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June 13, 2018 - 12:00 am

CONGRESSMAN SHOT-BASEBALL

A year after shooting, GOP lawmakers hold firm on gun rights

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican lawmakers say the shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and others at a congressional baseball practice a year ago has only strengthened their commitment to protecting gun rights.

Republican Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio says if two Capitol Police officers were not armed at the GOP practice, "you might have seen 20 dead people."

The sentiment is widespread among Republicans, even with mass shootings within the last year at a music festival in Las Vegas and high schools in Florida and Texas.

Scalise, of Louisiana, said the baseball practice shooting "deepened my appreciation for the Second Amendment because it was people with guns who saved my life and every other member out there."

Scalise suffered life-threatening injuries but is expected in uniform Thursday at the annual congressional game.

FOOD STAMP ELIMINATION

If cut, Kennedy says he'll try to save Louisiana food stamps

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — U.S. Sen. John Kennedy says he'll ask the federal government to keep Louisiana's food stamp program up and running, if the state moves to eliminate it because of budget cuts.

Kennedy says he's introducing federal legislation to seek USDA administration of Louisiana's food stamp program, distributing aid through food banks and faith-based groups.

The Republican senator said Wednesday he doesn't want Louisiana to lose $1.4 billion in federal food assistance it receives annually.

Gov. John Bel Edwards' administration says a $34 million cut slated for the Department of Children and Family Services on July 1 will make it unable to administer food stamps, starting in January. Edwards wants lawmakers to pass taxes to fill that and other budget gaps.

More than 19 percent of Louisiana residents receive food stamps.

CONGRESSIONAL MAPS-LAWSUITS

Lawsuits: Congressional maps dilute black voters in 3 states

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A Democratic political group has launched a legal campaign to create additional majority-minority congressional districts in three Southern states, claiming the current maps discriminate against black voters.

Attorneys filed separate federal lawsuits in Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana on Wednesday, challenging congressional maps that lawmakers in each state approved in 2011.

The lawsuits are backed by an affiliate of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, chaired by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

The suits claim the districts violate the Voting Rights Act and deprive black voters of an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice to the U.S. House of Representatives.

They ask the courts to block the three states from holding any more congressional elections under their current maps.

CAMP MINDEN EXPLOSIVES-THE LATEST

The Latest: Last Camp Minden defendant to plead guilty

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The lawyer for the last defendant in a case involving a huge explosion at Louisiana National Guard-owned site says he expects his client to plead guilty.

Donald Hathaway says he can't say more until after William Terry Wright's change-of-plea hearing, scheduled for 3 p.m. CDT Thursday.

Wright was vice president of operations at Explo Systems, which had an Army contract to "demilitarize" M6 artillery propellant.

State police began investigating Explo after a huge explosion in 2012 at Camp Minden. Explo went bankrupt in 2013, leaving thousands of tons of potentially explosive M6.

Prosecutors had said they planned to show Wright committed acts similar to those he's accused of at another company, in Kansas. And four codefendants have pleaded guilty, saying they'd testify for the prosecution. A fifth codefendant died June 2.

NEW ORLEANS JAIL

Renewed optimism over reform prospects at New Orleans jail

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal judge is expressing renewed optimism about the prospects for change at the notoriously dangerous New Orleans jail.

U.S. District Judge Lance Africk's comments came during a Wednesday status hearing on a nearly five-year-old plan to reform the lockup.

Fights, drug abuse and suicide have continued at the jail despite that agreement. Two weeks ago a woman died while detoxing at the lockup.

But court-appointed monitors said Wednesday they have begun seeing signs that acting jail director Darnley Hodge is taking steps to overhaul policies and practices.

Hodge took over when the last court-approved jail director resigned in January amid reports that showed little progress in reform.

BRAIN-EATING AMOEBA-LOUISIANA

Brain-eating amoeba found again in Louisiana water district

(Information from: The Courier, http://www.houmatoday.com)

HOUMA, La. (AP) — A potentially deadly brain-eating amoeba has been found again in a Louisiana parish.

The Courier reports independent testing returned positive results for Naegleria fowleri, which causes fatal brain swelling and tissue destruction, in Pointe-aux-Chenes in Terrebonne Parish. The Terrebonne Consolidated Waterworks District issued the notification Sunday and has temporarily switched to a different disinfectant to kill the organism.

Last June, Terrebonne Parish's water system tested positive for the amoeba in Isle de Jean Charles, where it was found in 2015.

Consolidated Waterworks' general manager, Mike Sobert, says it began using a 60-day pure chlorine wash on Friday to kill the microbes. It will test the water in two weeks to ensure it's eradicated. Sobert says the agency had planned to temporarily switch to the pure chlorine for the summer, which has been its practice for the past three years.

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FIGHT DEATH

Authorities: 4th person arrested in man's death during fight

SLIDELL, La. (AP) — Authorities say a fourth person has been arrested in the death of a man who was killed during a fight near a Louisiana river.

The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office tells news outlets in a statement that 23-year-old Thomas Jones was arrested Tuesday in the death of 46-year-old Jeffery Howell. He died in the brawl Saturday on a West Pearl River sand bar.

The sheriff's office says 20-year-old Blaine Manalle and 21-year-old Cameron Alphonso were charged with second-degree murder. Jones and 22-year-old Alden Kindergran were charged with disturbing the peace. Kindergran posted a $750 bond and was released from jail.

Jones' bond was set at $350 for the disturbing the peace charge and $7,052 for an unrelated contempt of court warrant.

It is unclear if anyone accused has a lawyer.

TRUMP-CONGRESSIONAL BASEBALL

GOP congressman asks Trump to attend annual baseball game

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican congressman has asked President Donald Trump to attend the annual congressional baseball game Thursday night at Nationals Park.

Texas Rep. Roger Williams, who is coaching the Republican team, tells The Associated Press that, "I asked him to come, I guess it was last week, I was over at the Oval Office." Asked how the president responded, Williams replied, "He said, 'I'll be there.'"

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Thursday is the one-year anniversary of the shooting rampage at a GOP practice in which House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and others were wounded. Scalise sustained life-threatening injuries but returned to work last fall. He is expected to start at second base in the annual game.

Thursday is also Trump's 72nd birthday.

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