0

What others are saying

Katrina showed weaknesses of Homeland Security

Florida Today, Melbourne, Fla.:

There is plenty of blame to go around in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath ... New Orleans officials bear their share, especially in how some evacuations were not carried out. So does Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, who didn't act fast enough to formally ask for federal help, which the law requires.

But more than anything, Katrina ripped away the facade that was the Bush administration's disaster ''planning'' for homeland security - a plan it has spent four years and billions of dollars to develop since the Twin Towers fell.

What the nation really got is colossal incompetence and inexcusable bureaucratic bungling that has caused needless death and suffering on an epic scale.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami told everyone well in advance - including top federal officials - that Katrina was a monster that would trigger a huge storm surge, likely swamp New Orleans' levees and cause catastrophic flooding.

And then there's President Bush, who showed how blind he was by saying no one thought the levees would break, despite the loud warnings and years of studies that accurately predicted they would.

The Katrina-was-too-big-to-handle apologists conveniently forget this:

A nuclear or chemical attack by terrorists in a major urban area could easily cause a city the size of New Orleans to be contaminated and uninhabitable, spawning the same immediate and huge demands for evacuation, shelter, food and medical care as Katrina.

And do it without warning.

That's what Bush's Department of Homeland Security was supposed to be prepared for, but obviously wasn't.

Forgiving debt first step in poverty fight

The Democrat & Chronicle, Rochester, N.Y.:

Armed with a typically sobering report on the dimensions of global poverty, world leaders will meet this week at the United Nations on the problem - one that never seems to get much better - of how to help the world's impoverished, dying millions, many of whom are children.

Solutions will not come in one, overpowering wave. They will come in parts and debt forgiveness is a part whose time has come.

A concern, of course, is that developed nations will once again talk a better game than they deliver.

For its part, the Bush administration has been better at promising than providing, though the post-Katrina revelations about poverty in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast may help close that gap.

The leaders should echo what the G-8 nations the top developed countries, including the United States have pledged: $50 billion by 2010 to combat global poverty.

A good down payment on that commitment could come from the International Monetary Fund. It should follow through on the G-8's promise to forgive the international debt of the poorest 18 countries, 14 of which are in Africa.

Returning those funds to debtor countries won't cure the world, or even one country, of poverty.

But forgiving the debt has both material and symbolic value. It replaces the hand outstretched for money with simple human compassion. It affirms, in a way, that life is more important than money.