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All in the family

I’ve updated this story, because it’s even more interesting than I first thought.

It’s all in the Republican family! Corruption, I mean:

WASHINGTON — Six years after Hurricane Katrina, a relative of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour was found by a federal court to have masterminded a massive fraud against the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the inspection of the legendary trailers that housed storm refugees along the Gulf Coast.

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims found last week that Rosemary Barbour’s company, Jackson, Miss.,-based Alcatec LLC, had engaged in a fraudulent billing scheme as part of a $100 million, five-year maintenance contract with FEMA.

She was ordered to pay more than $350,000 in penalties and damages. In often colorful language, the judge described the testimony of Rosemary Barbour during an eight-day trial in May in Jackson as “exasperating” and “bumble-headed.”

Rosemary Barbour, the company’s sole owner, is the wife of the governor’s nephew, Charles Barbour, a former Hinds County supervisor who last week lost a Mississippi Senate GOP primary.

But of course, politically-connected wrongdoers never serve jail time, as we’ve all learned. This 2005 New York Times story’s pretty interesting:

“PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss., Dec. 6 – Rosemary Barbour happens to be married to a nephew of Mississippi’s governor, Haley Barbour. Since the Reagan administration, when Mrs. Barbour worked as a White House volunteer as a college student, she has been active in the Republican Party.

She also happens to be one of the biggest Mississippi-based winners of federal contracts for Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts.

To some contract watchdogs, this could be an example of how the federal government responsibly reached out to give a piece of the billions of dollars in federal hurricane-recovery work to a small Mississippi-based company owned by a Latina. Mrs. Barbour, 39, who was born in Guatemala but now lives in Jackson, Miss., is certified by the United States Small Business Administration as a disadvantaged small-business owner.”

This is interesting, don’t you think?

Alcatec qualified as a minority-owned firm during the bid process. Barbour, an American citizen and active in Republican politics, was born in Guatemala. She said she used her maiden name, Ramirez, when she made the bids, so that federal officials would not know of her family ties.”

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What Jill said.

Drive south

I always think of my friend Aaron when I hear this song, because he did a killer cover. John Hiatt:

Don’t get me wrong

The Pretenders:


Earth Wind & Fire:

Better things

The Kinks:

Leonard Pitts Jr.’s column was headlined “Democrats need to stand up to tea party.” I couldn’t agree more, but the semi-apologetic tone of his piece left me wondering what Pitts meant by “stand up…”

September gurls

Big Star:

Born this way

Lady Gaga:


I saw an interview the other day with meteorologist Dr. Jeff Masters, and he noted that while they had the track of the storm right, they still need to collect more data to learn how to forecast intensity – and that takes money, the kind everyone wants to cut now:

Better intensity forecasts of hurricane are possible, but it will take a large investment in hurricane research over an extended time to do that. Such an effort is underway; we are currently in year three of a ten-year program called theHurricane Forecast Improvement Project (HFIP), funded at just over $1 million per year.

The goals of the HFIP are to reduce the average errors of hurricane track and intensity forecasts by 20% within five years and 50% in ten years with a forecast period out to 7 days. In an interview I did last fall with the leader of the project, Dr. Frank Marks of NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division, he expressed to me optimism that the program could meet its objectives, provided it remains fully funded. Some of the experimental computer models developed by HFIP have done very well so far during the 2011 hurricane season, so I see reason for optimism, too.
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