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The Best and the Worst of the Week 

Norman Francis,
president of Xavier University and chair of the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA), has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation'''s highest civilian honor. A graduate of Loyola Law School, Francis has served as Xavier'''s president longer than any other college president in America. He has built the university into a national powerhouse for medical school applicants and pharmacists, and his selection as LRA chair gave that agency immediate local as well as national credibility.

Chris Paul,
the sensational guard for the New Orleans Hornets NBA team, joined international hunger relief organization Feed The Children to provide 800 needy families with boxes of food and personal-care items last week. Last holiday season, the Hornets partnered with Feed the Children to sponsor a toy and food drop in Baker, where many local families had evacuated in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. This year, each family received a 25-pound box of food and a box of personal-care items.

Capital One
and about 60 of its local employees recently refurbished library facilities and replenished bookshelves at two local charter schools — Nelson Elementary on St. Bernard Avenue and Capdau Elementary on Franklin Avenue. Both schools sustained extensive damage during Hurricane Katrina, and both are now charter schools sponsored by UNO. In partnership with UNO and the national nonprofit Heart of America Foundation, Capital One has made a commitment to promote literacy among school-aged youth.

Joe Mistich,
a St. Tammany Parish contractor, admitted in federal court last week that he helped conceal alleged shakedowns by former St. Tammany Councilman Joe Impastato in connection with a Hurricane Katrina debris disposal contract. Mistich'''s plea included a promise to cooperate with the feds in their case against Impastato, who is accused of squeezing money from the owners of Pontchartrain Chipping Yard in Lacombe — and hiding the alleged payoff in a check made out to Mistich.

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