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October 08, 2018 - 12:00 am

ELECTION 2018-LOUISIANA SECRETARY OF STATE

Integrity is key issue in Louisiana secretary of state race

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Candidates vying to be Louisiana's secretary of state say they're running to restore confidence in an office whose last elected leader resigned amid sexual harassment allegations.

Five of the nine contenders on the Nov. 6 ballot faced off Monday.

Republicans were interim Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, Turkey Creek Mayor Heather Cloud, Rep. Rick Edmonds and Rep. Julie Stokes. The participating Democrat was Renee Fontenot Free, a former top aide to two secretaries of state.

Free says trust was compromised after Republican Tom Schedler resigned, accused of sexually harassing an employee. Stokes says she wants to "remove scandal from the office." Edmonds has made integrity a campaign centerpiece.

Ardoin, Schedler's first assistant, says he enacted the "strictest policy in all of state government" against sexual harassment after the Schedler allegations.

STRIPPERS SUE

State wants court to take another look at strippers' lawsuit

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana officials want a federal appeals court to take another look at a law that would set a minimum age of 21 for exotic dancers who bare almost all in bars and nightclubs.

Last month, three judges on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling blocking enforcement. They agreed that the law making 21 the minimum age for "entertainers whose breasts or buttocks are exposed to view" was unconstitutionally vague regarding how much of a young dancer must be covered.

Those rulings were victories for three women aged 18, 19 and 20 when they filed a suit challenging the law.

Louisiana officials have now asked that the full 16-member court consider the case. They argue the law provides fair notice about what is prohibited under the law.

BURNING BOAT-RESCUE

Coast Guard: Helicopter rescues 4 after boat burns

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Coast Guard says a helicopter crew has rescued four people from a burning passenger vessel off Louisiana.

A news release says people on the Grand Sun reported the fire about 2:40 a.m. Monday from the Chandeleur Sound, and a helicopter arrived before 4 a.m.

The aircrew took all four to emergency medical services at Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans.

Petty Officer Travis MaGee says he doesn't know where they went from there, or their conditions.

An online copy of a Coast Guard database shows the Grand Sun as owned by Scobel Marine of Belle Chasse. A woman who answered the phone at Y and S Marine at the same address said she couldn't talk about the vessel or the people's conditions. She didn't give her name.

BROWN PELICANS-NESTING GROUNDS

Louisiana seeks to make more room for namesake pelicans

(Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Officials in the Pelican State are designing two projects to shore up coastal islands, aiming to improving nesting grounds for its namesake brown pelicans.

The Advocate reports Louisiana got $148 million following 2010's Deepwater Horizon oil spill to improve coastal rookeries.

The projects would aid Rabbit Island in southwest Louisiana's Cameron Parish and fill an area around Queen Bess Island in Barataria Bay that's turned to open water.

The Queen Bess site has particular significance for the brown pelican, Louisiana's state bird. It's where scientists released young pelicans in 1968 to restore the population after it was devastated by the insecticide DDT.

The birds left the endangered species list in 2009. But officials now say pelicans are losing Louisiana nesting sites, leaving for Texas or making do with inferior sites.

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ARMY-FERAL HORSES

Group: DNA: Fort Polk horses may be colonial Spanish stock

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A group formed to protect wild horses at an Army base in Louisiana says preliminary testing indicates they could be descendants of horses brought by Spanish explorers and colonists.

A Texas A&M University professor emeritus says genes from 17 horses recently captured at Fort Polk appear close to colonial Spanish breeds from South America and Puerto Rico. Geneticist Gus Cothran says he hopes to have a full analysis done by the end of October, but the horses appear closest to the Venezuelan Criollo and the Puerto Rican Paso.

Pegasus Equine Guardian Association says in a news release Monday that this shows the horses should be protected rather than removed from Fort Polk.

Officials at the base call them "trespass horses" and say they are a safety risk in training areas.

BC-TROPICAL WEATHER-THE LATEST

The Latest: Florida gov: Hurricane Michael 'monstrous storm'

MIAMI (AP) — Florida Gov. Rick Scott says Hurricane Michael is a "monstrous storm" that has the potential to be devastating to the Florida Panhandle.

Speaking alongside emergency officials in Pasco County, Scott said Monday he's waiving tolls. He also has declared a state of emergency for 35 counties and asked President Donald Trump for assistance ahead of the storm.

The governor warns that storm surge could be as high as 8-10 feet (2.4-3 meters) in some parts of the Panhandle and 2-4 feet (0.6-1.2 meters) in the Tampa Bay area. Scott is urging people along the Gulf Coast to finish their storm preparations Monday evening.

RAPE ARREST

Police: DNA evidence connects man to rape at gunpoint

(Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Police say DNA evidence has implicated a Louisiana man in a rape at gunpoint that happened last month.

The Advocate reported Saturday that 35-year-old Karl Michael Johnson was arrested on first-degree rape.

Police say the Baton Rouge man approached a woman and forced her behind a building at gunpoint. A police report says he threatened her with the gun by removing the magazine to show her it was loaded and said 'I'm not playing.' He held the gun to her head and raped her multiple times.

The Louisiana State Police Crime Lab notified detectives Thursday that they found a positive match for the DNA from a rape kit. The woman also picked Johnson out of a photographic line-up. It's unclear if he has a lawyer who could comment.

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MEDICAL MARIJUANA-LOUISIANA

Medical marijuana clinic opening Monday in Louisiana

BOSSIER CITY, La. (AP) — A new medical marijuana health clinic is opening in northwest Louisiana.

News outlets reported the Total Health Clinic was opening in Bossier City on Monday.

Dr. Chad Rossitter, an internal medicine doctor in Acadiana, said he became interested in marijuana prescriptions because of his work and his family. Rossiter said he has lost family members to the opioid crisis. He says many of those additions occur because people are in pain.

Louisiana recognizes 14 conditions approved for treatment with medical marijuana. Those approved for treatment include cancer, glaucoma, Parkinson's disease, seizures and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The medicine is sold as pills, dissolved in a liquid base, or as a spray.

Total Health Clinic also operates in Lafayette and plans to open in Lake Charles.

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