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Some exploit lack of governance, while others step in to organize help

Fellow Fulbrighter Elisabeth Fraller recommends the Common Dreams Newscenter, especially an article in the Canadian Globe & Mail. It argues: "Every-man-for-himself ethos serves Americans poorly in times of crisis when people must pull together."

In much poorer societies, such as Indonesia and Sri Lanka after the Boxing Day tsunami, or in more polarized societies like Montreal during the 1998 ice storm, scenes of looting, violence and selfish desperation did not occur. But the large U.S. cities of the South have a very different sort of group psychology, in which faith in individual fortune replaces the fixed social roles that keep other places aloft during crises.

While the Katrina crisis brought out the worst in some people, it also brought out the best in many others, as Time Magazin columnist Tony Karon points out:

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US image considered one of the casualties of the Katrina crisis

The State Department's undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, Karen Hughes, assumed that the post-storm crime could do the most damage to the U.S. image abroad, writes The Gainville Sun in Florida. Hughes, however, did not describe the flawed relief efforts as a blow to the US image, although much of the global criticism has centered on the Bush administration's response to the storm.

For more world reactions and the impact of the Katrina crisis on the US image, check out the excellent press reviews in the Public Diplomacy Weblog "Eccentric Star," which is edited by a former Foreign Service officer of the US Information Agency.

Barbara Bush about refugees in the Houston Astrodome

What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them.
Fellow Fulbrighter Niels sent us these – in his words - "unsettling comments" by former First Lady Barbara Bush, who accompanied her husband and Bill Clinton on a tour of the Astrodome Complex on September 5th. The former presidents call for generous donations to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund.

Merkel might not bridge the transatlantic divide

Chancellor Schroeder is widely blamed in the US for the deterioration of US-German relations and many conservatives abroad look forward to a new and likely Chancellor Merkel. International Herald Tribune correspondent Richard Bernstein, however, is skeptical whether a new CDU-FDP government would bridge the transatlantic divide. Merkel's party made improved US-German relations a campaign promise. The CDU, however, strongly opposes EU membership for Turkey, while the SPD-Greens government and the Bush administration have advocated Turkey's integration into the EU. All parties have distanced themselves from the US statements on Iran during their election campaigns. The likely foreign minister in a Merkel administration has expressed the most Iran-friendly position.

Insufficient flood protection in New Orleans and Hamburg (Germany)

Local, state and federal authorities underestimated the risks and failed in their response to Katrina. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is blamed the most.
Hamburg, however, is not adequately protected against floods either, according to a German paper. When the levees break, a working class district will be hit the hardest, just like in New Orleans.

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Germany's aid to Katrina's victims

Technical assistance from Germany has arrived. President Bush praises generosity. Reuters writes about a new solidarity with the United States after recent differences over Iraq:
Residents of Berlin, which survived the 1948-49 Soviet blockade thanks to a U.S.-led airlift, are scrambling to send aid packages to New Orleans after seeing harrowing images of flood victims. Many Berliners are calling the Checkpoint Charlie Foundation to ask how they can send food- and clothing-filled boxes, like the CARE packages the city once received from Americans during the Cold War, to ordinary people suffering in New Orleans. (...)
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Fulbrighters are safe. Many want to help others

The Institue of International Education (IIE) has some good news for the Fulbright community amid the catastrophe: "We are pleased to report that all Fulbrighters in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama have checked in with IIE to report that they are safe and well."

Many Fulbright grantees all across the US report that their universities offer admission to students affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Many German Fulbright alumni have sent emails calling for donations to help those in need. We have already linked to the online donation form of the American Red Cross. If you don't trust the internet with your money or want to donate to German agencies to avoid international credit card fees, check out this list of agencies set up by Katrina Hilfe.

Commentaries on the Katrina disaster

The inadequate relief efforts have led to huge outrage in the US media. The leading newspapers in the US and in Germany blame primarily the Bush administration. Some argue that the mayor of New Orleans missed many opportunities to evacuate the poor.


The German paper "die tageszeitung" published an anti-American column full of malicous joy.


The American papers summarize US and world reactions, write about obliviousness and "dirty secrests of race and poverty," assume a "big bang" that will change the political culture, and worry about Texas' limited abilities to take care of more refugees as well as about the message the failed evacuation of New Orleans sends to terrorists.


Here are summaries, quotes and links to the full text of the commentaries:

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