Benny's World

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Sometimes Less is More

Most of the time, I try to be more positive on this blog. But this picture and this caption, supplied by Tank in Texas, speaks volumes.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

From One President to Another

Courtesy of the DU

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

JRE Goes Back to Work

First of the lecture series this fall at the Center took place today at 11 am CDT.

Two Americas--Katrina brings them out, according to JRE.

I say this a little tongue in cheek about getting back to work--he's been working, but getting more visibility. It's a shame that a tragedy like Katrina finally woke up the media, but I think JRE is wise to use it to point out to all TV viewers that poverty is with us everywhere...and it's not pretty. Nice to see JRE's message is finally resonating as the essence of his e-mail last week has been mentioned by several people, including David Brooks of the NYT on Chris Matthews' Show last Sunday. Links of the mentions will be posted as an update in the near future.

I think Elizabeth speaks at a conference in Florida on Friday..more to come on that too.

Do You Know this Little Boy?

Monday, September 05, 2005
I Know This Little Boy In New Orleans

I know the little boy in this picture.

No, I don't know him personally. But he is roughly the same age as my small son. This boy is beautiful, innocent, vulnerable and probably very scared in this photo.

I know this young boy.

He doesn't like vegetables. He prefers macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets and hot dogs. He watches too much television and loves SpongeBob SquarePants and Yu-Gi-Oh. He used to like Pokemon, but thinks it's lame now.

He tries hard to not cry when he scrapes his knee or bumps his head. But sometimes he does and he feels better when his Mommy holds him. He likes to hug his grandparents and be spoiled when he visits them. He gets to stay up later at their house. He likes that.

He hates for people to know it, but he is afraid of the dark and has a nightlight in his room. He sleeps with a stuffed dog, but doesn't want his friends to know.

He can't really match his clothing yet, and has to be nagged to clean his room and do his chores. But he's filled with pride when he accomplishes his work. He knows his parents aren't rich, but his bed is warm at night and his parents make sure he always has good meals.

He doesn't like girls yet, even though his parents tell him he someday will.

He knows a big storm came, with lots of water. And he hates where he is now.

He's embarrassed in public bathrooms and doesn't understand why he is now living in such a bad place. He's glad he doesn't wear diapers any longer so his parents don't have to worry about that. He wants to go home.

He loves Mountain Dew and Gatorade but has been so thirsty that water sounds better than anything he's ever had to drink.

He knows his bedroom, with his stuffed animals and Spiderman poster, is gone. It's under water now, which scares him even more. He hasn't yet learned to swim.

He wonders why his mommy is crying so much and why his daddy is so angry. He's worried because he knows his grandmother has been lost. He misses her.

He doesn't understand why it took so long for anyone to come and help him and why his family had to stay so long in the scary place where the Saints play football.

He doesn't like the dark or the heat or loud noises or yelling – and for days and days in his young life that is all he has heard.

I don't know this young man's name. But I know him. He's just like my little boy.

And I know he deserved better. I know he is too young to have been that scared, that thirsty, that hungry, that hot and that confused.

I know he deserved to be rescued as quickly as possible. I hope he was and is now in a place where he is in darkness only because it's time to be tucked in and go to sleep.

And I hope when this sweet little boy, along with my own child, are grown men, they will live in an America where this will never be allowed to happen again.

From Bob Geiger's Yellow Dog blog...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Why is there an oil shortage?

A lot of folks can't understand how we came to have an oil shortage here in America.
Well, there's a very simple answer.
Nobody bothered to check the oil.
We just didn't know we were getting low.
The reason for that is purely geographical.
Our OIL is located in ~~~> Alaska ~~~> California ~~~> Oklahoma and Texas...

are located in
Washington DC

Monday, September 05, 2005

Real Horsepower

From the AP via Yahoo:

Gas Prices Drive Man to Commute by Horse

MINOT, N.D. - Jim Jundt was so determined to rein in his spending on gasoline that he got out of bed early and rode his 14-year-old quarterhorse mare to work.

Jundt lives 15 miles south of Minot and works as a mechanic at Goodyear Tire & Auto Service in the city.

He said he and his co-workers had been talking about rising fuel prices, and he joked that he would ride his horse to work if gasoline ever hit $3 a gallon.

His co-workers laughed, but when the price at the pump soared to $3.20 last week, Jundt headed for the barn.

He said he was only five minutes late riding his mare, Patty, to work.

While he worked, Patty waited patiently, eating hay out of the back of a truck.

Church Turns into Ark for Evacuees & their Pets


By Millie Ball
Staff writer
THIBODAUX - The young woman from New Orleans, her 7-year-old daughter and their pet poodle were sleeping under the altar at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center on the Nicholls State University campus.

The Rev. Jim Morris said he gazed down at the family that had been banned because of the dog from the regular shelter for victims of Hurricane Katrina. He told a colleague, "Our altar has never been adorned more beautifully than it is with these people seeking the sanctuary of God."

Morris has a dog named Blue. He understands.

"I went over to the school shelter Tuesday night and saw all these people outside, looking dejected and clinging to their animals," said the slender 44-year-old priest with friendly blue eyes and sandy hair he hasn't had time to comb lately. "They wouldn't let them inside. So I said, bring them on over to the church."
The first night there were 130 people with "all these rottweilers, poodles, Chihuahuas, cats, birds, even a pot-bellied pig. It was unbelievable. We had no kennels or cages - PetSmart and Petco donated them later - and people slept on the terrazzo floor and on the pews. We had no electricity. It was like Noah's Ark."

Morris looked happy and content as he looked over his temporary flock of humans and pets. "Animals calm people down. And pet lovers usually have gentle hearts. If you go in the other shelter, people tend to sit still and idle. Here, there's a lot going on. And what's wonderful is the way our students are volunteering and helping wherever they can. For us this is a mission that helps the evacuees and their pets as well as our students who are here taking care of them."


Blessed be.

Gore: Labor of Compassion

Pic courtesy of News-Sentinel, Knoxville

Haven from fury Mercy Flight Brings Evacuees to ET
Gore accompanies about 140 arrivals from New Orleans but declines to take credit

September 4, 2005

They saw nature's unmatched fury up close.
Now they would see unbridled human compassion.

About 140 people - mostly elderly and infirm - arrived Saturday at McGhee Tyson Airport on a chartered mercy flight from hurricane-ravaged New Orleans, welcomed to East Tennessee by a bright sun and a host of medical professionals straining at the reins to help their fellow human beings without regard to whether they were on the clock.

The displaced hurricane victims came to Tennessee on a hastily arranged flight, accompanied by doctors and carrying whatever they had in boxes, bags or, in one case, an old suitcase tied up with rope.

Former Vice President Al Gore arranged the flight and was on board, but he declined to take credit for the airlift, fearing it would be "politicized."

From Knox (registration req'd, but free)

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Grisham Starts New Fund for S. Mississippi Rebuilding

TUPELO, Miss. — Bestselling writer John Grisham (search) and his wife will contribute $5 million to a relief fund they established this week, Rebuild the Coast Fund, at a Tupelo bank to help Mississippians rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

Grisham, a former state legislator, said the fund will assist Mississippi residents and businesses.

"When you make charitable contributions, you realize you can't save the world, so you find a small area you can go into and hopefully do some good and do it with your own money and your own sweat and you see the results," he said. "You can't spread yourself too thin."

The next step, Grisham said, is to hire a small staff to evaluate the hundreds — perhaps thousands — of requests for aid. The couple hopes to initially employ coast residents who have lost their jobs and are familiar with the area.


I applaud John Grisham's efforts. I hope JRE gets inspired to do this with his poverty center or perhaps start another fund. This is what we need to be doing, regardless if a hurricane wipes out a community or not. We need to create jobs for those who lost everything else. Work gives people a focus and dignity to get back on their feet.

Census shows Katrina's Ground Zero victims unlike rest of America

9/4/2005, 1:26 p.m. CT
The Associated Press

(AP) — People living in the path of Hurricane Katrina's worst devastation were twice as likely as most Americans to be poor and without a car — factors that may help explain why so many failed to evacuate as the storm approached.

An Associated Press analysis of Census data shows that the residents in the three dozen hardest-hit neighborhoods in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama also were disproportionately minority and had incomes $10,000 below the national average.

"Let them know we're not bums. We have houses. Our houses were destroyed. We have jobs. It's not our fault that we didn't have cars to leave," Shatonia Thomas, 27, said as she walked near New Orleans' convention center five days after the storm, still trapped in the destruction with her children, ages 6 and 9.

Money and transportation — two keys to surviving a natural disaster — were inaccessible for many who got left behind in the Gulf region's worst squalor.

"It's a different equation for poor people," explained Dan Carter, a University of South Carolina historian. "There's a certain ease of transportation and funds that the middle class in this country takes for granted."

Catina Miller, a 32-year-old grocery deli worker who lived in the Ninth Ward, a poverty-stricken New Orleans enclave created in the 1870s by immigrants who were too poor to find higher ground, said she certainly would have liked to have left the city before the hurricane hit.

"But where can you go if you don't have a car?" she asked. "Not everyone can just pick up and take off."

Jack Harrald, director of the Institute for Crisis, Disaster and Risk Management at George Washington University in Washington, said emergency planners have known for years that the poverty and lack of transportation in New Orleans would be a significant problem, but the government spent more time and money preparing itself — rather than communities — for disaster.


This corroborates what JRE said the other day about Two Americas.

Evacuees anguished at leaving pets behind

Sunday, September 4, 2005; Posted: 10:31 a.m. EDT (14:31 GMT)

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- As Valerie Bennett was evacuated from a New Orleans hospital, rescuers told her there was no room in the boat for her dogs.

She pleaded. "I offered him my wedding ring and my mom's wedding ring," the 34-year-old nurse recalled Saturday.

They wouldn't budge. She and her husband could bring only one item, and they already had a plastic tub containing the medicines her husband, a liver transplant recipient, needed to survive.

Such emotional scenes were repeated perhaps thousands of times along the Gulf Coast last week as pet owners were forced to abandon their animals in the midst of evacuation.

In one example reported last week by The Associated Press, a police officer took a dog from one little boy waiting to get on a bus in New Orleans. "Snowball! Snowball!" the boy cried until he vomited. The policeman told a reporter he didn't know what would happen to the dog.

At the hospital, a doctor euthanized some animals at the request of their owners, who feared they would be abandoned and starve to death. He set up a small gas chamber out of a plastic-wrapped dog kennel.

"The bigger dogs were fighting it. Fighting the gas. It took them longer. When I saw that, I said, 'I can't do it,' " said Bennett's husband, Lorne.

Valerie Bennett left her dogs with the anesthesiologist, who promised to care for about 30 staff members' pets on the roof of the hospital, Lindy Boggs Medical Center.

"He said he'd stay there as long as he possibly could," Valerie Bennett recalled, speaking from her husband's bedside at Atlanta's Emory University Hospital.

On Saturday afternoon, she said she saw a posting on a Web site called that said the anesthesiologist was still caring for the animals.

Louisiana State Treasurer John Kennedy, who was helping with relief efforts Saturday, said some evacuees refused to leave without their pets.

"One woman told me 'I've lost my house, my job, my car and I am not turning my dog loose to starve,' " Kennedy said.

Kennedy said he persuaded refugees to get on the bus by telling them he would have the animals taken to an exhibition center.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals picked up two cats and 15 dogs, including one Kennedy found tied up beneath the overpass next to an unopened can of dog food with a sign that read, "Please take care of my dog, his name is Chucky."

The fate of pets is a huge but underappreciated cause of anguish for storm survivors, said Richard Garfield, professor of international clinical nursing at New York's Columbia University.

"People in shelters are worried about 'Did Fluffy get out?' " he said. "It's very distressing for people, wondering if their pets are isolated or starving."

The Bennetts had four animals, including two beloved dogs.

They moved to Slidell, Louisiana, in July when Valerie took a job at an organ transplant institute connected to Lindy Boggs. Lorne, a former paramedic, is disabled since undergoing a liver transplant in 2001.

On Saturday, as Hurricane Katrina approached, both went to the hospital to help and took all four animals with them.

They fed their guinea pig and left it in its cage in a patient room. They couldn't refill its empty water bottle because the hospital's plumbing failed Sunday, they said. They poured food on the floor for the cat, but again no water.

"I just hope that they forgive me," Valerie Bennett cried.

This story breaks my heart. I hope someone from the Humane Society, Louisana SPCA, American Humane Association, or the Vet Medical Association finds these pets to care for them. My prayers are with these families while they try to pick up the pieces of what they have in their lives.

UPDATE: September 5, 2005. Someone brought this article to my attention--from USA Today.

Animal welfare groups rescue abandoned pets
By Anita Manning, USA TODAY

Animal welfare groups, which have been barred from entering most flood-affected areas of the Gulf Coast because of safety concerns, have finally reached parts of southern Mississippi and Louisiana to set up shelters and move hundreds of imperiled dogs and cats to safety.

Rescue teams from the Humane Society of the U.S. on Friday moved 120 dogs and cats from Gulfport to a staging area in Jackson, HSUS president Wayne Pacelle said Saturday. Another 500 are being moved from St. Tammany Parish, just north of New Orleans, he said. "The needs are enormous," he said.

While Hurricane Katrina's impact on people remains a "national and international trauma," Pacelle said, "the animal situation is another massive saga that's still unfolding."

About 200 animals drowned after the Humane Society of South Mississippi's shelter in Gulfport was destroyed in the hurricane, he said. In Harrison County, rescuers found one woman who took refuge in an evacuated structure with seven dogs and eight cats afer her own house was destroyed, Pacelle said. "There's a dead man on the roof," he said.

Sad about the animals in Gulfport. We have to keep trying though.