FEMA relents on Microsoft Windows-only policy

On Tuesday, September 6th, we posted an article “FEMA: Mac users drop dead – Hurricane Katrina online assistance site is Windows only,” which explained that FEMA’s online aid application for hurricane survivors worked only on Windows PCs with Internet Explorer. At the time, we commented that this was “more short-sighted Windows-only bullshit from the U.S government.”

Many other websites also reported the story and it looks like it has made something of a difference.

FEMA updated their online FAQ on “Monday, 09-Sep-2005” which, of course is impossible, unless you’re part of the government. Maybe that’s why some of these government agencies botched the hurricane relief efforts? The simple lack of a common calendar?

Anyway, FEMA explains that they are now, as of “Monday, 09-Sep-2005” presumably, “in the process of modifying the application so that it will be available to additional browsers.” How long that will take is anybody’s guess, especially since the boys and girls at FEMA seem to have their own totally unique calendar, but we cynically tend to believe support for non-IE browsers will be later rather than sooner. Still, we suppose one can always hope.

Related articles:
Macs need not apply for use on UK Parliament network – September 12, 2005
FEMA: Mac users drop dead – Hurricane Katrina online assistance site is Windows only – September 07, 2005
World Wide Web Consortium objects to US Copyright Office’s Internet Explorer-only browser plan – August 25, 2005
U.S. Copyright Office: Use only the world’s most insecure browser to secure your copyright – August 17, 2005
U.S. Copyright Office: is it okay if our new website only works with Internet Explorer? – August 11, 2005

53 Comments

  1. Why exactly do you feel the need to add your own words to quoted statements? Is it because you don’t think your own opinion is convincing enough unless you manipulate quotes? Great job with the unbiased news reporting. Keep it up.

  2. As an unpaid professional (read that volunteer) firefighter, I have direct experience in working in emergency situations.

    The three most important things in emergency management are preplanning, preplanning, and preplanning. It is obvious that FEMA failed on all three counts.

    Competency flows downhill from the leaders. Micheal Brown, the current head of FEMA is a lawyer with NO Emergency Management experience. James Lee Witt, Clinton’s FEMA head, was the former head of the Arkansas Office of Emergency management. Now I understand politics, but couldn’t President Bush have found a qualified, Republican, experienced Emergency Management professional somewhere in the 50 states, D.C., territories, big cities, etc.? Inexperience at the top never bodes well for those working at the bottom.

    MW = meet, as in FEMA has failed to meet the needs of America

  3. An Unnatural Disaster: A Hurricane Exposes the Man-Made Disaster of the Welfare State

    It has taken four long days for state and federal officials to figure out how to deal with the disaster in New Orleans. I can’t blame them, because it has also taken me four long days to figure out what is going on there. The reason is that the events there make no sense if you think that we are confronting a natural disaster.

    If this is just a natural disaster, the response for public officials is obvious: you bring in food, water, and doctors; you send transportation to evacuate refugees to temporary shelters; you send engineers to stop the flooding and rebuild the city’s infrastructure. For journalists, natural disasters also have a familiar pattern: the heroism of ordinary people pulling together to survive; the hard work and dedication of doctors, nurses, and rescue workers; the steps being taken to clean up and rebuild.

    Public officials did not expect that the first thing they would have to do is to send thousands of armed troops in armored vehicle, as if they are suppressing an enemy insurgency. And journalists–myself included–did not expect that the story would not be about rain, wind, and flooding, but about rape, murder, and looting.

    But this is not a natural disaster. It is a man-made disaster.

    The man-made disaster is not an inadequate or incompetent response by federal relief agencies, and it was not directly caused by Hurricane Katrina. This is where just about every newspaper and television channel has gotten the story wrong.

    The man-made disaster we are now witnessing in New Orleans did not happen over the past four days. It happened over the past four decades. Hurricane Katrina merely exposed it to public view.

    The man-made disaster is the welfare state.

    For the past few days, I have found the news from New Orleans to be confusing. People were not behaving as you would expect them to behave in an emergency–indeed, they were not behaving as they have behaved in other emergencies. That is what has shocked so many people: they have been saying that this is not what we expect from America. In fact, it is not even what we expect from a Third World country.

    When confronted with a disaster, people usually rise to the occasion. They work together to rescue people in danger, and they spontaneously organize to keep order and solve problems. This is especially true in America. We are an enterprising people, used to relying on our own initiative rather than waiting around for the government to take care of us. I have seen this a hundred times, in small examples (a small town whose main traffic light had gone out, causing ordinary citizens to get out of their cars and serve as impromptu traffic cops, directing cars through the intersection) and large ones (the spontaneous response of New Yorkers to September 11).

    So what explains the chaos in New Orleans?

    To give you an idea of the magnitude of what is going on, here is a description from a Washington Times story:

    “Storm victims are raped and beaten; fights erupt with flying fists, knives and guns; fires are breaking out; corpses litter the streets; and police and rescue helicopters are repeatedly fired on.

    “The plea from Mayor C. Ray Nagin came even as National Guardsmen poured in to restore order and stop the looting, carjackings and gunfire….

    “Last night, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said 300 Iraq-hardened Arkansas National Guard members were inside New Orleans with shoot-to-kill orders.

    ” ‘These troops are…under my orders to restore order in the streets,’ she said. ‘They have M-16s, and they are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill and they are more than willing to do so if necessary and I expect they will.’ “

    The reference to Iraq is eerie. The photo that accompanies this article shows National Guard troops, with rifles and armored vests, riding on an armored vehicle through trash-strewn streets lined by a rabble of squalid, listless people, one of whom appears to be yelling at them. It looks exactly like a scene from Sadr City in Baghdad.

    What explains bands of thugs using a natural disaster as an excuse for an orgy of looting, armed robbery, and rape? What causes unruly mobs to storm the very buses that have arrived to evacuate them, causing the drivers to drive away, frightened for their lives? What causes people to attack the doctors trying to treat patients at the Super Dome?

  4. Why are people responding to natural destruction by causing further destruction? Why are they attacking the people who are trying to help them?

    My wife, Sherri, figured it out first, and she figured it out on a sense-of-life level. While watching the coverage last night on Fox News Channel, she told me that she was getting a familiar feeling. She studied architecture at the Illinois Institute of Chicago, which is located in the South Side of Chicago just blocks away from the Robert Taylor Homes, one of the largest high-rise public housing projects in America. “The projects,” as they were known, were infamous for uncontrollable crime and irremediable squalor. (They have since, mercifully, been demolished.)

    What Sherri was getting from last night’s television coverage was a whiff of the sense of life of “the projects.” Then the “crawl”–the informational phrases flashed at the bottom of the screen on most news channels–gave some vital statistics to confirm this sense: 75% of the residents of New Orleans had already evacuated before the hurricane, and of the 300,000 or so who remained, a large number were from the city’s public housing projects. Jack Wakeland then gave me an additional, crucial fact: early reports from CNN and Fox indicated that the city had no plan for evacuating all of the prisoners in the city’s jails–so they just let many of them loose. There is no doubt a significant overlap between these two populations–that is, a large number of people in the jails used to live in the housing projects, and vice versa.

    There were many decent, innocent people trapped in New Orleans when the deluge hit–but they were trapped alongside large numbers of people from two groups: criminals–and wards of the welfare state, people selected, over decades, for their lack of initiative and self-induced helplessness. The welfare wards were a mass of sheep–on whom the incompetent administration of New Orleans unleashed a pack of wolves.

    All of this is related, incidentally, to the apparent incompetence of the city government, which failed to plan for a total evacuation of the city, despite the knowledge that this might be necessary. But in a city corrupted by the welfare state, the job of city officials is to ensure the flow of handouts to welfare recipients and patronage to political supporters–not to ensure a lawful, orderly evacuation in case of emergency.

    No one has really reported this story, as far as I can tell. In fact, some are already actively distorting it, blaming President Bush, for example, for failing to personally ensure that the Mayor of New Orleans had drafted an adequate evacuation plan. The worst example is an execrable piece from the Toronto Globe and Mail, by a supercilious Canadian who blames the chaos on American “individualism.” But the truth is precisely the opposite: the chaos was caused by a system that was the exact opposite of individualism.

    What Hurricane Katrina exposed was the psychological consequences of the welfare state. What we consider “normal” behavior in an emergency is behavior that is normal for people who have values and take the responsibility to pursue and protect them. People with values respond to a disaster by fighting against it and doing whatever it takes to overcome the difficulties they face. They don’t sit around and complain that the government hasn’t taken care of them. They don’t use the chaos of a disaster as an opportunity to prey on their fellow men.

    But what about criminals and welfare parasites? Do they worry about saving their houses and property? They don’t, because they don’t own anything. Do they worry about what is going to happen to their businesses or how they are going to make a living? They never worried about those things before. Do they worry about crime and looting? But living off of stolen wealth is a way of life for them.

    The welfare state–and the brutish, uncivilized mentality it sustains and encourages–is the man-made disaster that explains the moral ugliness that has swamped New Orleans. And that is the story that no one is reporting.

  5. One New Orleans woman interviewed on CNN said she’d “live wherever they put me, I’m never coming back.”

    How sad. So steeped in the Liberal cycle of entitlement that she will end up living wherever the government puts her. She’s completely subservient, as long as she gets her paltry check and food stamps each week (or however often they come).

    These people actually thought the U.S. Government was their daddy. And, then one day, the truth slapped them squarely in the face.

    Welcome to the real world. Go to school, get a good education, work hard and you won’t end up floating face down in New Orleans shit.

    I have news for you: I don’t kill myself working so hard to pay taxes to support some giant, fat, Oprah-watching, welfare mamas’ massive pancakes and MacDonald’s daily intake. I resent it. And I have a hard time feeling compassion for them because they swallowed all of my hard-earned cash in the form of bacon and can’t even walk a short distance to save their fat asses. What do these people contribute to society except more useless welfare-dependent lard asses that just cause even more problems?

    The welfare state is a Democrat or Liberal concept. The Republicans and Conservatives have worked to limit the Welfare State’s nasty wealth redistribution effects. Hopefully they keep it up.

    For that, they get my vote. I am an American who happens to be black, if that matters to you.

    I know generations of black people who can bareky speak english, can’t write, and eat Cheetos and potato chips constantly. I’m sick and tired of paying for them. The reason they thought they were starving after a day was because they are so used to eating every 5 minutes.

    The fact that people have been allowed to become so dependent on the government is liberal and Democrat shame. Shame. They’ve kept slavery, just called it something else.

    As an educated American who happens to be black, I must vote conservative in order to try to save as many of my brothers and sisters as I can.

    Take care of yourself. The government is not your daddy.

    Democrats will now attempt to blast away this post, because if enough people read it and saw the facts clearly, the Democrats would never win another election.

  6. Err…. I thought this was a Mac news forum…. I feel like I’m in the middle of a municipal political debate. Do people find it difficult to post their political opinions in the proper places (NYT, CNN, etc)? You may find a more involved audience there.

    MW: without. I want to read some Mac news without having to deal with politics. I get enough of that on CNN.

  7. “Democrats will now attempt to blast away this post, because if enough people read it and saw the facts clearly, the Democrats would never win another election.”

    Or whatever … take your politics to a political board and not a tech board. I can recommend a few for you if you cant figure out where to go. This really isn’t the place to spout off your views.

    The federal governments reliance on closed browsers to do everything is at issue, as is FEMAs creative dating.
    The real key argument is that Internet explorer no longer has 90 percent of the market and its actually easy to code in HTML and make web pages that everyone can access. Considering its important that everyone has access to the government in a Republic it makes sense that that republic should be required to make its websites open to a larger cross-section of the public. At least Massachusetts figured that out when they decided to switch to open office.

    MDN’s magic word… END. As in end all this stupid political trolling.

  8. RiaB,

    “Welcome to the real world. Go to school, get a good education, work hard and you won’t end up floating face down in New Orleans shit.”

    So, you’re saying that everyone that was left behind in NO didn’t go to school, and that all of them fit into your stereotypically skewed perceptions? Are you implying that the fair and just consequence of lack of ambition is death?

    “Democrats will now attempt to blast away this post, because if enough people read it and saw the facts clearly”

    Um, you kind of forgot to put any actual facts into your post.

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