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International singing star Celine Dion has little problem with the large amount of looting taking place in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans, and she’s slamming the U.S. government for its perceived slow response to Katrina’s impact.
Celine Dion: ‘Let them touch those things for once’ (CNN, Sept. 3)
“You know, some people are stealing and they’re making a big deal out of it,” Dion said on CNN’s “Larry King Live,” as she said she’d donate $1 million toward relief.
“Oh, they’re stealing 20 pair of jeans or they’re stealing television sets. Who cares? They’re not going to go too far with it. Maybe those people are so poor, some of the people who do that they’re so poor they’ve never touched anything in their lives. Let them touch those things for once.”
Dion, a celebrity from Canada who now lives and performs in Las Vegas, took a double swipe at U.S. war policy while criticizing the recovery effort.
“How come it’s so easy to send planes in another country to kill everyone in a second, to destroy lives?” she asked.
“I open the television, there’s people still there waiting to be rescued and for me it’s not acceptable. I know there’s reasons for it. I’m sorry to say I’m being rude but I don’t want to hear those reasons.”
Fellow singer Harry Connick Jr., who hails from New Orleans, and was able to make it into the hard-hit region last week, said he was horrified by the number of bodies, including an old woman in a chair at the city’s convention center.
Connick also told King a friend commandeered an abandoned city bus to help evacuate refugees.
“And I’m thinking, if [she] can get on a bus and drive a bus out with sick people, you know, well, we can’t get a barge to park back up on the Mississippi behind the convention center and get these people out?”
The Bush administration was also accused of racism on national TV during a celebrity relief effort on NBC.
“George Bush doesn’t care about black people!” exclaimed rapper Kanye West. (Click for video of West’s comments.)
I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family, it says, “They’re looting.” You see a white family, it says, “They’re looking for food.” And, you know, it’s been five days [waiting for federal help] because most of the people are black. And even for me to complain about it, I would be a hypocrite because I’ve tried to turn away from the TV because it’s too hard to watch. I’ve even been shopping before even giving a donation, so now I’m calling my business manager right now to see what is the biggest amount I can give, and just to imagine if I was down there, and those are my people down there. So anybody out there that wants to do anything that we can help – with the way America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off, as slow as possible. I mean, the Red Cross is doing everything they can. We already realize a lot of people that could help are at war right now, fighting another way – and they’ve given them permission to go down and shoot us!
NBC issued a statement about the remarks, stating: “Tonight’s telecast was a live television event wrought with emotion. Kanye West departed from the scripted comments that were prepared for him, and his opinions in no way represent the views of the networks. It would be most unfortunate if the efforts of the artists who participated tonight and the generosity of millions of Americans who are helping those in need are overshadowed by one person’s opinion.”
Meanwhile, actor Sean Penn made his own personal attempt to aid those in New Orleans, but the small boat he was piloting to launch a rescue attempt sprang a leak.
The 45-year-old Oscar winner had planned on rescuing stranded children, but an Agence France-Presse report indicates he apparently forgot to plug a hole in the vessel’s bottom, which took on water within seconds of its launch.
Asked about his goal in the soaked city, Penn replied: “Whatever I can do to help.”
But with the boat loaded with members of his entourage, including his personal photographer, one bystander taunted: “How are you going to get any people in that thing?”