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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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Les Miles says he’s doing fine after visiting the hospital, he just had a little too much coffee after not having it in his diet for a few months. Miles missed his weekly press conference on Monday but returned to campus in the afternoon for a successful practice.

“I had a very quality medical staff that decided that I should go get some examination and testing and they did a great job and took care of me and I appreciate that very much and now I just want everyone to know that everything is fine and we’re ready to roll.”

LSU’s first home game is Saturday against McNeese State. Miles says McNeese is a very quality football team and they have some skilled receivers and running backs. He says the Tigers are looking forward to playing another Louisiana team in Death Valley after finishing the last season on the road.

“This is an instate school, they know us and we know them, and in fact it’s a reason for this state to fill Tiger Stadium and enjoy football Louisiana style, McNeese and LSU.”

Miles says both Jennings and Harris showed great progress during training camp and he wouldn’t hesitate to play both quarterbacks but ultimately, sophomore Brandon Harris will be starting on Saturday for the McNeese game.

“I just think he’s continued to improve and again it’s just a vision and an observation.”



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The latest Republican presidential polls in Iowa show Governor Bobby Jindal rounding up very little support.  A Monmouth University survey shows Jindal receiving one-percent of Iowa Republican caucus goers support, while a Bloomberg/Des Moines Register poll shows him with two-percent.  

Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says this has got to be discouraging for Jindal's campaign.
"He's spending money on television, he's going to be in every county, he says that he has standing room only crowds, but the polls aren't reflecting his optimism."

In the Bloomberg poll, Jindal's favorability was within the top 5 candidates which could be an indicator that the governor should be able to improve his standing in the Republican field.  But Pinsonat says the fact that Jindal is a sitting governor could be working against him.

"At the present time, the majority of the Republican voters who are paying attention, aren't enthused by someone who's been elected.  They're looking for someone who's not part of the system and not part of the problem."

He says Jindal has a few months left to generate some excitement around his campaign and move up in the polls.  Pinsonat says you can expect Jindal to remain in the race at least through the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.

"I'm sure he's going to try to hang on until February, March, April.  But, unless his numbers move up dramatically, by the time the spring gets here, he won't be around." 


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LSU releases its plan to bring Mike the Tiger into Tiger Stadium for home games. Spokesperson for the School of Veterinary Medicine Ginger Guttner says although Mike VI didn’t attend any games in the 2014 season, they’re going to try to get him into his trailer for the first three home games.

“There is just really no way to know why he will or won’t go. It is entirely up to him, they open the door to the trailer, they open the door to the night house and we leave it up to him to see whether or not he’s going to go.”

Mike IV has been to 32 out of 52 home games that have taken place since he arrived at LSU in 2007. She says they aren’t sure what keeps him from attending games, but they keep careful records of which games he goes to and what the weather was like. Guttner says LSU has tried various things to get Mike to go.

“Putting food in his trailer will not work. He is not a dog, he is a cat and they are not food motivated. Even if we were to not feed him then put food in there, that doesn’t work with him.”

Guttner says if he doesn’t load after the first three games, they will reassess the situation. She says although everyone wants to see Mike on the field, it’s an honor and a privilege to have a live tiger on campus.

“He’s the only live tiger that lives on a college campus in the United States and so I know that all of the fans, as much as they want to see him on the field, we certainly want to do the best that we can for his care.”



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The old days of renting movies is over as the last Blockbuster store in Louisiana is closing. Owner Billy Mobley says his Opelousas location doesn’t do enough business to justify keeping their doors open. He says before the digital age, business was booming.

“The video business was good for many years, I’ve been in it since 1990 and had five Blockbuster stores up until 2010 and that’s when we started closing them.”

Mobley says the internet is one of the main culprits, along with social media and satellite TV, for ending video rentals. He says many loyal customers are heartbroken over the Blockbuster going out of business and he expects the store will close for good in mid-October.

“We were down probably 30% from last year. At that point it just wasn’t enough business to justify staying open and generally the summer is some of our best months of the year.”

Mobley says once the store closes, he’s moving on to the hair salon business. He says they’ll be selling all remaining movies for very low prices until everything goes. 

“Generally if the price is too high week two or three then by week six it will be the price people want to pay for it.”



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Voter Registration Week begins is underway and runs through Friday, urging residents with a valid Louisiana driver's license to register in person or online. Secretary of State Tom Schedler says this week is important because of the upcoming fall elections in Louisiana. He encourages those who are already registered voters to make sure their information is up-to-date.

"The main purpose is for those who are not a part of that 15 percent that aren't, to go ahead and register to vote," Schedler said. "It's easier than ever now."
There are a number of ways a person can register: online through geauxvote.com, in person or through the mail. Schedler says that those who want to vote in the gubernatorial primary should register soon.
"In order to vote in the Oct. 24 election, you have to be registered to vote by the close of business on Wed., Sept. 23," he said.
Schedler says turnout in the state's previous elections has been around the 50 to 55 percentage mark. He wants to raise that number to the percentage often seen in presidential elections.
"Exercise your right, and it starts with the voter registration."


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The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s office has made an arrest in connection with the murder of a Stark man. Sheriff Tony Mancuso says 33-year-old Jody Barlow was found dead in a wooded area from gunshot wounds. Mancuso says Zachary Bench has been booked into the Calcasieu Correctional Center and charged with second degree murder, armed robbery and obstruction of justice.

“Through our investigation and leads we were able to get from people and surveillance footage we were able to obtain from some local stores around there, we were able to put some pieces together and arrest Zachary A. Bench, 21, of Vinton.”

Mancuso believes the motive of the murder was robbery. He says the investigation found Barlow’s truck, utility vehicle and trailer were missing along with guns, an iPad and other personal items.

“There really is no logical reason. There was no fight that we know of, no struggle. We just believe he wanted what he had and the only way to get it was to kill him.”

Mancuso says they discovered Barlow’s truck and other items in the woods completely burned. He says Bench and Barlow did not know each other well.

“They did but not very well, they were not long term friends or anything like that from what we can gather.”



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The State Fire Marshal's Office says a 2-year-old girl was killed and her mother injured in a house fire in Monroe.  State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says little Kataleya Williams and her mother were inside the home when the fire broke out Sunday afternoon.

"When the Ouachita Parish Firefighters responded, they found significant fire in the building.  The mother was injured and the 2-year-old toddler perished in the fire."

He says burglar bars on the home hampered escape efforts.  Neighbors and firefighters were able to remove them, allowing the mother to escape.  Browning says they believe the fire was caused by a pot left unattended on the stove.

"The mother said they were cooking.  She went to another part of the home when she smelt smoke and saw significant fire."

Authorities say the body of Williams was found under a table in the living room of the home in an apparent attempt to hide from the blaze.  Browning says they don't believe there were working smoke alarms in the home.  He says this is just a sad situation.

"It's just a real tragic scene.  We're still piecing together some more information.  But it's just a bad thing to happen." 


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The state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control has suspended the alcohol license for the Wet & Wild Saloon in Houma after drugs and prostitution were discovered there.  ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office uncovered some disturbing video evidence against the establishment.

"Including videos that show drugs being sold, prostitution being promoted, amongst a long list of illegal activities happening in this place."

ATC cited the business for numerous violations including allowing entertainers to engage in lewd and immoral acts and improperly allowing employees to solicit drinks from patrons for a fee.  TPSO has arrested the owners, Lance and Rachel Smiley, on numerous charges.  Hebert says this type of activity is something his office will not tolerate.

"And when we reviewed the video tapes of what's going on over there, they certainly don't deserve the privilege to sell alcohol.  And the types of activities that's going on over there actually, in my opinion, endangered the public health and safety." 


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After confiscating Confederate flags on Friday, West Monroe High School principal Shelby Ainsworth says he hopes people will understand the school's new policy. He says after the tragedy in South Carolina, the entire nation has put restrictions on the Confederate flag, and this is just a continuation of those efforts.
"We want to do our part to comply and cooperate with our country's officials," Ainsworth said.
At the beginning of the school year, Ainsworth says he and school officials told students they could not fly the Confederate flag from their vehicles. Ainsworth says this past Friday he announced that this policy would be enacted during the football games and other school events as well. Although some thought the school would not allow students to wear Rebel themed attired, Ainsworth says that was not the case.
"We were basically isolating strictly on the flying of the Confederate flag," he said.
Ainsworth says the school has designed its own West Monroe rebels flag in recent years, and the school supports students flying that as well as the American flag. He says students may wear rebel or Confederate flag clothing, and the policy only applies to flying the flag on campus.
"We're just sensitive to the concerns of the nation in general," Ainsworth said. 


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The Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office says three people have been arrested after allegedly striking moving vehicles with full one-gallon water jugs.  Lt. Col. Bobby Webre says their investigation led to the arrest of 19-year-old Chance Lambert, 18-year-old Layne Goodman, and 17-year-old James McCormack.

"Just a bad, terrible prank that these folks were doing and thank goodness no one was seriously injured.  But we know the potential there that could have happened."

He says vehicles were damaged in the incidents.  Webre says the suspects would throw the water jugs from a moving vehicle, which made the situation even more dangerous.

"The car would be coming head-on at them with bright lights on and, as they passed by, they threw the jugs out of the moving vehicle at another moving vehicle.  So you had twice the impact."

It is reported that Lambert is a volunteer firefighter with the Galvez-Lake Volunteer Fire Department.  The suspects are being charged with felony aggravated criminal damage to property.

"They were teenagers, but they certainly weren't minors so they are being charged as adults in this."   


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