Category Archives: Natural Disasters

Why Republicans Might Demand Hurricane Relief Be Paid For With More Program Cuts

I do hope people are paying attention to these Republicans.  Some of them are even arguing the Federal Government should have NO role in disaster cleanup and that it’s a “state” issue.

I somehow don’t think most Americans- and even Republican Governors- will agree with that stance.

This is unheard of-debating whether we can afford to respond to natural disasters. And frankly, I think, totally contrary to the “American” and “Christian” principles of “helping your neighbor” these guys traditionally espouse.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out…..

From TalkingPointsMemeo.com:

When a massive tornado obliterated the town of Joplin, Missouri earlier this year, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) told reporters that if the disaster ultimately required the government to step in and provide aid, it would have to be offset by cutting spending on other federal programs.

“If there is support for a supplemental, it would be accompanied by support for having pay-fors to that supplemental,” he said, using the anodyne language of budget policy.

Three months later, when a modest earthquake struck the town of Mineral, Virginia in his own district, and caused minor, but widespread damage along the eastern seaboard, Cantor upheld the standard. Congress, he said, “will find the monies” to help victims, but that “those monies will be offset with appropriate savings or cost-cutting elsewhere.”

Now, in the wake of Hurricane Irene — a much costlier natural disaster — Cantor may make the same demand, which could touch off a bitter fight on Capitol Hill.

“We aren’t going to speculate on damage before it happens, period,” his staff told me Thursday when I asked about the impending storm. “But, as you know, Eric has consistently said that additional funds for federal disaster relief ought to be offset with spending cuts.”

This is a big problem. The budget is already stretched very thin, and even Cantor has asked his members not to provoke another fight about cutting spending beyond its already agreed-upon levels. And if clean-up costs reach into the billions, paying for it by cutting spending will damage other important services, despite the fact that the usual standard is to not use natural disasters as political bargaining chips.

Three things are going on here by my count. First, Republicans have learned an obvious lesson since they retook the House — that they can control the agenda in Washington, and put popular government programs under attack, if and only if they have some leverage over Democrats to play along. The government shutdown fight in April was their first victory. The debt limit showdown was their piece de resistance.

Second, there are political pitfalls to this approach, particularly when it requires Republicans to publicly stake out specific positions. Cutting government spending might focus group well, but privatizing Medicare does not, as Republicans learned quite painfully earlier this year. This augurs for slashing spending in nebulous ways — capping discretionary spending, and spreading the cuts out across myriad federal programs; or promising to “find monies” in the budget to offset new expenses. Death by a thousand, invisible cuts.

Third, the right flank of the Republican party expects no less. In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina devastated southern Louisiana, Cantor’s predecessor, Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) claimed Republicans had pared discretionary spending back enough that federal aid could be financed with new debt. He came under attack from members of his own party and quickly reversed himself. Looks like Cantor learned his lesson.

But it’s a difficult line to walk. Part of what made Republican victories in the shutdown and debt limit fights plausible was a logical veneer that doesn’t exist here. “We spend too much money on government programs,” Republicans basically argued, “so we won’t fund the government unless we impose discipline.” Another line was, in effect: “The national debt has skyrocketed, so we won’t allow the government to incur more of it unless steps are taken to hold down its growth.” When you drilled into these arguments, they crumbled, but at a glance they were quite plausible.

That’s not the case after a natural disaster. And if there’s a loud cry for federal aid once the damage is assessed, Cantor’s position will probably prove unsustainable.

via Why Republicans Might Demand Hurricane Relief Be Paid For With More Program Cuts | TPMDC.

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How Susie Bayer’s T-Shirt Ended Up on Yusuf Mama’s Back

This is a fascinating article about what happens to donated clothing…

We send tons of stuff to Goodwill each year and I wondered what the process was and what happened to all that stuff.

Now I know…..

From the  George Packer at the New Times back in 2002:

If you’ve ever left a bag of clothes outside the Salvation Army or given to a local church drive, chances are that you’ve dressed an African. All over Africa, people are wearing what Americans once wore and no longer want. Visit the continent and you’ll find faded remnants of secondhand clothing in the strangest of places. The ”Let’s Help Make Philadelphia the Fashion Capital of the World” T-shirt on a Malawian laborer. The white bathrobe on a Liberian rebel boy with his wig and automatic rifle. And the muddy orange sweatshirt on the skeleton of a small child, lying on its side in a Rwandan classroom that has become a genocide memorial.

A long chain of charity and commerce binds the world’s richest and poorest people in accidental intimacy. It’s a curious feature of the global age that hardly anyone on either end knows it.

A few years ago, Susie Bayer bought a T-shirt for her workouts with the personal trainer who comes regularly to her apartment on East 65th Street in Manhattan. It was a pale gray cotton shirt, size large, made in the U.S.A. by JanSport, with the red and black logo of the University of Pennsylvania on its front. Over time, it got a few stains on it, and Bayer, who is 72, needed more drawer space, so last fall she decided to get rid of the shirt. She sent it, along with a few other T-shirts and a couple of silk nightgowns, to the thrift shop that she has been donating her clothes to for the past 40 years.

More:  How Susie Bayer’s T-Shirt Ended Up on Yusuf Mama’s Back – New York Times.

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Expert: Japan’s radiation could spread to U.S. | The Raw Story

In addition to the heartbreaking losses already inflicted on the people of Japan, this story is just beginning.

Additional loses will mount in Japan and the unstable nuclear situation could make it even worse…not just in Japan.

This could be a world wide disaster.

People really need to think about Nuclear energy and how safe- or unsafe- it really is…

Nothing in our world is isolated anymore.

And this is even from Fox News:

As Japan races to avert multiple nuclear meltdowns, one expert warned Sunday that radiation could spread to the U.S.

Joe Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund, told Fox News’ Chris Wallace Japan’s nuclear crisis is unprecedented.

“One reactor has had half the core exposed already,” he explained. “This is the one they’re flooding with sea water in a desperate effort to prevent it from a complete meltdown. They lost control of a second reactor next to it, a partial meltdown, and there is actually a third reactor at a related site 20-kilometers away they have also lost control over. We have never had a situation like this before.”

“The worst case scenario is that the fuel rods fuse together, the temperatures get so hot that they melt together in a radioactive molten mass that bursts through the containment mechmisms and is exposed to the outside. So they spew radioactivity in the ground, into the air, into the water. Some of the radioactivity could carry in the atmosphere to the West Coast of the United States.”

“Really?” a surprised Wallace asked. “I mean, thousands of miles across the Pacific?”

“Oh, abosolutely. Chernobyl, which happened about 25 years ago, the radioactivity spread around the entire northern hemisphere. It depends how many of these cores melt down and how successful they are on containing it once this disaster happens,” Cirincione replied.

via Expert: Japan’s radiation could spread to U.S. | The Raw Story.

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