The Magazine

FEMA kidz, Jimmy Carter, and more.

It's time for the FEMA Kidz rap.

Dec 26, 2005, Vol. 11, No. 15 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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More Reasons to Love FEMA

To most people, catastrophes like Hurricane Katrina can mean the loss of homes, jobs, and even lives. To the ever vigilant Federal Emergency Management Agency, it can also mean cyberfun, as the lighter side of natural disasters is explored on their website, "FEMA for Kids."

Not only can fans of cataclysm follow the adventures of "Julia and Robbie: The Disaster Twins," a pair of star-crossed cartoon characters who are stalked by natural disasters. Youngsters can also become "Disaster Action Kids," which will earn them a certificate and make them part of a super-special email group. They'll receive regular FEMA missives, assuming they can still find their computers in the flood-damaged wreckage where their computer hutches used to be. Who knows? They might even get an entertaining one, like that sent from former FEMA chief Michael Brown to a colleague: "If you'll look at my lovely FEMA attire, you'll really vomit. I am a fashion god."

But if you're starting to think the "F" in FEMA stands for "feel-good," the agency does get into a bit of business best left to the private sector: making rap music. In a hip-hop subsection of "FEMA for Kids," you can hear the "FEMA for Kidz Rap." (Notice the "z" in "kidz," which says "I am not just a Nordstrom's-shopping dork. I have street cred, or would, if this were 1989.")

The lyrics have all the fiery soulfulness of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, as amended by Public Law 106-390, aka, FEMA's statutory authority: For floods, tornadoes, or even a 'quake / You've got to be ready--so your heart don't break / Disaster prep is your responsibility / And mitigation is important to our agency.

A FEMA spokeswoman told The Scrapbook that the rhyme was written a few years ago by the son of a former FEMA employee. Presumably, he wasn't asked for his resignation after submitting the recording. The kid's MC skillz might be a Katrina-like disaster, but considering the subject matter, he still did a heckuva job.

A CIA Success Story!

Former President Jimmy Carter, in an interview for the January issue of GQ magazine, reveals how, on the recommendation of then-CIA director Stansfield Turner, he once authorized a psychic to make targeting decisions--while "in a trance"--for America's satellite surveillance system:

GQ: One of the promises you made in 1976 was that if you were elected, you would look into the [UFO] reports from Roswell and see if there had been any cover-ups. Did you look into that?

Carter: Well, in a way. I became more aware of what our intelligence services were doing. There was only one instance that I'll talk about now. We had a plane go down in the Central African Republic--a twin-engine plane, small plane. And we couldn't find it. And so we oriented satellites that were going around the earth every ninety minutes to fly over that spot where we thought it might be and take photographs. We couldn't find it. So the director of the CIA came and told me that he had contacted a woman in California that claimed to have supernatural capabilities. And she went in a trance, and she wrote down latitudes and longitudes, and we sent our satellites over that latitude and longitude, and there was the plane.

The Scrapbook figures this woman is probably no longer alive. Otherwise they'd have found bin Laden by now.

Coalition Update

In April 2004, when Spain's new premier announced a withdrawal of Spanish forces from Iraq, it was front-page news in both the New York Times and the Washington Post. A year later, when Silvio Berlusconi hinted he might start bringing Italian troops home, that was also a page-one article in the Times. The Post gave front-page treatment to a July 2004 piece about the pending departures of coalition members Norway, New Zealand, Thailand, and the Philippines, and the probable exits of Holland and Poland. We could go on, but you get the point: When a U.S. ally pulls out of Iraq, it's a Big Story--another sign of George Bush's "dwindling" coalition; a further "blow" to the war effort.

But what about when an ally, or two, re-ups? Well, that's No Big Deal. Earlier this month, Japan decided to keep its contingent in Iraq for another year--until December 14, 2006. Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Howard said Australia's 450-troop team, which is guarding Japan's task force in southern Iraq, would stay past its May deadline and remain as long as the Japanese did.

Good news for the coalition, good news for the Iraqis. Yet somehow--wonder of wonders--this story warranted zero coverage in both the Times and the Post. Okay, maybe it wasn't A1, above-the-fold material. But to not mention it at all? In fairness to the Times and the Post, most other major U.S. newspapers--including the Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times--ignored the story, too.

And they wonder why The Scrapbook has to watch its blood pressure.


Around this time of year, the Albany Times Union promotes its Holiday Fund to help senior citizens by profiling one in particular. A couple of weeks back, it featured Sam Patalino, 78, from Latham, New York, a one-time lounge singer and restaurateur. As staff writer Marc Parry told it, Patalino "says his rumba around the drums once made the girls scream." As for marriage, "That's something Patalino . . . never did."

Perhaps the editor's note added to the profile a day after it first ran can shed some light: "The man profiled in this Times Union Holiday Fund story is a registered sex offender. The newspaper learned of Sam Patalino's status after a reader called the newsroom. In response, the Times Union has announced changes in how it screens Holiday Fund profile candidates."

Patalino was arrested in 1991 for having sexual contact with a 10-year-old boy. We won't say the reporter should have seen it coming, but there was this odd little Santa's list at the end of the original profile: "There's another thing [Patalino] dreams about. Something that, compared with his Radio Shack tape recorder, is a little . . . well . . . extravagant. . . . Something that would let him make such music! As he put it, 'Oh boy.' A karaoke machine."

As the paper's editor noted, "I don't think our readers would want us to reserve our charity only for those who are without blemish." Indeed. And on that note, The Scrapbook wishes all its readers a very Merry Christmas.