News Briefs

Media back in NOLA, Blanco wants to maintain Guard control and more


Crossing paths with a Japanese-speaking producer, a reporter from Finland and an Australian photojournalist wasn't much of an oddity in New Orleans during the early months following Hurricane Katrina's landfall. While national attention hasn't died off completely, international press has moved on in many cases to other worldwide woes. But with the anniversary of the storm upon us, they're back on the beat.

Natalie Wyeth, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Recovery Authority, says she has been fielding requests for credentials from France, Germany, Poland and elsewhere around the globe. "So far, we are up to 150 requests for credentials, ranging from local to international," Wyeth says. "This is going to be a great opportunity to show people this is a functioning city. We're excited to show off our promise and progress." As for documentary filmmakers and celebrity news hounds, no one of that stature has requested credentials yet, she says. ' Jeremy Alford


We know that Bobby Jindal can deliver his own children, but can he deliver congressional seats for fellow Republicans around the state? Jindal, who represents the First Congressional District, will be hosting a fund-raiser in Metairie in September for Republican state Sen. Craig Romero of New Iberia. Romero is the GOP's hope in the Third Congressional District, which runs nearly the entire coastline from St. Bernard to Vermilion. Even though he faces only token opposition, Jindal spent $1 million on political operations during the second quarter of 2006, sinking about half of that into an aggressive media buy.

Is it possible that Jindal ' eager to flex his political muscle ' might use some of that media to help Romero claim the Cajun district seat from Congressman Charlie Melancon, an Assumption Parish Democrat? The Romero camp is staying mum on the possibilities. "I am not aware at this time that any of that coverage would be used to benefit this campaign," says spokesman Brent Littlefield.

Jan Witold Baran, a high-profile elections lawyer with Wiley, Rein and Fielding in Washington, D.C., says as long as Jindal doesn't attack or directly oppose Melancon in the ads, he can run spots supporting Romero with virtually no limit. "There are ways it can be done," he says, adding the law was recently clarified by the Federal Elections Commission. As for cold hard cash, Jindal gave Romero's campaign $4,000 earlier this month. ' JA


If there's one state in the nation that has come to recognize the countless uses for National Guard troops, it's Louisiana. In addition to working search-and-rescue missions, the guard sent soldiers to New Orleans to police looters during the early days and murderers in recent weeks. President Bush is considering an executive takeover of the National Guard ' it was sent to him in the House version of the defense authorization bill ' but governors around the nation, including Kathleen Blanco, are asking Bush to let it go.

Blanco says the language would give Bush "unnecessary authorization" to take control of the guard. But the legislation only allows it to happen in the event of a "serious natural or manmade disaster, accident or catastrophe that occurs in the United Statesâ?¦" It was a core issue in the blame game the feds and state played in the months following Katrina, and Blanco contends the proposed change would do nothing to improve that situation. "Federalization is not, never has been and never should be a condition for getting help for federal troops when requested by a governor," she says. "Federalization of the National Guard would in no way guarantee additional Department of Defense troops, and indeed could even preclude the deployment of those forces." ' JA


If Sports Illustrated's preseason predictions hold true, it will be another great year of college football in Louisiana. SI has picked both LSU and UL Lafayette to win their respective conferences, a feat that would put each team in a major national bowl game at the end of the season. SI has LSU picked as the country's fourth best team and features a trio of up and coming LSU defensive stars, cornerback Chevis Jackson, free safety LaRon Landry and linebacker Ali Highsmith on one of six regional covers it has printed for its current Aug. 21 issue. LSU and UL Lafayette kick off the season against each other next weekend in Tiger Stadium. ' Nathan Stubbs