Wednesday, February 27, 2008

PAR Analyzes Good, Bad, Ugly of Reform Session

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 5:05 PM

The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana (PAR), a longtime independent watchdog group, has released an excellent analysis of the just-completed special legislative session on ethics reform. Here it is.

The special legislative session that adjourned on Tuesday yielded an impressive set of reforms to the state’s ethics, campaign finance and other laws. Several long-resisted changes were enacted to disclose public officials’ personal financial dealings, forbid state officials from personally profiting through state contracts, eliminate many of the freebies officials have traditionally enjoyed, require more reporting on lobbyist-official interaction, and make state budget information more accessible to the public. Unfortunately, both the Legislature and administration also both expressed a clear and unashamed commitment to maintain certain protections and exceptions that PAR has long held should be eliminated.

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All-Star Antawn Jamison's Katrina story

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 4:15 AM

Antawn and the kids

At first glance, nothing seems amiss in this photo. Wizards forward Antawn Jamison with 20 kids he bought tickets for through his “A Better Tomorrow” foundation. Many players all over the league buy tickets to home games for kids.

But take a closer look at the background and see that those are the lower-bowl seats inside the Hornets Arena. This photo was taken at Monday night’s Hornets-Wizards game at the Hive. Turns out that Jamison, though he played his high school ball in North Carolina, was born in Shreveport, La.

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Morgan In The Middle

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 4:05 AM

Has anyone else noticed the similarities in the two characters Morgan Freeman portrays in his most recent DVD releases, Feast of Love and Gone Baby Gone? These two films could not be more different in all aspects.

Feast of Love, directed by Robert Benton, is about eight couples who grapple with the different levels of love. Morgan Freeman plays Harry, a professor who has taken a leave from the University to deal with the grief of losing his son to a drug overdose. Gone Baby Gone is the tale of a Boston community torn apart by a missing child. In this film, directed by Ben Affleck and starring little brother Casey, Freeman plays a police officer who heads a special unit which deals with missing children.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Friday Night with Glenn Beck and the Fascist Liberals

Posted By on Tue, Feb 26, 2008 at 9:58 PM

Here’s my opening disclaimer: I’m not a fan of talk radio, or talk television and it doesn’t matter to me whose side the talking head, cheerleader is on — I don’t listen to Limbaugh and I didn’t tune into Al Franken when his show was available to local listeners. That said, I do occasionally check out one of these shows to see if I’m actually missing something.

Friday night, I flipped the channel to Glenn Beck and within minutes, he convinced me I’m safe in my ignorance.

Joining Beck in the studio was Jonah Goldberg, author of the book Liberal Fascism. Beck and Goldberg cozied up to each other and spent the first five minutes or so agreeing that liberals are the true fascists. But Goldberg wouldn’t go so low as to call them Nazis; he just compared the two as often as he could.

One comparison Goldberg brought out as an example of Hillary Clinton’s fascism was how she wanted to put commonsense baby videos — how to burp a baby, how to make a baby comfortable etc…— in doctors’ offices, hospitals and in the department of motor vehicles. All right, I’ve spent some time at the DMV and baby videos can’t make it any better, but how is airing these videos in medical offices a bad thing? It can’t be any worse than the soap operas or Jerry Springer.

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Evacuees Get Voice in Presidential Primary

Posted on Tue, Feb 26, 2008 at 8:39 AM

by Sam Winston

The Washington Post profiles Katrina Evacuees and their influence on the upcoming Texas Primary.

No one knows how many evacuees have registered to vote in Texas or how many will show up at the state's odd mix of primary and caucuses next week, but in interviews across this sprawling city almost everyone indicated an enormous desire to participate -- adding an unknown and potentially pivotal element in a race that polls show is deadlocked between Sens. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.).

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OSCAR LITE

Posted By on Tue, Feb 26, 2008 at 4:09 AM

I know in light of all the more serious issues surrounding us here in New Orleans, it seems rather petty to talk about TV and movies and even more petty to yammer on about awards shows. However, even more in light of all the serious issues here, it seems very important for us all to escape, every once in a while, to a far, far away land sometimes referred to as LA-LA Land.

In L.A., the Oscars last night were rather unsurprising. Of course, as always there were a few upsets. I’m sorry but I might have been the only person in the present film society that was secretly hoping for a Hal Holbrook win. It’s not that I do not think that Javier Bardem is more than deserving, but it is Hal and he was there with Dixie Carter of Designing Women and his character was so sweet and grandfatherly in Into the Wild. In fact, of all the Best Leading Actor nominees, he and George Clooney were the only two that did not portray lonely, deranged and psychopathic characters. Hal’s character was just lonely and I believe that loneliness deserved an Oscar!

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Chris Paul hits half-court shots with disturbing regularity

Posted By on Tue, Feb 26, 2008 at 12:59 AM

Apparently, nobody told the Wizards' Gilbert Arenas that Chris Paul holds the world record for most half-court shots made in a minute. This should serve as a permanent reminder. UPDATE: Hornets backup guard Jannero Pargo hit a half-court shot of his own at the end of the third quarter. Hornets still lost, though.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

The Heat Is On

Posted By on Mon, Feb 25, 2008 at 10:54 PM

This weekend the South Coast Clay All Stars, a local alliance of ceramic artists in New Orleans and the Gulf South region, will host NOLA Fired Up!! — a three-day conference which will include lectures and demonstrations by nationally known ceramic artists, as well as educational and networking opportunities for professional artists and students. Guest artists include Margaret Bohls, Joe Bova, Cynthia Bringle, MaPo Kinnord Peyton and Lana Wilson. Discussion topics include sessions on the artist, the community and the environmental impact of artists in the studio, as well as more practical topics such as the how to obtain insurance, a discussion that will be led by the Craft Emergency Relief Fund.

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I Spy — Lunch

Posted By on Mon, Feb 25, 2008 at 8:35 PM

By Allen Johnson Jr. 

Was it a mundane transaction or a clandestine encounter? The long paper trail of accused Chinese spy Tai Shen Kuo, 58, of New Orleans, apparently includes a 17-year-old American Express credit owed to a Metairie restaurant that Kuo once owned, records show. In 1991, American Express reported an outstanding credit of $94.65 to Mr. Tai’s Restaurant, 701 Metairie Road, according to the State Treasurer’s Web site for unclaimed property (www.latreasury.com). The notation seems more intriguing since Kuo’s recent arrest by the FBI on espionage charges, although Treasury spokesperson Sarah Mulhearn says the office’s unclaimed property division had not heard from the FBI. A naturalized U.S. citizen who has resided in New Orleans since 1973, Kuo reportedly opened Mr. Tai’s in the mid-1980s. The restaurant later closed. After a two-year surveillance by the FBI’s Foreign Counter-Intelligence Unit, agents raided Kuo’s Uptown home and a separate residence in Houma on Feb. 11. Kuo and two others are in jail in Virginia, charged with passing national defense secrets to the People’s Republic of China. New Orleans FBI spokesperson Sheila Thorne says anyone with tips on the spy case can call the Bureau hotline at 504-816-3000.

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Winning the War on Graft

Posted By on Mon, Feb 25, 2008 at 8:33 PM

By Allen Johnson Jr. 

Jim Bernazzani, special agent-in-charge of the FBI in Louisiana, says the feds are winning the war on political corruption in New Orleans. “If you give my guys another six to seven months, this city will be as clean as it’s been since Huey Long’s time,” Bernazzani said recently. He added, “The vast majority of public servants in this town are sound.” FBI probes over the last five years have resulted in dozens of indictments and convictions for corruption, from the Jefferson Parish Courthouse to the Orleans Parish School Board and the City Hall administration of former Mayor Marc Morial. There is widespread speculation that the probes are winding down and that local U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s days may be numbered, particularly if a Democrat is elected president in the fall elections. “Jimmy is a political appointee,” Bernazzani said of Letten in an interview with radio talk show host Andre Trevigne. “He may be on the move, [but] I don’t intend on moving.” Bernazzani, one of the Bureau’s top anti-terrorism experts, drew loud applause at a local meeting of the FBI Citizens Academy recently when he announced that he passed up a promotion to stay in post-Katrina New Orleans. “This is historic. I want to fight this fight. I want to be here,” said Bernazzani, a native of Massachusetts.

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