Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Arlie Russell Hochschild, author of Strangers in Their Own Land, to speak at UNO Jan. 18

Posted By on Wed, Jan 11, 2017 at 3:40 PM

  • Courtesy University of New Orleans
  • Arlie Russell Hochschild.

Arlie Russell Hochschild, a sociologist whose spent five years in Lake Charles trying to understand red state voters, will speak at the University of New Orleans next Wednesday.

Hochchild's recent book, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, adds to a growing volume of scholarship about the "Great Paradox," or how conservative voters embrace politicians and policies that seem to oppose their own interests: the poor Appalachia resident who hates "Obamacare," the Gulf Coast fisherman who votes to deregulate the oil industry. You can read an essay adapted from the book here; it was a National Book Award finalist in 2016.

She'll appear in the Innsbruck Room at UNO's University Center at 1 p.m. Jan. 18. It's free to attend.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Brands vs. brawn at the WrestleMania announcement press conference

Posted By on Tue, Jan 10, 2017 at 7:42 PM

Longest-reigning WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day kick off the press conference
  • Longest-reigning WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day kick off the press conference

WrestleMania is the biggest event in pro wrestling and one of the biggest entertainment events in the world. On April 8, 2018, WrestleMania will be back in New Orleans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The press conference formally announcing this, held in the Superdome's Iberville suite, was a joint presentation by the pro wrestling behemoth WWE and representatives of our city, our state and their various sporting and event organizations. Watching the gears interlock was fascinating. It was a node of interaction between two gigantic institutions— the "New Orleans brand" and the WWE brand, cuddled up like two different, specialized cells passing a molecule of money across their membranes.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The fight for $15 an hour in New Orleans

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2016 at 3:00 PM

A New Orleans Fight For $15 protest marches on Rampart Street Nov. 29.
  • A New Orleans Fight For $15 protest marches on Rampart Street Nov. 29.

Sharika Evans grew up working in fast food. But, she said, the minimum wages she's received — at $7.25 an hour — are not enough to support a family, her health care, utilities and her bills. Evans said she was fired from the McDonald's on Canal Street following a Fight For $15 protest at the restaurant earlier this year. She held the doors open to protesters.

Around 5 p.m. Nov. 29, more than 100 service workers and supporters marched, with a brass band, from Armstrong Park on Rampart Street to Canal Street near the McDonald's between Royal and Bourbon streets. Protesters blocked car and streetcar traffic in all directions for nearly an hour and linked arms, demanding $15 an hour and the ability to unionize. Six people sitting at the intersection were arrested but released with citations for obstructing street traffic.

"The pay we get doesn't reflect the work we put into it," Evans told Gambit.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Editorial: Our pledge to you

Posted By on Wed, Nov 16, 2016 at 9:00 AM

President-elect Donald Trump. - CREATIVE COMMONS/GAGE SKIDMORE
  • President-elect Donald Trump.

America’s political landscape will change dramatically after the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump in January 2017. Already there are mixed messages coming from his transition team as to some of the promises he made while running. For now, we can only go by the man’s words and how they may affect Louisianans.

In the weeks and months to come, we will be keeping an eye on the following:

• The president-elect has promised to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) but has provided few details. As of mid-November, more than 339,000 previously uninsured Louisianans are receiving health care through the ACA. We promise to outline their options and find out from doctors which screenings, tests and procedures they should get done now should the ACA go away — with a special focus on women's health care. (Meanwhile, the open enrollment period continues through the end of January; visit

• The president-elect has made it clear that he does not believe in climate change and promises to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency and key environmental protections. We promise to speak out for clean air, clean water and Louisiana’s fragile coast.

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Once more, unto the breach?

Posted By on Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 4:16 PM

Louisiana lawmakers have until midnight Thursday, June 23, to conclude the second special session of 2016. They have been meeting more or less continuously since Feb. 14, and by now they’re pretty much tired of looking at each other.

But their work is far from done, according to Gov. John Bel Edwards, who summoned them into both special sessions and is said to be considering yet another — yes, a third — if this one doesn’t meet his expectations.

The governor wants lawmakers to boost state revenue by $600 million in the current session. Most lawmakers, including many who support Edwards, say the state could get by with $300 million to $450 million. By either count, the state is still short.

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Friday, June 3, 2016

Beatings will continue until ...

Posted By on Fri, Jun 3, 2016 at 10:15 AM

Gov. John Bel Edwards has called state lawmakers into a second special session after the regular session ends June 6.
  • Gov. John Bel Edwards has called state lawmakers into a second special session after the regular session ends June 6.

In calling state lawmakers back into yet another special session just 30 minutes after the annual regular session adjourns June 6, Gov. John Bel Edwards seems to have adopted the jocular admonition, “Beatings will continue until morale improves.”

The beatings, in this case, are the painful choices that legislators must make these days: raise taxes or cut critical (and popular) programs such as public hospitals and TOPS college scholarships. Edwards is determined to keep them in session until they improve the state’s fiscal morale by raising taxes.

The governor has been accused of holding the beloved TOPS program hostage to get lawmakers to raise taxes, and that’s a fair criticism. It’s also an effective political strategy. Let’s face it, nobody wants to raise taxes for better prisons. But if people think their kids are going to lose their shot at a TOPS scholarship — watch out.

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Editorial: It takes a millage

Posted By on Thu, Mar 24, 2016 at 11:10 AM

If the state’s budget mess holds a lesson for local government, it’s that ideologically refusing to raise needed taxes while “cutting government spending” is sometimes an irresponsible course. On April 9, New Orleans voters will go to the polls to decide two propositions: a property tax of 7.5 mills for the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) and the New Orleans Fire Department; and a $120 million bond issue for streets, public facilities and firefighting equipment. The former would help rebuild the NOPD and pay pensions owed to local firefighters. The latter would go mostly toward street repairs, with some for parks, buildings, fire trucks and land acquisition. Early voting has already begun and continues through this Saturday, April 2. We support both propositions.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Gov. Edwards to address budget crisis in live statewide address Feb. 11

Posted By on Wed, Feb 10, 2016 at 12:11 PM

Gov. John Bel Edwards.
  • Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Saying "We have reached the end of the road where cuts alone will work to solve this problem," Gov. John Bel Edwards announced he will deliver a statewide address Feb. 11 about the Louisiana budget crisis, which is worse than than previous projections.

The state's Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) issued a forecast today saying Louisiana was facing an $850 million immediate deficit (up from a previously forecast $750 million) and a projected budget gap for the 2016-2017 fiscal year of $2 billion.

Greg Albrecht, the state's chief economist, told the REC this morning, "For all practical purposes, Louisiana is in its own recession, and it has come on pretty rapidly."  

LaPolitics editor Jeremy Alford reported Edwards and his team contacted television stations around the state last week asking for airtime for what would amount to a "State of the State" address, which was granted. Edwards will address Louisiana at 6:30 p.m. Thursday night.

Last month, Gambit examined the state budget mess in a cover story, "Louisiana's Hangover." 

Under the cut: Edwards' statement.

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Monday, January 4, 2016

"Total War Puppets" demilitarize the Mudlark Theater

Posted By on Mon, Jan 4, 2016 at 4:18 PM

Sandy the Slut, one of the Total War Puppets
  • Sandy the Slut, one of the Total War Puppets
In the years I've been acquainted with the woman known as Nyx, she has been not only a very solid poet, artist and anarchist-feminist theorist but an outspoken and unstinting critic of what she perceives as weak or regressive creative endeavors here in New Orleans.

After a sojourn abroad, she and her new collaborator Ben Bornstein are returning to town Jan. 9, 10, 12 and 13 with their project Total War Puppets, in a production at the Mudlark Theatre titled "Fire with Fire."

I spoke to Nyx and Ben about their puppet show, its ideological underpinnings, and what Nyx finds lacking in the New Orleans DIY art scene. One of the most principled and least cowardly New Orleans artists I know is back with a vengeance, and I couldn't be happier about it.

What's the origin of "Total War Puppets?"

I left New Orleans to go to Bread & Puppet in Brattleboro, Vermont for an apprenticeship. I met Ben there and we had more political affinity than I had with most of those people. I'd had the idea for a show about militarism and its connection to my family. A few months later I was working on little scenes, and I had enough to make a show. Ben joined me and we spent a month doing nothing except building the puppet show. We both wrote different scenes and then heavily co-edited them.

BEN: The name of our troupe addresses how a militaristic culture isn't relegated to statist violence like the police. Total War is the current doctrine of war, including citizen non-combatants — Total War throws you into the context of war simply by being alive.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

How to fix the budget process now

Posted By on Fri, Mar 20, 2015 at 10:22 AM

Bobby Jindal frittered away the $1.1 billion surplus he inherited from former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, then put Louisiana in a $1.6 billion revenue hole.
  • Bobby Jindal frittered away the $1.1 billion surplus he inherited from former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, then put Louisiana in a $1.6 billion revenue hole.

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s assault on public higher education in Louisiana continues unabated, and it’s unclear whether state legislators will put up any resistance. University heads privately complain about Jindal’s unprecedented gutting of higher ed, but they cower in public for fear of losing their jobs.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers have to figure out how to cover the $1.6 billion budget gap that they and Jindal created over the past seven years.

To recap, Jindal inherited a $1.1 billion surplus from former Gov. Kathleen Blanco. He blew that in his first year as governor and belatedly embraced the rollback of the Stelly Plan, which voters approved in 2002. That was a total hit to the state’s fisc of $1.4 billion in 2008. The rollback of Stelly has cost the state more than $300 million a year since then. Some estimate it costs $500 million a year by now.

In the years since 2008, Jindal has lavished billions of dollars in tax credits and exemptions on businesses that may or may not be creating jobs in Louisiana. Meanwhile, the state’s unfunded accrued liability (UAL), which is Louisiana’s version of the Social Security ticking time bomb, grew from $12 billion to more than $20 billion on Jindal’s watch.

More recently, Jindal blamed declining oil prices for much of the state’s fiscal woes, but that’s a lie. Falling oil prices account for, at most, one-fourth of the $1.6 billion shortfall.

Where do we go from here?

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