Corruption as Usual

Two hurricanes have now hit Louisiana, wreaking terrible destruction. New Orleans continues to flood. Hundreds of thousands of people are scattered across the country, many in shelters. Given the scale of the calamity, surely it’s time for Louisiana politicians to stop, assess the damage and work out the most rational way to help their state recover. Continue reading “Corruption as Usual”

Planning for Next Time

Ask any hurricane expert, any disaster planner. Or ask anyone who knows about evacuations and he’ll tell you: There are always some people who stay behind. During Hurricane Elena in 1985, 10 percent of the inhabitants of the washed-out coastal barrier islands refused to leave, despite repeated warnings and despite their relative wealth. Continue reading “Planning for Next Time”

Solidarity Remembered

Walk down Long Market Street, past the shops selling amber beads and cavalry swords, through the medieval gates of the city of Gdansk, Poland. Cross the highway, head toward the shipyard and look up. When I did so a few days ago, I saw an enormous billboard featuring a list of cities: “Gdansk. Budapest. Prague. Berlin. Bucharest. Sofia. Kiev.” Continue reading “Solidarity Remembered”

Think Again, Karen Hughes

Only two senators were in the room when Karen Hughes testified at her confirmation hearings. When it came time for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to vote on her nomination yesterday, she was easily approved. And thus with no discussion and no debate, Hughes takes over the least noticed, least respected and possibly most important job in the State Department. Continue reading “Think Again, Karen Hughes”

The Low-Odds Factor

By now we’ve all had that feeling. You’re waiting in a crowded underground station, about to step onto a train. Suddenly you think: What if it happened here? What if this station, or this escalator, or this train, is a target? If you’re like most people, the feeling passes. You shrug, get out your newspaper, get on the train and go to work. Continue reading “The Low-Odds Factor”

Live 8 Meets Big 2

For reasons that don’t merit elaboration, I spent several hours over the past weekend stuck in European airports. That unexpected chunk of downtime — a little gift from the airline industry — gave me the equally unexpected opportunity to read all of the British and French newspapers, or at least all of the ones they sell at Charles de Gaulle Airport. Continue reading “Live 8 Meets Big 2”