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Bouquets & Brickbats 

They get what they deserve

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Barbara Johnson

won a $50,000 "Gift of Freedom" writing grant from A Room of Her Own, a foundation for women artists. A carpenter by trade, Johnson entered UNO's MFA program in 2004 and began winning acclaim for her short stories. Later this year, HarperCollins will publish her debut collection, More of This World or Maybe Another, set in her hometown of Lake Charles. In her spare time, Johnson volunteers with Rebuilding Together, where she and an all-women crew are building a Habitat for Humanity house.



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Lee Zurik

won two national awards of excellence for his investigative series that broke open the New Orleans Affordable Homeownership scandal last summer and led to a federal investigation. On Tuesday, the WWL-TV reporter received the IRE Medal, the top prize from the Society of Investigative Reporters and Editors, and the next day was announced the winner of the George Foster Peabody Award, generally considered broadcasting's highest honor. Zurik will receive his Peabody at a dinner in New York on May 18 hosted by NBC News' Brian Williams.



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The Idea Village,

a local nonprofit, sponsored the IDEACorps Challenge, which brought 50 MBA students from top colleges to town for a week to aid local entrepreneurial ventures. Along with corporate volunteers from Google and www.salesforce.com, the students and professional volunteers worked with six New Orleans small businesses, helping them develop strategies and growth plans in marketing, finance, operations and other fields. At the final presentations, the six local groups received $120,000 in "growth grants" to continue their entrepreneurship.



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Neal Boortz,

the talk-radio host who once said Hurricane Katrina victims were people who "couldn't even wipe themselves, let alone get out of the way of the water when that levee broke," was at it again last week, comparing the floods in Fargo, N.D., to Hurricane Katrina: "Let's see how well the residents of Fargo handle this disaster versus the residents of New Orleans. The parasite quotient in New Orleans gives a huge lead to the denizens of the frozen north." Boortz's show has been off the airwaves since a format change at WIST-AM in February. We parasites don't miss him.

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