NEWSWEEK COVER: Poverty, Race & Katrina Lessons of a National Shame

For the Moment, Americans Ready to Fix Gaze on Problems of Poverty, Race and

Class; Katrina May Offer Chance to 'Start a Skirmish' on Poverty



During Meeting With Bush, Rep. Bobby Jindal Tells Story of Sheriff, Whose

District Was Underwater, Who Called FEMA For Help, Was Told

to Send an E-Mail Request



Frist: Unsatisfied With Where Things Are Now Because 'I Cannot Be Assured Now

That if a Similar Event Were to Happen Today That Anything Would Be Different'



11 Sep, 2005, 01:00 ET from Newsweek

    NEW YORK, Sept. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- For the moment, at least, Americans are
 ready to fix their restless gaze on enduring problems of poverty, race and
 class that have escaped their attention, writes Senior Editor Jonathan Alter
 in the current issue of Newsweek. While it may not mean a new war on poverty,
 Alter writes that this disaster, Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, may
 offer a chance to start a skirmish, or at least make Washington think harder
 about why part of the richest country on earth looks like the Third World.
 "Americans tend to think of poor people as being responsible for their own
 economic woes," sociologist Andrew Cherlin of Johns Hopkins University tells
 Newsweek. "But this was a case where the poor were clearly not at fault. It
 was a reminder that we have a moral obligation to provide every American with
 a decent life."
     (Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20050911/NYSU004 )
     In the last four decades, part of that obligation has been met, thanks to
 Social Security and Medicare, food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit,
 which supplements the puny wages of the working poor, helping to lift millions
 into the lower middle class. But, Alter writes, after a decade of improvement
 in the 1990s, poverty in America is actually getting worse. A rising tide of
 economic growth is no longer lifting all boats. For the first time in half a
 century, the third year of a recovery (2004) also saw an increase in poverty.
 Alter examines America's poor, the role that poverty and race played in the
 Katrina disaster, what lessons can be learned from it and what realistic
 strategies might work to alleviate it in the September 19 Newsweek cover
 story, "Poverty, Race & Katrina: Lessons of A National Shame" (on newsstands
 Monday, September 12).
     Also in the cover package, Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas and a
 team of Newsweek correspondents from Washington and others who were on
 location in the Gulf region, reconstruct the government's response to the
 storm, and examine why officials at every level were so ill prepared for the
 storm. They report that at the White House it's a standing joke among the
 president's top aides: who gets to deliver the bad news? The bad news on
 Tuesday, Aug. 30, some 24 hours after Hurricane Katrina had ripped through New
 Orleans, was that the president would have to cut short his five-week vacation
 by a couple of days and return to Washington. The president's chief of staff,
 Andrew Card; his deputy chief of staff, Joe Hagin; his counselor, Dan
 Bartlett, and his spokesman, Scott McClellan, held a conference call to
 discuss the question of the president's early return and the delicate task of
 telling him. Hagin, it was decided, as senior aide on the ground, would do the
 deed.
     Newsweek also reports that as the week went on, denial and frustration
 finally collided aboard Air Force One on Friday.  As the president's plane sat
 on the tarmac at New Orleans airport, a confrontation occurred that was
 described by one participant as "as blunt as you can get without the Secret
 Service getting involved."  One by one, the lawmakers listed their grievances
 as Bush listened. Rep. Bobby Jindal, whose district encompasses New Orleans,
 told of a sheriff who had called FEMA for assistance. According to Jindal, the
 sheriff was told to email his request, "and the guy was sitting in a district
 underwater and with no electricity," Jindal said, incredulously. "How does
 that make any sense?" According to Sen. David Vitter, a Republican ally of
 Bush's, the meeting came to a head when Mayor Nagin blew up during a fraught
 discussion of "who's in charge?" Nagin slammed his hand down on the table and
 told Bush, "We just need to cut through this and do what it takes to have a
 more controlled command structure. If that means federalizing it, let's do
 it."
     Late last week, Bush was, by some accounts, down and angry, Newsweek
 reports. But another Bush aide described the atmosphere inside the White House
 as "strangely surreal and almost detached." At one meeting described by this
 insider, officials were oddly self-congratulatory, perhaps in an effort to
 buck each other up. Also in the cover package:
 
     * Senior Editor Barbara Kantrowitz and San Francisco Bureau Chief Karen
       Breslau look at the littlest victims of Hurricane Katrina, exemplified
       by the story of one family waiting in their attic who almost starved to
       death-and then were ripped apart by the disaster, the children
       temporarily parentless, forced to fend for themselves and miraculously
       reunited one week later.  New Orleans alone was previously home to over
       130,000 children, the majority of which are now displaced or reported as
       missing, their fate still unclear.  Health experts predict the children
       of the hurricane could suffer for years from physical and emotional
       effects of their trauma. "Kids have lost their homes, their schools,
       their neighborhoods, connections with friends," says David Fassler, a
       psychiatrist at the University of Vermont who studies children and
       disasters. "I would expect to see an increase in anxiety, sleep
       difficulties, fears."
 
     * Chief Political Correspondent Howard Fineman reports that Katrina's
       winds have unspun the spin of the Bush machine, particularly the crucial
       idea that he is a commanding commander in chief.  In the latest Newsweek
       Poll, for the first time, less than a majority -- 49 percent -- say he
       has "strong leadership qualities," down from 63 percent last year.  "I'm
       unsatisfied with where we are right now," Republican Senate Leader Bill
       Frist told Newsweek, "because I cannot be assured now that if a similar
       event were to happen today, that anything would be different."
 
                 (Read entire cover story at www.Newsweek.com.
            For news releases, click "Pressroom" at bottom of page.)
 
                      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9287641/
 
 

SOURCE Newsweek
    NEW YORK, Sept. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- For the moment, at least, Americans are
 ready to fix their restless gaze on enduring problems of poverty, race and
 class that have escaped their attention, writes Senior Editor Jonathan Alter
 in the current issue of Newsweek. While it may not mean a new war on poverty,
 Alter writes that this disaster, Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, may
 offer a chance to start a skirmish, or at least make Washington think harder
 about why part of the richest country on earth looks like the Third World.
 "Americans tend to think of poor people as being responsible for their own
 economic woes," sociologist Andrew Cherlin of Johns Hopkins University tells
 Newsweek. "But this was a case where the poor were clearly not at fault. It
 was a reminder that we have a moral obligation to provide every American with
 a decent life."
     (Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20050911/NYSU004 )
     In the last four decades, part of that obligation has been met, thanks to
 Social Security and Medicare, food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit,
 which supplements the puny wages of the working poor, helping to lift millions
 into the lower middle class. But, Alter writes, after a decade of improvement
 in the 1990s, poverty in America is actually getting worse. A rising tide of
 economic growth is no longer lifting all boats. For the first time in half a
 century, the third year of a recovery (2004) also saw an increase in poverty.
 Alter examines America's poor, the role that poverty and race played in the
 Katrina disaster, what lessons can be learned from it and what realistic
 strategies might work to alleviate it in the September 19 Newsweek cover
 story, "Poverty, Race & Katrina: Lessons of A National Shame" (on newsstands
 Monday, September 12).
     Also in the cover package, Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas and a
 team of Newsweek correspondents from Washington and others who were on
 location in the Gulf region, reconstruct the government's response to the
 storm, and examine why officials at every level were so ill prepared for the
 storm. They report that at the White House it's a standing joke among the
 president's top aides: who gets to deliver the bad news? The bad news on
 Tuesday, Aug. 30, some 24 hours after Hurricane Katrina had ripped through New
 Orleans, was that the president would have to cut short his five-week vacation
 by a couple of days and return to Washington. The president's chief of staff,
 Andrew Card; his deputy chief of staff, Joe Hagin; his counselor, Dan
 Bartlett, and his spokesman, Scott McClellan, held a conference call to
 discuss the question of the president's early return and the delicate task of
 telling him. Hagin, it was decided, as senior aide on the ground, would do the
 deed.
     Newsweek also reports that as the week went on, denial and frustration
 finally collided aboard Air Force One on Friday.  As the president's plane sat
 on the tarmac at New Orleans airport, a confrontation occurred that was
 described by one participant as "as blunt as you can get without the Secret
 Service getting involved."  One by one, the lawmakers listed their grievances
 as Bush listened. Rep. Bobby Jindal, whose district encompasses New Orleans,
 told of a sheriff who had called FEMA for assistance. According to Jindal, the
 sheriff was told to email his request, "and the guy was sitting in a district
 underwater and with no electricity," Jindal said, incredulously. "How does
 that make any sense?" According to Sen. David Vitter, a Republican ally of
 Bush's, the meeting came to a head when Mayor Nagin blew up during a fraught
 discussion of "who's in charge?" Nagin slammed his hand down on the table and
 told Bush, "We just need to cut through this and do what it takes to have a
 more controlled command structure. If that means federalizing it, let's do
 it."
     Late last week, Bush was, by some accounts, down and angry, Newsweek
 reports. But another Bush aide described the atmosphere inside the White House
 as "strangely surreal and almost detached." At one meeting described by this
 insider, officials were oddly self-congratulatory, perhaps in an effort to
 buck each other up. Also in the cover package:
 
     * Senior Editor Barbara Kantrowitz and San Francisco Bureau Chief Karen
       Breslau look at the littlest victims of Hurricane Katrina, exemplified
       by the story of one family waiting in their attic who almost starved to
       death-and then were ripped apart by the disaster, the children
       temporarily parentless, forced to fend for themselves and miraculously
       reunited one week later.  New Orleans alone was previously home to over
       130,000 children, the majority of which are now displaced or reported as
       missing, their fate still unclear.  Health experts predict the children
       of the hurricane could suffer for years from physical and emotional
       effects of their trauma. "Kids have lost their homes, their schools,
       their neighborhoods, connections with friends," says David Fassler, a
       psychiatrist at the University of Vermont who studies children and
       disasters. "I would expect to see an increase in anxiety, sleep
       difficulties, fears."
 
     * Chief Political Correspondent Howard Fineman reports that Katrina's
       winds have unspun the spin of the Bush machine, particularly the crucial
       idea that he is a commanding commander in chief.  In the latest Newsweek
       Poll, for the first time, less than a majority -- 49 percent -- say he
       has "strong leadership qualities," down from 63 percent last year.  "I'm
       unsatisfied with where we are right now," Republican Senate Leader Bill
       Frist told Newsweek, "because I cannot be assured now that if a similar
       event were to happen today, that anything would be different."
 
                 (Read entire cover story at www.Newsweek.com.
            For news releases, click "Pressroom" at bottom of page.)
 
                      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9287641/
 
 SOURCE  Newsweek