Sunday, September 18, 2005

Sunday news

Lots and lots of weekend news.


David Brooks provides a good starting point to this issue. The federal response to Katrina will be an opportunity to apply the economic and political theories of George W. Bush:

But in policy terms, the speech pushed the journey toward Bushian conservatism into high gear. The Gulf Coast will be a laboratory for the Bushian vision of energetic but not domineering government.

Bush proposed an Urban Homestead Act, which will draw enterprising people to the area, giving them an opportunity to own property so long as they're willing to work with private agencies to put up their own homes. He proposed individual job training accounts, so much of the rebuilding work can be done by former residents. Children who have left flooded areas will find themselves in a proto-school-choice program, with education dollars strapped to each individual child.

This is an effort to transform the gulf region, which had become a disaster zone of urban liberalism.

That in and of itself could fill numerous blog entries.

Also, the issues of race and poverty could fuel many entries. The NY Times has the following:

One of the most striking developments, they said, was that while Mr. Bush still calls himself a "compassionate conservative" who sees the problems of blacks as largely economic, in the last three days he embraced civil rights language from the 1960's about "the legacy of inequality" and pledged billions of dollars to rebuild one of the poorest urban areas in America.

Cuts in spending will fund the relief effort, LA Times.

The delivery mechanisms at FEMA are a huge problem, LA Times, hampering relief efforts. This is another reason why we need a Katrina Commission. The NY Times account has the following:

Federal officials are often unable to give local governments permission to proceed with fundamental tasks to get their towns running again. Most areas in the region still lack federal help centers, the one-stop shopping sites for residents in need of aid for their homes or families. Officials say that they are uncertain whether they can meet the president's goal of providing housing for 100,000 people who are now in shelters by the middle of next month.

A similar story also leads the Washington Post. Excerpt:

President Bush has promised a range of new initiatives to help the evacuees, including $5,000 grants to help the unemployed find jobs, a voucher program for students and more money for state Medicaid programs. But while Bush's promises of additional help have been welcomed, the initial efforts to provide for the evacuees has sometimes been disjointed, confusing and ineffective, local officials said...

How effective will this opportunity zone actually be? raises questions:

"The federal government over the last 15 years has tried to use zones where they have tax relief to promote economic development. It hardly ever works," says Alexander von Hoffman, a senior fellow at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, citing failed experiments in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. That said, he stresses that the tax incentives may help small businesses that were already established in the area get back on their feet.

Katrina could and will fuel many entries, but there is also


Violence in the nationwide legislative elections, but no substantial disruptions, al Jazeera. Excerpt:

But Aljazeera's correspondent in Afghanistan, Wali Allah Shahin, reporting from Kandahar, said the voter turnout in the city was poor.

He also cited sources as saying that turnout was even poorer in outlying districts.

Residents told Shahin that they felt the parliamentary elections were not as decisive as the presidential polls last October, and the Taliban's threats had forced some people to stay at home.

Foreign Policy's Afghan story:

Far more than last year’s election of President Hamid Karzai, Sunday’s polls will be a gauge of the country's democratic will. The results will have a tremendous impact on Afghanistan’s short-term stability and its democratic future. With a persistent security threat, logistical challenges, and a voting system that favors vote buying and bullying, the outcome of these elections will be a crapshoot at best, and at worst could be a Trojan horse of chaos.


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