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#News - New Orleans & South Louisiana

#News - New Orleans & South Louisiana


Where you could soon try your hand at using a flamethrower!

Posted: 30 Jan 2018 09:48 PM PST

AVONDALE, LA -- If you visit the Nola Motorsports Park in Avondale, you can drive a Ferrari or a Lamborghini.  You can also take racing karts for a spin.  And soon, you'll be able to try your hand at using a flamethrower.

"It's like bowling, but it's a lot hotter," said Brannon LeBouef, the owner of the Nolatac Training Center.  LeBouef's business is in the Nola Motorsports Park.  Soon he hopes to open his doors to the public to allow people the opportunity to use one of his flamethrowers.

LeBouef will provide people with the training, supervision and safety equipment.  He says the flamethrower opportunity is a great addition to all the other activities in the park.

"It's obviously something that's conducive to bachelor parties, corporate events. We can weave these types of activities and fun things into team building types of events. First dates. That'll definitely let you know where you guys stand on certain political issues," LeBouef told WGNO.

Flamethrowers have been in the news recently thanks to a tweet from Elon Musk, the man who started the Tesla car company.  Musk revealed that he planned to sell 20,000 flamethrowers at a price of about $500 each.  Within days, pre-orders nearly reaching the maximum mark.

"There's about 2 or 3 companies right now that have different versions of them out," LeBouef says.

LeBouef says the flamethrowers are based on old technology but updated with new looks and reliability.

"This is literally a war-time, World War I relic, this technology of the flame thrower. Here we are in 2018, it looks a lot nicer, a lot sleeker, a lot slimmer, and a lot more fun, and definitely a lot safer," he said.

LeBouef also plans to offer people the opportunity to shoot fully automatic machine guns on his business' firearms range.  He also has a small squadron of remote control airplanes that will eventually be used as moving targets for customers to shoot with shotguns.

"It's pretty much an adrenaline park," he says of the facility.

If you'd like to follow LeBouef's business to know when the flamethrowers or other opportunities will be available to the public, just check out the Nolatac Training Center or the Drone Shooting NOLA Facebook pages.

 

Dogs kill four miniature horses, donkey at California children’s zoo

Posted: 30 Jan 2018 08:51 PM PST

SAN JOSE, Calif. – A pack of dogs mauled several animals to death inside their pens at a California children’s zoo, according to The Mercury News.

Three dogs are believed to have killed four miniature horses – Luna, Cayenne, Spice Girl and Sweet William – along with a Sicilian donkey named Maybelline, at San Jose’s Happy Hollow Zoo.

Workers first found Sweet William dead in his pen Jan. 15, according to the paper. The zoo’s acting general manager, Shannon Heimer, said surveillance cameras captured three dogs running near the zoo after it had closed. None of the cameras were pointed inside the enclosures.

The dogs – described as two larger German shepherd mixes and a smaller terrier mix – returned five nights later, dug under a six-foot tall steel fence and killed the remaining four animals, according to KGO.

Animal control officers have  two of the dogs in custody and are looking for the third, Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services Director Angel Rios Jr. told KGO.

“These dogs appeared to be on a mission,” Rios Jr. said. “What’s disturbing about this is it appeared they were looking for food.”

Unless the owner comes forward, they will be euthanized, according to Rios Jr.

Maybelline, Luna and Cayenne were born at the zoo and their deaths have deeply affected workers, KGO reports.

Before bringing new animals in, the city-owned facility is working on improving surveillance and security, Rios Jr. said.

Federal prisoner says ‘I did it’ during Facebook Live from inside cell

Posted: 30 Jan 2018 07:38 PM PST

AKRON, Ohio – An inmate at a federal penitentiary in Atlanta appeared to admit his role in a 2010 murder during an uninterrupted, 49-minute Facebook Live broadcast, according to WJW.

Joseph Fletcher, 30, who was once described by Ohio police as 'one of Akron's most dangerous individuals,' is currently finishing a 39-month prison sentence on a weapons charge.

He is scheduled to be released in May.

On Saturday, however, Fletcher took to Facebook from what appears to have been a phone smuggled into his prison cell.

During the unsupervised Facebook Live video Fletcher calls himself a 'motivational speaker for gangsters,' says he 'runs Akron' and discusses the September 2010 murder of LaDonte Smith, who was found shot to death inside a car in the 700 block of Wall Street.

In 2011, Anthony Smart, also known as "Champy," took responsibility for the crime, pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter in a negotiated plea with Summit County prosecutors.

In his Facebook video on Saturday, Fletcher says "if it wasn't for Champy I'd have a life sentence right now."

"You know I still got love for (Tay). The streets is mean like ... But RIP Tay," said Fletcher.

"What happened happened; it's a cold game. I'm talking about, it's a cold game. I seen it with my own eyes," he added.

Later in the video, Fletcher appears to point his fingers as if he is pointing a gun and says (eliminating his expletives) "I did it, everybody know I did it. I love Tay ... a situation presented itself ... you can't be mad...," and told a viewer of his video...."you ain't going to do nothing about it."

The video caught the attention of Smith's mother, Lashoane Andrus, who says she has reservations about whether Smart actually was the one who killed her son.

"It really hurt me. I sat at the table for like a half hour just sitting there, just staring, just watching the video over and over again because my thing is I can't understand how you said you did it and in the same breath turn around and say, 'I love Tay,'" said Andrus.

Andrus also questions how a federal prisoner could have the ability to carry out a lengthy interactive Facebook video from inside his cell.

"He runs Akron. Like everybody is supposed to be scared of him, including Akron police. It's like nobody can do anything to him," said Andrus, who told WJW she is not scared. "I was actually going to call the federal prison today and find out how he got that phone, but I had heard they got it already so I'm sure it's under investigation now."

Because of his history in the area, Fletcher has been ordered by a federal judge not to return to Northeast Ohio following his release.

In his video, he acknowledges that he is not welcome back in Northeast Ohio.

"Every law enforcement up there hate me," he told his Facebook audience.

Akron police are aware of the video but they are not commenting on it.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons could not, as of Tuesday, explain how he was able to get a cellphone into his cell to be able to post the live video.

 

Let there be light: How to add some pizzazz to your Mardi Gras costume!

Posted: 30 Jan 2018 07:25 PM PST

COVINGTON -- It's a wearable art party at the St. Tammany Art Association on the Northshore, as several people are learning the "how to's" when it comes to creating DIY light-up art. It may look like a difficult process, but these costumes utilize former light up throws whose batteries have gone dead. It's one way people are breathing new life into old throws and recycling LED parts for future use this carnival season.

"We're going to rewire them. I'm going to teach the class how to identify which side is positive, which side is negative and how to wire that up and wear it," says professor of new media and animation, John Valentino,

The St. Tammany Art Association hosts several programs for adults in addition to last night's wearable electronics tutorial. Click here for more information.

Read excerpts from President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address

Posted: 30 Jan 2018 04:56 PM PST

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump will deliver his maiden State of the Union address on Tuesday with both a resurgent economy and a sagging approval rating as his backdrop.

The President will use his remarks to argue for bipartisan cooperation while trumpeting the roaring stock market and low unemployment, aides have said. He told advisers he wanted to strike a unifying tone after a year of stoking divisions on race, politics and gender.

"Tonight, I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties, Democrats and Republicans, to protect our citizens, of every background, color and creed," Trump will say during his address, according to excerpts released by the White House.

Trump's first year of GDP growth is very, very average, historically speaking

Whether one hourlong address can achieve that goal remains to be seen. Trump remains deeply divisive, and Washington has fractured during his first year in office as controversies mount. Investigations into Russian election meddling are heating up as Trump prepares for a potential interview with special counsel Robert Mueller.

Highest-profile platform

In his remarks, Trump plans to herald the large package of tax cuts he signed into law last year. He'll proclaim that a regulatory rollback has allowed industries to thrive. And he'll insist that his administration has "sought to restore the bonds of trust between our citizens and their government."

"This is our New American Moment. There has never been a better time to start living the American dream," Trump will say, according to the excerpts. "Americans love their country. And they deserve a government that shows them the same love and loyalty in return."

A president's State of the Union is typically his highest-profile platform of the year, and viewership is generally higher in the first part of a presidency. But television ratings for the speech have steadily fallen over the decades, and Trump has shown a penchant for bypassing traditional communication channels in favor of Twitter.

If the State of the Union has assumed a reduced importance, however, there were no signs the White House was taking it any less seriously. For months, Trump fed handwritten notes with lines for the speech to his team of speechwriters, a White House official said.

Trump practiced delivering the address from the Map Room on Monday, the official said. Trump's predecessors also rehearsed their addresses from a mock podium and teleprompter set up in the White House basement room.

Among the items Trump plans to raise in his remarks: a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan, paid for by federal, state and private dollars; the sweeping tax cuts he signed into law late last year; and foreign policy matters, including "eye-opening" remarks on North Korea, according to a person familiar with the remarks.

Trump also plans to advocate for a possible immigration agreement that would allow some undocumented immigrations to remain in the country.

"Struggling communities, especially immigrant communities, will also be helped by immigration policies that focus on the best interests of American workers and American families," he will say, according to the excerpts.

A team of speechwriters and top policy aides helped Trump craft his address, White House officials said. They included National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, senior policy adviser Stephen Miller and staff secretary Rob Porter.

Trump first reviewed a draft of his State of the Union address in December, and has made handwritten edits in recent days with black felt tip pens. In the last several weeks, Trump has workshopped ideas for the speech or edited certain sections while in the residence at night, handing over his changes to staffers the next day.

'United'

Trump told a gathering of TV news anchors Tuesday ahead of his address that he would like to see the country "united" and hopes to help rally the country around a sense of national unity.

The President said he would consider unifying the country a great achievement and that he would like to achieve national unity without a "major event," such as a national tragedy or major terrorist attack.

While Trump acknowledged that the country is currently very divided, he also said he believes the country was more divided during the Bill Clinton impeachment, citing a conversation he had with a Democratic lawmaker.

The speech is not likely to touch on the Russia matter, people familiar with it said, opting instead to focus on policy. Trump hopes a serious-minded message can help improve his standing in the polls.

The President's approval rating stood at 40% in CNN's last survey, his highest mark since last September, but still the lowest for any elected president at the one-year mark since modern public opinion polling began.

RELATED: President Trump's approval rating edges up to 40%, according to a CNN Poll

Democrats selected Rep. Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts, a grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, to deliver the traditional response to the President's speech. A number of other responses are also planned, including by Sen. Bernie Sanders, the independent Vermont senator who ran for President in 2016. A number of Democrats have planned to boycott the speech.

The White House announced on Monday that 15 guests would sit above the House floor in the first lady's box, a tradition that past presidents have used to illustrate their successes. This year's guests include a firefighter who helped battle blazes in California and the parents of children killed by the MS-13 gang.

Melania Trump's State of the Union guests

The first lady herself also plans to attend the speech. Ordinarily, Melania Trump's presence at the State of the Union would not be notable -- but she hasn't appeared in public with her husband since reports emerged last week that Trump allegedly had an affair with a porn star.

King Cake of the Day: Navarre’s Famous King Cakes

Posted: 30 Jan 2018 04:41 PM PST

SPRINGFIELD, La. -  It's officially King Cake Season. We're taking you to the hottest spots around to get your fill of Carnival goodness in King Cake of the Day!

If you ask the Navarre Family, they'll tell you it's all about quality! They strive to make sure all of their cakes are fresh and moist and apparently, it works - because they sell out every day.

Ernie Navarre isn't just in the donut business, "I've got a gym right on the other side of the wall. A lot of people who have never been here before, they always thought it's kinda cool. It's kinda funny at the same time, having a gym and having a donut shop too." And he says, people take advantage, "Believe it or not, we got some of them come get a cup of coffee, eat a donut and get a sugar rush, and they'll go straight to the gym!"

They can make just about any flavor that you want, and they'll make sure you have exactly what you want.  "They come in, they want strawberry jelly and peanut butter. We get some that are really particular. They might want 80% strawberry, 20% cream cheese."

These family recipes are not out of a book. Each one is carefully created and tested. Ernie's son came up with the recipe for praline pecan at 15 years old!

Ernie says cooking the filling inside the cake makes a big difference! "That filling will cook and it gives off a steam, and that steam will help them king cakes taste a lot better."

YLC starts recycling program for your unwanted Mardi Gras beads

Posted: 30 Jan 2018 04:34 PM PST

NEW ORLEANS -- This Mardi Gras you'll see something that we've needed for awhile -- a bead recycling program.

Our city catch basins have been clogged with thousands of beads, so now the Young Leadership Council along with Arc of Greater New Orleans have teamed up to make Mardi Gras more clean and green.

News with a Twist Reporter Kenny Lopez takes a look at this new bead recycling initiative.

The Young Leadership Council, better known as the YLC, along with Arc, want to get the beads off the streets after the Mardi Gras parades.

The YLC says their pilot recycling program couldn't come at a better time.  Recently over 93,000 pounds of beads were found in our city's catch basins.

"We are making Mardi gras a little bit cleaner and greener.  What I love about this program is that anyone can do it, and it doesn't take a lot of time.  We will have six stations along the Uptown route.  We will have voulunteers passing out bead bags and plastic bags.  You can fill them up and bring them to one of our stations," Hannah Kincannon, Project Leader for YLC Recycles said.

Since 2013, YLC Recycles has been recycling at various events in New Orleans.  This will be the first time they do it for Mardi Gras.  They will be out on the parade route the 1st Saturday and 2nd Sunday for the day parades.

They are still looking for volunteers to help with their recycling initiative.  For more information on how you can help, click HERE.

Of course, Arc, the group the YLC is partnering with will take bead and throw donations, year round.

Italian town selling $1.20 homes to lure new residents

Posted: 30 Jan 2018 04:34 PM PST

Ever dreamed of owning a home in a pretty Italian village? The news you’ve been waiting for has finally arrived.

You can now buy one for just over a dollar.

Ollolai, a destination in the mountain region of Barbagia on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, is selling hundreds of abandoned homes for just €1 ($1.20).

It’s not the first Italian town to try the gimmick, but it seems to be the first to live up to the promise. It’s also got the beauty and history needed to draw people in.

The real estate bonanza comes with a catch, though. The 200 stone-built dwellings up for grabs are in poor condition and buyers must commit to a refurbishment within three years — which will likely cost about $25,000.

Behind the sell-off is a plan to rejuvenate a community at risk of becoming a ghost town. In the past half century, Ollolai’s population has shrunk from 2,250 to 1,300, with only a handful of babies born each year.

“We boast prehistoric origins,” says Efisio Arbau, Ollolai’s mayor. “My crusade is to rescue our unique traditions from falling into oblivion.

“Pride in our past is our strength. We’ve always been tough people and won’t allow our town to die.”

A view of lighthouse in Olbia gulf (Getty Images)

Disappearing town

Formerly Barbagia’s capital, Ollolai remains the most untouched and authentic patch of Sardinia.

Once buzzing, its maze of alleys and mural-covered piazzas are now silent, as younger residents have been lured away to bigger cities.

Abandoned by the families who once occupied them, many stone dwellings have been lying in ruin, covered in cobwebs, for decades.

Some traditional ways of life survive. Local shepherds continue to make the exquisite premium sheep cheese, Casu Fiore Sardo, that the area is known for, while artisans still weave fine baskets.

Arbau likens the town’s struggles to its olden day battles, from an era when surrounding caves were used by separatists and bandits to stow their kidnap victims.

“We once had a fiery king, Dux Ospitone, who united all heathen tribes in a league,” he adds. “Our pagan ancestors never succumbed to the ancient Roman conquerors, who dubbed us ‘barbarians.’

“These hills are Italy’s ‘Highlands’ and we are sons of ‘Bravehearts.'”

Regeneration process

Now Ollolai, which takes its name from an ancient battle cry of “alalé,” is fighting back once again.

In a bid to breathe new life into the town, Arbau contacted former home owners — shepherds, farmers and craftsmen — asking them to sign the homes over to town authorities.

“They’re picturesque old buildings made with Sardinia’s typical gray granite rock that grows on mountain peaks and shores,” says Arbau.

“We need to bring our grandmas’ homes back from the grave.”

He approved a special decree and placed the properties on the market, at bargain prices, in 2017.

Despite their poor conditions, three houses have already been sold and Arbau says he’s received more than 100 purchase requests from across the world, including Russia and Australia.

The mayor hopes the refurbishment of the homes will help create new jobs and revive the local economy.

Frozen in time

Vito Casula, a retired builder, was the first to snap up a two-story house for less than the cost of a cappuccino.

He transformed his new home using environmentally friendly materials, but kept the original decor, recycling old furniture.

“We live nearby and frequently visited Ollolai. Then one day my wife saw the ad in the newspaper. It was an opportunity,” says Casula. “This quiet town is frozen in time. It offers a peaceful, healthy life.”

He recommends the village to anyone who “is sick with too much stress and needs a break.”

“The fresh air, zero smog and great views have a healing power. My bones and back don’t hurt anymore,” he adds.

Casula says Ollolai’s relaxing vibe, delicious cuisine and friendly locals are among its top selling points.

“Residents are so open and friendly they make you feel at home. They never allow me to pay for anything at the bar and constantly invite us over for lunch and dinner,” he adds.

Homemade specialties include su pane vratau, made of layers of flat crispy carasau bread soaked in water, tomato sauce, poached eggs and grated Fiore sheep cheese.

There’s also su pistiddu, an autumn cake made of coffee, nuts, almonds, semolina, hazelnuts, raisins and sapa grape syrup.

Local delicacy porceddu (roasted baby piglet), is cooked on a bonfire, skewered on huge vertical spits and placed on burning charcoals.

In fall, cortes apertas (open courtyards) sees stables and ancient granite-and-turf taverns open to the public, offering crazily good wine, ham, cheese and a few other delicacies.

Other town events include a carnival where participants wear costumes including goat-style masks with horns, fur and dangling bells or white embroidered face veils that symbolize the union of death and life.

Newcomers can also explore folklore events and archaic rituals such as the “s’istrumpa,” a tussle where players must toss their opponent to the ground to win the town’s respect.

Steeped in superstition, Ollolai is a place where women make amulets to ward off bad luck and residents’ cars carry written prayers to keep evil at bay.

Sardinia’s ‘primitive heart’

The village regularly attracts travelers looking for a quiet, sunny retreat,

The 1,200-meter-high peak Nodu de S’Aschisorgu (the Treasure Rock) boasts a spectacular 360-degree view of the island, while Ollolai’s surrounding lakes, rivers, protected parks, oak and beech tree forests are dotted with cone-shaped primitive settlements called nuraghi.

And while it may be a long way away from Sardinia’s luxury beaches, Ollolai is still close to shimmering pristine seas.

A one-hour car drive takes you to the breathtaking cliffs of Cala Gonone, with stunning sea grottoes perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving.

Arbau is also introducing activities like cheese, pasta and basket making courses, alongside dialect lessons to keep newcomers busy.

“Our language is hard to understand, even for Sardinians, but we know foreigners love to mingle. This is also a social experiment,” he says.

Only time will tell if the mayor’s gamble has paid off, but locals are excited and interest in the town is growing.

In fact, a reality show centered around a group of Dutch families as they set up in Ollolai and restore some of the houses is expected to launch in May.

Dr. Rachel: Why ovarian cancer is hard to catch in its early stages

Posted: 30 Jan 2018 04:31 PM PST

NEW ORLEANS -- Medical researchers have been trying for decades to figure out an effective early screening method for ovarian cancer, but at this point, the disease is still hard to catch in its early stages.

"Unfortunately because of the late onset of symptoms, the diagnosis is usually delayed, so over 80 percent of women end up getting diagnosed with ovarian cancer with stage 3 or 4 disease, and at that point it`s very hard to cure," said Dr. Amelia Jernigan with LSU Health Sciences.

But there is some good news: There are risk factors that can help in detecting ovarian cancer, and one of them is genetics.

"If you notice anyone has tubal cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer, uterine cancer, breast cancers, those types of things should prompt you to talk to your doctor about getting a genetic evaluation," Jernigan said.

If the evaluation reveals you do have a genetic mutation, there are options. Birth control pills, research shows, cuts your risk about in half.

"So what most people recommend is depending on which mutation you have, by the age of 35 to 40, you start considering having her tubes and ovaries out, as long as you're done childbearing," Jernigan said.

Although it's hard to detect, there have been advancements in the treatment of ovarian cancer.

"In many cases it's gone from being something where you're diagnosed with it then you definitely are going to die, to something that becomes a chronic condition," Jernigan said. "So now we're at the point where most people who get a diagnosis of ovarian cancer are advanced, and even if we put them into remission, most of those women will recur, but we have so many chemotherapeutic options and so many advanced surgical options now, that so many of them will live for many many years."

Would you eat it? Muffaletta Dip!

Posted: 30 Jan 2018 03:44 PM PST

NEW ORLEANS - Let's see what Test Kitchen Taylor is cooking up today!

Today, Test Kitchen Taylor is making a New Orleans classic with a twist! It's perfect for along the parade route a Mufaletta Dip!

Muffaletta Dip
8 ounces block Jack cheese, cut into a small dice
4 ounces sliced salami
4 ounces sliced pepperoni
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 cup diced roasted red pepper
1 cup olive salad
1/4 cup chopped pepperoncini
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon liquid from pepperoncini
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Combine cheese, salami, pepperoni, onion, red pepper, olive salad, and pepperoncini in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, pepperoncini liquid, garlic, basil, thyme, and red pepper flakes.
Pour on top of cheese, salami mixture and mix in.
Sprinkle parsley on top. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Do you have a recipe that you want Test Kitchen Taylor, Tamica and LBJ to try? Send it to us at twist@wgno.com!

Couple finds worms in their feet after a beach vacation

Posted: 30 Jan 2018 03:12 PM PST

Dozens of parasitic worms were found burrowing in the feet of a young Canadian couple after a recent trip to the Dominican Republic.

“We were scratching our toes for almost the duration of the trip,” Eddie Zytner said.

Zytner, 25, and his girlfriend, Katie Stephens, 22, of Windsor, Ontario, returned home January 18 with itchy feet. Four days later, that itch turned into painful swelling and blisters, he said.

The pain became so intense that they could not tolerate shoes or socks and had to rely on crutches to walk.

Cutaneous larva migrans occurs when hookworm larvae get into the skin.

Zytner shared a photo on his Facebook account that shows tortuous red tracks on his left foot.

After multiple visits to the hospital, the couple was diagnosed with cutaneous larva migrans, caused by hookworm larvae that probably entered their skin while they were barefoot on the beaches of Punta Cana.

The parasites typically live in the intestines of dogs, cats and other wild animals, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The larvae burrow through human skin that comes into contact with sand or soil that has been contaminated with animal feces.

“To anybody traveling somewhere tropical, please be careful when in the sand and wear shoes!” Stephens pleaded on Facebook last week after receiving the diagnosis.

The condition typically goes away without treatment, but antiparasitic medications such as albendazole or ivermectin can help, according to the CDC. The hookworm larvae generally don’t survive more than six weeks in humans.

Both drugs are included on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medications identified for basic health-care systems. However, they are not available in Canada and can be accessed only through the federal government’s Special Access Programme on a case-by-case basis. In contrast, the drugs are available in the US with a prescription.

“The drug companies don’t think they’re going to sell enough to make it worth their while,” said Dr. Stan Houston, a professor of infectious disease and public health at the University of Alberta, who was not involved in the couple’s treatment. “So that is the reason they’re not licensed in Canada.”

According to Zytner, the couple’s request for the drugs was initially denied, but they eventually got them from a local physician who was dual certified in Canada and the US.

Zytner said their symptoms have improved significantly since they began treatment last week.

“We’ve been off crutches for a couple of days now. We can finally put some pressure on our feet,” he said. “The worms are pretty much faded away.”

Zytner also has advice for anyone planning a trip to the Caribbean: “Call the resort they’re staying at and see if they clean up all the beaches.

“Wear shoes,” he added.

JPSO: Homicide victim pushed out of car, onto North Arnoult Street in Metairie

Posted: 30 Jan 2018 03:05 PM PST

METAIRIE, La. — The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office is investigating a shooting death in Metairie.

According to JPSO, deputies responded about 3:50 p.m. Tuesday to reports of a body being pulled from a vehicle and dumped onto the road in the 2300 block of North Arnoult Street in Metairie.

The victim, a male possibly between 18 and 25 years old, was bleeding from a gunshot wound to the head and died at the scene.

Sheriff Joe Lopinto said this is a developing investigation. He believes the victim was shot in another location and dumped at the location in Metairie.

Check back for updates.

Rose McGowan brings #MeToo fight to E!’s ‘Citizen Rose’

Posted: 30 Jan 2018 02:37 PM PST

Rose McGowan’s bracing brand of activism receives a provocative forum in “Citizen Rose,” a two-hour documentary that serves as an anthem and rallying cry for the #MeToo movement. McGowan isn’t always well served, however, by the arty nature of the presentation, which at times does as much to distract from her message as advance it.

As the special begins, McGowan discusses her “lonely road” in pursuit of justice, and feelings of redemption in the outpouring that has come since allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein went public in October, followed by claims regarding a host of other Hollywood and media predators. (McGowan pointedly refuses to use the mogul’s name, referring to him only as “The Monster.”)

The problem with “Citizen Rose” comes when the production gets in the way of that, or at least nearly does, by virtue of its reliance on shaky camerawork or shooting sequences in a gauzy manner seemingly designed to resemble a perfume commercial. Those stylistic flourishes at times feel as if they’re wrestling against the substance.

McGowan’s determination to press her cause doesn’t require the embroidery. And if she seems to revel in striking a combative stance toward the entire media establishment — “Do I make you uncomfortable? Good,” she says in voiceover — she has ammunition to back up her claims when she says Hollywood sex symbols have been “kept in this very infantilized place” or “This town, it’s paved on women’s bodies.”

There is also, perhaps inevitably, a staged quality to much of what transpires in “Citizen Rose,” which presents McGowan participating in a series of meetings with key figures in the Weinstein story, including journalist Ronan Farrow and actress/director Asia Argento. McGowan is also shown in a discussion with other women who have spoken out about sexual harassment and assault, among them Jessica Leeds, one of President Trump’s accusers.

The Argento session is simultaneously emblematic of “Citizen Rose’s” strengths and weaknesses, as the two speak frankly about the impact of what transpired in their lives and careers, while the producers (and McGowan is one of them) inexplicably shoot the exchange from an angle that looks like a surveillance video.

McGowan also talks at some length about her unorthodox family history, including her late father’s role as a cult leader, and the impact that had on her.

In terms of addressing a significant issue on a network often associated with fluff and keeping tabs on the Kardashians, “Citizen Rose” has something in common with “I Am Cait,” featuring Caitlyn Jenner. That show reflected the same sort of tension between E!’s customary profile and tackling a subject of greater depth and importance.

As her social media presence has demonstrated, McGowan isn’t one to shy away from a fight. But finding a balance between those aspects of “Citizen Rose” remains a battle that additional episodes, when it returns this spring, will still have to overcome.

“Citizen Rose” premieres Jan. 30 at 8 p.m. on E!

Maskarade mask shop showcases local artists

Posted: 30 Jan 2018 02:19 PM PST

NEW ORLEANS -- Parade yourself during Mardi Gras with a handcrafted mask and unmask your true inner child.

Tucked away on St. Ann Street in the French Quarter, a mask shop called Maskarade offers a unique display of art for your face.

"Most people come in and the first thing they say when they step in the door is wow, because it's almost like a gallery," says the owner, Mary Behler.

Just like a gallery, over 40 local artists contribute to creating each piece in the store.

"Local artists need an outlet and it gets expensive to open a store in the French Quarter, and so one artist can't do it," says Behler.

Artists like Isaac Johns provide some of the intricate designs.

"I work on a form, a cast of a human face, and the entire mask is just pinched and shaped by hand," says Johns.

Johns describes how most of the masks he creates are made of leather and can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to create.

He says the months of October through March are his busiest times.

"Those are the months where you can do something really huge and people will like it and people will buy it," says Johns.

However, no matter what time of year, Behler encourages everyone to be a little two-faced.

"When you are wearing a mask, you can be who you really are. You don't have to be who you are every day because that special little child in you can come out and play," says Behler.

Gretna man exonerated after serving 38 years in prison for rape

Posted: 30 Jan 2018 02:01 PM PST

GRETNA, La. -- A Gretna man who served almost 38 years in prison for rape has been exonerated.

Malcolm Alexander was released from prison Tuesday (Jan. 30). His first action: a nice, hot meal at Deanie's Seafood in Bucktown.

According to a news release from the Innocence Project New Orleans, DNA evidence proved that Alexander, who was arrested for the crime in 1979, did not commit the rape that landed him a life sentence.

His paid lawyer -- who was subsequently disbarred after complaints of neglect and abandonment were filed against him in connection with dozens of other cases -- failed in his most basic duties to present a defense, IPNO said.

"The stakes in this case couldn't have been higher for Mr. Alexander who faced a mandatory sentence of life without parole, yet the attorney that he entrusted with his life did next to nothing to defend him," said Vanessa Potkin, post-conviction litigation director at the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law. "It is simply unconscionable.  Mr. Alexander was just 21years old when he was convicted after a trial that began and ended all in the same day.  We know there are many more innocent people in prison today because their lawyers did not provide effective representation, or did not have the resources to put on an adequate defense.  Without effective defense counsel, our system is nothing more than a conviction mill."

Alexander has always maintained his innocence of the November 8, 1979, rape of the owner of a new antique store on Whitney Avenue in Gretna. The victim, who was white, was grabbed from behind in the empty store by a black man and taken to a small, dark, private bathroom in the back of the store where she was raped from behind with a gun to her head.

In February 1980, Alexander, who is black, had a consensual encounter with a white woman who asked him for money and then later accused him of sexual assault. This encounter, which was uncorroborated and later dropped by the police, prompted police to place Alexander's photo in a photo array that was shown to the victim over four months after she was attacked at gunpoint by a complete stranger.

The assailant was behind the victim for the entirety of the crime, and her opportunity to view him was extremely limited.  According to police reports, the victim "tentatively" selected Alexander's photo.

A review of the trial record reveals that Alexander's attorney failed to make court appearances and to file important pleadings, including a motion challenging the identification.

A review of the one-day trial transcript reveals that the attorney, who was subsequently disbarred, failed to make an opening statement, did not call any witnesses for the defense, failed to adequately cross-examine the state's witnesses about the identification and presented a closing argument that was a mere four pages of the 87-page transcript.

Alexander received a life sentence for the guilty verdict.  Although the attorney promised to file an appeal of the verdict, he never filed it.

The Innocence Project first took up Alexander's case in 1996 but quickly learned that the rape kit and a semen-stained towel had been destroyed only four years after his conviction.  Alexander never gave up and continued the fight to prove his innocence. In 2013, hair evidence recovered from the location where the rape took place was found at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office Crime Lab.

Based on this information and subsequent conversations with the victim, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney's office moved with the Innocence Project to vacate Alexander's conviction and dismiss the indictment in court.

 

Jazz & Heritage Foundation taking applications for ‘Class got Brass’ competition

Posted: 30 Jan 2018 01:10 PM PST

NEW ORLEANS-  Calling all musicians!  The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation is accepting applications for the seventh annual CLASS GOT BRASS competition – a contest for Louisiana high school and middle school brass bands.

At stake are more than $30,000 worth of instruments.

The first place prize is a gift certificate worth $10,000 in instruments, instrument repair and other supplies for the winning school’s band programs. Second place is $7,000; third place is $5,000. For the fifth year, there is also a category for “beginner” brass bands, with prizes of $5,000, $4,000 and $3,000 for the top groups. There are additional prizes for schools that don’t place in the top three in either category.

Class Got Brass – the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s seventh annual contest to support music education in the schools while promoting the brass band tradition – is back.

It's a contest for Louisiana middle and high schools to create traditional New Orleans-style brass bands (as opposed to marching bands).

The deadline to enter is 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16. Click here for the online application form. For the complete contest guidelines, see here.

The Class Got Brass contest will be on Sunday, March 4, in conjunction with our Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival.

GOP lawmaker asks Capitol Police to arrest undocumented immigrants at SOTU

Posted: 30 Jan 2018 01:07 PM PST

Rep. Paul Gosar said he requested that US Capitol Police arrest undocumented immigrants attending President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday.

The Arizona Republican, who is known as an immigration hardliner, tweeted his request that police “consider checking identification of all attending the State of the Union address and arresting any illegal aliens in attendance.”

He added they should “arrest those using fraudulent social security numbers and identification to pass through security.”

A considerable number of Democratic lawmakers are bringing undocumented immigrants to Trump’s State of the Union address amid the immigration debate that’s shaking out on Capitol Hill.

Despite Gosar’s request, most of the immigration-related invited guests to Trump’s State of the Union are protected under the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals program, which is set to expire in March.

In a statement from Gosar’s office, he added he also contacted Attorney General Jeff Sessions about his request.

“Of all the places where the Rule of Law needs to be enforced, it should be in the hallowed halls of Congress,” he said in a statement. “Any illegal aliens attempting to go through security, under any pretext of invitation or otherwise, should be arrested and deported.”

Neither Gosar’s office, nor US Capitol Police have responded to CNN’s request for additional comment.

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s spokeswoman AshLee Strong told CNN in a statement, “The speaker clearly does not agree” with Gosar.

And Sen. Jeff Flake, also an Arizona Republican, responded, “This is why we can’t have nice things…” to Gosar’s tweet.

Suspect in quadruple killing at car wash dies

Posted: 30 Jan 2018 01:05 PM PST

The man suspected of fatally shooting four people at a southern Pennsylvania car wash has died, authorities said Tuesday.

The shooting happened about 3 a.m. ET Sunday in the village of Melcroft, 42 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, according to Pennsylvania State Police. Officers found four bodies and two injured people — including the suspected gunman, identified as Timothy Smith, 28.

Smith had a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and he eventually died from the injury at a hospital, Fayette County District Attorney Richard Bower said Tuesday.

Smith was wearing a body armor carrier without the ballistic panels inserted. He had several magazines of ammunition and three firearms — an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, 9 mm handgun and .308-caliber rifle, police said.

Smith apparently shot the victims with the AR-15 and the 9 mm, police said.

Citing the ongoing investigation, officials said at a press conference that they couldn’t comment on the relationship between Smith and the four victims and haven’t released a potential motive.

One of the slain victims, Chelsie Cline, had briefly been involved with Smith, but broke things off months ago, her sister Sierra Kolarik told CNN Pittsburgh affiliate WPXI.

Trooper Robert Broadwater, a Pennylvania State Police spokesman, would not say how the shooter and victims knew each other, but said the families had been helpful in piecing those relationships together. Cell phone records will help investigators in that respect, as well as with nailing down the shooter’s motive, he said.

The slain victims, Cline, 25, William Scott Porterfield, 27, Courtney Sue Snyder, 23, and Seth William Cline, 21, were shot after they arrived at the self-serve car wash in two cars.

Porterfield and Chelsie Cline arrived together, got out of the car and walked to the side of the business, where they were both killed, police said.

Snyder and Seth Cline arrived in a pickup truck, and they were both shot inside their vehicle while it was stopped.

While shots were being fired into the front of the vehicle, a woman who had been riding in the back seat was able to hide and survived with minor injuries from breaking glass, police said.

“She is cooperating with the investigation,” said Sgt. Jeremy Barni of Pennsylvania State Police. “Obviously it’s a traumatic experience for her.”

Former JPSO Chief Deputy Craig Taffaro convicted of tax evasion

Posted: 30 Jan 2018 12:55 PM PST

NEW ORLEANS — Former Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Craig Taffaro has been convicted on charges of tax evasion and filing false tax returns.

According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Taffaro, 70, was found guilty of six counts of tax evasion, five counts of filing a false tax return, and one count of failing to file a tax return.

He was accused of evading taxes by exaggerating business expenses for a venture that was unrelated to his work at the sheriff’s office. Taffaro retired in June amid the federal investigation.

The jury found that Taffaro, the longtime right hand man of former Sheriff Newell Normand, willfully attempted to evade taxes due and owing by filing returns with false and exaggerated business expenses for tax years 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, and by causing the filing of a false estimate of his tax liability for tax year 2014.

The jury also found that Taffaro willfully failed to file a tax return when required by law for tax year 2014.

Taffaro faces up to five years in prison for each count of tax evasion, three years  for each count of filing a false return, and one year for failure to file a tax return.

Sentencing is set for April 4, 2018.

9-year-old girl who received Trump support has successful brain surgery

Posted: 30 Jan 2018 12:51 PM PST

BROWNFIELD, Texas – The nine-year-old Texas girl whom President Donald Trump asked the nation to pray for is out of the ICU after successful brain surgery.

Sophia Marie Campa-Peters underwent brain surgery on Friday at Boston Children's Hospital for a rare disorder in which the blood vessels in her brain narrow and close. The condition results in constant strokes.

During a press briefing last week, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders passed along an encouraging message from President Donald Trump: "He told me to tell you to keep fighting, to never give up, keep inspiring us all, and never, ever lose faith in God. With Him, all things are possible."

Sophia’s father, Scott Andy Peters, posted about his daughter’s recovery on Facebook Sunday morning, saying she’s getting back to her “normal, goofy, silly self.”

The post read, “Sophia is out of ICU, she is in a regular room and doing well! Physical Therapist says she looks great. She is eating pizza and watching Frozen, getting back to her normal, goofy, silly self.”

The White House's full statement reads:

"Today, an inspiring family and a brave little girl from Brownfield, Texas are facing a challenge that is inspiring their friends and neighbors, and now, hopefully, an entire nation.

Nine-year-old Sophia Marie Campa Peters suffers from a rare disease that causes the blood vessels in her brain to narrow and close. Three years ago, this condition resulted in Sophia enduring four massive strokes.

The strokes left her partially paralyzed. Since then, she has undergone numerous surgeries, but she has faced each one of them with a fearless exuberance for life that warms the heart of everyone she meets.

When the doctors told her she would never walk again, she dismissed them. "If you're only going to talk about what I can't do, then I don't want to hear it," she said. "Just let me try."

Not only did she try, she succeeded, leaving her doctors dumfounded. When they asked how she was doing these things, she had a simple answer: "Because I'm awesome," and she'd smile.

During the holidays in 2016, Sophia had several more minor strokes, but she kept fighting. One of the neurosurgeons told her mom, "This little girl has God on her side."

These experiences led Sophia's mom to realize that her daughter's incredible faith could have a profound impact on others. "In a world where things are so bad and ugly, when there is so much loss of faith," she said, "people needed to hear Sophia's story so that they could hear a true testament to God's grace and His glory revealed."

This Friday, Sophia will undergo brain surgery at Boston Children's Hospital, and she has one request: She has asked the entire world come together and pray for her on the day of her surgery. In her amazing, nine-year-old mind, that meant creating a goal of just reaching 10,000 people.

We want to make sure she gets that and far exceeds it. So today, Sophia, I'm here to tell you that millions of people from every corner of the world will be praying for you on January 26th.

And among those will be people and all of us here at the White House, including President Trump. He told me to tell you to keep fighting, to never give up, keep inspiring us all, and never, ever lose faith in God. With Him, all things are possible.

Thought that was a very inspiring and a great message for all of us to remember and remind us. So thank you, Sophia, for your strength and for reminding us of that today."