Morning Report 9/8/05’Noxious Gumbo’


Bush vows a probe, but his mom already stuck it in and twisted it


Yale U.
In happier times back in 2001, Barbara Bush hangs out with her own kind, Connecticut Governor John Rowland, at a Yale concert. Rowland is now in federal prison after pleading guilty to “stealing honest service” from the government.

Late last night, a BBC World reporter described the toxic soup bowl that used to be New Orleans as containing “noxious gumbo.” But there’s no escape for the poor people who fled from that murk. At Houston’s Astrodome, they got a visit from Barbara Bush, and “Mother,” as George W. calls her, didn’t know best.

Even more smug than her son, Mother Bush talked about how the refugees were “underprivileged anyway” and how life in the Astrodome was “working very well for them.”

Typical stuff from a regime whose officials in effect told the starving people of Niger to eat yellowcake.

Mother Bush might describe fetid New Orleans as a quaint situation, although those aren’t the words scientists are throwing around right now. Reporters Andrew Gumbel and Rupert Cornwell summed it up this way in yesterday’s Independent (U.K.):

The devastation of Hurricane Katrina has created a vast toxic soup that stretches across south-eastern Louisiana and Mississippi, and portends the arrival of an environmental disaster to rival the awe-inspiring destruction of property and human life over the past week.

And what’s in this toxic soup?

The full extent of the danger is unknown and unknowable, but the polluted waters are known to contain human and animal waste, the bodies of people and animals, household effluence, and chemical and petrochemical toxins from the refineries that dot the Gulf coast in and around New Orleans.

The problem is this: You have to pump this horrifying shit out of New Orleans before the city can be rebuilt. But if the billions of gallons of poisonous crap is pumped into the Gulf of Mexico, marine and animal life in the whole region will be endangered. As the Independent‘s reporters add:

Even before the pumping is complete, a process city officials said yesterday would take at least three weeks (some engineers believe it could last months), the consequences for all living creatures — humans, animals, fish and micro-organisms — are likely to be dire.

“We’re talking about a mass of decomposing dead bodies and animals. This is going to produce a horrible festering of unknown consequences,” said Harold Zeliger, a chemical toxicologist and independent consultant based in New York State.

We’re talking about a horror movie. Zeliger added:

We’re looking conceivably at zero-dissolved oxygen, which will lead to the death of fish and other organisms. If the migratory birds who pass through the area find any fish to eat, they will be contaminated so the birds will start dying in large quantities. … Reptiles and snakes are going to be driven out of their nests and habitats, which has implications for human safety. We’re going to see water moccasins [a highly venomous snake], which are nasty critters, and alligators threatening people.

Poor people and rich people.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 8, 2005

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