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#News - New Orleans & South Louisiana

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Ed-itorlal: Muss Bertolino’s widow passes, as does part of Kenner’s rich history

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 09:01 PM PST

A part of Kenner's rich history passed this week.

Mrs. Rita Marino Bertolino died at the age of 88. Mrs. Bertolino was the widow of former Kenner councilman Muss Bertolino.

The football stadium, and the playground on West Esplanade Avenue are both named in his honor.

As a child, I knew Mrs. Bertolino in passing.

Her story, is one of courage.

On December 11th, 1975, her husband died suddenly, leaving Mrs. Bertolino to raise their six children.

It was a daunting task, one she handled with aplomb.

A life event like a husband's passing can shape a person's entire being, and it did so for Mrs. Bertolino.

She was proud and strong.

And, she had every right.

Her husband was one of Kenner's best. He loved his city.

He believed that Kenner should have its own network of playgrounds, and its own hospital. Those things happened.

And, he believed in service.

In a TV interview taped in the fall of 2016, one of the Bertolino's six children, Sal, summed up his father, perfectly.

"There were times when he was gone," said Sal. "And, we understood that. We knew we had to share him with everyone."

Sal's sister Rita said the Bertolino family name lives well past the Kenner city limits.

"When people hear I am a Bertolino, they ask are you related to Muss Bertolino?" said Rita.

"And, the next thing they say is what a wonderful man."

Muss and Rita Bertolino were separated in December of 1975. 

This week, they were re-united.

And, their names live on, as a part of Kenner's proud history.

News with a Twist Krewe rides with Krewe of Tucks

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 07:38 PM PST

NEW ORLEANS-- On Saturday if you went out to the Krewe of Tucks parade, you got to see our very own News with a Twist Host, Tamica Lee, & News with a Twist Reporters Kenny Lopez and Meghan Kluth along with Test Kitchen Taylor riding on Float 21.   Float 21 is "The Originals" float.  The Twist team rode with the guys who rode in the very first Tucks parade 50 years ago.   They were the ones to start Tucks, so that's why they are called "The Originals."  WGNO Photographer, Lawrence Gobert captured the incredible ride with a Go Pro Camera.

Here's a picture of Kenny, Taylor, Meghan, Tamica, and Lawrence from News with a Twist.

Here are a few photos of "The Originals" who rode in the very first Tucks parade, 50 years ago, and they still ride today!

Bacchus rolls Uptown with J.K. Simmons as King Bacchus

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 07:12 PM PST

NEW ORLEANS-- Not even a little rain could stop the party at Bacchus.

Bacchus celebrated 50 years of being a super krewe.

They are known for their light up throws, and beautifully elaborate light up floats.  This year, actor J.K. Simmons reigned as the King of Bacchus.

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The Krewe of Napoleon brings large family crowds to the streets of Metairie

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 06:15 PM PST

METAIRIE, La.-- The Krewe of Napoleon rolled through Metairie with families and parade-goers gathered through the streets.

The rain came down just moments before the parade began to roll at it's 4:30 p.m. start time.

This krewe was created in 1980 for Jefferson Parish crowds and is known for its nod to the area's French heritage.

The "Corps de Napoleon" is the true name for the krewe, honoring France's greatest hero, Napoleon Bonaparte.

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‘Roll With It’: Thoth rolls on Carnival Sunday

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 06:09 PM PST

NEW ORLEANS — The Krewe of Thoth is named for the Egyptian Patron of Wisdom.

The parade theme plays on the word roll, with the floats “Rolling Cuban Cigars” and “Roll Up Your Sleeves.”

Luther Kent rode as grand marshal.

Here are some photos from the fun:

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Trump to unveil infrastructure plan

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 06:06 PM PST

President Trump will finally unveil his long-awaited infrastructure plan on Monday.

Trump laid out his vision at his State of the Union: To turn $200 billion in federal money into $1.5 trillion for fixing America’s infrastructure by leveraging local and state tax dollars and private investment.

“Together, we can reclaim our building heritage,” he said. “We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways across our land.”

The White House provided some details in a background call with reporters over the weekend and his administration has provided other guidance in recent weeks. Based on that information, here are a few questions we can answer about what Trump’s infrastructure plan contains.

How big would it be?

The White House says its plan will create $1.5 trillion for repairing and upgrading America’s infrastructure.

Only $200 billion of that, however, would come from direct federal spending, according to White House aides. The rest is supposed to come from state and local governments, which are expected to match any federal allocation by at least a four-to-one ratio. States have gradually assumed more of the responsibility for funding infrastructure in recent years, and the White House says it wants to accelerate that trend.

“What we really want to do is provide opportunities for state and local governments to receive federal funding when they’re doing what’s politically hard, and increasing investment in infrastructure,” DJ Gribbin, Trump’s special assistant for infrastructure, said to the United States Conference of Mayors last month.

However, the administration said that existing funding sources — such as sales taxes that have already been levied to pay for transit projects — may count towards a local jurisdiction’s contribution.

“There will be a lookback provision so that states and local governments who have already recently raised revenues aren’t penalized for being forward thinking and implementing the types of policies that we’re encouraging through this program,” a senior administration said.

In advance of the plan’s release, House Democrats announced their own proposal, which calls for five times the amount of federal funding to be made available.

Related: Trump’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan rests on some strong assumptions

How would the money be split up?

Half of the new federal money, $100 billion, would be parceled out as incentives to local government entities.

An additional $20 billion would go toward “projects of national significance” that can “lift the American spirit,” such as New York’s Gateway tunnel under the Hudson River.

Another $50 billion is earmarked for rural block grants, most of which will be given to states according to a formula based on the miles of rural roads and the rural population they have. States can then spend that money on transportation, broadband, water, waste and power projects.

The rest of the money would support other infrastructure-related undertakings, including existing loan programs like the one operated by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, which White House officials said could leverage up to $40 in local and private money for every $1 in federal investment.

Related: America’s biggest infrastructure nightmare

What else might the plan do?

The Trump administration says it wants to shorten the time and expense of getting federal permits by consolidating the reviews conducted by different agencies into “one federal decision,” with one agency taking the lead on evaluating a project.

“Any bill must also streamline the permitting and approval process — getting it down to no more than two years, and perhaps even one,” Trump said in his State of the Union.

Currently, the process can take five to 10 years. Former President Obama also tried to address the problem through an executive order that instructed agencies to use better technology and work concurrently on their reviews in order to cut down on approval times.

In its background briefing, the White House said the permitting overhaul would require both actions by Congress and regulatory changes that could be accomplished under executive authority.

The proposal echoes one made in 2015 by a nonprofit group called Common Good, which recommended limiting litigation around infrastructure permitting — one of the main reasons approvals get delayed — and putting one person in charge of environmental review. Other experts, including the Congressional Research Service, have since cast doubt on the report’s claim that trillions of dollars are wasted during the permitting process, pointing out that state regulations, rather than federal ones, are often the cause of delays.

The White House also said its plan would call for changes aimed at widening the pipeline of skilled construction workers, such as allowing Pell Grants to be used for short-term credentials from places like community colleges and targeting federal work-study funding toward on-the-job training.

Related: States see Trump’s infrastructure project slipping away

How would the plan be paid for?

At the Conference of Mayors in January, Gribbin explained that the Trump administration would not be proposing a specific funding mechanism for the infrastructure plan, saying that will be a conversation with Congress. But that discussion just got a lot harder following the passage of a tax plan that is expected to expand the deficit by over a trillion dollars over ten years.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has proposed hiking the federal gas tax, which hasn’t gone up since 1993, to raise $394 billion over 10 years. Gribbin said the White House is open to that idea, but hasn’t ruled anything out.

Over the past year, Democrats have accused Trump of seeking to create the $200 billion infrastructure fund by proposing cuts to other infrastructure-related programs. Gribbin committed to leaving major pots of money intact, such as the Highway Trust Fund, but said that some existing spending may be “repurposed.”

In its background briefing, the White House said that its budget would include cuts to many programs, none of which could be tied directly to the $200 billion increase for its infrastructure program.

“I can’t tell you there’s going to be no cut in any infrastructure programs in the federal government,” Gribbin said to the Conference of Mayors.

New York sues Harvey Weinstein and his company

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 05:24 PM PST

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein and his former company, a move that could complicate the sale of the disgraced mogul’s film studio.

Schneiderman said Sunday that a four-month investigation into sexual harassment found “vicious and exploitative mistreatment of company employees.” The suit cites “egregious” violations of state civil and human rights laws.

The suit also names Weinstein’s brother Bob, with whom he co-founded The Weinstein Company. It was once one of Hollywood’s most powerful film studios.

The complaint alleges “a years-long gender-based hostile work environment, a pattern of quid pro quo sexual harassment, and routine misuse of corporate resources for unlawful ends.”

The alleged misconduct began in 2005 and continued through about October 2017, the suit claims.

Weinstein attorney Bill Brafman said in a statement that “a fair investigation by Mr. Schneiderman will demonstrate that many of the allegations against Harvey Weinstein are without merit.”

“While Mr. Weinstein’s behavior was not without fault, there certainly was no criminality,” the statement reads.

The suit comes at a critical time for The Weinstein Company. Schneiderman said that any sale must ensure that victims are compensated.

According to the complaint, a sale could “enable perpetrators or enablers of misconduct to obtain unwarranted financial benefits and fail to protect” employees.

Last month an investment group led by Maria Contreras-Sweet, former head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, began exclusive negotiations for the company’s assets, a person with knowledge of the talks told CNN.

A deal would have averted a bankruptcy auction, which was thought to be a likely outcome.

The film studio had been seeking a buyer for several months.

Weinstein was ousted from his role at The Weinstein Company last year after numerous reports of sexual misconduct. He has been accused of sexual harassment or abuse by more than 60 women. Weinstein has denied any accounts of non-consenusal sex.

Schneiderman’s lawsuit accuses Weinstein of “personally creating a hostile work environment … by demanding that women engage in sexual or demeaning conduct.”

He routinely yelled at female employees “for purported incompetence, cursing in their faces, threatening to end their careers, and describing his intent to harm them,” the suit alleges.

It also claims Weinstein used derogatory and obscene language to intimidate employees.

The suit also alleges that Bob Weinstein was aware of Harvey Weinstein’s behavior and failed to maintain “a safe workplace free of sexual harassment and other unlawful conduct,” and the studio failed to adequately respond to formal complaints against Weinstein.

In his statement, Brafman, Weinstein’s attorney, said he believes Schneiderman’s inquiry will prove that “Weinstein promoted more women to key executive positions than any other industry leader and there was zero discrimination” at his companies.

“If the purpose of the inquiry is to encourage reform throughout the film industry, Mr. Weinstein will embrace the investigation,” Brafman said. “If the purpose however is to scapegoat Mr. Weinstein, he will vigorously defend himself.”

Dillard University ’embraces what New Orleans is really about’

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 05:03 PM PST

NEW ORLEANS -- February is Black History Month, a month-long celebration remembering the important contributions that African Americans have made in our nation's history.

In honor of Black History Month, News with a Twist is featuring the people and places of New Orleans and beyond that helped to shape our community.

Today, it's Dillard University.

Dillard became official in 1935, but its roots trace back to the late 1860s after the Civil War.

Two smaller schools -- New Orleans University and Straight College -- merged in 1935 to form what is now Dillard.

Dillard is one of three Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in New Orleans. Its president, Walter Kimbrough, says the school is one of very few HBCUs to focus on both film and physics.

"Dillard is special because it embraces what New Orleans is really all about in terms of creativity, in terms of resilience," Kimbrough says. "We have a long history with humanities, with music, with theater ... our nursing program is one of the oldest in the state.

"All of those things just make Dillard a unique institution," he says.

You can learn more about the school's history here.

Our Black History Month series is brought to you by The King Firm.

Purdue Pharma says it will stop promoting opioids to doctors

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 04:03 PM PST

More than a decade after Purdue Pharma was first criticized by the federal government for its “aggressive” marketing of the addictive painkiller OxyContin, the company says it will stop promoting the opioid to doctors.

The company told CNN on Sunday that it has cut its sales force in half to 200 representatives and will turn its focus to marketing non-opioid drugs. The news was reported earlier by Bloomberg.

Purdue will continue to sell OxyContin, but sales reps will no longer visit doctors’ offices to promote the drug.

For the past couple of years Purdue has routinely directed doctors to the CDC’s “Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain,” the company said.

Related: Walmart is giving away free opioid disposal kits

Opioids, a class of pharmaceuticals that include prescription pain killers like OxyContin as well as illicit drugs like heroin and fentanyl, are at the root of an ongoing public health crisis in America.

In 2016, there were 42,249 opioid-linked drug fatalities in the U.S. — more than the number of deaths linked to breast cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The opioid crisis has raised significant concern about prescription painkillers. Between 1999 and 2009, overdoses from such drugs rose about 13% annually, though the increase has since slowed to 3% per year.

Sales of OxyContin, which is a long-acting version of the drug oxycodone that was designed to deliver medicine over 12 hours, grew rapidly after it hit the market in 1996.

Reports about OxyContin abuse began to surface by early 2000, according to a 2003 government report.

The Drug Enforcement Administration “expressed concern that Purdue’s aggressive marketing of OxyContin focused on promoting the drug to treat a wide range of conditions to physicians who may not have been adequately trained in pain management,” the report states.

Purdue collaborated with the Food and Drug Administration on a “risk management plan” aimed at preventing abuse of the drug, according to the report.

Then, in 2007, the federal government brought criminal charges against Purdue for misleadingly advertising OxyContin as less addictive than other opioids. Purdue and three executives pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $634.5 million in civil and criminal fines.

Purdue says it has since been involved in various measures to curb opioid addiction. In 2010, the firm released a new version of OxyContin that is more difficult to crush — and therefore more difficult to abuse by snorting or injecting it.

Two die in St. James Parish crash; impairment suspected

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 03:54 PM PST

ST. JAMES PARISH — State Police say impairment and speed are suspected factors in an early morning crash that killed two people in St. James Parish.

According to a news release, troopers responded before 2 a.m. Sunday (Feb. 11) to a one-vehicle fatal crash on U.S. 61 south of I-10.

Ricardo Wallace, 29, and 21-year-old Corin Wallace, both of LaPlace, died in the crash.

The initial investigation by State Police revealed that Ricardo Wallace was traveling southbound on U.S. 61 in a 2008 Audi sedan.

Evidence shows Ricardo Wallace was traveling at a high rate of speed when he lost control of his vehicle.  The vehicle began to overturn and struck a tree before becoming submerged in the bayou.

Ricardo and Corin Wallace were pronounced dead at the scene by the St. James Parish Coroner's Office.

Impairment is suspected to be a factor in this crash and a toxicology sample will be taken from Ricardo Wallace for analysis.

Louisiana State Troopers wish to remind motorists that impaired driving continues to be a major problem throughout Louisiana. Whether impaired through alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two, the consequences of driving while impaired remain the same.  Making good choices while in motor vehicles such as never driving while impaired, always ensuring every occupant is properly restrained, and avoiding all distractions can often mean the difference between life and death.

Krewe Of Mid- City 2018

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 01:28 PM PST

NEW ORLEANS — Krewe of Mid-City rolled on Sunday, the second of four parades along the Uptown route.

It’s the fifth oldest continuing parade group in New Orleans Mardi Gras history.

Here are some pictures from the fun:

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Krewe of Chronos rolls in Thibodaux

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 01:15 PM PST

THIBODAUX, La. -- Following the Krewe of Cleophas Sunday morning was Chronos. The parade rolled immediately after Cleophas and paraded throughout the city of Thibodaux.

The parade is Thibodaux's oldest parade organization and features over 200 riders.

View the photo gallery to see the fun!

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Krewe of Cleophas rolls in Thibodaux

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 01:08 PM PST

THIBODAUX, La. -- No rain for the start of Krewe of Cleophas in Thibodaux Sunday afternoon. Thousands came out to enjoy the parade.

This year the parade featured around 350 riders and 26 floats. The parade started at Nicholls State University and paraded throughout downtown.

Skip through the photo gallery for more.

 

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Krewe of Okeanos’ ‘Travel with Okeanos’ celebrates various cultures

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 12:22 PM PST

NEW ORLEANS– Founded in 1949, the Krewe of Okeanos is named for the Greek God of the oceans and fertile valleys.

It is is sponsored by the Sonaeko Club, which is Okeanos spelled backwards. This year’s theme is “Travel with Okeanos” featuring floats representing countries around the world and various states.

Vince Vance returned as this year’s grand marshal.

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Teenage snowboarder Red Gerard wins first Team USA gold medal

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 11:57 AM PST

Teenager Red Gerard pulled off a shock win in the men’s slopestyle snowboarding to claim the first gold medal for Team USA at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

The 17-year-old crashed on both of his first two runs amid high winds at Pheonix Park, but pulled off a spectacular final effort that no one could match to become the youngest American man to win an Olympic winter gold medal since 1928.

Sitting in 11th place after two runs, Gerard wowed the judges with his descent through a series of rails, ramps and huge jumps to beat Canadian riders Max Parrot and Mark McMorris to the silver and bronze respectively.

READ: Winter Olympics Day 2 as it happened

READ: Best photos from PyeongChang 2018

The diminutive Gerard, the second-youngest of seven siblings who grew up in Cleveland, Ohio before moving to Colorado, seemed stunned as he became the youngest Olympic snowboarding champion ever.

“I was surprised to make it even to the finals of the Olympics and to get first is above me, I don’t even know what’s going on to be honest,” Gerard told the British Broadcasting Corporation.

“I cannot believe what has just happened – it is insane.”

Parrot put down a near-flawless run as the last rider to go down, but it wasn’t good enough to knock Gerard off the top spot.

McMorris, who had been in the lead after two rounds, took his second straight Olympic slopestyle bronze less than a year after crashing into a tree, suffering a collapsed lung, ruptured spleen, fractured jaw, ribs, pelvis and left arm.

“It feels pretty special to stand on this podium again after everything,” McMorris told reporters. “I need to pinch myself because I should have some permanent damage from what my accident entailed.”

The US has not had to wait until the second day of an Olympic Games — Summer or Winter — to win its first gold medal since 1998.

Gerard — real name Redmond — is also the first ever medalist at the Olympic Winter Games born after January 1 2000, according to Gracenote.

He was a child prodigy, who could walk at nine months, started snowboarding at the age of two and managed to do a standing backflip by the time he was six years old, according to the Washington Post. He joined the American national team just four years ago.

His Olympic journey is set to continue in the men’s big air competition, which will be making its debut in an Olympic Games on Feb. 21.

Historic luge silver

Later Sunday, Chris Mazdzer added another medal for Team USA and the first men’s luge medal for the US when he took silver behind Austria’s David Gleirscher.

The 23-year-old Gleirscher, who hadn’t even won a World Cup event before the Games, claimed Austria’s first luge gold in 50 years after the leader and last man down, defending champion Felix Loch of Germany, made a big mistake on his final run to finish fifth. Germany’s Johannes Ludwig took the bronze.

Meanwhile, Perrine Laffont became the first Frenchwoman to win the Olympic moguls title with victory in Pyeongchang.

The 19-year-old beat defending champion Justine Dufour-Lapointe of Canada, with Yulia Galysheva of Kazakhstan in third.

Dutch speed skater Sven Kramer set a new world record to clinch a third consecutive 5,000m gold.

The 31-year-old beat Canada’s Ted-Jan Bloemen into second, with Norway’s Sverre Lunde Pedersen in third.

In the cross-country arena, Simen Hegstad Krueger led a Norwegian cleansweep in the men’s 15km + 15km skiathlon, while Germany’s Arnd Peiffer won the men’s biathlon 10km sprint.

An emotional Evgenia Medvedeva smashed her own world record of 80.85 with a score of 81.06 in her opening performance in the figure skating short program.

The 18-year-old, who has never been beaten in competition, scored 10 points for the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) team and was well ahead of the next best performer, Italy’s Carolina Kostner who scored 75.10.

3 killed in Grand Canyon sightseeing helicopter crash

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 08:15 AM PST

Watch Video

Four survivors of a deadly helicopter crash in the Grand Canyon Saturday evening were rescued during an operation that stretched into the early hours of Sunday morning, according to Police Chief Francis E. Bradley Sr. of the Hualapai reservation.

The helicopter was operated by Papillon Airways, an aerial sightseeing company that gives tours of the Grand Canyon and other locations, Bradley said.

Three people died when the EC-130 went down at 5:20 p.m. (7:20 p.m. ET) Saturday near Quartermaster Canyon, within the Grand Canyon on the Hualapai Nation.

A pilot and six passengers were on board, Bradley said.

First responders had difficulty reaching the four survivors due to windy, dark, and rugged conditions, Bradley said.

Rescuers got help from military aircraft from Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas and were eventually able to fly all four of the injured to the University Medical Center in Las Vegas by Sunday morning, Bradley said.

Crews will work Sunday to retrieve the bodies of those who died in the crash, Bradley said, but weather conditions were hampering efforts.

Photos of the crash scene showed flames and dark smoke rising from rocky terrain.

Teddy Fujimoto told CNN affiliate KSNV he was in the area taking photographs when he witnessed the aftermath of the crash.

“I saw these two ladies run out of it, and then an explosion. One of the survivors … looked all bloody. Her clothes probably were burnt off,” Fujimoto told KSNV.

“The ladies were screaming … It was just horrible,” he said.

FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer earlier said the aircraft sustained considerable damage in the crash.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate, Kenitzer said.

Papillon Airways describes itself on its website as “the world’s largest aerial sightseeing company” and adds that it provides “the only way to tour the Grand Canyon.”

The company says it flies roughly 600,000 passengers a year on Grand Canyon and other tours. It also notes that it “abides by flight safety rules and regulations that substantially exceed the regulations required by the Federal Aviation Administration.”

Rain holding off for now

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 06:49 AM PST

Once again New Orleans so far on Sunday has found itself in some clearing between heavy rain offshore as well as just west of the city and on the north shore. The inland activity is mainly associated with a cold front that is mainly from McComb to Baton Rouge at 9 AM. This front will be moving slowly east and southeast through the day.

As it stands now the bulk of the rain should continue to be west and north of the city through early afternoon. However at that point it’s possible that showers and storms move in as the front begins to move in.

So expect some scattered showers and storms after 1-2 PM Sunday afternoon.

The good news is that the front looks to push down to the coast by Sunday night, meaning Lundi and Mardi Gras should be mostly dry across the area.