Madison Regatta tragedy

The Madison Regatta ended on an extremely surreal note today as a car traveling at high speed crashed through the crowd at the Madison Regatta and ended up in the Ohio River.

The driver barreled down Jefferson Street past our building and plowed through the Regatta gates, into the spectator area and ended up in the river. 11 were injured, four air-flighted to Louisville hospitals including the driver.

They quickly cleared the accident scene that was two blocks from our building.

Our friend was a gate guard for the Regatta. He told Darlene he was three feet away from the car as it “mowed people down.”

I’m now hearing the driver claims to have passed out at the wheel. The Louisville Courier-Journal was the first with web coverage.

update: A news conference reports the driver an 18-year-old Madison man—-Matt- Michael Bowen. Four people including one youth was critically injured and air-flighted to Louisville. 11 treated overall. Considering I am amazed at how few people were injured.

update: The AP article was on the front page of the NY Times website. What a way to make national news.

Witness David Edds, of Owensboro, Ky., told The Associated Press he heard a loud noise and saw a car in the air. ‘’I saw one young lady just frozen in her path, just standing at the water’s edge and the car ran directly over the top of her,’’ he said.

Spectators rushed to help the injured, Edds said.
‘’There was just a trail of folks laying on the ground in the path of where the car had gone,’’ he said.”

To be on the safe side, I heard they are searching the river for anyone that might have been dragged in by the accident. They’re going to hold another press conference at City Hall tomorrow morning.

Earlier in the event, the Miss Madison (U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto) barely avoided crashing into the starting line flag boat. Mark Campbell of the Madison Courier snagged a photo.

correction I miswrote the driver’s name. My apologies.

Posted in Madison

This is fun

For those who remember, I grew up in Buffalo, New York, home of chicken wings and the Buffalo Sabres.

Of course it is the latter that is cheering me to no end at this moment. Behind a very promising young goaltender and a team of extremely dangerous nobodies, the Sabres are whipping on the Stanley Cup favorite Ottawa Senators.

What makes the Sabres special is the way they play as a team. There is no single player you can keep in check because there are three to take his place.

Unfortunately, the only way I can follow the games is on the web. The Buffalo News has been fun to read, though the Ottawa Citizen has been equally fun:

It isn’t a playoff hole any more. It’s a crater. Three games down, and none left to lose.

Reach for those rare comeback examples, Senators fans, and grasp them, along with the family prayer beads, as Game 4 approaches tonight.

While I loved the 0-3 recovery by the Boston Red Sox—the Yankees are my least favorite team—it just will not happen for Ottawa, the Sabres are too good for that.

Posted in On-the-News

Madison 4-11: A Landmark Day

Wow… I now live in a Nationall Historic Landmark!

The acting secretary of the interior was in town yesterday to give our absolutely wonderful historic district an upgrade… I now live in the Downtown Madison National Historic Landmark District!

Unlike Graceland, also named this year, we don’t have one house or one estate, we now have one of the nation’s largest (if not the largest) landmark districts with 144 blocks and 2,000 structures. With spring springing, this place is incredible. I’m so proud of this place and everyone who worked on this project. It is extremely well-deserved.

Our friends, both of whom worked long and hard on the designation, were joking they are thinking of writting “Madison NHL, IN 47250” on their mail from now on.

I’m heading off to a library conference today, so I can’t go into the wonderful details on how and why this honor, the highest in the nation, puts us on par with Savannah and Charleston.

Nor will I take a whole lot of time explaining how (or wondering why) the acting secretary of the interior called our wonderful small homes “shotgun shanties.”

I will leave you with the first of what I hope is many articles about our community from today’s Louisville Courier-Journal.

Posted in Madison

We can't wake up from the Katrina nightmare

Note: This is a post from my wife Darlene.

I, like many, have been following the stories from the areas that were hit by hurricane Katrina. Recently I read a story telling of bodies still – 6 months later – being found in houses in New Orleans. Another story in the past few weeks told of evacuees still waiting for promised FEMA trailers. This nightmare is not over for many.

About four days before hurricane Katrina, I visited the website of the New Orleans newspaper, the Times-Picayune. There I found a series of articles published in 2002 that is still online. The topic? Titled Washing Away, the series was an in-depth depiction of the consequences of a major hurricane hitting New Orleans. It was all there, the failing of the levees, the storm surge predictions, the history of hurricanes that have hit the area in the past, the lack of transportation available for residents to evacuate. The series showed in detail, complete with graphics, the likelihood of a major hurricane hitting New Orleans, and the probable results.

As the newspaper put it:

It’s a matter of when, not if. Eventually a major hurricane will hit New Orleans head on, instead of being just a close call. It’s happened before and it’ll happen again.

As a city that is located below sea level, the dangers were obvious, and the “big one” was an ongoing topic in the area, much as Californians await the big earthquake. Early in 2005, the National Weather Service predicted a busier hurricane season than usual with a number of strong storms. Hurricane Katrina moved into the gulf on Friday August 26th, 3 days before coming ashore in the US for the second time. As it passed through southern Florida, the predictions of it becoming a major hurricane fueled by the perfect conditions in the warm gulf began:

From the National Hurricane center on the 26th:

GIVEN THE RAPID IMPROVEMENT IN THE INNER CORE STRUCTURE AND THE SHARP PRESSURE DROP…RAPID INTENSIFICATION SEEMS LIKELY FOR THE NEXT 12 HOURS OR SO. AFTERWARDS…STEADY INTENSIFICATION TO NEAR CATEGORY FOUR STRENGTH BY 72 HOURS APPEARS TO BE IN ORDER GIVEN THE VERY WARM GULF WATERS BENEATH THE HURRICANE AND THE VERTICAL SHEAR FORECAST TO DECREASE TO LESS THAN 10 KT BY 48 HOURS.

The warnings put out by the National Weather Service were detailed and ominous.

This from Sunday the 28th…

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 160 MPH…WITH HIGHER GUSTS. KATRINA IS A POTENTIALLY CATASTROPHIC CATEGORY FIVE HURRICANE ON THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON SCALE. SOME FLUCTUATIONS IN STRENGTH ARE LIKELY PRIOR TO LANDFALL…AND KATRINA IS EXPECTED TO MAKE LANDFALL AT CATEGORY FOUR OR FIVE INTENSITY. WINDS AFFECTING THE UPPER FLOORS OF HIGH-RISE BUILDINGS WILL BE SIGNIFICANTLY STRONGER THAN THOSE NEAR GROUND LEVEL.

KATRINA IS A LARGE HURRICANE. HURRICANE FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 105 MILES FROM THE CENTER…AND TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 230 MILES. SUSTAINED TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS ARE ALREADY OCCURRING OVER THE SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA COAST.

A NOAA HURRICANE HUNTER PLANE REPORTED A MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE OF 904 MB…26.69 INCHES.

COASTAL STORM SURGE FLOODING OF 18 TO 22 FEET ABOVE NORMAL TIDE LEVELS…LOCALLY AS HIGH AS 28 FEET…ALONG WITH LARGE AND DANGEROUS BATTERING WAVES…CAN BE EXPECTED NEAR AND TO THE EAST OF WHERE THE CENTER MAKES LANDFALL. SOME LEVEES IN THE GREATER NEW ORLEANS AREA COULD BE OVERTOPPED. SIGNIFICANT STORM SURGE FLOODING WILL OCCUR ELSEWHERE ALONG THE CENTRAL AND NORTHEASTERN GULF OF MEXICO COAST.

So while our president said just days after the hurricane, that no one anticipated the levees would be breached, that was obviously not the case.

Before I continue, let me make one thing clear. Though I am no fan of President Bush, I am appalled at the hurricane response at all levels. There is enough failure and blame to go around. Why I am particularly disturbed by the comments of President Bush, however, is that this one comment shows a either a lack of awareness, an ignorance that is disturbing to see in our top leader, or it shows a callous disregard for the facts and the truth of the catastrophy that killed over a thousand of our citizens.

I was extremely angry at the time to hear the reporting of the falsehood of no one anticipating the levees failing. I still am, but the reports that were published by the Associated Press the other evening, and the video of the news conference clearly show that president Bush was informed- in detail – of the threat before the arrival of the hurricane. Michael Brown, for all of his supposed failings clearly understood the danger facing New Orleans from the storm, and President Bush was warned by him and others of what was coming.

If you haven’t already seen this on the news, it is posted by a number of news sources on the web.

Link to video from the Washington Post

This story and video was covered on all major news networks. FEMA and Homeland Security definitely need to be organized better and as I said earlier there is enough blame to go around. Because Katrina touched all of us and hurt so many of our people, I feel that we all need to be informed of what really happened in the response. We cannot stop a hurricane, but we can insist – from all of our leaders – on better care for our fellow citizens in need.

Posted in On-the-News

A different set of levees are crumbling

I am 100 percent for religious freedom. This includes allowing our Indiana legislators to open their session with prayer.

The key is that everyone should be able to enjoy the same freedom. People should be able to worship their God(s)-Godess(es)-Spirit(s) as they deem proper. The flip side to freedom of religion is that we cannot quash anyone else’s freedoms either.

Benjamin Franklin had an interesting saying: “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.”

We have heard the argument that the lambs are trying to force the wolves to go vegetarian—no public prayer anywhere! A vegetarian wolf is certainly unrealistic. Yet, recently even the lamb expressing their desire not to be eaten has met with howling.

For example, there is now a resolution before the the Missouri legislature to name Christianity the state’s official majority religion.

The resolution would recognize “a Christian god,” and it would not protect minority religions, but “protect the majority’s right to express their religious beliefs. The resolution also recognizes that, “a greater power exists,” and only Christianity receives what the resolution calls, “justified recognition.”

In Kentucky, a county attorney and a church youth group has submitted surveys to legislators and candidates with a single question: Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?

On one hand a voter should be able to ask a legislator their views on any topic and use that information in exercising their lobbying efforts or voting. Yet on the flip side the U.S. Constitution specifically states: “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust.” Again, an interesting balance.

To me it is specifically that…a balance.

Let’s say a public school teacher were to offer up a prayer in class. In my mind any and all others in the school should be able to have the exact same freedom. Everyone would probably agree until one child or teacher wanted to offer a Wiccan prayer. Then all hell would break lose even though the last 42 prayers were Christian. So 42 people are allowed religious freedom and one does not?

My personal preference would be to let everyone have their moments of prayer throughout the day as they desire so long as it did not interfer with classtime. Groups of Christian, Muslim, Jewish or Wiccan students could meet before school, between classes, during lunch or after school. 100 percent freedom and zero religious harassment.

Yet, right now the wolves are howling that they don’t get to eat the lamb. I think this is obvious when you have legislative resolutions being proposed in a country with the Constitution states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

The levy between government and religion are crumbling. That might not be entirely bad if, unlike Hurricane Katrina, we actually evacuate everyone before the levy breaks.

I may revisit and even revise these thoughts. It’s an interesting topic to think about. What are your thoughts?

Posted in Politics

Bush knew about Katrina and there's video to prove it

Do you remember George W. Bush, four days after Hurricane Katrina absolutely swamped New Orleans stating: “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.”

Well the Associated Press got ahold of a certain video and some transcripts today.

Here’s a quote from Video Shows Bush Was Warned Before Katrina

In dramatic and sometimes agonizing terms, federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, put lives at risk in New Orleans’ Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage… Bush didn’t ask a single question during the final briefing before Katrina struck on Aug. 29, but he assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: “We are fully prepared.”

Bush is on tape. He knew. During the briefing Bush promised that the feds were ready and that help would be there. They were not.

Why does he have to constantly lie about the sheer ineptness of his administration? I suspect his approval ratings would be a lot higher than 34 percent had he quickly acknowleged that FEMA became buried in a bureaucratic hell and that he would do everything in his power to correct it.

Rather he told Brownie he was doing a “heck of a job” and lied that no one could have anticipated the breach. Typical, how bushing typical.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has his share of the blame for the absolute disaster as well, but I can’t blame him at all for thinking this…

“I have kind a sinking feeling in my gut right now,” Nagin said. “I was listening to what people were saying—they didn’t know, so therefore it was an issue of a learning curve. You know, from this tape it looks like everybody was fully aware.”

Here’s a link to an AP video with clips from the briefing video. If you stay tuned into the feed, it is followed by Ray Nagins comments and a pretty neat short about Mardi Gras.

Posted in On-the-News

The Case for Impeachment

In the March 2006 issue of Harper’s magazine, Lewis Lapham writes the essay The Case for Impreachment. It takes a gander at the 182-page report created by the office of U.S. Rep. John Conyers entitled “The Constitution in Crisis; The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Coverups in the Iraq War.” His conclusion?

“Before reading the report, I wouldn’t have expected to find myself thinking that such a course of action was either likely or possible; after reading the report, I don’t know why we would run the risk of not impeaching the man.”

Posted in Politics

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