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Collapse of oil prices hits investors hard

The collapse of oil prices has chopped $393 billion out of publicly traded companies’ share prices since June, hitting investors where it hurts, according to Roughly $353 billion of the hit came from 76 companies in the Bloomberg Intelligence North America Exploration & Production Index, with the remainder from high-yield energy bonds issued by… Continue reading →

Uber launches ride-share service in Lafayette

The ride-share service, Uber, launches in Lafayette Friday afternoon with Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel as “rider zero.” The service will be available to the public starting at 1 p.m. “We are excited that this service will be available in Lafayette. Many Lafayette residents have been requesting this service, and we are thrilled that Uber has… Continue reading →

Report says Louisiana has second-highest gun death rate in nation

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Two people console one another on the scene of a shooting death under investigation by Baton Rouge police the morning of Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at 4965 Jefferson Avenue near N. Foster Drive.

A report released Thursday says Louisiana had the second highest rate of gun fatalities in the country in 2013, trailing only Alaska. The Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit group, found that Louisiana had 19.15 gun deaths per 100,000 people in 2013, well above the national average of 10.64 deaths per 100,000. Alaska had 19.59 deaths.… Continue reading →

La. Bancorp reports higher fourth-quarter profit

Metairie-based Louisiana Bancorp, the holding company for Bank of New Orleans, reported its fourth-quarter profit grew to $799,000, or 30 cents per share, compared with $638,000, or 24 cents per share, a year ago.
The company increased net interest income by $46,000 and non-interest income by $182,000.
For the year, the company reported net income of $2.8 million, or… Continue reading →

Rap mogul ‘Suge’ Knight arrested on murder charge in fatal hit-and-run

This image from video shows Death Row Records founder Marion

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Death Row Records founder Marion “Suge” Knight was arrested early Friday on a murder charge in a fatal hit-and-run. Knight was arrested at about 3 a.m. and was being held on $2 million bail, said Sgt. Diane Hecht of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s information office. She said he is being held… Continue reading →

Here are 3 New Orleans parades to get the party started this weekend

Advocate photo by VERONICA DOMINACH -- Grandpa Danni Pergies holds granddaughter, Chole Shreiber, 4 on his shoulders to catch some beads at the It's Five O'clock Somewhere themed Mystick Krewe of Perseus parade in Slidell, La. on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014.

SATURDAY Krewe du Vieux: Take a walk on the wild side as Krewe du Vieux roams the streets of the Faubourg Marigny, the French Quarter and the CBD for its irreverent look at life and times. 6:30 p.m.: Parade begins at Royal Street and Franklin Avenue, heads through the French Quarter and ends at the ball.… Continue reading →

Walt Handelsman: Straaaange news

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 →

Maps released Thursday detail proposed upgrades to Baton Rouge lakes

Advocate file photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Hundreds of white pelicans fish for food on the LSU lakes along Darymple Drive Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2012.

Ideas to turn the ailing LSU lakes into a showcase for Baton Rouge range from dredging the sediment that’s been choking the water bodies to building boardwalks and parks and restricting traffic. But first, the public has to weigh in. And that was the purpose of an exercise Thursday night at the Lod Cook… Continue reading →

Trial date set on Walker man accused of ripping fetus from wife’s body

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Officials stand outside a residence on Oct. 23, 2012, near Walker, where Jeffery Reynolds is said to have ripped a fetus from his wife's body. His trial on attempted second-degree murder, feticide and battery on a police officer is scheduled Sept. 21.

Accused of carving a fetus out of his pregnant wife’s body, Jeffery Reynolds will appear before a jury in Livingston Parish on Sept. 21. The 33-year-old appeared in state district court for a pretrial conference Thursday morning when the trial date was set. No other aspects of the case were discussed. Reynolds faces one count… Continue reading →

Special BESE meeting sought on Common Core; discussion needed on how to handle students who opt out tests, member says

Advocate file photos -- Lottie Beebe, left, and Chas Roemer

A member of Louisiana’s top school board said she and three other panel members want a special meeting to discuss upcoming Common Core tests, including students who skip the exams. Lottie Beebe, a member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, made her comments in an email Wednesday to BESE President Chas Roemer.… Continue reading →

Abortion rights supporters: Louisiana ‘vastly exceeds’ its governing authority of abortion clinics

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON --  In this file photo, New Orleans lawyer Ellie Schilling testifies in front of the House Committee on Health and Welfare against HB388 authored by State Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, in 2014 at the Louisiana State Capitol.

The state Department of Health and Hospitals has gone too far in its proposed rules governing the operation of abortion clinics, abortion rights interests testified Thursday. “These regulations vastly exceed DHH’s statutory authority,” said Ellie Schilling, a New Orleans lawyer representing the outpatient clinics that terminate pregnancies. About 80 people attended the… Continue reading →

Tom Benson ups ante in proposal to take Saints, Pels out of estranged heirs’ trust

New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson holds a miniature replica of a statue of him during an unveiling ceremony outside the Mecedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. Behind him are Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, left, Benson's wife Gayle Benson, an aide, and granddaughter and Saints co-owner Rita Benson LeBlanc, right. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) ORG XMIT: LAGH102

After several days of watching his family’s infighting transfix New Orleans in a way that only his football team typically can, Tom Benson has substantially increased the amount he is offering to place in a group of trusts set up for his now-jilted daughter and two grandchildren, in return for removing from those trusts the Saints and Pelicans… Continue reading →

Missing semi-automatic rifle mysteriously dropped off at the home of Sorrento’s police chief

Advocate staff photo provided by David J. Mitchell -- Sorrento Police Chief Fern Barnett puts a once-missing Bushmaster M4 semi-automatic rifle back into her department's storage locker late Thursday morning. Barnett said she realized by mid-January that the rifle had been missing at least for months from the Police Department. After Barnett called around and the missing gun was publicized in some media sources, she said someone dropped off the gun at her home 9 p.m. Wednesday. Ascension Parish sheriff's deputies took that rifle, two other Bushmaster rifles and all other guns in the department later on Thursday and put them in the sheriff's armory for safe keeping. g

Sorrento Police Chief Fern Barnett heard a knock on a door at her home about 9 p.m. Wednesday while she was reading, went to answer and saw the lights of a vehicle pulling out of her driveway off La. 22. She looked out and saw a Bushmaster M4 on a bench under… Continue reading →

Our Views: A bone lady at her work

Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- Mary Manhein, known as

In a world of phony cold-case TV dramas, an LSU professor has been the real thing. Mary Manhein built at LSU the lab and team of forensic anthropologists that are consulted about real-life dramas; she is “the bone lady” who can bring back the faces of the dead. She retires at the end of April, having… Continue reading →

New Iberia man booked in shooting injury of 24-year-old son

Public records? Come get ’em, Central mayor says

Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Central Mayor Jr. Shelton

The city of Central could be turning over a new leaf when it comes to public records. Central Mayor Jr. Shelton vowed to run a transparent government this week after newspaper owner Woody Jenkins asked him how he will approach access to public information. The issue had been controversial under previous Mayor Mac Watts’ administration in… Continue reading →

State Supreme Court urged to rule on same-sex marriage

Lawyers on both sides of a same-sex marriage case urged Louisiana’s Supreme Court on Thursday to rule soon on the matter even though the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to do so by late June. Kyle Duncan, making the state’s argument that its ban on same-sex marriage should stand, argued that the nation’s highest court “needs as… Continue reading →

Inmate claims former Angola guard sexually abused him; guard denies allegation, lands in pretrial program

A state inmate formerly imprisoned at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola claims in a federal lawsuit filed this week that he was sexually molested more than half a dozen times by a corrections lieutenant inside a security booth at the prison early last year. The lieutenant, Tyler Holliday, resigned in March amid the prison’s investigation… Continue reading →

Judge sentenced company owners in scheme to illegally dump wastewater

A federal judge Thursday sentenced the co-owners of a Morgan City industrial waste disposal firm in a scheme to illegally dump wastewater in Belle River and Baton Rouge. Raymond Marcel, 62, of Berwick, and Cyril Robicheaux, 53, of Morgan City, co-owners of RAM Environmental Services, admitted to using false documents and kickbacks to unlawfully dispose… Continue reading →

Youngsville council declares emergency on Chemin Metairie Parkway repairs

Advocate file photo by BRAD BOWIE -- The roundabout at the intersection of Chemin Metairie and E. Milton Avenue is seen Thursday Nov. 6, 2014 in Youngsville.

Newspapers ask Louisiana Supreme Court to release more LSU records

The names and résumés of all 35 candidates considered during LSU’s secret presidential search are public records that should be released, attorneys for The Advocate and The Times-Picayune wrote Thursday in urging Louisiana’s top court to overturn an appellate court decision that would make public only a small portion of documents. The newspapers’ attorneys contend a… Continue reading →

LSU's new football commitment Chidi Valentine-Okeke is a Nigerian with a connection to a current Tigers player

The best way for Mike Tunsil to sum up LSU’s newest commitment is this: “He was the only kid willing to go against Travonte Valentine in practice,” Tunsil said with a laugh. Highly regarded offensive tackle Chidi Valentine-Okeke committed to LSU on Thursday, a surprising commitment from a Nigerian native who’s ranked as a five… Continue reading →

Accused getaway driver in shooting death of West St. John High School coach enters plea

Lemark Cloud

A Baton Rouge man charged as an accessory in the Nov. 16 slaying of West St. John High School quarterbacks coach Juan Joseph outside a Bennington Avenue nightclub pleaded not guilty Thursday. Alleged getaway driver Lemark Cloud, 26, of Baton Rouge, is the cousin of Joseph’s accused killer, Kendric Cloud, 25, of Baker.… Continue reading →

Man wanted on rape charge caught after kidnapping woman and child in Watson

Charles A. Smith

A man wanted on a rape charge in Tangipahoa Parish was arrested in the aggravated kidnapping of a woman and her 2-year-old son from a Watson-area Dollar General store. The St. Helena Sheriff’s Office contacted Livingston Parish deputies about a chase Saturday involving a speeding stolen vehicle that stopped near Calmes Road, a few miles north… Continue reading →

Dow Chemical adjusted profit tops analysts’ estimates

Dow Chemical’s fourth-quarter profit declined, pulled down by some charges. Its adjusted profit easily topped analysts’ expectations, however. For the three months ended Dec. 31, Dow Chemical Co. earned $734 million, or 63 cents per share. That compares with $963 million, or 79 cents per share, a year ago. The… Continue reading →

EBR awarded bike sharing grant

East Baton Rouge has been awarded a technical assistance grant from the Environmental Protection Service that will be used to set up a bike-sharing program in the city. The city-parish was one of 22 communities to be awarded a grant from the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program. The grant will pay for EPA staff and… Continue reading →

Drug deal gone bad might be the story behind Ascension Parish double murder

Advocate photo by David Mitchell -- Shooting scene of double shooting on Latino Street, Donaldsonville.

DONALDSONVILLE — Two men who were gunned down Monday afternoon in front of a Latino Street mobile home may have been robbed in a drug deal gone wrong, the Ascension Parish sheriff said. Sheriff Jeff Wiley said Thursday that a small amount of heroin was found inside the home of Chad Nichols, 37, 178… Continue reading →

Acadiana crime, fire news: Opelousas man guilty in death of 2-year-old

Dominque Jackson

A St. Landry Parish jury on Thursday found Dominique Jackson guilty of second-degree murder in the December 2011 death of 2-year-old Derrion Sam. Jackson, 24, of Opelousas, will be sentenced March 5. He faces mandatory life in prison. Sam’s mother, 23-year-old Latricia Hunt, is awaiting trial on second-degree cruelty to a juvenile,… Continue reading →

Man sentenced to 15 years after downloading child pornography

A federal judge Thursday sentenced a Gonzales man to 15 years in prison for downloading hundreds of child pornography videos at his home. Jason Louis Owens, 34, used peer-to-peer file sharing to download the pornography to his computer and external hard drive, U.S. Attorney Walt Green said in a news release. After an online… Continue reading →

U.S. Senate approves Keystone pipeline despite veto threat

The U.S. Capitol in Washington is seen Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Washington The Keystone XL pipeline got the green light Thursday from the U.S. Senate, moving the legislation to build the project closer to final congressional approval — and closer to an expected veto from President Barack Obama. The fight over Keystone figured prominently in the 2014 U.S. Senate… Continue reading →

David Duke: Steve Scalise is a sellout; I might run against him in next election

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

David Duke said U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise is a sellout and that he might challenge the Republican congressman in the next election. “Steve Scalise, let me tell you something, this is the way I view it now: I mean this guy is a sellout. I mean he’s a sellout. He’s not David. He used to say that… Continue reading →

Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy expansion nears completion

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Construction continues Thursday on a new wing of classrooms at David Thibodaux STEM Academy in Lafayette.

A $9 million expansion of David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy is expected to be complete this spring. Construction in separate areas of the campus will add an engineering lab to one section of the school and a wing of science classrooms and labs to the opposite side of the campus. The engineering lab is expected… Continue reading →

Campaign cash: La.’s top contributors in 2014

The top political donor from Louisiana last year gave at least $86,362 to candidates over the course of the 2014 election cycle, while the next highest donor — who is closely tied to the first — gave at least $70,000, according to a new report. The Center for Public Integrity, a national non-profit, analyzed campaign finance records… Continue reading →

Why Sasol is delaying $14B fuel facility -- the priciest industrial investment in Louisiana history

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- An investment decision has been delayed on a $14 billion gas-to-liquids plant that would be part of the site for an expansion at the Sasol plant in Westlake. The pond would be filled for the expansion. Sasol's existing ethylene plant is in the background.

A decision on a $14 billion chunk of a project touted to be the most expensive industrial investment in Louisiana history was delayed Wednesday because of the collapse in oil prices. South African energy giant Sasol said it will delay its final investment decision on its proposed gas-to-liquids plant in the Lake Charles… Continue reading →

Our Views: Potentially cutting WISE college fund typical of Louisiana budget's chronic mismanagement under Bobby Jindal

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks during his prayer rally,

When the so-called WISE fund was launched, a look behind the news releases showed far less in new money for state colleges than the $40 million advertised. Typical of the chronic mismanagement of the state budget under Gov. Bobby Jindal, a lot of the advertised benefits for colleges were one-time money that was shuffled around in… Continue reading →

Group encourages black moms to breastfeed

A grassroots effort is underway in several U.S. cities to encourage more black women to breastfeed their babies by teaching them the benefits of the age-old practice, which is sometimes shunned in African-American communities.… Continue reading →

Senate heads toward approval of Keystone XL pipeline bill

The U.S. Capitol in Washington is seen Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican-controlled Senate is moving toward passage of a bipartisan bill approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The move defies a veto threat and sets up the first battle with the White House over energy and the environment. The Senate plans to vote later Thursday. It’s the first measure taken up by the… Continue reading →

I-10 West lanes reopened past LA 30 in Ascension after car accident

Update, 10:50 a.m.: All I-10 West lanes near the accident have reopened. Original post A lane of Interstate 10 West at milemarker 175 past La. 30 in Ascension is blocked because of accident. Louisiana Department of Traffic and Development suggests using U.S. 61 as an alternative route. Delays have reached La. 30 as of… Continue reading →