Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Mid-City church offers sanctuary to Salvadoran man threatened with deportation

Posted By on Wed, Nov 15, 2017 at 2:45 PM

Jose Torres addresses a crowd outside First Grace United Methodist Church, which has offered him sanctuary following attempts from immigration authorities to deport him. - PHOTO BY ALEX WOODWARD
  • Jose Torres addresses a crowd outside First Grace United Methodist Church, which has offered him sanctuary following attempts from immigration authorities to deport him.

When he was 18 years old, Jose Torres fled violence in El Salvador and later arrived in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures. On Nov. 15, he was scheduled to appear for a check-in appointment at the New Orleans office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), where immigrant advocates say agents planned to hand him a ticket out of the country to “self-deport.”

But on Nov. 15, Torres — standing among immigrant advocates and local faith leaders, along with his two U.S.-born daughters, ages 2 and 8 — announced First Grace United Methodist Church would provide Torres sanctuary.

“I’m tired of being punished over and over, for one reason: for being an immigrant,” Torres said through tears. “It’s time for our immigrant community to rise up, to lift up our voices, and demand respect from this country.”

First Grace — which also provides meeting space for the immigrant advocacy group Congress of Day Laborers and offers shelter to women and children through Hagar’s House — will provide Torres “a safe place to be in our community and have some degree of safety,” Pastor Shawn Anglim told Gambit.

“You remember that you were once in that place, you were once treated as a foreigner, as strange, as a stranger. Being a human being means providing a space for people who once felt that way,” he said. “The word ‘sanctuary’ is to harbor, to protect, and that’s what we’re doing here for Jose.”

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Editorial: New Orleans prepares to turn 300

Posted By on Wed, Nov 15, 2017 at 2:33 PM

A “NOLA 300” sculpture in New Orleans City Park. - PHOTO BY KEVIN ALLMAN
  • A “NOLA 300” sculpture in New Orleans City Park.

As 2017 comes to an end — and with the mayor’s race almost over and the New Orleans Saints ascendant again — you’ll soon be hearing about a major citywide initiative that will encompass much of the city’s cultural life in 2018: the tricentennial of the founding of New Orleans, or what city leaders are calling NOLA 300.

Tonight, WYES-TV premieres New Orleans: The First 300 Years, a two-hour documentary narrated by John Goodman exploring the city’s history (the program repeats at 1 p.m. and 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 23), and there’s a coffee table book of the same name by Errol and Peggy Scott Laborde, with an introduction by historian Lawrence Powell. Yesterday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and more than a dozen local leaders held a symposium at the Orpheum Theater “to recount the past, discuss the present and envision the future of New Orleans.”
Commemorative, Instagram-worthy “NOLA 300” sculptures like the one pictured, near the Big Lake in New Orleans City Park, are going up around town, and even Prospect.4, the New Orleans art triennial that starts this month, draws inspiration from the city’s history. After Jan. 1, opera, ballet, theater, art exhibits and concerts celebrating New Orleans history will be staged all over town. The celebration will culminate in late April 2018 (while New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival visitors are in town) with a tricentennial interfaith service, a weekend for international guests and dignitaries at the restored Gallier Hall, and a citywide celebration April 22.

Naturally, all this will be a major tourism draw and a chance for New Orleans to once again shine in front of the world. But NOLA 300 has to be more than a clever bit of marketing if it is to be a true celebration of New Orleans. Making sure that the city’s entire history — the good and the bad, the accomplishments and the still-imperfect — will be the challenge.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Y@ Speak: sizzle reel

Posted By on Tue, Nov 14, 2017 at 11:30 AM

This week's episode plays like a highlight reel of perennial Y@ Speak favorites: quotable cringe from Sen. John Neely Kennedy and Attorney General Jeff Landry, reactions to extremely mild changes in the weather, Saints memes, a terrible Katrina take, and Fletcher "King of Line Break Twitter" Mackel.

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Backed by tax incentives, massive IT company to open in New Orleans, hire 2,000 people

Posted By on Mon, Nov 13, 2017 at 5:56 PM

From outside the Superdome Nov. 13, Gov. John Bel Edwards and officials announced DXC's plans to open an office in New Orleans in 2018 with 2,000 hires over the next several years.
  • From outside the Superdome Nov. 13, Gov. John Bel Edwards and officials announced DXC's plans to open an office in New Orleans in 2018 with 2,000 hires over the next several years.

A multi-billion dollar IT company expects to open its New Orleans office in January 2018, with plans to hire 2,000 people within the next several years — all part of a multi-tiered effort among state and local politicians and business groups, tax incentive programs, local higher education systems, and the company itself, DXC Technology, which courted several states before landing with New Orleans.

At an announcement outside the Superdome Nov. 13, city and state officials didn’t mince words about the company’s arrival.

Gov. John Bel Edwards called it a “historic” announcement, expected to create more permanent direct jobs than any other development in recent Louisiana history. Mayor Mitch Landrieu called it a “game changer” and “a transformational moment” for the city in advance of its 300th anniversary, with the company’s decision signaling a flag-planting moment for the city and large investors, that there’s “no way city will ever be turned around again.” Greater New Orleans Inc.’s Michael Hecht said the arrival of DXC “emphatically validates New Orleans as a place for business and tech.”

The company’s arrival follows the state’s post-Katrina push for tech profusion, bolstered by tax credits and an ongoing narrative among city leaders and public-private partnershipping programs that the city can and will “win” in the highly competitive tech industry.

The city’s last “win” with General Electric followed gains with Gameloft and IBM, among others. DXC is likely to be its biggest “win" yet.

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Monday, November 6, 2017

Want to have lunch with Donna Brazile and ask her a few things? Next week's your chance

Posted By on Mon, Nov 6, 2017 at 4:20 PM

Louisiana native Donna Brazile led the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election. - CREATIVE COMMONS/TIM PIERCE
  • Louisiana native Donna Brazile led the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election.

Former Democratic National Committee (DNC) head (and New Orleans native) Donna Brazile is coming home next week to speak to the annual Independent Women's Organization (IWO) at the group's annual fundraising lunch.

Brazile has been in the news a lot in the last week, mostly regarding her recently published memoir about Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House. In it, she says the Clinton campaign controlled the DNC's fundraising, to the detriment of challenger U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. (Former Clinton staffers and many Democratic leaders dispute this.)

But it was one comment she made yesterday on ABC's This Week With George Stephanopoulos that may raise some eyebrows in Louisiana in particular: that her experience at the DNC was worse for her than Hurricane Katrina and the federal floods.

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Saturday, November 4, 2017

Juvenile life without parole still administered too heavily, children's rights advocates say

Posted By on Sat, Nov 4, 2017 at 12:00 PM


Earlier this year, the Louisiana Legislature was tasked with enforcing U.S. Supreme Court rulings mandating that children be sentenced to life in prison in only "rare" and "uncommon" instances.

Now, children’s rights advocates say the state is failing to comply, as prosecutors are still asking for juvenile life without parole in more than 30 percent of all cases that have in recent years been made eligible for reconsideration.

"The District Attorneys are not using their discretion as the Supreme Court mandated nor are they heeding the explicit will of the legislature,” said Jill Pasquarella, attorney at Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights. “The legislation means nothing if the state does not comply with the Constitution in practice.”

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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Court rules Gov. Edwards can't protect LGBT workers from discrimination

Posted By on Wed, Nov 1, 2017 at 4:02 PM

Gov. John Bel Edwards.
  • Gov. John Bel Edwards.

A Louisiana appeals court ruling has sided with state Attorney General Jeff Landry, who challenged a 2016 executive order from Gov. John Bel Edwards that bans discrimination against LGBT people in government and state contracts. The three-judge panel sided with a lower court ruling from late last year.

“I have said repeatedly that discrimination is not a Louisiana value, and this decision does not change my conviction that hiring decisions in state government should be based on merit alone," Edwards said in a statement. "Discrimination in state government and by state contractors is wrong, makes us weaker, and is bad for business and economic development. Even President Trump agrees, as he has kept in place a federal executive order which is virtually identical to the order I put in place. I went a step further and provided an exemption for certain religious organizations."

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

New Orleans, home of the largest oil and gas lease sale

Posted By on Tue, Oct 24, 2017 at 6:40 PM


In 2018, nearly 77 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico will be up for grabs in what's likely to be the largest-ever oil and gas lease sale in the U.S.

The sale opens to offshore-drilling oil companies water off the coasts of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and Florida, as well as previously unleased areas in the Gulf's Outer Continental Shelf, encompassing an area the size of New Mexico, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The sale is scheduled for March 2018 in New Orleans.

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Monday, October 23, 2017

Y@ Speak: reactions to Besh and more from the week in Twitter

Posted By on Mon, Oct 23, 2017 at 5:40 PM

This week: reactions to John Besh and reporting on sexual harassment.

Also: The return of the New Orleans Pelicans and "What does Rob Ryan look like?" (Answer: swole Crockett? Michael McDonald's? Perfect?)

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

NOPD to carry opioid overdose antidote as part of citywide plan to combat 'epidemic'

Posted By on Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 4:30 PM

A naloxone kit of the kind carried by first responders. - PHOTO BY DORA SISON
  • A naloxone kit of the kind carried by first responders.

New Orleans Police Department officers will begin carrying a potentially life-saving drug to reverse the effects of an opiate overdose, following more than 160 opioid-related deaths in the city in 2016.

As part of a sweeping plan to address the “opioid epidemic,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu and city officials revealed Oct. 18 that NOPD will carry naloxone, the life-saving overdose-reversal drug. A 2016 Gambit cover story found that no Louisiana law enforcement agency carried naloxone — locally it was only previously carried by EMS and New Orleans Fire Department first responders, despite a 2014 statewide law encouraging law enforcement to carry it.

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