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Tommy Tucker

It's a good day getting started! Tune in to "WWL First News" for fun and informative talk about the national and local issues of our day.

Weekdays 6am-10am

Twitter: @ttuckerWWL
Email: tommy@wwl.com

Tommy: Do we do enough for America's veterans?

Do we do enough for our veterans?  I feel like we send them into dangerous situations, but we aren’t giving them the resources they need.

I spoke with a friend of ours, Shad Meshad, the President and Founder of the National Veterans Foundation, about our service members and some of the trials they face.

“I think it’s very difficult for the American people – because most of them don’t go to war – to understand the horror that comes with being a war fighter and coming home and just trying to move like you went to camp for the summer.  That’s really the big bridge; they just don’t really appreciate it.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is an enormous problem for veterans, and it can unfortunately lead to some tragic consequences.

“We talk about it, but really the solution is what we struggle with.  22 suicides or more a day, and we’re just sitting here looking at it like a weather report or the stock market.”

It’s terrible.  They do so much for us.  We need to be there for them.  Can the average person help out?

“We can’t forget this.  We have to buddy up with these returning men and women. Find out through organization what you can do.  They’re not expecting you to do the dirty work or handle the calls we do…you don’t have do that, but we need your support.”

So please, if you can, help out.  The National Veterans’ Foundation is a great organization, and they’re just one group of many doing this important work.  You can visit them at www.nvf.org, and I’ve linked up some more information in the Tommy Cares section on my web page.

You can also check out the entirety of my interview with Shad here: 

FULL AUDIO: Tommy talks veterans issues with Shad Meshad

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Tommy: Processed meat said to increase cancer risk- what doesn't?!

WHO knows what's best for us to eat. No, there shouldn’t be a question mark at the end of that sentence, because it’s a declarative statement. You see the World Health Organization a.k.a. WHO has determined that processed meat can, however slightly, increase your risk of cancer.  

At this point I have to reflect on all of the studies of everything that have already been done and ask - what doesn't give you cancer!?  Among the carnivorous delights to be avoided - steaks, hamburgers, hot dogs, pork chops, bacon and veal.

For those of you who love veal but don’t know exactly what it is… it's baby cow. The beef industry decided long ago that the public didn’t want to know what it didn’t know, and few diners, if any, would order the “baby cow parmigiana.” Veal sounded as good as anything so they went with that.  By the way, I think “lamb” is actually a sheep but that’s not the point and I’m no veterinarian.
I’ll take the recommendations from WHO on what I should do and process this report with all the others in the "I don't know" portion of my brain.  Now its beginning to sound like an old Abbott and Costello routine, just in time for the World Series.

I do know this.  I’m not going to change my eating habits every time a new study comes out.  Moderation was, is and always will be the key.  But I do have one question about this study. Could those “EAT MOR CHIKIN” cows have in any way tampered with the results?
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Tommy: Who's causing more problems, cars or bikes?

Cycling is a hot button topic here in New Orleans.  Whenever we talk about it, the phones light up with people on both sides of the issue weighing in.  We hear a lot of complaints from bike riders, accusing of drivers of being reckless and endangering them.  On the flip side, we hear drivers accusing cyclists of ignoring the rules of the road.

We spoke with a friend of ours, Dan Favret, the Executive Director of Bike Easy, who was glad to see this conversation happening.  Is one group (drivers or cyclists) more at fault?

“You can’t really choose one group that’s the most problematic; there’s bad apples in every bunch… People in cars, people on motorcycles, people walking, everyone is making mistakes. I see cyclists get pointed out.  I think there’s some fair criticism, but I think there’s often confusion about exactly what the law is and how people should ride bikes.”

We’ve had suggestions from some listeners that cyclists should have to pass a test in order to use the roads just as drivers do.  Favret isn’t sure about that right now, but he hopes for more education.

“If we did more bicycle and pedestrian education as part of the drivers’ tests for young folks who are going through drivers education and getting their license, that would be great.”

The bottom line really is to make the roads a safer place.  There’s a lot of debate over the best ways to do that, but that’s why having the conversation is important.  Whether you’re driving, or cycling, or walking, or whatever, you want to be safe; and you want the people around you to be safe.

“Safety on the road way is everyone’s responsibility.  Everyone’s making mistakes nationwide, when it comes to crashes that involve a motor vehicle and a bike, it’s about half and half in fault.  We’re all people out there on the roadways.”

For the rest of our interview and to hear what some of the audience thinks, check out the podcast:

FULL AUDIO: Tommy talks to Dan Favret about biking in New Orleans

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Topics : Hospitality_Recreation
Locations : New Orleans
People : Dan Favret


Tommy: Lakeview man arrested for shooting possum; really?!

A Lakeview man was arrested… for shooting and killing a possum outside his business. The police come out and charged him for discharging a firearm within the city limits.  They’ve got bullets flying around this City like doubloons on Mardi Gras, so if you’re going to worry about a bullet, I don’t think you really worry about the one that clipped a possum. 
What are you supposed to do?  You let the vermin come in, eat whatever it wants out of the refrigerator?  Then before you know it the possum’s sitting on a stool in your own business with a cigarette dangling out its mouth saying, “What do you want?”
What is he supposed to do? Just sit back and let the vermin take over?  Call the SPCA and wait around until they can do something with it?
I talked with Loyola law professor Dane Ciolino just to get a legal perspective on this.  Was he really in the wrong?
“It all comes down to the question of justification.  The question is, ‘Was there any justification in shooting the weapon and in killing the animal?’  And you’d think there was here. A possum is a varmint, and he said the possum was attacking him.  If that’s true, he was defending himself; and it would be justifiable."
Another thing… don’t the police have more important things to focus on?  What really gets me is that this was a THREE DAY investigation.  With the manpower shortage facing NOPD, was this the best allocation of resources?
“It does seem like a questionalable use of police resources. Particularly to go to those extents for a follow-up: photo arrays, identification procedures, actual arrest rather than the issuance of a citation. It really does seem to be a bit of overkill.”
“A bit of overkill” sounds about right to me.  Is this crazy?

FULL AUDIO: Tommy talks to Dane Ciolino about possum shooter arrest
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Tommy: Archbishop's prayer before Katrina most sobering moment of my life

“One thing I noticed when a firefight was about to happen in Vietnam was the quiet…the stillness.  It seemed as though the birds and insects knew something bad was about to happen so they left.  I notice that same quiet now.” 
With those words, spoken by Garland Robinette, who would become the voice of Katrina, my perception of the storm barreling towards us and me…quickly changed from “just another false alarm” to “this could finally be the big one.” It was an unusually hot Sunday morning, filled with the soul-crushing heat and humidity that precedes and follows tropical weather. 
I was doing my best to finish boarding up my house by myself.  I had spent the previous day doing the same thing, but after throwing up, cramping up and exhausting myself, I didn’t have much gas left in the tank to finish up the job. NOTE TO SELF:  Do the more difficulty part first, when you're less tired. Fighting heat exhaustion and dehydration is no time to singlehandedly board up two dormers on a roof.But let’s get back to that day. 
As was most of the Gulf South, I was listening to WWL as I worked and others “contra flowed” to safer locations, seeking shelter and safety from Katrina. This storm that changed its destination days before was getting closer with every passing moment. But so many previous times approaching storms had bypassed us.  As I fought exhaustion I wondered to myself - is all of this boarding up really necessary? Then Garland made his observation.  I put down the circular saw, turned down the radio and just listened. I heard nothing.  No birds, no insects and certainly no traffic or people as I was the last in the neighborhood.  It was, as the cliché’ goes, eerily quiet.

I got back to boarding up. Soon I heard Todd Menesses on WWL along with the Archbishop.  His Excellency was on the air to say a prayer that the city be spared. That was the most sobering moment of my life and I remember it as vividly today as though it happened yesterday.
Katrina was brutal.  Katrina was dangerous.  And it had us in its crosshairs. This was REAL.
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People : Garland RobinetteTodd MenessesTommy


Tommy: Are Saints CB Browner's Seattle comments a bad omen?

Oh boy. Saints training camp hasn’t even started, and I’ve got my first worry of the season already.

New Saints cornerback Brandon Browner was in Seattle for Richard Sherman’s charity softball game and made some comments that raised a few eyebrows - including my own.

He told a Seattle newspaper that, after his contract with the Saints is up, he hopes to return to the Seahawks! 

What? Is that a crazy thing to say?  Or maybe I’m crazy... I wanted to get another opinion, so I spoke with my friend Doug Mouton, WWL-TV’s Sports Director.  

“I literally read it and couldn’t believe that a guy who just signed as a free agent would say that about any team.  This would stir the pot anywhere,” Doug said.

And stir the pot it has! Mouton went on: “If you look at it from his point of view, he’s back in Seattle where he had a great experience; and maybe he’s playing to his audience a little bit.  If you look at it from a New Orleans point of view, you’re paying a guy $15 million… and before you’ve played one down for that team, you’re talking about going back and playing for another team.”

My immediate concern is could this affect the Saints on the field.  Sometimes when anything happens in life, you’re tempted to say, “That’s a bad sign.”  And  I think Brandon Browner saying that is a bad sign.  I know it’s all about performance; but if your heart is in Seattle… I just think it’s a bad sign.  I wish he wouldn’t have said it.

Maybe I’m overthinking this and reading things that aren’t there, but I just can’t shake a bad feeling about it.

Whether or not it’s a bad sign, I think Doug Mouton hit the nail on the head.

“Brandon Browner is 30. When you get north of 30, you have to get smarter about self-preservation.  And saying those kind of things, that's just wrong.  You can’t sign for $15 million and then immediately express that your heart is sort of in another place… It’s just not a smart thing to say.”

To listen to my full conversation with Doug, click the link below

FULL AUDIO: Tommy talks to WWL-TV Sports Director Doug Mouton

Photo via Brandon Browner, Twitter
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Locations : New OrleansSeattle
People : Brandon BrownerDoug MoutonRichard Sherman


Tommy: Troop reductions will "cut into bone" of the US Army

I was amazed when I saw the news that the Army was planning on cutting 40,000 soldiers… right when the Obama administration is ramping up efforts against ISIS in the Middle East.

I don’t get this.  So I talked to our friend, (retired) Major Mike Lyons, a CBS military analyst to try and sort this whole thing out.

“This was pre-determined by sequestration back in 2012. The Army knew this was coming, and the Army knew they had to do this first phase of what potentially is another 30,000 a year from now.  

Politicians knew this was coming.  What kind of idiot would let politics get in the way of doing what their basic duty to defend the country and let this go on, knowing it’s weakening the country?  You’re going to weaken the country because you can’t come to a compromise on the budget. 

That’s how we got here.  40,000 fewer troops coming, and possibly another 30,000 after that.  How will this affect the Army going forward?

“This is going to cut into muscle, cut into bone. This will take tremendous capability out of the end strength, and it just doesn’t seem to be matching what requirements are on the ground for having an Army prepared and ready to fight and defend the country.”

Well, that’s just great.  

Another point Lyons made was that this won’t affect just the Army.

“The dirty little secret is that it’s going to put much more pressure on the National Guard and Reserves that will be activated and will pick up the slack if need be and be deployed more…That’s what’s going to happen now.  You’re gonna see more pressure put on the Guard and the Reserves.”

Check out the rest of what Mike Lyons had to say here:

FULL AUDIO: Tommy talks troop reduction with Mike Lyons 
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Topics : PoliticsWar_Conflict
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Locations : Middle East
People : Mike Lyons


Tommy: Is ISIS turning Iraq into another Vietnam?

What is going on with the US and Iraq?  The President recently announced the US is sending an additional 450 troops to Iraq to help combat ISIS, and apparently there’s the possibility that up to 1,000 more could be sent.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also talked about a possible “lily pad” strategy, setting up American military outposts near Iraqi bases close to the front line. 

We withdrew, and now we’re slowly sending soldiers in small groups to act as advisers and trainers. Hmmm, sounds like another war we fought a couple decades ago.  Is this turning into Vietnam all over again?

What is the U.S strategy here?  It's always struck me as a real-life game of Whack-a-Mole.  One terrorist group pops here, so we whack it down.  Then another pops over there, so we whack that one down.  Then another pops up.  So on and so forth.

To try and get a handle on this, we spoke to our friend Michael Rubin, a Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official.

How does this compare to Vietnam?

“There are huge differences; but, unfortunately…there are also similarities.  One of the issues that we’re up against is that the politicians constantly want to tie the hands of the military when it comes to what it takes to get the job done.”

Great.  Can the military ever really succeed if they’re being second-guessed and handcuffed by politicians back in Washington?  Rubin also doesn’t give high marks to the President’s handling of the fight against Islamic State.

“Harry S. Truman said ‘The buck stops here.’  President Obama seems have on his desk “The buck stops with someone else who’s elected in a couple years.” 

To listen to the rest of our conversation about our military entanglement in the Middle East, click the link below:

FULL AUDIO: Tommy talks ISIS and Iraq with Michael Rubin
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Tommy: Is the American Dream still alive?

According to a new CBS/New York Times poll, a lot of Americans may not feel that way.  61% of people think only those at the very top have opportunities to succeed.  Two-thirds of people think wealth should be more evenly distributed.  

Really?  I’ve always believed that if you really apply yourself and work hard, you can succeed; and you can make a better life for yourself.  But you have to work at it.

To get a different perspective on this, from somehow who had to do just that, I spoke with Cyndi Nyugen, the Chairperson of the Asian Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana.

She came to the United States from Vietnam with her family: “I came over when I was 5 years old. My father told me that we had about two pairs of outfits for myself and my siblings, my mother was pregnant and did not speak English.  We didn’t have any money... he came over with his two bare hands, and he started to work… we started with nothing; and he just started working and learning the English language and applying the skill he had finding work in America, and I believe we’re doing quite well as a family.”

So they came to the US with virtually nothing, but they worked hard.  And she says they’re still coming to America because of the American Dream.

“The American dream is still very strong, our families are still coming over here, we’re still trying to bring our family over here because there’s opportunity in the United States… there’s still plenty of opportunity in America, and I believe that.”

It’s stories like these that make me believe the American Dream still is attainable and alive.  She left us with some word I think everyone can take to heart.

“It’s about our resiliency and our determination to survive. And because of that survival, it has created me with a very healthy and happy family of my own that I am not depending on the federal government.  We work really hard that we don’t depend on the federal government because we believe that we need to contribute to society and be able to take care of our family.”

If you want to check out the rest of my interview with Cyndi Nyugen (and I highly recommend you take the time to), click the link below.

FULL AUDIO: Tommy talks about the American Dream with Cyndi Nyugen
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Locations : Louisiana
People : Cyndi Nyugen


Tommy: Do you need church to be close to God?

A new survey from Pew Research shows that more Americans continue to move away from specific religions.  People who identify as Christians still make up a vast majority of the population at 70%, but that’s down from 78%.  

What’s going on?  To try and make sense of the numbers I spoke with Mike Hout, a Professor of Sociology at NYU who’s been studying this very trend for over a decade.

“A lot of this increase over the last 20 years in Americans’ having no religion is not Americans having no religious views - rather, more and more Americans simply don’t have a preference one over another.”

So Americans are losing religion only in the sense that they’re shying away from any one religion.  They still believe in God; they just may not be Catholic, or Baptist, or Methodist, or whatever.

“More and more people are inclined to do it themselves when it comes to God…there’s a question out there in the public about whether or not you need a church in order to find God or find a path to God.”

While the number of atheists ticked up a little bit, it looks most of these people still believe in God; they just don’t belong to a church or denomination.  It’s the spiritual over religious debate. To me, this brings up the question: do you need organized religion to be close to God?  

Personally?  I say no, you don’t need it.  I grew up Catholic, but I stopped going to church about a year ago.  And since then, I have never been happier or felt closer to God.  I still pray every day; I just have more of a personal relationship with God.

What about you?

Check out my whole conversation with Mike Hout, and my conversations with y’all:

LISTEN: Tommy talks religions with Professor Mike Hout

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Topics : Religion_Belief
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People : Mike Hout

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