What We're Reading

Could federal cutbacks limit Hurricane Hunter flights?


How to armor the levees remains controversial, however. … East Bank authority members on Thursday questioned the corps decision not to armor the flood side of most levees in the system. Corps officials said their modeling has confirmed that the threat to the levees occurs only when water goes over the top and erodes the interior side.

The state has a science-based Master Plan, and that’s a historic development worth celebrating. Unfortunately, without a willingness to tackle the hard issues of nutrient pollution and climate change, while engaging with coastal communities in a way that lets them chart their own future, I fear this entire initiative will fail, no matter how loudly we shout.

From Maine to Oregon, local floodplain managers say FEMA’s recent flood maps — which dictate the premiums that 5.5 million Americans pay for flood insurance — have often been built using outdated, inaccurate data. Homeowners, in turn, have to bear the cost of fixing FEMA’s mistakes. …

Joseph Young, Maine’s floodplain mapping coordinator, said his office gets calls “almost on a daily basis” from homeowners who say they’ve been mapped in high-risk flood areas in error. More often than not, he said, their complaints have merit. “There’s a lot of people who have a new map that’s unreliable,” he said.

Judge Michael Bagneris told WDSU-TV he and his colleagues felt “blindsided” by the mayor, and that the Charity Hospital proposal was “a serious virus.”

“Civil District Court is not going to be one of those entities in Charity Hospital.”


Last year when American Paradigm Schools took over Philadelphia’s infamous, failing John Paul Jones Middle School, they did something a lot of people would find inconceivable. The school was known as “Jones Jail” for its reputation of violence and disorder, and because the building physically resembled a youth correctional facility. Situated in the Kensington section of the city, it drew students from the heart of a desperately poor hub of injection drug users and street level prostitution where gun violence rates are off the charts. But rather than beef up the already heavy security to ensure safety and restore order, American Paradigm stripped it away. During renovations, they removed the metal detectors and barred windows.

The police predicted chaos. But instead, new numbers seem to show that in a single year, the number of serious incidents fell by 90%.

The school says it wasn’t just the humanizing physical makeover of the facility that helped. Memphis Street Academy also credits the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP), a noncoercive, nonviolent conflict resolution regimen originally used in prison settings that was later adapted to violent schools.

Government & Politics

Nearly 80 Southern University students received scholarships from Southern’s board members during the past two academic years under a little-known program …

The scholarships awarded by Southern’s board are a much smaller version of a similar program given by LSU’s Board of Supervisors.

Criminal Justice

Pete Adams, Executive Director of the Louisiana District Attorney Association, said there are key distinctions between the law in Louisiana and that on the books in Florida.

First, Louisiana’s law specifically states an aggressor cannot claim self-defense in the use of force.

In a practical sense, if someone in Louisiana initiates an aggressive act, such as a fight, then begins losing that fight, he can’t then pull out a gun and shoot the other party and claim self-defense unless he first proves that he either withdrew from the fight or made it clear he wanted to withdraw. …

Dan Zelenka, President of the Louisiana Shooting Association and a lawyer in New Orleans, agreed. “You can’t claim self-defense if the other person was just a better fighter,” he said Thursday.

“I don’t think when the tables turn on the aggressor and he begins losing the fight, that he can use deadly force and still claim self-defense.”

In English common law, there was an old concept of that, if you were engaged in conflict and killed someone, to prove self-defense you had to demonstrate that your back was—in most cases, literally—up against the wall. You had a “duty to retreat.” In America, the new concept was that you had no duty to retreat—indeed, you had an obligation not to retreat. You were more or less required to blast away at anyone who approached you with, as you saw it, ill will. 

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About Steve Myers

Steve Myers is managing editor of The Lens. Before joining the staff in 2012, Myers was managing editor of Poynter Online, the preeminent source of news and training about the journalism industry. At Poynter, he wrote about emerging media practices such as citizen journalism, nonprofit news sites, real-time reporting via social media, data-oriented news apps, iPhoneography, and the fact-checking movement. Six of his 10 years in newspapers were spent as a local government reporter in Mobile, Ala., where he focused on local government accountability, from jail management to hurricane preparation and response. He can be reached at (504) 298-9750.