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Study finds increase in reports of falls among the elderly


A University of Michigan Medical School study finds there has been an almost 30-percent increase in the report of falls among the elderly since the late 90s.  Dr. Cathi Fontenot, with LSU Health Internal Medicine, feels the increase could be, in part, due to older people maintaining higher levels of activity that make them susceptible to falls.


"Like walking and cycling and thinking that it's okay to continue to clean the gutters because they're in good health and can still get on ladders."

She says older adult's higher activity levels are a result that they are generally feeling better and in better health.

"And think they can continue to do things that they probably shouldn't engage in, like climbing ladders.  As you get older, your sense of balance just typically gets a little worse."

She says the weakening of core muscles in the elderly affect their sense of balance.  Fontenot says it's important to keep those core muscles as strong as possible to help maintain your balance.

"Going to a gym, working out with a trainer, doing sit to stand exercises and anything that strengthens core muscles." 
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Rep. Fleming is founding member of House Freedom Caucus


Republican Minden Congressman John Fleming says he along with eight other US House of Representatives have formed the House Freedom Caucus. Fleming says they'll advance an agenda that calls for an accountable and limited government.
 
"When they talk about limited government, then they (leadership) shouldn't try to force bills that actually increase the government's role in our everyday lives."
 

Fleming says they plan on adding additional members to the House Freedom Caucus, but membership is only for those US House of Representatives that promote the liberty, safety and prosperity of all Americans. 
 
"Being conservative has a very positive connotation in the republican conference, but the problem is too many people want to vote in a more moderate squishy way, but be called a conservative," Fleming said. 
 
Fleming says this new group of truly conservative lawmakers will look to advance legislation and also prevent measures that do not represent what he calls "America's Agenda." 
 
"We have a border bill that's supposed to be voted on this week, we don't think it's strong enough, we are going to attempt to amend it."
 
 
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Jindal talks about spiritual revival at prayer rally


It's estimated over 3,000 people attended Saturday's prayer rally on the LSU campus that featured Governor Bobby Jindal. The event was also streamed live on God TV and the governor, who spoke a couple of times, told the crowd in the Maravich Center why this event was needed.
 
"We can't just elect a candidate and fix what ails our country, we can't just pass a law and fix what ails our country, we need a spiritual revival to fix what ails our country," Jindal said. 
 
Jindal, who is considering a campaign for President, didn't talk politics while on the stage, but he did ask the crowd to pray for President Barack Obama.
 
The event also drew hundreds of protestors who were vocal with their concerns the American Family Association paid for the event. It's a group classified as a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, because of the A-F-A's views on same sex relationships.  
 
 
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No demonstrations allowed for Braveheart in animal cruelty trial set to begin today


Michelle Southern reporting.
The trial for a man accused of tying up and abandoning a baby pit-bull in October 2013 begins in Caddo District Court today, and there are plenty of angry citizens expected to be in attendance. The dog is now known as Braveheart and he is owned by Bo Spataro who says 32-year-old Gabriel Lee, charged with cruelty to an animal, has shown zero remorse.


"He never tried to apologize to anybody or anything," said Spataro. "In fact when a reporter tried to ask him a question when he bonded out he said, 'It's just a dog.'"

According to authorities, when he was 4 months old, Braveheart was found chained inside a storage unit in Shreveport and it was believed he'd been there for several days as he was barely alive. 

Spataro says they are hoping Lee gets the maximum sentence allowed.

"I'd also like to see him not allowed to have animals for a certain amount of time or ever again," said Spataro.

The Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office issued a release reminding those who plan to come to the trial no public demonstrations are allowed in or near the Courthouse. They say signs, buttons or t-shirts addressing the case are prohibited.

Spataro says nothing like that is planned and they are asking that anyone who attend be a silent voice for Braveheart in court.

"There will be no excuse for someone to do something that could possibly cause a mistrial and all of this effort go to waste," said Spataro.


 
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Revenue Estimating Conference meets Monday to determine to budget shortfall


The Revenue Estimating Conference meets Monday to determine the budget shortfall the state faces this fiscal year and next. Council for a Better Louisiana President Barry Erwin says it's likely mid-year cuts will be needed to offset the deficit. He says a big reason for the shortfall, lower than expected oil prices.


"So the problem is we need to figure out where these oil prices are going to stay, what that means for the revenue picture of the state and the bottom line means it's going to be less revenue."

Erwin says it's hard to predict how much will be cut this fiscal year. He says we already had a projected shortfall of $1.4 billion for next fiscal year, but more than likely that will grow as oil prices keep plummeting.

"We're going to have to address that next year too. And the bottom line is that healthcare and even more at higher education to get the major part of those cuts," said Erwin.

Erwin says the falling oil prices aren't the only reason we're in this situation but the structure of the budget has never really been repaired since 2008-2009.

He says we've just been borrowing money from ourselves over and over and then that ran out.

"Then when oil prices went even lower it added insult to injury and it's created a very difficult decision for state government," said Erwin.


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Alario to meet with Jindal this week


Senate President John Alario plans to meet with Governor Jindal this week to discuss ways to reduce a potential budget cut of up to $380 million dollars to Louisiana's public colleges. He says that kind of cut would completely devastate higher education not only to the universities but to the children who are seeking it.


"I think you'll find courses being shut down and institutions very much on the verge of shutting down," said Alario.

Alario says he's also heard that LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center is in danger if this type of cut comes down. He says they need to put their heads together and try to figure out how to fix this problem.

"I'm not sure we can eliminate it all, but we are looking at all options," said Alario.

Alario says one of the items of discussion that's on the table is trying to increase revenue.

"Governor Jindal has been stead fast about raising additional taxes," said Alario. "That's what makes this a tougher job."
 
 
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Kennedy considering political future


It appears state Treasurer John Kennedy is testing the waters for a few races in this year's upcoming elections.  It's reported Kennedy has hired Virginia-based North Star Opinion Research to poll the races for governor, attorney general, and if there is a US Senate special election in 2016.  

Kennedy says, at this time, he's keeping his options open.
 
"I'm trying to think through how I want to spend the rest of my career in government service and how I think I can best contribute."

The survey shows the Treasurer topping a possible attorney general's race and the leading Republican in a US Senate race should David Vitter become governor.  Kennedy says he's had a number of different groups talk to him about serving in a different capacity.

"I like government service, I'm honored to be able to do it, I'm humbled by it, and I enjoy doing it.  And I'm just trying to think everything through.  I'll make a decision soon, but I haven't made one yet."

The poll shows Kennedy coming in third in the governor's race behind Vitter and Democrat John Bel Edwards.  He says he enjoys being state Treasurer and this doesn't mean he will not run for re-election.  Kennedy says he's trying to weigh the advice he's been given and think things through.

"I try to make my decisions based on both my heart and my head.  And, hopefully, both my heart and my head at some point will get to the same place and that's what I'm trying to work through." 
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Weekend rotation unknown as LSU baseball begins full squad workouts


LSU Baseball Coach Paul Mainieri says sophomore left-hander Jared Poche will start opening day on February 13th against Kansas, but he's not sure on what the rest of his starting rotation will look like. Mainieri says he has several freshmen to choose from and the situation will play itself out during the non-conference portion of the schedule.


"They may all be good pitchers, but one guy may show a particular strikeout pitch, which make may him a better closer than someone else," Mainieri said.
 
Right-handers Alex Lange, Jake Godrey and Doug Norman, along with southpaw Jake Latz are four freshmen pitchers that Mainieri will count on this season.
 
Mainieri has confidence he'll have a strong staff by the end of the season, because of pitching coach Alan Dunn.
 
"If they keep improving at the rate, that I've seen so far, they are going to be special," Mainieri said.
 
Poche was a weekend starter last season and a Freshman All-American. The former Lutcher standout is one of eight returning pitchers and he likes what he sees from the young arms that have joined the team. 
 
"Sky's the limit, with these young guys we have coming in. These guys have a lot of talent, it's just a matter of them adjusting to college," Poche said.  
 
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Louisianians heading to Washington for Mardi Gras


This weekend, the Mystick Krewe of Louisianians will be hosting the DC Mardi Gras in our nation's capitol.  A reported 3,000 Louisianians will fly in for the festivities at the Washington Hilton.  


LaPolitics-dot-com publisher Jeremy Alford says, with this being an election year in Louisiana, you can expect to see a lot of candidates attending looking for support.
 
"The gubernatorial candidates are going to be here.  Jefferson Parish President John Young, who is running for Lt. Governor, was on the flight that I was this morning.  So, it's really a 'Who's Who' of Louisiana politics."

Alford says a "Who's Who" of Louisiana politics will be attending.  He says the bar at the Hilton becomes Louisiana's 65th parish during DC Mardi Gras.  Alford says one topic has been dominating the conversation there this year and that's money.

"Everybody wants to know how we're going to maneuver around a $1.4 billion budget and others are talking about how Super PACs are going to influence this fall's elections.  Other folks are talking about oil prices and what's going to happen in the oil patch."

In the past, this was an event where Louisiana politicians could really let their hair down.  But Alford says, due to technology, there is now a reluctance among politicians to have too much fun in public.

"It really hit a peak last year when Attorney General Buddy Caldwell was caught on a cell phone camera serenading Mary Landrieu in her hospitality suite and it ended up being made into a campaign commercial."

 
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Benson family feud commonplace according to experts


Michelle Southern reporting.
Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson's dirty laundry is being aired after he announces he's decided to leave the franchises to his wife instead of his daughter and grandchildren. The former heirs have filed a lawsuit claiming it was a decision made out of incompetence.


Dr. Michelle Moore is a clinical psychologist at the LSU Health Sciences Center.
 
She says a family battle like this is happens all the time.

"It's very common for there to be conflict between biological children and step-children," said Moore. "I think a lot of this revolves around trust and being able to depend on certain people and how that changes over time."

The 87-year-old Benson responded to the lawsuit saying the allegations that he's incapacitated are false and he intends to fight them every step of the way. Moore says this family battle can be repaired with simple open communication among members.

"Trying to talk about it without people being defensive, without putting guards up, being ugly with each other or using ugly words," said Moore.

The family suit claims Gayle Benson is a gold digger who has talked her husband into completely disconnecting himself from the kids and grand kids. Moore says this situation is that much more difficult because there is a ton of money involved.

"Even more emotions are running so high because there is so much money at stake here," said Moore.


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GE to close Pineville facility


Multiple sources have reported that employees of General Electric's plant in Pineville have been told that the facility is closing with the manufacturing jobs transferring to Jacksonville, Florida.  The valve plant employs about 300 people.  


Pineville Mayor Clarence Fields says they haven't gotten any official report from GE.
 
"I guess we're somewhat like there employees were when a meeting was held and that's literally where a lot of information flowed from."

Fields says employees were informed of the closing in a meeting held Thursday morning.  He adds that there was no prior indication that the plant would potentially close down.  Fields says this closing, not only will affect the 300 employees and their families, but also on other merchants in the area.

"Depending on who GE was supplying, it could also have an impact on other local businesses.  So we're bracing ourselves for that if it all comes to fruition."

Pineville has seen several facilities close in recent years, including Cotton Brothers Bakery and International Paper.  Fields says they are currently looking for prospects to fill those sites.  He is hoping the city's luck will change in the near future.

"We've got some state facilities that have downsized, our Huey P. (Long) medical center closed and Pineville Craft and now GE.  So we need something positive and hopefully that will happen pretty soon." 
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Super PAC is formed to assist in Jindal's presidential aspirations


Republican supporters of Governor Bobby Jindal establish a super PAC that could assist him in a presidential bid. Former Louisiana Congressman, Bob Livingston, is the chairman of the political action committee, called Believe Again PAC. Livingston acknowledges this is the first step in a possible run for the White House.
 
The super PAC can raise an unlimited amount of money, but Jindal can't direct or coordinate how the money is spent. Livingston says the super PAC will get Jindal ready, if he chooses to run for President.
 
"We certainly hope to give Bobby Jindal some support that he'll need to structure his operation," Livingston said.
 
Livingston says organizers of the super PAC have not set a goal of how much they plan to raise. 
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Benson former heir says her grandfather is incapacitated


Michelle Southern reporting.
A day after New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson announced his wife will assume ownership of the Saints and Pelicans when he dies, his former heir files suit claiming her grandfather is incapacitated. Rita Benson LeBlanc, her mother Renee Benson and brother Ryan LeBlanc filed the petition in Orleans Civil District Court Thursday.


"This will ultimately depend on Tom Benson's current metal state," says legal analyst Tim Meche. "And if there's evidence that he is somewhat incapacitated that means she has a chance."

The suit makes several claims that Benson is not fit mentally and physically to manage his personal or business affairs and that Renee should be executor of his sports and business ventures with Rita in the secondary position.

Meche says they will have to prove that Tom Benson is not capable of making decisions on his own.

"And that will depend upon the metal health professionals," said Meche. "And obviously he will have a lot of legal fire power himself that he will bring to the table."

The suit also alleges that Tom Benson's wife, Gayle, is trying to take advantage of her husband's unfit mental state and that she is only after his money.

Meche says ultimately the complainants would have to come up with evidence that Benson is too handicapped to handle his affairs.

"Either from witnesses or by describing prior incidents," said Meche. "If there is enough evidence like that then it's very likely he would have to undergo some type of mental evaluation."


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Could the rest of the state follow New Orleans' ban on public smoking?


The New Orleans City Council has approved a ban on smoking in bars and casinos, so could we see the Louisiana legislature pass a similar law that would impact the entire state. West Monroe Representative Frank Hoffman says a statewide ban on smoking in bars and gambling halls is something legislators might consider.


"It's hard for me to say at this point in time, I'm not sure, I don't have anything specific, but we'll look at the big picture and move slowly and carefully in deciding how we need to handle it and what need to do," Hoffman said.
 
Hoffman says an ordinance that prohibits smoking in bars and bingo halls in all of Ouachita Parish went into effect last January and it's been well received by bar owners.
 
Hoffman authored legislation that went into effect at the start of this year that prohibits smoking near the entrance of state buildings. 
 
He says a public smoking ban in New Orleans could convince legislators that it's time to do it statewide.
 
"I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised to see what New Orleans did," Hoffman said.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
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A convicted child killer has been released from prison


Michelle Southern reporting.
A self-confessed child killer named Phillip DeSelle is was released from prison Thursday and the family of the little girl, along with residents in Evangeline Parish are outraged. Erin Keyser is the aunt of Averie Evans of Natchitoches who was killed by DeSelle when she was 11 years old.


Keyser says the man served just 24 years in prison on a 50 year sentence.

"We've all just been devastated that he's going to be released," said Keyser. "We anticipated having to battle through parole hearings, but we really were not prepared for him to knock that much time off of his sentence."

Keyser says DeSelle, now 65, was given time off for good behavior because of the laws that were in place when he was convicted in the early 90s. DeSelle is expected to make his new home in the town of Turkey Creek, which is in Evangeline Parish. And he'll have to report to his probation officer in Ville Platte. 

Keyser says they are spreading the word and putting his picture out there so people know this is happening.

"So now they have a face with a name, and a warning to all communities in Louisiana that a killer is going to be out there," said Keyser.

She says Turkey Creek residents are extremely unhappy as their worst fear is that DeSelle could snap again.

"They should be concerned," said Keyser. "They are taking the appropriate steps to protect their community and their children especially."


 
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New Orleans City Council approves public smoking ban


The New Orleans City Council has unanimously approved a controversial ordinance that prohibits smoking in bars and casinos.  

Claudia Rodas, with the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, is in favor of the ordinance, which will go into effecdt in 90 days.  She says it will protect bar and casino workers from the dangers of second hand smoke.

"And this ordinance will do just that to protect those employees who have been left behind and are not protected through the current smoking ordinance."

Alex Fine, President of the French Quarter Business League, points out that there are already over 100 bars in the city that do not allow smoking.   He says owners should be allowed to make the decision on whether or not they want to be smoke-free.

"We feel like there's been enough government regulation on how we run our businesses up until this point and we just feel like we should be able to run our businesses as we see fit."

Rodas says employees in bars and casinos should be able to work in a smoke-free environment, like people who work in the restaurant industry.  She says this is much bigger than a business decision, it's a public health issue.

"And the dangers of second hand smoke.  The US Surgeon General has clearly said that there is no safe level of exposure to second hand smoke."

Fine says they are concerned about the revenue hit this measure could have on business, on top of the 20 to 30 percent drop in business due to the crime crisis in the city.

"Most of the studies we have read have shown at least a 20-percent drop in revenues within the first year of the smoking ban." 
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Woman charged with first-degree murder in toddler's death


The Acadia Parish Sheriff's Department has arrested a 24-year-old woman in the May 2014 death of her fiance's 3-year-old son.  After an eight month investigation, Brittany Marie Prejean of Rayne is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Keaghyn Parsons.


Spokesperson Maxine Trahan says Prejan was often left to care for the toddler.
 
"The child would go over to visit with the father and, if the father was working, she would in turn take care of the child."

Prejean was caring for the toddler the day of his death.  Trahan says an autopsy was performed on Parsons and the Calcasieu Parish Coroner ruled his death a homicide.  Trahan says it was determined that the child had a perforation of the small intestine.

"And that was caused by blunt force trauma to the child's stomach and that is what they're saying is the cause of death."

She says Prejean was booked into the Acadia Parish Jail.

"There is no bond that has been set on her and, at this time, we're just awaiting for her to go before a judge to see if he will set bond." 
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Woman behind LSU FACES laboratory retiring after 30 years


Michelle Southern reporting.
The woman who has assisted law enforcement locally and nationally in identifying human remains, Mary Manhein, announces she is retiring from the LSU FACES Laboratory after more than 30 years. Also known as "The Bone Lady," Manhein has consulted on hundreds of forensic cases including mass disasters.


"So that to me has been one of the most rewarding things," says Manhein. "At the very least to get these people identified and to let their families know at least where their loved ones are and what happened to them."

Manhein says her last day is April 30th and she'll then turn over the reigns of the program to another generation. 

She says some of the most rewarding work she's done was in the aftermaths of Hurricanes Katrina and Issac in which they were able to assist cemeteries who were having problems with graves.

"That had been disinterred and had floated down the road," said Manhein. "This kind of expertise for helping with mass disasters is something the FACES lab is known for."

Manhein says she's loved that her job has enabled her to work with families of victims in helping resolve cold cases of unidentified persons. She says through the cold case "hit" program, they've had instances where the DNA from an unidentified person get matched up with someone from across the country.

"We've had several of those in our cold case work and it's a very rare thing," said Menhein.


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Benson changes succession plans for Saints and Pelicans


Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson announces ownership of both teams will transfer to his wife, Gayle, upon his death.  This move effectively cuts out Benson's daughter, Renee, and grandchildren, Ryan Leblanc and Rita Benson Leblanc, from the sports franchises.  


The voice of the Saints, Jim Henderson, says this had to be an agonizing decision for Benson to make.
 
"This is something that comes at the expense of your daughter, your granddaughter, your grandson, and the people that are part of their families, as well.  This is a rough one."

Benson stated that this change in succession is necessary for the long-term success of both teams.  There are reports that there was tension at team headquarters with Renee, Rita, and Ryan.  Henderson says if you looked closely, you could observe the strain.

"Tom Benson was always flanked by Gail on one side and Rita on the other.  And I think they more than on one occasion, butted heads in probably vying for his affection and support."

Henderson says this is a very bold move on Benson's part.  It was expected that Rita would succeed her grandfather in leading the sports empire.  He says Rita was suspended a couple of years ago for lack of attention to the job and that could have weighed on Benson enough to make this change.

"Maybe he didn't see, and didn't in the past see, in Rita, I think, some of the commitment that he felt everybody in the organization, granddaughter or not, should have."   
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Jindal defends "No Go Zones" claims


Governor Bobby Jindal continues to insist there are neighborhoods in Europe where authority is ceded to a more harsh version of Islamic law. The governor has received criticism for making those statements and was given a chance to back down from those comments in a one-on-one interview Neil Cavuto on Fox News.
 
"There are absolutely neighborhoods where the police are less likely to go in," Jindal said. "There are neighborhoods in the UK and France that have been documented by Ambassador (John) Bolton and others, where there are attempts to impose Sharia law."  
 
Fox News previously reported the same claims, but has since apologized and said those reports were false. CNN's Anderson Cooper has also issued a similar apology for previous reports of No Go Zones in Europe. 
 
While speaking with Neil Cavuto, Jindal expressed concern a similar situation could develop in this country, if our federal government doesn't take appropriate measures to make sure immigrants are not trying to overturn our culture.
 
"We're going to see our own "No Go Zones" if we don't insist on assimilation and integration."  
 
 

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