Monday, March 31, 2008

Scholarship Ban May Fizzle

Posted By on Mon, Mar 31, 2008 at 8:45 PM

By: Jeremy Alford

A Thibodaux lawmaker has filed legislation that would strip legislators of their long-held right to award scholarships to Tulane University — but that doesn’t mean the bill will be debated. The four-year scholarships, presently valued at $33,000 a year, are perennial issues. Rookie Rep. Jerome “Dee” Richard, an independent from Lafourche Parish, placed them on his hit list for the session that begins this week, but feedback from his colleagues has been sharper than he anticipated. “At this point, I’m not 100 percent sure I’m going to go forward with the bill, but I wanted to get it filed to get a conversation going,” he says. Tulane legislative scholarships date from the late 19th century, but they didn’t become controversial until the mid-1990s, when media reports revealed that lawmakers were doling them out to family members. Since then, some lawmakers have allowed Tulane to pick students from their respective districts, while others have appointed committees to award the scholarships. If passed, Richard’s House Bill 272 would not take effect until 2012 so any scholarships promised during the ongoing term can still be delivered. 

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Gun Ban Under Fire

Posted By on Mon, Mar 31, 2008 at 5:51 PM

By: Allen Johnson

Supporters of law-abiding citizens’ right to bear firearms are firing back at Police Chief Warren Riley’s support of a ban on assault-style weapons. “I think Riley is trying to find another scapegoat for his inability to do anything about the escalating violent crime,” says attorney C.B. Forgotston, who tracked local homicides last year. Forgotston says automatic assault weapons are already illegal and the only difference between semi-automatic weapons and so-called “long guns” is that some “assault-type” weapons have larger magazines. “There is nothing inherently dangerous about an assault-type weapon,” the lawyer says. “It is a myth perpetrated by movies.” A local ban on the long guns would only eliminate their sale to law-abiding citizens and have no effect on violent crime, Forgotston adds. The United States Supreme Court is considering Second Amendment gun rights for the first time since the 1930s. The High Court is pondering a suit brought by a security guard against Washington, D.C.’s ban on personal handguns in homes — a law that has yet to affect the rate of violent crime in the nation’s capitol, says Texas State University criminologist Peter Scharf. Crimestoppers Inc. Executive Director Darlene Cusanza says the nonprofit is teaming up with ATF to unveil a gun hotline aimed at helping citizens report felons with firearms anonymously. 

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Posted By on Mon, Mar 31, 2008 at 4:07 PM

On another journey to the local video store, I picked up two new releases that appear to have little in common. However, it seems that many films of all genres are jumping on the "post-apocalyptic" band wagon. I did not want to like I Am Legend starring Will Smith. On the other hand, I wanted to love the long-awaited Southland Tales directed by Richard Kelly, of Donnie Darko fame, and starring Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson, Justin Timberlake, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Mandy Moore. Both films deal with the annihilation of the human race in two major U.S. cities—New York City and Los Angeles.

I Am Legend relies completely on Will Smith. It is set on the island of Manhattan after a virus, meant to cure cancer, has turned most of the population into sun-starved, blood-sucking, rabie-infected creatures. The film is partly an analogy of a major metropolis's destruction and the virtual destruction of a man by consuming loneliness. The other part of the film is a horror film with your typical zombie/creatures, which we have seen before in films like 28 Days Later and The Descent.

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HUD Secretary Expected to Resign

Posted on Mon, Mar 31, 2008 at 2:04 PM

by Sam Winston

HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson is expected to resign after being investigated over a suspicious Hurricane Katrina contract.

Detailed background info here.

UPDATED STORY here. He made no mention of the criminal investigation and didn't take any questions from the press according to the AP report.


Assault Weapon Killings Down

Posted By on Mon, Mar 31, 2008 at 1:44 PM

 By: Allen Johnson

Police Chief Warren Riley recently revived a call for a ban on assault weapons, and he’s pushing legislation to that end. Orleans Parish Coroner Dr. Frank Minyard supports the chief’s proposed ban. No figures are available, but very few of the city’s 42 homicides this year involved AK-47s, Tech-9s or other assault-style weapons. “We see a few, but we’re not seeing them like we were after the storm,” coroner’s Chief Investigator John Gagliano says. Most local homicide victims are killed with .40-caliber or 9-millimeter handguns, which are easier to conceal than most assault-style weapons, Minyard says. Gagliano expressed surprise when recalling a recent murder from a .22-caliber pistol, and Austin Banks, a spokesperson for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, says ATF is seizing a lot of “standard 9-millimeters” from convicted felons in Louisiana. “It’s legal to have a (semi-automatic) assault weapon if you are not a convicted felon,” Banks notes. Criminals obtain the weapons via auto thefts, residential burglaries and illegal “straw purchases” — using relatives and associates with no felony records to buy weapons from legitimate gun dealers, Banks says. 

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DA’s Audit — or Autopsy?

Posted By on Mon, Mar 31, 2008 at 1:43 PM

By: Allen  Johnson  

Where is the DA’s audit? It’s been six months since then-Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan Jr. vowed to approve an independent management audit of his much-maligned office. Instead, Jordan announced his resignation three weeks later (Oct. 30), leaving Acting DA Keva Landrum-Johnson to oversee the $25,000 study by the standard-setting National District Attorneys Association (NDAA). The audit began in earnest, but only after Jordan left and the DA’s office made a long, dramatic return from the brink of bankruptcy. The NDAA’s team of experts was supposed to make its report public earlier this year. However, a change of leadership in the national organization delayed the report. Sources say Landrum-Johnson reviewed a draft last week, which insiders expect will read more like an organizational autopsy than a management audit. The report’s grim conclusions are not expected to fault Landrum-Johnson. The interim DA will release a final report to the public “very soon,” one source says.  

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Why I Still Love the NCAA Tournament

Posted on Mon, Mar 31, 2008 at 11:19 AM


by Sam Winston

During any other year, having all four number one seeds reach the NCAA final four would have been the end of the world as I know it. It is after all the first time in the history of the tournament that it has ever happened. Nevertheless, America's perennial underdog showcase will never wither, at least not in my mind.

I've been watching and playing basketball since I was old enough to dribble a ball. Before my family moved from Manhattan to New Orleans when I was 7, my father took me to the Big East tournament in Madison Square Garden, one of the great precursors to the Big Dance. My dad said we were rooting for Syracuse, but I was secretly pulling for Georgetown. What a raucous place it was during the Big East glory days of Ewing, Coleman, Mullin, Villanova, and others in the mid 1980s.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Lights out at 8:00 pm

Posted on Sat, Mar 29, 2008 at 7:25 PM

See how you can make a difference and make a statement this evening at 8:00 p.m. by participating in Earth Hour.

The Sydney Opera House and the Wat Arun Buddhist temple in Bangkok, Thailand have already gone dark.

New Orleans is not an official sponsor- but individually we can all do our part.  


Bruno's + Honeybees = Free stuff drunk people woooo! Wait, Hornets lost?

Posted By on Sat, Mar 29, 2008 at 6:31 PM

by Alejandro de los Rios


So Bruno's Tavern in Uptown had as a Hornets Watch Party last night feature some of the Honeybees handing out free swag (beads, wristbands and those inflatable, um, whatever those are) and a lot of drunk people screaming and jumping when they offered out hats and t-shirts.

In exchange, the Honeybees got the pleasure to be hit on by a lot of drunk college kids, some of which could be seen despondent as the girls that were so receptive in the third quarter bolted in unison as Boston stretched its lead to 20 in the waning minutes of the fourth.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Teflon Chef

Posted By on Fri, Mar 28, 2008 at 9:29 PM


Let us all take a moment, shall we, to reflect on the utter badassery, the sheer Rambo-in-Crocs machismo, of one Paul "Bulletproof" Prudhomme. Revered by Louisiana’s foodies and feared by its redfish, the iconic cook seems to have further fattened his legend with Tuesday morning's near-death (or, at the very least, near-Meuniere-breaking) experience at the Zurich Golf Classic.

To recap: Chef Prudhomme was setting up his station near the links sometime after 9 a.m. when he felt a sudden stinging sensation above his right elbow. According to multiple news reports — each of which has taken on a new, superhero-like characteristic with every retelling — he shook his sleeve and out fell a .22-caliber shell casing. The ammunition, believed by authorities to have been fired in the air within a mile or so radius of the golf course, apparently had found Prudhomme's appendage on its parabolic return to Earth.

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