News for Monday 102813
By Dave Graichen
The University of Virginia's Center for Politics, which is known for predicting elections, no longer labels next year's US Senate race in Louisiana as a "toss up." Their crystal ball leans democratic, meaning Landrieu is a slight favorite. University of Virginia political analyst Kyle Kondik says the latest campaign finance totals show Landrieu has two million dollars more compared to Cassidy in her campaign war chest. He says Landrieu also has a history of winning close elections, which is why they give her a slight edge in the race. Kondik says Louisiana's unique open primary system for federal elections also gives Landrieu an edge.
State health officials say now is the time to get the flu shot, even though the peak of the influenza season in Louisiana is not until February. The state department of health and hospitals flu shot expert, Doctor Frank Welch, says it's best to get the shot now, before the flu bug gets you. DHH urges everyone six months and older to get a flu shot. Welch says it’s especially important for pregnant women, adults 65 and older and children under the age of five to get the flu shot. He reminds Louisiana residents that the flu is an illness that can kill.
Another West Nile virus death has been reported by the state Department of Health and Hospitals. It is the fourth death in the state this year. DHH said the death is from Ouachita Parish, the second death in that parish this year. The other two deaths were in Rapides Parish. DHH also confirmed four new West Nile virus cases this past week, bringing this year’s total to 55 cases.
Two Americans remain hostages of pirates on a Louisiana owned ship off the coast of Nigeria. The C-Retiever ship, which is owned by Edison Chouest Offshore, was attacked by Nigerian pirates last Wednesday. Tulane maritime law director Martin Davies says the kidnappers are likely demanding money for the safe return of the two men. Davies says these hostage situations off the coast of Africa could go on for months, but if the kidnappers are seeking ransom, then the victims are usually treated well. According to the International Maritime Bureau there's been 40 piracy attacks in the first three quarters of 2013 in the Gulf of Guinea, where this attack occurred. Davies says companies who vessels that work in these areas, understand the dangers and purchase insurance for it.
A group of business, faith and conservative leaders from Louisiana are headed to Washington DC today to urge members of Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Group spokesman Randy Hayden says it's vital to Louisiana's economy to help immigrant workers become Americans so they can easily enter the workforce. Hayden says reform is needed in agricultural visas to help our farmers and also reform in high-tech visas to help colleges and universities.
With less than a month until the runoff election for Louisiana's 5th Congressional District, the two Republican's vying for that job are campaigning hard to come out on top. Columbia state Senator Neil Riser has been considered front-runner all along. He says he'll bring true conservatism to Congress for Louisiana. Political newcomer Vance McAllister is Riser's opponent. He has run a largely self-funded campaign and finished in the October 19th election with 18% of the vote, to Riser's 32%. McAllister suggests Riser has become a career politician, and voters now want something else. Both men will spend the next three weeks campaigning hard to win voters over - especially the many Democrats and independent voters in District 5.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has been the subject of some controversy this week regarding the way it chooses to refer to itself. The school says it's not trying to change its name, but State Senator Francis Thompson of Delhi is one of many who doesn't think it's right for UL-Lafayette to simply have "Louisiana" on its jerseys. Many Ragin' Cajuns feel most of the outrage is coming from the ULM nation but before the Monroe school was known as The Warhawks, they used "Louisiana Indians" on their football helmets. Thompson says he's gotten many calls from angry ULM alumni who are angry the Lafayette school is trying to refer to itself as Louisiana.
The LSU Tigers head into the bye week ranked 13th in the coaches poll and 11th in the AP poll after beating Furman 48-to-16 on Saturday night.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw five touchdown passes as New Orleans improved to 6-and-1 on the season with a 35-17 win over the Buffalo Bills.