Hurricane Katrina's victims have put a price tag on their suffering and it is staggering — including one plaintiff seeking the unlikely sum of $3 quadrillion.
A whopping $3,014,170,389,176,410 is the dollar figure so far sought from some of the largest claims filed against the federal government over damage from the failure of levees and flood walls following the Aug. 29, 2005, hurricane.
Of roughly 489,000 total claims, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it has received 247 for at least $1 billion apiece, including the one for $3 quadrillion.
"That's the mother of all high numbers," said Loren Scott, a Baton Rouge-based economist.
For the sake of perspective: A mere $1 quadrillion would dwarf the U.S. gross domestic product, which Scott said was $13.2 trillion in 2007. A stack of one quadrillion pennies would reach Saturn.
Some residents may have grossly exaggerated their claims to send a message to the corps, which has accepted blame for poorly designing the failed levees.
"I understand the anger," Scott said. "I also understand it's a negotiating tactic: Aim high and negotiate down."
Daniel Becnel, Jr., a lawyer who said his clients have filed more than 60,000 claims, said measuring Katrina's devastation in dollars and cents is a nearly impossible task.
"There's no way on earth you can figure it out," he said. "The trauma these people have undergone is unlike anything that has occurred in the history of our country."
The corps released zip codes, but no names, for the 247 claims of at least $1 billion. The list includes a $77 billion claim by the city of New Orleans. Fourteen involve a wrongful death claim. Fifteen were filed by businesses, including several insurance companies.
Little is known about the person who claimed $3 quadrillion. It was filed in Baker, 93 miles northwest of New Orleans. Baker is far from the epicenter of Katrina's destruction, but the city has a trailer park where hundreds of evacuees have lived since the storm.
Katrina, which is blamed for more than 1,600 deaths in Louisiana and Mississippi, is considered the most destructive storm to ever hit the U.S. It caused at least $60 billion in insured losses and could cost Gulf Coast states up to $125 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Most of the claims were filed before a deadline that coincided with Katrina's second anniversary, but the Corps is still receiving them — about 100 claims have arrived over the past three weeks — and is feeding them into a computer database.
The Corps said it isn't passing judgment on the merits of each claim. Federal courts are in charge of deciding if a claim is valid and how much compensation is warranted.
"It's important to the person who filed it, so we're taking every single claim seriously," Corps spokeswoman Amanda Jones said.
A man who believed he bore the "mark of the beast" used a circular saw to cut off one hand, then he cooked it in the microwave and called 911, authorities said.
The man, in his mid-20s, was calm when Kootenai County sheriff's deputies arrived Saturday in this northern Idaho town. He was in protective custody in the mental health unit of Kootenai Medical Center.
"It had been somewhat cooked by the time the deputy arrived," sheriff's Capt. Ben Wolfinger said. "He put a tourniquet on his arm before, so he didn't bleed to death. That kind of mental illness is just sad."
It was not immediately clear whether the man has a history of mental illness. Hospital spokeswoman Lisa Johnson would not say whether an attempt was made to reattach the hand, citing patient confidentiality.
The Book of Revelation in the New Testament contains a passage in which an angel is quoted as saying: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink the wine of God's fury."
The book of Matthew also contains the passage: "And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell."
Wolfinger said he didn't know which hand was amputated
Jane Hambleton has dubbed herself the "meanest mom on the planet." After finding alcohol in her son's car, she decided to sell the car and share her 19-year-old's misdeed with everyone — by placing an ad in the local newspaper.
The ad reads: "OLDS 1999 Intrigue. Totally uncool parents who obviously don't love teenage son, selling his car. Only driven for three weeks before snoopy mom who needs to get a life found booze under front seat. $3,700/offer. Call meanest mom on the planet."
Hambleton has heard from people besides interested buyers since recently placing the ad in The Des Moines Register.
The 48-year-old from Fort Dodge says she has fielded more than 70 telephone calls from emergency room technicians, nurses, school counselors and even a Georgia man who wanted to congratulate her.
"The ad cost a fortune, but you know what? I'm telling people what happened here," Hambleton says. "I'm not just gonna put the car for resale when there's nothing wrong with it, except the driver made a dumb decision.
"It's overwhelming the number of calls I've gotten from people saying 'Thank you, it's nice to see a responsible parent.' So far there are no calls from anyone saying, 'You're really strict. You're real overboard, lady.'"
The only critic is her son, who Hambleton says is "very, very unhappy" with the ad and claims the alcohol was left by a passenger.
Hambleton believes her son but has decided mercy isn't the best policy in this case. She says she set two rules when she bought the car at Thanksgiving: No booze, and always keep it locked.
The car has been sold, but Hambleton says she will continue the ad for another week — just for the feedback.
*sigh* So the other night I went to a Sigma Party (shouts out to Ikem of InDMix.com) and there was this guy there that I kinda sorta know. Our background is NOT important, lol. So I'm there with my best friend, MyKel, who is a Kappa (I think he and I were the only folks there not apart of the Organization, lol..u owe me Ikem, lol) and we are havin a great time. We go to the roof patio and we are dancing and talking and the guy that I know came up there. He and I are talking, laughing and enjoyin one another when all of a sudden I move close to him, grab his face and kissed him!! OMG!! Why did I do that? He's a MARRIED man!! *sigh* I never, never, neverrrrrrrrrr talk to married man, let alone a man who says he has a girl - I'm a hussie!! My new best female friend - Ill talk about her ratchet ass later, lol..says I should boink this man and everything else..are you NUTS lady? LOL...Crazy thing, I cant stop thinking about the loser...guurrr!! Im a baddddd girl!!
I made some the other night - I often cook for my neighbors and friends..mayne, that ish was soooooooooo good I had my homeboy call and ask to marry me, lol! Ok, there really was no reason for this blog - but as I said, this site is about my thoughts as well and dammit, I was havin thoughts of my Chicken Vodka Pasta :)
Back in the day I had a HUGEEEEEEEEEEE crush on Gilbert Arenas - like IN LOVE WITH HIM!! When my homegirl Laura got with him I was happy for her - shes such a beautiful person and he was an amazing man, so nice!! I went home recently and learned she had a new baby by him and that I had just missed the whole bunch. Imagine my shock when I read this crap :/
Athlete: Gilbert Arenas Position: Washington Wizards guard Drama: Crazy, but apparently loveable
The Dish: Gilbert Arenas is a weird guy. It's actually a quality that makes him pretty funny and a fan favorite, but in some regards, weird does have its limits. In 2006, Arenas' on-and-off again girlfriend, Laura Govan, chased him all over our great country with the intent to embarrass and serve him a paternity suit during a televised game. He spent a chunk of the season hiding in hotel rooms under various aliases. Weird? Not really. Cat-and-mouse games come with the territory of being a highly paid athlete struggling with the concept of a condom. But after all that drama the two reconciled, Arenas bought her a house near his in Northern Virginia and in March of '07 she gave birth to his second child. Procreating again with the woman who set out to destroy you ... that's not just a little weird, it's a touch of baby mama Stockholm syndrome...
Social media is becoming an important way to connect with voters. Candidates have all created accounts on MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr, but some campaigns, such as the Edwards campaign, include countless other social networks on their site.
I personally think that this year numbers as far as voters will be increased a great margin. MySpace, Facebook, etc are ecouraging younger voters to be apart of the campaign this year. Its almost like a popularity contest, to be honest.
I can HONESTLY say that I am HAPPY to know conversation about who will win this year is filled with facts about Obama or Hillary aka I'm happy to know Democrats are taking a stand, lol.....
Golf Channel Anchor Kelly Tilghman Says Young Golfers Should 'Lynch Tiger Woods' - I am missing why this didn't blow up in the headlines that caused her to lose her job or be punished. She apologies to Tiger and all is well? Hellooooooo!! LYNCH? How is making a joke about lynching a black man - even if he doesn't fully accept it - funny and okay for a professional anchor to say on air?
Tilghman made a shocking comment during Friday's telecast of the PGA Tour's opening event. She said -- on the air -- that today's young players should "lynch Tiger Woods in a back alley."
What was Tilghman thinking? Who knows. It's not entirely clear what point Tilghman was trying to make with what she apparently thought was a joke, but she may have been trying to say that the only chance today's young players will ever have of overtaking Woods as the No. 1 golfer in the world is to hurt him. Hilarious.
According to New York's Newsday, a spokesman for the Golf Channel said Tilghman apologized during Sunday's broadcast and has "reached out to Woods' representatives to express her regrets for the comments."
Apologizing and reaching out is better than nothing, but it's rather surprising that the apology took two days and that in the era of Don Imus, so little attention has been paid to this comment. It's hard to understand how a person who would use such a poor choice of words is in the broadcasting business.
Yoooooooooooo - if you've been under a rock and have yet to hear Chamillionaire's remix of "Won't Let You Down" ft ALLLLLLLLLLLLLL of Houston's heavy hitters!! Includin my girl Raw'LT!! and my boy, Kiotti of PARTY 93.3. That's HAWT shit!! The list of appreances are - Scarface, Slim Thug, Lil Flip, Rog G, Lil O, Famous, Big Pokey, ESG, Bun B, Pimp C, Raw'LT, Z-ro, Willie D, J Boss, Big Mike, PKT, GT, Yung Ro, Kiotti, Jayton, Trae, Lil Keke, Cory Mo, Yung Redd, Madno, Paul Wall, Mike Jones, TroubleSum, Grit Boys & Chingo Bling (shouts out to Chingo Bling and dem FLY as blue and orange NIKE Cowboy boots, lol - dem shits is HAWT, lol)...THIS RECORD IS A MIXTAPE CLASSIC...18 MINUTES OF TEXAS' FINEST!
Wil is a HAWT mess..lol, naw!! I LOVEEEE Wil!! I have yet the pleasure of seeing him in person, but the messages and comments we share are alwaysssss comedy!! Not to mention the videos he's featured in on his MySpace page! He will soon be featured in Patrice O'Neal's comedy show - ya know the dude you used to watch ever Saturday on VH1. I'll probbaly post this again as the date gets closer - make a note of it NOW..Thanx!!
What in the hell kinda idiot is he? Why would you allow yourself to be in the public eye and you know you're a damn rapiest?!! Whomp!!
BOSTON (Jan. 7) - Gary Zerola's dark, brooding looks and his work on behalf of foster children helped earn him a spot on People magazine's list of America's "Most Eligible Bachelors" and a tryout for the TV reality show "The Bachelor."
But authorities now say Zerola had another, darker sideline — as a rapist who preys on young women.
He awaits back-to-back trials beginning Tuesday in Boston on charges he attacked two 19-year-olds in 2004 and 2006. He also faces charges in Florida, where authorities say he force-fed drugs to an 18-year-old woman, then raped her in a Miami Beach hotel in October while free on bail in the Massachusetts assaults.
Prosecutors say Zerola met all three women in bars, charmed them, then attacked them when they refused to have sex. In the 2006 case, he allegedly took the woman shopping at Neiman Marcus, where he bought her a $700 dress and $250 shoes before trying to rape her in his Boston apartment.
"He spent some time grooming these girls," prosecutor Suzanne Kontz said during a hearing in November.
Zerola is free on $100,000 bail. He and his attorney, Janice Bassil, did not return calls seeking comment.
The Gary Zerola described by prosecutors is far different from the man friends say dedicated himself to helping children.
The youngest of seven children, Zerola was placed in foster care at age 3 after his parents split up and his mother became ill. Over the next decade, he was shuffled among a dozen foster families until he was placed permanently with a suburban Boston lawyer and his wife.
Zerola, 36, attended Suffolk University, where he earned degrees in law and public administration. He delivered his law school commencement address.
"He was bright and articulate," said John E. Fenton Jr., one of Zerola's law professors. "I don't remember what he spoke about, but I can tell you he gave an excellent speech."
He worked as a state prosecutor on child abuse and domestic violence cases and became well-known in philanthropic circles as an advocate for foster children. He started a volunteer group that raised money to buy clothing and gifts for foster kids.
He was regularly mentioned in newspaper gossip columns and fetched an $800 bid in a charity dating auction. In 2001, at age 29, Zerola was named one of People's 50 most eligible bachelors.
In his People profile, Zerola spoke of his troubled childhood. "Statistically speaking, I should be in debt or in jail because of the upbringing I had," he said.
In 2000, Zerola opened his own law practice as a criminal defense attorney. His clients included drug dealers and rape defendants. In court, he was known for his well-tailored suits, flashy style and the frequent compliments he paid female court employees.
"It's a rare instance that you see a kid who has been through as many foster family situations as Gary who was able to rise above all of that, not to get into trouble as a kid, not to turn to substance abuse, but to go to college and then to go on and become a lawyer," said Michael Natola, a Boston defense attorney who is a close friend.
"He never, ever forgot his experiences as a child and as a young man, and he always wanted to make it easier for kids who were in similar situations as he was."
In the 2004 case, Zerola stands accused of repeatedly raping a woman in his apartment.
In 2006, a woman told police that after the two went out on their first date, she went back to his apartment to use the bathroom. She said that after she turned down Zerola's sexual advances, he ripped off her dress and underwear, slammed her head against the wall and refused to let her leave.
The woman dialed 911 on her cell phone and police tracked the call to Zerola's apartment using a GPS system.
While awaiting trial in those two attacks, Zerola violated the conditions of his bail and flew to Florida this past fall to see the New England Patriots play the Miami Dolphins.
A woman told police she had several drinks with Zerola at a club, then went to his hotel room, where Zerola stuffed pills down her throat. The woman, who told police she was a virgin, said she awoke naked and bleeding in bed beside Zerola.
Zerola told police, "I never had sex with her." He would not submit to a DNA test, prosecutors said.
Zerola's law license has been suspended. On his Web site, where he is described as a "highly regarded speaker" and legal commentator who has appeared on TV's "Power of Attorney" and "Judge Hatchett," there is now a message noting that he is not accepting new clients or practicing law.
CathrynMarie - also known as CathrynMarie The Manager :). The refreshing rebirth of Harriet Tubman; unique and sophisticated spunky chick always looking to help someone out. An inspiration to those around her which is why she has her hands in a lot of major things. Manager of The Urban Zone, Urban Marketing Specialist of Sharpstown Mall, CEO of CathrynMarie Mgt, Co-Founder of Southern Press Inc, Contributing Writer for WhatItDew Magazine and then some. Check the resume on MySpace :).