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The Best and the Worst of the Week 

The Catholic HEART Workcamp,
a group of teenage volunteers from across the country, are repairing and painting 38 homes in New Orleans this week. The value of the work averages about $1,650 per home, organizers estimate. This is the eighth year HEART volunteers have assisted local senior citizens by working on their homes.

Earl Barthé and Michael Doucet are among this year's 12 recipients of prestigious NEA National Heritage Fellowships. Barthé, a local decorative building craftsman, and Doucet, a Cajun fiddler who leads the band BeauSoleil, were chosen for their artistic excellence, cultural authenticity and contributions to their field. Each will receive a $20,000 award at a September ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Mary Landrieu was a primary sponsor on a resolution passed by the U.S. Senate last week to apologize for the government's failure to pass an anti-lynching law more than a century ago. Nearly 5,000 people are estimated to have been lynched between 1882 and 1968, 75 percent of them black. Landrieu says she was influenced by her reading of the book Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America .

Rep. Gary Beard (R-Baton Rouge) introduced an amendment last week to halt the state's federally funded condom distribution program. The program, operated through the Office of Public Health, distributes free condoms in order to stem the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections in this state. This should be an important consideration especially in Beard's home district, which for the year 2002 tied with Miami for the second-highest AIDS case rate in the nation, according to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

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