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New Orleans population rebounding, but services lag

The New Orleans region has recovered a significant portion of its pre-Katrina population, helped along by an increase in Hispanic families, but basic services such as schools, hospitals and public transportation have been slow to rebound, according to a report released today.

The New Orleans Index, a look at several indicators that show how the city and region are rebounding from the 2005 disaster, shows the city has regained 66 percent of its pre-Katrina population as of June.

The population numbers are based on U.S. Postal Service data of households actively getting mail service in the region.

“Crime remains unacceptably high in the city, eliciting real and legitimate concerns from residents and business owners,” the report states. Essential criminal justice buildings, including police stations, still are in need of repair. Two police stations and police headquarters continue to operate from trailers supplied by FEMA.

Only 45 percent of the city’s schools are open, according to the report compiled by the Washington-based Brookings Institution and the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, a nonprofit group.

Los Angeles

More travel delays after airport computer crash

Airlines struggled to clean and refuel planes where passengers had been trapped for hours because of a computer crash, leading to additional delays Sunday at Los Angeles International Airport.

On Saturday, more than 20,000 passengers were kept on planes or in airport terminals after customs department computers containing travelers’ identities and law enforcement records went down, preventing authorities from screening arrivals.

Three people were transported to local hospitals after they fell ill while waiting in the terminals, the Los Angeles Fire Department reported.


‘Varmint’ walks away with $10,000 cowboy boots

One of the most renowned boot makers in Texas said “a varmint,” a “low-life scum” or “a filthy thief” is responsible for swiping a pair of award-winning cowboy boots worth $10,000.

Featuring scenes of busting broncos and a cattle drive, with green full-quill ostrich bottoms, the hand-tooled leather boots were the most valuable pair in the store.

A man in his 20s came into Trail Town Custom Leather last week wearing a pair of tennis shoes but left in the valuable boots, said John Glaze, an apprentice to craftsman Carl Chappell, who made the boots.

Glaze said he got distracted by a phone call. Then he noticed the man leaving, tennis shoes in hand and the boots on his feet.

“By the time I made it to the door, he was already going around the corner,” Glaze said. “And by the time I got to the corner, he was in his white pickup driving away.”

As boots go, the missing pair is well-known. They won an award at the 2003 Boot and Saddle Makers Trade Show Roundup, appeared in boot books, magazines and on the cover of the specialty publication Shop Talk.