On this day in 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans, beginning a cycle of disaster that still affects the city today. Just after the storm hit, MTV News' SuChin Pak headed down to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge to talk to refugees who were forced to leave New Orleans and volunteers looking to help out. These are her recollections five years hence.
I have not been back to the Gulf Coast since our last time down there. We went back a year after the hurricane to see how things had changed, and the thing that sticks in my memory the most is how little things had changed and in ways how much worse it was. Houses that had been filled with water were now drained but sitting for a year, untouched in the hot Louisiana sun. You can imagine the state of the houses and the kinds of smells that you encountered when walking through the empty streets. It kind of felt like a post-apocalyptic movie where you usually see the zombie creature as you turn the corner.
During our time there, it was the silence that was most deafening. You didn't hear one hammer, one construction truck, one sound that would indicate that rebuilding would come soon. We traveled with a group of high school and college students that were doing the work of retrieving belongings and trying to make a dent in the damage. They were the only group we encountered there ̵ no government agencies, no construction companies, just a small group of students volunteering to try to bring this neighborhood back on its feet. I left mostly feeling angry and confused.
Today, with the oil spill and the economy still in turmoil, I wonder how that neighborhood looks and if indeed, they were able to get back some of what they lost. I certainly hope so.
Okay, from Presidents to Britney Spears. This is why I love my job.
The situation is being constantly updated but here is the latest.
Yes, she deserved to have her kids taken away. Yes, she seems to have lost touch with reality which could make for some bad, bad parenting decisions. But yes, these celebrity blogs, websites, "news" outlets have been nasty. I saw on one website, a poll that asks "Do you think she'll go out tonight?" I read another article, where the writer called her a gum snappin, panty-less slut.
Can Britney ever come back from this......? I mean as a performer? As a mother? As someone who people will root for? By the sounds of the viewing audience, things are looking really bad......understatement of the year.
Well, in a follow up to a blog I posted about some students not knowing who John Edwards is (thankfully, very few), I thought we could use a quick overview of the issues that the senator will most likely want to talk about. Here are some interesting facts about him that may be helpful for you guys when thinking about the dialogue and the questions you'll have for him on Thursday.
— He wants to create a national plan to pay ONE YEAR of public-college tuition, fees and books for more than two million students.
— Was the first candidate to create an agenda to address climate change, answering student activists and calling for a ban on all new coal plants.
— Edwards supports civil unions, but not gay marriage.
— He wants to end poverty completely at home by the year 2036, but has been criticized for that $400 dollar hair cut.
— Wants to have universal healthcare by asking businesses and government to work together and wants to create better healthcare markets that are more fair, diverse and extensive. And once insurance is affordable, require everyone to have it.
— Wants to stop the escalation and start an immediate drawdown of troops in Iraq.
— Wants to encourage and reward responsibility from fathers, requiring fathers on welfare to work and help them find jobs to help support single mothers. This is currently not a law in place for welfare reform.
— He wants to strengthen public schools by investing in good teachers and the retention of candidates in rural and urban districts.
So, to get you prepped for this historic event on Thursday, let’s talk about some things that matter to you.
MTV, CBS and the New York Times did a poll of 659 17-29 year olds to ask them a whole lot of questions about politics, life, and this upcoming election. It’s a big study, so I just pulled some interesting facts I thought you guys might want to know about before asking that amazing question online at MySpace on Thursday!
--80% of you guys believe you will have an impact on this election. (Now let’s turn that into a promise!)
--More of you gals out there believe you will have an impact on this election than our male buddies. (Not that the brothers aren’t out there!)
--Here are the top 5 issues that you care most about:
1. Jobs/Economy (including the issue of job training.)
2. Iraq (most of you think that things are going very badly over there.)
3. Education (especially the issue of student loans)
4. Environment (with a big want to reduce oil consumption.)
5. Health Care Coverage (duh!)
So, I landed in New Hampshire last night, drove to campus and went straight to recruiting. Standing outside of a dining hall here at UNH, clipboard in hand, accosting every single student who walked by to see if they were interested in attending the forum and, better yet, if they had an intelligent question in mind. I got a lot of "No thanks" and a few "Whattya doin for dinners?" But also more "Who's John Edwards?" than I expected.
WHO'S JOHN EDWARDS????????????????
So, I'm wondering do you or someone you know, not know who John Edwards is? (No judgment, just pure curiosity.)
Is it possible for politicians to be honest? I mean, isn’t that expecting a little too much? Everyone has an agenda, let’s at least agree to that. But, I think the whole thing about the world wide web is that everyone has a voice, not everyone will be heard, but that’s up to the public, isn’t it? And in a way, it’s the truest form of democracy, we all have the opportunity to say what we want, to call out who we want and post it out there for anyone to see. Potentially, this could be the most “honest” election yet.
Check out this article I read in the Wall Street Journal from September 21, “Keeping the Debate in Politics to This Side of ‘Pants on Fire.’” It’s all about these really great, accessible websites like factcheck.org and Politifact where “facts” from candidates are researched and rated from “true” to “pants on fire”. Funny right? The site doesn’t rate the overall “truthyness” of a candidate or takes sides. Now, through the power of the people online, every time a candidate gives a speech where there’s some really juicy number or fact that gives them an edge, there are places that will tell you exactly what it means and if it’s TRUE! Hey, I’m not saying politicians aren’t going to lie, it’s just getting harder to get away with it. And I say booyakash! to that.
From the Road,
So, as I was going over some of the research on my tiny plane/canoe-in-the-sky, the nice gentleman sitting next to me (who I thought was a political speech writer from sneaking looks on his lap top) leaned over and asked which candidate I worked for. He turns out to be Walter Shapiro, Washington Bureau Chief of Salon.com. When he finds out what I’m doing in New Hampshire, he gives me some advice. First, the quirkier the questions, the better and second, my job as moderator will be to cut the senator off from speech stumping.
Then he gets this big grin on his face and whispers, I’d like to hear someone ask the Senator, “what makes him think running a small law firm qualifies him to run a country?”
I hope that wasn’t “off the record.” Thoughts?
From the Road,
At the airport, waiting to get on a plane to Manchester, NH. First, I’ve got the worst allergies and I’m hoping that I won’t be snotting while moderating the debates on Thursday. Second, this is going to be one of those small planes where they ask you to sit according to weight, like you're in a canoe or on a tandem bicycle…. I am not in the least worried about that.
But, back to the issue at hand, I’m off to what will hopefully be an historic journey of political magnitude unlike anything our generation has seen before! How’s that for enthusiasm. I’ve been totally dorking out at my video on the MySpace page and refreshing every 15 seconds to see the views incrementally change. It’s strangely the most gratifying thing I’ve done in weeks. You just sit there and hit refresh and scream…20 more people saw the video! I know, it’s a pointless way to use my time, but really fun while I’m packing and getting ready for the trip. The thing about the “internets” is it’s instant gratification. You can feel people clicking on to something you’ve done and that small task of someone actually reading your blog, taking time to comment or click on a video feels earned. Conversely, when things are “silent” you feel like you haven’t hit the spot. TV is different. It’s like working in a glass bubble: You never really know what people are thinking or if they’re watching or what they would say if I were in the room.
Ok, so I'll never be president...at least until Schwarzenegger gets the Constitution changed....which isn't such a far fetched idea considering, well, I won't say the obvious. But, I get to meet the potential next president of the United States on Thursday in New Hampshire. There are many things that go through one's mind when offered an opportunity like this. The first is a series of….”uh-oh, I’m not smart enough or activist enough or white-male enough” (that's for another day), and then the second thought is “Holy sh--, what do I wear?” I mean seriously, my wardrobe consists of Hello Kitty prints and skinny jeans.
I'm just being really, really honest and what I really want to say is that I'm nervous, excited and kind of vomitous at the same time. I hope that doesn't deter you guys from coming with me on this ride. It'll either be the coolest thing ever or fodder for a Christopher Guest movie. Read More...
I have resisted and resisted about saying my opinion about Britney. There's not much to say about someone else's life, because who are we to judge and how do we know what's really going on? I know a few things about the media, tabloid magazines and celebrity blogs....and truly, truly, they are some of the scuzziest people on earth. Not the majority, but enough to make me kinda gag when they plead journalism or constitutional rights when it comes to what they print.
The other real point I wanted to make about the story on yesterday's "TRL" about Britney losing her lawyers and her management and probably custody of those kids is that it seems no one is talking about postpartum depression. Okay, hear me out, I'm not a mom, puppies even make me nervous....but I was talking with some girlfriends of mine who do have babies and know nothing about Britney or Kevin Federline or care about countdowns or how "celebrities are just like us." Read More...