News for Friday 122112
By Dave Graichen
An LSU expert on the ancient Mayan culture says the world is not coming to an end today. Heather McKillop, Professor of Latin American Studies, says the hype surrounding December 21st, 2012 says more about OUR culture than it does ancient Maya. She says the fact that some are actually preparing for doomsday is testament to western culture's fascination with disasters. She says there's nothing in Mayan folklore that predict and end of the world, so there's no need to worry.
Gun shops across the state report sales are skyrocketing amid renewed calls for stiffer gun controls. A number of businesses report the AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle is their best seller. Some are out of stock and have weapons on 6-month backorder.
State Police Col. Mike Edmonson announced yesterday afternoon travelers will be able to continue using their Louisiana driver’s licenses to board airplanes. Edmonson says that’s because the U.S. Department of Homeland Security postponed the deadline for complying with the federal Real ID Act of 2005. Had Homeland Security not agreed to defer its Jan. 15 deadline, Louisiana residents would have been required to use passports as identification for traveling and entering federal facilities because the state had not brought its driver’s licenses into compliance with the federal law. Edmonson says the extension is for 6 months.
Louisiana's health department is acknowledging that planned cuts in the state's Medicaid program will eliminate hospice care for all Medicaid recipients beginning in February. Hospice care aims to make dying people more comfortable, in many cases in their own homes, in their final months of life. In announcing reductions to hospice care funding last week, officials with Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration said hospice care at nursing homes would not be eliminated. But, apparently that was not true. The Times-Picayune reports that Kathleen Meyers, a spokeswoman for the state health agency, confirmed there will be no reimbursement for hospice services at all beginning Feb. 1.
A busy holiday travel weekend is getting underway in Louisiana. AAA spokesman Don Redman says about 93-million Americans - about 1 in 4 of us - will travel 50 miles or more for the holiday. Redman says about 5 & 1/2 million Americans will fly to their holiday destinations; a 4% increase from last year. He says many will be starting their road trip or heading for the airport today.
Louisiana motorists can no longer claim an alternative fuels vehicle tax credit on their flex-fuel vehicles. State Revenue Department Executive Counsel Tim Barfield says the law that created the tax
credit was not intended to cover cars and trucks that can burn either gasoline or ethanol. Barfield says the alternative fuel vehicles tax credit is still available to anyone who has bought an electric car, a hybrid or cars burning compressed natural gas or biodiesel. He says if the two fuels your vehicle can burn are stored in the same tank, you're no longer eligible.
Louisiana retail merchants are optimistic for a big finish to the holiday shopping season. Retail analyst Jim Rutledge says the shopping season surged right after Thanksgiving, but has since slowed a bit. However, he says indicators lead them to believe they'll finish strong.
LSU punter Brad Wing has been suspended for the Chick-Fil-A Bowl and has likely seen his last days as an LSU Tiger according to some. The Athletic Department issued a statement confirming the suspension. Insiders say Wing failed multiple drug tests and other sources say Wing will enter the NFL draft.
GM is recalling 145-thousand Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups for a problem that can cause the hood to fly open suddenly at highway speeds. The trucks were manufactured at the now-shuttered GM plant in Shreveport. Some of the pickups may not have the required secondary hood latch that would prevent the hood from flying open.
The state agency in charge of overseeing food safety in restaurants pledged Thursday to get its operations up to national standards by the end of 2013. One of the biggest takeaways from an Office of Public Health news conference Thursday was a commitment to address a significant inspection backlog by September. The agency also promised that Louisiana restaurants which handle raw meat or other easily contaminated foods will be subject to at least four surprise inspections per year. Thursday’s announcement comes just three weeks after a legislative audit report criticized the agency for not cracking down on unsanitary restaurants.
LSU's FACES forensic lab will help Shreveport authorities identify skeletal human remains found this week under an Interstate 20 bridge. Dr. Mary Manhein's team will try to determine who the person
was and how he or she died. The Caddo Coroner says there's no outward indication of foul play.
The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office says it will give $2500 to the person with information that cracks the case of the November 14th murder of Mary Alvarez. The wife of a Hammond plant nursery owner was found by her husband, dying from a single gunshot to the head. Sheriff's spokeswoman Dawn Panepinto ask anyone with useful information in the case to please contact their office.
A state judge has ruled that a Denham Springs woman, who arranged Christmas light on her roof in the shape of a hand flipping the middle finger, may put the display back up. The judge ruled Denham Springs Police were wrong to suggest she could be fined if she refused to take it down after neighbors complained. No word from the woman if she will put it back up or not. Word is, the reason she set up the display was because she was upset with some of her neighbors.
A 25-year-old Metairie woman is under arrest; accused of teaching a 16-year-old how to be a prostitute on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Emilie Cook, also known as Bunny, is charged with trafficking children for sexual purpose. She allegedly set up engagements for herself and the girl for $500 each...with an undercover cop.
A Leesville man gets a five-year federal prison sentence for possessing child pornography. 36-year-old Emerson Austin was arrested back in 2009, after officers found the sexually explicit
materials in his home. After his sentence is complete, Austin will have to serve 10 years supervised release.