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#News - New Orleans & South Louisiana

#News - New Orleans & South Louisiana


Down, but not out: Pelicans fall to Warriors in game 2

Posted: 01 May 2018 11:12 PM PDT

The Pelicans made the Golden State Warriors work for 48 minutes, but it wasn’t enough.

The defending champions held off New Orleans 121-116 to take a two game lead in their best of seven Western Conference semi-final series.

Two time NBA MVP Steph Curry returned for his first action since March 23rd. Curry made his first shot, a three pointer, on the way to 28 points in 27 minutes.

Anthony Davis scored 25 points, and grabbed 15 rebounds for New Orleans. The game may have been won at the free throw line. New Orleans made 7 of 9 attempts. Golden State made 22 of 27 free throw attempts.

Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry said his team will  be ready for game 3. “They won the first two games at home,” said Gentry. “Now we get to home.” Game 3 is Friday Night at the Smoothie King Center.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said his team will have to ramp up its game Friday Night.

“We knew they were coming after us. Anthony Davis said they were embarrassed (in game one). We did enough to win tonight,” said Kerr.

“But, we will have to play better in New Orleans.”

‘Hero’ officer recalls bloody battle to save woman from ex-boyfriend’s torture-kill plot

Posted: 01 May 2018 08:48 PM PDT

PANOLA COUNTY, Miss. — A Mississippi officer saved a woman from a likely horrific death at the hands of an ex-boyfriend thanks to a chance encounter that brought them together.

Officer Sean Shelton is living his childhood dream of being a police officer. He says he always wanted to protect and serve, so he didn't hesitate when a woman at a local store needed help in 2010.

"The store clerk (Joyce Betts) was in there and she said, 'I'm glad you came in the store. We have a lot of kids running in shoplifting and causing disturbances. By the time we call the sheriff's department and they dispatch you guys here, the kids are gone," Shelton told WREG.

That chance meeting would play a profound part in both of their lives.

"I said I'm going to give you my cellphone, and the next time it happens call me," he said.

Just two hours later, Betts was calling officer Shelton, but this time, she was standing in front of her house, too afraid to go inside.

According to a Panola County offense report obtained by WREG, deputies say Betts' ex-boyfriend 50-year-old Lawrence Richardson had disabled the electricity and was waiting inside her house to kill her.

"I told him I was breaking up with him. He said, 'I'm going to cut your heart out like you cut my heart out," Betts said.

Officer Shelton walked Betts in her home and made sure everything was safe.

He had no idea that her ex-boyfriend was hiding in the dark with a torture table set up.

"I went flicked the light switch and it didn't come on," he said. "I walked in about eight feet."

The house was pitch dark, and Officer Shelton only had the light from his flashlight to see.

"As I was turning around to walk back out of the door, I saw a guy come out of the closet," he said. "He walked out and he had a small .22 gun out."

Shelton found himself staring down the barrel of a gun.

"He fired one round, and the round went under my vest in my side," he said. "I started shooting back."

Betts says she ran out of the house to get help.

"He had everything set up not only to restrain me, but to restrain my daughter. He was going to kill us both," she said.

Shelton and Richardson continued firing shots at each other.

"He got off another round. He hit me right under my right here, and that shot knocked me on the ground," Shelton said.

When Officer Shelton hit the ground he dropped his police radio, leaving him trapped and unable to call for backup.

"I could feel blood filling up my mouth. I could see the blood shooting out of my face, and I'm thinking I'm going to die," he said. "Then I heard a voice said, 'Sean. You need to get up. You're not going to die."

Shelton believes it was the voice of God telling him not to give up.

"I started looking for a way out of the house, but I didn't want to go back by the guy," he said.

But that was the only way out. He ran to his patrol car to call for help.

Officer Shelton tried to drive to a nearby fire station, but before he could get there he was met by another officer who was monitoring his radio and understood his call for help.

By the time Officer Shelton arrived at the fire station, his blood covered the inside of his patrol car.

He was airlifted to Regional One Hospital and spent almost two weeks in the hospital fighting for his life.

Panola County deputies later learned that Richardson – who died of his wounds – had hitchhiked all the way to Panola County, Mississippi from Virginia with an elaborate plan to torture and kill Betts and her teenage daughter.

"Officer Shelton is a hero in my book," Betts said.

Tulane professor picked to study glaciers in Antarctica

Posted: 01 May 2018 07:48 PM PDT

NEW ORLEANS — A Tulane University geologist is heading to Antarctica.

Brent Goehring, an assistant professor in the Tulane Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, has been named to a $25 million research collaboration considered one of the most detailed and extensive examinations of a massive Antarctic glacier ever undertaken, according to a news release from Tulane.

The collaboration between the United States and the United Kingdom will deploy Goehring and 100 other scientists to Antarctica to gather data needed to understand when the glacier's collapse could begin – in the next few decades or centuries  – and its impact on global sea rise.

The study is being funded by the National Science Foundation and the UK Natural Environment Research Council. It consists of eight large-scale projects that will bring together leading polar scientists in one of the most inhospitable regions of the planet.

Image of Thwaites Glacier shot during a reconnaissance flight in West Antarctica. (Photo courtesy of the National Science Foundation)

Goehring's study will involve measuring cosmogenic nuclides, specifically a form of radiocarbon that accumulates in rocks when at Earth's surface but is otherwise absent. If radiocarbon is detected, he said, scientists can conclude that the glacier was in fact smaller than at present and possibly begin to make estimates of when and for how long.

"My Tulane lab is one of five globally that can make this measurement, and arguably, we do it better than anyone else."

Preparation for the five-year program begins in October 2018 with the deployment of fuel and supplies and establishment of field camps on Thwaites Glacier.

"We are really excited to get the science going," he said, "but sadly won't even see the continent until the fall of 2019."

Video shows woman smash Popeyes window over meal

Posted: 01 May 2018 06:53 PM PDT

NEW YORK CITY, N.Y.  — Authorities are searching for the woman who harassed employees and broke a window at a Staten Island Popeyes earlier this month.

On Apr. 8 around 8:32 p.m., an intoxicated woman entered a Popeyes restaurant in Westerleigh and may have mixed up Popeyes' "$4 Wicked Good Deal" with Wendy's "4 for $4 menu," said police.

She grew angry and began to harass the restaurant's staff about her meal, but proceeded to eat her food, said police.

Before leaving, the woman made obscene gestures at the employees and used a chair to break a glass window, video surveillance shows.

She fled the scene inside a dark-colored sedan in an unknown direction, police said.

Is the secret in the sausage? One grocery store’s 60 year success story

Posted: 01 May 2018 06:00 PM PDT

PLAQUEMINES PARISH, La -  Plaquemines Parish is a Louisiana parish with lots of traditions.

When it comes to making groceries, people like one place in particular.

WGNO News with a Twist features guy Wild Bill Wood is in Belle Chasse, Louisiana ready to take you shopping for everything that's delightfully delicious.

The place is Balestra's. It's a grocery store.  And a lot more.

It's at 7902 Highway 23 in Belle Chasse, Louisiana.

Balestra's has been in the grocery store business in Belle Chasse, Louisiana since Ralph and Anthony, the original Balestra Brothers opened it here in 1959.

That's almost sixty years of selling everything.

Everything from beef jerky to bananas.

Ralph Balestra knows everything in the store.  Ralphy Balestra is the son and the nephew of the original Balestra Brothers.

Wild Bill Wood figures Ralph Balestra knows what the secret to the success of sixty years at Balestra's.

Ralph Balestra says, "the secret to the success at Balestra's is customer service.  Everybody here gets treated like family.  Nobody is a stranger ever at Balestra's."

As Wild Bill wanders around Balestra's, he wanders back to the store's famous meat market.

Wild Bill sees sausage being ground out by what looks like the mile.

The sausage that's always a favorite among customers is the green onion sausage.

The green onion sausage along with everything else in the meat market could be the secret to the success here.

At least it's part of the recipe.

Or maybe it's the fried chicken that's sizzling in the deli at Balestra's.

Some people say the fried chicken here is the best in town.  Maybe the best in the state.  Maybe even the best in all America.

It's battered in salt, flour, pepper garlic powder and a few other spices.

Chef Amy Boudreaux's job is to make sure every piece is worthy of a prize.

She says her customers depend on it being golden brown, crunchy and crispy.

Of course, if there really is a secret to the success at Balestra's in Belle Chasse, Louisiana, nobody will say.

But Ralph Balestra says, that's why it's a secret.

Meet the artist behind those famous Jazz Fest signs

Posted: 01 May 2018 05:02 PM PDT

NEW ORLEANS -- You've seen her signs all over the Fair Grounds at Jazz Fest.  They're in parking lots giving out directions, and they are by the stages showing who's playing.

Now it is time to meet the woman who's handwriting you've seen on these signs for over thirty years!

News with a Twist Reporter Kenny Lopez introduces us to Nan Parati, the Jazz Fest sign writer!

Nan Parati isn't a musician or a food vendor, but her work is easily one of the most recognizable things you'll find at Jazz Fest.

"I do all the signs, the directional ones, and the ones with the music acts for the stages.  I used to hand write every sign, but it got to be too many.  Now we have some that are computer generated, but I still do two thousand signs every Jazz Fest," she said.

Her name isn't one you may recognize, but it is the names she writes that you will know.

"I feel like I know these musical artists.  I've been writing these signs for over 34 years.  I feel like they are my friends, and I wonder how they are doing," she said.

Her signs have become very popular with not only the Jazz fest fans, but with the musicians too.

"Every now and then an artist will ask who does the signs.  Bonnie Raitt took me out to lunch one day, because she loved my signs."  Parati said.

Nan was discovered 34 years ago by Jazz Fest officials.  She currently is the co-coordinator of the Arts Department for Jazz Fest along with Bill Darrow.  They do all the signage and stage design.  She was discovered while working at a food market near the Fair Grounds.  Art runs in her blood because her father was a graphic designer.  When she and her family were on the road, her dad would teach her what made a good sign.

"I'm the most collected artist in America, but nobody knows who I am.  The fans want to take home the signs with them and have the musicians sign them, and then sell them on E-bay," she said.

Nan has two styles of writing for the signs.  One is more of a cursive look, and the other is bold and dark with all capital letters.  She uses magic markers to make the signs. Her handwriting has become so popular that she's even named it.

"The title of my font is 'nanostyl' because my name is Nan and styl because I think that is trendy."

In addition to being a sign writer, Nan owns a restaurant called Elmer's Store in Massachusetts.

For more information about Nan, click HERE.

Michael Murphy a giant at capturing historic Jazz Fest moments

Posted: 01 May 2018 04:41 PM PDT

NEW ORLEANS -- Historic moments happen every year at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and while capturing these moments today is part of the production of the fest, we've got one man to thank for filling a lot of the video library of the history of the fest, Michael Murphy.

Murphy says, "I started shooting the fest back about 31 years ago and it was pretty non stop for about 15-20 years, and then back and forth a bit when I got with House of Blues and I was doing that stuff, too."

After graduating from Loyola, he formed Michael Murphy Productions to handle documentary and music video projects.  Michael eventually became partner in the House of Blues franchise, and stayed with them for years, but eventually came back to shooting the fest after reforming his company.

Documenting the fest initially happened as a result of Murphy's ambition.

"I was trying to find a way to break into the broadcast business and back then if you weren't from New York or L.A., it was looked at as you weren't someone that was looked at as professional," said Murphy.

Murphy approached festival producer Quint Davis and financed his own shooting of the one stage that first year.  Murphy's role eventually grew to securing broadcast and streaming of the fest to other parts of the world.

"We might have 400,000 or 500,000 people here at the festival but Michael, when you start broadcasting this stuff, is reaching millions of people around the world, and it's been an important building block in not only building the festival but careers of our New Orleans artists," Davis told us.

Murphy still runs Michael Murphy Productions and he, along with his business partner Cilista Eberle, are still busy producing music and documentary videos.

California leads states in suing EPA over rollback of car emission rules

Posted: 01 May 2018 04:39 PM PDT

California, along with 16 other states and the District of Columbia, are suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its rollback of clean car rules passed during the Obama administration.

“This phalanx of states will defend the nation’s clean car standards to boost gas mileage and curb toxic air pollution,” California Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, said in a press release.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

An EPA spokesperson said the agency “does not comment on pending litigation.”

In April, the EPA said that the aggressive emissions rules set for model years 2022 to 2025 under President Obama were inappropriate and would be revised.

Related: EPA wants to give automakers a break on fuel economy rules. That might not help

But lowering the standards would create a nationwide divide. About a third of the country’s drivers would operate under tougher emissions rules established by California, and currently followed by another 12 states — while everyone else would have lesser obligations.

That would put automakers in a bind. Car companies have said they’re not sure they can meet the Obama administration’s tough targets. However, they also want a single national standard so they can sell cars that comply with all rules.

The EPA has said it will try to reach an agreement with California on a single national standard.

But California is intent on keeping the existing standards in place.

“The evidence is irrefutable: today’s clean car standards are achievable, science-based and a boon for hardworking American families,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

Right now, the state has a waiver from the federal government to set its own standards. The EPA said in April that the waiver is “still being reexamined by the EPA under Administrator Pruitt’s leadership.”

Joining California in the suit filed Tuesday was Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia, California said in its news release.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the number of states involved in the lawsuit.

Rocky Road Fudge: Would you eat it

Posted: 01 May 2018 03:45 PM PDT

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

Chocolate + butter + marshmallows? Sign us up! Test Kitchen Taylor is making a recipe from Jeff in Belle Chasse that will knock your socks off!

Rocky Road Fudge
1 bag marshmallows cut into 1/4's
16 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate
1 cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Grease an 8x8'' baking pan with non-stick cooking spray or butter.
Add cut marshmallows to the pan.
Add chocolate to still hot melted butter. Stir constantly until melted and smooth.
Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract and walnuts, if using.
Spoon melted chocolate over marshmallows, evenly covering the entire top.
Refrigerate until set. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

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

Helping the homeless is as easy as a text

Posted: 01 May 2018 03:36 PM PDT

NEW ORLEANS -- When you meet people asking for money in the street, your first instinct may be to take out some money and give it to them. But, the smart move may be to take out your smartphone instead.

"We have 1,200--at least, according to UNITY--homeless people in the city of New Orleans," says New Orleans City Councilmember Stacy Head. "Yet, many of the people who panhandle are not in fact homeless. We've got to find a way to be smarter about this."

At a press conference in the United Way building on Canal Street, Councilmember Head and leaders from the United Way, Downtown Development District, and other local organizations announced a new public awareness campaign to make donating to fight homelessness as easy as sending a text.

"Make Change NOLA" lets you text "WAY" to 27722 and donate $10 to the United Way, which will disperse the total donations to four local organizations that fight homelessness and poverty. The $10 donation shows up on your phone bill.

The public awareness campaign will include billboards and ads on buses and shelters. Organizers hope effective advertising will take advantage of good-natured tourists who can also text their donations.

Make Change NOLA

Confederate monument vandalized again

Posted: 01 May 2018 03:14 PM PDT

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NEW ORLEANS — The Charles Didier Dreux bust on Jefferson Davis Parkway was vandalized – again.

Someone put a white cloth over the head and marked red Xes on the eyes.

The vandals also wrote expletives in red paint on the pedestal.

Dreux was the first Confederate field officer killed in the Civil War.  According to findagrave.com, more than 30,000 people attended his funeral in New Orleans.

His bust was not among the four Confederate monuments that the city removed in 2017.

Former teacher of the year arrested for indecent behavior with middle school student

Posted: 01 May 2018 02:56 PM PDT

NEW ORLEANS — A former teacher at Edward Hynes Charter School has been arrested for indecent behavior with a student.

NOPD confirmed that Matthew Nesser, 34, was booked into the Orleans Parish Jail on one count of indecent behavior with a juvenile. NOPD did not confirm where Nesser worked or what his job was, but parents at Edward Hynes Charter School in Lakeview received a robocall today letting them know that a former teacher had been arrested.

There was also ample discussion about Nesser’s arrest in a private Facebook group for parents and faculty at the Harrison Avenue school.

The New Orleans Advocate reports that Nesser is accused of kissing an eighth-grade girl in his classroom multiple times, and also buying her presents and giving her back rubs.

The student’s mother called police and said Nesser had been making out with her 14-year-old daughter at the school, according to The Advocate.

Nesser is listed as one of the school’s teachers of the year for 2010.

Big Sam talks new album and the ‘isms’ that keep crowds coming back for more

Posted: 01 May 2018 02:35 PM PDT

NEW ORLEANS -- If you've ever been to see Big Sam's Funky Nation, you know it's an electric show with a big sound and a lot of dancing.

Fronting one of the busiest bands in town, Big Sam Williams is the driving force.

He was a talented musician in high school, but it was the one day he spent washing dishes at Delmonico that really changed his path.

"I had one real job for one day," he said. " I was a senior in high school my mom was like, 'Baby, I want you to have a real job so you can know what it takes to earn money and you can help with your senior budget.' I said, 'Let's do it.' "

Williams soon figured out he could make the same money playing gigs with the brass band he formed, and the rest is history.

But getting to the top took a lot of studying and learning from the "who's who" of New Orleans sound, like the late, great Allen Toussaint.

"He would always say, 'Put some 'ism' on it, you know when you're making something hip, put a lil extra on it and make sure that the people know that you know that it's hip. If we're playing a horn line and it says bam pa dam daaaa, he'd say, just fall extra blaaaaaa."

Williams was young, but he was good enough to play with the big boys.

In fact, when he got the chance to roll with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, he had to call his mom and get permission to hit the road for three months.

The time he spent with Toussaint, Costello, the Dirty Dozen and even the Stooges helped to mold him into the leader of the Funky Nation, but like peers of his generation, he's firm in taking New Orleans music to another level.

"It's time for it to evolve. You have cats like Troy (Trombone Shorty), myself, Christian Scott, you have a bunch of cats coming up now that like, even like Tank & the Bangas. We don't want to play the same thing that's been going on. We love that style and we we still pay homage to it, it has to change, it can't be the same," he said.

Big Sam's latest project is "Songs in the Key of Funk." You can find it wherever you buy music, and you can catch Big Sam on the Jazz Fest Acura stage Thursday right before Lionel Richie.

 

‘Castlevania’ producer wants you to fix Apu on ‘The Simpsons’

Posted: 01 May 2018 02:28 PM PDT

If you’ve ever dreamed of writing a “Simpsons” episode, now may be your chance.

Adi Shankar, the executive producer and showrunner for Netflix’s “Castlevania,” has announced the “Apu Screenwriting Contest: Crowdsourcing the Cure for The Simpsons.”

According to the site promoting the contest, “The Simpsons is sick and this contest is crowdsourcing the cure.”

“We are looking for a screenplay centering on the character “Apu” set in the world and cannon of ‘The Simpsons’ that takes the character of Apu and in a clever way subverts him, pivots him, intelligently writes him out, or evolves him in a way that takes a mean spirited mockery and transforms him into a kernel of truth wrapped in funny insight aka actual satire,” the site says. “This contest is open to people of all ethnicities and cultures, however, if you don’t have any experience with Indian culture in America then you may not have the perspective and experience to write well on this topic.”

The character of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon has been problematic for “The Simpsons.”

‘The Simpsons’ addresses Apu stereotype criticism

Comedian Hari Kondabolu’s documentary “The Problem with Apu,” which debuted last November, explored the character as a negative, stereotypical representation of South Asians.

Nahasapeemapetilon, a Indian-American character with a thick accent, operates the Kwik-E-Mart convenience store in the fictional town of Springfield. The show recently aired a response to complaints about him.

The man who voices the character, Hank Azaria, is not of Asian heritage and recently said he is willing to cease portraying Apu.

Hank Azaria willing to ‘step aside’ from playing Apu on ‘The Simpsons

The actor, who voices multiple characters on “The Simpsons,” also made a pitch for more diversity on the long-running animated show.

“I really want to see Indian, South Asian writer, writers in the room, not in a token way but genuinely informing whatever new direction this character may take, including how it is voiced or not voiced,” Azaria said. “I’m perfectly willing and happy to step aside or help transition it into something new. I really hope that’s what ‘The Simpsons’ does and it not only makes sense, but it just feels like the right thing to do to me.”

That would be in line with what Shankar seems to be trying to do.

According to the site, he “will take the winning script to The Simpsons writers’ room and Fox Broadcasting Company, to make it an official episode of The Simpsons’ upcoming season, and recommend that they hire the winning writer into their room for the next season.”

“If The Simpsons writers’ room rejects the episode then Adi Shankar will finance the winning script and produce it as an unofficial fan film that looks identical to an official Simpsons episode,” according to the site.

The idea has created buzz on social media.

Even rapper Kanye West tweeted a link to the contest and a video of Shankar talking about Apu.

A rep for the show offered no comment on the contest when reached by CNN.

“Simpsons” creator Matt Groening recently told USA Today that he didn’t have many thoughts on the criticism of Apu being a stereotype.

“I’m proud of what we do on the show,” he said. “And I think it’s a time in our culture where people love to pretend they’re offended.”

All the fixin’s: Ms. Linda’s yakamein is a Jazz Fest staple

Posted: 01 May 2018 01:51 PM PDT

NEW ORLEANS -- Ms. Linda's yakamein is a Jazz Fest staple and a recipe that's been in her family for generations.

Known to many as "Old Sober" or the "Hangover Helper," yakamein's popularity in New Orleans dates back decades, and maybe even more than a century. But for all the Jazz Fest out-of-towners, what is yakamein?

According to Ms. Linda Green, it's a "Chinese-Vietnamese-African-American soul dish."

It's a beef broth noodle soup filled with various meats and proteins, a delicacy that New Orleanians rely on to fight their hangovers when they had a few too many the night before.

Some say yakamein gained popularity after the Vietnam War, when black soldiers came back wanting a taste of Southeast Asia, but only had Louisiana ingredients. Others say it got its start here as early as 1902.

Ms. Linda's recipe dates back generations as well.

"My grandmother, she was the one that started cooking it, and everyone would come to our house with a bowl," she said. "And then my mother started selling it."

 

Now, Ms. Linda, affectionately known as the "yakamein lady," feeds the masses at local festivals.

"I have people all over the world contacting me, telling me we are on our way to come and see you, so I have to prepare for that, and it makes me feel good," she said.

You can find Ms. Linda's yakamein at Jazz Fest this weekend.

Iconic guitar maker Gibson files for bankruptcy

Posted: 01 May 2018 01:34 PM PDT

Gibson, an iconic American guitar manufacturer, has filed for bankruptcy.

The company has at least $100 million of debt, and perhaps as much as $500 million, according to paperwork filed in Delaware on Tuesday.

But Gibson still has plans to get back on its feet.

It will liquidate its consumer electronics business, which sells headphones, speakers and accessories, while reorganizing its musical instruments and professional audio business, which has been more stable.

“Gibson will emerge from Chapter 11 with working capital financing, materially less debt, and a leaner and stronger musical instruments-focused platform,” the company said in a press release.

The Nashville-based guitar maker was founded in 1894. Its popular Les Paul electric is one of the bestselling guitars of all time, and has been used by famous musicians like Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Pete Townshend.

The company has just under 900 employees, according to court documents.

It also owns famous brands such as Baldwin pianos and Wurlitzer, which is known for its pianos, organs and jukeboxes.

Gibson’s bankruptcy filing was widely expected.

Earlier this year, Standard & Poor’s downgraded Gibson Brands over fears it could default on its debt obligations.

The rating agency said that Gibson continued to deal with the fallout from regulations on imports and exports on rosewood, an important component in many guitars.

Other guitar companies have been struggling, too.

S&P said in a recent report that there’s a risk retail chain Guitar Center “may not be able to stabilize operating performance and increase profits to meet its debt obligations.”

Otter-ly adorable: Video shows wild otter feasting at Barataria Preserve

Posted: 01 May 2018 01:27 PM PDT

MARRERO, La.  — Maintenance workers at the Barataria Preserve caught a cute wild otter chomping down on his meal, and they were able to get it on video before the creature realized he had an audience.

The Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve posted the video to its Facebook page, noting that wild otters were a frequent site on the trails of the Barataria Preserve when it was first opened, but sightings became a rarity in the 1990s and 2000s.

Now, they’re starting to appear again!

Have you seen one?

Facebook tries to move past scandals with new features

Posted: 01 May 2018 01:17 PM PDT

Watch Video

Mark Zuckerberg took the stage to deliver a keynote at F8, Facebook’s annual developer’s conference, on Tuesday.

The CEO addressed Facebook’s ongoing data privacy scandal, election meddling issues, and fake news problems, recapping the company’s efforts to fix those problems. But he also tried to move the narrative forward with new product and feature announcements.

“We are all here because we are optimistic about the future,” said Zuckerberg. “We have real challenges to address but we have to keep that sense of optimism too. What I learned this year is we have to take a broader view of our responsibility.”

Facebook gets into dating

And Facebook is adding new features for dating, Zuckerberg announced. There are 200 million people who have marked themselves as single on Facebook, he said.

“This is going to be for building real long term relationships, not just hookups, it’s going to be in the Facebook app but it’s totally optional. It’s opt in… we have designed this with privacy and safety in mind from the beginning… you will only be suggested people who are not your friends.”

The tool will let people build separate profiles just for dating using their first names only. Their regular friends won’t see these profiles. People using the feature will be able to pick what groups or events they want to “unlock” to see more potential matches with the same interests.

There’s also a separate inbox for dating messages that doesn’t allow photos, Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox said in his own presentation.

A fresh start

Shortly before Zuckerberg’s keynote began, the company announced a new privacy feature that will, once launched, allow users to clear their browsing history on Facebook, including what they’ve clicked on and which websites they’ve visited.

Instagram adds video chatting and more

Instagram is getting a few updates as well. The photo-sharing app is adding group video chats to its messaging tool. The video can be minimized so that users can chat while still liking photos and swiping through their feed. Other new features coming to Instagram include augmented reality overlays from developers, like funny mustaches and hats, and new ways for third-party apps to have videos post directly to stories on Instagram and Facebook.

A new instagram tool will filter comments and hide ones it detects as bullying. The filter is turned on automatically and rolling out around the world. It looks for attacks on a person’s looks or well-being, and reports repeat offenders.

What’s up with WhatsApp?

WhatsApp may have lost its CEO, but it’s gaining stickers and group video calls.

What’sApp CEO Jan Koum announced Monday he was leaving WhatsApp and Facebook’s board. Koum clashed with Facebook over its approach to encryption and personal data, according to a Washington Post report.

“I just want to take a moment to thank Jan … he has been a tireless advocate for privacy and encryption,” Zuckerberg at the start of his keynote. “One of the things I’m most proud of is we’ve built the largest fully encrypted network in the world, and this would not have happened without Jan.”

Facebook later brought out Mubarik Imam, director at WhatsApp, to emphasize the messaging tool’s various privacy features, like end-to-end encryption. She also previewed the new group calling feature and stickers.

Messenger gets a refresh

Facebook’s other messaging tool is also getting a couple new features. The Messenger app’s layout has been redesigned, so that it looks cleaner. It is adding a limited translation feature that can translate English to Spanish and back for people chatting over Facebook Marketplace in the US. Messenger is going to expand that feature gradually, Facebook said, with suggestions for more translations in the future.

Companies that use Messenger to talk to customers can now add augmented reality effects to their chats. An early example is Sephora, which has new makeup AR overlays so that users can, say, try on blue eye shadow without leaving the house.

Developers can submit apps again, but things are different

After the Cambridge Analytica news broke, Facebook froze all new app approvals while it reviewed its system, audited existing apps, and dealt with a public relations crisis. Zuckerberg announced Tuesday that app reviews were open again.

“I know it hasn’t been easy being a developer these past couple of months,” said Zuckerberg.

Ime Archibong, Facebook’s head of platform, said the process will be slightly stricter going forward. More companies will have to be verified by Facebook before they can roll out an app.

“Our goal here isn’t to be difficult,” said Archibong. “I know this is going to be harder work on both ends for us.”

Mark jokes about his testimony

Zuckeberg was cheerful and even giggly at times during his presentation, a far cry from his stiff testimony two weeks ago in front of Congress. He had a much more receptive audience at F8, with developers cheering like he was a rock star and even yelling things like “thank you!” at the stage.

Zuckerberg called out “Watch Party,” a tool announced in January that lets you watch shows while chatting about them with your Facebook friends.

“Let’s say that your friend is testifying in Congress, for example. Now you’re going to be able to bring your friends together and you can laugh together and you can cry together. Some of my friends actually did this! Let’s not do that again anytime soon,” Zuckerberg said.

The event comes more than a month after news broke that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm with ties to President Donald Trump’s campaign, accessed information from as many as 87 million Facebook users without their knowledge.

Watch out, Tinder, Facebook is getting into online dating

Posted: 01 May 2018 01:15 PM PDT

Facebook wants to help people find love on its platform.

At its annual developers conference, F8, on Tuesday, the company announced a new dating feature.

Users can set up a dating profile with their first name, which the company said won’t be visible to friends and will not appear in News Feeds. The feature is opt-in and users will not be matched with people they are already friends with, according to Facebook.

Before dating, the social networking behemoth has expanded into numerous other features pioneered by other tech companies, ranging from job postings to payments and online food delivery. Although Facebook has positioned these endeavors as just adding utility for users, they’ve been part of a broader effort to get people spending as much time as possible on Facebook. By providing a range of services in one place, the company becomes even more indispensable in people’s lives.

And, of course, in doing so it also maintains its dominance over competitors, whether established or potential.

Before introducing dating, Facebook created Marketplace, where people can browse items for sale nearby, in a bid to compete with Craigslist and eBay. It allowed users to order takeout directly from fast-casual restaurants like Chipotle, Panera and Papa John’s, much as companies like Seamless and GrubHub do. it allowed users to send money to friends on the platform, as the social payments company Venmo does.

Facebook-owned Instagram has taken on many of Snapchat’s top features. Earlier this year, Facebook also stepped up its job postings features in an effort to take on LinkedIn.

Related: Bumble ad responds to Tinder suit: ‘We swipe left on your scare tactics’

Investors in other online dating platforms appear spooked by Facebook’s move into the space. Shares of Match Group — the parent company of dating platforms like Tinder, Match.com and OKCupid — plunged as much as 19% on Tuesday afternoon following the news. Shares of IAC/InterActiveCorp, the majority owner of Match, also fell 11%.

On Facebook’s dating service, people will be able to browse events and groups related to their interests, such as upcoming concerts or groups for runners. If a user sees an event they’d like to attend, they will be able to “unlock” that event to interact with others attending it.

From there, their dating profile will be shared with other people going to the event who are also using the dating service. They will be able to browse through those users and start a conversation in a private messaging inbox that isn’t connected to the Messenger or WhatsApp apps.

“I know a lot of you are going to have questions about this. We’ve designed this with privacy and safety in mind from the beginning,” Zuckerberg said during a keynote speech.

Other details about the service are unclear. The dating feature is set to roll out later this year.

Beyond creating new competition for popular dating apps like Tinder, Hinge and Bumble, Facebook’s move will pose a test for them because they have largely come to rely on asking their users to login with Facebook credentials. This grants the apps access to select Facebook data, which helps to speed up the process of creating dating profiles.

Related: Tinder to introduce feature for women to message first

The degree to which dating apps are reliant on Facebook access came into the spotlight just last month.

Shortly after Facebook announced stricter rules for its third-party developers, Tinder stopped working for some of its users who were temporarily unable use their Facebook credentials to log into their Tinder accounts. The issue was resolved but it was unclear exactly which Facebook updates caused the issues for Tinder.

And amid concerns about how Facebook is sharing user data, Bumble announced last month that iOS users no longer need to signup or login with Facebook. Instead, they can input a phone number to register and login.

A spokesperson for Bumble said the company was “thrilled” when it saw the Facebook news.

“Our executive team has already reached out to Facebook to explore ways to collaborate. Perhaps Bumble and Facebook can join forces to make the connecting space even more safe and empowering,” the spokesperson said in a statement provided to CNNMoney.

Bumble and Match Group have been engaged in a very public legal battle in recent weeks.

Match Group and Hinge did not immediately return requests for comment on the news.

Kanye West explained what exactly he likes about Trump

Posted: 01 May 2018 12:53 PM PDT

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Kanye West likes only half of what President Trump does.

The half he likes? “The ability to do what no one said you can do, to do the impossible,” he told T.I. when asked, in a video about the rappers’ recent collaboration.

In the video, published Monday, West discusses his political views with T.I. The rappers disagree with each other, and their disagreement is the subject of their song “Ye vs. the People (Starring TI as the People),” in which West raps lines like “Make America Great Again had a negative perception/I took it, wore it, rocked it, gave it a new direction” and “See, that’s the problem with this damn nation/All blacks gotta be Democrats, man/We ain’t made it off the plantation.”

T.I.’s verses are a response: “You gotta see the vantage point of the people/What makes you feel equal makes them feel evil.”

Since West went MAGA on Twitter last week and caught the attention of Trump, his intentions and the source of his beliefs have been an open question. Is his support of Trump political? Is it cultural? It it a marketing ploy for the multiple forthcoming mini-albums he said he’ll release this summer?

His conversation with T.I. suggests he admires Trump as a fellow polarizing figure, someone who defies norms and expectations. But West has also shown an interest in conservatism.

Photos online showed him Saturday in Los Angeles with Turning Point USA’s Candace Owens and Charlie Kirk. West has retweeted conservative Ali Alexander. He tweeted a screenshot of a conversation with “tmills” talking about black conservative thinker Thomas Sowell. And an internet browser tab he briefly panned to in a Twitter video of himself sharing new music with TMZ was for Canadian conservative thinker Jordan Peterson.

West has also tweeted screenshots of text conversations about political parties. One was a conversation with someone named Steve who wrote, “Abe Lincoln freed and protected the slaves and he was Republican. Republicans were the ones who’s helped black people. Democrats protected the rights of the slave owners in the south.”

A later tweet showed a text from John Legend, who wrote, “Abraham Lincoln was indeed a Republican. They love bringing that up to deflect from the fact that now the Republicans have become the party of the Confederacy. They defend the Confederate flag and oppose civil rights advances almost uniformly. When Lyndon Johnson (a Democrat) signed the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act into law, he acknowledged that the Democrats would probably lose the south for a generation. And eventually he was right.”

Those two tweets have since been deleted.