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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 September 2005, 10:54 GMT 11:54 UK
Bush under fire from press
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal front page
Even as US newspapers report the unfolding disaster in New Orleans and the US Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina, some are apportioning blame for the extent of the devastation.

New Orleans' Times-Picayune, which has been forced to stop publishing on paper, and to rely on its online edition, says the city "glimpsed a possible turning point as floodwaters that had risen harrowingly for two days reached equilibrium and began spilling back into Lake Pontchartrain".

Louisiana's Shreveport Times said rescuers were combing flooded neighbourhoods "trying to find the living, leaving the dead for later".

A huge chunk of America's heritage is in severe jeopardy
Washington Post

Meanwhile the state's Advertiser, based in Lafayette, hailed those who were offering help.

"Katrina has wreaked unprecedented destruction... suffering, death and gargantuan economic loss," it said.

"The only area of brightness in the dark picture is that people here and across the country have been unified in a compassionate and determined effort to ease the awful pain. In that respect, tragic times have produced the noblest of responses."

The Washington Post says "it has become clear that the damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans compares to any of the worst natural disasters in American history".

"A huge chunk of America's heritage - the remnants of what was once France's largest North American colony, a Creole culture unique on this continent - is in severe jeopardy," it says.

It, too, praises "admirable" heroism and generosity in response to the catastrophe.

George W Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday
New York Times

"On the other hand, the scenes of looting... show that some people are always prepared to take advantage of the misfortune of others."

It does not criticise the government's response, which it says "does seem commensurate with the scale of the disaster".

Other papers are more scathing.

"George W Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday," says the New York Times in an editorial.

"He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end.

"And nothing about the president's demeanour yesterday - which seemed casual to the point of carelessness - suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis."

Global warming?

It demanded to know why Congress had been in the process of cutting the area's flood protection budget.

"Complacency will no longer suffice, especially if experts are right in warning that global warming may increase the intensity of future hurricanes. But since this administration won't acknowledge that global warming exists, the chances of leadership seem minimal," it said.

Even a conservative paper, New Hampshire's Manchester Union-Leader, took the president to task.

"The cool, confident, intuitive leadership Bush exhibited in his first term, particularly in the months immediately following 11 September 2001, has vanished," it says.

"In its place is a diffident detachment unsuitable for the leader of a nation facing war, natural disaster and economic uncertainty."

The economic angle is picked up in the Los Angeles Times, as disrupted supply of gas and oil from the Gulf of Mexico pushes fuel prices higher.

"One of the problems Katrina has exposed is not just the vulnerability of the Gulf's energy supplies but the need for a comprehensive energy plan that relies on more varied sources of energy," it says.

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