Friday, November 30, 2007

12/01/2007 Community Gumbo

Listen | Democracy Now (11/28/07 excerpted)
  • “The End of America”: Feminist Social Critic Naomi Wolf Warns U.S. in Slow Descent into Fascism

Listen | Ethics in Public Service and The Inspector General Function: An Address by New Orleans Inspector General Robert Cerasoli
Loyola University, 11/27/07

Inspector General Robert Cerasoli was selected as the Inspector General by the Ethics Review Board of the City of New Orleans. As New Orleans’ first Inspector General, he will be shaping the position from the ground up. Cerasoli possesses a decade of teaching experience in ethics, auditing, oversight, financial management and anti-corruption practices. He served as the Inspector General for the state of Massachusetts from 1991- 2001 and was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1975. Nationally recognized as the father of the Association of Inspectors General (AIG), he co-authored the authoritative, seminal texts used to train Inspector Generals throughout the country, including Principles and Standards for Offices of Inspector General (The Green Book).

Listen | The Federal Communications Commission Moves Again to Relax Ownership Rules
Federal Communications Commissioner Chairman Kevin Martin has proposed an ambitious plan to relax decades-old media cross-ownership restrictions, including a repeal of the FCC rule which forbids a company to own both a newspaper and a radio or television station in the same city.

Martin wants to repeal the rule before Christmas, allowing little time for public review of the proposal.

Present FCC rules governing broadcast ownership have unofficially or provisionally permitted a company to own two television stations in larger markets where there are at least eight stations -- as long as one of them is not among the four largest of those stations.

Martin wrote in a November 13th New York Times op-ed piece that:
IN many towns and cities, the newspaper is an endangered species. At least 300 daily papers have stopped publishing over the past 30 years. Those newspapers that have survived are struggling financially. Newspaper circulation has declined steadily for more than 10 years. Average daily circulation is down 2.6 percent in the last six months alone.

Newspapers have also been hurt by significant cuts in advertising revenue, which accounts for at least 75 percent of their revenue. Their share of the advertising market has fallen every year for the past decade, while online advertising has increased greatly. ...

If we don’t act to improve the health of the newspaper industry, we will see newspapers wither and die. Without newspapers, we would be less informed about our communities and have fewer outlets for the expression of independent thinking and a diversity of viewpoints.

In contrast to the bleak outlook presented by Kevin Martin, online ad revenues for newspapers are predicted to increase exponentially for the foreseeable future. The MediaPost eMarketer documented an estimated 36 percent increase in ad revenues in 2005, predicting double-digit increases through 2008. And the Project for Excellence in Journalism reported in 2006 that newspaper industry profits were higher than the hugely-profitable pharmaceutical and oil industries.

Helping to sort out these issues, Dr. Anita Day teaches advertising at Loyola University's School of Mass Communications.

December 11th is the deadline to get informed and involved in response to Kevin Martin's proposal:
1) Get more information at

2) File a comment with the FCC on Kevin Martin's idea to relax ownership rules by using the StopBigMedia form (or the more complicated FCC form).

3) Voice your support for legislation moving through Congress (S 2332), the "The Media Ownership Act of 2007" (summary), to force the FCC to address localism concerns and the dismal state of female and minority ownership before changing any rules to unleash more media concentration.

Devil in the Details: 10 Facts Kevin Martin Doesn’t Want You to Know About His New Media Ownership Rules (pdf)

The Project for Excellence in Journalism, "Newspaper Economics, 2006 Annual Report: Profits and Revenues," 3/13/2006.

Newspapers To See Online Ad Surge

The State of News Media 2006

William Safire, "The Big Media Gulp," The New York Times, 5/23/2003.

Tuning In to One Company

The Daily Show

Plan Would Ease Limits on Media Owners

Few Friends for Proposal on Media

Size Limits for Cable Look Likely

Regulating Cable

Spreading the Broadband Revolution

Google to Join Spectrum Auction

This Sunday, 3 p.m.--Food, Wine, Music
Benefit For La Crepe Nanou's Robert Strong, Crime Victim

For twenty-four years, Robert Strong has been the bar manager at La Crêpe Nanou. A few weeks ago he was attacked and shot on St. Charles Ave. during an armed robbery. The incident left Robert in critical condition with major trauma to his jaw. He will require five more surgeries to rebuild his jawbone. He is still in the hospital.

This Sunday, Nanou DeRaczynski asked his culinary friends to help him put on a benefit event to assist Robert with his recovery--as well as to make a statement against the continuing violence in our city.

The event begins at three in the afternoon and goes until eight, along the 1400 block of Robert Street, at Prytania. Your $30 donation will be returned with foodm, wine, desserts, live music, and self-defense demonstrations. There's also be a silent auction of a wide variety of art, restaurant dinners, and other packages.

The restaurants include La Crêpe Nanou, Galatoire's, Café Degas, Dick & Jenny's, Dante's Kitchen, St. James Cheese Company, New Orleans Ice Cream Company, and more to come. The musicians will include Alex Chilton (of the Box Tops), Susan Cowsill, The Stringbeans, Herringbone Orchestra, and David
Doucet and Al Tharp.

Tickets can be had at La Crêpe Nanou and The Wine Seller (both on Prytanian at Robert). All proceeds go directly to the Robert Strong Fund established at Capital One. If you'd like more information--or to make a contribution--please contact Aimée Toledano at

Robert is a much-liked guy at one of the city's most popular restaurants. It's intolerable that people like him fall victim to this unconscionable spread of crime in our city. Please help.

The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra

New Orleans Musica da Camera

Music Played:
Billy Bragg & Wilco, "All You Fascists," Mermaid Avenue, v. 2, Elektra.

88 Fingers Louie, "Newspaper," Back on the Streets, Hopeless Records.

Elvis Costello, "Radio Radio," This Year's Model.

Billy Bragg & Wilco, "Someday Some Morning Sometime," Mermaid Avenue, V. 2, Elektra.

Robyn Hitchcock, "I Wanna Go Backwards," I Wanna Go Backwards, Yep Records.

Friday, November 23, 2007

11/24/2007 Community Gumbo

Listen | Democracy Now
  • “We Are Now In The Danger Zone”: Leading Australian Scientist Tim Flannery on Climate Change and How To Save the Planet
Listen | Stay Local! More Than Ever This Holiday Season
Stay Local

New Orleans businesses are struggling more than ever this year as rising costs of hurricane recovery fuels inflation. Dana Eness is the Executive Director of the Urban Conservancy.


"Festivus Market Has Good (Social) Values,"

John Pope, "Trees felled by Katrina weighed as factor in global warming," The Times-Picayune, 11/24/07.
Decomposing trees felled by Hurricane Katrina are offsetting a year's worth of carbon dioxide which is normally absorbed by trees across the United States, according to Jeffrey Chambers, an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, who contributed to a report published in the peer-reviewed journal Science.

Leslie Williams, "New Orleans jazz loses one of its early pioneers," The Times-Picayune, 11/21/07.
New Orleans' oldest traditional jazz musician, 100-year-old Ernest "Doc" Paulin, passed away on Tuesday.

An icon of brass band culture in New Orleans since the 1920's, trumpet player Doc Paulin played for social aid and pleasure clubs, church parades, jazz funerals, and customarily performed at the Corner Club on Mardi Gras. He also trained and inspired a number of other musicians who have themselves become legendary.

Music was a family tradition for Doc Paulin -- his father played accordion, his uncle the trombone, and six of his children performed with him in his band.

"He understood life; he knew how to make a way of no way," Paulin's son said.

Music Played:
Doc Paulin', "Just a While to Stay Here," Doc Paulin's Marching Band.

Doc Paulin', "We Shall Walk Through the Streets of the City - Dirge," Doc Paulin's Marching Band.

Doc Paulin', "We Shall Walk Through the Streets of the City - March," Doc Paulin's Marching Band.

Friday, November 16, 2007

11/17/2007 Community Gumbo

Listen | Democracy Now (11/16/07)
  • Lawmakers Strip Immunity for Telecom Companies from Surveillance Bill
  • "The Fall of the House of Bush: The Untold Story of How a Band of True Believers Seized the Executive Branch, Started the Iraq War, and Still Imperils America’s Future”
  • Activists Converge on Washington, D.C. for Weekend of Protest Against Hate Crimes, Police Brutality

Listen | Save Our Sandwich: The First New Orleans Po-Boy Preservation Festival

Oak Street in the Carrollton neighborhood will host the first New Orleans Po-Boy Preservation Festival on Sunday, 11/18, from 12 to 6. A conversation with Marilyn Kearny, Program Director for the Oak Street Main Street Program, and Dr. Michael Mizell-Nelson, professor of history at the University of New Orleans.


Judy Walker, "R--E--S--P-- E--C--T ... that sandwich,", 11/16/07.

Po-Boy History:

Music Played:
Gene Marshall, "Jimmy Carter Says Yes!," The American Song-Poem Anthology: Do You Know The Difference Between Big Wood And Brush, Sentata 2003 (a tribute to displaced/misplaced former WTUL DJ Duncan Edwards to promote an informed and active electorate on this election day).

Howlin' Wolf, "Poor Boy," Howlin' Wolf: The Real Folk Blues, Geffen.

Rodd, Teri, and the M.S.R. Singers, "Richard Nixon," The American Song-Poem Anthology: Do You Know The Difference Between Big Wood And Brush, Sentata 2003

Friday, November 09, 2007

11/10/2007 Community Gumbo

Listen | Democracy Now (11/06/07)
  • Guatemala's Indigenous Countryside Drives Election Victory Over Atrocity-Linked General
  • Thousands Arrested in Pakistan Defying Musharraf’s Crackdown
  • New PBS Documentary Gives Voice to Victims of U.S. “Extraordinary Rendition”

Louisiana Attorney General Sues Insurance Companies
Listen | Michael Homan and Therese Fitzpatrick, Mid City

Listen | Lisa Palumbo, Uptown

Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti filed suit against State Farm and Allstate, along with several other insurance companies alleging that they were "reaping huge profits from the misfortunes of persons whom they pledged to protect from the risk of loss." The suit alleges that insurance companies engaged in rigging the value of policyholder claims, coercing policyholders to settle their claims of damages for less than their value by editing engineering reports, by delaying payment, and by forcing policyholders to litigate claims to receive full value. Attorney General Foti, who lost his re-election bid on October 20th, said that the activities of the named companies amounted to illegal collusion, price fixing and antitrust violations which resulted in "unjust enrichment of themselves to the detriment of the state, policyholders and commerce in Louisiana."

A comprehensive two-part feature on WWL TV News this past week reported that Allstate significantly increased its profits even as it was supposed to be paying out claims for the worst hurricane disaster in U.S. history. According to WWL, Allstate averaged profits of $82 million per year from 1986 to 1995, but from 1996 to 2005, the company increased it profits to an average of $2.2 billion per year.

In August 2006, on the eve of the one-year deadline for homeowners to file lawsuits against their insurance companies for unpaid claims, Community Gumbo broadcast a pair of stories in which homeowners described their experiences with their insurance companies. In those stories is illustrated the manner in which insurance companies were allegedly acting to pass losses onto their policyholders at the same time that those companies were raising premiums and reporting record profits.

After fighting with her insurance company to win a full claim of wind damages, Lisa Palumbo hired an attorney. Rather than sue State Farm, Palumbo's attorney had a construction consultant go through her house to itemize damages, proving that the insurance company had underpaid the claim. Palumbo is still in limbo, living with her mother while her house remains gutted. She's still hoping to get help from the Road Home program to help make up the tens of thousands of dollars in additional funds she'll need to make her house livable again.

Allstate finally settled the claim made by Michael and Therese Homan rather than go into costly litigation, offering an award in the amount of the mortgage. Unfortunately, a general contractor estimated that repairs to the house would cost $100,000 more than the mortgage. The Homans carefully crafted a financial plan joining the insurance settlement to a Road Home award, savings, and an inheritance, to rebuild, but are worried that they'll have just enough money to make ends meet, and "can't screw it up." Despite the challenge, Michael Homan said he's "happy to have work started on the house, and that it's no longer just sitting there." They hope to be back in their house by June or July of 2008.

Here again on Community Gumbo are the stories of Mid-City residents Michael and Therese Homan, and Carrollton resident Lisa Palumbo. The original Community Gumbo post contains photos and additional links.


Community Gumbo, "Sue your insurance company now!," 8/12/06.

Mike Hoss, "La. Attorney General sues insurers, alleges price-fixing" (video),

Dennis Woltering, "4 Investigates: Did Allstate reduce claims to boost profits? - Part 2" (video),

Rebecca Mowbray, "Foti sues insurers over storm payouts," The Times-Picayune, 11/08/07.

Rebecca Mowbray, "Leaning on Insurers," The Times-Picayune, 7/15/07.

People Get Ready, "Hold on to your wallet," 4/19/06.

Music Played:
Fred Hersch & Michael Moore, "Canzona," Jazz at the Concertgebouw, Radio Nederland, 2007.

Christian Scott, "Litany Against Fear," Concord, 2007.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

11/03/2007 Community Gumbo

Listen | Democracy Now (11/01/07)
  • Carbon Trading: Practical Solution to Global Warming or Corporate Greenwash? A Debate
  • FCC Commissioners Adelstein and Copps Decry Proposals to Ease Caps on Media Consolidation
  • Attorney General Nominee’s Confirmation in Doubt Over Waterboarding Stance

Listen | Terence Blanchard, A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina)

A conversation with Dave Anderson, principal bass player for the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, and a preview of New Orleans native son and Grammy Award winner Terence Blanchard's, "A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina)," an emotional tour de force of anger, rage, compassion, melancholy and beauty, containing music from and inspired by director Spike Lee's HBO documentary, "When the Levees Broke."


The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra
Experience the music as New Orleans native son and Grammy Award winner Terence Blanchard performs his impassioned song cycle, A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina). This 13 song emotional tour de force of anger, rage, compassion, melancholy and beauty contains music from and inspired by director Spike Lee's HBO documentary, When the Levees Broke. LPOMUSIC.COM, or 523-6530, for more information, or for affordable student admission.

Fred Kasten, "A Tale of God's Will" (podcast), LPO.

Jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard talks about his collaboration with Spike Lee on "A Tale of God's Will (Requiem for Katrina)" (video),

Keith Spera, "The pain of Katrina will spill forth when trumpeter Terence Blanchard performs with the LPO on Saturday," The Times-Picayune, 11/03/07.

Keith Spera, "Trumpeter Terence Blanchard's 'A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina),'" The Times-Picayune, 8/24/07.

Music Played:
Billie Holiday, "All of Me," Lady Day: The Master Takes and Singles, Columbia Legacy.

Terence Blanchard, "Dear Mom," A Tale of God's Will, Blue Note.

Terence Blanchard, "Mantra," A Tale of God's Will, Blue Note.