Sunday, January 21, 2007

Ex-FEMA Director Faults Politics for Katrina Delay

NEW YORK -- Michael D. Brown, the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told a group of graduate students that party politics influenced decisions on whether to take federal control of areas affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Speaking at the Metropolitan College of New York, Brown said Friday that some in the White House had suggested that the federal government take charge in Louisiana because the governor, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, is a Democrat, while leaving Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican, in control in his state.

Brown declined to say who in the White House had argued for federalizing the response only in Louisiana. He said that he later learned of the machinations through Blanco's office and from federal officials.

"It is unfortunate that Mike Brown is still hurling false statements about the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina," White House spokeswoman Eryn Witcher said. "The only consideration made by the administration at the time of this tragedy and since are those in the best interests of the citizens of the Gulf region."

"This is exactly what we were living but could not bring ourselves to believe. Karl Rove was playing politics while our people were dying," Blanco said through a spokeswoman, referring to President Bush's top political strategist. "The federal effort was delayed, and now the public knows why. It's disgusting."

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· CHICAGO -- The board of Tribune Co., which put itself up for sale in September, met but took no action regarding three offers it has received. The company reaffirmed in a statement that a decision will come by the end of March.

· NEW ORLEANS -- A federal appeals court says slaughtering horses for meat is illegal in Texas, where two of the nation's three horse-processing plants are. The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, in New Orleans, upheld a 1949 state law that banned the practice. The plants ship the meat overseas because it is considered a delicacy in parts of Europe and Asia.

· SACRAMENTO -- California parents could face imprisonment and a fine for spanking their children younger than 4, under legislation a state lawmaker has promised to introduce next week. Assemblywoman Sally Lieber (D) said such a law is needed because spanking victimizes helpless children and breeds violence in society, but some Republican lawmakers called the idea ridiculous.

-- From News Services

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