? Do you now understand the American public is not comprised of idiots who can be swayed by a press conference? I used to be a Republican. A liberal conservative, to be more precise. Now I don’t know what I am anymore except ashamed and very, very afraid.

Is it just me or… September 3, 2005

Posted by Leita in Flotsam/Jetsam, Government, Hurricane, Politics.

… does anyone else find it odd that attorneys were allowed into the Astrodome before the National Guard was allowed into New Orleans?

Copy of WWL Interview with New Orleans Mayor Nagin September 2, 2005

Posted by Leita in Flotsam/Jetsam, Government, Hurricane, News, Politics.
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New Orleans Mayor’s Interview with WWL Radio  (mp3 – 3 megs)

New Orleans Mayor Tells It Like It Is on WWL Radio September 2, 2005

Posted by Leita in Flotsam/Jetsam, Government, Hurricane, News, Politics.

I woke this morning to the sound of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin’s pain and anger and thought CNN was interviewing another poor, tired, hot, thirsty, hungry soul waiting for rescue but it was actually Nagin talking with WWL Radio. He’s angry, just like the people of the Gulf Coast, just like those of us waiting on the outside for word—good or bad—about our family and friends. I sent an email to the radio station thanking them for letting the mayor rant and asking for a transcript of the entire interview. If they send it I’ll post it here so folks can see exactly what he said rather than a watered-down version that’ll be televised. Nagin is the Finest of the government officials to speak about the Gulf Coast tragedy and I applaud him. I am sick and tired of press conferences where non-locals in clean clothes brag about how organized “their” rescue is.   My 76-yr old father is lost in Mississippi and because Nagin had the guts and integrity to speak his mind my father might get help a little sooner. Thanks, Mayor. Edit: An Atypical Life has a mirror copy of Nagin’s interview.