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Walt Handelsman for Dec. 19, 2014

Here is the latest from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and animator Walt Handelsman. Continue reading →

Our Views: For Castro, a victory

FILE - In this July 31, 2004 file photo, Cuba's President Fidel Castro, left, and his brother, Minister of Defense Raul Castro, attend a Parliament session in Havana, Cuba. The 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union devastated the Cuban economy, but the country limped along, first under Fidel and then, after he fell ill in 2006, under his brother Raul, head of the Cuban military. On Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, the U.S. and Cuba agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations and open economic and travel ties, marking a historic shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island after a half-century of enmity dating back to the Cold War. (AP Photo/Cristobal Herrera, File)

Not to be too personal about this, but it’s a shame that Fidel Castro has lived to see this day. He’ll see it as a victory in his lifelong struggle against the United States and the values that it stands for. Ailing and pushing 90, the tyrant relinquished power years ago. But it… Continue reading →

Our Views: Hiding in theaters

The last thing anybody was going to do the second week of September in 2001 was hide. We gathered in churches and temples and mosques, in public plazas across the land. We flew on airplanes. We refused to allow terrorism to disrupt our daily lives. Now, we’re not showing… Continue reading →

Letter: Insurance solutions lie with Jindal, lawmakers

I have been observing with great interest the problems as they relate to retiree insurance. Retirees and others did not cause this problem. Why is the governor’s answer to solve the problem being handled with such hastiness? When this problem was brought to the public, few lay people were aware of the problems. According… Continue reading →

Letter: Grace gets it wrong about tax pledge

In Stephanie Grace’s Dec. 14 column, “The pledge against common sense,” she wrote that I insist that the Taxpayer Protection Pledge is a promise to Louisiana taxpayers. In truth, I don’t have to insist as much; the clear language of the pledge, which Grace quotes after the first sentence, makes clear that it is a commitment to taxpayers,… Continue reading →

Letter: Look to the Dutch for land-loss solution

An article published on Oct. 6, “Plans for port still in motion,” by Bill Lodge, described a new container port to be built south of Venice, in open water owned by the state. Looks like a nice idea, since it will be located at the very mouth of a waterway, the Mississippi River, that touches more states than… Continue reading →

Guest column: Sony shows spine deficit in pulling movie

This photo provided by Columbia Pictures - Sony shows, James Franco, center left, as Dave, and Seth Rogen as Aaron, in Columbia Pictures'

At LSU, we teach that American political satire has popped super-sized egos and made the country better for 250 years. After this week, we need to change our curriculum. That’s because a repressive government 7,000 miles away decided that Americans should see James Bond or Elvis Presley movies this Christmas rather than “The Interview,” a comedy… Continue reading →

Our Views: Despite its inflammatory views, let American Family Association, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal have their prayer rally at LSU

Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal addresses the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, La., Thursday, May 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

Universities, of all places, should be forums that accommodate many kinds of views, even those that are controversial. Free speech and vigorous debate, after all, are what campuses are supposed to be about. That’s why a conservative religious group should be allowed to stage a rally at LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center,… Continue reading →

Letter: Comment falsely attributed to president in cartoon

I am puzzled by the political cartoon on the opinion page of your Nov. 28 issue. It depicts President Obama inserting the word “stupid” before the word “people” in the “We the People” preamble to the Constitution of the United States. I initially thought that the president must have said something that possibly could be construed… Continue reading →

Letter: Affordable Care Act working better than previous insurance

As I read letters from the Rev. Pam Hartman and Kevin Williams to The Advocate’s Opinion section, I feel compelled to write and express my support for the Affordable Care Act. As a self-employed, 59-year-old woman, I am grateful to finally be able to have health insurance coverage that works. For the last seven… Continue reading →

Guest column: Health insurance premiums poised to spike in 2017

Louisianans have been knee-deep in the Affordable Care Act’s second open enrollment period, which began on Nov. 15 and closed Monday. Many are finding what appears to be a pleasant surprise: Average premiums for the cheap “bronze” plans have increased by 3.9 percent, while premiums for the middle-of-the-road “silver” plans are rising by 4.1 percent. The Affordable Care… Continue reading →

Our Views: Cheating on districts

A staggering statistic ought to spur thought about political reform of the U.S. House of Representatives. In the election that just concluded, all 435 seats in the House were up for election nationwide. And of all those seats, only 22 were rated on Election Day as toss-ups between the two major… Continue reading →

Letter: La. not giving anything away; just taking less than others

The recent headline story and companion editorial in The Advocate was titled “Giving Away Loui$iana.” For the title to work, it must start with the assumption that all income and profit earned by the state’s citizens and companies belongs first to the state. Then the state gives varying portions of it to those citizens and companies.… Continue reading →

Letter: Common Core is right for Louisiana

The Louisiana State Department of Education made the correct choice to require Common Core State Standards for public schools’ curriculum. They made the correct choice because evaluating the teachers will let the schools know if a teacher is doing his or her job correctly, and the new standards for math will help high school students do… Continue reading →

Lanny Keller: Have you heard? There's a quiet revolution happening in Baton Rouge's economy

With the business pages filled with headlines about expansions in petrochemical manufacturing, it is easy to miss the quieter revolution underway in Baton Rouge’s metropolitan economy. That is the knowledge economy, sometimes creeping into existence and sometimes hobbled by bad decisions by political leaders thinking only in the short term. The headlines for industrial expansions are… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Sneering press release, bragging about 'retiring' Mary Landrieu proof Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal out of line

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana addresses activists from America's political right at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington in this Feb. 11, 2012, file photo. Jindal planned to file a lawsuit Wednesday against the Obama administration, accusing it of illegally manipulating federal grant money and regulations to force states to adopt the Common Core education standards. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Although he says he’s still praying over whether to seek the 2016 Republican nomination, clearly Gov. Bobby Jindal envisions himself as a potential president. So let’s say, for argument’s sake, that he runs and wins (bear with me here). And let’s say that one of his cabinet secretaries plans a trip to some state run… Continue reading →

Guest column from Dillard president Walter Kimbrough: TOPS more an engine of inequality than opportunity, should have income-level cap

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Students from Ascension Christian High Gonzales' School, clockwise from left, Amanda Swanson,  Kenedi Falgoust, Austin Kinler, Brennan Normand and Micah Jacobs, all 17, fill out entries for a $1,000 Louisiana Education Loan Authority  (LELA) scholarship award, just for attending the National College Fair, a program offered by the National Association for College Admission Counseling,  Wednesday at the River Center. LELA administrative assistant Kayla Thomas is at right, seated. Catholic High School's Jennifer Thibodeaux, chairperson of the local event, said that nearly 100 colleges, universities and related support groups were on hand to give information and guidance to approximately 4,000 high school seniors, most from the Greater Baton Rouge area, but some from other areas of the state and Mississippi. Workshops on TOPS and financial aid, ACT/SAT strategies, choosing a college major and NCAA compliance were held in the morning and evening.

The Louisiana Board of Regents recently released a report analyzing the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students from 2003 to 2014. The program, initiated in 1998, had four major objectives. They include promoting success and providing financial incentives. But a key point is to “promote access and success” in postsecondary education. Sadly, TOPS is more of an… Continue reading →

Our Views: Big grant, big gaps

When U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited Louisiana this week, he came bearing gifts: a big federal grant to provide new and better prekindergarten classes for more than 10,000 Louisiana youngsters. The state was among 13 that won grants, announced Wednesday in connection with a White House event on early childhood… Continue reading →

Letter: Make safety a priority on the road

Another phone call in the middle of the night. Another notification by my team, “Colonel, we have a fatal crash with four dead in Avoyelles.” As I sit here awake, I can’t help but recall the phone calls I’ve received or made over my seven years as superintendent and 34 years as a state… Continue reading →

Letter: Air standards should apply to farmers

As I write this, I’m gasping for air. I can’t breathe. I have asthma. And I have an eye condition that prevents me from using steroids to control it. Sugar cane grinding has started and farmers are burning their fields, polluting the air and taking my breath away. They do… Continue reading →

Our Views: An agency in error

FILE - In this Dec. 11, 2014 file photo, CIA Director John Brennan speaks during a news conference at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.  From the early stages of the CIAs program of harsh interrogations of terror detainees, the agencys health professionals were intimately involved, according to this weeks Senate report. Senior CIA medical officials helped the agency and the White House under President George W. Bush arrange the use of harsh tactics. Front-line medics and psychologists monitored and sometimes aided in the abusive treatment while complaining about the ethical dilemmas gnawing at them.  (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

A phrase that is usually used to apologize for egregious behavior is nevertheless appropriate: Mistakes were made in enhanced interrogation. We do not, and cannot, make light of the damaging disclosures about the scope of the harsh techniques — literally torture, for some of the targets held by the Central Intelligence Agency.… Continue reading →

Letter: Secondhand smoke is public health risk

My name is Mitchell Lirtzman. I have been a cardiothoracic surgeon for over 30 years, most of which have been spent operating on the consequences of tobacco abuse. I strongly agree with New Orleans City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell’s ordinance proposal and support a 100 percent smoke-free New Orleans. As a member of the Louisiana Committee for Advocacy of… Continue reading →

Letter: Ending life can be well-thought choice

The recent guest column on suicide does not consider all situations where suicide may occur or be desired. The non-medical suicide options were ignored. People choose to jump off bridges, shoot themselves, and walk into traffic. Other people who want to end their lives may not have those options. A rational person could decide, based on his judgement… Continue reading →

Letter: Jindal, Nichols owe state answers on budget

I read the Nov. 15 paper and saw that the state needs a midyear budget correction. Has anyone questioned the Jindal administration on why this occurs every year? Also, in your paper just a few weeks ago, Gov. Jindal and his commissioner of administration, Kristy Nichols, stated that they had a surplus of money. Someone needs to question… Continue reading →

Walt Handelsman for Dec. 14, 2014

Here is the latest from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and animator Walt Handelsman. Continue reading →

Quin Hillyer: Cassidy still owes some answers

Louisiana’s U.S. Senate race is blessedly over, but a few loose ends unfortunately remain. Each camp still should answer for allegations of misconduct. The first allegation — the most serious if true, although the least likely to have led to discoverable, punishable violations — was that Opelousas Mayor Donald Cravins induced voting fraud… Continue reading →

James Gill: Restoration races against time

Louisiana’s $50 billion coastal restoration plan comes with two slight problems. It is not guaranteed to work, and we don’t have the $50 billion. The scientific challenge has been compared to the one faced by NASA when it was shooting for the moon. Lobbying Congress for the requisite funds, meanwhile, may be like reaching for the… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: The Pledge against common sense

It’s known, in shorthand, as the pledge, and it sounds straightforward enough. “I, ____________, pledge to the taxpayers of the state of ____________, that I will oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.” That’s the entirety of the “taxpayer protection pledge,” promulgated by the Washington, D.C., group Americans for Tax Reform.… Continue reading →

Our Views: Permanent campaign mode

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Mayor Mitch Landrieu and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan are greeted at Arthur Ashe Charter School in Gentilly with the school's band playing

Education Secretary Arne Duncan received a warm welcome in New Orleans on Thursday when he spoke to the Bureau of Governmental Research, and he returned the favor by praising the city for its fearlessness in rebuilding public education. So it’s hard to understand why, before the secretary even opened his mouth, Gov. Bobby Jindal felt compelled… Continue reading →

Our Views: Lessons of savings

The nature of the “red state” and “blue state” shorthand necessarily does not reflect the richness of the differences in politics and culture among America’s states. But if the cliché illuminates anything these days, it is on the issue of expanded health insurance for the working poor. Take the very red state of Wyoming, which is,… Continue reading →

Letter: Mass incarceration weakens us

Congratulations and thanks to The Advocate for your strong and incisive series on the state’s Byzantine tax exemptions and in some cases profligate corporate giveaways. Incentivizing business only makes sense if the incentives created by tax savings provide the state a positive return on its investment. The timing of the series is significant given the state… Continue reading →

Letter: Physicians take pledge against deadly drugs

Kudos to Mary Reed for her excellent column on “Suicide is never good health care,” in a recent Advocate. Her logic and the reasons she gives are unassailable, and she has done Baton Rouge a favor by writing it — as has The Advocate, by publishing it. Nevertheless, I would like to add one more reason.… Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Trio spans many years of friendship

Many years ago, my son struck up a friendship in kindergarten with a boy named Chris who lived in the same subdivision. For the next 24 years, they have been the best of friends. This column is about the in-between years and another friend who made them one of the smartest and most sarcastic trios ever.… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: How fiercely ambitious U.S. Sen. David Vitter has gone from maverick to establishment

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., left, listens as Chuck Adams, with Tempo Insulation. voices his concerns regarding the Affordable Care Act, Tuesday, March 18, 2014, in West Monroe, La. Vitter spoke about health care and minimum wage and took questions and concerns from West Monroe-West Ouachita Chamber members during his talk at the West Monroe Convention Center. (AP Photo/The News-Star, Dacia Idom) NO SALES ORG XMIT: LAMON101

An important seat was up for grabs in Washington, D.C., and back in Louisiana, senior Republicans didn’t want to take any chances. So rather than risk an open-primary free-for all, they set out to winnow the field, identify a consensus candidate and present voters with a united front. The year was 1999. The office was the… Continue reading →

Walt Handelsman for Dec. 12, 2014

Here is the latest from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and animator Walt Handelsman. Continue reading →

Our Views: Make most of birthday

We don’t know what the news will look like in 2018, for God only knows what the future holds. But the 300th anniversary of the city of New Orleans will be a notable event in that year, and it is certain to be talked about and in the news. We want people to experience it firsthand, too.… Continue reading →

Letter: Story prompts queries about solar subsidies

I read with interest your story in the Dec. 6 issue on solar subsidies. A couple of questions immediately come to mind, the first being whether the timing of the story was intended to influence the Skrmetta/Wright election held on that day, and secondly several substantive points. Your story seems to accurately define the cost of solar subsidies,… Continue reading →

Letter: Jindal’s tweet on Mary Landrieu’s loss in poor taste

As reported by The Advocate’s Elizabeth Crisp, our governor reacted in characteristically ungracious fashion to the defeat of Louisiana’s first and only female senator in her bid for re-election: “The guv weighs in #lasen RT @BobbyJindal It’s about time. We’ve finally retired Mary Landrieu. @BillCassidy will be a great Senator for La.” This unstatesman-like taunt is… Continue reading →

James Gill: Democrats to rise again in South, but experts don't see it happening soon

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., speaks to supporters as she concedes defeat in her Senate runoff election against Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., in New Orleans, Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014. Left is her husband Frank Snellings. Cassidy denied Landrieu a fourth term, calling his Senate victory

The Democrats will rise again in the South, but the political scientists don’t see it happening any time soon. Will Rogers’ celebrated crack — “I am not a member of any organized political party; I am a Democrat” — applies in spades around here these days. The Democrats are clearly in worse disarray than they were in… Continue reading →