The Associated Press

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In Memoriam
1:42 pm
Sun July 8, 2012

Tremé Brass Band's Lionel Batiste dead at 81

Lionel Batiste, the vocalist, bass drummer and assistant band leader of the Tremé Brass Band, has died. He was 81.

Band leader Benny Jones Sr. says Batiste died Sunday. He says funeral arrangements are incomplete for Batiste, who was known as "Uncle Lionel."

He says Batiste had been ill for about a month.

Jones says Batiste had been with the Tremé Brass Band since it was formed in 1995, but he had been a musician nearly all his life.

Business & Technology
1:37 pm
Sun July 8, 2012

Distillery hopes to start making rum by fall

LACASSINE, La. — Construction of a $5 million rum distillery in Jefferson Davis Parish continues, with production expected to start this fall.

Trey Litel, president of Louisiana Spirits, tells the American Press (http://bit.ly/OjaSjJ) that some of his company's rum is expected to be available by year's end.

Litel brings 25 years of sales and marketing expertise, including over 10 years with Bacardi USA, to the job.

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Flood Protection
1:34 pm
Sun July 8, 2012

New use for an old floodgate possible

Terrebonne Parish Levee District officials say a second-hand floodgate from Westwego could provide Pointe-aux-Chenes residents with some quick flood protection for a little money.

The Courier of Houma reports (http://bit.ly/NatJMM) that the 11-foot-tall barge floodgate was installed as stop-gap flood protection by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2007 while it finished a larger floodgate in Bayou Segnette. It is set to be removed in August.

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Kenner Brake Tags
1:31 pm
Sun July 8, 2012

Kenner takes plastic for brake tags

Kenner officials say the city's vehicle inspection station has begun accepting credit cards and debit cards for payment.

Officials of the city in suburban New Orleans said there is no additional charge to use plastic to pay for annual inspections to receive a city brake tag.

The tags cost $10 and are good for 1 year.

West Nile Virus
5:10 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

3 new Louisiana West Nile cases, 1 serious

Louisiana's health department says three new cases of West Nile virus infection have been confirmed in the state — including a potentially fatal case in Vernon Parish.

Two of the people who tested positive for the infection showed no symptoms. They were in Tangipahoa Parish.

But the Vernon Parish case involves what officials call "neuro-invasive" disease — the first such case in the state this year.

A neuroinvasive illness is severe and typically results in a swelling of the brain or spinal cord. It can cause brain damage or death.

Medicaid Cuts
5:06 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

Vitter talks of highway bill, skips Medicaid cuts

U.S. Sen. David Vitter is highlighting his role as Louisiana's lone member on the congressional committee that drew up a final version of the federal highway bill. But he's omitting the detail that the bill blows an $859 million hole in Louisiana's Medicaid funding.

As President Barack Obama was set to sign the measure into law Friday, Louisiana's Democrats were questioning Vitter's role in slashing the Medicaid dollars and asking if he fought against the cuts.

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Unemployment
5:02 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

Louisiana first-time jobless claims decrease

First-time claims for unemployment insurance benefits in Louisiana for the week ending June 30 decreased from the previous week's total.

State labor department figures released Friday show initial claims fell to 3,456 from the previous week's total of 3,633. The figure was lower than it was for the comparable week a year earlier, when there were 4,169 initial claims.

The four-week moving average, which is a less volatile measure of claims, decreased to 3,792 from the previous week's total of 3,972.

Louisiana Supreme Court
4:56 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

3 judges recuse themselves from La. justice's suit

Three federal judges in New Orleans have recused themselves from presiding over Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Bernette Johnson's lawsuit seeking to block her colleagues from debating and voting on whether she is legally entitled to be the court's next chief justice.

The case was transferred Friday to U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan after three other judges — Jay Zainey, Ivan Lemelle and Carl Barbier — disqualified themselves. It wasn't immediately clear if Morgan will keep the case.

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Louisiana Supreme Court
11:30 am
Fri July 6, 2012

Suit Filed Over Naming Chief Justice

A Louisiana Supreme Court justice is suing to block her colleagues from debating and voting on whether she is legally entitled to become the court's next chief justice.

A federal suit filed Thursday on behalf of Justice Bernette Johnson says she is next in line for the job because she qualifies as the court's longest-serving justice.

But Justice Jeffrey Victory also has staked a claim to succeeding Chief Justice Catherine "Kitty" Kimball, who retires next year.

Kenner Charter Election
11:25 am
Fri July 6, 2012

Kenner Council Refuses to Call Off Charter Vote

Residents in Kenner will be able to vote Nov. 6 on two amendments to the Home Rule Charter. Both charter revisions, if adopted by voters, would check the mayor's power by stopping his appointees from politicking for him and by giving the council oversight of more contracts.

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