Monday, April 24, 2017

Y@ Speak: CATs, dogs, alligators

Posted By on Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 5:38 PM

Alligators in the parks and in the streets, marches in defense of science in an increasingly facts-absent world, 3-year-old bus drivers — pretty normal week.

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Bills exempting feminine hygiene products and diapers from state sales tax move to full Senate

Posted By on Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 3:48 PM

State Sen. JP Morrell.
  • State Sen. JP Morrell.

The Senate Committee on Revenue and Fiscal Affairs on Monday sent to the full Senate two bills Senate Bill 24 and Senate Bill 27, both proposed by state Sen. JP Morrell, D-New Orleans, which would exempt diapers and feminine hygiene products from state sales tax. The first would seek the exemption by statute and the second by constitutional amendment.

Under the current state law, diapers and feminine hygiene products are subject to the current 5 percent sales tax rate until June 30, 2018, and a 4 percent tax rate thereafter. The state already has exemptions for food for home consumption, residential utilities and prescription drugs.

Morrell said he feels it is “immoral” to tax items that not only affect some of the state’s low- income populations, but also that are not optional, adding, “This is really an issue that’s bothered me for quite some time.”

SB27 would put the measure to a vote of the people, which requires a two-thirds majority approval.

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Lawmakers to introduce bills to abolish death penalty in the state

Posted By on Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 1:54 PM

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A proposal to abolish the death penalty in Louisiana could help prevent a crisis the state’s public defenders say they are hurtling toward, unless drastic changes are made in how the state handles defense for the indigent.

But because the bill does not apply to those already convicted or indicted of capital offenses, the savings in money earmarked for such cases will come slowly. And the state’s district attorneys are taking a hardline stance against the idea, arguing to local lawmakers the move would take away a vital tool in obtaining plea bargains — hanging the possibility of the death penalty over defendants’ heads.

Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, state Rep. Terry Landry, D-New Iberia, and state Rep. Steve Pylant, R-Winnsboro, are authoring or co-authoring legislation that would end the death penalty. Claitor’s bill will get its first hearing on Tuesday.

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What people are saying about the overnight Confederate-era monument removal in New Orleans

Posted By on Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 11:28 AM

Let's get the stupidest out of the way first, wth a comment by a fellow who is running for governor in Virginia ...

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At First Draft, New Orleans blogger Adrastos has a more nuanced take:
I wish that the city had NOT done so under cover of darkness but the Mayor has said that there were death threats against the work crew. Unfortunately, I believe him. BUT since other security measures were taken, I still think it should have been done during the day. I, for one, am proud of this action, which is why I don’t think we should be sneaking around. It gives the appearance of wrongdoing when they’re doing the right thing. Celebrating hatred and racism is unacceptable.

I also wish Mayor Landrieu would stop calling them Confederate monuments. The one that was removed this morning, the so-called Liberty monument, honors the triumph of white supremacy during Reconstruction. The remaining three statues honor Confederate dignitaries-only one local-and were erected in celebration of white supremacy, which is why I use that term.

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New Orleans removes first of four Confederate-era monuments, announces funding to take down the rest

Posted By on Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 9:03 AM

The Battle of Liberty Place statue at Canal Place was removed in the early morning hours April 24.
  • The Battle of Liberty Place statue at Canal Place was removed in the early morning hours April 24.
A few hours after construction crews began removing a statue intended to recognize "white supremacy in the South," Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced that the city should "truly remember all of our history, not part of it." The Battle of Liberty Place obelisk — one of four statues targeted for removal by the city, and what Landrieu called the "most offensive" of the four — was the first to come down.

The statues — which Landrieu said were "first erected as an affront to America, intended to deny the humanity of millions of Americans" — will be moved to a city-held warehouse before they move to a museum or similar building. Other statues to be removed include Robert E. Lee at Lee Circle, P.G.T. Beauregard at the entrance to City Park, and Jefferson Davis on Jefferson Davis Parkway in Mid-City.

Debate over their removal has swirled over the last several decades, but it came into sharp focus when Landrieu announced their removal in 2015. Debates continued at City Hall and elsewhere as officials mulled a "nuisance" ordinance under which the monuments could be removed, arguing their construction "suggests the supremacy of one ethnic, religious, or racial group over any other, or gives honor or praise to any violent actions taken wrongfully against citizens of the city to promote ethnic, religious, or racial supremacy of any group over another."

“The removal of these statues sends a clear and unequivocal message to the people of New Orleans and the nation: New Orleans celebrates our diversity, inclusion and tolerance,” Landrieu said in a statement early this morning. “Relocating these Confederate monuments is not about taking something away from someone else. This is not about politics, blame or retaliation. This is not a naïve quest to solve all our problems at once. This is about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile — and most importantly — choose a better future. We can remember these divisive chapters in our history in a museum or other facility where they can be put in context — and that’s where these statues belong.”

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Gambit's Digital Edition, April 25, 2017

Posted on Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 8:48 AM

New Orleans begins taking down Confederate-era monuments in middle of night

Posted By on Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 2:29 AM

The city of New Orleans began taking down the monument commemorating the Battle of Liberty Place in the wee hours of Monday morning.
  • The city of New Orleans began taking down the monument commemorating the Battle of Liberty Place in the wee hours of Monday morning.

The Associated Press reported tonight that Mayor Mitch Landrieu has begun the controversial removal of the city's Confererate-era monuments in the middle of the night:
New Orleans planned to begin removing the first of four prominent Confederate monuments early Monday, the latest Southern institution to sever itself from symbols viewed by many as a representation racism and white supremacy.

Workers were to begin removing the first memorial, one that commemorates whites who tried to topple a biracial post-Civil War government in New Orleans, overnight in an attempt to avoid disruption from supporters who want the monuments to stay, some of whom city officials said have made death threats.

Three other statues to Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard and Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis will be removed in later days now that legal challenges have been overcome.

"There's a better way to use the property these monuments are on and a way that better reflects who we are," New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in an interview Sunday with The Associated Press.

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Hundreds attend New Orleans March for Science (slideshow)

Posted By on Sat, Apr 22, 2017 at 4:46 PM



In this strange new world — where the valley between truth and satire grows ever-foggier and sometimes it seems as though reality itself is slipping  — scientists on seven continents and in New Orleans converged April 22 for rallies in support of facts, objective research and other previously undisputed elements of their work.

Hundreds of people in New Orleans, including a sizable contingent from a visiting conference of physical anthropologists, gathered at City Hall Saturday for a rally and March for Science defending scientific and medical research funding, opposing the politicization of research results and celebrating the role of scientists in protecting the environment and human society.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Landrieu: letter threatening to pull funding over immigration issues is "another example of the Trump Administration acting before doing their homework"

Posted By on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 5:25 PM

CHERYL GERBER
  • CHERYL GERBER

New Orleans is among nine jurisdictions targeted by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which threatens to cut federal funding unless they can prove compliance with the feds over their "sanctuary" policies.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu has repeatedly asserted to the administration of President Donald Trump that the New Orleans Police Department and Orleans Parish Sheriffs Office — both of which are under DOJ federal consent decrees — obey federal law, and that New Orleans is not a so-called "sanctuary city" for people living the country illegally.

Today, the DOJ sent letters "requiring proof of compliance," or else. "Many of these jurisdictions are also crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime," according to a press release from the department. "The letters remind the recipient jurisdictions that, as a condition for receiving certain financial year 2016 funding from [the DOJ], each of these jurisdictions agreed to provide documentation and an opinion from legal counsel validating that they are in compliance."

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Review: Personal Shopper

Posted By on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 5:12 PM

Kristen Stewart in Personal Shopper
  • Kristen Stewart in Personal Shopper

Ghost stories and French art films don’t typically co-exist in the mind of the modern moviegoer. But that doesn’t stop award-winning writer/director Olivier Assayas (Summer Hours) from orchestrating just that unlikely mash-up with Personal Shopper. Assayas seems unconcerned with catering to the expectations of even his most ardent admirers, as illustrated by this audacious yet frequently trying film.

That fearlessness and strength of vision may constitute the English-language Personal Shopper’s finest qualities. It begins in full horror genre-mode as a young woman named Maureen (Kristen Stewart) prepares to spend the night in a big, empty, creaky house in the French countryside, apparently hoping to make contact with a ghost. Very little is explained until later, long after the film takes its time establishing a supernatural vibe.

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