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Archive for May, 2013

Gambit’s Cotton among 19 Injured in Mother’s Day Shooting

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013



Shot in a Mother’s Day second-line parade in Seventh Ward
One of nineteen people injured by gunfire from three shooters in a Mother’s Day parade on Sunday, May 12, was Gambit correspondent Deborah Cotton. Also injured were at least two small children. Three other people suffered more serious wounds, though no fatalities have been reported yet. The incident occurred in the Seventh Ward near North Claiborne and Elysian Fields. (Click here for NOLA.com map/graphic.) Ms. Cotton, a Los Angeles native who moved to New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina (2005), writes about and videotapes second line culture, Mardi Gras Indians, brass bands, and social aid and pleasure clubs for Gambit under the pen name “Big Red” Cotton. She recently established the web site New Orleans Good Good to promote all that is “good good” about her adopted city. Cotton spoke in an interview in May 2012 about the toll that street (gun) violence has taken on New Orleans (video above).

“I believe that it can be prevented. We are just not being smart and strategic about how to address this in a systematic way. . . . Every six months someone you know, a friend of someone or a family member of someone you know is murdered. After a while it begins to really tear at you internally. I feel that we’re at the point where we cannot not fix this anymore.

“. . . the overarching problem is the lack of education and resources and employment opportunities for young people, especially young black men, and just the history of oppression and political corruption that has taken resources and opportunities meant for some of the most vulnerable, the most at-risk people in our community and diverted those resources and opportunities to self-serving folks in leadership who are supposed to be doling out those resources [to those in need], and so we’re seeing the results of that here.”

Deborah Cotton was taken to Interim LSU Hospital for surgery and was said to be in guarded but stable condition as of Monday night. Here is her last tweet before going to the parade: D.Cotton.Tweet


Gambit is organizing a benefit; details will be announced soon. Gambit advises readers: “If you have any information about the shooting, call Crimestoppers. You don’t have to give your identity and you may still be eligible for a cash reward. As of tonight, Crimestoppers is offering a $10,000 aggregate reward for information. Call 504-822-1111.” Click here for a map by Alejandro de los Rios showing where the shootings happened in relation to the second line parade route, and a map of other assaults in New Orleans on Sunday.





Happy 295th Birthday, New Orleans!

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013



Bonne fête à La Nouvelle-Orléans! Un joyeux anniversaire!

Now entering its 296th year, the city of New Orleans was founded by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, on May 7, 1718.

The map above shows the city as it appeared about 1721, when the settlement of La Nouvelle-Orléans, on the high ground along the edge of a bend in the Mississippi River, was laid out as 14 blocks, with a drainage ditch around each block.

The first map below depicts the city and environs as it appeared in 1798, five years before the Louisiana Purchase (click here to enlarge). The second map below shows the city in 1763, the year France ceded the settlement to Spain (only to take it back in 1801, and then turn around and sell it to the United States in 1803). The “city,” of course, was then what is today known as the French Quarter. Click here for a timeline of the city’s history.

Better yet, read Richard Campanella’s excellent Bienville’s Dilemma: A Historical Geography of New Orleans (2008). See also Lawrence N. Powell’s The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans (2012) and Craig E. Colten’s An Unnatural Metropolis: Wresting New Orleans from Nature (2006). Many more sources about New Orleans are listed on our Literature page.

Here’s to 295 more years—though we worry about how much of the city will remain above water in the year 2308.





Syria Seen as a Backdoor to War with Iran

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

neocon1It’s a matter of public record that this war with Iraq is largely the brainchild of a group of neoconservative intellectuals, who view it as a pilot project. In August a British official close to the Bush team told Newsweek:Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.” In February 2003, according to Ha’aretz, an Israeli newspaper, Under Secretary of State John Bolton told Israeli officials that after defeating Iraq the United States would “deal with” Iran, Syria and North Korea.

Paul Krugman, “Things to Come” (New York Times, 3/18/03)


Col. Lawrence B. Wilkerson, chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, says on the May 1 Rachel Maddow Show that the same “characters” who brought us the Iraq War, including senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, are now trying to push the U.S. into military involvement in Syria, and that this is a backdoor to the war with Iran that the neo-cons have been wanting for a long time.

Rachel shows how the new George W. Bush presidential library airbrushes history and ignores a multitude of inconvenient truths, then asks Col. Wilkerson, “When you’re looking at the debates about Syria, the debates about Iran . . . do you feel that there is a real concrete effect of propagating a whitewashed history of what we went through with the Iraq War? Does that affect the debates we’re having now in issues like Iran and Syria?”

I think as Yogi Berra once said, it’s like déjà vu all over again. I see us walking down the same road with the same characters singing in the choir, the same people off the same sheet of music with a few changes trying to get us into war with Iran. The new momentum with respect to Syria is not just because of the brutal civil war there, it’s also because of people like Lindsey Graham and John McCain from my party and Bob Menendez from the Democratic party would like to use Syria as a back door to get us in a war with Iran. It’s another catastrophe brewing, and if the American people don’t wake up and start saying something about it, they’ll find themselves in another trillion-dollar, ten-year war that’s going to produce results not unlike Iraq today. 

Let me say, Iraq is a mess today. It is an absolute mess. You’ve got the Saudis funding the Sunnis and a resurgence of the civil war. You have Maliki in the back pocket of Iran, so what we have, as George Bush doesn’t tell you in his library, is an ally of Iran in Iraq now. You have the Kurds about to establish their own state in the north, and Iraqis who know anything about their country predicting it will break up in the next four to five years. So, that’s what George Bush did for Iraq.


Senators McCain and Graham have been pressing loudly for over a year for the U.S. to arm the Syrian rebels. There is considerable doubt and skepticism as to who exactly these Syrian “rebels” or “freedom fighters” are. Really, are they all Syrian, and what will become of whatever weaponry the U.S. might give them? (Israel is concerned about this question, too.) Would aid to the rebels be paid for by fiscal conservatives at a time of enforced national austerity? The civil war in Syria is mind-bogglingly complex, with innumerable actors, backers, invisible and subterranean connections and interests at play, both strategically and commercially. Senators McCain and Graham have not, as far as we’ve been able to ascertain, troubled themselves to educate the public or reporters on these questions. Reporters, please keep pressing them for answers.


Recommended Reading:

ThinkProgress:What You Need to Know About the Syrian Civil War

Steve Clemons at The Washington Note:Syrian Conflict Not Just a Battle Against Assad