Louisiana

Friday, December 15, 2017

Clean needle programs allowed under New Orleans City Council measure

Posted By on Fri, Dec 15, 2017 at 12:30 PM

PHOTO BY ERIK ARAUJO
  • PHOTO BY ERIK ARAUJO

Community needle exchange and clean-needle programs have the support of New Orleans officials to help combat hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS transmissions as part of the city’s ramped-up efforts against opioid overdoses.

The New Orleans City Council approved a measure Dec. 14 that updates the city’s rules governing drug paraphernalia, which previously banned syringes and needles for nonmedical purposes. But Louisiana lawmakers and Gov. John Bel Edwards recently retooled drug paraphernalia rules statewide by allowing syringes for "for bona fide medical" use and giving local governments the ability to establish clean needle programs.

That rule effectively brings a formerly “underground” nonprofit network servicing hundreds of people in the metro area into a legal framework, potentially institutionalizing a service that has operated in a legally gray area while saving thousands of lives.

“We should not condemn people who have infectious disease because they have the disease of addiction,” said New Orleans Health Department Director Joseph Kanter.

Though the ordinance primarily is designed to protect needle programs and people using them, it also allows people with a prescription for medical marijuana to possess drug paraphernalia for that purpose — a measure that lines up with the state's in-progress plans for a medical marijuana program.

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Editorial: Louisiana parents want sex education in schools. So why are legislators balking?

Posted By on Thu, Dec 14, 2017 at 2:19 PM

thinkstockphotos-476173273.jpg

Louisiana faces a public health crisis in the form of high rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In 2016, Louisiana ranked first in the nation for primary and secondary syphilis rates, according to a November study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Our state also ranked third in the nation for HIV rates, with the New Orleans and Baton Rouge metro areas at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.

The rates among young people underscore the crisis. Louisiana has the highest rate of syphilis among adolescents, the second highest rate of gonorrhea and chlamydia among adolescents, and the third highest rate of HIV diagnoses among adolescents. Louisiana’s teen pregnancy rates have fallen in recent years (as they have elsewhere in the U.S.), but we still rank seventh-highest.

This crisis is very real, but state lawmakers refuse to address it.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Living with Alzheimer's disease: One family's story

Posted By on Tue, Dec 12, 2017 at 10:04 AM

Bonnie Hay (center) and her mother and father.
  • Bonnie Hay (center) and her mother and father.

When Bonnie Hay's grandmother died after a battle with Alzheimer's disease in 2003, she felt a sense of almost-indescribable loss.

"All these memories I have of my mawmaw, taking me fishing at her house ... I'd come in and lay my head in her lap, and she'd play with my hair until I went to sleep — stuff I remember like it was yesterday," she says. "But [during] her last days, she didn't remember that. She didn't remember me, or my dad."

It was an aching moment of confusion and grief, and for Hay, it was magnified by her awareness of her father's illness. In 1996, at the age of 48, her father Ken — her grandmother's son — also was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, which has a hereditary component. For the past 21 years, he has been living with the disease that can impair cognition and memory, and inspiring his daughter to speak out about a  condition that she says often is misunderstood.

This weekend, Hay will travel from her home in West Monroe to be among participants at a free symposium offered by the Alzheimer's Association and Ochsner Health System Dec. 16 for caretakers of people with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. At the event, doctors, pharmacists and care professionals will offer advice on dealing with burnout, having difficult conversations and coping with an illness that affects as many as 5 million Americans. (There's no charge to attend, but caregivers who wish to attend must call (800) 272-3900 to register.)

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Y@ Speak: snow day

Posted By on Mon, Dec 11, 2017 at 6:05 PM

New Orleans gets a fraction of a snow day, the Saints beef it in Atlanta, a sitting legislator roasts Dixie beer and Margaret Orr lets loose in another edition of last week's... week... in Twitter.

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Friday, December 8, 2017

The fall of Mike Edmonson

Posted By on Fri, Dec 8, 2017 at 1:20 PM

Mike Edmonson, former head of the Louisiana State Police. - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • Mike Edmonson, former head of the Louisiana State Police.

Former state Police Col. Mike Edmonson seems to generate scandals faster than troopers write speeding tickets. His epic fall from grace after nine years as Louisiana’s top cop have tainted a long-respected agency that deserved better than his legacy of petty corruption and lies.

Edmonson announced his retirement amid controversy in March after four of his favored officers took a totally gratuitous road trip to California to watch him receive a national award. One of them took his wife, with Edmonson’s blessing. Along the way, the merry band detoured to Las Vegas — on taxpayers’ dime — with some logging overtime to boot.

When the boondoggle was exposed, Edmonson feigned ignorance and ordered an internal investigation.

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Geaux Talk campaign promotes comprehensive sex ed in Louisiana schools

Posted By on Thu, Dec 7, 2017 at 6:25 PM

New Orleans City Councilmember At-Large Stacy Head and members of the Louisiana Public Health Institute and the Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies announced the launch of Geaux Talk to promote comprehensive sex ed.
  • New Orleans City Councilmember At-Large Stacy Head and members of the Louisiana Public Health Institute and the Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies announced the launch of Geaux Talk to promote comprehensive sex ed.


Louisiana has some of the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases among young people in the U.S. The state has the highest rate of syphilis among adolescents, the second highest rate of gonorrhea and chlamydia among adolescents, and the third highest rate of HIV diagnoses among adolescents. The state also has the sixth highest teen birth rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Most parents believe their children deserve comprehensive sex education in schools, and most parents think their children already are getting it — but that’s not necessarily the case. Louisiana doesn’t guarantee students receive comprehensive sex ed, and state law doesn’t require schools monitor whether they’re getting it.

Geaux Talk — a new public health campaign from the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI) — aims to give parents, as well as students, teachers and legislators, all the resources they need to begin conversations about getting comprehensive sex ed into schools and at home.

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Gov. Edwards organizes task force to review sexual harassment policies

Posted By on Wed, Dec 6, 2017 at 4:35 PM

Gov. John Bel Edwards.
  • Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Gov. John Bel Edwards signed an executive order Dec. 6 assigning a seven-member team to review sexual harassment and discrimination policies within state agencies and departments.

The task force will review all agencies that fall under the executive branch and "identify which current policies are effective and which ones are not, whether new ones need to be implemented and whether additional changes need to be made in these areas," Edwards said in a statement. "The goal is to ensure state employees are safe at work and have the confidence in knowing that any allegation made will be taken seriously and that there are adequate procedures in place to address those complaints."

All state agencies within the executive branch have been directed to review their policies and submit them to Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne before Jan. 1. The task force will report back to Edwards' office before March 2018.

"Every person, whether they work in state government or private industry, should be able to do their jobs without fear of being sexually harassed or discriminated against,” Edwards said. “There is no circumstance under which harassment or discrimination of any kind will be tolerated by my administration."

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Monday, December 4, 2017

Y@ Speak: taxing

Posted By on Mon, Dec 4, 2017 at 6:32 PM

The Saints are doing well. Here is Twitter distracting itself from our national nightmare with sports.

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Y@ Speak: It's Christmas now.

Posted By on Mon, Nov 27, 2017 at 4:20 PM

Thanksgiving happened, the Saints broke a win streak, and election cycles never end. Welcome to Christmas.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Mid-City church offers sanctuary to Salvadoran man threatened with deportation

Posted By on Wed, Nov 15, 2017 at 2:45 PM

Jose Torres addresses a crowd outside First Grace United Methodist Church, which has offered him sanctuary following attempts from immigration authorities to deport him. - PHOTO BY ALEX WOODWARD
  • PHOTO BY ALEX WOODWARD
  • Jose Torres addresses a crowd outside First Grace United Methodist Church, which has offered him sanctuary following attempts from immigration authorities to deport him.

When he was 18 years old, Jose Torres fled violence in El Salvador and later arrived in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures. On Nov. 15, he was scheduled to appear for a check-in appointment at the New Orleans office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), where immigrant advocates say agents planned to hand him a ticket out of the country to “self-deport.”

But on Nov. 15, Torres — standing among immigrant advocates and local faith leaders, along with his two U.S.-born daughters, ages 2 and 8 — announced First Grace United Methodist Church would provide Torres sanctuary.

“I’m tired of being punished over and over, for one reason: for being an immigrant,” Torres said through tears. “It’s time for our immigrant community to rise up, to lift up our voices, and demand respect from this country.”

First Grace — which also provides meeting space for the immigrant advocacy group Congress of Day Laborers and offers shelter to women and children through Hagar’s House — will provide Torres “a safe place to be in our community and have some degree of safety,” Pastor Shawn Anglim told Gambit.

“You remember that you were once in that place, you were once treated as a foreigner, as strange, as a stranger. Being a human being means providing a space for people who once felt that way,” he said. “The word ‘sanctuary’ is to harbor, to protect, and that’s what we’re doing here for Jose.”

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