Morning Report: September 1, 2005

Hurricane Katrina devastates Gulf Coast. As many as 60,000 people are fleeing New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. 'Police and National Guard troops struggled to restore order Thursday in New Orleans, where looters and armed gangs were roaming the streets of the flooded city. As thousands of people slept on streets, interstate access ramps and bridges. Outside the New Orleans Convention Center, a huge crowd waited on the sidewalks for aid that could be a long time coming. Authorities worked to evacuate the 25,000 people who had taken shelter from Hurricane Katrina in the Superdome, but the number of people seeking to get out of the city grew. "It's no longer just evacuees from the Superdome, as citizens who were holed up in high-rise office buildings and hotels saw buses moving into the dome, they realized this is an evacuation point," Lt. Col. Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard said. He estimated between 50,000 and 60,000 people were seeking evacuation.' Looting and lawlessness have been problems in Mississippi and Louisiana: '“There’s so many people there. It’s a desperate situation with no air conditioning and no water,” Louisiana National Guard Lt. Col. Pete Schneider said of the Superdome. Fights broke out. A fire erupted in a trash chute inside the dome, but a National Guard commander said it did not affect the evacuation. However, the airborne evacuation was disrupted after at least one shot was reported fired at a military helicopter. An air ambulance service official said helicopter transfers of the sick and injured were suspended as a result. ... The Superdome helicopter operation was suspended “until they gain control of the Superdome,” said Richard Zuschlag, head of Acadian Ambulance, which was handling the evacuation of sick and injured people. He said the National Guard told him that it was sending 100 military police officers to gain control. “That’s not enough,” Zuschlag. “We need a thousand.” ... Looting has also been a problem in Mississippi. “The truth is, a terrible tragedy like this brings out the best in most people, brings out the worst in some people,” said Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour on NBC’s “Today” show Thursday. “We’re trying to deal with looters as ruthlessly as we can get our hands on them.” ' What can you do to help? Go to Instapundit to find out. (various)

Hundreds die in Baghdad pilgrim stampede. In another recent tragedy, hundreds of people were killed in a pilgrim stampede in Baghdad when 'huge crowds of pilgrims heading to the shrine of Imam Kadhom caused the fence of the A'imma bridge to collapse pushing people to fall into the Tigris river.' Neo-Neocon posts some thoughts on the dynamics of stampedes: 'On analysis, it turns out there are three main categories of venues that would appear to favor stampedes: the soccer stadium (or other large sporting event); the crowded nightclub in which a fire breaks out; and the religious pilgrimage. They all share the characteristics of having very large and moving groups of people packed into a restricted space. But panic, such as apparently occurred on the Iraqi bridge, is, surprisingly, not a required element to start such stampedes, although it inevitably happens as the stampede begins to take shape, and makes them that much worse. Stampedes can sometimes be sparked in the absence of any panic, when chance events block the flow of traffic in an overcrowded and spacially restricted situation. The situation, as far as I can determine, is a bit analogous to the elements that go into a tsunami, strangely enough. That is, a huge and extremely powerful force (in the case of crowds, the moving people; in the case of tsunamis, the moving water) is initially spread out horizontally. Then, some sort of blockage impedes that horizontal movement and converts it, at least partially, into a vertical one.' (ITM, Neo-Neocon)

"Pakistan has decided to engage Israel." Via Roger Simon, encouraging news about potential Israel-Pakistan relations: 'Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri said that ''Pakistan attaches great importance to Israel ending its occupation of Gaza. Pakistan has therefore decided to engage Israel.''" The announcement comes at a meeting of foreign ministers in Istanbul; Turkey is one of four Muslim countries (with Jordan, Egypt, and Mauritania) enjoying diplomatic relations with Israel. (IHT via Roger L. Simon)