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Louisiana

New Orleans Tells Local Business Leaders To End Support Of Genocide

New Orleans, LA – On Wednesday, March 13, angry New Orleans residents disrupted this year’s New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW) on its busiest day. Hosted by Idea Village, NOEW is a major networking event for tech startups, with the founder of Waitr as the featured keynote this year. Protesters disrupted this event 17 times, condemning Ideal Village’s sponsorship of the “Innovation Embassy” – a technological and trade partnership between the Port of New Orleans and the Port of Ashdod in Israel.

How $9 Billion From Taxpayers Fueled Plastics Production

Through billions in tax breaks and subsidies, taxpayers in Louisiana, Texas, and other states have supported the construction or expansion of dozens of facilities manufacturing plastics in the United States since 2012. However, many of these plants have also repeatedly exceeded legal limits on the air pollution they release into surrounding communities, disproportionately affecting people of color. That’s according to an Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) report published on Thursday. For instance, in 2015, then-Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal welcomed Indorama Ventures — one of the world’s biggest producers of single-use plastic — to the state.

New Orleans Nurses Fight For A New Union As Hospitals Merge

Heidi Tujague works 12-hour shifts as an emergency room nurse at New Orleans’ University Medical Center (UMC), just outside the Central Business District. The hospital is part of a massive nonprofit, LCMC Health — which held assets of $3.57 billion in 2022 and operated over half of New Orleans’ hospitals in 2023. But despite those resources, Tujague says nurses sometimes have to scramble for supplies to care for patients. Even wheelchairs can be scarce. “You have to ask a patient, ‘Would you mind standing up and shifting to this chair so I can get this wheelchair — while you’re waiting for your X-ray — so I can get someone else to their X-ray?

Queer Louisianans Are Fighting Book Bans And Winning

St. Tammany Parish, LA.— The governing board of St. Tammany Parish Library is meeting one August evening in the squint-inducing fluorescence of council chambers. The agenda includes the summer reading program, the latest financial reports, and whether a young adult novel about two teenagers seeking to break a world record for kissing should remain on shelves. There has been a public complaint. “We’ll move on now to the statement of concern regarding the title Two Boys Kissing,” says Rebecca Taylor, board president of the library, which is in southeastern Louisiana. ​“As a reminder, your public comment must directly relate to this agenda item.”

How Oil Money Turned Louisiana Into The Prison Capital Of The World

On October 14, 2023, Louisiana elected far right candidate Jeff Landry to the governor’s mansion. As the state’s current attorney general, Landry (a former police officer and sheriff’s deputy) has made headlines for his creation of an anti-crime policing task force for New Orleans, suing the state to block clemency appeals by those on death row, and advocating to make public the criminal records of juveniles in predominately Black areas of the state. Landry’s dedication to “law and order” has been matched by his commitment to extractive industries. As a climate change denier, he has pushed for more aggressive off-shore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and sued the Environmental Protection Agency for overreach.

Activists Decry FERC Rush To Construct Liquefied Gas Terminal

On my latest flight surveying fossil fuel industry sites in southwest Louisiana at the end of September, I photographed liquified natural gas (LNG) export facilities, signs of drought, fire-scarred stretches of marsh, and a salt dome site at risk of collapsing. The visuals illustrate issues climate advocates publicized this week related to impacts fossil fuel industry sites are having on the environment. First, on October 19, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade called out the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC) for granting Venture Global’s request to construct its Plaquemines LNG gas export terminal on a 24/7 construction schedule.

Teenagers’ Detention At Angola Exposes Fractured Juvenile System

This week the state of Louisiana was expected to transfer a group of mostly Black boys out of the former death row unit of Louisiana State Penitentiary — a maximum-security adult prison also known as Angola. But a federal appeals court on Wednesday temporarily paused a judge’s order requiring the state to move the children out of Angola by Friday. The American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center and several law firms, pushed for a year to stop the state from detaining children at the prison, which is located on a former slave plantation. The legal advocates praised a federal judge’s mandate last week that Louisiana officials move the teens out of Angola and back to a juvenile-focused facility by September 15.

Marathon Refinery Fire: How Industry Goes Quiet During A Crisis

Thick black smoke billowed and flames rose from two chemical storage tanks at the Marathon Petroleum refinery between Reserve and Garyville, Louisiana, on Friday. Geraldine Watkins saw the towers of smoke through the passenger seat window of a car that morning, while she was on her way to a court hearing about whether another tract of land in St. John the Baptist Parish, where Garyville is located, would be zoned for heavy industrial use. Despite the alarming view, no community-wide alarms had sounded when a naphtha leak started a fire at the refinery earlier that morning.

Fighting Industrial Development In Louisiana’s ‘Cancer Alley’

Wallace, Louisiana - There are only a handful of homes situated on Alexis Court, but there are a whole lot of memories. At one end of the short street, facing the Mississippi River, is Fee-Fo-Lay Café, run by twin sisters Jo and Joy Banner. The Fifolet, according to local lore, is a spirit that haunts the swamps and guards the treasures of pirate Jean Lafitte. Growing up, the Banner sisters heard a variation of the myth from their grandmother, and the café bears its name as an homage to their grandparents’ stories. Inside, the walls hold the stories and pictures of at least four generations. Many of their family members live around Fee-Fo-Lay — the family has been in the town of Wallace since its beginnings.

US Court Victory Against Online Censorship

A judge in Louisiana has barred the F.B.I. and other government agencies from asking social media companies to suppress free speech, reports Joe Lauria. A U.S. federal judge on Tuesday issued a temporary injunction against a number of government agencies preventing them from talking to social media firms for “the purpose of urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech.” Judge Terry Doughty of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana ruled that the agencies couldn’t identify specific social media posts to be taken down or ask for reports about the social media company’s efforts to do so.

New Orleans March Condemns Anti-LGBTQ Bills

New Orleans, Louisiana - On Friday, March 31, hundreds marched from Washington Square Park to Jackson Square to celebrate Trans Day of Visibility. The marchers also gathered in response to nine anti-LGBTQ bills being considered by the Louisiana legislature. These bills reflect a growing crisis of targeted attacks against LGBTQ youth. The Deadname bill, HB 81, would mandate that public school teachers misgender trans students and use their birth names. Students could appeal for their real names and pronouns to be used with a parental note, but staff would still be allowed to ignore that appeal based on “religious and moral” reasons.

LDEQ Draft Permit Rattles Neighbors Of Hazardous Waste Disposal Site

Sliska Larry read the proposed operating permit for the expanded Clean Harbors hazardous waste disposal site, less than 2 miles from her home, with her 9-year-old grandson at her side. She instinctively pulled him closer, as if to shield him, as she absorbed its details. “It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Larry said. The preliminary draft permit, which the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality issued last week, allows Clean Harbors to continue the open burning and open detonation of materials for at least another eight months. The facility disposes of outdated munitions from several military bases, including the shuttered National Guard training site at Camp Minden, and old fireworks from Disney World.

Black Residents Of Cancer Alley Sue Local Government

A discrimination lawsuit filed Tuesday in the Eastern District of Louisiana alleges that the St. James Parish Council steered polluting facilities into Black neighborhoods along the Mississippi River. As a result, Black residents there are forced to breathe in more pollution and face a higher risk of related health problems, according to the suit filed by Inclusive Louisiana, Mount Triumph Baptist Church, and RISE St. James. “We’re being ignored and we have to do whatever we have to do to stop it,” said Myrtle Felton, a lifelong resident of St. James Parish and co-founder of Inclusive Louisiana, a community group focused on environmental injustices.

Underpaid And Insulted, Maximus Call Center Workers Organize

Their effort to unionize really got underway in 2018 when thousands of workers came forward to allege wage theft totaling $100 million. Eventually the Department of Labor found wage and hour violations affecting 2,224 workers. The federal contractor at the time, General Dynamics Information Technology, agreed to pay $553,131 in back wages, according to a CWA spokesperson. Maximus bought the company out in November 2018. But despite the hefty settlement, the organizing began to fizzle because of high turnover. Then last year, workers walked off the job in Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Virginia in March, May, and November, demanding voluntary recognition of their union and higher pay.

Democrats ‘Funneled’ Utility Money To Climate Candidate Challenger

Louisiana - Louisiana Democratic Party leaders are accused of funneling thousands of dollars from utility companies to the campaign of a fossil fuel–friendly candidate who ran for reelection on the state’s utility regulatory committee. Campaign finance records filed this week show that the Party received more than $90,000 in donations from utility companies, energy producers, and their executives during the elections for two Louisiana Public Service Commissioners. The same utility companies — Entergy, Cleco, and CenterPoint Energy — also donated directly to incumbent Lambert Boissiere III, whose campaign was largely sponsored by industry groups. Entergy, Cleco, and CenterPoint Energy did not respond to requests for comment for this story. Despite these industry donations to his opponent, climate candidate Davante Lewis won the District 3 Commissioner seat, which represents parts of New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
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