Thursday, January 6, 2011

A very 'special' session

Posted By on Thu, Jan 6, 2011 at 11:52 PM

State lawmakers have convened themselves into a special session set to begin March 20 to take up the sticky political wicket of redistricting. The interesting angle to this story is the fact that the session was called by lawmakers themselves, not by the governor — for the first time in state history.

The significance of lawmakers convening themselves into special session is the fact that it takes Gov. Bobby Jindal out of the political equation at the outset. Under Louisiana law, when a governor calls lawmakers into special session, he or she gets to set the agenda by listing the specific items that can be considered in that session. No other items can be considered. In the past, governors have used that authority to line up votes for their proposals in advance of special sessions by including items important to key lawmakers — and excluding items they don’t want considered.

By convening themselves, lawmakers cut Jindal out of the agenda-setting process. For his part, Jindal has said he plans to take a hands-off approach to redistricting anyway — unless he’s asked to intervene.

According to the proclamation calling lawmakers into the special session, the topics to be considered include new district lines for the state House and Senate, Congress, the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), the Louisiana Public Service Commission, the state Supreme Court and state appellate courts. Lawmakers will also consider revising statutes keyed to population figures based on earlier Census data. The session must end by April 13.

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"Where To Get Drinks": the party for the poster

Posted By on Thu, Jan 6, 2011 at 5:57 PM

Ian Hoch's flowchart "Where to Get Drinks" was a minor sensation in New Orleans when he debuted it in November. There have been beaucoup bar guides to the city before, but no one had thought to organize a bar guide into a flowchart that asked eminently sensible questions like "Are you a vampire?", "Do you have a mangy dog?" and "Wanna hang out with old people?". Soon people were asking about T-shirts and posters. Well, the posters are here — almost — and there's a poster-launch party planned at Carrollton Station on Thu., Jan. 13. From the Facebook invite:

The viral chart that rocked the Crescent City bar scene is now a full color, full size print available for you to purchase. "Where to Get Drinks" is its accompanying website, blog and merchandise company helmed by chart creator Ian Hoch and partner Genevieve Dempre. Help us celebrate this monumental achievement with great comedians, great friends and a scary powerful drink special!

And then you can use the poster to decide where you want to go next.

WWL-TV: Gambit's 3-Day Weekend entertainment picks

Posted By on Thu, Jan 6, 2011 at 2:58 PM

As he usually does on Thursdays, Gambit's Noah Bonaparte Pais stopped by the WWL Eyewitness Morning News to share Gambit's 3-Day Weekend entertainment picks. This weekend brings Randy Newman performing with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra at the Mahalia Jackson Theater; Enter the Void at Chalmette Movies (Will Coviello loved it); comedian Tig Notaro at La Nuit Comedy Theatre; the 196th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans; and oh so much more. Watch.

Tig Notaro comes to New Orleans

Posted By on Thu, Jan 6, 2011 at 2:32 PM

Tig Notaro is getting more comedy roles on TV, appearing occasionally on The Sarah Silverman Program and more recently landing a spot on NBC's Community. But she professes to love stand-up and she tours heavily. Friday's show at La Nuit is her first performance in New Orleans, but she has an odd connection to the city. Her great-great grandfather was Mayor John Fitzpatrick (1892-1896). Read more about Notaro here.


First mojo ... now fake bath salts

Posted By on Thu, Jan 6, 2011 at 1:46 PM

Ivory Wave is the type of fake bath salts now banned in Louisiana.
  • Ivory Wave is the type of fake "bath salts" now banned in Louisiana.
Last year it was "mojo" or "spice," the fake pot made of herbs sprayed with chemicals. The popularity — and unpredictability — of mojo and its effects got the substance banned in Louisiana. (It also spawned a Gambit cover story, "Mojo Madness?".)This year, it seems, the drug du jour is a form of cheap speed marketed as fake bath salts, and today Gov. Bobby Jindal called a press conference in Covington, where he joined officials from the law enforcement community to announce that the chemical mixture has been added to the Louisiana Controlled Dangerous Substance Act by emergency rule: it is now against the law to possess, manufacture or distribute them in the state.

According to a press release from Jindal's office, the Louisiana Poison Control office has received 165 emergency calls from users of the drug since September, far outstripping any other state in the nation. Jindal has requested an investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to find out why the fake bath salts have become so popular in Louisiana. Like mojo, the over-the-counter substances have been sold at outlets from gas-station convenience stores to head shops, and they're readily available on the Internet under trade names like "Ivory Wave" and "Cloud 9." Users shoot, snort, or smoke them in an attempt to get a speedy high.

The ingredients being added to the Schedule I classification (a controlled dangerous substance) are derivatives of mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV). Both have been banned in countries across the European Union, where the bath-salt fad seems to have begun more than a year ago. In April 2010, England reclassified mephedrone as a Class B substance, like codeine or cannabis, but a report seven months later in the British medical journal The Lancet concluded the ban, with its attendant publicity, could have done more harm than good:

In the current 2010 survey, the mean price per gram paid for mephedrone was £16 (mode, £20), compared with a mean price of £10 when the drug was obtainable online before legislation. These findings suggest that classification of mephedrone has had a limited effect on controlling its availability and use. Before the introduction of the legislation, users generally obtained mephedrone via the internet. Now they buy it from street dealers, on average at double the price. We suspect that, in time, there are likely to be reductions in purity, and increases in health harms.

“These drugs have crept into our communities and they are hurting our kids. We have to do everything in our power to protect our children and to make sure our streets are safe for our families," Jindal said in a statement.

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