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Nuns Build

gathered in New Orleans Nov. 15 for a week of home rebuilding events to assist people left homeless after Hurricane Katrina. Following the example of the nine Ursuline sisters who arrived in New Orleans in 1727, more than 84 nuns from across the U.S. came to hang drywall, paint and install doors and windows in houses in Orleans and St. Bernard parishes. It was an outreach project benefiting the St. Bernard Project, which has to date rebuilt 319 houses and provided mental health services to 350 residents.

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Allison Alsup,

a local writer, won the Marguerite McGlinn Prize for Fiction from Philadelphia Stories literary magazine, which will publish her story "East of the Sierra" in its winter issue. Alsup, who was laid off from a university teaching job two years ago, now teaches creative writing to inner-city students part-time through the Urban League's College Track program. Alsup was honored at a dinner in Philadelphia last month and presented with a $2,000 check.

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Ruby Bridges

was honored by Mayor Mitch Landrieu and his wife Cheryl Landrieu on the 50th anniversary of the day Bridges, then 6 years old, entered first grade at William Frantz Elementary School. Her enrollment at Frantz marked the end of the city's segregated school system and was immortalized in Norman Rockwell's painting The Problem We All Live With. Bridges and Cheryl Landrieu will host the inaugural New Orleans Children's Book Festival Dec. 4 at Latter Library.

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The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)

was cited this week for undercharging polluters far below federal levels. An analysis this week by the Washington D.C.-based Environmental Integrity Project found the state charges polluters about $15 per ton of airborne pollutants. According to the Clean Air Act, the state can fine polluters around $41 per ton. In response, the DEQ said its current fines were sufficient to cover cleanup costs — not quite the definition of "environmental quality" taxpayers deserve.

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