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The Best and the Worst of the Week 

J.R. Smith,
guard for the New Orleans Hornets, is paying the tuition of four students who will attend either St. Augustine High School or Xavier Preparatory School this fall. Smith said he is funding the scholarships as a way to give back to a city that embraced him during his rookie season. The scholarships will go to students who demonstrate both academic aptitude and financial need.

Commercial Real Estate Women of New Orleans,

or CREW, has raised $9,500 for Covenant House to build a new play structure for its fledgling Child Development Center. CREW presented the money last week as part of its mission to support organizations benefiting girls and women. Covenant House, a downtown shelter for at-risk and homeless youth, is building the new child-care and development center for the children of shelter residents and low-income community members.

Gilbert Jackson
of New Orleans faces sentencing after his federal conviction on charges he bribed public officials in several cities (including New Orleans) to steer contracts to his engineering company. Jackson, former vice-president of the Ohio firm Camp, Dresser & McKee, was convicted on eight counts of racketeering, bribery and fraud. One count on which he was convicted involved allegations that Jackson bribed a housing official in the Marc Morial administration.

Joe Cook,
executive director of the Louisiana ACLU, engaged in offensive rhetoric last week when discussing members of the Tangipahoa Parish school system, with whom he's clashed recently over prayer in the classroom. Cook came under fire after tacitly comparing some school officials to Al Qaeda, commenting on camera to a WWL-TV reporter that such officials "believe they answer to a higher power -- which is the kind of thinking you had with the people who flew airplanes in the buildings in this country."

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