Category: Local/State
Drink Up?! Brain-Eating Amoeba Found In Louisiana Water System
| June 30, 2017 | 7:48 pm | environmental crisis, Local/State | No comments
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Drink Up?! Brain-Eating Amoeba Found In Louisiana Water System

© AP Photo/ Thomas Kienzle

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A potentially deadly brain-eating amoeba has been discovered by health officials in the water system of a Louisiana parish.

The Louisiana state Department of Health found Naegleria Fowleri in a sample taken from a water hydrant in Terrebonne Parish, in the Schriever water system, according to Consolidated Waterworks District No. 1 General Manager Michael Sobert.

He wrote on the parish government Facebook page, “We would caution the public to refrain from allowing water to enter their nasal passages,” but also said “The water is safe to drink.” The amoeba was found in a sample taken from local a fire hydrant.

Two years ago, a sample from the same hydrant tested positive for the amoeba.

Residents have been advised to run hoses, shower and bath taps for five minutes before using them to flush out the pipes, and not to allow children to play with sprinklers or hoses unsupervised. They’ve also been told to continue these and other precautions until testing confirms that the amoeba is no longer present.

He added that officials have changed disinfectants to address the problem, converting to “free chlorine” method for 60 days to remove any remnants of the amoeba.

The amoeba occurs naturally in freshwater and causes a disease called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), which can destroy brain tissue. Early symptoms of PAM can resemble bacterial meningitis.

Louisiana has tested for Naegleria Fowleri since 2015, sampling public waters systems as it gets warmer.

Parish resident Bernadee Pitre told the local CBS affiliate that he’s hesitant to ingest the water even if it has been declared safe. “It’s scary. You don’t hear about them a lot … [I’m] definitely going to be more careful about that,” he said.

Texan lawmakers trade violent threats, scuffle over immigration protest (VIDEO)
| May 31, 2017 | 9:21 pm | Local/State, political struggle | No comments

Texan lawmakers trade violent threats, scuffle over immigration protest (VIDEO)
The Texas State capitol building hosted a fiery stand-off Monday as lawmakers allegedly exchanged violent threats after a Republican legislator called immigration officials on protesters at the building.

The demonstration concerned the recently approved bill SB4, which compels local police to enforce federal immigration law. The measure made so-called “sanctuary” immigration ordinances illegal in Texas, and police face jail time and removal from office for not enforcing the law.

Hundreds of protesters filled the gallery, chanting “Here to stay!” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho SB4 has got to go!” State troopers eventually cleared them from that part of the building but the group continued its protest on the ground floor.

Meanwhile, in the chamber tempers flared to the point where legislators jostled each other and traded insults and threats. A video of the scuffle was posted on Twitter by local news outlet KVUE.

During the fracas Republican Matt Rinaldi, from suburban Dallas, said he called ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officials on the protesters, whom he later claimed were “illegal immigrants.”

In a news conference following the dust-up Democrats alleged that Rinaldi threatened to shoot Democrat Poncho Nevarez. Rinaldi was also involved in a scuffle with another Democrat, Cesar Blanco.

Rinaldi responded to the allegations in a statement posted on Facebook, claiming he was himself threatened by Nevarez.

The dramatic exchange comes less than a week after Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte was charged with assault for allegedly attacking a reporter. The following day, Gianforte won the vote and was elected to Congress.

Green Party of New Orleans opposes monument legislation

Green Party of New Orleans opposes monument legislation

The Green Party of New Orleans decries current efforts of the state legislature to impede the removal of Confederate monuments from our local streetscape. 

“The Green Party finds that local grassroots governing best serves communities,” said Anika Ofori, a Green Party of New Orleans organizer and member of the Green Party of the United States Black Caucus. “Recent events reveal the psychological significance of these confederate monuments very clearly. Removing these monuments to a place where their history is recognized, as Confederates, can be achieved in an appropriate location.”

The fight to have such monuments removed is decades long. In 2015, the will of the people and the will of our municipality converged into an overwhelming vote to remove. These monuments were deemed public nuisances and declared to no longer represent the values the city wishes to achieve in our future.

Legislative opposition, just as the final plans for removal are implemented, shows how important it is for the city to continue with the removal. The state legislature’s attempt to block the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee meddles in our city’s concerted resolve to remove public exaltation of the crime of slavery.

Given the Legislative Black Caucus’ walkout from this process, this legislation creates the specter of largely white legislators’ foisting racist laws on the state’s largest city, which also happens to be majority African American.

“Sadly, this is nothing new,” said local party member David Bryan. “It is clear that the state legislature identifies with monied interests at the expense of the state’s most vulnerable and largely African American citizens.”

In 2002, New Orleanians approved a referendum increasing the city’s minimum wage by one dollar over the federal minimum wage, and the state promptly outlawed this modest pay increase for some of her poorest citizens. In 1998, New Orleans’ then-mayor Marc Morial filed a class-action lawsuit against gun manufacturers for the gun violence plaguing the city. Despite a decade of record-setting murders in New Orleans, Louisiana’s legislature sided with the gun manufacturers over the interests of her own citizens and passed legislation that retroactively stopped the lawsuit.

“We are alarmed at the continued attempt to abrogate and override local municipal control,” said Ryan Hargis, Secretary of the Green Party of Louisiana. “The decentralization of political power is a key value for Greens. Decision-making must remain with the communities most affected by the decisions.”

CALL TO ACTION: We urge all Greens in Louisiana, and any residents who care about these issues, to contact their senators and urge them to oppose House Bill 71, House Bill 292, Senate Bill 198, and any other bills which would impede the will of the people in removing monuments to white supremacy.

Find your legislators via the Louisiana State Legislature website.

Texas congressman threatened with lynching after calling for Trump’s impeachment

Texas congressman threatened with lynching after calling for Trump’s impeachment
Democratic Representative from Texas Al Green played recordings of racially abusive and threatening voicemails he says he received after calling for Trump’s impeachment at a town hall meeting Saturday.

READ MORE: Lone congressman calls to impeach Trump on House Floor: Does it matter?

The two recordings played by Green included graphic racial slurs and threats to hang the lawmaker.

Green told those gathered at the southwest Houston meeting that he would not be intimidated: “We are not going to allow this to cause us to deviate from what we believe to be the right thing to do and that is to proceed with the impeachment of President Trump.”

Green became the first member of Congress to call for Trump’s impeachment from the House floor on Wednesday.

“President Trump is not above the law. He has committed an impeachable act and must be charged,” Green said in a statement, citing the firing of FBI Director James Comey as one of the chief reasons for his impeachment.

“Our mantra should be ‘I.T.N. – Impeach Trump Now,’” he said.

READ MORE: Trump fires FBI Director James Comey 

A third abusive message shared on Green’s YouTube channel describes Trump as “wonderful” and “loving” and calls Green “disgusting” and “pathetic.”

In the recording, the caller also refers to the murder of Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer Seth Rich and says allegations of Russia being involved in the leaking of the DNC emails are “fake.”

READ MORE: Wikileaks offers $20k reward over dead DNC staffer, but won’t confirm he leaked emails

Another One Fallen: New Orleans Takes Down Confederate Robert E. Lee Statue


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New Orleans has taken down another monument to its Confederate past: Friday evening, a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee was pulled from its pedestal, a process that was attended by spectators and livestreamed by news organizations.

USS Constitution, World’s Oldest Commissioned Floating Ship, Vandalized in Boston

The idea to remove the statue was first proposed by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu back in 2015. The general had towered over the city for more than 100 years, but after white supremacist Dylann Roof massacred nine black churchgoers in fellow former Confederate state South Carolina, the wisdom of honoring Lee so publicly was called into question.

According to US National Public Radio, this is the fourth Confederate-era monument to be removed in New Orleans. The first, a monument to a deadly 1874 white supremacist uprising, was taken down on April 24. A couple of weeks later, a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis was toppled; on Wednesday, a statue of Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard was removed.

The campaign to remove the statues has been highly controversial. According to the Washington Post, contractors have received death threats, and nearly every heavy-crane company in southern Louisiana was also threatened.

Because of that, the first three statues were removed during the night. General Lee’s statue is the first to be removed during daylight.

According to Landrieu, the monuments are the result of what he called “a cult of the lost cause.”

“This cult had one goal and one goal only: through monuments and other means to rewrite history, to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity,” he said.

The fate of the statues is undetermined. City authorities have reportedly received a number of proposals from various public and private organizations. Certain restrictions are to be placed on the monuments in their future homes: for example, the new owners will not be allowed to display them outdoors on public property in New Orleans.

The platforms where the monuments once stood will be decorated with public art and American flags, city authorities say.

New Orleans Removes Third Confederate Monument Amid Threats
P.G.T. Beauregard Statue

New Orleans Removes Third Confederate Monument Amid Threats

© AP Photo/ Gerald Herbert

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The city of New Orleans has taken down a third Confederate monument amid massive tensions and threats.

Shortly after 3 a.m. on Wednesday, city workers donning helmets and bulletproof vests removed a statue of Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard. Demonstrators, both for and against the monuments removal gathered at the scene.

“Today we take another step in defining our City not by our past but by our bright future,” Democratic New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a statement. “While we must honor our history, we will not allow the Confederacy to be put on a pedestal in the heart of New Orleans.”Last week, a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis was removed and placed in a warehouse with the other monuments until an appropriate home for them can be determined.

“After nearly two years of planning and court battles, City officials began the process today of removing the three remaining monuments that prominently celebrate the ‘Lost Cause of the Confederacy.’ The statues that are being removed were erected decades after the Civil War to celebrate the ‘Cult of the Lost Cause,’ a movement recognized across the South as celebrating and promoting white supremacy,” Landrieu’s office said in a statement as the workers were removing the Davis monument last Thursday.

Late last month, workers removing the first statue also donned helmets, masks and bulletproof vests, as they had reportedly received death threats.The statue was erected in 1891 to honor the failed rebellion of the Crescent City White League militia, which sought to topple the biracial government after the Civil War.Landrieu began his quest to remove the offending statutes two years ago, but faced legal hurdles and challenges by opponents. Those who wanted the monuments to stay cited historical relevance and context.

There is now one more monument that the city has set for removal, that of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, which will surely be the most contentious removal.

Texas university cancels GOP senator’s speech after 800+ students sign petition

Texas university cancels GOP senator's speech after 800+ students sign petition
Security concerns caused Texas Southern University in Houston to cancel a scheduled commencement address by Senator John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate. The move comes amid a growing debate about free speech on college campuses.

“Every consideration is made to ensure that our students’ graduation day is a celebratory occasion and one they will remember positively for years to come. We asked Senator Cornyn to instead visit with our students again at a future date in order to keep the focus on graduates and their families,” said the university’s Facebook page.

Over 850 students signed the petition at the historically black university protesting the commencement address by Texas Senator Cornyn. They also urged graduating students and their families to “express their discontent” if he did speak.

“This is our graduation. We have the right to decide if we want to refuse to sit and listen to the words of a politician who chooses to use his political power in ways that continually harm marginalized and oppressed people,” said the petition on the site.

The action was sponsored by Rebecca Trevino, 26, a 2017 graduate in social work from San Antonio who told the Houston Chronicle she had no desire to censor Cornyn but rather to represent the values of the school.

“What I want people to realize is that this is our commencement,” Trevino said. “This is something we’ve worked hard for and we want someone who represents us and our values.”

Among the complaints against Cornyn was that he had voted for Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, approved Besty DeVos as Secretary of Education, and supports the idea of needing a photo ID to vote in federal elections.

Cornyn aides said the decision to cancel his appearance was the school’s, not his.

“Sen. Cornyn was honored to be invited to address TSU’s graduates, but he respects the administration’s decision and looks forward to continuing to engage with the University in the future,” said a Cornyn spokesman.

The petition comes shortly after DeVos was booed at a commencement address this week at Bethune-Cookman University, a black college in Daytona Beach, Florida.

The actions come amid a growing national debate about free speech on college campuses, following increasingly frequent student protests and several high-profile cancellations, mostly directed at conservative speakers.

Students protested at the University of California at Berkeley before administrators pulled the plug on a speech by conservative commentator Ann Coulter, and a previous cancellation of a speech at the same campus by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos has spurred the protests.

Texas Southern, founded in 1927 as the Houston Colored Junior College, is considered one of the nation’s leading historically black colleges, with nearly 10,000 students. About three-fourths of the students are African American, with the rest a mix of other races, including Hispanics, whites and international students.

Cornyn’s invitation to commencement was reportedly extended in part because of his help in securing federal funding for historically black colleges, according to the Houston Chronicle.

US Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D, Texas) and the singer Al Green will deliver the commencement address.