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’Sniper’ shoots down Super Bowl weekend record with $31.9M

Warner Bros. Pictures photo by KEITH BERNSTEIN -- Bradley Cooper appears in a scene from 'American Sniper.'

NEW YORK — “American Sniper” shot down another box-office record: Its $31.9 million is the biggest Super Bowl weekend gross ever. According to studio estimates Sunday, the Clint Eastwood film narrowly surpassed the previous top Super Bowl weekend draw. The concert film “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour” earned $31.1 million in… Continue reading →

Walt Handelsman: Pumped!

Walt Handelsman is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and animator whose work appears in The Advocate four days a week. Follow this link to the cartoon.Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: David Duke once again shows he’s ‘a petulant, resentful, racist, anti-Semitic, self-regarding and seriously thin-skinned low-life’

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, left, and David Duke

So now David Duke is threatening to run against Steve Scalise. Talk about ungrateful. If anything, the former state representative, Ku Klux Klan leader, and way-too-close-for-comfort gubernatorial candidate should be thanking the Metairie congressman for inadvertently shining the spotlight back in his direction. Duke’s been old news for more than a decade now,… Continue reading →

Oil swoon expected to hurt Louisiana, but are the 1980s dark days likely to recur?

Advocate file photo -- Union Texas Petroleum pump jacks pump oil from the company's Sulphur Minesfield in southwestern Louisiana. The pumps are pictured here in Sept. 1985.

For most people, low gasoline prices are a reason to smile: Like a small raise, they mean an extra $10 or $20 of spending money each week. But for many Louisianians of a certain age, cheap gas also calls to mind unpleasant memories of the worst recession to hit the Pelican State in modern times: the oil… Continue reading →

The Advocate’s 2015 Super Dozen: Louisiana’s top high school football recruits

Advocate Photo by KYLE ENCAR --University fullback Nick Brossette tries to stiff arm Parkview Baptist cornerback KJ Drummer in the Division II championship game of the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Prep Classic Division II State Championship game on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014 at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

The class is especially loaded at running back, with a pair of star backs from Baton Rouge in Derrius Guice (Catholic) and Nicholas Brossette (University). Guice and Brossette are considered to be two of the nation’s best backs. Throw in fullback David Ducre (Lakeshore), and the depth of the class at the position is even deeper. Continue reading →

Baton Rouge libraries, BREC decry move by some political to tap into their revenues for other projects

Baton Rouge voters have proved at the polls that they are willing to dig deep for libraries and parks, approving dedicated property taxes just for those amenities. But some local political leaders would like to carve out a portion of those tax dollars for other purposes, particularly new priorities like mental health care.… Continue reading →

Quin Hillyer: Southern bragging about Rev. Jeremiah Wright speaking on campus ‘even more obnoxious’ than Bobby Jindal’s prayer rally

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- A woman holds her arms up in prayer as Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks during his prayer rally,

Those who hate hatred coming from the right should hate hatred coming from the Wright as well. If they don’t, then the rest of us are right to hate their hypocrisy. Background: For more than a month, the grievance-mongers on the left and the media tut-tutters have fulminated against Gov. Bobby Jindal for hosting a… Continue reading →

Students in final preparations for Common Core exams; program to face many hurdles ahead

After months of battles in the Legislature, courts and school boards, Louisiana public school students are in final preparations for the initial round of tests on Common Core. About 300,000 students in grades three through eight are set to take the exams March 16-20, something of a watershed event after bitter arguments for the past… Continue reading →

Bobby Jindal to discuss Common Core in Washington D.C. on Thursday

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will be heading to Washington, D.C. to talk Common Core at the American Principles Project’s annual State Lunch on Thursday. APP is a conservative advocacy group that largely focuses on social issues, notably opposing abortion and same-sex marriage. The group also opposes the Common Core education standards that Jindal has frequently struck out against. APP… Continue reading →

A few days after double murder, Donaldsonville leaders pray for peace, promote civic pride

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- Donaldsonville residents raise their hands as the choir sings Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015, during a prayer service for the Donaldsonville community at Emmanuel Baptist Church.

In a day of unity and healing, Donaldsonville leaders, residents and those from nearby communities gathered at Emmanuel Baptist Church on Saturday morning to pray and sing hymns before heading out to pick up trash from the city’s roadsides. City councilman and Emmanuel Baptist pastor Charles Brown led… Continue reading →

LSU workshop focuses on stalking, and what victims can do

Daria Vinning’s fourth restraining order against her ex-husband expired in early January. She said he’s been stalking her since their divorce proceedings in 2006. She recounted incidents in which she said her ex-husband hopped over the fence in her yard and peeked through the window, slashed her tires and barraged her with texts, online messages and… Continue reading →

Marathon bombing defense likely to focus on dead brother

This combination of file photos shows brothers Tamerlan, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013. Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are pinning their best hopes for saving his life on his dead older brother, Tamerlan. The defense is expected to portray Tamerlan Tsarnaev as the mastermind behind the twin explosions that killed 3 people and wounded more than 260 near the finish line of the 2013 race. He died days later after a gun battle with police. (AP Photos/Lowell Sun and FBI, File)

BOSTON (AP) — Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (joh-HAHR’ tsahr-NEYE’-ehv) are pinning their best hopes for saving his life on his dead older brother. The defense is expected to portray Tamerlan Tsarnaev as the mastermind behind the twin explosions that killed 3 people and wounded more than 260 near the finish line of the… Continue reading →

Obama ties foreign profits tax to public works

FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2015 photo, President Barack Obama speaks at Boise State University in Boise, Idaho.  After a year of relative peace in Washingtons budget battles, Obama will lay out a $4 trillion budget on Monday that needles Republicans with proposals for higher taxes on the wealthy and businesses to pay for education, public works projects and child care.  (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is proposing an ambitious six-year, $478 billion public works program of highway, bridge and transit upgrades. White House officials say half would be paid by a one-time mandatory tax on profits that U.S. companies have amassed in other countries. Under Obama’s proposal, U.S. companies would pay a 14 percent tax… Continue reading →

Officials meet to address safety after aviation calamities

In this Sept. 9, 2014 file photo, a Pro-Russian rebel looks at pieces of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 plane near the village of Rozsypne, eastern Ukraine. After a calamitous year for aviation, hundreds of government and industry officials will gather in Montreal this week in an attempt to reach a consensus on how to prevent any more airliners from disappearing without a trace or being shot down while flying over a conflict zone. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Government and aviation industry officials from dozens of countries are meeting in Montreal this week to try to find consensus on how to keep from losing airliners like the one that vanished without a trace in Asia and another shot down in Eastern Europe. It is only the second high-level safety conference in the… Continue reading →

Some on Baton Rouge Metro Council look at jail privatization

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING --  Main entrance gate near administration Building at East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.

A brand-new Parish Prison is an expensive proposition and likely a tough sell for tax-fatigued voters, but a handful of Metro Council members say they think there’s a way to build it without a tax increase. Several of the Republican members of the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council are floating privatization as a possible solution… Continue reading →

Motorcyclist killed in wreck on Mississippi River Bridge

A Crowley motorcyclist died on the Mississippi River Bridge Friday after accidents with two tractor-trailers, Baton Rouge Police said. Roger Bentley, 47, is suspected of drinking alcohol, which is considered a factor in his death, police spokesman Cpl. Don Coppola Jr. said Saturday in a news release. Bentley, 1292 Morrow Road, Crowley, was driving a… Continue reading →

Metro Buzz: Pointe Coupee fuel card probe proves money saver

Advocate file photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Baton Rouge City Hall

Pointe Coupee Parish employees are charging a lot less on parish-issued fuel cards at local gas stations since the Police Jury started looking into possible misuse of the cards. In fact, the amount being paid on monthly fuel card bills is down 60 percent. Six months ago, the Police Jury was in the midst of an… Continue reading →

New EBR website provides public access to data on crime, employee salaries and more

Finding out where crimes and fires occur in Baton Rouge just became much easier thanks to a new website the city-parish unveiled on Friday. The website, “Open Data BR,” features loads of information about everything from the locations of crimes and car crashes to the salaries of city-parish employees. Anyone with Internet access can… Continue reading →

Battle over Redemptorist High now focusing on what to do next with the campus

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Redemptorist High and Junior High are scheduled to close in May 2015.

Built in the late 1950s, Redemptorist High School’s north Baton Rouge campus has been just that — a school — for its entire existence. After the last students leave on the final day of classes May 21, it’s not clear what the campus will be used for next. Metro Councilwoman Ronnie Williams, who represents the area, said… Continue reading →

LSU board approves contracts of new LSU football coaches Kevin Steele, Ed Orgeron, four other assistants

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- From left, New LSU football defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, LSU head coach Les Miles and defensive line coach Ed Orgeron.

SHREVEPORT — The LSU Board of Supervisors approved the contracts Friday of new LSU defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and defensive line coach Ed Orgeron. Steele, hired to replace John Chavis earlier this month, has a two-year contract for $1 million a year. Orgeron, who replaced the reassigned Brick Haley, has a two-year… Continue reading →

Jindal seeks option for students who plan to skip Common Core tests

Gov. Bobby Jindal on Friday urged Louisiana’s top school board to let students who plan to skip Common Core tests in March take alternate assessments. Jindal, in an unusual executive “order,” said such a move would be preferable to “penalizing students, teachers and schools and jeopardizing our statewide accountability system.” Chas Roemer, president… Continue reading →

West Feliciana teacher resigns amid accusations she kicked, slapped and berated a first-grader

A first-grade teacher in St. Francisville resigned this week amid an investigation into allegations she berated, kicked and slapped a student during a lunch break at Bains Lower Elementary School. West Feliciana Parish sheriff’s deputies issued an arrest warrant for the teacher, Chanel M. Lemelle, on Thursday on a count of cruelty to juveniles after a… Continue reading →

Ex-Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix makes fun of LSU for hiring defensive coordinator Kevin Steele

Green Bay Packers' Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (21). (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has been busy the past few months. So maybe now he's just now hearing the news of LSU hiring Kevin Steele as its new defensive coordinator. Continue reading →

Six hours after release from jail on a DWI count, Duson man is arrested again after fatal car crash in Evangeline Parish

Six hours after he was released from jail on a DWI count, a Duson man believed to be drunk drove into another car Friday, killing its 52-year-old driver, State Police said. Michael Fontenot, 47, was arrested on vehicular homicide in the crash at 5:30 p.m. on La. 3042 near the intersection with Lincoln Road in Evangeline… Continue reading →

Lafayette’s emergency command to get first new director in 36 years

Capt. Craig Stansbury, left, and Capt. John Babin

Lafayette Parish’s emergency command, which oversees the local 911 system and emergency and homeland security operations, will undergo a leadership change for the first time in three decades after its director retires in March. Capt. Craig Stansbury, who serves as executive officer of the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office enforcement division, will replace William Vincent… Continue reading →

Lafayette espresso bar wants to turn signature piano into work of art

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Carpe Diem!, a Lafayette gelato and espresso bar, is calling on local artists to submit ideas for turning the signature piano that sits outside into a work of art. The Paint the Piano Project is Carpe Diem!âs part in Lafayette Consolidated Governmentâs Project Front Yard, in which business and civic leaders look for ways to clean up and beautify the city.

Carpe Diem!, a Lafayette gelato and espresso bar, is calling on local artists to submit ideas for turning the signature piano that sits outside into a work of art. The upright Hobart M. Cable piano is played by anyone who can, filling the ears of those passing by the popular Jefferson Street establishment.… Continue reading →

UL-Lafayette faculty, staff receive pay raises

For the first time in six years, University of Louisiana at Lafayette faculty and staff received pay raises. Increases in student enrollment and tuition helped ensure the university could fund the average 4 percent pay boosts this month for both faculty and staff based on merit evaluations, said James Henderson, UL-Lafayette provost and academic vice president.… Continue reading →

Lafayette man accepts plea deal in 2010 beating death of UL-Lafayette student

Police arrested three people Thursday in the Oct. 28 beating death of a UL Lafayette student and the attempted killing of the man's roommate on McKinley Street.    Ian Trahan and Wayland J. Guillory both were arrested on counts of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.  Cody Moore was arrested on counts of accessory after the fact to first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.

One of two men scheduled to stand trial this year in the October 2010 beating death of a Lafayette college student pleaded guilty to manslaughter this past week. The plea deal requires Wayland Guillory to testify against the other defendant, Ian Trahan. Guillory, of Lafayette, and Trahan, of Youngsville, were both charged with… Continue reading →

Bathroom heater sparks apartment fire in Baton Rouge

A faulty bathroom heater sparked a fire Friday afternoon at a Florida Boulevard apartment, officials said. No one was injured. The Baton Rouge Fire Department arrived at 10550 Florida Blvd. about 1:44 p.m. Friday and brought the blaze under control within 40 minutes, Fire Department spokesman Mark Miles said in a new release.… Continue reading →

Jobs increase in metro areas

The Baton Rouge and New Orleans metropolitan areas were pacemakers as nonfarm employment increased in seven of Louisiana’s eight metros in December, the Louisiana Workforce Commission reported Friday. Those numbers, which are not seasonally adjusted, also show statewide nonfarm employment edged past the 2 million mark for the first time in history. Three days earlier, the LWC… Continue reading →

Initial unemployment claims fall in Louisiana

First-time claims for unemployment insurance in Louisiana for the week ending Jan. 24 decreased to 2,531 from the previous week’s total of 2,987. For the comparable week a year earlier, there were 2,220 claims, state labor department figures released Friday show. The four-week moving average, which is a less volatile measure of claims, increased to 2,733… Continue reading →

Politics blog: FEMA aid to Louisiana totals more than $554 million in 2014

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Abandoned homes dot the shoulder of Highway 22 along the Amite River in Maurepas, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. An $11 million FEMA grant is being used to purchase flood-prone properties in Livingston Parish and either tear them down, or raise them above flood levels has been applied to many properties along Highway 22 in the parish.

Washington — The Federal Emergency Management Agency funneled more than half a billion dollars to Louisiana in 2014 for recovery from disasters going back to 2005 and other needs, the agency said Friday. To read the complete blog entry, please click here.… Continue reading →

Politics blog: Politico: Jindal to rebrand federal PAC to match new fundraising arm

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks during a prayer rally, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Baton Rouge. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Stand Up To Washington political action committee is being renamed to match up with a super PAC supporting his potential run for president. According to, both will be called “Believe Again” — building on a theme Jindal has repeated as he’s traveled the country to build support for a possible presidential run.… Continue reading →

Black & Gold blog: After testing shoulder at Pro Bowl, Jimmy Graham says he will avoid surgery

Jimmy Graham No. 80 is interviewed post-game after the NFL Pro Bowl Game on Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015, in Glendale, Aria. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)

PHOENIX — For most, it’s hard to find meaning in the Pro Bowl. But that’s not the case for Saints fans this year. New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham used last week’s exhibition as a barometer for whether or not he would need surgery to repair a nagging shoulder injury. He has determined an operation is not… Continue reading →

CNN: NFL gets billions in subsidies from U.S. taxpayers

In a story appearing on its website, CNN is reporting that U.S. taxpayers are subsidizing the highly profitable National Football League, regardless of whether they are fans or not. The NFL is the most profitable pro sports league in the U.S., raking in an estimated $1 billion in profits on $10.5 billion in revenue last season, figures… Continue reading →

Politics blog: Gov Jindal will fully fund TOPS

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks to a crowd, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Baton Rouge. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)

Though the Jindal administration is looking at cutting governments 15 percent to 20 percent, cutting healthcare budgets and slashing state support for colleges and universities, TOPS will not be touched. The popular merit-based scholarship, Taylor Opportunity Program for Students will be fully funded, the state Division of Administration said in a press statement Friday. TOPS pays tuition… Continue reading →

State Fire Marshal: Marksville house fire claims four lives late Thursday

A man, his two children and his mother were killed late Thursday night after a fire tore through their home in the 600 block of Bill Belt Road, authorities said. Stanley Charrier, 32, perished in the fire, as did his 62-year-old mother, Catherine Charrier, his 9-year-old son, Carlin, and his 12-year-old stepdaughter, Emily Graham, the State… Continue reading →

Black & Gold blog: Drew Brees attributes some of Saints’ struggles to ‘disconnect’ between veterans, young players

Drew Brees

PHOENIX — These Saints, the ones who won seven games and missed the playoffs, weren’t the same Saints that used to dominate teams at the Superdome and once won a Super Bowl. Those teams had veteran leadership and set of values they could fall back on. These Saints lacked those values. The old guys and the young… Continue reading →