Sunday, January 27, 2008

Weather, Here and There ...

Cincinnati weather has been what the weather forecasters call “bitterly” cold, though it is beginning to moderate. Otherwise the Cincinnati experience is going quite well.

We saw the play “Wicked” last weekend. It was very good but not quite up the hype it received. Last week I also began two adult education courses, “In the News,” and “The Gift.” The former is about current events; the teacher functions more like a moderator, presenting an issue and then encouraging comments from the audience. The latter is about improving self-knowledge, and I can use more of that.

Much of my time last week was spent on preparation for a workshop for SCORE. The subject is Internet marketing and I am conducting the first of three sections. I modified the Power Point slides used in a previous presentation to more suit my style, and did a good job if I must say so myself.

Following is today’s New Orleans story, from AP via Yahoo:

NEW ORLEANS - A lively and sometimes scrappy debate on whether global warming is fueling bigger and nastier hurricanes like Katrina is adding an edge to a gathering of forecasters here.

The venue for the 88th annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society could not have been more conducive to the discussion: The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is where thousands of people waited for days during the storm to be evacuated from a city drowning in water and misery.

Although weather experts generally agree that the planet is warming, they hardly express consensus on what that may mean for future hurricanes. Debate has simmered in hallway chats and panel discussions.

A study released Wednesday by government scientists was the latest point of contention.

The study by researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Miami Lab and the University of Miami postulated that global warming may actually decrease the number of hurricanes that strike the United States. Warming waters may increase vertical wind speed, or wind shear, cutting into a hurricane's strength.

The study focused on observations rather than computer models, which often form the backbone of global warming studies, and on the records of hurricanes over the past century, researchers said.


jbv's Competitive Edge 

Sunday, January 20, 2008

New Frontier ...

A friend and regular reader tells me that I paint a pretty bleak picture of N.O. His point is well taken. In my defense, I scan national sources to bring you articles you may not have seen and these are generally negative. Following is an upbeat story by Korina Lopez from USA TODAY:

Despite all its problems, New Orleans is attracting new residents.

David Eisner, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, says a growing trend, dubbed "the brain-gain phenomenon," is getting traction in New Orleans. "Katrina offers a new frontier for people who care about social change," he says.

After two years of volunteering in AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps), Ashley Sloan, Greg Loushine and Jackie Smith decided to start their own non-profit group, Live St. Bernard.

"There were so many volunteers and not enough skilled workers," Sloan says. "So volunteers are often left standing around, waiting to be shown what to do. We wanted to start a program designed to attract and retain skilled laborers to the area."

Nathan Rothstein, executive director of NOLA YURP Initiative (New Orleans, La., Young Urban Rebuilding Professionals), moved to New Orleans after he spent his senior-year spring break volunteering in the area. Katrina "is our generation's civil rights movement," says Rothstein, 23. "People come from all over to make an impact, to have a part in history." He estimates 5,000 people have settled in the area.

And Richard Campanella, a geographer with Tulane University's Center for Bioenvironmental Research, estimates that 2,000 to 3,000 working professionals have moved in.

Zack Rosenburg, a Washington, D.C., criminal defense attorney, and his wife, Liz, who worked in the non-profit sector, were so deeply affected that they started the non-profit St. Bernard Project, which helps find money, supplies and labor to assist residents in moving back into their homes. With the help of volunteers, the St. Bernard Project has rebuilt 88 homes in the past 16 months.

"Many volunteers stay because they bond with and identify with residents," he says. "It's hard for the volunteers to leave and continue with their lives after bonding with the residents." The couple have decided to make New Orleans their permanent home.

"New Orleans represents the great optimism of America," Eisner says. "We've seen people turn their experience in long-term volunteering to inform their career paths. We've seen people move to change their lives of success to lives of significance."


jbv's Competitive Edge 

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Class War?

The following does not necessarily represent the position of this blog but I felt it would be interesting to add some diversity to the opinions presented in this space. The following is from the Louisiana Weekly (January 7, 2008), excerpted from a guest column by Robert N. Taylor:

Last month's scenes from New Orleans caught on video and posted on the Internet were racially horrifying: Police using electric tasers and tear gas to suppress protesters who were trying to enter a City Council meeting to block a federal plan to demolish thousands of homes in low-income housing projects. There was a SWAT team standing between the protesters and the City Council members who pretended not to notice as people were tasered, gassed, handcuffed and arrested.

People were screaming amid the chaos and disturbing unity of city officials and predatory capitalists hell bent on permanently ridding the Hurricane Katrina devastated city of as many of its low income Black residents as possible.

And make no mistake about it. Despite the reassuring words of some City Council members to build a new and better city for everybody, the true purpose of demolishing what is left of those low-income housing projects was to rid the city of low-income Blacks. The demolition plan is an act of class war supported by both Black and white middle class members of the City Council who have united with predatory capitalists determined to remake New Orleans into a whiter and wealthier city.

There was talk of how crime ridden the housing projects had been. But there was no pledge to build other housing for the poor. At best, the poor would be scattered to other low-income areas and at worst they would be permanently driven from the city.

And who supported the demolition plan? First, there was the Bush administration whose housing department devised the fiendish plan because it wants Blacks scattered and not concentrated for political power. Second, middle class Black and white city officials who want to rid the city of as much of its poor as possible. Third, there is the unseen hand of predatory capitalists who have long seen nothing but profit from driving out the poor and building upscale housing and business developments.


jbv's Competitive Edge 

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Murder Capitol?

From AP via Fox News

The bloodiest city in the country in 2006, reeling from crime in its struggle to recover from Hurricane Katrina, got even worse in 2007.

New Orleans registered 209 homicides last year, a nearly 30 percent increase from the 161 recorded in 2006.

The FBI's rankings for 2007 will not be out until much later in the year, but New Orleans' population is thought to be 295,450, which would mean a rate of about 71 homicides per 100,000 people.

Even the most generous population estimate in 2006 put the number of people in the city that year at 255,000. That meant a real homicide rate of 63.5 per 100,000 residents. To compare that number with some other notoriously bloody cities, the rate for Gary, Ind., was 48.3 and Detroit's was 47.1.

The killings are drug-related or retaliatory for the most part, police have said. The upswing comes despite continued patrols by the National Guard and state police and the addition of two new classes of police recruits in the past year.

But beefed-up policing efforts can only do so much, said Rafael Goyeneche, executive director of the Metropolitan Crime Commission of Greater New Orleans.

"The police and the criminal justice system is expected to clean up the mess, but they didn't create the mess," Goyeneche said. "They aren't responsible for the social problems of the city, the failure of the school system, the degeneration of the family unit. And until the city does something to rectify those problems, crime and murder will continue to be a problem."

There are hopeful signs, however, Goyeneche said, pointing to improved schools in the city since the 2005 storm, grass-roots efforts to tackle crime, and a growing effort to upgrade city life.

"This city is beginning to do some things that I've been waiting 25 years to see," Goyeneche said. "I think there is a renewed sense of purpose; people are focused and demanding more than what was in play before Katrina hit."

New York's and Chicago's 2007 homicide totals were the lowest in more than 40 years, and in Philadelphia, slayings dipped slightly after reaching a nine-year high in 2006. But in several other big cities, homicides increased, including in Atlanta, Miami, Dallas and Baltimore.


jbv's Competitive Edge