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The number of people out on the road this Labor Day weekend is expected to increase over last year’s Labor Day holiday. American Automobile Association spokesperson Don Redman projects about 35 million Americans will be out traveling this weekend as the last hurrah of the summer months.

“I think people are going to use it to their advantage and spend some time usually, traditionally this kind of the holiday where they’ll do the last run to the beach, to the water park, campground, those types of things. It’s really a favorite outdoor weekend.”

Redman says gas prices haven't been this low for a Labor Day holiday since 2004. He says the average gas price in Louisiana is $2.16 for a gallon of regular gasoline, a dollar lower than last year, and that’s also spurring a lot of families to take vacations.

“We’re saving upwards to $150 a month, that otherwise was going into the gas tank and so they’ve been able to do other things. It’s really been no doubt played a big role in people being able to go out and travel in big numbers.”

Redman says there are a couple of service stations in Louisiana at around $1.97 per gallon but it will be another few weeks before the statewide average falls below two bucks.

“We’re talking that potentially by October, or sooner, prices in Louisiana averaging under two dollars a gallon.”



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The Second Amendment Weekend Sales Tax Holiday is this weekend. Department of Revenue spokesperson Kizzy Payton says with hunting season beginning, many Louisiana sportsman are eager to buy new hunting supplies, free of state and local sales tax.

“They can pick up all types of all types of hunting supplies, including archery equipment, ATVs, safety gear and apparel.”

Payton says firearms and ammunition are also a part of this tax exemption. She says retailers across the state look forward to this holiday every single year.

“We’ve heard from several of them as they have been ramping up and getting ready for customers to come in. They’re excited about it, they say that they usually see a large influx of customers coming in.”

Payton says although many things are included, the exemption doesn’t apply to golf carts, go-carts, dirt bikes and other motor vehicles which can be legally driven on streets.

“If you have any questions about what many not fall into the exemption category, to visit our website at revenue.louisiana.gov and they can see a full listing of what actually falls into the criteria and what doesn’t.”



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Michelle Southern reporting.
Now that a federal judge has ruled against the NFL in the Tom Brady deflate-gate case, does this open up the door for Saints Coach Sean Payton to sue the league in order to recoup the money he lost when he was suspended without pay in 2012 for Bounty Gate?

Legal analyst Chick Foret says Brady's case was covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement that all players are involved in.

"Unfortunately for coaches and general managers in this situation, they're not covered by the collective bargaining agreement," says Foret. "So this really is totally irrelevant. That's the bad news for those folks."

Also suspended over the alleged Saints illegal pay for pain program was General Manager Mickey Loomis who was out 8 games, and Assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt who was punished for 6 games. Foret says the good news for Payton is that he has the same agent that helped Brady, Don Yee.

Foret says, "I'm sure Sean called Don Yee today and said, 'Don how does this affect me? Do I have any alternatives here? Can I go back and try to recoup some of my money?'"

Payton did not earn any of his $7.5 million dollar salary when he was banned from the team for an entire season. 

Foret says it might be a long shot for Payton to get back that money, but not many people thought Brady would win either. He says U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman did not rule on whether or not Brady altered footballs.

"What he said was that Brady was deprived of due process," says Foret. "That Roger Gooddell and the NFL did not give Tom Brady proper notice."


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The first meeting of the task force studying the impact of illegal immigration was held today in Baton Rouge.  Task force chairperson Denham Springs Representative Valarie Hodges says ignoring the problem of illegal immigration effects the quality of life for everyone.  

Hodges says Louisiana is among the top 10 states that receive unaccompanied alien children and taxpayers are forced to pay for the cost of providing for every illegal immigrant under the age of 18.  She says it's difficult to know how much illegal immigrants are costing the state because most departments do not track that information.  Hodges says you can't fix what you can't identify.
"The purpose of this task force is to be able to identify how pervasive the problem is and the impact it is having on the taxpayers of Louisiana."

Hodges says another meeting is planned next month that will include the Department of Health and Hospitals and the Department of Education giving updated data to the task force.  She says the task force will not solve the problem of illegal immigration.

"But what we are going to do is identify how pervasive this problem effects the budget of Louisiana and the economy of Louisiana." 


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Les Miles is hoping his youngest son will one day play for him at LSU. Tigers recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson has offered Ben Miles a scholarship to play at LSU. Miles is a fullback for the Catholic High Bears in Baton Rouge. And Miles says the scholarship offer is deserving.

"He went though the same process that everybody else went through and certainly, he is very humbled by it."

Miles had trouble convincing two of his other children to stay close to home for college. His daughter “Smacker” Miles is a swimmer at Texas and his son, Manny, is a walk-on at North Carolina. Miles hopes Ben will wear the purple and gold.
"I think we're taking a different tack than we took with Manny and Smacker Miles and I think we're on the right path here."

Ben Miles’ high school coach, Dale Weiner, is expecting big things from Miles as he enters his junior season. Coach Miles hopes one day he’ll be coaching his son.
"I see a guy that's just pleased as he can be and recognizes the great strength that LSU has."


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A grand jury has indicted a man and his pregnant girlfriend in the death of a sex offender who repeatedly assaulted the woman throughout her childhood.  21-year-old Jace Crehan and 18-year-old Brittany Monk, both of Walker, face second degree murder charges in the death of 47-year-old Robert Noce of Zachary.  

Legal analyst Tim Meche says this is not a difficult case for prosecutors.
"Because you've been sexually abused, it doesn't give you the right to murder your perpetrator."

Noce's body was found inside a 55-gallon drum after he was stabbed and strangled.  Officials say Noce had just begun serving probation for sexually abusing Monk when he was killed.  Meche says doesn't think the judge will allow evidence of the abuse to be presented to the jury.

"It's going to be an uphill battle for the defense attorney to be able to present that type of evidence."

Authorities say Crehan admitted to the crime and placed Monk at the scene.  Meche says Monk will have to prove that the sexual abuse rendered her mentally insane at the time of the murder or that she feared for her life.

"If the abuse was ongoing and you're in imminent danger of it happening at that particular time and in order to prevent it you have to use violence, that's a different story." 


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Former state lawmaker and ex-Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke plans to take legal action if New Orleans removes the Battle of Liberty Place monument. Its a 124-year-old structure that recognizes a group of prominent whites and ex-Confederates who fought against Louisiana’s biracial Reconstruction government. Duke made the comments as the french quarter commission voted to remove the monument.

"We believe that the heritage of New Orleans is at stake, the heritage of our state is at stake and the heritage of our country is at stake."

The Battle of Liberty Place monument is one of four monuments that New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is seeking to remove. The New Orleans City council will have the final say. Duke says city leaders are trying to take away New Orleans heritage.
"The mayor and his council members want to destroy these monuments, they're no more than an ISIS kind of cultural terrorism."

There are residents who believe the Battle of Liberty Place represents racism and they say the monument was erected to support the institution of Jim Crow. Duke says if the city council votes to take it down, he’ll file suit to stop it.
"We have a right to preserve our heritage and our values the same way that African American people have a right to honor those they consider to be their leaders and their heroes."


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The Louisiana Association of Educators and the Louisiana Federation of Teachers are teaming up to spotlight political candidates who support the best interest of public education.  Their "It's Time to Get it Right" campaign seeks to educate the public on the stands taken by candidates on important issues facing Louisiana's schools.  

LFT Public Relations Director Les Landon says the two organizations are usually competitive.
"But this is important enough that we are working together to try to get information to the voters about where these candidates really stand on education issues."

The campaign will promote recommended candidates in the governor's race, as well as elections for the state legislature and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.  LAE President Debbie Meaux says this campaign is an effort to help voters make an informed decision.

"We want to make sure that the citizens of our state not only listen to the lip service that is given by candidates, but that they know educators stand behind certain candidates."

A website has been set up to promote candidates at itstimelouisiana-dot-com.  They will also use Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to get their message out.  Landon says this is a very important election for public schools and the children of Louisiana.
"We think it's time that people really start paying attention to what candidates for public office are saying about education." 


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A study out of the UC-San Francisco finds that a lack of sleep can determine your likelihood of catching a cold. Professor of Family Medicine at LSU New Orleans Dr. Herbert Muncie says if you get less than five to six hours of sleep, your immune system is effected which increases your chances of getting the virus. He says it’s very important to get at least seven hours each night.

“Allows our body to recuperate from whatever we’ve been doing during the day and sort of allow the immune system to be appropriately gauged to deal with the viruses and bacteria we come in contact with.”

Muncie says this study doesn’t necessarily mean the more sleep the better. He says if you’re sleeping more than nine hours then that might be a sign on another concern.

“So it looks like more than six is necessary but certainly when you start getting up past nine, it may be another indication of an issue going on. So that seven or eight probably is the sweet spot to be at.”

Muncie says it doesn’t matter your age, race or gender, we all need an adequate amount of sleep for our bodies to do its best. He says sleep is just as necessary to staying healthy as a good diet and exercising.

“It is probably equally, if not maybe even more important because we just don’t function well when we don’t get enough sleep.”



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The first meeting of the task force to study the impact of illegal immigration on Louisiana taxpayers is today. Denham Springs Representative Valarie Hodges is the chairperson of the task force and she says Louisiana receives more unaccompanied minors than Arizona and New Mexico combined.

“We know that 26 million dollars was spent just last year on educating these undocumented children, that’s just the cost to educate 1,180 children that’s not counting medical costs.”

Hodges says the purpose of the task force is to minimize the cost to Louisiana taxpayers for having illegal immigrates in our state. She says it’s difficult to know how many illegal aliens are in the state, which makes it difficult to get the federal government to reimburse Louisiana for educating undocumented children.

“You cannot fix what you can’t identify and so as we begin to talk about this problem and discuss the ramifications for America, I believe we can find a fix to it.”

Hodges says the monetary cost isn’t even the most important aspect. She says people are killed around the country at the hands of illegal immigrants and sanctuary cities, like New Orleans, aren’t enforcing the law and putting citizens at risk.

“It’s not a democrat issue or republican issue, it’s an American issue and more specifically a Louisiana issue.”



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Michelle Southern reporting.
The FDA has sent warning letters to 5 distributors of pure powdered caffeine and Louisiana Poison Control Center Director Mark Ryan agrees the product puts consumers at risk.

He says while smaller doses of caffeine in coffee or sodas are okay, danger enters the equation when you’re dealing with powder caffeine in a bulk container.

"Using a wrong type measuring device is a high risk. Really you'd need something really small and really accurate to be able to get the correct milligram strength," said Ryan. "If you don't use something like this properly, you can get yourself into some pretty serious medical conditions."

The warning letters follow caffeine overdose deaths last year of two people. Ryan says they have seen cases of people in Louisiana emergency rooms who have had way too much powder caffeine.

He says one teaspoon of pure powdered caffeine is equivalent to more than 30 cups of coffee all at once.

"That's a big jolt of caffeine and it can certainly affect your cardio vascular system, your blood pressure, your heart rate, make you feel dizzy or nauseous and throw up," Ryan said. 

Ryan says they mostly see young adults using the powder for an energy boost, a pick-me-up before work outs or to control weight gain. His advice is to simply just stay away from this stuff.

"There's really not a lot of health benefits that are shown, and the possible detrimental effects will far outweigh any beneficial effects that you're gonna have," said Ryan.


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The state Department of Health and Hospitals announce the discovery of the brain eating amoeba in a water system in Ouachita Parish.  State Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry says the amoeba was found in the North Monroe Water System, which serves the town of Sterlington.

Guidry says this is the fourth discovery this summer and there is a common thread.
"Well, what we're finding is a pattern where it's difficult to maintain disinfectant, like chlorine residual, that the amoeba can get into the water systems."

A 60 day chlorine burn on the system will begin as soon as possible.  He says chlorine acts as a disinfectant for the amoeba and when chlorine levels drop, the amoeba can enter a water system. Guidry says it's a challenge for water systems to maintain a proper chlorine level through the entire system, especially during the summer.

"Sometimes in a system, if the users aren't using that much water, say they went on summer vacation, then part of that system is not getting flushed by the homeowner."

There will be a town hall meeting tonight in Sterlington to answer questions and alleviate residents' fears.  Guidry assures residents that there is no way you can become infected with the amoeba by drinking water from the system.

"We don't want people to not use the water.  We just want to make sure that if they use it, they use it appropriately.  Not us it in an neti pot or use it on their slip-n-slide for the kids or get it way up their nose." 


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Minden Congressman John Fleming has sent a letter to President Obama urging him to hold a National Day of Prayer to stop the violence against police officers. Louisiana has already lost six law enforcement officers in the line of duty this year. Fleming says we can’t allow this pattern of targeting officers to continue.

“I think it’s time we turn that around. We need to have a change of heart coming out of the White House and in the nation that says we’re not giving approval, passively or otherwise to targeting police officers.”

Fleming is not sure if President Obama will grant this official day but says he needs to do something to reverse this attitude. He says the way the President currently addressing the issue of cop killing isn’t good for our society.

“He always puts a “but” in there, “but we need to do a better job of avoiding racial profiling” and things of that sort. It makes it appear as though there is still some righteousness about killing police officers.”

Fleming says if this continues, police officers are going to be reluctant to respond to crimes and this day of prayer is a way send a signal to the country that the President believes violence against law enforcement must stop. But he says he’s not going to stop there.

“A colleague letter to go to all my fellow members in congress that also calls for a national day of prayer and really change the momentum to what’s going on in this nation.”



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Michelle Southern reporting.
The Department of Health and Hospitals says 82 percent of birth hospitals in Louisiana are providing families with access to breastfeeding support and resources. Amy Zapata is the Bureau of Family Health Director at DHH. 

She says improving breastfeeding rates is one of the most profound, low-cost measures to promote health of mothers and babies.

"It reduces the risk of infection and diseases among children such as ear infections, GI, eczema, asthma, obesity," says Zapata. "It's also good for moms."

Zapata says their goal is to help educate Louisiana mothers on the importance of breastfeeding their infants and to help hospitals strengthen support offered to new moms.

She says one of their initiatives hospitals can participate in is a program called "The Gift."

"Based on studies showing that when hospitals adopt certain evidence based practices like the '10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding," says Zapata. "Mothers are more likely to breastfeed and to do so exclusively."

Zapata says the steps that the hospitals are implementing for new moms are very important for relationships and connections with families and their babies.

She says skin to skin contact with parents right after delivery, learning the signs and signals your baby shows when they are hungry --- are all a child's very first language with their caregivers.

"Those first connections and communications and relationships are really key well beyond the benefits of breastfeeding," says Zapata. "We are thrilled that so many hospitals  have started to engage with us."



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Michelle Southern reporting.
A data compiling website called RoadSnacks has put together a list of the "Most Redneck Cities in Louisiana" and Shreveport is number 1. Rounding out the top five are Westwego, Mandeville, Slidell and Cut Off respectively. 

RoadSnacks co-founder Nick James says they started with the dictionary definition of redneck.

"And we decided to add for fun some redneck qualities like folks that like to hunt and fish and shop at Wal-Mart," said James.

The article says the list is an opinion based on facts and is meant as "info-tainment."

James says an example of scientific data they used on the list included number of high school graduates in that particular city. 

He says the stereotypical categories on where rednecks might live in Louisiana were things like the number of Dollar Stores.

"We also think it's stereotypical of rednecks that they like to drink and smoke so we included the number of tobacco stores and bars," said James.

James says many of the cities in Louisiana topping the list are places you might see deer horns on the hood of trucks and people attending church in cammo. 

He says so far they haven't heard anybody in The Bayou State upset with their city ranking so high on the list.

"People are actually a little bit upset if they don't win and don't understand how another place would be more redneck than theirs," said James. "It's almost like people are fighting to win this thing."


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Michelle Southern reporting.
Today a Federal judge is set to hear the case of Planned Parenthood's lawsuit against Governor Bobby Jindal over his decision to cut their Meicaid payments at clinics in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Court documents showed this week that the US Justice Department is siding with the organization.

"Jindal has made this move and obviously it's a political move based on the videos and all the controversy that came about with Planned Parenthood use of embryos," says Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat.

The DOJ says they haven't seen "sufficient reasons" to keep Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast from receiving funding.

The Jindal Administration says they planned to cancel the Medicaid contract starting today after secret videos surfaced which they believe show Planned Parenthood officials talking about selling fetuses.

Pinsonat doesn't think Governors can just pull out of federal programs like this.

"If you take money from the feds they have requirements and regulations and if you don't abide by them they'll not only pull funding from Planned Parenthood, they can pull funding from any other key and vital services Louisiana residents depend on," said Pinsonat.

In a statement, Planned Parenthood says Jindal's decision will jeopardize health care for low-income, uninsured women and men.


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The LSU football team and the Head Health Network are partnering up to study how impacts to the head effect players. H-H-N President Curtis Cruz says LSU is on the forefront for creating new technologies to prevent head injuries and the study will equip 24 players’ helmets with sensors to monitor impacts.

“Monitor what’s going on, on the field and find better ways to coordinate practice or set up practice and how they do things and when they do them to make sure that player safety and performance are really being optimized.”

Cruz says this is so important because it allows us to learn what’s really happening and it’s difficult to observe from afar and to understand the effect of a big hit. He says science is just now coming to terms with what is significant as far as a critical threshold and accumulation of smaller hits.

“They’re able to take the information that we provide them and then they are the ones that make the analysis and the judgements on what the best steps to take are. We just want to provide them with enough information to help them make good decisions.”

Cruz says this study gives the training staff a much better handle on how to treat concussions. He says LSU has been proactive before and the Head Health Network is trying to improve the process by which LSU protects its players.

“It’s especially difficult to monitor without any sort of actual sensor so what we do is allow them to monitor practice and monitor players and make sure they’re taking care of the kids and setting things up in a way that allows them to be successful.”



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Louisiana’s governor’s race has its first negative commercial. It comes from a super pac supporting Senator David Vitter. The 30-second TV ad criticizes Vitter’s republican opponents, Scott Angelle and Jay Dardenne, for supporting tax increases. ULM political science professor Joshua Stockley says the commercial comes at a time when Angelle is showing signs of gaining support.

"Given that Angelle is making the most movement and appears to be the biggest threat, it's imperative, I think, for the Vitter campaign to recognized that threat."

It’s been a quiet governor’s race as we are less than two months away from the October primary. Stockley says he figured it would get more heated around the Labor Day holiday.
"Labor Day is falling a little bit later than normal, so candidates don't have time to wait much longer."

Stockley says the other candidates also have super PACs, so he expects them to become more active now that the front-runner in the race has fired the first shot.
"Expect these PACs to grow and keep increasingly negative or aggressive, expect the campaigns to grow increasingly aggressive."


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Louisiana Oil and Gas Association President Don Briggs describes the current state of Louisiana's oil and gas industry as not pretty.  He says the declining prices of crude oil has caused the industry to hit record lows in several areas in the past year.  

Briggs says the number of working drilling sites in the state has taken a huge hit.
"In Louisiana, this time last year, we had 116 rigs.  We're down to 71 rigs."

Briggs says it's unclear when the industry will rebound.   He says just nine drilling sites are in operation in South Louisiana.  Briggs says the drop in production means a loss of jobs.

"For every single rig that we have, you can roughly guess that you have about 180 - 200 people direct and indirect on those rigs."

He says it's estimated that over 150,000 jobs have been lost in the industry nationwide since the crash began late last year.  Briggs says continued low oil prices could not only lead to major layoffs but more state budget cuts, as well.  He says every dollar drop in the price for crude oil equals a $12.5 million loss to the state budget.

"I think in August of a year ago it was $98 dollars a barrel.  Right now, we're at $55 today, but we've been as low as $45 last week.  It's a lot of money."


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State Police say a two vehicle crash in Tangipahoa Parish has claimed the life of a bicyclist.  Trooper Dustin Dwight says the unidentified cyclist was traveling on the US 190 Tangipahoa River Bridge late Monday night.

"She is struck in the rear by an SUV and, unfortunately, she did not survive the crash."

The victim was thrown from her bicycle and pronounced dead at the scene.  Dwight says the bicycle was not equipped with proper safety equipment and the rider was wearing dark clothing at the time of the crash.  He says this is a reminder to always keep safety in mind when riding a bicycle, especially at night.

"Whether it's reflective vests, some type of reflectors on the bicycle itself, and then any kind of lamps you can use to equip the bicycle just to make yourself as visible as possible to oncoming motorists."

Authorities are working to determine the victim's identity.  Dwight says investigators found the driver of the SUV, 24-year-old Kateria Edmon of Hammond to be not at fault.

"There are no charges pending.  There are no tickets.  There's no suspected impairment, either." 


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