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Essence Fest
10:36 am
Thu July 5, 2012

Essence 'Youth Day' Kicks off in New Orleans

Opening day of the Essence Music Festival is kicking off with events geared for the young.

Crime, education and issues affecting today's youth will be tackled during the day at the Morial Convention Center before teen musical acts hit the stage at the Superdome.

Among the day's speakers are New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who launched a mentoring project called "Saving Our Sons," to help curb crime and violence in the city. His wife, Cheryl, launched "Girl Up NOLA," which seeks to inspire and motivate young girls.

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Blighted Property Auction
10:30 am
Thu July 5, 2012

20 Blighted New Orleans Properties to be Auctioned in July

A former hospital is among 20 blighted properties being auctioned this month in New Orleans.

A city news release says the former River of Life hospital was last appraised at $1.4 million, and the minimum bid is $933,333.33. The city is foreclosing because the owner owes more than $320,000 in taxes and liens.

It will be the only property sold July 12. Fifteen will be auctioned off on July 19, and four on July 26.

Harbor Town Casino
10:16 am
Thu July 5, 2012

Revised Plan Ready for New Gulfport Casino

GULFPORT, Miss. — Developers of Gulfport's waterfront Harbor Town Casino say they will present new plans to the Mississippi Gaming Commission on July 19. Rotate Black CEO John Paulsen tells the Sun Herald the plan increases the investment from $87 million to $100 million. He says developers will bring in a four-star hotel with an upscale swimming pool area and cabanas.

Around the Nation
2:09 am
Thu July 5, 2012

New Orleans Struggles With Murder Rate, And Trust

Sgt. Miro Brekalo talks with residents in New Orleans' Gentilly neighborhood, as other officers walk their beat. Their goal isn't only to stop crime; it's also to connect with citizens who are often reluctant to report crimes.
Debbie Elliott NPR

Originally published on Thu July 5, 2012 9:25 pm

New Orleans now has the highest per capita murder rate in the country. Most of the killings are concentrated in the city's poorest neighborhoods — places like Central City, just a few blocks north of the stately mansions that line St. Charles Avenue.

The city's mayor is launching a new program aimed at cracking what he describes as a deeply rooted culture of violence. But victims complain that a failed criminal justice system has left the streets to vigilante justice, with innocent residents caught in the crossfire.

A Wounded Neighborhood

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Grand Isle Water
7:26 pm
Wed July 4, 2012

Grand Isle water line temporarily fixed

Jefferson Parish officials say water service was back on Grand Isle Wednesday after a temporary clamp was successfully placed on a busted line that provided drinking water to the barrier island.

The repair was made about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The Barataria Bay water transmission line was apparently damaged by a passing vessel Tuesday morning.

Houma Police
7:23 pm
Wed July 4, 2012

Houma police officers allege unfair treatment

A federal judge denied two Houma Police officers' request for protection from adverse job treatment while they sue their department.

Capt. Milton Wolfe Jr. and Sgt. Kyle Faulk filed suit last week, alleging mistreatment after disagreeing with legislation that continued to keep the police chief position out of civil service protection.

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Prisons
7:20 pm
Wed July 4, 2012

La. moves ahead with plan to close prisons

Facing budget constraints and a growing inmate population, state officials are moving ahead with a plan to shut down two prisons, including one with a well-established addictive treatment program.

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Beaches
7:16 pm
Wed July 4, 2012

La. beaches fare badly in groups survey

An environmental group's annual look at water quality at the nation's vacation beaches rates Louisiana's among the most contaminated.

The report by the Natural Resources Defense Council says 29 percent of water samples taken at Louisiana beaches showed elevated bacterial levels.

The national average is 8 percent.

An analysis of the report by The Times-Picayune (http://bit.ly/Ok1i3C) shows high bacteria levels were found in 44 percent of water samples collected at five Cameron Parish beaches.

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Plaquemines Parish Spray Drill
7:14 pm
Wed July 4, 2012

Nungesser upset parish not told before spray drill

Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser is upset that the parish wasn't notified before an apparent drill for pilots who spray oil spills dispersants. And he doesn't believe that the planes used in the drill were spraying only water, as he was told.

Parish official P.J. Hahn says fishermen called him June 13, saying low-flying planes sprayed something that turned to foam on the water and made their skin itch or burn.

Hahn says the Coast Guard told him it was a drill by the oil industry's Marine Spill Response Corp and that only water was being sprayed.

Those Who Serve
2:29 am
Wed July 4, 2012

Grandfathers' Stories Inspire Military Service

Capt. Jared Larpenteur plans a combat mission at the 82nd Airborne's Delta Company command center in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, earlier this year.
Amy Walters NPR

Originally published on Wed July 4, 2012 9:04 am

A very small percentage of Americans are now serving in the military — fewer than 1 percent. Some are looking for direction. Others are inspired by a sense of patriotism or by a family member who served in an earlier war. On this Independence Day, we continue with an occasional series, Those Who Serve, a look at the men and women wearing their country's uniform during a time of war.

Capt. Jared Larpenteur is from Cajun Country in Louisiana. His family never expected he'd make the military his career.

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