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Today's Mardi Gras will provide a new measure of New Orleans' recovery 18 months after Katrina.  Are the tourists returning despite increased crime?  Why do permanent residents have such a hard time deciding whether to stay or go?  Also, Mike McConnell is sworn in as Director of National Intelligence and, on Reporter's Notebook, are the Libby trial and the nuclear deal with North Korea signs that Vice President Dick Cheney may be losing influence?

Making News McConnell Sworn-in as New 'Top Spy' 5 MIN, 48 SEC

Retired Admiral Mike McConnell was sworn in today as the second Director of National Intelligence, a job created after intelligence failures before 9/11 and the Iraq invasion.  One of his jobs will be briefing the President on a daily basis.  The President, speaking at McConnell's swearing-in, reaffirmed that he values the "intelligence products" created by the military, calling them an "important part of my strategic thought." Tim Starks reports on intelligence for Congressional Quarterly.

Tim Starks, Intelligence Reporter, Congressional Quarterly

Main Topic Mardi Gras Revelers Flood Big Easy, Residents Ponder Jump Ship 34 MIN, 36 SEC

Mardi Gras has been described as the tale of two cities: New Orleans before and after Katrina.  Last year's Mardi Gras was the first after Katrina, and it was mostly a local affair.  This year's will be a better measure of what's in store for New Orleans. Today is Fat Tuesday, and hotel occupancy is up, but so is the number of cops on the streets because of an increase in violent crime. Many residents who've qualified for government grants still aren't sure if they ought to rebuild or take buy-outs. With the city just half as large as it used to be, we hear about prospects for public safety, race relations and reconstruction.

David Hammer, WWL-TV (@davidhammerWWL)
Elliott Stonecipher, independent demographic analyst
Terry O'Connor, Editor-in-Chief of New Orleans CityBusiness magazine
Peter Scharf, Founding Director of the Center, for Society, Law and Justice
Amanda Spake, Katrina Media Fellow

Reporter's Notebook Has Vice President Cheney's Clout Been Downsized? 50 MIN, 29 SEC

Vice President Cheney is on his way to Japan, where he will not meet with the Defense Minister who called the Iraq war a "mistake." Jumio Kyuma has since said he meant it should have been better thought through. The Vice President will visit Australia as well as Japan, partly to reassure them about the recent deal with North Korea.  But he may be holding his nose about the kind of arrangement Cheney and his conservative allies long tried to avoid. Is it a sign that the Vice President is not as powerful as he used to be?  We ask Michael Abramowitz, who reports for the Washington Post.

Michael Abramowitz, Staff Writer, Washington Post

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