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Monday, July 1, 2019

#News - New Orleans & South Louisiana

#News - New Orleans & South Louisiana

Police investigate fatal shooting in French Quarter

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 12:32 AM PDT

New Orleans – Police are investigating a fatal shooting in the French Quarter.

It happened around 3:30 a.m. Sunday in the 900 block of St. Louis Street.

Police say a man was shot.

He was taken to the hospital where he later died.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111.

Court blocks federal funds for border wall in parts of California and New Mexico

Posted: 30 Jun 2019 01:06 PM PDT

A federal judge in California ruled against the Trump administration Friday in two different cases, ultimately preventing $2.5 billion in federal funds from being used for a border wall in portions of California, New Mexico, Texas and Arizona.

In the first case, US District Court for Northern California ruled in favor of a challenge to President Donald Trump’s attempt to move billions from the Defense Department budget toward building a border wall in El Centro, California, and New Mexico.

Trump’s move was done as part of his national emergency declaration in February. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed the lawsuit, joined by 16 states, soon afterward.

Becerra celebrated the ruling Friday, which he said permanently stops the administration from proceeding with construction on the wall.

“These rulings critically stop President Trump’s illegal money grab to divert $2.5 billion of unauthorized funding for his pet project,” Becerra said. “All President Trump has succeeded in building is a constitutional crisis, threatening immediate harm to our state. President Trump said he didn’t have to do this and that he would be unsuccessful in court. Today we proved that statement true.”

CNN has reached out to the White House for comment.

Judge Haywood Gilliam determined in the ruling that “no new factual or legal arguments persuade the Court that its analysis” in May to block funds from going to a border wall is incorrect. As a result, “plaintiffs’ likelihood of success on the merits has ripened into actual success,” he added.

In a second lawsuit against the administration brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition, Gilliam ruled against the administration a second time.

He ruled the administration was instructed to keep from “taking any action to construct a border barrier” in Texas and Arizona with $1 billion of the funding.

Gilliam determined in the ruling that the environmental rights groups demonstrated they would “suffer irreparable harm to their members’ aesthetic and recreational interests” should a border wall be built. He added that lawmakers properly addressed immigration in their proposed border funding bill to end the shutdown.

“Congress considered all of Defendants’ proffered needs for border barrier construction, weighed the public interest in such construction against Defendants’ request for taxpayer money, and struck what it considered to be the proper balance — in the public’s interest — by making available only $1.375 billion in funding, which was for certain border barrier construction not at issue here,” he wrote.

Dror Ladin, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project who argued the case, said in a statement that “Congress was clear in denying funds for Trump’s xenophobic obsession with a wasteful, harmful wall.”

“This decision upholds the basic principle that the President has no power to spend taxpayer money without Congress’ approval,” he added. “We will continue to defend this core principle of our democracy, which the courts have recognized for centuries.”

Nine years after their wedding, a woman found this couple’s photos in a thrift store lunch bag

Posted: 30 Jun 2019 01:05 PM PDT

SACRAMENTO -- One California woman got a lot more than she bargained for when she found a thumb drive full of wedding photos inside the lunch bag she purchased from a thrift store.

"I needed a new lunch bag for work, and it looked like it was brand new and it was cute so I bought it," Michelle de Mercado said.

She purchased the lunch bag from a Sacramento thrift store — thinking she scored a good find.

But when she got home and looked inside, she discovered something that didn't belong there: a thumb drive.

"At first I thought…'oh gosh what's on it,'" Mercado said.

She got curious and opened up the files on her computer, discovering they were wedding photos.

Mercado knew she had to get the pictures back in the right hands.

"If someone found something that was mine, I'd want them to return it, so I posted the pictures to Facebook, and the rest was history," she said.

Fifty-four shares and 84 comments later, Mercado was able to connect the blushing bride with a real woman, Jessica Black.

"She sent me the photos and I was like, 'oh my goodness, that's me! Those are my wedding photos,'" Black said.

Black, a California native, said she grew up and got married in Sacramento back in April 2010.

She and her husband Stephen are now a happy family of five. They recently moved to Texas and bought their first home in San Antonio.

But her parents and in-laws still live in Sacramento, leading Black to believe that's how the photos ended up in a local thrift store.

"I don't know if one of our families accidentally had a flash drive of our photos and I don't know how it randomly ended up in a lunch box, but I was happy that someone was able to find it so fast," Black said.

Just why the thumb drive was left in the lunch bag still remains a mystery — but Jessica is thankful that the photos of her special day will soon be back where they belong.

"It was definitely a wonderful day, and I'm so glad that I have photos to remember it because the wedding day is always so busy and chaotic and it just goes by so fast," she said. "So, it's good to have those memories captured that you can have forever. It's just a special, sweet memory."

Police: Woman ran over man who was trying to keep her from driving drunk

Posted: 30 Jun 2019 01:02 PM PDT

Police say a 25-year-old man was killed Thursday night after trying to stop someone he knew from driving home drunk.-- Police say a 25-year-old man was killed Thursday night after trying to stop someone he knew from driving home drunk.

Employees at RakiRaki off Convoy Street said they were working when they heard commotion around 11:30 p.m. They said they stepped outside to see people arguing in the parking lot.

"The guy tried stopping her, getting her out of the car and the whole situation escalated and it became physical," Kiana Smith said.

Smith said from what she could tell, a man was trying to stop a woman from driving drunk. She said he was hanging on to the car, but even that didn't stop the driver.

"She actually backed out of the parking lot with him still hanging on to her car and as soon as she made this right turn out of the parking lot he completely flung off it and she ran over him," Smith said.

Shortly after, she said first responders and police showed up. Witnesses said a woman was by the victim's side until he was taken to the hospital where he died.

"She was just so devastated and just crying at the top of her lungs and just like, 'this can't be happening'," Maika Frye said.

Officers said not long after they got on scene they caught up with the driver, who they have identified as 33-year-old Latisha Ingram.

The manager of O'Brien's, Tyson Blake, said the woman actually came into the bar with a group that included the victim about an hour and a half before the incident.

"Came in rather inebriated already and acting a little extra loud and almost stepped on a dog. The bartender actually said, 'hey, watch out for the dog. It's on the patio. We allow dogs on our patio,' and she shouted some profanities at the bartender and the dog, and the bartender was like, 'we're not going to be serving you tonight,'" Blake said.

San Diego police told KSWB it was Ingram's 25-year-old co-worker who was trying to stop her from driving drunk -- an unfortunate situation that has forever changed lives.

"I can't imagine what his girlfriend, or his friend was going through. Just losing a loved one like that because of alcohol I think is just terrible. It's just so sad," Frye said.

The victim's name has not been released. Ingram was booked in jail for a number of charges, including murder.

9/11 first responder and advocate Luis Alvarez dies at 53

Posted: 30 Jun 2019 01:01 PM PDT

Luis Alvarez, a retired NYPD bomb squad detective who described for Congress his medical issues during an impassioned appeal for an extension of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, died Saturday in a hospice in New York. He was 53.

His death from complications of cancer linked to the time he spent with other first responders in the rubble at ground zero was announced in a Facebook statement from his family.

“We told him at the end that he had won this battle by the many lives he had touched by sharing his three year battle,” the statement said.

“He was at peace with that, surrounded by family. Thank you for giving us this time we have had with him, it was a blessing.”

Alvarez entered end-of-life hospice care last week.

Alvarez vowed to fight for benefits until the end

On June 11, a frail Alvarez made his way to Washington with other first responders to testify in a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing for an extension of the fund for police officers, firefighters and other emergency workers who became ill after laboring at the site of the 2001 World Trade Center terrorist attacks. He received a standing ovation that day.

“I’m now in hospice, because (there) is nothing else the doctors can do to fight the cancer,” Alvarez wrote in a Facebook post the following week.

“I’m resting and I’m at peace,” he added. “I will continue to fight until the Good Lord decides it’s time… Please take care of yourselves and each other.”

NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill tweeted a photo of Alvarez Saturday with the message: “Our NYPD family & all 1st responders mourn as we remember retired NYPD Bomb Squad Det. Luis Alvarez, who passed this morning.

His strength — physical, mental & emotional — led us all, & we vow to #NeverForget him or his legacy — which was, simply, to have others do what’s right.”

Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said of Alvarez: “He exemplified the NYPD motto, “Fidelis Ad Mortem” or “Faithful Unto Death.” Detective Lou Alvarez has lost his battle with 9/11-related cancer. An inspiration, a warrior, a friend—we will carry his sword.”

‘I did not want to be anywhere else but Ground Zero’

Alvarez wrote last week that the decline in his health had nothing to do with the trip to Washington. But organizers said the trip is a struggle for ailing first responders like the former detective.

Some lawmakers on the panel did not show up for the hearing this month, leading to a fiery speech from comedian and fund proponent Jon Stewart.

“As I sit here today, I can’t help but think what an incredible metaphor this room is for the entire process that getting health care and benefits for 9/11 first responders has come to,” Stewart said.

Alvarez, speaking slowly, told lawmakers in the room that he planned to get his 69th round of chemotherapy the next day.

“You made me come down here the day before my 69th round of chemo, and I’m going to make sure that you never forget to take care of the 9/11 responders,” he said.

“We were there with one mission, and we left after completing that mission,” he said. “I have been to many places in this world and done many things, but I can tell you that I did not want to be anywhere else but Ground Zero when I was there.”

He added, “Now that the 9/11 illnesses have taken many of us, we are all worried about our children and spouses and our families if we are not here.”

Last week, Alvarez posted on Facebook that a nurse noticed he was disoriented when he went for chemo treatment. Tests then revealed that his liver had completely shut down because of his tumors, he said.

“So now I’m resting and I’m at peace. I will continue to fight until the Good Lord decides it’s time,” he wrote. “I will try to do a few more interviews to keep a light on our fight for the VCF benefits we all justly deserve. Please take care of yourselves and each other.”

More than 12,500 cases of cancer diagnosed

The fund Alvarez and others fought for was created in the months following the 2001 attacks and was initially active for two years, paying more than $7 billion relating to injuries and deaths caused by the 9/11 attacks.

But first responders who spent weeks at the site breathing in noxious air clouded with debris from the collapsed buildings — after New York and federal officials told them it was safe — have since been diagnosed with a variety of debilitating illnesses and cancers.

Congress and President Barack Obama agreed in 2010 to pay their medical costs, reopened the fund and set aside $2.7 billion to pay victims just learning about chronic health problems resulting from their work in 2001. In 2012, the government determined that cancers can be compensated as part of the fund.

It wasn’t nearly enough money, however, and in 2015 Congress added $4.6 billion in funding, along with new controls and limits on some payments. The special master who administers the fund anticipates that total payouts for claims filed before the measure expires in 2020 could be far higher: $11.6 billion, if a current uptick in claims — largely caused by an increase in serious illnesses and deaths — continues.

The current proposal to permanently extend the fund would authorize it through 2089. It has plenty of support in the House, where it passed the Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Mitch McConnell indicated that Congress would address the fund.

As of May, more than 12,500 cases of cancer had also been diagnosed, according to The World Trade Center Health Program, a separate health care program related to the victim fund run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The most diagnosed ailments are upper and lower respiratory issues like asthma, gastrointestinal problems like reflux, musculoskeletal disorders and mental health conditions.

62 people have been sickened in a Salmonella outbreak linked to fresh papayas

Posted: 30 Jun 2019 01:00 PM PDT

Sixty-two people in eight US states have fallen ill this year from Salmonella related to fresh papayas imported from Mexico, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The illnesses range from mid-January up to June 8, with the highest number occurring in April. Of those who’ve gotten sick, 23 have been hospitalized.

So far, no deaths are reported.

Salmonella, which rarely affects how food tastes or smells, lives in the intestinal tracts of animals, including birds and people.

If you’re not sure where your papayas have come from, throw them out

The CDC is advising folks in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island to avoid eating whole, fresh papayas from Mexico. They also say not to eat fruit salads or mixes including Mexican papayas.

If you encounter papayas and have doubt about their country of origin, the CDC says to be on the safe side and throw them out. The agency recommends washing and sanitizing places where papayas are stored, including counter tops and refrigerator shelves.

Meanwhile, the US Food and Drug Administration wants importers, suppliers, distributors and other food service providers to halt sales across all states of papayas imported from Mexico.

This year’s outbreak is associated with the Salmonella Uganda serotype (species) of the bacteria.

Those who are infected can develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps between 12 and 72 hours following the initial exposure. Patients usually recover on their own in less than a week, but some people do need to be hospitalized.

According to CDC data, 1.2 million Salmonella cases occur each year in the US, with about 450 of the cases leading to death.

Honda recalls 1.6 million vehicles over Takata airbags

Posted: 30 Jun 2019 01:00 PM PDT

Honda is recalling 1.6 million vehicles in the last phase of its efforts to replace potentially deadly Takata airbags, the company announced Friday.

The recall affects Honda and Acura automobiles in the United States.

Honda urged owners of affected vehicles to seek free replacements immediately at authorized dealers.

Honda is ahead of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s schedule for replacing the Takata airbag inflators, the carmaker said in a statement. Honda said it has made “significant progress with existing recall repairs,” with an 83 percent completion rate. The company has enough replacement parts, all from alternative suppliers, to repair affected Acura and Honda models, it said.

The airbag issue led Takata to file for bankruptcy in June 2017.

Honda in March confirmed 14 deaths and more than 200 injuries in the US related to Takata airbag driver’s front inflator ruptures. Another company’s vehicles were involved in two other US fatalities, Honda said.

A chemical drying agent used in the inflators could cause airbags to rupture, Takata said. Upon bursting, some Takata airbags caused shrapnel to explode forward into passengers and drivers, injuring or killing some.

The faulty inflators resulted in the recall of tens of millions of vehicles worldwide. It was the largest automotive recall in US history, with some 37 million cars in the US from 19 automakers affected.

2-year-old boy dies from E.coli after visiting the San Diego County Fair

Posted: 30 Jun 2019 12:54 PM PDT

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Four children have been infected with E. coli — one fatally — after visiting the county fair in San Diego.

The children infected ranged between ages 2 and 13, and their cases have been linked to contact with animals at the San Diego County Fair, the county said in a statement Friday.

Three of the children did not have to go to the hospital, the release said. But the youngest, a 2-year-old boy, died from complications of the disease at a hospital Monday.

All four children visited animal areas or the petting zoo, which have been closed to the public since the reports, the county said.

Symptoms of E. coli can include stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. Some infections are mild, but others can be life-threatening. People of all ages can be infected, but young children and the elderly are more likely to develop severe symptoms.

The city asked that anyone who had symptoms on or after June 8 report it to a health care provider.

The types of E. coli that can cause illness can be transmitted through contaminated water or food, or through contact with people or animals.

New York man convicted of murdering father over allowance cut

Posted: 30 Jun 2019 12:53 PM PDT

NEW YORK – A man accused of killing his wealthy father after his allowance was cut has been convicted of murder, according to WRAL.

Thomas Gilbert Jr., 35, faces up to life in prison at his August 9 sentencing. According to WRAL, the jury did not accept his insanity defense.

Gilbert Jr., an unemployed Princeton University graduat, shot his father, hedge fund manager Thomas Gilbert Sr. in the elder man’s Manhattan apartment in 2015, WRAL reported.

Gilbert Jr. has schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders which, according to his lawyer, made him incapable of understanding the ramifications of shooting his father.

Prosecutors argued Gilbert Jr. knew exactly what he was doing and was motivated by his father’s decision to cut his weekly allowance from $1,000 to $300.

Doe spotted with rare triplets, including one albino fawn

Posted: 30 Jun 2019 12:52 PM PDT

MILES CITY, Mont. — A deer recently gave birth to a very rare albino fawn in a batch of triplets, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

The deer gave birth to two ordinary babies and moments later had a third albino baby, making for a rare batch of triplets.

"Nature is pretty wild!" said Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks in a Facebook post.

They are also urging people to give deer their space around this time of year because they are still feeding their babies.

"The animals' best chance of surviving and thriving is in nature, with humans at a safe distance!" MFWP said.

A true albino deer happens only once in every 100,000 births, according to Buck Manager.

Europe sizzles in scorching temperatures as heat wave spreads across continent

Posted: 30 Jun 2019 12:51 PM PDT

Europe’s scorching heat wave expanded across the continent Saturday, with people from Britain to the Balkans sweltering under abnormally high temperatures after a record-breaking week.

France is expecting temperatures of 39 degrees Celsius (103 degrees Fahrenheit) in parts on Saturday, a day after it shattered its record mark multiple times in one day.

Spain, which is dealing with the aftermath of a wildfire that tore through 10,000 acres of forest in the country’s northeast Friday, is bracing for temperatures of up to 42 degrees, according to its national meteorological body AEMET. The country is still affected by “a mass of tropical wind coming from Africa,” the agency said.

And the UK saw its hottest day of the year by some distance, with the mercury rising to 33 degrees Celsius (91.4 Fahrenheit) and threatening the country’s hottest-ever June mark of 35.6 degrees, set in 1976.

The hot weather is hitting sporting events across Europe, including the first-ever Major League Baseball game to be played in London. In a sign of how unusual the June heat wave is, organizers at Lord’s Cricket Ground in the city even allowed spectators at the World Cup match between Australia and New Zealand to remove their jackets at the pavilion.

At Glastonbury, revelers ditched the mud-proof boots usually associated with Britain’s most famous music festival — and showers at the event were closed to preserve water at the Worthy Farm site.

The continent has been baking in the heat all week, with cities springing into action to prevent it from turning fatal.

French authorities have taken a number of radical steps this week to prevent a repeat of the tragic consequences of the 2003 heat wave that left around 14,000 people dead. Around 4,000 schools were closed in the country Friday and the opening hours of parks and public swimming pools have been extended.

Paris activated its heat emergency plan last weekend, put together in the aftermath of the 2003 heat wave. Cooling rooms were opened in some municipal buildings and mist showers were installed in the streets in the city, which is seeing temperatures of over 35 degrees Saturday.

Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic all recorded their highest-ever June temperatures during the week.

And the heat is set to move east in the coming days, with countries including Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary preparing for marks in the mid-30s at the start of next week.

Climate scientists have warned that heat waves such as this one are becoming more frequent and increasingly severe because of the climate crisis. Météo-France, the country’s meteorological body, said the frequency of such events is expected to double by 2050.

Russia plans to tow a nuclear power station to the Arctic. Critics dub it a ‘floating Chernobyl’

Posted: 30 Jun 2019 12:50 PM PDT

Next month, a floating nuclear power plant called the Akademik Lomonosov will be towed via the Northern Sea Route to its final destination in the Far East, after almost two decades in construction.

It’s part of Russia’s ambition to bring electric power to a mineral-rich region. The 144-meter (472 feet) long platform painted in the colors of the Russian flag is going to float next to a small Arctic port town of Pevek, some 4,000 miles away from Moscow. It will supply electricity to settlements and companies extracting hydrocarbons and precious stones in the Chukotka region.

A larger agenda is at work too: aiding President Vladimir Putin’s ambitious Arctic expansion plans, which have raised geopolitical concerns in the United States.

The Admiral Lomonosov will be the northernmost operating nuclear plant in the world, and it’s key to plans to develop the region economically. About 2 million Russians reside near the Arctic coast in villages and towns similar to Pevek, settlements that are often reachable only by plane or ship, if the weather permits. But they generate as much as 20% of country’s GDP and are key for Russian plans to tap into the hidden Arctic riches of oil and gas as Siberian reserves diminish.

In theory, floating nuclear power plants could help supply energy to remote areas without long-term commitments — or requiring large investments into conventional power stations on mostly uninhabitable land.

But the concept of a nuclear reactor stationed in the Arctic Sea has drawn criticism from environmentalists. The Lomonosov platform was dubbed “Chernobyl on Ice” or “floating Chernobyl” by Greenpeace even before the public’s revived interest in the 1986 catastrophe thanks in large part to the HBO TV series of the same name.

Rosatom, the state company in charge of Russia’s nuclear projects, has been fighting against this nickname, saying such criticism is ill founded.

“It’s totally not justified to compare these two projects. These are baseless claims, just the way the reactors themselves operate work is different,” said Vladimir Iriminku, Lomonosov’s chief engineer for environmental protection. “Of course, what happened in Chernobyl cannot happen again…. And as it’s going to be stationed in the Arctic waters, it will be cooling down constantly, and there is no lack of cold water.”

The idea itself is not new — the US Army used a small nuclear reactor installed on a ship in the Panama Canal for almost a decade in the 1960s. For civil purposes, an American energy company PSE&G commissioned a floating plant to be stationed off the coast of New Jersey, but the project was halted in the 1970s due to public opposition and environmental concerns.

Russia’s civilian nuclear industry also faced public questions following the Chernobyl catastrophe, which shaped concerns about “the peaceful atom” for decades to follow. Construction of dozens of nuclear plants stopped, affecting not only massive Chernobyl-scale projects but also slowing down the use of low-power reactors like the one in what would become the floating station (The Chernobyl plant produced up to 4,000 megawatts. Lomonosov has two reactors producing 35 megawatts each).

“These reactors were initially to be used within city limits, but unfortunately the Chernobyl incident hindered that,” Iriminku said. “Our citizens, especially if they are not technically savvy, don’t really understand the nuclear energy and that these stations are built differently, so it’s almost impossible to explain that to them.”

The explosion at Chernobyl directly caused around 31 deaths, but millions of people were exposed to dangerous radiation levels.

The final death toll as a result of long-term radiation exposure is much disputed. Although the UN predicted up to 9,000 related cancer deaths back in 2005, Greenpeace later estimated up to 200,000 fatalities, taking further health problems connected to the disaster into account.

Modern Russia hasn’t seen anything close to Chernobyl though. Russia, a major oil and gas producer, also operates several nuclear power stations. The state atomic energy corporation Rosatom has long maintained that its industrial record is one of reliability and safety, and that its reactors have been modernized and upgraded.

But rather than summoning the specter of Chernobyl, some nuclear watchdogs are drawing parallels to the 2011 accident at Fukushima in Japan, with the images of its waterlogged reactors still fresh in the public memory. The Russian plant’s main benefits — mobility and ability to work in remote regions — complicate some crucial security procedures, from routine disposal of the nuclear fuel to rescue operations in the event the platform is hit by a massive wave.

But project engineers say they’ve learned the lessons of Fukushima.

“This rig can’t be torn out of moorings, even with a 9-point tsunami, and we’ve even considered that if it does go inland, there is a backup system that can keep the reactor cooling for 24 hours without an electricity supply,” said Dmitry Alekseenko, deputy director of the Lomonosov plant.

However, experts of Bellona, an NGO monitoring nuclear projects and environmental impacts, say 24 hours might not be enough to prevent a disaster should a tsunami land the rig among towns with two active nuclear reactors aboard.

And then there is the question of cost. Some Russian officials have questioned the floating reactor complex’s price tag of an estimated $450 million, saying it would need to enter serial production to be economically viable. Rosatom has been working to attract clients from Asia, Africa and South America to purchase next iterations of Akademik Lomonosov, but has yet to announce any deals.

The last Russian nuclear project of a comparable scale was completed in 2007, when the “50 Years of Victory” nuclear-powered icebreaker finally sailed after sitting in the docks since 1989. Now, after more than 20 years of arguments, changes of contractors and economic crises, Russian engineers can finally take pride in launching the world’s only nuclear floating rig.

Florida man reportedly breaks into restaurant, makes himself burger, steals safe

Posted: 30 Jun 2019 12:48 PM PDT

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. – The Martin County Sheriff’s Office is looking for help identifying a man they say broke into a restaurant and made himself a meal.

According to a Facebook post from the sheriff’s office, the suspect has broken into two restaurants, made himself dinner and stolen what he could not eat.

The “modern day Hamburglar” broke into a Wendy’s, started the grill and left with a safe. According to the post, he also successfully burglarized a second restaurant and unsuccessfully attempted to steal from a gas station.

The suspect is described as a heavy-set white male in his 30s with a distinctive tattoo on his left arm. He has facial hair and is about six feet tall.

Elfrid Payton hosts hometown charity weekend

Posted: 30 Jun 2019 12:30 PM PDT

Gretna, La. -- Saturday afternoon, Pelicans guard Elfrid Payton hit the kickball field in Gretna for this 3rd annual Elfrid Payton Foundation Charity Kickball Tournament. His team ended-up losing in the championship game, but there was still plenty of fun to be had all around.

"It just keeps getting bigger each year," Payton said. "We're having a good time out here despite the weather. Just having a good time in the community. It's just important because I know what this community did for me. So I know it's important to give back to them. The kids are the future. Instill in the youth. It's important for me to give back to them."

Sunday the action headed inside at the Alario Center for Payton's free youth basketball clinic, capping-off the 2-day charity weekend in his hometown.

"It's super fun," Payton said. "I think it's exciting for the city-- something for people to look forward to. Especially being able to bring a few friends down-- other basketball players and things like that-- so they can interact with them. I think it's a good look for the city."

This is the 5th year for the basketball event, and it's been neat for the John Ehret alum to see familiar faces coming back each year.

"I've seen a lot of these kids grow up," Payton said. "Not just too long ago, I seen a kid that I remember when he was a little boy and now he's becoming a young man. Just building relationships. I see all these kids at AAU tournaments. I have an AAU team so seeing them there so it's been good."

And Payton uses his platform to talk to these young athletes about how to succeed-- not just on the court, but with anything they do.

"Have fun, first and foremost," Payton said. "But it's going to take sacrifices. Work hard. We do a lot of drills today but you have to do it at home. This one time is not going to do it. You have to put the time in, put the work in. Don't let anybody tell you that you can't do anything. Strive for your dreams and just go get it."

Pepsi to reduce plastic waste by selling water in a can

Posted: 30 Jun 2019 07:46 AM PDT

Pepsi’s plan to reduce plastic waste includes ditching plastic bottles for cans – even for still water.

The company said Friday its Aquafina-brand water will soon be sold in aluminum cans at US fast food and restaurant chains beginning as soon as next year. The company is testing out a broader rollout to retail stores.

Canning water isn’t a new idea. Companies such as Anheuser-Busch have delivered water-in-a-can to emergency workers responding to natural disasters, and a few startups are using trendy marketing in an effort to make canned water a consumer phenomenon. For example, Liquid Death puts water from the Alps in a tallboy can.

Some environmental advocates have championed aluminum over plastic, saying the former is far easier to recycle. And corporations from all types of industries are working to find sustainable alternatives as the world’s plastics problem continues to pile up: An estimated 91% of all plastic waste has never been recycled.

“Tackling plastic waste is one of my top priorities and I take this challenge personally,” PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta said in a statement. “We are doing our part to address the issue head on by reducing, recycling and reinventing our packaging.”

The company said Bubly, its line of flavored sparkling water, will now only be offered in cans. However, Pepsi won’t do away with plastics altogether. Bottled Aquafina will still be available for the time being. And Pepsi said its brand of “premium bottled water,” LifeWtr, will be packaged in a type of plastic that the company says is recyclable and “can be turned into bottles again and again.” Its soda will still come in bottles, too.

The company said the changes will take effect next year and will “eliminate more than 8,000 metric tons of virgin plastic and approximately 11,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emission.”

Pepsi said it has committed to using only recyclable, compostable or biodegradable packaging by 2025, and it’s pledged to make new plastic bottles using 25% recycled material.