Cancer Alley getting worse!


Click to enlarge

❝ ProPublica and The Times-Picayune and The Advocate investigated the potential cancer-causing toxicity in the air. Using EPA data, public records requests and more, we found that some of the country’s most toxic air will likely get worse…

❝ The data for our story and corresponding graphic comes from several sources. We provide details on each below.

The bulk of the analysis relies on data from the Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) model, which was developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Manufacturing facilities with 10 or more employees in particular industries, which are in possession of chemical quantities above specific thresholds, are required to disclose information on their toxic emissions to the Toxics Release Inventory, a program administered by the EPA. The EPA releases this information online each year as required by the 1986 Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. RSEI translates the TRI data, which is reported by weight, into values that reflect the relative risk to human health. These indicators allow regulators, companies and communities to assess risks and take action relative to a specific facility or waste stream.

Please click through to the article and the many sources referenced by the authors.

UPS Driver Snaps Photos of Dogs on his Route

❝ Jason Hardesty is a self-proclaimed “easily entertained UPS driver” with a collection of furry friends. Since starting a new route in New Orleans two years ago, Jason has had the chance to meet with many adorable dogs — and get some quality photo ops out of their interactions. His heart-melting canine snaps continue to grow in popularity, resulting in over 36,000 followers on his Instagram account…

❝ Jason doesn’t have a dog of his own, so playing around with these pups brings him (and the dogs’ owners) a lot of happiness. “

RTFA and then click through the boxes with question marks at the bottom of the article – and see more dogs along his route.

Sometimes you get what you need, sometimes you lose what you deserve to lose – eh, North Carolina?


Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports

The NBA has decided to hold the 2017 All-Star Game in New Orleans after taking the midseason event out of North Carolina because of a state law that limits anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay and transgender people.

New Orleans, announced Friday as the new location of the game, replaces Charlotte, which was set to host the game until the NBA decided last month to move it elsewhere.

Unlike several other Southern states, Louisiana has not been swept up in legislative efforts to pass laws similar to that in North Carolina — a fact Gov. John Bel Edwards has touted while lobbying the NBA to bring its All-Star weekend to New Orleans.

“We embrace our rich cultural heritage and see our diversity as a virtue,” Edwards wrote in a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in late July. “Should the NBA choose to bring the All-Star Game back to New Orleans in 2017, it will strongly reaffirm its commitment to communities that value fairness and inclusion.”

The NBA’s decision — and the economic boost it will bring — provides a timely dose of good news following disastrous flooding across large swaths of southeast Louisiana that has killed at least 13 people and damaged an estimated 40,000 homes…

This marks the third time New Orleans, which became an NBA city for the second time in 2002, has been selected to host the league’s All-Star Game.

A number of entertainment acts, including a Bruce Springsteen concert, have canceled North Carolina events because of its so-called HB2 law…

The Human Rights Campaign, a national civil rights group working on behalf of lesbian, gay and transgender people, applauded the NBA’s decision to choose New Orleans.

The boycott is an old and honorable political act. The opportunity to stick it to a state controlled by voters who elect and re-elect bigots – and take away $100 million in revenue that would have landed in the North Carolina business community – is enough to make an cynical old Leftie like me smile for days.

That the process ends up benefitting the people of a state traumatized by natural disaster – and expands upon services rendered to needy folks by the kindness and social understanding of NBA athletes – is a special bonus.

First in the US – New Orleans is housing all their homeless vets

Most people celebrate the New Year by making resolutions. The city of New Orleans rang in 2015 by keeping one.

At 6 p.m. on Jan. 2, social workers in New Orleans moved the city’s last known homeless veteran into his new apartment – becoming the first US city to effectively eliminate veteran homelessness.

Homelessness advocates around the country are hailing New Orleans as a model for cities around the country looking to end homelessness, not just for veterans, but for all people needing a permanent home…

This time last year, nearly 50,000 US veterans had no home to call their own, according to an annual count. On Independence Day, first lady Michelle Obama launched the Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. Since that time, more than 300 mayors, six governors, and 71 other local officials have joined the pledge to house every veteran by the end of 2015.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu took that pledge one step further, promising to meet the goal by the end of 2014.

Mayor Landrieu said in a statement Wednesday…that New Orleans had housed all known veterans in the Crescent City…In total, the city has placed 227 veterans in housing since the start of 2014.

RTFA for the progress made around the country. Overdue? You betcha.

Most working class families care. After all, we provide the cannon fodder for all our nation’s useless, unproductive wars. A fair number of politicians care – maybe half – although they all know how to beat the military drum.

It took a city with its own history of grief and disaster to show the way.

Turning back the destruction of Louisiana’s coastline


General Honoré replacing Bush’s flunky – turning around the Hurricane Katrina rescue effort

After decades of watching our state being ravaged to support the nation’s oil and gas addiction, the people of Louisiana have had enough.

Last summer, an independent government authority responsible for flood protection for the New Orleans area sued more than 90 oil and gas companies for damaging coastal marshes that protect the city.

The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority East didn’t specify the damages it sought. But the cost of rebuilding and protecting the state’s coastal marshlands has been estimated at roughly $50 billion.

Now those industries and their political allies here in the state capital are trying to kill this legal challenge by passing a law that would restrict the authority’s power to sue over violations of state coastal permits. Proponents have said it would provide defendants with grounds to seek the lawsuit’s dismissal.

This isn’t the first effort to kill this lawsuit. More than a dozen bills have been introduced in the State Legislature since March to effectively do so. All but one has stalled. A final effort to restrict the authority’s power to sue these industries is expected to come Thursday before the State House of Representatives, where it has the support of the Republican governor, Bobby Jindal, and legislative allies of oil and gas. The bill has already passed the Senate. The House needs to defeat the bill.

That won’t assure us that the oil and gas industries will fix the damage they’ve caused to our coast over decades. But it will give the citizens of Louisiana their day in court to stand up and say, “We’ve had enough.”

The fertile marshes, tidal flats and barrier islands of coastal Louisiana are among the most productive ecosystems in the world. These coastal lands provide essential habitat to migratory and native waterfowl. They are home to shrimp, crabs and oysters that feed the nation. They are the nursery for the rich bounty of marine life in the Gulf of Mexico and the source of tens of thousands of jobs.

To the people of metropolitan New Orleans and south Louisiana, these coastal lands are also something much more: the first line of defense against the single greatest threat we face — catastrophic flooding because of hurricanes. But these lands have been vanishing before our eyes.

Republican governor Bobby Jindal and the other pimps for Big Oil from both parties in the Louisiana Legislature did what they were paid to do. They voted YES for the bill preserving oil companies, gas companies, chemical plants from being sued for the damage they do to the state of Louisiana wetlands with their pipelines and canals.

General Russel Honoré’s Green Army has been effectively blocked by a Fifth Column of political gangsters who are owned lock, stock and barrel by the gas and oil extractive industries of Louisiana. The corrupt thugs in the statehouse pass a retroactive law to protect their moneyboys from a law suit already in process and considered apt and appropriate by the courts of that state.

Time for that Green Army to march to the polls, General.

Thanks, Mike

Dumb crook of the day tries to teach her 8-year-old to be a thief


A respected American tradition – in some places

A New Orleans woman allegedly used her 8-year-old son in an unsuccessful attempt to break into an acquaintance’s house, police say.

Tajhma Deary, 32, was arrested last week, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported. In addition to burglary, she is charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Investigators said the alleged victim recognized Deary from a security camera tape because she had dated his son.

Deary allegedly brought her son to the house and showed him how to stick his arm through the mail slot in an attempt to unlock the front door. When that failed, investigators said, she climbed a fence and tried to get in through a window.

Before she left, she sabotaged one surveillance camera, police said. But one she did not get allegedly shows her son at the front door, investigators said.

The tape shows the “minor place his right arm inside the mail slot to make several attempts at unlocking the locks on the door while the female stands nearby offering assistance to the minor,” the arrest warrant said.

Hey, mom – when the city tries to take your kid away – do him a favor and shut up!

U.S. considers using drones for more than death and destruction

U.S. regulators are looking for ways to accelerate the use of drones and other aerial technologies to restore communications after disasters like 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, which knocked out phone service for more than 3 million people.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said this technology would have been remarkably useful after Hurricane Katrina, which also crippled 38 emergency call centers in the New Orleans area…

“If you imagine a cell tower that’s floating or flying in the sky, that’s what this technology is…,” Genachowski told the agency’s monthly open meeting.

Restoring communications in the first 72 hours after a disaster can save lives, protect property and expedite the recovery process, the FCC said.

The agency is seeking comment on what technologies are already in use and what is being developed, and on whether the technologies can work across a common network accessible by all agencies, first responders and the public…

You may recall this problem was supposed to be solved by [1] deciding on a single frequency to be reserved for first responders nationwide – and [2] the removal of so-called white space from disused TV frequencies after digital conversion to be available for first responders in emergencies.

Well, the Feds are auctioning off the white space to wireless phone companies and cell data communications. Which may be useful because in all the years since the Twin Towers disaster and Hurricane Katrina – Congress didn’t pass any regulations or plan to settle on that single frequency.

Sigh.

Milestone: Prison time for Katrina killer cops

Four former New Orleans policemen convicted of shooting unarmed people following Hurricane Katrina were sentenced to lengthy prison terms on Wednesday in what the U.S. government described as the most important police misconduct case since the Rodney King beating nearly two decades ago.

The four former officers – Kenneth Bowen, Robert Faulcon, Robert Gisevius and Anthony Villavaso – were sentenced by a federal judge to between 38 and 65 years in prison. A fifth former officer – Arthur “Archie” Kaufman – who did not participate in the killings but engineered a four-year cover-up of the crimes was sentenced to six years…

In both the Los Angeles and New Orleans cases, the federal government stepped in to prosecute the police officers for misconduct after local efforts failed.

In its own way, a tale of what passes for justice in America. So much for trust in States Rights.

The five former New Orleans officers sentenced on Wednesday were among a dozen officers who responded to a radio call that police were being shot at near the Danziger Bridge in eastern New Orleans just days after Hurricane Katrina…

James Brissette, 17, and Ronald Madison, 40, were killed in the shooting spree.

In reports filed by the officers or on their behalf, they claimed they shot only after being threatened or fired on and that they had seen weapons in the victims’ hands…

Lance Madison, who was with his brother when Ronald Madison was killed, and who was later arrested and jailed on false charges, told the judge on Wednesday that “I truly don’t know why I am alive today…These officers shot Ronald down like an animal,” he said. Turning to the defendants, he said: “You are responsible for the nightmares that have devastated my family…”

Federal prosecutors and the FBI took up the case in 2009 after a previous case brought by the New Orleans district attorney was thrown out because of a prosecutor’s misconduct.

In the minds of many the ultimate corruption in any local political system is police corruption. Whether there is a thread of payoffs from criminal gangs or systematic racism – there is an overlying disease that infects every police department in the United States. Cops protect cops. Regardless of crimes committed, regardless of the indecency and corruption being protected by a wall of silence, members of police departments will not report crimes committed by fellow officers or testify against them excepting truly unusual circumstances.

It’s not new in New Orleans nor anywhere else in this holier-than-thou nation. Whether we look back at the Rodney King beating or the Knapp Commission findings of corruption in the NYPD – the culture of police departments in this land reinforces an ethic no different from that of the Mafia and other crime fraternities. It has nothing to do with slogans about “Protect and Serve” painted on the side of patrol cars.

I had a member of my family retire early from the NYPD sick at heart with the corruption of his precinct captains. A dear friend here in New Mexico left the first police department he worked in – in this state – because of frustration over the cabals and lack of ethical standards in the department. They were the exception that proves the rule.

The overwhelming members of most police departments are honest hardworking men and women. Don’t mistake my criticism. They do themselves and the public a disservice when they turn a blind eye to the corruption and criminal behavior like these murders of ordinary citizens simply trying to survive a horrible disaster.

New Orleans killer cops convicted

Five current or former police officers have been found guilty on a combined 25 counts of civil rights violations tied to fatal shootings on New Orleans’ Danziger Bridge in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Jurors reached a verdict in the closely watched trial after three days of deliberations.

The shootings occurred on Danziger Bridge on September 4, 2005, six days after much of New Orleans went underwater after the powerful hurricane slammed into the Gulf Coast.

Prosecutors contend the officers opened fire on an unarmed family, killing 17-year-old James Brissette and wounding four others. Minutes later, one of the officers shot and killed Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old man described by Justice officials as having severe mental disabilities.

Madison was trying to flee the scene when he was shot, according to a Justice Department statement. One of the officers allegedly “stomped and kicked” Madison before he died, the statement noted.

Officers Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Robert Faulcon and Anthony Villavaso were convicted in the shootings along with a fifth defendant, former detective Arthur Kaufman.

The five men are scheduled to be sentenced on December 14. Bowen, Gisevius, Faulcon and Villavaso are facing potential multiple life sentences, as well as additional penalties for charges tied to a conspiracy to cover up what happened on the bridge. Kaufman faces a maximum penalty of 120 years in prison.

Today’s verdict by these jurors sends a powerful, a powerful, unmistakable message to public servants, to law enforcement officers and to the citizens we serve and indeed to the world,” U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said. “That message is that public officials and especially law enforcement officers will be held accountable for their acts, and that any abuse of power, especially that power that violates the rights and the civil liberties of our citizens, will have serious consequences.”

“The citizens of this country will not, should not, and we intend that they will never have to fear the individuals who are called upon to protect them,” Letten declared.

Overdue.

RTFA if you need your memory jogged. Local officials could have taken care of this – and didn’t. The police department could have come down on the side of justice and didn’t. Federal efforts on behalf of abused civil rights are still needed for justice in many of these United States.

Coppers planted evidence, lied about Katrina shootings


New Orleans “Finest” turning themselves in for murder charges

Admitting a cover-up of shocking breadth, a former New Orleans police supervisor pleaded guilty to a federal obstruction charge on Wednesday, confessing that he participated in a conspiracy to justify the shooting of six unarmed people after Hurricane Katrina that was hatched not long after police stopped firing their weapons.

The guilty plea of Lt. Michael Lohman, who retired from the department earlier this month, contains explosive details of the alleged cover-up and ramps up the legal pressure on police officers involved in the shooting and subsequent investigation. It’s unclear when Lohman’s cooperation with federal authorities began, but he presumably is prepared to testify against the officers he says helped him lie about the circumstances of a shooting he immediately deemed a “bad shoot.”

Lohman, who pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to obstruct justice, admits he failed to order the collection of evidence or canvassing of witnesses, helped craft police reports riddled with false information, participated in a plan to plant a gun under the bridge and lied to investigators who questioned police actions…

In a news conference after Lohman’s plea, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said police must be held to the law.

“Police officers are there to protect us, and to protect the most vulnerable among us,” he said. “Their jobs are to help individuals and protect us, not to hurt us. Sadly, sadly, we come across in the course of our work here…officers who violate their oaths of office, who occasionally violate their duties, violate their commitment to serve the public. And we take actions against those individuals wherever they violate federal law. We will continue to do that.”

RTFA. A long and detailed narrative of corruption, conspiracy and cronyism.

Gee, I wonder how much coverage this will get from the “fair and balanced” news thugs who parroted all the lies offered by these guardians of the public trust – after the shootings? Anyone think the populist wing of American bigotry will suddenly own up to their racist blogging and support for a group of cops who shot down six unarmed civilians.

The New Orleans PD went through enough crap with the exposure of individuals who spent their “rescue” time stealing from businesses overwhelmed by the storm. This sad tale will not ease the task of building honesty into a department that never had an excess of that quality in the first place.