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A tragic fire in Vermilion Parish claimed the lives of two young children, aged 1 and 3, and the woman who was trying to save them. State Fire Marshal’s Office spokesman Brant Thompson says the blaze broke out just prior to 5am on Sunday. And that’s when the mother inside the residence awoke to the smell of smoke.

"She immediately retrieved a two-year-old child and exited the home, her five-year-old child was able to flee the home," Thompson said.
Thompson says 3 of the 6 occupants of the home were able to escape. He says a second adult and close friend of the family, 22-year-old Felicie Cloteaux, did not leave the house when the fire broke out but instead ran to another bedroom.
"In a failed attempt to rescue two younger children, 3-year-old Rory Hudson and his one-year-old sister, Arabella," Thompson said.
Thompson said no official cause of the fire has been determined, but investigators suspect an electrical malfunction sparked the blaze. There were no working smoke alarms in the home at the time. Thompson says Cloteaux’s body was recovered from within that home still clutching the two small children in her arms.
"Cloteaux had every opportunity to save herself by fleeing the home, but instead selfishly sought to rescue her friends children," Thompson said. 


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Usually competitive races have their fair share of negative TV commercials, but that's the not case in the 4th Congressional District race.
LSU-Shreveport political science professor Jeffrey Sadow it's likely the lone Democrat on the ballot, Marshall Jones, will make the run-off and the negative ads will come in the weeks leading up to the December 10th runoff.

"Whoever the survivor republican is, there will probably be plenty of negative advertising at that point," Sadow said.
Sadow says Shreveport cardiologist Trey Baucum, Shreveport City Council Member Oliver Jenkins and state representative Mike Johnson are the three Republicans who have the best shot at making the runoff. Sadow says they are not using mass advertising to get voters to the polls. 
"So for example, Johnson, with his well known credentials as a social conservative can rely largely rely upon that kind of network, for example, churches and a like," Sadow said.
Former state senator Elbert Guillory is the the only candidate outside of the Shreveport area in the race. He also ran for lieutenant governor last year, but Sadow says the republican from Opelousas is a longshot to make the runoff.
"It's kind of like his lieutenant governor campaign, he has not campaigned that vigorously," Sadow said.  


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The Pegasus Equine Guardian Association is raising concerns about Fort Polk’s efforts to rehome more than 700 horses that roam the Army base's grounds. PEGA President Amy Hanchey says about 150,000 American horses are sent to slaughter houses each year, and they’re afraid that’s where these horses will end up because the horse market is already flooded.

“We feel that the Army and the citizens should have an obligation to preserve and protect these horses out at Fort Polk,” Hanchey said.

PEGA is concerned that the rescue facilities offering to take the horses may not be legitimate. Garrison Commander Col. David Athey says if there is significant credible evidence to suggest an organization is questionable, they are going to do what is right.

PEGA suggests heard management techniques and fertility control methods to keep the horses away from training areas and reduce the population. Hanchey says these horses have been roaming this land for nearly a century.

“We’ve had some genetic testing done that these horses may have genetic markers that date back to the colonial Spanish mustangs and other unique characters that are threatened at this time,” Hanchey said.

Athey says removing the horses is for the safety of the soldiers and the horses. Hanchey says they respect that the soldiers need to train, but they feel that in the Kitsatchie National Forest’s 600,000 acres surrounding Ft. Polk, there should be room for the horses.

“The Army occupies approximately 200,000 of these acres. So there’s 400,000 acres out there that could provide a suitable environment for the horses,” Hanchey said.

Athey says Ft. Polk does not own or train on National Forest Land.



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With only 15 days before the U.S. Senate election in Louisiana, we’ll likely hear a lot more from the major candidates. Lapolitics.com publisher Jeremy Alford says get ready to see and hear radio and TV campaign advertisements and a fair share of attack ads from third party groups.

He says John Kennedy has the biggest target on his back, because he’s considered the Republican front-runner.

“He’s in full on piñata status and he’s stacked full of votes and especially on the Republican side, everybody is grabbing a stick.”

A recent statewide poll showed Kennedy and Democrat Foster Campbell are in good position to claim the two run-off spots. Alford says in order for the other candidates to catch-up, they’ll likely have to go negative.

“Getting into the silly season now, we’re going to see a lot these negative ads. I think the race is going to just have to take on a darker tone for some folks who are hoping to break out.”

The Presidential and Senate race are the top two races in the state. But Alford says voters will also start to hear more about other races in their area.

“If you live in Acadiana, the 3rd Congressional District is a race that has people who are putting money on TV up in northwest Louisiana. The 4th district is on TV and the Supreme Court race in southwest Louisiana, there is a massive amount of advertising.”



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An effort to change the process in which an elected official is recalled in Louisiana is gaining steam due to Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni's sexting scandal. A petition to recall Yenni is making the rounds, but Covington Representative Paul Hollis says gathering all of the required signatures has proven to be difficult in the past.

"Which in Louisiana is one-third of eligible voters," said Hollis.

In Louisiana petitioners have to collect thirty-three and a third percent of the total number of registered voters in order to be successful.

Hollis says the turnout in the Jefferson Parish President race last year was 90,000, despite the fact that there are 270,000 people who can vote.

"So you need almost the precises number of people who voted for all candidates to sign a petition," said Hollis.

Hollis says many other states' base signature requirements on the percentage of people who voted. He says if you look over all the recalls in the past 50 years, there have been successful recalls, but they've been in very small areas.

"The expense, the man power and the effort in larger districts makes it so that it's impossible, in my opinion," said Hollis.


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Saints Quarterback Drew Brees threw for 367 yards and three touchdowns, but it wasn't enough for New Orleans to pull off a big win on the road as they fell to the Kansas City Chiefs 27-21.
There are two big reasons why New Orleans lost. They were penalized 10 times for 75 yards and turned it over twice, while failing to force a takeaway.

Saints scored first, as Brees connected with Brandin Cooks for a 9-yard touchdown pass to cap off their first offensive drive of the day. Kansas City came back to score two touchdowns to give KC a 14-7 lead after the 1st quarter. The second touchdown was a 48-yard interception return by Daniel Sorensen.
Alex Smith threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill in the 2nd quarter to give the Chiefs a 21-7 lead at halftime. 
Brees threw two touchdown passes in the 2nd half to keep New Orleans in the game, but two field goals by Cairo Santos helped the Chiefs win by six points. Also, running back Mark Ingram fumbled inside the red zone to prevent another New Orleans touchdown.
New Orleans is now 2-4 and returns home this Sunday to host the Seattle Seahawks. 


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Former KKK leader and Republican U.S. Senate candidate David Duke has been invited to participate in a November 2nd televised debate because he received 5-percent of the vote in a Raycom Media poll. Louisiana Democratic Party executive director Stephen Handwerk says they’re using this as an opportunity to raise money to get the word out to voters that Duke has this much support.

“Having him included in the televised debate, which will likely be picked up nationally, is extremely harmful for Louisiana on every single level.”

Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, issued a statement saying Duke’s destructive rhetoric is a distraction from the campaign, which is about our future, not our past. Handwerk says Duke is an embarrassment to the state.

“Duke brags that he only felt comfortable entering this race because of Donald Trump and their shared views. That should frighten everyone, especially those voters still considering voting for Trump.”

Calls for comment from Duke were not returned. Handwerk wants Democratic voters to use this as an incentive to go to the polls and vote for a candidate that is good for Louisiana. He says having him involved in this election hurts the state.

“Especially now that we have our governor working incredibly hard to raise the funds for the federal government in order to make us whole and repair ourselves from these tragic floods.”


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Leonard Fournette rushed for a school-record 284 yards and three touchdowns as the LSU Tigers won their third straight as they defeated Ole Miss 38-21.

How it happened: LSU fell behind 10-0, but the defense tightened up and Leonard Fournette went off. Fournette rushed 16 times for 284 yards and three touchdowns. Fournette had touchdown runs of 59, 76 and 78 yards.
LSU's defense: Ole Miss came into Baton Rouge with the top passing offense in the SEC, but the Tigers defense held Rebels quarterback Chad Kelly to 209 yards and he was intercepted twice. Ole Miss did not score any points in the 2nd half. Coach Ed Orgeron credited defensive coordinator Dave Aranda for making some good adjustments.
Danny continues to do good things: LSU Quarterback Danny Etling continues to be a steady hand for the LSU Tigers. He threw for 204 yards and tossed a 40-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Chark. Etling was intercepted once and also lost a fumble, but continues to present a passing threat for LSU. 
What it means: The Tigers are 3-0 under interim head coach Ed Orgeron. LSU is now 5-2 and the two losses don't look bad as Auburn and Wisconsin have looked very good this year. CBS' college football analyst Gary Daniels said LSU is still in the hunt to play in the college football playoffs and that will certainly be the case if they can beat Alabama.
Up next: LSU is off this Saturday as they have two weeks to get ready for Alabama. The top ranked Crimson Tide rolled in the 2nd half and beat Texas A&M 33-14. 


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LSU has created a merit based scholarship for incoming freshman whose mom or dad graduated from LSU or are employed by the school. The Louisiana Tiger Legacy Scholarship Program will be a fixed amount that is only available to Louisiana residents. Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships Amy Marix says the scholarship program starts with the fall 2017 incoming class.

“Their student, depending on their ACT score and GPA, would receive a cash award varying from $500 a year to $1000 per year, for up to 8 semesters.”

Other universities around the country are known for offering similar scholarships. Marix says the purpose of creating this scholarship is to support Louisiana students, especially with the current deficiencies with the TOPS program.

“We want to try to meet the needs of all of our students. Offer them the least net price that we can, knowing that they’re counting on the TOPS scholarship and we want to offset that as much as we can.”

LSU’s operating scholarship dollars will fund this program. Marix says they want to keep generation after generation going to LSU. She says there are some very strong academic requirements in order to receive the scholarship.

“The academic requirements are a 24 ACT or SAT equivalent. So we feel like as the LSU Flagship campus, those requirements are absolutely attainable for our students.”



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The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is trying to figure out how a 23 foot whale washed up on Little Florida Beach in Cameron Parish. Marine Biologist Mandy Tomlin says whales are in the Gulf of Mexico, but very rarely seen near the coast, so it appears this young whale got separated from its mother.

"The animal was a very young female calf that was an animal that should've still been with its mother. She was a dependent calf and mom would've been nursing this animal, she was very, very young."

Tomlin says the whale did not appear to be in good health and they also know a whale washed up recently on a Florida beach. She says they did extensive evaluation of the whale in the hopes of finding out how this happened.

"Full internal necropsy where we obtained samples from all of the different organs and different systems inside the animals, as well as, genetic sampling and a suite of other samples that we worked on."

Tomlin says they took several samples from the whale’s body in the hopes they can figure out why this animal died and they hope to learn more about the sperm whale itself.

"I would say a couple weeks to maybe a couple months just to get everything analyzed and then compared with other stranded sperm whale samples that may exist around the country, as well."



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Department of Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson says, after meeting with residents in each region of the state, there seems to be growing support for increasing the state's gas tax. He says people realize that bigger investments need to be made in Louisiana's roads and bridges.

"At all of the meetings there was a pretty vocal level of support for addressing the gas tax, provided that it improves and builds infrastructure," said Wilson.

Governor John Bel Edwards named the task force charged with coming up with recommendations on how to repair Louisiana's transportation problems. Wilson says there is a $13 billion dollar plus backlog in projects that need to be improved throughout the state, but that doesn't include new infrastructure.

"This administration is committed to not providing a band-aid approach," said Wilson. "But a real solution that legislators have to make a decision to support or not support transportation."

The task force's proposals are due by the first of the year, and a boost in the gas tax is expected to be one of the key suggestions.

Wilson says 19 states link their gas taxes to inflation and other things, and the response from the electorate is most often a positive one because people care about quality transportation. He says they welcome all ideas.

"But we are most interested in providing sustainable solutions that is a recurring revenue source that is meaningful, impactful and keeps up with the cost of construction and possibly inflation," Wilson said.

It's been almost 29 years since the state has adjusted the gas tax, and Wilson says it's lost almost 50% of its value.


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A Raycom Media Poll on the U.S. Senate race has Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy and Democratic Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell leading the large field of candidates.
In the survey of 625 registered voters, 24 percent say they plan on voting for Kennedy, while 19 percent say Campbell is their choice.
"I think at the end of the day, a Kennedy-Campbell runoff is the most likely scenario," ULM Political Science Professor John Sutherlin said.
The poll has Republican and former KKK leader David Duke receiving  5 percent of the vote, which means he receives an invite to a televised debate on November second. Sutherlin says Duke, who ran for US Senate and Governor in the early 90s, still has good support in rural areas.
"That statewide platform might give him the ability to get even a higher number then he has right now," Sutherlin said.
Democrat Caroline Fayard finished third at 12-percent, followed by Republican Congressmen Charles Boustany and John Fleming, who are at 11 and 10 percent respectively. Sutherlin says it's unlikely this threesome can make a big jump with election day just over two weeks away.  


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Spending on Halloween costumes, decorations and candy will reach a record high 8.4 billion dollars this year. That’s according to the National Retail Federation. Spokesperson Ana Serafin Smith says more than 171 million Americans are planning to partake in Halloween festivities this year.

“The expected average is about $83 per person. That’s divided among a variety of items like costumes, candy, decorations and even greeting cards.”

Smith says millennials and their use of social media are the reason why the popularity Halloween is growing.

“That one time of the year where you can dress up in a costume, have fun, go trick or treating with your friends and family or even go to a Halloween party and show off, not only your outfit, but your friend’s outfit on twitter.”

Smith says the Presidential election is also driving up costume sales as many people are dressing up as either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

“They’re even starting to sell out of some of these masks. When we look at our data, we learned that it’s really adults over 35-years-old that are going to be dressing up like these political characters.”



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Attorney General Jeff Landry has filed a lawsuit that seeks to have a state judge declare Governor John Bel Edwards’ executive order that protects LGBT individuals from discrimination in the workplace as unconstitutional. Landry believes the governor is circumventing the Legislature to create his own law.

"Our legislature has multiple times in a bipartisan fashion, rejected that type of language."

Landry argues the state legislature has rejected several proposed laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Republican A-G says he’s protecting the will of the legislature.

"The fact that the governor wants to override that and our system is not designed to do that, is what I'm objecting to."

The executive order says state employees can not be fired or harassed at work if they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The order extends to businesses that have state contracts and Landry has already refused to sign legal contracts with the anti-discrimination clause. Edwards believes he has the authority to issue such an order.

"I believe I'm on the right side of the law and I'm on the right side of history on this and I'm not going change the executive order."

Edwards says the attorney general is putting his own political interests ahead of Louisiana’s needs. He disagrees with Landry’s stance that’s it okay for businesses to discriminate.

"Bigotry and discrimination are not Louisiana Values."



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Michelle Southern reporting.
A new Gallup poll shows 60% of Americans support the legalization of marijuana, almost double the amount of people who thought pot should be legal in 2000. David Brown is the director of a group called Sensible Marijuana Policy for Louisiana, or SMPL. He believes this signifies that a lot of changes are taking place within the US electorate.

"Citizens are learning what a lot of us have known for a long time," said Brown. "Cannabis is safer than alcohol and many other drugs."

Nine states are slated to decide whether to expand legal access to pot in the November election. State officials are currently hammering out a plan to get medical marijuana into the hands of patients who suffer certain specific ailments.

But Brown feels that Louisiana will be one of the very last states to get on board with recreational legalization.

"To change to something like the Washington/Colorado model, legalized adult use," said Brown. "That would be when we're swept along with all the other states at the very end."

Brown says the fact that the Legislature passed a bill that would put a mechanism in place to get patients in need medical marijuana indicates many Louisiana lawmakers are approaching the matter with more of an open mind. He said that's not happened on accident.

"It's the result of a lot of hard work and lobbying at the legislative level," said Brown. "And help from health care providers and patients themselves who have made their voices heard."


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LSU’s daily newspaper, The Daily Reveille, will become a weekly 32-page paper come the spring semester of 2017. Reveille editor in chief Quint Forgey says this is a very bitter-sweet moment for him. He says it’s a sad day because everyone who works for the newspaper was raised and trained for a daily paper.

“But we were faced with a tough decision financially and we really took efforts to outline possible options for our own future and then chose the one that we thought was best.”

The Daily Reveille has been a part of LSU since 1887. But Forgey says the Reveille staff is optimistic because the new weekly publication will be much better.

“Now we’re talking about a 32-page, fat paper, loaded with investigative stories and photos, every Thursday. It’s going to be exciting.”

Forgey says student writers will still be required to meet daily deadlines, with turning content each day for the website, LSUNow.com. He says the decision to end the daily publication was not an easy one but they believe the future is still bright for the school newspaper and the students involved.

“If we kept operating the way we did, we’d have to cut the paper or there would be no Daily Reveille. There would be no training ground for future students who hope to pursue journalism in Louisiana and hope to cover the state capital in Baton Rouge.”



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One of many lesser-known candidates in the US Senate race has dropped out less than three weeks before the election. Attorney and former-investment banker Abhay Patel is the first candidate to back out of the crowded field. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat isn’t surprised he withdrew, since he polled poorly.

“The guy just didn’t have any voters with him or he wouldn’t have got out. He spent some money but he’s got no traction. Nobody knows him across the state. So I think it’s smart for him to get out,” Pinsonat said.

After dropping out of the race, Patel endorsed Republican Congressman Charles Boustany over the two other major republican candidates, John Kennedy and John Fleming. There are also two major Democrats in the race, Foster Campbell and Caroline Fayard. Pinsonat says he’s not sure how much that endorsement will really help Boustany.

“I guess you could say it’s good that Boustany got his endorsement, but he doesn’t have any really votes to bring to Boustany. Maybe just the image of him endorsing him might give Boustany a little attention,” Pinsonat said.

Patel’s name will still appear on the ballot along with the 23 other names running for US Senate. Pinsonat says if any other minor candidates drop out, it won’t have a huge impact on who will make the runoff.

“The runoff’s going to be between two of these five well-known candidates who are spending a lot of money. No one else has a chance but those five,” Pinsonat said.



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The head of the Louisiana NAACP spoke before the House Judiciary Committee to provide tips on how law enforcement and the public can work better together. Ernest Johnson says there needs to be more interactive relationships between police officers and the community. He suggests having these officers be very familiar with everyone in the area they’re patrolling.

“A police officer should be required to attend a church in the precinct once a month, without the uniform, in plain clothes, to become familiar with the community.”

Johnson also advises elected officials should host more town hall meetings where police officers attend in plain clothes. He says a culture change needs to be made when officers are addressing people in tricky situations with the public.

“But if I don’t know him and I believe he’s aggressive and I go in and I’m aggressive, then it escalates and then you get a killing. Whereas it should be deescalating but how to we deescalate?”

The House Judiciary Committee wrapped up two days of hearings on interaction between law enforcement and citizens. Chairman Katrina Jackson plans to hold more meetings to come up with a universal community policing policy. Johnson says right now there is no policy where officers become involved as part of the community.

“I don’t think it would cost any money, but I do think it requires policy to change the way policing is done in certain communities.”



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An arrest has been made in the case of an elderly man who was shot to death in his own driveway in Houma. Cody Voisin with the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office says shortly after the death of 87-year-old Anthony Dale Lirette, an arrest warrant was issued for 21-year-old Deandre Pharagood.

“On Octber 19, 2016, he surrendered himself to the Thibodaux Police Department without incident, and he was arrested for first degree murder,” Voisin said.

Voisin says there was no relationship between the victim and Pharagood. He says their investigation into the matter is ongoing.

“We cannot release the exact motive yet. That’s still under investigation,” Voisin said.

Pharagood was booked into the Terrebonne Parish jail on a $500,000 bond.



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It’s an exciting day for Louisiana travelers looking to go overseas, as British Airways announces there will soon be non-stop flights from New Orleans to London. Senior Vice President Simon Brooks says the flights will leave out four times a week beginning March 27, 2017. He says they are delighted to connect these two iconic cities.

“Both places are known for their iconic music scene and rich cultural diversity, and we’re confident that New Orleans will rise up the wish list of Brits and Europeans alike to come and visit this wonderful place,” Brooks said.

Brooks says the 8 hour 40 minute flight will include free food and drink, pillows and blankets for all passengers, as well as free entertainment. He says the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner is known for its smooth ride because it flies at a lower pressurization.

“Our customers will experience less jetlag. It’s got wonderfully big windows so everybody gets a view outside, and it’s incredibly quiet as well. It’s a great aircraft,” Brooks said.

Brooks says American Airline customers will be able to use their frequent flyer miles on these flights. He adds that although the plane lands in London, passengers will have limitless travel options.

“Many of the customers are not just flying to London. They’re going to get the benefit of British Airways onward connections to over 130 destinations beyond London- Europe, Asia, Africa, and beyond,” Brooks said.



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