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Special Report

Vegas Vacations

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Mayor Ray Nagin says that with National Guard troops in place in New Orleans, he's sending some overworked police officers and firefighters on Las Vegas vacations. Nagin says 1500 first responders will get $200 in cash for the trip, along with free hotels, restaurants, and Vegas shows.

The mayor also blasted critics who suggested granting such vacations in a time of crisis constitutes a dereliction of duty, and a call to party, saying, "New Orleans is a party city. Get over it." That philosophy was echoed by French quarter residents already planning next year's Mardi Gras celebrations, one of whom says, “We'll always have something to parade for."

Blame Game

Last night we told you about an editorial in the New Orleans Times-Picayune blaming President Bush and the federal government for failing to adequately respond to the Katrina disaster. But earlier this summer, the paper reported that Mayor Nagin and other city officials were warning "the poorest of New Orleans' poor" that if a hurricane hits, "you're on your own."

City administrators distributed hundreds of DVDs in vulnerable, low-income neighborhoods, telling residents that while some city and school buses would be deployed to move those without transportation, "you're responsible for your safety." This despite the fact that New Orleans' emergency hurricane plan places the responsibility for evacuation on the mayor and city's transit authority.

Chilling Claim

Just days after Katrina left thousands stranded in New Orleans, black activist Randall Robinson claimed in an online column "It is reported that black hurricane victims in New Orleans have begun eating corpses to survive." Robinson has now retracted that assertion, saying the rumors he'd heard "turned out to be unsubstantiated."

However, Robinson says he stands behind everything else he wrote in that column, including this "I...have finally come to see my country for what it really is, a monstrous fraud."

Katrina a Blessing?

The president's mother has been touring hurricane relief centers in Houston, Texas, but liberal bloggers are taking her to task for suggesting that Katrina may have improved the lives of some evacuees. In an NPR interview, former first lady Barbara Bush said of the evacuees, "Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this — this is working very well for them."

The liberal Nation magazine compared Mrs. Bush to 18th century Queen Marie Antoinette famously looking down her nose at French peasants. Mrs. Bush could not be reached for comment.

— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report