Donald Trump

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Three questions about the White House chiefs of staff for author Chris Whipple

Posted By on Tue, May 9, 2017 at 12:30 PM

  • Chris Whipple.

For Chris Whipple's new book, The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency, the author and filmmaker interviewed all 17 living former chiefs of staff, plus two presidents and an untold number of aides and former colleagues. The result is a lively narrative history of the presidential staff member who can make or break a presidency, often from behind the scenes.

He presents the book at Garden District Book Shop at 6 p.m. May 12. In advance of his appearance, he spoke briefly with Gambit about the prospects for current, beleaguered White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and what it takes to be successful in the role, which often is held by the one person who must say "no" to the president.

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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Stevie Wonder returns to Jazz Fest with message of peace and love

Posted By on Sun, May 7, 2017 at 10:00 AM

A skywriter wrote above the Fairgrounds during the closing acts on Jazz Fest final Saturday. - WILL COVIELLO
  • A skywriter wrote above the Fairgrounds during the closing acts on Jazz Fest final Saturday.

A clear blue sky offered a bit of insurance for Stevie Wonder's return to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival after heavy rains canceled his set in 2016. HIs set would have followed the death of Prince, who loomed over festival stages last year like a sheer purple shadow. Wonder paid brief tribute to the artist last year with a rendition of "Purple Rain" at his sound check and with a megaphone to the audience at his would-be headlining set. Before he smiled and joked and played the crowd as if it were an instrument made of a sea of vocals, Wonder — sitting among a dozen musicians joining him onstage — started his 15-song service of gratitude and love with a brief sermon to reflect on 2017's shadow.

"I'm very happy I'm here, I'm very thankful I'm able to come again, and fulfill my promise," said the 66-year-old singer-songwriter, returning to the Acura Stage May 6 . "We have some great musicians, some great singers, some of my family is here — then again all of you are my family, We have a lot to talk about, we have a lot to sing about, we have a lot to pray about. We have a lot to do."

First, he said, he wanted to ask a question: "How many of you in here are about unity? Wait a minute, don't bullshit me."

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

How Louisiana's members of Congress voted on GOP health care plan

Posted By on Thu, May 4, 2017 at 3:30 PM

In March, protesters in New Orleans rallied for better health care as Congress prepared to vote on devastating cuts to the Affordable Care Act. - KAT STROMQUIST
  • In March, protesters in New Orleans rallied for better health care as Congress prepared to vote on devastating cuts to the Affordable Care Act.

Five of six Louisiana members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted in support of the American Health Care Act, which rolls back Medicaid benefits by nearly $900 billion over the next decade, allows companies to raise premiums for people with "pre-existing conditions" and ditch certain essential health benefits, blocks funding for Planned Parenthood and generally guts most of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Republicans failed to push through a repeal of the ACA in March, a bill the Congressional Budget Office estimated would result in the loss of coverage for 24 million people, a report that crippled the bill's chance of successful passage. The office didn't have enough time to score the latest bill before a vote.

All 193 House Democrats voted against the latest bill, including New Orleans Rep. Cedric Richmond, the only Louisiana Democrat in the House.

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Sunday, April 30, 2017

New York Times mentions Mitch Landrieu as a possible Democratic contender for president in 2020

Posted By on Sun, Apr 30, 2017 at 11:06 PM


President Landrieu?

In a story tonight, The New York Times examines the Democratic heavy hitters who may be lining up to challenge Republican President Donald Trump in 2020 — former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — before looking at the undercard:
Competing against the Democrats’ senior cohort is a large and relatively shapeless set of younger candidates who span the ideological spectrum: governors, senators, mayors, wealthy executives and even members of the House.
Among them: New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu:

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Federal judge blocks Trump's order to pull funding from "sanctuary" cities

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 6:08 PM

Protesters in New Orleans march against Trump's immigration orders in January.
  • Protesters in New Orleans march against Trump's immigration orders in January.

As Mayor Mitch Landrieu and other U.S. mayors met with Attorney General Jeff Sessions over "sanctuary" cities, a federal judge in California halted an order from President Donald Trump that threatens to withhold federal funds from those cities.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick granted a preliminary injunction in two lawsuits against Trump's order to halt funding to cities with so-called "sanctuary" policies that prevent local law enforcement from complying with federal immigration authorities over immigration issues. New Orleans was listed among nine jurisdictions targeted by the Trump administration, despite Landrieu and other officials repeatedly assuring the city's compliance with the feds. Santa Clara County and San Francisco said billions of dollars in funding could be at stake; New Orleans similarly relies on several million federal dollars annually for citywide funding.
Trump is unable to withhold federal funding "that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement ... merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the President disapproves," according to the ruling.

"These constitutional violations are not limited to San Francisco or Santa Clara, but apply equally to all states and local jurisdictions," the ruling says. "Given the nationwide scope of the Order, and its apparent constitutional flaws, a nationwide injunction is appropriate."

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Hundreds attend New Orleans March for Science (slideshow)

Posted By on Sat, Apr 22, 2017 at 4:46 PM

In this strange new world — where the valley between truth and satire grows ever-foggier and sometimes it seems as though reality itself is slipping  — scientists on seven continents and in New Orleans converged April 22 for rallies in support of facts, objective research and other previously undisputed elements of their work.

Hundreds of people in New Orleans, including a sizable contingent from a visiting conference of physical anthropologists, gathered at City Hall Saturday for a rally and March for Science defending scientific and medical research funding, opposing the politicization of research results and celebrating the role of scientists in protecting the environment and human society.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

'Citizens' town hall' takes another dig at Sen. John Neely Kennedy

Posted By on Wed, Apr 19, 2017 at 10:35 PM


The questions fell like hail on the impassive white face of a cardboard cutout meant to represent Sen. John Neely Kennedy, who was not present for a "citizen's town hall" hosted April 19 at First Unitarian Universalist Church by the New Orleans and Metairie chapters of progressive organization Indivisible.

At the event, which was meant to spotlight a perceived lack of responsiveness from the Louisiana freshman senator's office, speakers took the mic to pose inquiries to the mock Kennedy, who rested opaquely in a cardboard "office" reminiscent of Lucy's psychiatric clinic in the "Charlie Brown" comics.

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Bossier City abortion clinic reported as closed as Trump signs anti-abortion legislation

Posted By on Thu, Apr 13, 2017 at 6:07 PM

At a Feb. 10 Planned Parenthood rally, a supporter steps in front of an anti-abortion activist. - KAT STROMQUIST
  • At a Feb. 10 Planned Parenthood rally, a supporter steps in front of an anti-abortion activist.

Recent news from upstate Louisiana and from Washington, D.C. suggests an ever-more fraught environment for abortion rights advocates and women who require abortion services.

Earlier this week, a short Associated Press report seemed to confirm the closure of Bossier City Medical Suite, one of the state's four remaining clinics that provided abortion. A news release from the anti-abortion group Louisiana Right to Life cited public records indicating the return of the clinic's license to the Louisiana Department of Health; the clinic's phone number appears to have been disconnected.

Nationally, several major media outlets are reporting that President Donald Trump has signed legislation permitting states to withhold federal family planning dollars (Title X funds) from outlets which also provide abortion services, such as Planned Parenthood. (Federal dollars themselves already cannot be used to pay for abortion services, so this new legislation restricts funds used for other aspects of women's reproductive health, like contraception and check-ups.)

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Trump suspends weekly immigration reports including New Orleans and cities that "limit cooperation" with feds

Posted By on Wed, Apr 12, 2017 at 6:00 PM

Protesters in New Orleans march against Trump's immigration orders in January.
  • Protesters in New Orleans march against Trump's immigration orders in January.

Three weeks later, the Trump administration has suspended its weekly reports listing cities and local law enforcement that "limit cooperation" with federal immigration authorities. The reports listed jurisdictions that declined  Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers requesting local law enforcement to maintain custody of people living in the country illegally — New Orleans landed on that list for the New Orleans Police Department’s (NOPD) policy to “not honor a detainer without a judicial order or criminal warrant,” according to the report.

The reports aimed to pressure law enforcement and cities with so-called “sanctuary” policies to comply with President Donald Trump’s ramped-up enforcement of immigration actions. But after three reports and complaints of inaccuracy, corrections and clarifications from cities with orders from the Department of Justice that didn’t satisfy new DHS procedure, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) suspended the practice, “based on a desire to make sure that we have quality data [and] that the information we’re publishing is as accurate as we can be,” according to DHS spokesman David Lapan, speaking to CNN.

The administration hasn't defined "sanctuary" policy — in its reports, DHS says it "continues to evaluate the appropriate criteria" to define what exactly "sanctuary" policies are.

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Consent decree or not, NOPD Chief Harrison wants "fair, constitutional policing"

Posted By on Wed, Apr 5, 2017 at 6:30 PM

NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison: "I remain committed and every member of my team remains committed to police reform." - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison: "I remain committed and every member of my team remains committed to police reform."

In a recent memo to the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered an “immediate review” of all department activities, including all existing and planned consent decrees with law enforcement agencies. “Local control and local accountability are necessary for local policing,” Sessions wrote. “It is not the role of the federal government to manage non-federal law agencies.”

Since 2009, according to The Washington Post, the department has opened 25 investigations into law enforcement agencies and enforced 14 consent decrees, among other agreements, in the wake of civil rights violations and corruption in police departments around the U.S. Those agreements include consent decrees with the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, overseen by U.S. District Judge Lance Africk, and New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), overseen by U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan. Since 2013, DOJ reforms within NOPD — detailed in nearly 500 points on more than 100 pages — aim to overhaul nearly everything within the department, from anti-bias measures and profiling to how officers handle domestic violence cases, efforts to ensure “constitutional policing” across the board.

Former U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite — who was asked to leave his post even after he submitted his resignation as President Donald Trump cleaned house — said Sessions’ memo isn’t enough to end the agreements. “Not sure if Sessions knows this,” Polite said on Twitter, “but he can't stop Judges Africk and Morgan from ensuring that our NOLA consent decrees move forward.”

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