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Shreveport, La.'s Citizen Dogs Unite - Oct 15, 2012

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Written by Administrator
Monday, 15 October 2012 00:00

Every now and then, you hear a story that makes you smile. That's what happened to me when I read this item about Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator, a story that was originally reported by KSLA-TV in Shreveport.

It seems that Sheriff Prator is something of an artist—that is, whenever he's not out chasing the bad guys. On September 22, 2012, 30 prints of Sheriff Prator's politically-inspired painting, “Watch Your Step,” were sold at an event hosted by the Shreveport Dog Park Alliance to raise money for a regional dog park.

Personally, as a dog lover and and an art lover, I found the story irresistable, especially once I learned the subject for the painting: Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover depicted as a Gulliveresque giant being tied down by a bunch of pooches. Apparently, a dog park had not been high on the mayor's list of priorities! Grrrr!

Cynthia Keith, director of the Shreveport Dog Park Alliance, said the print was a political cartoon and was not meant to be offensive. “The Sheriff said he paints from his heart, and he understands the benefits a dog park can bring to a community.”

Approximately 300 people attended the "Wine & Whine, a Dog Park Art Affair," which was held in the gardens and basement theater area of the city's Karpeles Manuscript Museum. Inside the theatre, visitors were able to shop for handicrafts, pottery, wire figures and original art, including works by Sheriff Prato, the Louisiana Association of Animal Artists and nationally known wildlife artist, Don Edwards. The event raised approximately $5,000 that will go toward paying for a regional dog park on the Red River’s waterfront.

Just two weeks after the fundraiser, the Shreveport City Council voted to override Mayor Cedric Glover's veto to fund a proposed dog park.

Who's had the last bark, now, Mr. Mayor? Hmm?
Last Updated ( Thursday, 03 January 2013 14:01 )

International Tours: Who's Responsible for Your Safety? - Oct 5, 2012

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Written by Administrator
Thursday, 04 October 2012 00:00

Most of us take global travel-and global companies-for granted. Just another part of our brave new world. But the next time you decide to get adventuresome and heed the call of the siren, you might want to consider the plight of the Costa Concordia, the cruise ship that ran aground in Italy on January 13, 2012. Thirty-two passengers died or vanished as a result of the accident. A number of lawsuits were subsequently filed in both federal and state courts in the United States, with the victims contending that, as the parent company of Costa Crociere (the cruise ship's owner), Miami-based Carnival Corp. should be held liable. 

But just this week, U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenbaum dimissed one of the lawsuits, stating that the proper jurisdiction for the case was actually Italy-what Carnival has been saying all along. That this was, essentially, an Italian dispute, and as such, should be tried in an Italian court. Behind this decision are the following facts: The Costa Crociere is owned by a company based in Italy, it was established under Italian law, and it was operating in Italian waters.

For the victims of the Concordia, this ruling is not encouraging and could have serious implications in terms of compensatory damages. Under the Italian system, there might even be liability limitations, although much of this will depend on how the cases are tried.

For the rest of us, the Concordia should serve as a useful lesson. When doing business with transnationals-i.e., companies that have operations, subsidiaries or investments in two or more countries-the reality of multiple jurisdictions (and not necessarily the one you want) may be unavoidable if there is a need to seek restitution. It's enough to make a traveler a little bit nervous.

And it doesn't help seeing Carnival disown all responsibility for its subsidiary, Costa Crociere. If the cruise industry is not careful, a mild case of the nerves could turn into a new trend. It's called staying at home.

 

Last Updated ( Thursday, 03 January 2013 14:01 )

A NeverEnding Story...er, Disaster - Sept 27, 2012

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Written by Administrator
Thursday, 27 September 2012 00:00

BP's 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the largest in US history, seems to be a never-ending catastrophe. Like fallout from a nuclear blast, it continues to hang over us, threatening plant and animal communities along the Gulf shore, creating hardships for people who earn their living from these precious resources. Most recentely, Hurricane Isaac uncovered tar ball and tar mats along the beaches, leading the London-based energy giant to propose a cleanup operation to remove contaminants as deep as four feet.

The company has already spent $38 billion on the disaster. No small sum, even for an energy giant. A large part of that money has gone toward paying damages to businesses filing claims against BP for the economic losses their Louisiana businesses suffered as a result of the oil spill. Those businesses that were able to produce the correct economic data are now being compensated, but the fact is, new claims are being filed every day. Small wonder that BP posted a $1.4 billion loss for the second quarter of this year and, in September, agreed to sell a portfolio of five properties in the Gulf Coast to Plains Exploration and Production.

BP's proposal is now being carefully weighed by state officials and environmentalists, who have reservations about the cleanup since the process could exacerbate coastal erosion. Coastal scientist Len Bahr, advisor to five Louisiana governors between 1991 and 2008, has expressed his concerns about the proposed operation, stating that he believes more harm than good will come from this type of a cleanup.

Whatever our officials decide in this particular case, we need to understand that post-hurricane industrial pollution is not isolated to BP. According to the Louisiana Environmental Action Network,Louisiana Industry is consistently unable or unwilling to take the steps necessary to prevent environmental impacts due to hurricanes. When a hurricane hits it consistently leaves in its wake a slew of oil spills, lost hazardous material containers and chemical plants and refineries releasing pollution due to power outages, start-up and shut-down, and flooding. Isaac was no exception.”

Last Updated ( Thursday, 03 January 2013 14:01 )

After the (Hurricane) Party - Sept 14, 2012

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Written by Administrator
Thursday, 13 September 2012 00:00

OK. So the Atlantic hurricane season does not officially end until November 30, 2012. A little more than one month left to go. If we're lucky, Isaac will be the only tropical troublemaker for this season, and we Louisianians can prepare to settle down to our "slow" time of year...at least with regard to natural disasters along the Gulf Coast.

But even with evacuation worries almost behind us, there's no time like the present for doing a post mortem on what went right and what went wrong this hurricane season. We can only hope this is being done by our leaders down at city hall and the state capital.

From my view, the number-one question I hear after a natural disaster like Isaac is, Who (if anyone) is responsible for the damages?

On first glance, it may seem that no one should be held accountable for damages resulting from a natural disaster, but in reality, it's much more complex than that. Just because the primary cause is defined as an Act of God (floods, hurricanes, wildfires, blizzards, etc.), it does not necessarily follow that there can be no negligence or liability involved.

For instance, after Hurricane Katrina, there were countless personal injury lawsuits filed against public officials, the Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA and hospitals and nursing homes because of the many arguments that the extensive flooding was due to man-made negligence, rather than a Force Majuere. (A Force Majeure is generally intended to include risks beyond the reasonable control of a party, incurred not as a product or result of the negligence or malfeasance of a party.)

More recently, in the case of Isaac, most New Orleans neighborhoods suffered power outages that were still unresolved several days after the hurricane had passed over the city. This was not just an inconvenience, but a hazzard, since power lines were left strewn on the ground. In my own neighborhood, this occurred, and a fallen power pole was still lying in the middle of the street more than five days later. Finally, after two days of traveling around this risk, a neighbor fabricated a makeshift barrier to warn people to keep their distance. Luckily, no one was injured (to my knowledge), but the incident raises certain questions: Whose responsibility was it to place an adequate warning about the downed power line? And how soon should it have been done? In similar cases, but where an injury or financial loss actually occurs, an experienced personal injury attorney should be consulted to examine local, state and federal laws. He will be able to weigh the issue of third-party liability for a potential lawsuit.

We all know that dealing with hurricane clean-up is a massive operation, and, quite frankly, you never know what you have until they've come and gone. Fortunately, the federal government has decided the city could use a helping hand and will be giving us $27.3 million in grants to help cover some of the clean-up costs related to Isaac. AP News reported, "Some of the money will reimburse the city for labor and equipment for a variety of emergency protective measures including police patrols and operation of major drainage systems and pumps. Other costs reimbursed will include debris removal and cleaning of mud, silt and sand from street drainage catch basins."

Last Updated ( Thursday, 03 January 2013 14:01 )
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