Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Editorial: Abolish Louisiana’s death penalty

Posted By on Wed, Apr 26, 2017 at 6:13 PM

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Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have abolished the death penalty. If some state lawmakers have their way, Louisiana will become the 20th state — but they face strong opposition. Some district attorneys and sheriffs say the death penalty is a deterrent as well as leverage to convince those accused of capital crimes to plead to lesser but still severe charges.

Senate Bill 142 would abolish the death penalty effective Aug. 1, but it would not apply to the more than 70 people currently on Death Row in Louisiana. House Bill 10 would mandate life in prison without parole for people convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree rape or treason. This week, a Senate committee approved SB 142 by a 6-1 vote, sending it to the full Senate.

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Domestic violence protection for same-sex couples, dating partners moves to Louisiana House

Posted By on Wed, Apr 26, 2017 at 2:25 PM

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The House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice passed without objection two bills extending domestic violence protection to same-sex couples and to dating partners. They move to the full House for expected debate next week.

Under current law, the victims of domestic violence are given some protections and assistance through the Protection From Family Violence Act. Domestic abuse is considered to be an act of violence committed by one household member to another.
In Louisiana, same-sex couples are not eligible for the assistance because current law defines a household member as “any person of the opposite sex presently or formerly living in the same residence with the defendant as a spouse, whether married or not.”

House Bill 27 by state Rep. Patrick Connick, R-Marrero, would amend the definition of household member to include all couples with the elimination of the phrase “opposite sex.”

Two representatives from the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s office said they are not able to charge a suspect in same-sex violence as domestic violence, a more serious crime, instead having to opt for simple battery — a misdemeanor.

“(An abusive partner) should be prosecuted equally as anyone else would whether they’re opposite sex or not,” said state Rep. Denise Marcelle, D-Baton Rouge.

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Review: Regina Scully | Japanese Landscape — Inner Journeys

Posted By on Wed, Apr 26, 2017 at 1:56 PM

Passages, 2012 by Regina Scully
  • Passages, 2012 by Regina Scully

Where does art originate? Art schools teach techniques, theories, trends and history, but most of the artworks that survive the test of time have something mysterious or ineffable about them that can't be taught in school. Such art transcends time and space: Where did the Mona Lisa's elusively beatific smirk come from and why does it affect us? Closer to home, there's always been something inexplicably Japanese about Regina Scully's complexly lyrical abstract paintings, yet the University of New Orleans graduate never studied Japanese art and has no explanation for her works' Asian tone.

The recent acquisition of several of her canvases by the New Orleans Museum of Art inspired further interest in the parallels between her work and the museum's stellar collection of 18th- and 19th-century Japanese paintings and drawings, and the result is this unusual side-by-side expo.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Bill to kill Louisiana’s death penalty passes committee, heads to Senate floor

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 8:00 PM

State Sen. Dan Claitor, a Republican and a former prosecutor, wrote Senate Bill 142, which would abolish the death penalty in Louisiana.
  • State Sen. Dan Claitor, a Republican and a former prosecutor, wrote Senate Bill 142, which would abolish the death penalty in Louisiana.

When former prosecutor Marty Stroud began his career in Caddo Parish, his colleagues had a nickname for him: "fire eater." Stroud was notoriously tough, and well-known for his staunch support of the death penalty.

That’s all changed now, he told members of the Louisiana Senate’s Judiciary C Committee on Tuesday. He said the tide turned after his prosecution of Glenn Ford, who spent nearly 30 years on death row for a murder he didn’t commit.

“After the death verdict, myself and our team went out and celebrated the night away, comfortable with what I had accomplished,” Stroud recalled. “There was only one problem. The defendant was not guilty of the crime.”

Stroud, his voice at times cracking with emotion, relayed his story during a hearing Tuesday over Senate Bill 142, which calls for the abolition of the death penalty in Louisiana. It was written by Baton Rouge Sen. Dan Claitor, a former prosecutor himself, and a Republican.

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Federal judge blocks Trump's order to pull funding from "sanctuary" cities

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 6:08 PM

Protesters in New Orleans march against Trump's immigration orders in January.
  • Protesters in New Orleans march against Trump's immigration orders in January.

As Mayor Mitch Landrieu and other U.S. mayors met with Attorney General Jeff Sessions over "sanctuary" cities, a federal judge in California halted an order from President Donald Trump that threatens to withhold federal funds from those cities.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick granted a preliminary injunction in two lawsuits against Trump's order to halt funding to cities with so-called "sanctuary" policies that prevent local law enforcement from complying with federal immigration authorities over immigration issues. New Orleans was listed among nine jurisdictions targeted by the Trump administration, despite Landrieu and other officials repeatedly assuring the city's compliance with the feds. Santa Clara County and San Francisco said billions of dollars in funding could be at stake; New Orleans similarly relies on several million federal dollars annually for citywide funding.
Trump is unable to withhold federal funding "that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement ... merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the President disapproves," according to the ruling.

"These constitutional violations are not limited to San Francisco or Santa Clara, but apply equally to all states and local jurisdictions," the ruling says. "Given the nationwide scope of the Order, and its apparent constitutional flaws, a nationwide injunction is appropriate."

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Dr. John to sit in on tonight's Late Show With Stephen Colbert

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 3:14 PM

Dr. John. - MICHAEL WILSON
  • MICHAEL WILSON
  • Dr. John.
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert announced today that New Orleans legend Dr. John will sit in with New Orleans native/bandleader Jon Batiste and Stay Human on tonight's show. Other guests include musician John Legend and celebrity Kelly Osbourne.

Dr. John also will be appearing this Sunday, April 30, at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

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Scat, CAT: Gov. Edwards' controversial tax proposal effectively killed in House

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 2:16 PM

Gov. John Bel Edwards' controversial tax proposal, opposed by business interests and many Republicans, effectively died today in the Louisiana House.
  • Gov. John Bel Edwards' controversial tax proposal, opposed by business interests and many Republicans, effectively died today in the Louisiana House.

State Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin, voluntarily pulled his controversial corporate activities tax (CAT) bill from consideration Tuesday following a day and a half of testimony before the House Committee on Ways and Means in which various business interests and most of the Republican committee members expressed staunch opposition.

Because Jones voluntarily deferred his House Bill 628, it can be brought before the committee again. It is Gov. John Bel Edwards revenue-raising centerpiece to balance the budget.

“This [discussion] has brought us to a point of catharsis,” Jones said after explaining his conversations with political leaders were ongoing.

At a press conference held by Edwards after the meeting, the governor said the legislation aimed to restore fairness. He said 80 percent of Louisiana’s corporations do not pay any income tax.

“The truth is, the fate of that bill was decided long before it became available,” Edwards said.

The committee also deferred the four other bills on the agenda, including Jones’ bills regarding a minimum corporate income tax and a Louisiana margins tax, as well as legislation by Rep. Kenny Havard, R-Jackson, levying an oil refinery tax and a general business tax.

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Hugh Masekela cancels concert dates

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 2:01 PM

Hugh Masekela has canceled tour dates due to illness. - BRETT RUBIN
  • BRETT RUBIN
  • Hugh Masekela has canceled tour dates due to illness.

A Hugh Masekela appearance at an Atlanta jazz festival has been canceled due to illness.

Masekela was scheduled to perform twice at the the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. His name no longer is listed on Jazz Fest's cubes, and a set featuring the Jazz Epistles now lists Terence Blanchard instead of Masekela. Jazz Fest has not confirmed whether Masekela will perform or not.

Masekela spoke to Gambit a few weeks ago about about his music.

Update: Jazz Fest confirmed Masekela will not perform at the festival.

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Big Easy Award winners announced

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 1:49 PM

Deacon John Moore received a Big Easy Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Deacon John Moore received a Big Easy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Deacon John Moore thanked a long list of New Orleans musicians and producers — including Allen Toussaint, Dave Bartholomew, Wardell Quezergue, Earl Palmer, Ellis Marsalis, Luther Kent (with whom he shares a birthday), Germaine Bazzle — plus institutions (the musicians union, ), supporters, friends and others while accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award, and he later sang an emotional version of "The Way We Were" at the Big Easy Awards at Orpheum Theatre Monday night. While introducing Moore, Irma Thomas teased Moore that he looked the same but with a little less hair after six decades in music.

The Big Easy gala also included theater awards, and Anthony Bean, founder of Anthony Bean Community Theater, accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award. "We've come a long way," Bean said, describing the gains for black actors and dramas since 1972, when he began his career. Bean plans to reopen his theater at its new campus in Gentilly this year.

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Mental health resource fair is at Delgado May 1

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 11:49 AM

ALDEN CHADWICK / CREATIVE COMMONS 2.0
  • ALDEN CHADWICK / CREATIVE COMMONS 2.0

Delgado Community College hosts a resource fair and panel discussion May 1 to raise awareness of mental health-related issues and services in the city.

The fair begins at 11 a.m. at the University's Student Life Center. At noon, there's a discussion and accompanying luncheon called "Moving Mental Health Services into a Collaborative System of Care.” The panel includes comments from National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) board president Chuck Credo, Early Psychosis Intervention Clinic educator Ashley Weiss, Keith Grant of Louisiana Healthcare Connections and District B Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell. (Participants must register to attend the discussion; email sborne@dcc.edu for details.)

The events coincide with the beginning of May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month. This campaign attempts to highlight and reduce stigma associated with mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic distress disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders and others. Recent National Institute of Metal Health Data indicates as many as 9.8 million adults, or more than the entire population of New York City, are living with serious mental illness, and high rates of mental illness (often coupled with low access to care) are common throughout the Gulf South.

It's free to attend both events, which also include massages from the school's massage therapy program. Call (504) 671-6004 for more information. 
Location Details Delgado Community College
City Park campus, Student Life Center, Lac Maurepas room
Mid-City
New Orleans, LA

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