Sunday, June 03, 2007

Bring out your dead

In an effort to debunk this study showing 4,081 victims of Katrina including excess mortality (deaths beyond typical averages) among those who died following the evacuation, State epidemiologist Raoult Ratard appears to suggest that people put false death notices in the New Orleans Times-Picayune obituary section.
"Obituaries are a voluntary notice that is put in the newspaper by the families," Ratard [told the Times Picayune]. "You can see that there are all kind of things that can influence that."
The nut of the mattter is this: Dr. Kevin Stephens, Sr., Director pf the New Orleans Health Department, used the Theory of Excess Mortality to ascribe a large spike in obituary notices to the impact of Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood. Ratard prefers to rely only on death certificates issued in New Orleans, disregarding the dispersal of half the city's population elsewhere and clear evidence in the obituaries of a significant spike--2,358--in deaths reported in the newspaper over just a six month period in 2006.

Of course it's not clear evidence if, as Ratard suggests, people were for example just making up obituaries for fun. I've stared at the story from earlier this week for half and hour and can't for the life of me think of anything else Ratard could be suggesting by the quote above.

It does not help matters that Mayor C. Ray Nagin misstates Stephen's case in his state of the city address to suggest the excess mortality was caused by the city's slow to recover health system. That's a leap that would suggest he didn't read Stephen's testimoney before Congress very closely, but that's par for C. Ray who is well known to just make stuff up that sounds good everytime you stuff a microphone in his face.

As to Ratard, his bizarre attempt to discredit results that contradict his own by suggesting people fabricated obituaries is not much better than something Nagin might come up with. I don't know about you, but I'd rather not be relying on a state epidemioligist who might be susceptible to poltical pressure to hide deaths when the asian bird flu virus comes around.

I still believe it comes down to this: no one in government wants you to understand that more people died because of the incompetence of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers than were killed on 9-11.

I believe you are right on that. They simply don't want anyone to stop and put two and two together and realize that members of this Administration are more a terrorist threat than Osama bin Laden ever was.

Osama wasn't the one who refused to come off of vacation when one of the World's greatest citys was being swept off the face of the earth. It was Bush.
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